Lovecraft, Lovecraft-H.P.

The Picture in the House

The Picture in the HouseThe Picture in the House

A researcher was out in the country, in the farmland, doing genealogical research. It was his opinion that it was not abandoned cities or far off lands that were scary, but empty farmhouses. The farmhouses were still around two-hundred years after they were first created by a people who wanted to get away from the rest of people and live amongst their selves and the fields.

The researcher had been caught in a surprise storm on his journey one day. This would not have been a problem had there been a car, but all the researcher had was a bicycle. He came upon a house that looked abandoned. There were certainly weeds enough, but the weeds looked just a little too tame to belong to an abandoned house, but it was the only shelter around.

He knocked on the door, when no one answered, he ventured in, finding the door unlocked. The house was in poor repair, but it also appeared that someone might live there. In the sitting room there were books, some of them quite old lying around. One of the books in particular the researcher had heard of. It should have been in a museum somewhere as it was leather-bound and extremely old. The book had a fault though–it kept falling open to a page with a graphic depiction of cannibals in some far off land. They were butchering a man.

The man was engrossed in the books when he heard a noise from upstairs. A fear caught him and he hastened to hide from whoever was upstairs. Someone came down the stair, an old man, a country man for sure. He greeted the stranger in his house, telling him that he was glad that he found his way in from the storm. The man did not have many visitors these days.

The conversation moved to the book on the table, which was in Latin. The man asked the researcher to read him some of the Latin, which the researcher did. The old man remarked on how he enjoyed the pictures in the book very much, especially the one with the cannibals. He went on to say how he had thought over the image for a long time. He began to wonder if more of the same would keep a man living longer. The man had thought on it so much so that he went and butchered a sheep, just like in the photo, but the sheep wasn’t the same as the picture.

It was around this time that the researcher noticed something wet. When he looked up, he saw a great puddle of blood spreading across the ceiling. It was at this point that the researcher developed a real fear for his life. He feared he was dead, but then a bolt of lightning struck the house and sent the researcher into oblivion which saved his mind.

Observations

This story definitely has a real creep factor. It has a lot of potential to be something scary. This could possibly make a really good horror movie. I’m looking at you Hollywood, or Japan, whichever.

H.P. definitely did not seem fond of country people. Just because you move out into the country doesn’t mean you’re some kind of social reject. Maybe you like seeing trees instead of buildings. Maybe you like having chickens. Maybe you like not having another house five feet away from yours. I hope H.P. got over his country people disliking in the afterlife.

Themes

Cannibals are certainly creepy. Humans can be some of the scariest creatures in the human existence. I mean, sure a bear could tear you to shreds and it would hurt and also be terrifying, but if a person tore you to shreds–that would be the scariest. You expect people to behave in a certain manner, mainly humanely, which means you treat others like human beings instead of animals. When a human acts outside of our normal human action, it’s incredibly scary. This scenario is creepy.

If this man had walked in on a bear holed up in a house eating people, it would have been less creepy than a man butchering and eating people. We expect a bear to do these kind of things.

H.P. backs up his dislike of country people with this story suggesting that maybe they’re all secretly creepy and they moved out into the country for creepy reasons. This isn’t true, but this story is still definitely creepy.

Overall

You know what-just stay out of abandoned houses. They’re that way for a reason.

Weigh In

What would you do if you found yourself in this situation?

Is it better to just leave some things alone?

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