Yellow and orange leaves on a damp pavement. A sky claustrophobically occluded with gray clouds. A decided chill in the air. All you have to do is add a few pumpkins and the feeling of October is complete. I don’t know why this particular image of the change of seasons grips me the way it does. As a homeowner I don’t want to turn the heat on too soon because the gas bills will jet up and will stay that way for seven or eight months. I get depressed when skys are cloudy for days at a time. Around here the leaves have only just begun to change. In other words, there’s a decided difference between the way I imagine October and the way that it feels on the ground. In my imagination there are Ray Bradbury titles, The October Country, The Autumn People, but here in the physical world I shiver and add another layer.
Over the past several weeks I’ve been struggling to figure out why horror appeals to me. It seems to be the Poe-esque mood rather than any startles or gore. The sense of mystery that hangs in the air when you simply don’t know what to expect. Will it be a warm, summer-like day or will it be rainy and raw, a day when you wouldn’t venture outside without the necessity to do so? October is like that. It is changeable. Beginning in late September it is dark longer than it is light and for much of the rest of the year I will go to bed when it’s dark outside. It’s always still dark when I awake. Is it any wonder that October has its hooks in me?
Short stories, of which I’ve had about twenty published, seem to be the best way to capture this mood. You see, it isn’t a sustained feeling. It’s piecemeal like that extra quilt you throw on your bed at night. The urge to hibernate creeps in, but capitalism doesn’t allow for that. October is an artist, and I’m just the guy wandering the galley, pausing before each painting. This feeling only comes after summer, and it is fleeting. In November the leaves will be down and the cold will settle in quite earnestly. The candles we lit for Halloween will be our guide-lights to those we hold out to Christmas when the dayglow will begin to return at an hour that reminds us change is the only thing that’s permanent. And in this there’s a profound hope.