Review: “The Pond”, Nigel Kneale, 1949.
This week’s weird fiction discussed by the Deep Ones over at LibraryThing is a piece by Nigel Kneale.
I was certainly aware of Kneale as a renowned scriptwriter and have seen most of the tv shows and movies made from them. However, I was not aware of his early days of writing fictions for magazines. This story seems to have first appeared in his sole collection of fiction, Tomato Cain and Other Stories.
“The Pond” is a short “biter-bitten” story or, to be exact, a stuffer-stuffed story.
A never named “old man” goes out to a pond at night, makes come hither sounds to the frogs. When they hop up to him, he throws a net over them, kills them with a darning needle through the mouth.
Then he takes them home.
He carefully skins them and the boils the carcass until he can get the flesh off their bones.
Then he takes the bones and some wool and handmade clothes and poses them in little dioramas.
Now, that may seem kind of weird (and kind of neat, to me), but people really did this kind of thing.
In fact, while the poses and clothes are different from the ones in the story, here’s a picture of a real one:
Well, something in the universe seems upset that on the night of the story the old man took the last frog out of the pond.
He hears a racket of frogs croaking at the pond and goes out to investigate.
Reeds lash him and
Then he was in the midst of an immense, pulsating softness that yielded and received and held him. He knew he was shrieking. He knew there was no one to hear him.
The next morning the local constable, seeing the old man’s lights still on and the door open, goes to the pond to investigate and finds the old man, standing motionless. He grabs the old man’s arm, which comes off, to reveal “reeds and green water-plants and slime” tumbling from the broken joint.
A story short enough to not wear out its welcome and worth a mild smile.
It also put me in mind of the following The Far Side cartoon: