Sunday, December 18, 2011

Crouch End

Crouch End, a District on the outskirts of London is the center stage of a horror story by Stephen King. It is located in a Valley in the North part of London near Finsbury and Archway. The town name comes from Latin “Crux” which means cross or crossroads. Crouch End is portrayed in the story as a surreal place. Its deserted streets combined with the fact that the narrator is superstitious and very unfamiliar with the surroundings enhance the impression of a mysterious place.

Other factors which contribute to exacerbate the tension and help to characterize the place as creepy are the circumstances in which the main characters suddenly find themselves. First they find out on the fly they do not have the address to the place they are headed for and second they are abandoned in the middle of nowhere by someone who they trusted to drop them off safely at the desired location.
To make things a little more complicated it is almost nightfall and there is no public transportation to take them back. The old brick buildings around the town and creepy outdoor signs also characterize it as not a desirable place to be.

Despite the initial unpredictable events the main characters Doris and Leonard Freeman are completely unaware of what awaits for them. According to people’s accounts that section of London and in particular Crouch End is the center of supernatural activities and for long it has been considered the stage of all kinds of strange things.

It is said that the place is dominated by some phenomenal forces which cannot be fully comprehended by the human reasoning. It seems like the barriers of the dimensions of this world are somehow entangled with another of an evil nature.

Throughout the years a number of bizarre incidents have been reported to the Crouch End Police but the cases ended up being filed away for being considered inconclusive due to its odd nature. “There are enough stories to curdle your blood and some to make you sick of your stomach at this place”, says Vetter, a police officer who has been with Crouch End police force for many years.

 PC Ted Vetter and Fernham recall the story of Doris Freeman, the desperate young American girl who came in to report the case of her missing husband after they got stranded there, years ago.

According to Vetter’s recollection of facts in a conversation with Fernham in 1974, Doris was emotionally disturbed as she reported the incident which ended with the disappearance of the husband. She described the streets as having some human presence as they arrived and that gave them the initial impression of normalcy.

But their unusual behavior after an attempted contact made them change their minds very quickly. They all looked unfriendly to some degree and that reinforced the perception of a surreal atmosphere. However, it was hard for an out-of-towner to be able to tell exactly what it was that made them so strange.

Lonnie went to London with Dori for vacation and had planned to visit a lawyer called John Squalls’ which he had some business association with but had never met in person. The couple is lucky to find a cab willing to take them there after they were turned down by a number of drivers. It was late afternoon and the sun was about to go down when they finally hopped into a cab and headed for Crouch End.

According to Dori, Lonnie realized he lost the address to the lawyer’s residence. However, the driver was nice enough to suggest that he would make a stop at a phone booth so Lonnie could call someone and get the address.

They appreciated the fact that the driver had treated them nicely unlike other people they came across in London. They proceeded to Crouch End and anticipated meeting by Mr. Squales in person shortly.

The scene took place on a late August day and despite the wind was blowing intermittently the weather was uncomfortably hot. The sun changed suddenly from an unusual orange appearance to a reddish cast of evening as it began to settle down between the buildings once they got closer to their destination.

Clusters of nice buildings of some new development were observed from the distance. As the cab dashed by it left behind images of a constant changing landscape and the sun became a solid orange ball right above the horizon again.

Doris had a strange sensation that they were riding around in circle for a long time suggesting she lost awareness of time and space. A sudden change of mood marked their approach to Crouch End.

Dori become very apprehensive with some not so welcoming messages chalked on a roadside board that read: “Sixty Lost in Underground Horror”. The landscape changed sharply. The houses were predominantly old and made of brick.

Watchful eyes looked out the houses windows and observed their presence. Kids playing on the streets gave them a false impression of normality but they acted weird and Doris became fearful and worried about the whole thing. She was very sensitive and could not stop wondering why her mood was so affected once she approached that place.

The driver then spotted a call box by some restaurant and Lonnie stepped out to make the call. Doris got unease and stepped out of the cab as well after few moments. Wind was blowing and whipping her skirt around and some paper trash on the side of the street. While Lonnie was on the phone Doris closed in.

She was uneasy about the surroundings which appeared very surreal to her eyes and gave her a thrilling sensation. For their surprise the cab driver was gone. They get very upset but decided to search for the address on foot.

It did not take long for them to find out that they were not just stranded there but just about to live their worst nightmare which would lead to the unexplainable disappearance of Leonard.

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