August Derleth’s “The Lonesome Place” taps into the fears every child has at one point in their life – fear of the dark, fear of monsters, fear of the unknown. We all had our childish fears: the attic, the basement, the thing in the closet or under the bed, but what if our fears became real? What if the monster under our bed reached up and pulled us under? What if it continued to exist after we outgrew our fears?
“The Lonesome Place” is narrated by Steve, who retells the story of his childhood and his fear of the titular lonesome place, which is a grain elevator surrounded by trees and piles of lumber. Steve and his friend, Johnny Newell, must go by the elevator when running errands, and their imaginations go wild. Both believe a malevolent creature is lurking in the shadows, waiting to tear them apart, and they share stories of narrowly escaping the beast: Johnny shows off a ripped shirt and Steve talks about hearing it knock over some logs.
Eventually, the boys grow older and no longer fear the lonesome place, until a boy named Bobby Jeffers is found dead, apparently killed by a wild animal, Steve and Johnny believe it was the creature they conjured up in their minds – with their fear gone, it was free to hunt other children.
I find this story fascinating, because I remember the kind of fear the characters experience: running down into the basement to grab something and then sprinting back up, certain something was nipping at my heels. While I know there was nothing there, my child mind knew it was real right then. We all have our lonesome places.
— Michael Malan
Editor’s Note: Mike Malan is in his last year at Lewis. He transferred to Lewis from Joliet Junior College in 2008. He is an English Major with a sub-speciality in Creative Writing. Mike especially enjoys writing gothic, Poe and all things that chill your bones. He is a dark writer but you can find him dabbling in politics. He is also interested in the editing process and hopes that you will enjoy his work.