Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mob Scene: "The Mist"

Today marks the launch of a new Feature here at Macabre Republic.
"Mob Scenes" will highlight literary and cinematic instances of angry villagers on the rampage.  Though first popularized as the torch- and pitchfork-wielding European folk of Universal horror films, an other-hunting mob certainly exemplifies the American Gothic (as civility and community give way to intolerance and bloodthirsty violence).

First up: Mrs. Carmody and her cult of followers attempt to go Old Testament on the protagonists of Stephen King's The Mist...

"Where did you think you were going?"

It was Mrs. Carmody.

She stood at the head of the checkout line where Ollie had hidden the bags of groceries.  Her pantsuit was a yellow scream [even her clothes are hysterical] in the gloom.  Her hair frizzed out wildly [emphasis on disorder] in all directions, reminding me momentarily of Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein [apropos reference to a classic Universal horror film].  Her eyes blazed [like some supermarket Medusa].  Ten or fifteen people stood behind her, blocking the IN and OUT doors.   They had the look of people who had been in car accidents, or had seen a UFO land, or who had seen a tree pull up its roots and walk.

Bill cringed against Amanda and buried his face against her neck.

"Going out now, Mrs. Carmody," Ollie said.  His voice was curiously gentle.  "Stand away, please."

"You can't go out.  That way is death.  Don't you know that by now?"

"No one has interfered with you," I said.  "All we want is the same privilege."

She bent down and found the bags of groceries unerringly.  She must have known what we were planning all along.  She pulled them out from the shelf where Ollie had placed them.  One ripped open, spilling cans across the floor.  She threw the other and it smashed open with the sound of breaking glass [riotous noise].  Soda ran fizzing every which way [unchecked volatility] and sprayed off the chrome facing of the next checkout lane.

"These are the sort of people who brought it on!" she shouted. 
"People who will not bend to the will of the Almighty!  Sinners in pride, haughty they are, and stiff-necked!  It is from their number that the sacrifice must come!  From their number the blood of expiation!" [misappropriation of Biblical rhetoric].

A rising grumble of agreement spurred her on.  She was in a frenzy now.  Spittle flew from her lips as she screamed at the people crowding up behind her: "It's the boy we want! Grab him! Take him!  It's the boy we want!" [targeting the weak].

They surged forward, Myron LaFleur in the lead, his eyes blankly joyous [accenting the mindlessness of a mob mentality].  Mr. McVey was directly behind him, his face blank and stolid.

Amanda faltered backward, holding Billy more tightly.  His arms were wrapped around her neck.  she looked at me, terrified.  "David, what do I--"

"Get them both!" Mrs. Carmody screamed.  "Get his whore, too!"

She was an apocalypse [fitting word choice for this doomsayer] of yellow and dark joy.  Her purse was still over her arm.  She began to jump up and down.  "Get the boy, get the whore, get them both, get them all, get--" [indiscriminate scapegoating].

A single sharp report rang out. (143-44)

Work Cited

King, Stephen.  "The Mist."  Skeleton Crew.  New York: Signet, 1986.  24-159.

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