I am excited to get started on my goal of reading my massive edition of Barnes & Noble's H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction. Here's the first story:
"The Beast in the Cave"
"The horrible conclusion which had been gradually obtruding itself upon my confused and reluctant mind was now an awful certainty."
This is how the short story begins of a man who is lost in the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The man tells us how he stupidly decided to stray away from the tour group so he could see the cave more closely himself. He soon realizes that he has lost his bearings and has no idea where the tour group could be. What makes it worse, his light torch is fading and he is soon engulfed by the cave's darkness.
The man despairs at the thought of never finding a way out. He soon gives up his search for an exit and decides to let fate choose his life. He remembers that there were stories of people living in the cave and he starts to wonder if he too could live in the cave.
As he is wondering about his life, the man suddenly hears footsteps and believes that it's the tour guide trying to find him. When the steps get closer, the man soon realizes that "these footfalls were not like those of any mortal man." The man soon hears heavy breathing and starts to imagine the worst type of creature.
I thought this short story (and it was quite short) was written very well. It is not Lovecraft's best work but I am amazed on how intricately it was written (I had to have a dictionary next to me). I am especially in awe for the fact that this was written when Lovecraft was only 15 years old!
I enjoyed the descriptions on how our mind plays tricks on us when we are scared and when we are in the dark. Like the man, I too would have been freaking out if I were lost in a pitch-black cave and I too would be imagining the worst kind of creatures with every little noise.
The ending leaves you with a big bang when you realize what the "beast" really is. It's funny because Lovecraft gives you lots of hints throughout the story to give you a clue who the antagonist is. I re-read it and couldn't help slap myself in the forehead for not realizing it sooner.
In all, I greatly enjoyed this short story that introduces H.P. Lovecraft's wonderful works. Now on to the next one!