Crouch End (short story)
|Genre(s)||Horror, Science fiction short story|
|Published in||New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1st release),
Nightmares & Dreamscapes
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
Crouch End is a horror story by Stephen King, originally published in New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1980), and republished in a slightly different version in King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection (1993). It contains distinct references to the horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft.
A television adaptation aired July 12, 2006 on TNT, as part of Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King. A song by British black metal/dark ambient band The Axis of Perdition uses excerpts from the story as lyrics.
On August 19, 1974, two police constables, alcoholic veteran Ted Vetter and young newcomer Robert Farnham, are working the night shift at a small station in the London suburb of Crouch End. They are discussing the case of Doris Freeman, a young American woman who came in to report the disappearance of her husband, lawyer Leonard Freeman. Nearly hysterical, Doris arrived in the station speaking of monsters and supernatural visions.
She related how she and her husband were searching for a potential employer's house in Crouch End, but as they did so, they became lost. As they wandered the streets, their surroundings seemed to change subtly and become infested by what appeared to be monsters. Doris escaped with her life, but her husband was not so lucky, being consumed by an enormous, hideous, otherworldly being. (Implied to be the malevolent Lovecraftian goddess Shub-Niggurath due to a reference to 'the Black Goat with a Thousand Young' made shortly before the creature's appearance)
Farnham dismisses the story as rubbish, but Vetter, who has policed Crouch End for decades, is not so sure, remembering similar missing-person cases from years gone by. He speculates about other planes of existence, and of Crouch End perhaps being a place where the divide between our world and another more demonic world is at its weakest. Vetter goes out for a walk, and after contemplating the story for a while, Farnham wonders what has become of him. Leaving the station empty, he walks down the street in search of Vetter, and notices that something seems strangely different about the neighborhood. He walks around the street corner, and is never seen again (Vetter arrives back from his walk just a minute later). Vetter retires soon after, and dies of a heart attack six months later. The story ends with the statement that there are still strange occurrences in Crouch End, and that people are known to occasionally "...lose their way. Some lose their way forever."
The short story was adapted into an episode of Turner Network Television's Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, starring Eion Bailey and Claire Forlani.
Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times said that it "has a simpler charm" than previous episodes and that the couple's terror at being lost makes "a grand subject for horror." Bryan Pope of DVD Verdict rated the episode D+ and stated that the story doesn't work on television. Christopher Noseck of DVD Talk panned the episode in part because of the special effects, which he called "laughable".
- Heffernan, Virginia (2006-07-12). "Exploring Darkness and Anxiety in Stephen King’s 'Nightmares and Dreamscapes'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Pope, Bryan (2006-11-14). "Nightmares And Dreamscapes". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Noseck, Christopher (2006-10-24). "Nightmares & Dreamscapes - From the Stories of Stephen King". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2013-11-27.