Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"The Horror-Horn"

"The Horror-Horn" 
by E.F. Benson

While holidaying in the Alps, our narrator is treated to a hair-raising tale about Yeti-like creatures that live on a nearby peak-- the Horror-Horn.  Later on, he goes out by himself for a ski.  Whatever could happen next? 

My Reaction:
I'm not a Yeti aficionado-- never cared for Bigfoot or "swamp/skunk apes", either-- but this story was better than I'd expected.  Recommended!

Specifics (with SPOILERS):
--"It seemed that they were still in an upward stage of evolution, or so I guessed, for the story ran that sometimes girls had been carried off by them, not as prey, and not for any such fate as for those captured by cannibals, but to be bred from."

--The narrator's friend, making his way down the mountain after seeing one of the creatures, is terrified that he might run across another-- "with perhaps this time the breasts and insignia of womanhood.  That would have been the worst of all."  At first, I wondered why seeing a female would've been "worst of all".  Would it be somehow more horrific to see the female form thus debased?  ...Now it occurs to me that he feared being forcibly "mated" to the female.  Maybe he thought a male would "just" kill him.  (Or was it something symbolic about the female shape?)

--"Their very humanity was what made them so terrible, the fact that they were of the same race as ourselves, but of a type so abysmally degraded that the most brutal and inhuman of men would have seemed angelic in comparison."

--"There was a horror of the spirit ... which I experienced then, from which, I verily believe, I have never entirely recovered.  I saw then how terrible a living thing could be, and how terrible, in consequence, was life itself.  In us all I suppose lurks some inherited germ of that ineffable bestiality, and who knows whether, sterile as it has apparently become in the course of centuries, it might not fructify again.  When I saw that creature sun itself, I looked into the abyss out of which we have crawled."

--"Never had nightmare fashioned so terrible a countenance; the beauty of sun and stars and of the beasts of the field and the kindly race of men could not atone for so hellish an incarnation of the spirit of life.  A fathomless bestiality modelled the slavering mouth and the narrow eyes; I looked into the abyss itself and knew that out of that abyss on the edge of which I leaned the generations of men had climbed.  What if that ledge crumbled in front of me and pitched me headlong into its nethermost depths?"