Thursday, April 26, 2007

"A Walk In the Dark" (short story): Of primeval fears

If the only terror you knew as a child was that of darkness, you might be able to identify with this story. At least for a while.

An MP3 version of this story is available online (link via SF Signal & Free SF Reader). I haven't heard the audio version.

Story summary (spoiler).
A man of a high-tech community is forced by circumstances to walk for a few hours on a lonely road in a wilderness with no moon & little starlight. In a region that locals believe is kind of haunted, & has a monster on the loose!

Story is of the man's fears as he walks down the road; plus a predictable twist near the end of tale. Not the best of Clarke, but I didn't begin getting bored till about half way through.

Fact sheet.
A Walk In he Dark, short story, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
Genre: Horror
First Published: 1950
Rating: C

The story appears in the following collections.

  1. "Reach for tomorrow"
  2. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"
  3. "More Than One Universe"


Anonymous said...

What is the "twist"? He thinks there is a monster behind him, but it turns out the monster is in front of him? I guess that is sort of a twist.

Anonymous said...

The "twist" is that he sees the lights of his destination and the palpable relief is cut short when, with an unanticipated twist in the road, the lights are blocked by a hill and he hears the sound of the "clicking of a pair of giant pincers." And that's where it ends, with the hair standing up on the back of your neck. I read it 45 years ago and still get that feeling just typing these words...

Anonymous said...

Excellent story.

don said...

Clarke was unique

Greg deGiere said...

This is a stunningly unique story in that all the important action takes place inside the main (and only) character's head -- and, by Clark's writing ability, inside the reader's head. Both are constantly kept wondering which is true, the character's rationalist self-reassurances or the local people's terrifying legends.

Even in the "twist" at the end, when the character is shocked into believing the monster is real and about to eat him, the reader is left wondering.