And we’re back and still fuming over that cliffhanger ending of the last chapter. Academic writings don’t usually have cliffhangers, just as a general rule. Oh well, the intention was successful, as I’m now eager and raring to go.
But of course, Zampano immediately stops talking about what we want to know; he instead talks about the use of echoes. Damn, foiled. So we’re told two myths of Echo from Greek mythology, the first ending with her pining away for Narcissus until only her voice remains, the second ending with the god Pan ripping her to pieces and burying all but her voice. Either way, Echo isn’t the luckiest (but then in Greek myths, the mortals rarely are). The emphasis here, unlike many versions that I’ve previously read for this myth, seems to be placed on the immortality of her voice and how in this way she continues to defy the Gods; this is an unexpectedly positive way to perceive this and seems somehow out of place, considering that it’s obvious something has gone horribly wrong in the Navidson house. All is not well with Johnny either as he interjects with one very long, rambling and increasingly scared sentence. He seems to think he’s going to hell; if it were any other story, I’d laugh. But returning to Echo, Zampano has now created the image of Echo as a divine messenger; interesting as this all is, I’m just confused as to how this all links to the main plotline. It’s certainly affecting Johnny more than it’s affecting me right now, as he’s just waxed lyrical over the phrase:
- “one simple word – perhaps your word – flung down empty hallways long past midnight.
While that is a very vivid image, I can’t quite see what the problem is, although his equating the word to claws of that very creepy unseen monster always behind him does make a bit more sense. If I’m totally honest, the beginning part of this chapter has thus far bored me for the most part, to the brink of dozing off; it just feels like an info dump (albeit bringing up the theme of space) and Johnny Truant’s footnotes, while more interesting, aren’t as good as I’d hope. I can only hope I’m on to the good stuff soon. The final footnote of this opening section is about a girl and very much a stream of consciousness; the pedant in me is begging for some full stops, but the eye just takes it in faster and faster. Now that it’s more structured, he’s sounding, well, sweet. This is very cute and all but very weird at the same time. Definitely weird now that I know she’s the stripper called Thumper he mentioned fancying in the intro.
Now: the good stuff (hopefully). So it looks like the walls expanded without them noticing, so now the difference between interior and exterior dimensions has grown. Reston, the engineer from before has joined their cause and so far I like him, especially after summing up the house as:
- “a goddamn spatial rape”
Tom’s departure, while touching, seems pretty underwhelming, seeing as I don’t really have much of a sense of character about him apart from “big, laughs easily but has hidden sorrowful depths”. With Tom gone, communication fails between Will and Karen, causing them to neglect the kids. Somehow this doesn’t seem all that surprising, considering how little the narrative focuses on them; if the narrative neglects them, why not the characters within the narrative too? Of course, they go exploring: down a new black-walled corridor that wasn’t there before. Okay, now it’s getting creepy again. I mean, that’s got to be any parent’s biggest fear, losing their children; the fact that there’s something seriously wrong with the house only increases the prospects of losing them. Scary stuff. But at least the whole essay on echoes makes a little more sense considering their use just now.
We now have some character development for Karen, who seems to have morphed from a tomboy who was friends with everyone to a girl who never speaks to anyone and yet is the most popular girl in high school. The thought that someone can change so radically in such a short space of time is terrifying. It seems to hinge on her crippling claustrophobia somehow, which I’m trying to figure out. And now I find that her panic attacks caused by claustrophobia increase in frequency and severity when she’s more intimate with Will and her children; that is a seriously messed up woman. For a guy who’s looking for intimacy to make up for his childhood, Navidson sure made an odd choice. I want to hug them both….
So, back to the corridor, and Tom seems to have returned. Hopefully he’ll get some character development this time. There’s a very sweet moment between Karen and her son Chad, which grounds the weirdness in some reality for now. But this is offset by the corridor growing from 10′ to about 50′. Wonderful. Communications between Navidson and Karen don’t improve so we see Tom interacting with the children instead, which is sweet. The tension between Navidson and Karen worsens, which is understandable seeing as they both want different things; he wants to explore the corridor, she’s adament he doesn’t. Personally, I agree with Karen, you don’t need to be a genius to not explore unexplainable spaces; it’s just common sense. They have guests over, he shows them the corridor and they leave. Because of course it wasn’t going to freak them out completely. He decides to go and explore because he’s an idiot (seriously, what person in their right mind would do that?!). Gets to the end of the 70′ corridor and finds nothing. Turns and finds a door that wasn’t there seconds ago. This is usually the point where you turn and run. Unless you’re in a horror movie. Or, apparently, in the House of Leaves. He takes various different turnings, into corridors that get longer and longer, until he finds a room that he can’t actually gauge the size of because his torch doesn’t hit the walls or ceiling. While Zampano breaks off momentarily to talk about Navidson’s filming style, he provides us with the longest, most random set of names in a footnote 2 and a half pages long. Why? Just why?! There’s only so much you can make up without crossing the line between credible and ridiculous; this leaps across the line bodily.
Back to Navidson, and he’s gotten lost. I would laugh, but it seems inappropriate. So it seems as though the corridors and rooms change at will, so remembering a route or leaving signposts seems to be a pretty futile exercise. Eventually he gets back into the house, hopefully having learnt his lesson. Considering that was “Exploration A” though, I highly doubt it.
Zampano starts the next section summing up what the reader has already guessed about these corridors, when we get a footnote from Johnny. His day starts out well, but then when he goes to get something from the back-room, he feels that creature behind him again. Ends up with him falling down the stairs and finding out he has long stratch on the back of his neck. Eerie doesn’t cover it.
Back to Navidson, who decides not to tell Karen about his exploration, but has decided with her to get someone else to explore it, which I suppose is fair enough. The mood is lightened until his daughter Daisy comes in and asks him to play Always with her. Sounds a lot like hallways, huh?
So, in summary, a very good, very creepy chapter that is only spoiled by the info dump at the beginning of the chapter. Looking forward to the next chapter, which looks a fair deal shorter.