Okay guys, so last time was just a little bit confusing, frustrating and sad, due to the weird layout, pointless looping footnotes and the (presumed) deaths of Jed and Wax. I can only imagine the layout gets weird from here on in, so you may as well brace yourselves for various bits of ranting sprinkled throughout this particular post.
Back with the rescue team now, where of course we have the tensions between Karen and Navidson brought up again. I think it’s pretty clear that their attempts to salvage their relationship has failed rather badly. There are remarks about the kinds of images of the spooky bit of the house, mostly about scale and emptiness; this might well be why the pages are so full of blank space. There seems to be about one paragraph per page maximum. I’m really beginning to pity the printer or whoever had to format the pages for these last two chapters.
Anyway, they make it to the staircase, where Reston makes camp. Navidson and Tom are going to go down and try rescue Holloway and his team, but Tom suddenly panics, leaving Navidson to go by himself. Have they not figured out that going alone is a very bad idea? Yet he goes down the staircase, that he’d estimated as about 13 miles deep, and gets to the bottom only 100 feet down; I suppose that makes sense considering the corridors branching off from the staircase and how everything seems to shift. Anyway, Reston makes his way down the stairs, so Navidson is effectively forced to take him along; while this at least improves on the whole “going on alone” thing, a physically handicapped man is probably not most people’s top choice of companion in a dangerous situation, no offence meant. They continue their search, following traces of Holloway’s team, when suddenly Reston is nauseous; this is a new development, probably not a good one either. Zampano theorises that this is to do with the explorers’ expectations: Holloway et al went in with caution (initially anyway), so everything is huge and uncertain, but when Navidson go in, they know the staircase is not bottomless so it’s tiny in comparison. This is all very well when explaining size shifts, but that doesn’t explain how the rooms change place. Unless maybe that reflects Navidson’s original panic when he couldn’t initially find his way back out. But this general theory now brings up the question that if there was no human perception anywhere in the house, would all this spooky stuff actually exist? Maybe this is something in the house responding to something in Navidson, always described as the “man of action”, and creating a situation that fulfills a sub-conscious desire for adventure. If you take this theory as the truth of whatever’s behind the spooky stuff in the house, it certainly portrays Navidson in a different light.
That discussion about perception continues for a bit, then Johnny pips in again. He’s gone to the doctor’s with his panic attacks, causing me some confusion before I remembered that the American health system is very different from here (or at least it was, I have no idea what the state of that National Health scheme is in). They give him meds which he promptly crushes, making it seem a bit of a waste really, as well as throwing out the rest of the drugs in his apartment, of which there seems to be an alarming amount. I somehow doubt clearing his system of all those drugs isn’t going to help him much though; his general health might be a bit better for it though. Yeah, this is why optimism is rare in horror, it just sounds silly.
Back to the main narrative. Navidson and Reston make camp, but nothing happens overnight. The second day they’re down there, they hear something; personally, while I’d like to be proven wrong, I very much doubt that either Jed or Wax are alive so the noise is either the creature that’s presumably down there or a batshit crazy Holloway. I’m putting my money on Holloway. We find out that something’s wrong with Karen via Tom, but we don’t find out what because the radio cuts off. I don’t know why, but I suddenly get the distinct feeling that Karen’s going to take the kids and make a break for it, maybe shutting them in the spooky part of the house before she goes; or maybe I’m being too harsh on her. Anyway, they continue following the cries until they find a door that’s locked, another new development; maybe this is where Jed and Wax are, with the locked door being their attempt to keep away from the axe-crazy. And I actually turned out to be right! Except now he’s been shot in the head goddamnit. Of course Holloway has to butt in. And the blank space has increased, with there only being a few words per page; slowing things down maybe? And we’re back to a paragraph per page now; at least they gave Jed’s death a bit of emphasis. Of course they had to kill the most sympathetic one first; I’m not surprised though, this seems to happen to all my favourites. Although I’ve just figured something out: he was shot in the front of the head, with the bullet exiting through the back. How did Holloway make that shot? He has to either be behind them and either shot between Navidson and Reston or through one of them, or he has to be in front of them, which they would notice surely? Either way I think they’re pretty screwed. Anyway, Reston starts firing back, because he apparently had the forethought to come armed; I see they’re (well, some of them anyway) becoming more genre savvy. Although it seems a bit pointless moving Jed out of harm’s way, seeing as he’s kind of dead now. Oh no, not quite, but pretty much dead. Wax, on the other hand, is very much alive. Hooray for the little things. Looks like my prediction that the quiet one would live was completely wrong though. The chapter ends with Navidson and Reston loading Wax onto a makeshift stretcher and making their way back.
So, all in all a pretty decent chapter, both in terms of action and things to think about, even if my favourite character was killed off. RIP Jed, I’d hoped you’d be the last man standing, but apparently not. Hopefully Wax will make it though. It would make things kind of pointless if he got killed on the way back. Now I’ve said it, it’ll probably happen.