The weather in Yellowknife at this point in the year is pretty much what most Canadians expect to get about a month from now. This past weekend the leaves, which had previously changed colour, took the final plunge, and on Saturday we had snow flurries-- they were short lived but it was snow nonetheless. Our kids will once again be trick or treating in the snow. When you move to the north you very quickly learn to buy the Halloween costumes a few sizes too big to ensure they fit over the snowsuits. In other words, we cope, right?
Well, not always and not exactly. Ray Bradbury's "The October Game" begins with a scene of a man named considering using a gun on his wife Louise. He decides against it, however, as it would not make her suffer enough. I'll state what I hope is the obvious here: I don't relate to Mich on that front. However, when Mich starts to contemplate October and what it foreshadows, I did find myself relating somewhat. You'd think, seeing as I actively chose to live in the north I'd be more of a winter person. Overall I don't hate it, I suppose, but I know how Mich can feel overwhelmed by it and come October almost fear it. It's darker, colder, and oh so long. Unlike Mich-- and this is an important distinction to make-- I am comforted that I have a loving family to help pull me through the bleakness of winter. Mich has a family alright, but he certainly doesn't appreciate them. October is the perfect setting for this story.
"The October Game" is dark and scary, but fun in a "Lamb to the Slaughter" sort of way. There is however one "problem." I use the quotation marks here not for sarcasm, but for doubt. Trying not to give anything away, there is a logistical question about three quarters of the way in, in that I have to ask whether or not it was intentional on Bradbury's part. More specifically, and again trying to avoid spoilers, one particular paragraph jumps to another without any mention that much time has passed. However, for the ending to be interpreted the way most readers would likely interpret it, there would need to be a sufficient time lapse. Was it a mistake on Bradbury's part not to directly address the time issue or did he intentionally omit it to plant seeds of doubt about what actually happened? Read it and decide for yourself.
Bonus: I also found an online comic version here.
(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)