[For the previous Dark Carnival post, click here.]
“The Wind” (1943)
Allin fixates fearfully on the wind, considering it no natural force but a sentient stalker, “the biggest damnedest prehistoric killer that ever hunted prey.” His phobia derives from a harrowing experience atop the stormy Himalayas a few years earlier. Allin claims that he glimpsed “the Valley of the Winds where it gathers and plans its destruction. […] I know its feeding grounds, I know where it is born and where parts of it expire. For that reason, it hates me; and my [travel] books that tell how to defeat it.” So now the wind follows him around the globe, and tries to infiltrate wherever he lives. But it doesn’t just want to physically annihilate him, Allin tells his friend Herb: “It wants what’s inside me. My mind, my brain. It wants my life-power, my psychic force, my ego. It wants my intellect.” As if all this weren’t haunting enough, Allin then says (after Herb hears strange noises in the background of their phone conversation): “Those are the voices of twelve thousand killed in a typhoon, seven thousand killed by a hurricane, three thousand buried by a cyclone. […] That’s what the wind is. It’s a lot of people dead. The wind killed them, took their minds to give itself intelligence.” Herb thinks Allin has finally lost his mind and plans to deliver him to a sanitorium the next morning, but revises his outlook after sensing Allin’s spectral presence in the wind that suddenly arrives at his doorstep.
The wind, with its ghostly howl and invisible capacity to inflict damage, has always made for an uncanny subject. But it took Bradbury’s “The Wind” to draw such ideas into a dread-inspiring narrative, one that changes the reader’s perspective about gusts of air forevermore. The structure of the piece, which has Allin recounting his worsening domestic situation to Herb over the phone, also gives it the quality of some weird home-invasion story. However one wants to approach it, “The Wind” is chilling; Bradbury’s tempestuous tale has lost none of its impact after three-quarters of a century.