Several years ago I took a break from my daily routine and hid in the second story of my uncle’s barn. In the loft was an old bentwood chair next to a short stack of hay bales. The hay served as a first-rate ottoman and on other occasions a makeshift desk. I wasn’t there to work that day, but to escape.
I made myself comfortable in the bentwood and to sustain my vigil I brought along a bag of Fritos, a bottle of Pepsi and a copy of H.P. Lovecraft’s, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. If you are not familiar with the work, it is one of HPL’s Cthulhu mythos masterpieces. It is a short novel, around 51,000 words, set in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence, RI.
The novel tells the story of young Charles Dexter Ward, who becomes embroiled in the past, due to his fascination with the history of his wizard ancestor, Joseph Curwen. Ward physically resembles Curwen, and attempts to duplicate his ancestor's alchemical feats, eventually locating Curwen’s remains and resurrecting him. The soul of the dead relative reached out of its grave of two centuries and fastens itself on the flesh of Charles Dexter Ward. Joseph Curwen murders and replaces his modern descendant so he can resume his evil activities.
I was engrossed in the story. There was no electricity in the old structure but, it was around noon, and the ambient light was sufficient to read by. Behind me, located in the gable end of the barn, was a plywood door about three feet wide by six feet tall. My uncle would use it to load farming supplies through it like a second story loading dock. The door had been left open. A cool spring breeze blew in.
My imagination was totally absorbed in the narrative when the resurrected Joseph Curwen eerily first appears behind the main protagonist of the tale. At that precise moment, in my reading, the wind picked up outside and the plywood door behind me slammed shut with a loud bang. The Fritos, the Pepsi and I became airborne. Like Joseph Curwen, Howard Phillips Lovecraft had reached up from his grave and scared the living crap out of me.