on May 15, 2011 :
Occasionally, I get these recurring dreams of being in a large, darkened, industrial area with mammoth machinery. The interesting thing about this dream is the fact that it's necessary to cross long, metal, grated bridges to get from one area to the next. I know the source of this dream, but have never understood the subconscious connection. It has to do with a maintenance job I had at a Sears department store, nearly 20 years ago. Part of my duties included watching over the HVAC equipment in the penthouse, a large area that contained enormous machinery.
The most interesting region of this area was a network of chambers that housed what looked like mammoth circulation fans that might be used as engines in commercial jets. To enter this area, one would have to unlock a steel door that resembled the entryway from one hallway to the next in a submarine. It was necessary to lock this door before venturing deeper inside; for upon opening one of the doors to enter a wind tunnel that led to several chambers, an intense air pressure had the potential to throw the entry door open.
Each chamber was frightening enough on its own. These large fans generated enough air pressure to make the opening of a door nearly impossible. Inside a chamber, only a protective grate stood between a person and a large vortex of high-speed fans that could liquefy one in a matter of seconds.
Although a dark, dramatic and horrific place; I would often visit these chambers. But then there was another place I liked to visit. Rather than venturing in the chambers, sometimes I would step outside onto the store's roof. Right before me was a large, metallic housing; perhaps 1-and-a-half stories tall. I could climb a metallic, grated ladder that led to the top of the housing. At its center was an enormous blade that rotated high speed and discharged air. You know the central air fan that sits outside a house and spins during the summer months? This was the exact same thing, but was large enough to accommodate a department store.
Often I would stand on the top of this housing and use it as an observation deck. The fan blade was horrific, but the scenery before me amazing—yielding the surrounding neighborhoods and even the Chicago skyline.
I couldn't help but think of this dramatic area of oversized machines and my recurring dream while reading Bridget Squire's short story, The Dam. The main character visited a city dam for a job interview and was given a thorough tour of his hopeful place of employment. Along with the impressive machinery that he would oversee if hired, he immediately took notice of strange noises that resembled voices that cried out for help.
I can't help but wonder if Bridget visited such a place and used it as inspiration to write this story. I can say, first hand, that being alone in an area of such astronomical machinery; eerie, ghostly noises can be heard. You can't help but wonder if something horrific ever happened and the ghost of that unfortunate person calls out for help.
I've noticed that Bridget has a talent for writing stories that represent our subconscious fears of eerie places. Consider her story, Well, a tale of an old, abandoned well and a horror that resides within it. What sort of nightmarish perceptions might we have of old wells in desolate places? And in reflection of reading The Dam, what sort of fears might we have in dramatic, fearsome machinery that has the seeming ability to overcome the powers of nature?
The Dam is classified in the genre of teen and young adult horror, and for good reason. The story is pretty straight forward, easy to understand, and presents nothing mysteriously complex to grasp. However, Bridget's literal illustrations of the eerie surroundings, along with the frightening phenomenon experienced, make this tale equally enjoyable for adults. If there is ever a new generation of the Twilight Zone created, I could actually see this story being turned into an episode
I give The Dam 5 stars. I can tell that the author did some research or had some experience in a place like this. I really wish that Bridget had a blog in which she took the reader behind the scenes and discussed these things in further detail. Still, she's a talented writer and I look forward to reading much more!
(review of free book)