‘August Heat’ by W.F. Harvey

August Heat by W.F. Harvey, 1910

The magic trick:

Deriving terror from implication

No jump scares here. No monsters or ghosts.

Just good old-fashioned psychological terror, built from implication.

And that’s quite a trick on Harvey’s part.

The selection:

I HAVE HAD what I believe to be the most remarkable day in my life, and while the events are still fresh in my mind, I wish to put them down on paper as clearly as possible.

Let me say at the outset that my name is James Clarence Withencroft.

I am forty years old, in perfect health, never having known a day’s illness.

By profession I am an artist, not a very successful one, but I earn enough money by my black-and-white work to satisfy my necessary wants.

My only near relative, a sister, died five years ago, so that I am independent.

I breakfasted this morning at nine, and after glancing through the morning paper I lighted my pipe and proceeded to let my mind wander in the hope that I might chance upon some subject for my pencil.

The room, though door and windows were open, was oppressively hot, and I had just made up my mind that the coolest and most comfortable place in the neighbourhood would be the deep end of the public swimming bath, when the idea came.

I began to draw. So intent was I on my work that I left my lunch untouched, only stopping work when the clock of St. Jude’s struck four.

The final result, for a hurried sketch, was, I felt sure, the best thing I had done.

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