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The August Heat

There have many occurrences in the world we live in today, which not even science can explain how it happened. One of the most common events is Deja Vu, where someone dreams of seeing something and later that day, sees what he had dreamt. However for some reason there is another sort of rare and frightening event. In the story, The August Heat, written by W. F Harvey, two characters, James Clarence Withencroft and Charles Atkinson which have never met, take part of the most scariest and unimaginable event of their life.

The story begins with James Clarence Withencroft who is a healthy forty year old artist who draws for a living. On one oppressively hot day, Withencroft decides to draw what would be a large, round man at the dock who has been convicted and sentenced to death. After finishing his masterpiece Withencroft then proceeds to place the drawing in his pocket and heads outside as he takes a long stroll down the pavement sidewalk. Along his journey he ends up entering a cemetery where he finds a stonemason named Charles Atkinson. To his surprise, he discovers that the man he had drawn is Charles Atkinson himself.

When Withencroft enters his house he observes a headstone that Atkinson had been working on. When Atkinson reveals the name he had written on the headstone Withencroft is a little scared to see that the name on the tombstone is his, It had both dates of his birth and the forthcoming death. This story adds suspense as you go throughout the story making you wonder who the man in the drawing is. As Withencroft goes for his walk and soon discovers the man and that he is the man in the drawing you begin to wonder how that is even possible? It was the man I had been drawing, whose portrait lay in my pocket” (Harvey).

How could a man draw a complete stranger only to meet the same guy in a matter of a few hours. What makes this story so chilling is the part when you discover that Atkinson is a stonemason and that headstone he had been working on for so long happens to be the headstone of no one other than James Clarence Withencroft. “For some time I sat in silence. Then a cold shudder ran down my spine. I asked him where he had seen the name” (Harvey).

This quote exemplifies just how confused Withencroft is. The headstone is what makes this story a true phenomenon as the two men begin to discuss what all of this means and how it is possible. The story ends with the two men discussing what will happen next as they stand there and stare at the dates of the headstone which appears to have one of the correct dates. Withencroft then proceeds to tell Atkinson about his drawing which leave him very serious and worried just as his expression is in the drawing. As he looked, the expression of his face altered until it became more and more like that of the man I had drawn” (Harvey).

Atkinson convinces Withencroft to stay at his house in order for him to be safe. As Withencroft stays over with Atkinson he is invited to dinner and is later seen making a comment on how extremely hot it is. The weather begins to take a toll on the men as Withencroft then makes a comment on how weather like this would drive a man crazy. “But the heat is stifling. It is enough to send a man mad” (Harvey).

Personally I believe that whatever occurred to Withencroft and Atkinson is very paranormal. At the same time the whole story revolves around the idea that it is a very humid day with the blazing, hot sun hitting the people of earth very hard. “The room, though door and windows were open, was oppressively hot…”, this quote proves that the setting of the story is indeed extremely hot. So with that in mind someone can assume maybe all of this is actually possible if you put your mind into it.

What if the reason the destiny of both these men collided was not because it was some sort of miracle, but instead an illusion of a poor man being driven to the point of insanity? This quote could be telling us something else, “But the heat is stifling. It is enough to send a man mad”, (Harvey). Perhaps this quote is trying to show us that indeed it is just all in someone’s imagination, that is the only rational reason for all of this to make sense. In conclusion, the story ends with an uncertain ending as it is never revealed what happened next.

The story is left at a cliffhanger as the audience is left wondering exactly what happen next? What was the fate of the two men? The answer is simple, what happened next was nothing really, the two men continued their lives in the horrible weather. The ending of the story gives the reader the benefit of coming up with a ending for it all to make sense. The story doesn’t make sense unless you are able to believe in the impossible. By allowing your sight and sound to guide you open up the gate of imagination. The gate in which the answer of the story rests upon.

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