The Books Of Blood Advent Calendar
“It’s easy to be a hero, Cameron used to say. It’s not clever, it’s not clever at all. Don’t waste your time showing off, just let the Supermen have their moment. Hang on to the pack, but hold back a little. Better to be cheered at the post because you won than have them call you a good-hearted loser.” – Clive Barker
“When Hell Freezes Over”
When we talk about Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, there are a few stories that stand out like, “The Yattering and Jack,” “Rawhead Rex,” or even “The Midnight Meat Train,” to name a few. However, one tale doesn’t get as much recognition, and I think it should: “Hell’s Event.”
“Hell’s Event” is about a charity race taking place in London. However, unbeknownst to most, it’s not just a simple charity race. It is something much sinister. Every 100 years, the forces of Hell compete with humans for control of the world. This short story is a mix of horror, biblical reference, and allusion to the old Tortoise and the Hare fable.
When we think about the battle of good versus evil or the devil trying to “win,” we generally think of epic battles, angels and demons vying for control. For me, the last thing I would have thought of was a straightforward foot race. On the one hand, it is somewhat anticlimactic compared to Hollywood’s renditions of the eternal struggle. However, the more I thought about it, the scarier it became. I mean, if it really came down to a foot race and the winner takes all, then one bad day or a simple accident could spell eternal darkness for the world. I think I’d take that epic battle over the race any day. We humans have an uncanny ability to band together and do amazing things when pushed into a corner.
Another aspect about “Hell’s Event” that I thought was neat was the depiction of Hell. Generally, hell is shown as a fiery inferno full of lost souls and torment. Barker instead shows us a hell that is freezing, dark, and cold.
Where this story shines is when Barker hits those notes that are distinctly his. For example, without spoiling anything, there is a scene where one of Hell’s creatures bites the face off one of the runners. The descriptions are visceral and evoke savage imagery. The description of the beasts themselves are uniquely Barker as well. It is what you hope for and expect from such a talented writer.
Overall, I enjoyed re-reading this story, and it is a fine addition to the Books of Blood. It’s short, to the point, and altogether entertaining. If you haven’t read it yet and you like Clive Barker’s other work, you won’t be disappointed.
C.R. Langille spent many a Saturday afternoon watching monster movies with his mother. It wasn’t long before he started crafting nightmares to share with his readers. An avid hunter and outdoorsman, C.R. Langille incorporates the Utah wilderness in many of his tales. He is an affiliate member of the Horror Writer’s Association, a member of the League of Utah Writers, and received his MFA: Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.