Friends, as the Sun begins to set here at the Pop Culture Retrorama Vault, it means my thoughts as usual turn to entertainment with a horror bend. Which in all honesty is not saying much of anything as that really is my go to choice of genre at any given time. Thankfully the likes of Ian Gordon and the stories presented by HorrorBabble fit the bill quite nicely indeed. Not to mention that Gordon’s reading of “The Thing From the Barrens” is timely as my neck of the woods has been hit by Winter Storm Uri, and while we are fortunate to have power at the moment I am definitely snowed in. The cold weather of the arctic plays a key factor in this story by Jim Kjelgaard that was originally published in the pages of the September 1945 issue of Weird Tales.
Jim Kjelgaard would actually write four stories for the Weird Tales pulp magazine, with “The Thing From the Barrens” being his first accepted work and followed by “The Fangs of Tsan-Lo”, “Chanu”, and then “The Man Who Told the Truth”. All of these were written and published in a span of less than a single year – but Kjelgaard was making a name for himself with his other published works including Big Red, Haunt Fox, and Forest Patrol. The writer could definitely be described as being a fan of outdoor life as most of his stories involved animals, dogs in particular, and were written from the view point of the animal in question. While Kjelgaard would find his stories published in additional pulp magazines such as Argosy and Adventure his work would also be featured in The Saturday Evening Post. In fact Walt Disney Productions would go on to adapt his 1945 Big Red novel into a feature film in 1962, starring Walter Pidgeon (Forbidden Planet, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) and Emile Genest (The Cinicinnati Kid).
The story for “The Thing From the Barrens” concerns a young man named George Malory who resides in North City, who being blessed with an independent income stays in the frigid city to be close to the love of his life, Marcia Davenport. Who happens to be the Daughter of a trapper named Pug, a character and profession that it would appear Malory has no issue with looking down upon. However it is Pug Davenport who encounters a mysterious creature while out in the Barrens – something that leaves behind large and almost duck-like prints and what is described as the trapper as a stick. If someone is to touch this black stick though, they appear to begin floating off the ground, snatched up and taken away… to a grisly fate.
So turn down the lights if you are able and enjoy “The Thing From the Barrens” courtesy of Ian Gordon of HorrorBabble. And if you too are snowbound and decide to go out for a walk, mind you don’t stop to pick up any black sticks.