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So imagine this: I’m was 13 in the middle late 1980’s, stuck in the middle of Belgian farmland, with nothing to do. The nearby American military/nuclear missle base has tight security, and as such, I’ve taken to reading fantasy and horror novels. It’s all I’ve have to alleviate boredom. The base had hardly anything, except a very tiny Stars and Stripes bookstore, which provided the aforementioned mass market paperbacks. That’s basically when I first started reading. When my family moved away, I took my new found interest in horror fiction with me. When of the first short stories I read, after moving into a new home, was Stephen King’s “The Mist.”

For an teen living in Belgium, there’s a good reason why that story can seem extra frightening. Belgium gets a lot of thick, thick fog. Cars, by law, have to have special fog lights, the roads are lit even more so, and sometimes, even that doesn’t help. One can be standing outside, in the back yard, and hold up one’s hand and not see. It can get THAT thick.

In that respect, it seems only natural that “killer fog” would make it into the imaginations of Belgians. However, apparently, deadly fog is more than just folklore. According to Time Magazine, it’s actually happened:

During the winters of 1897, 1902, 1911 and last week Belgians experienced the dread phenomenon of “poison fog.” In their Royal Palace at Brussels last week King Albert and Queen Elisabeth received dreadful tidings that men, women, animals (no children), were gasping, choking, dying in a fog which filled the valley of the River Meuse from Liege down through Namur. On the fourth day the fog lifted, on the fifth Queen Elisabeth motored through the stricken valley, where 67 human lives had been lost, was rousingly cheered. The Belgian Government officially announced that the deaths were due “solely to the cold fog,” thus scotching rumors that War gases buried by the retreating German Armies had escaped. As on the three previous occasions when “poison” fogs have appeared, apparently no one in the panic stricken Meuse Valley thought to bottle a sample of the fog before it blew away. With nothing to work upon last week (for bereaved relatives delayed, attempts to obtain the bodies of fog-victims for autopsy), scientists could only guess what may have happened.

Those guesses are interesting, but the conclusion just brings things back to the issue of war and peace:

Experts of the French Army were busy last week at Lille (80 mi. from the stricken Meuse Valley) producing enormous clouds of what they called “a cheap, harmless artificial fog made from chalk, sulphuric acid and tar products which will be extremely useful to hide the movements of troops in war time.”


One Comment

  1. To the guy that just tried to leave a comment. If you’re reading this, I’m sorry but your comment was accidentally deleted. I know that normally doesn’t happen, but that’s what I get for checking the wordpres dashboard half awake before having the manadatory 3 cups of coffee. If you read this, please feel free to repost the link you’d suggested.


    Actually, I had read James Herbert’s “The Fog,” but that was two years later, when I was living in The Netherlands.

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