Sunday June 27th 2021
“The Chill”: Horror und Thrill
When the flood threatens New York
By Thomas Badtke
September 11, 2001 revealed New York’s vulnerability. But there is a far greater danger for the metropolis on the Hudson than a terrorist attack with airplanes. Scott Carson’s “The Chill” shows how real it is – and how demonic at the same time.
“Listen to the water!” Aaron wrote this sentence in his favorite book as a teenager. He wants to become a lifeguard for the US Coast Guard. He undoubtedly has what it takes, because he’s the best swimmer in Torrance County, not far from New York. Aaron does not train in the swimming pool, he uses the nearby chill: He dives with the current and then swims against it. It is a show of strength, but it fills him with satisfaction because Aaron feels part of the water every time. Nice childhood memories.
One day he returns to the chill as an adult. Aaron failed at the Coast Guard, was briefly imprisoned several times and his life is in danger of slipping out of his hands. But once again he wants to prove it to himself, to face the current of chill – and defeat it just like his own fears. Aaron just has to do this. He doesn’t care that it has been raining cats and dogs for days and the chill has become a potential danger to his life. Then more like this strangely dressed photographer on the bank. What is he doing here? Aaron jumps into the rain-churned water.
He drifts a bit, indulges in his thoughts and faces the current, swims against it and his fears. But he fails. He doesn’t make it, the current has conquered him – and he angrily stumbles to the bank. He doesn’t see the broken glass bottle, but he can feel it as the sharp shards cut the sole of his foot down to the bone. The downpour continues and Aaron realizes that bleeding and freezing with only his underpants on, he could die.
One man, one ghost, one corpse
A man appears with a notepad and tablet. All of a sudden. He sees the bleeding, angry Aaron. A short exchange of words and the man turns around and trudges back up the slippery bank. Wordless. Is he getting help? It doesn’t look like this for Aaron: He grabs part of the broken bottle, throws it after the man – and meets him when he turns back to Aaron to tell him that he wants to get his first-aid kit out of the car , right in the face.
The man falls to the ground, slides down the bank and falls unconscious into the water. Aaron’s lifeguard genes and the adrenaline rushing through his body suppress the throbbing pain that emanates from his foot throughout his body. He limps to the water and starts swimming. Systematically as he learned it. He’s diving, looking for the man. Sees nothing. Then a flash in the corner of my eye. He dives in, reaches for it – and his hand touches a skeleton whose head is in a black pocket. The corpse is chained and locked. Aaron’s shock drives him to the surface of the water. He breathes in and out deeply – and is certain that he is now a murderer, that he has the man with his angry litter on his conscience – and that he has found a corpse in the chill.
Shortly afterwards, the events come thick and fast: The man from the embankment appears alive again – and the corpse in the water belongs to an old-established family whose roots go back to the 17th century and still has an unanswered calculation: They want revenge on the city, for whose water supply the chill was once designed and built. She wants revenge because her hometown was expropriated, burned down and flooded for the reservoir. Revenge should hit New York.
Ghost hunt against time
Scott Carson’s “The Chill: They’re waiting for you”, published as a book by Heyne, as an audio book by Randomhouse Audio, congenially spoken by Uve Teschner – needs something to get things going. The plot trickles down a little before the storylines connect and become a rousing pleasure for the listener. “The Chill” is an appeal to cordiality, to the good in people. But the book is also a warning that the past does not rest, even if it seems to have long been forgotten. With “The Chill” it becomes clear: Everyone is afraid of the other until you meet the other.
Aaron meets police officer Gillian. She turns out to be the granddaughter of the corpse found in the water. Gillian spent her childhood not far from the chill in a house where everything about the past of the reservoir and the associated ailments was drummed into her. It was only when her grandmother got into the water voluntarily that her father took her out of there and took her to New York. She got to know the city and its people, but returned to Torrance County as an adult because of her family past.
Aaron’s grandfather, in turn, as sheriff once ensured that the expropriation for the construction of the reservoir progressed. And the man with notepad and tablet also has connections to chill: his grandfather was the engineer of the mighty structure. But he apparently changed sides while it was being built, and now fought with the dispossessed, who are working as ghosts in the depths of the lake on their plan of revenge. Stone by stone. The chill has to break so that New York is destroyed and the thirst for revenge is quenched.
Sounds like a stretch? Maybe. Sounds like real horror? In any case! Horror in the best Dean R. Koontz or Stephen King manner. Packed in a gripping thriller that is reminiscent of Wolf Harlander’s “42 Degrees”, in which water is the most important plot carrier – as in “The Chill”. Because after September 11, 2001, the US authorities ran through several possible terrorist scenarios. “Of all the nightmares, one had the potential to paralyze the whole city for a long time: the failure of the two water tunnels that served the five boroughs. The failure of water tunnel two alone would drain Queens and Brooklyn for months. Half of the city’s houses would be drained uninhabitable, the hospitals would have to close, epidemics would spread, the economy would collapse and chaos would reign, “says Scott Carson, bestselling and screenwriter. So: “Listen to the water!”