So, the night before last, I couldn’t sleep, and was going through my Hallowe’en anthology. (It’s a couple of screens back, in that nifty little WordPress gadget on the bottom right of the page. Because I keep a few books on the go at once.) I picked an F. Paul Wilson story as likely to suit my mood, and then, because it was a response to Bradbury’s “The October Game” and because I was feeling awake and unfocussed and faintly worried I might miss a reference, I reread “The October Game” before going to “The November Game”.
I’m so very glad I did.
(Incidentally, if you haven’t read “The October Game,” I highly recommend it. I suspect a Google could turn something up, if you don’t have it in hardcopy. And it’s quite short, which is good, because I am about to get into things that, while they might not be spoilers, certainly run the risk of minimizing the impact.
And now that I’m done responsibly putting up spoiler warnings:
Then… some idiot turned on the lights.
Beautiful, beautiful final line. I read it that night and I felt like I’d had a cup of hot chocolate. It’s collected, almost understated; it draws everything together, it makes it so clear what hasn’t been said.
I’d forgotten how good Bradbury is. Was. The sweet and strange and gently horrible fantastic, all set out so beautifully. It’s not a happy story, but–to paraphrase what a character once said in King’s “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet”–you can bet the editor who first read it went home whistling. Because it’s well-written, dammit, and it’s such a good feeling to see that.