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The American Falls in the Winter

Frozen Falls

Cold weather carries a certain horror all on its own, doesn’t it?

If you were in or around Niagara Falls, Ontario, over the last month or so, you probably saw a bunch of scenes like the one captured in the title shot of this blog post.

(For more and some information on the whole thing, you can view a fun video right here.)

Amazing, aren't they? Also, of course, absolutely terrifying. Flowers and plants covered in ice. Dead-white snow covering everything else.

Vast, frozen places are often thought of as wastelands where evil things lurk, and even from a completely scientific place? That’s not even the wrong idea to have about locations like that. After all, the Nightmares Fear Factory is sitting right in the middle of your current icy nightmare—not that we're claiming credit.

Think about it, though. How many people have been lost trying to make a living in places that look like Niagara Falls looked like this month? What are your survival statistics? How hard is life in places that regularly look like Niagara Falls this month?

When you think about places like arctic tundras or Siberia, or the dark reaches of space, even, is there anything there where most people are nodding their heads and thinking, “Yeah, I could live there.”

There’s a reason human can’t live in space, can’t live well in Siberia or the Arctic, and to rationalise those reasons we’ve often created monsters, apocalypses and have actually witnessed even worse things in the cosmos.

The real reasons? Exposure and no arable land. But that’s sort of boring, isn’t it? It doesn’t really scare anyone who hasn’t had to sleep outside during the winter or has gotten used to buying groceries in grocery stores.

Cold, the type of creeping, all-killing deep cold that we saw in Niagara Falls this month, though, conjures up a bunch of mythological monsters that seems like they might have once been used to discourage people from trying to settle up in the most northerly reaches of the Earth.

Yetis and wendigos, for example. Abominations that wait with slavering jaws for anyone who tries to explore those reaches.

Quickly, wendigos are a type of ghost that uses the wind to destroy people. One popular folk tale has an explorer being dragged across the tundra—literally. Over the course of the story, the unfortunate victim is ground down, and down, and down until nothing remains but the trail that dragging him left in the ice and snow.

Yetis are more obvious, and could even have been a type of bear—polar bears, even—that tend not to be very friendly and do tend to be man-eaters. Such stories usually have them sitting on piles of frozen human bones.

Those things, as clever and as mythologically important as they are, barely even rate next to the type of thing that we’ve actually observed. What populates the vast, frozen reaches of space? Nobody’s totally sure, but just the thought of absolute zero is enough to hurt the mind, isn’t it? Atomic stillness? Picture yourself dipping your hand in nitrogen, then magnify it infinitely.

For a taste of what that might feel like, though, be sure to take a walk around Niagara Falls as soon as you can. As frightening as cold can be, it also offers some of the most wondrous, surreal sights that you could possibly hope for.

In the Nightmares Fear Factory, we work pretty hard to give you the same type of experience. The hopelessness, the thrill of the unknown, the fear. Problem is, this month, here in Niagara Falls, Ontario?

It’s all right outside, and you’re nowhere near as safe.

Watch out for wendigos.