Short Story #73: The Shout by Robert Graves
Title: The Shout
Author: Robert Graves
SummaryThe narrator is visiting an Asylum and participating in a cricket game. He strikes up a conversation with one of the people in the Asylum named Crowley who tells him of this story. Richard and Rachel are a happily married couple who awake one day having experienced similarly dark dreams about a beach. Richard gets up and goes for a walk that eventually lands him in the town and at a church service. Afterward, a stranger sits with him on a bench to strike up a conversation. The stranger, Charles scares Richard enough but Richard cannot seem to escape from inviting him to dinner at his home. When they arrive at the house, Charles assumes a certain amount of mysterious control and seems to be able to tell them what to do. Charles explains that he does have immense power and in particular, his ability to shout can do serious harm and injury to any and all nearby. Richard challenges him on this and Charles agrees to do so the next. During the night, Rachel confides in Richard that Charles must be the man that they both saw in their dreams that does them harm. Richard avoids telling her what else he has discovered about Charles with regards to the dream. The next morning, Richard and Charles go out to the beach and Charles gives one last warning but Richard insists. When Charles shouts, Richard passes out. When he comes to, Charles is standing far away and Richards sneaks home. Richard explains what has occurred in part to Rachel but is still trying to recover from the experience. As Richard recovers, they discover that someone had actually died in the town at the time of the shout and that many in town were feeling ill. Throughout this all, Charles had managed to stay with them and command them. Rachel even acknowledges she was falling in love with him. For a short period of time, Charles disappears but when he returns, he insists on dinner and demands Richard leave for the night so that Charles can have his wife for the night. Slipping from sanity, Richard goes into the beach to find stones that were part of the dream and shatters the stone that he believes represents Charles. When he returns to the village, he finds out that Charles (who we now discover is Crossley--the person the narrator is talking to) has gone insane and that they were trying to take him away. Charles tried to shout but was unable to. Charles Crossley now addresses the narrator to ask how he liked the story and the narrator finds it intriguing. The weather turns sour and the attendants try to round up all the inmates. Crossley refuses and threatens to shout. The narrator moves away at this point and gets far enough away just as lightning strikes--killing both Crossley and the doctor. The final note to the story is the narrator remarking that he was actually in the area because he was visiting Richard and Rachel but had never heard about this.
ReflectionA wonderfully bizarre and dark story. Graves pulls together some fascinating strands and there are elements of this that remind me of Arthur Machen and Robert Chambers. I enjoyed the story within the story that comes back to fulfill the outer story and while mysteries are solved, still others remain. This anthology by Graves is definitely growing on me.
Short Story #73 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 3/11/2014
Source: The Shout and Other Stories by Robert Graves. Penguin Books, 1978.
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.
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