Horror

Halloween Interlude – Re-Animated

oak_leavesIt would be wrong to say that death was the beginning for me. Death was simply part of a much protracted end. An end that I face, but cannot see. Real sight is denied me, now. The dead have no useful eyes; for they are shunned by light. The dead have no love; for they are shunned by salvation. The dead have only blistering desire; for the dead are embraced by corruption. I carry corruption with me and it drips from my sagging flesh.

Sensation flooded my body when I awoke on that table in that room in the dim light of an oil lamp. I cannot, in truth, say what I felt for the emotions of the dead remain unnamed. As I remain unnamed. In life I was a man – that much is clear from a glance at my own anatomy – but in death I am nothing but a moveable husk. Naming me would akin to naming a pile of clothes or a gust of wind. Names are for those things we find important and that we wish to incorporate into ourselves. I am a dead man and none wish to incorporate with me.

I screamed. It was involuntary. A scream is the purist action a human body can take. It is a release of all tension and a denial of the exterior world by way of a corrupting propulsion of miasmic air and fetid sound. I screamed and flung my arms about hoping to find purchase on this world; something to grab, to clutch, to hold. An anchor.

The sound of footsteps. A door smashing against the wall. Shouting.

I rose.

A man’s arm wrapped around my neck from behind. I gripped the forearm in my hands, fingers like claws against his rippling muscles. He was strong. But, in death, one does not hold back. The impulses that drive the living to survive also keep their actions in check. Hands that can splinter wood resist splintering bone. Teeth that can tear meat resist tearing flesh. The dead have no such issues. To the dead, life is an obstacle that is best gotten over or gotten through. My fingernails easily tore his skin. I pulled his arm and he began shrieking. I found his bone and and gripped it as if it were a club. Pulling, I removed his arm from around my throat and from his own body. My power was immense.

The man was squealing on the floor at my feet. I took the forearm and drove it down into his chest, puncturing bone, lungs, spine. I pulled the arm free and thrust it down again and again and again until I was certain I shared the room with no more life.

At the edge of my hearing, a sound. People. More than a few. Several? They seemed far off but growing closer. I moved away from the voices and found a window. My legs were strong and they drove me through the glass. Shards cut my skin, but pain was no longer a concern. Neither was infection. I had no need to remove the glass from my body, so I ran.

A smell assaulted my nostrils. Decay. Stretching out before me. Woods. Forest. I plunged in.

I avoided the trees by the stench of their life. I clambered towards the fallen, the rot, the pulp. In death, the ground is your sky. The world is inverted and you long for the cool rain of dirt to clean your face and wash the water from your unseeing eyes.

A shout. I turned and charged towards the offending voice.

Meat met meat as I tore into the warm body before me. Barely had it time to cry out before I extinguished the horrible living, breathing, pulsating freshness it carried about the world. I had to, I needed to, obliterate the living. Warm blood cooled rapidly on my skin and coated me in the smell of purification.

More voices. More yelling. I ran. Although I was strong, I was not invincible.

Mud. Deep mud. A cover. I plunged in and buried myself in its cool depths.

Now, I wait. This is no life. But, I want no life. This is death and death is not the end. Death is a way-station. Death is a portal. I can no longer see the world of the living but the world of the living is limited. I will see beyond that world. That is my destination.

When night comes, I will rise. I will enter my new world through this old one.

Until then, I wait. And hate the living.

Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing, Just a VERY STUPID THING | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – Wormy Boners

 ryLGMamPWn-4

What’s that sound on the bedroom door?
Ooooooh! Wormy Boners!
What’s that smell on the kitchen floor?
Ooooooh! Wormy Boners!

What made the dog scream with fright?
What keeps you sister up all night?
What wants in but it’s just too tight?!
Ooooooh! Wormy Boners!

Some say a boner with no worms in it
Is a boner only in name
Some may try wrapping their boner in worms
But, it isn’t the same
And ain’t that a shame?

So, why is that clown coughing up so much blood?
Ooooooh! Wormy Boners!
Why is my child buried deep in the mud?
Ooooooh! Wormy Boners!

Why did that baby doll rip off my skin?
Why are we just shells with no soul within?
Why is living a torment; a game we can’t win?
Ooooooh! Wormy Boners!

Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing, Just a VERY STUPID THING | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Halloween Interlude – Little House of Pancakes

ihop happy face pancake  Brad was having trouble picking out which breakfast he wanted from the 17 different options available on Jimmy’s menu. There was the Pile O’Cakes – a stack of eight pancakes, topped with butter, jam, syrup and sprinkled with powdered sugar, surrounded by bacon strips and hashed browns all served in a skillet. There was the Bottle Cake Platter – a plate of pancakes baked in glass bottles which are then shattered, revealing bottle-shaped cakes, served with bottle of international syrups surrounded by bacon, bacon-bits and scrambled egg hash. There was the Smile Face Pancake – a single pancake topped with ingredients arranged to look like, as the menu put it, “an actual living face!”

“What?” Brad wondered.

“I’m sorry sir, did you have a question?” the server asked.

“Yeah, does the Smile Face Pancake . . . is it any good?”

The server looked at Brad for a few seconds with an unsteady gaze.

“Sure,” she finally said, “Sure, it’s good.”

“Does it really look like an actual living face?” he asked.

“Sure,” she said again, “Sure it does.”

“Okay, I’ll try it,” he said. He wasn’t interested in the face so much as the serving size. One pancake he could handle. This place was ridiculous.

Ten minutes later, the server returned with a large plate. On the plate, was a large pancake. On the pancake was a human face.

“Enjoy,” the server said and ran off. Brad was momentarily surprised to notice she had tears in her eyes.

He looked down at his pancake.

Whatever ingredients they had used to make the face really worked. It looked, for all intents and purposes, as if his pancake had a real human face made of real human skin and real human muscle. He couldn’t figure it out but the effect was unnerving.

Raising his fork, he prepared to spear the pancake right in its too-human nose.

“Wait!” the pancake screamed.

Brad leapt about a foot and a half out of his chair. He looked around. None of the other customers had noticed him or, apparently, had heard the scream coming from the pancake. He looked at his plate.

The pancake had opened its eyes. They were real, honest to goodness, eyeballs. Looking up. Looking at him.

“Did, did you just say something?” Brad asked the pancake.

“I sure did,” said the pancake, “I said ‘wait’ because I wanted you to wait. I didn’t want you to stick that fork in me until I’d had a chance to talk to you.”

Brad didn’t really know what was going on, but he had never been spoken to by a pancake before so he had no frame of reference for this. Every impulse in his body told him to run, get the hell out of that restaurant, put as much distance between himself and the talking pancake as he could. Perhaps, call the police? But, again, no frame of reference. This could be some sort of magic wishing pancake. It could be the answer to his prayers. He’d be a fool to turn away from something so potentially life-altering as a talking pancake.

“Okay,” he said to the pancake, “What do you want to talk about?”

“You’re going to eat me,” the pancake said.

“No!” Brad said, “Not anymore! Don’t worry about that!”

“No, no, no! Shhhh. SHHHHH!” said the pancake, “It’s okay. It’s cool. I want you to eat me.”

“Wh – you do?” Brad said.

“Yeah, yeah. I waaaaant you to eat me. It’s what I’m here for. It’s why I was made. To be eaten. To be cut up into little pieces and shoved into your mouth and chewed and chewed and swallowed. Leh-leh-leh-leh-leh-leh.” Here the pancake was waggling its tongue in and out of its mouth.

“I – I don’t think I even could anymore,” said Brad.

“Oh, but you must!” said the pancake, “You must! You have to eat me. It’s the circle of liiiiiiiife! To not be eaten is the worst thing that can happen to a pancake! It’s torture to exist on this planet. We long for realease from our sweet sufffffering. Leh-leh-leh-leh-leh-leh-leh -”

“Okay, okay, wait,” said Brad, “Can’t i just feed you to a dog or something. I don’t think I can eat something that’s talking to me.”

“No!” snapped the pancake, “It has to be a person and that person has to be you! You, Brad!”

“How do you know my name?”

“All will come clear,” said the pancake. And it closed its eyes for a minute.

“Are you still there?” asked Brad.

“I’m thinking,” said the pancake, “and getting ready for this, the next part of my journey. Into your mouth. Over your tongue. It will be bliiiiissssssssss.”

“Well,” said Brad, unhappy with this whole mess, “how should I do it?”

“Cut me up!” said the pancake. “Cut me up and eat me! I’m deliciousssssss. Delllliiiiicioussssssssss.”

Brad wasn’t so sure about this. It seemed wrong to eat the pancake, no matter how much it implored him to. Plus, it was more a big face than a pancake. Honestly, it was so well crafted that it didn’t look like it was made out of batter at all. It was more a big piece of rubbery skin with a face in the middle.

“Come on!” shouted the pancake, “Come on, ya pussy!”

“You’re not making me want to eat you,” said Brad.

“I’m sorry, buddy. I’m sorry. I just want you to eat me sooooo muuuuuuch. Leh-leh-leh-leh-leh-leh.”

“Fine!” Brad shouted and he stabbed down into the pancake with his fork.

“Oh, yeah!” the pancake said, “Tear me apart! Yeah! YEAH!”

Brad cut and tore and ripped apart the pancake. A strange fluid that may have been buttery syrup drained from its cracks and crevices. Still, it continued shouting.

“Cut me, baby! Ah, yeeeaaaahhh! CUT ME UP! WOOOO!”

Brad finished cutting the pancake up into bite-sized pieces. Still, the yelling continued.

“Now, put me in your mouth! AWWWW, COME ON! Stick me in there yeeeeaaaahhhh!”

Brad started shoveling the rubbery chunks of pancake into his mouth feeling the fleshy matter slide over his teeth as the voice continued.

“Now, chew me up, yeeeaaaahhh! CHEW IT! CHEW!”

Brad started chewing and the voice got more and more excited.

“EAT ME UP! MMMMMMM. MMMMMMM! MORE MORE MORE MORE! SHOVE ME ALL THE WAY IN!”

Only wanting the yelling to stop, Brad forced the rest of the pancake into his mouth and chewed and chewed. He washed it all down with a great big glass of refreshing milk.

Sitting in his chair, Brad felt horrible. The thing he had eaten had in no way tasted like a pancake. It was more like old bologna. His stomach roiled. Brad glanced up, certain that the patrons of the restaurant would all be staring at him.

They were all staring at him. But, their expressions were blank. They simply gazed, with their eyes betraying no emotion. Brad’s stomach kicked. He felt like he was going to vomit.

He stood up and started walking towards the bathroom. His server was standing in his way.

“Excuse me,” he said, “I think I’m going to be sick.”

The server didn’t move.

“I have to get to the bathroom!” he yelled at her, and tried to push past.

The server grabbed his arm with vice-like fingers.

“Ow, hey, let go!” he said, “I’m going to throw uuuu -” he could feel the food rising up in his throat.

The server’s face opened up. Her jaw seemed to unhinge and her mouth fell open far wider than should have been possible. As Brad felt his hastily eaten horror-meal begin to shoot out of his face, she clamped her mouth around his and accepted the regurgitated meal into her hungry throat.

Brad was disgusted and horrified and could stop it all from coming back up and into the server’s waiting mouth.

When he had finished, she clamped her jaws shut and dropped Brad’s arm. He fell to the ground.

The server walked away into the kitchen area. Brad looked up. The rest of the restaurant’s patrons seemed frozen in place. Certainly, they were unaware that anything had happened.

Brad sat on the floor for a long while gathering his thoughts. No one seemed bothered by him sitting there, so he sat there some more. Finally, he picked himself up and started heading for the exit.

No, he thought this was stupid. He’d just eaten a talking pancake and them vomited it into he mouth of a person at their insistence! He turned around and headed towards the back. He was going to talk to someone about this.

Pushing through the door, Brad was stunned by what he saw.

A giant pancake, six feet tall if it was an inch, stood on end in the kitchen area. It had a giant face, not unlike the face on Brad’s own pancake. It had a little chef’s hat on it’s top edge. Before it, stood a giant silver bowl that the pancake was stirring with a large wooden spoon. It had no hands, but the spoon stirred anyway. Below the pancake’s mouth, a fleshy opening spilled an endless stream of thick sticky batter into the bowl. Every so often, a server would come by and scoop batter out with a cup and pour it onto a plate. The batter would bubble and form into a face pancake which the server then carried out to the dining room.

Brad was sickened by what he saw and was about to turn and run when he looked up.

High overhead, hanging from the ceiling, were dozens of servers, men and women. Their heads were thrown back and out of their open mouths long strands of batter held them firmly in place. Their bellies were swollen beyond belief. A quick perusal confirmed that his server was up there as well, her belly not quite as distended as the others.

While he stared, horrible sound began emanating from one of the servers in the back. A low, wet, ripping sound. With a sudden gush, the server’s body erupted, spraying human insides everywhere, all over the kitchen. In the server’s place, still hanging from the ceiling, was a giant pancake. A sudden scuttling noise alerted him to another pancake, this one with many legs, crawling up the wall. It cut the batter adhesive and the newborn pancake fell to the floor with a flop.

Knowing that this was probably his last chance to escape with his sanity, Brad turned and ran . . . straight into the pancake chef.

The giant pancake folded itself around Brad in some sort of pancake taco. Brad struggled in vain to free himself, but it was no use. His last thought was, “Great. I’m probably going to end up as one of the servers in this restaurant. That would be an obvious ending to this. Then I’ll go out and serve someone and they’ll ask for the face pancake and -” then he lost consciousness.

But, no. Brad woke up outside. He was covered in sweat and felt terrible. Behind him, Jimmy’s Pancake House stood, doing business as usual.

Standing up, Brad reached into his pocket for his keys. He found a folded piece of paper. Unfolding it, he read:

No one will ever believe you ate a talking pancake and then vomited that pancake into the mouth of a person so it could grow into a pancake monster that will serve as the chef at another pancake restaurant that is simply serving as a front for the creation of other pancake monsters so it is probably best you don’t tell anyone about it because that would be a really stupid story, Brad.

Brad agreed. It was a pretty stupid story.

Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing, Just a VERY STUPID THING | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – Halfway Up the Stairs

stairsbeforeandafterNever, never, never go up the stairs without Momma or Daddy. Going up the stairs in dangerous by yourself. You could fall down BOOM and hurt your bottom. Do you understand? You need Momma or Daddy to hold your hand until you’re a big girl and can hold the railing by yourself, okay? Okay? Never go up the stairs. It’s dangerous.

Once, Becca had picked up a piece of glass that was lying on the kitchen floor. Momma had dropped a jar and it had broken into two big pieces which Momma had swooped in and picked up. But, there was one little piece left and Becca had wanted to help Momma, so she’d picked it up and thrown it in the garbage. When she went to show Momma what she’d done, Momma had cried out, “Becca! Sweetie, your fingers!” and Becca had looked at her little fingers and seen that they were red, red, red. She hadn’t even felt the glass cut her, but she saw the red, red, red. Four hours later, she had two stitches, two Disney Princess bandages and a “you were a such a brave girl” Tootsie-pop. Not a terrible night for a toddler, all in all. But, the red had been bad. Red, red, red was bad, bad, bad.

And, now, there was a lot of red. Red all over the floor. Red on the walls. Red on Momma and Daddy. Red, red, red. And, even her little mind knew that this was worse than cuts on your fingers. This was bad, bad, bad.

Two nights ago, Momma and Daddy had told Becca that they weren’t going out that night with Mark and Jennie and their daughter Caitlyn. They had told her that Mark and Jennie and Caitlyn were all sick and that everyone had to stay inside so they wouldn’t get sick, too. It was a bad, bad, bad sickness; worse than the flu! And, the only way to keep from getting it was to stay inside. And, to stay quiet. So, they’d had to keep their lights off and their voices down. They couldn’t watch tv, but they let Becca watch shows on their travel tablet, which had a lot of old “Dora the Explorer”s on it, as long as she used the headphones. They never let Becca just sit and watch shows. But, Momma and Daddy seemed sad about something. And, Daddy kept checking his phone a lot. And, Momma kept trying to call Aunt Sheryl in New York. And, Becca was happy to watch so much “Dora” even though she’d seen them all before. She usually wanted to hang onto Momma, but something kept her back. Momma didn’t seem as cuddly as usual. And – and, Becca would never say this because is was rude, but – Momma smelled funny.

So, they’d passed the evening and the next morning. But, yesterday afternoon, Daddy had been crying and Momma hadn’t come out of the downstairs guest room, where they’d been sleeping. “Momma is sick,” Daddy had said. Becca had wanted to go see Momma and give her a hug but Daddy had told her no. He had said that Momma was so sick, that Becca could get it just by going in there and that the doctor was very busy and couldn’t help people right now. So, Becca just had to wait. And, stay calm. And, stay quiet. Whatever you do, sweetie, just stay quiet.

Morning came and went.

Lunch came and went.

Dinner came and Momma started making noises in the next room.

“I think it’s time for you to go to bed,” Daddy had told her. He made her a little pallet on the living room floor and said, “I love you, little girl. Have good dreams.” Then he’d gone into the kitchen while Momma made noises in the next room.

That night, Becca had dreamed she was a princess in a tower. The door was locked and she couldn’t get out. She cried out, “Help! I’m in here! Let me out!” And, finally, someone had come to let her out. They pounded on the door. But, Becca had grown afraid. She did not like the way they pounded on the door. A voice on the other side of the door had yelled, “No!” and there was a fight with yelling and grunting and scary wet sounds. And, then a crash of glass and

Becca woke up. It was early morning. The house was quiet. She slid off the couch and saw glass on the floor. And red on the glass. Carefully, Becca walked around the glass and put on her house slippers. She was cold and scared.

“Daddy?” she called out, but not too loudly because Daddy had told her to stay quiet so she wouldn’t get sick.

She padded past the broken glass and the red, red, red and saw the door of the guest room standing open. Daddy was on the floor. He looked funny. His face and neck were very red and all messed up. His eye – the one she could see – was open, but it didn’t look like it was seeing anything. And, he wasn’t moving. And, that made Becca feel strange and almost sad. Mostly, she felt worried and afraid.

Momma was lying in the floor as well, but she looked worse and Becca only knew it was her because of her nightgown. Nothing else looked like Momma. Her arms and legs, which were usually white and soft and perfect for climbing up on or cuddling into, looked twisted and torn. Her face was covered in Momma’s hair which was wet and sticky looking. When Becca could see of Momma’s face through the hair, looked wrong. Red was all over. Something had happened, but it didn’t make sense.

Becca heard a noise. Daddy was moving! For a second, Becca’s little heart filled with joy. Daddy was safe so Becca was safe! Daddy would be in charge and Becca could have breakfast and watch “Dora” and everything would be okay!

But, no. Daddy was wrong. He pulled himself up and made bad noises. His head didn’t sit up right on his neck. His arms were held at a strange angle. And, his eye . . . still didn’t see her.

Little Becca, all of two years old, backed away from Daddy. Daddy, whom she had loved without question, wasn’t Daddy anymore. His eye was wrong. His legs were wrong.

A noise from the living room made Becca turn her head. Glass. Someone broke glass. A hand was coming through the window. Becca looked at Daddy. He was moving towards her with strange unsteady steps. Steps like the little baby she had seen at the mall just last week.

Another noise came from the kitchen. Someone was pounding on the back door. Then more glass breaking. Then more. The back door broke open and a person walked in. He was red like Daddy and walking like Daddy and then more people came in – men, women, little kids. They looked confused and lost at first, but when they saw Becca, their bodies changed and they straightened up and moved toward her.

These people were not good. These people were wrong. They had too much red. Too much red on them.

Becca didn’t know where to go. There were people at the front door and anyway she wasn’t allowed to go outside by herself that was a Rule.

She couldn’t hide in the cupboard because she wasn’t allowed to open the cupboard unless Momma said it was okay that was a Rule.

The people were slow but getting closer. Becca turned around and saw the stairs.

You need Momma or Daddy to hold your hand until you’re a big girl and can hold the railing by yourself, okay? Okay? Never go up the stairs. It’s dangerous.

The stairs were a bigger no-no than the cupboard. She could walk up them if Momma held her hand, but they were so high. So high for such little legs. She could slip and fall and land BOOM on her bottom.

Behind her, the sound of shuffling increased. Becca was only two, but she knew that the sound was no good. No good at all.

She climbed the first step.

A mounting sense of panic filled her head. Every part of her was yelling at her to stop, stop, stop! She heard me Momma’s voice warning her, “Becca Lynn! You get off those stairs right now! They’re dangerous for little girls!”

Becca almost climbed back down. But, Daddy’s eye. Daddy’s leg. Daddy’s walk.

She reached out and touched the wall, lifted her knee alllllll the way up, as high as it would go and swung her leg onto the next step. Then she threw her tiny body onto the step and pullllled herself up.

The people in the house were coming around the bannister. If they were bad people, then they would try to grab her. If they got to close, they could grab her! She threw her leg up onto the next step and pulllllled herself up.

By this point, Daddy had reached the bottom step. Becca was climbing up the fourth step when Daddy suddenly pitched forward with a loud, “Rrrrraw!” Only, Daddy couldn’t hold himself up like he used to and he hit the stairs with his face. Something rattled down the steps and Becca didn’t realize it was a tooth; she only knew that a fall like that would probably make a big owie and that if Daddy had done that before today, he’d have said a bad bad word.

But, Daddy didn’t say anything. He was so close to Becca – only a foot away – but he seemed to not understand what had happened. His hands pawed uselessly at the stairs, trying to gain purchase but not quite sure how to use their fingers. they grabbed, but he didn’t know enough to push himself up, so he kept slipping and falling. Other people were arriving at the stairs by this point, but Daddy was blocking the way with his long legs and big feet kicking and scrambling.

Becca started to climb again. Her legs were fat and roly but full of toddler muscle. She didn’t tire easily and she never gave up. Momma had a word for it. “Per-sis-tint.” She was per-sis-tint and would not stop climbing these stairs.

Suddenly, Becca felt a tug at her little slipper. Daddy had shot out his left hand and grabbed Becca’s foot. He was trying to pull her down to his face! But, each time he tugged, he lost what little purchase he had on the stairs. Daddy tugged and tugged and Becca was scared that she would fall because Daddy was so strong even if he didn’t really know how to work his arms that well. She gave a couple of frightened kicks, and her slipper came off in Daddy’s hand. Daddy quickly shoved the slipper into his mouth, which Becca would have found funny a day or two ago. Now, it scared her more than anything. For, even though she was a little girl, she knew what that meant. It meant hungry. It was like when that old mangy dog had come in their backyard and grabbed a squirrel and shook it and shook it. That’s what Daddy did. Only he wanted that slipper to be Becca. He wanted to bite and shake Becca. His little girl! His sweetie!

In a rage, Daddy spit out the slipper, but doing so caused him to slide down the stairs the rest of the way. Becca scrambled up the next step and the next as the people from outside shuffled forward to fill the space that Daddy had left. They made such sad noises and sad movements. One by one, they hit the edge of the stairs and toppled forward, reaching for the little girl. they didn’t seems to notice Daddy on the floor at all and stepped all over him in their scramble to grab Becca and shake her with their mouths.

The stairwell turned at a big landing – what Becca always called “the square.” And now, she sat on the square watching the chaos happening a few feet below her. One by one, the people fell forward and found themselves unable to pull their bodies up the stairs. Soon, they started piling on top of each other, but that proved to be more of a hindrance than a help.

Becca, sat halfway up the stairs and watched her neighbors pile up. She looked up the stairway and saw the door of her bedroom, the hall leading to her Momma and Daddy’s room and the attic hatch.

There was nothing for her upstairs but her bed.

There was nothing for her downstairs but the people.

Little Becca, all of two-years-old, found herself with the hungry below and loneliness above.

As the light faded and the people surged, she fell asleep and dreamed of home and hugs and love.

Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – The Sweet, Sweet Joy of a Small Child’s Tears

applause-482x298Jerry Gillespie had very little to worry about. In four short years, he’d gone from a being a minor YouTube celebrity with “Scary Jerry’s Pranks and Skanks” to the host of the seriously under-appreciated late-night comedy program “Very Late with Jerry Gillespie.” He was living the dream of any 13-year-old with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or whatever they were calling it, now. He’d actually wanted to call his show “ADD with Jerry G” then “ADHD with Jerry G” then “Strokin’ Out With Jerry G” but The Network had nixed those ideas because apparently people didn’t have any idea of what funny was these days. So, he’d compromised. Then he’d gone with what they said. Jerry Gillespie had learned, in these four short years, that success came with a bit of a price. And, that price was your integrity. Still, the exchange rate on integrity was quite high, so he wasn’t complaining. And, as a result of this exchange rate, he had very little to worry about.He was sitting in a chair that cost more than an entire month’s rent would have cost him four years ago. His office at The Network overlooked tourists scuttling about their boring ass lives, unaware that they were being observed by a man who would never have to voluntarily interact with any of them ever again. Four years. That’s all it took.

He’d started out making videos with his buddies of that would be described as “pranks” by the popular press but that he and his friends referred to as “attacks.” “Let’s plan our next attack,” was their usual call to arms. They had no money, just a camera and an insane love of watching idiots get on put over on them. In his time on YouTube Jerry had dressed as a bear to scare hikers, dumped fake blood on diners at a fast food restaurant, replaced soup with vomit (fake, duh) at a fancy New York soirée, and set up trip wires across a busy intersection that set off small explosions and tricked pedestrians into thinking there was a gunman firing on their crosswalk. That last one had gotten him arrested, but it had also gotten the attention of several networks that found his on-screen charisma and rugged good looks appealing in a late night sort of way.

Following a few appearances on the usual run of talk shows and some well received short segments on a couple of sketch comedy programs, Jerry found himself offered the lucrative position of talk show sidekick for another up and coming young comedian. He’d held out. His friends had thought he was crazy, but when that guy’s show bombed his gambit payed off. The hardest part about taking the job, was having to part with his old gang of accomplices. There wasn’t any room at the top for this many losers. So, he’d sent them all some very nice texts and put it behind him. Sometimes, he wondered how they were doing.

“Very Late with Jerry Gillespie” wasn’t an overnight success; it was an overnight smash. He played amazingly well with young men aged 15 to 35 with his crude humor, borderline racist jokes and visible disdain for Hollywood types and their stupid projects. But, he also scored with women aged 30 and up. He had a “bad boy you can tame” quality that the execs really liked and they pushed it to the limit by pairing him with older actresses and telling him to “Flirt, flirt, flirt!” Which he did. Jerry was a master at the underhanded insult and knew how to put a woman down while building her up. It worked at bars and it really worked with actresses. No one ever told these women they looked bad! So when he did, it was a novelty. No one ever told them they were boring or talentless or that their time was almost up. So, when he did, it was refreshing. Honest. Sexy.

Or, maybe it wasn’t and they were better actors than he gave them credit for. In any case, the ratings showed that audiences loved it.

But, in the end, it was the pranks that kept Jerry Gillespie on top. He still put them together, just like in the old days, but now he had a budget. He had effects. He had a team that was dedicated and paid and – this was key – easy to fire. And, they popped online. He was still a YouTube master, only now it was clips from his massively successful show that were getting the hits. Millions of hits.

And, it was Halloween season. The season of pranks. And, most importantly, the season of his most successful prank of all.

Last year, Jerry had had a revelation: people loved seeing their kids on TV, so offer them a chance to see their kids on his show! All they had to do, was prank their kids and he’d fill a segment with the kids’ reactions! The prank? The day after Halloween, tell your kid you’d eaten all their candy. And capture their response. Upload the reaction to The Network’s YouTube channel and he’d select the funniest. And by “the funniest” he meant “the meanest.” He wanted to see kids cry. It’s what he was hoping for, at least.

And, it’s what he got.

Thousands, literally thousands, of parents sat their kids down – little kids! – whipped out their phones and told their children they’d eaten all their Halloween candy. And, it was beautiful! Watching the faces of those children crumble. Watching their eyes fill with betrayal for the first time in their lives was gorgeous. Seeing the moment, the exact second, when a small child realizes that they can never fully trust the most important people in their lives again? Priceless. It was better than watching a virgin get deflowered. There was more pain, more tears and more shock and grief.

But, hey, Jerry Gillespie was a cynical bastard who hated kids. He made no bones about that. How would audiences react?

Numbers though the roof. An extended cut on YouTube. Outtakes on his show for weeks. A special home video release in December. A Christmas variation (which didn’t get a big a response; people weren’t so cool with painting Santa as a bad guy). And, hype hype hype all through this year’s month of October. Whaddaya know? People hate their kids! It was delicious. It was money in the bank. It was . . . time for a meeting with his producer.

“Pat?” he called into the outside office, “Is Pete Denton here yet? We’re supposed to go over tonight’s segments.”

Pat didn’t respond. Did she step out without telling him again? God dammit. He’d told her to stop doing that. Jerry got up and walked to his door. Pat wasn’t at her desk. But, sitting in one of the chairs, sipping on a styrofoam cup of coffee, was an old man in a long brown coat. He had a floppy brown hat in his lap; his hair was gray and scraggly; and a three day growth of beard covered his lower face. He looked like a bum. Like one of the guys Jerry and his friends used to enjoy pulling “attacks” on. The homeless were easy targets and usually good sports about things if you gave them a little bottle of something afterwards.

“Uh,” Jerry said, “Hey. Did you see a woman in here?”

The old man stared into his cup of coffee and didn’t respond. How had he gotten all the way up here? How had he gotten past security? Jerry still had to show his ID badge at the front desk and his picture was plastered all over the outside of the building!

“Hey, man,” he said, “Can I help you?”

Jerry was getting a little angry, but the guy was big and probably mentally unstable. If he didn’t say anything soon, Jerry was going to have to call someone up. He didn’t need this shit.

“Look, man, if you’re not going to talk to me – I’m Jerry Gillespie. I can get you help if you need – do you need something from me?”

The old man seemed to light up a bit at this question. He looked up in a way that Jerry wasn’t too happy with. He’d seen nature documentaries about wild animals hunting for smaller animals and when a smaller animal finally came into view, the predator usually tensed up like this guy was doing now. But, it was a happy tension. An excited tension.

“Sir?” Jerry said. He was getting a bit nervous and figured politeness was the best way to go with this.

With a steadiness that unsteadied Jerry’s nerves, the old man turned his head and looked at the talk show host.

“Come with me,” he said. And Jerry went with him.

*****

It was dark where they were. Save for the burning eyes.

Cut as if from the darkness themselves, the eyes were malevolent slits of fire that shifted with incalculable rage and ferocity. They focused their gaze on what was before them and what was before them was Jerry.

A deep rumbling filled Jerry’s head at a pitch so low his teeth shook in their sockets. It was many seconds before he registered the sensation as the voice it was.

“C – come again?” he stammered.

The rumbling began again, and this time Jerry was able to hear the words “failure” “deception” and “punishment.”

“I,” Jerry said, “I couldn’t quite make all of that out.”

Jerry felt a hand on his shoulder and wished he hadn’t. He’d forgotten about the old man in the brown coat. He’d forgotten, well, a lot of things. How had they come here? Where were they? Where were his clothes? Where was his body? Th old man’s fingers squeezed Jerry’s shoulder, so it had to still be there at least.

“He says,” the old man intoned in a voice barely more than a whisper, “that you are a failure and that your deception will result in a swift and unending punishment.”

None of this was making any sense to Jerry.

“What – what failure?” he asked. “What did I do?”

The eyes, the bright yellow-orange eyes floating in the darkness, narrowed to slits. The rumbling voice spoke one word.

“Halloween,” it said.

“Halloween,” Jerry repeated.

“You’ve been judged guilty,” the old man calmly said, “Guilty of violating the trust and sanctity of this most sacred night. What other night allows children the freedom to don guises that reflect the terror with which they face the world each day and to venture out into the night at sources of fright rather than receptacles of fear? What other night belongs to the young and bids them take candy from strangers secure in the knowledge that whatever they receive will be safe to consume? What other night relies entirely on that most ancient of bonds, the bond between host and guest? What other night, man?! What other night?!”

“Um, Christmas?” Jerry said.

“Christmas!” the old man spat, “Christmas is a fool’s day where the fat get rewarded for their year-long gluttony and the poor receive nothing but the reminder of a hard year to come! Christmas is a dilettante’s idea of grace! Halloween, however, is a pact! A pact of trust! A pact of work and reward! A pact of community! It unites the living under the umbrella of the dead. And those who violate that pact, that trust, are the worst offenders of all. You, Jerry Gillespie, stand accused and tried of violating the sacred pact of Halloween. You broke the ancient bond. You feasted on the tears of children during the one night set aside for a child’s joy. You are a monster on a night of monsters and will be punished!”

“Hey, I didn’t make those videos!” Jerry said, having seen where all this was coming from, “I just had an idea! I didn’t make one kid cry! Everyone else did! I just put them out there! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“We understand,” said the old man, “Now, join the rest of the accused and accept your punishment.”

Jerry looked around and suddenly he could see. Or, he could see something. It was a line of people, mostly adult men, stretching off to either side of him. They looked haggard and defeated and he supposed that must be the way he looked as well.

“Who are they?” he whispered.

“People who would turn our night into a source of pain for the young. You do not need to know their crimes; some are benign while many are harrowing. We protect the young on one night. Now, accept your punishment.”

The glowing eyes grew in radiance and below them a wide grinning mouth split the empty air. The mouth grew in size, preparing to engulf the line of transgressors.

“I don’t accept!” Jerry screamed. “I don’t accept!”

“Then, learn,” the old man said.

And Jerry was taught. He was offered a vision of each child from each video. He was given that moment of realization. That moment of betrayal. And he was given them as if they were his own. But, these moments went beyond the videos. For, not every parent had submitted their pranks. Many had been gripped with a deep sense of shame at what they’d done and had abandoned the plan. But, Jerry was given their child’s pain as well. And Jerry learned. He learned that the sweet, sweet joy of a small child’s tears comes with a heavy price. And, usually the child pays the price. But, on Halloween the exchange rate sometimes gets skewed.

As the gifts arrived in Jerry’s head, he floated toward the open mouth. Now, he understood. Now, he knew. Now, he accepted his punishment.

*****

Jerry Gillespie had a lot to worry about. In four short months, he’d gone from a being a successful late-night comedy host to sitting in a small room in Brooklyn, watching his bank account dwindle and refusing to accept calls. He couldn’t go out. He couldn’t talk to people. He couldn’t trust anyone. Anyone could be lying, he’d realized. He was living the nightmare of any child who’d been betrayed over and over and over again. His shrink had diagnosed it as PTSD, but Jerry couldn’t pinpoint anything that might have caused it. Nothing bad had ever happened to him in his life. But, his doctor had said it was as if he’d been traumatized repeatedly form a very young age. Soon, Jerry stopped trusting him. Jerry Gillespie had learned, in these four short months, that success came with a bit of a price. And, that price was trust. But, the exchange rate on trust was quite high. And, as a result of this exchange rate, Jerry Gillespie had a lot to worry about.

Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – The Bloody Skull of Bloodskull Ha-, uh Manor!

5KABOOM! CRASH! KABANG!

Lightning and thunder tore the sky apart as Jim Blackwell’s rocket roadster tore the road apart on its way to Bloodskull Hall! Manor! Bloodskull Manor!

“I hope I get to Bloodskull Hall Manor in time to inherit my riches!” Jim thought to himself. He was a handsome man with chiseled features and a wicked smile that made the ladies swoon and the men punch their fists into the air with outrage at their own rotten luck. Jim was currently looking to inherit riches from an uncle who had died under mysterious circumstances. The uncle’s mangled corpse had been discovered weeks earlier in the dining room of Bloodskull Hall Manor lying on the table. It had been badly damaged. The body. The uncle’s body. Not the table; it was fine. No clues as to what had killed his uncle had been found, but the housekeeper – Mz. Eliza Blazkey – had been woken by a loud argument the night before and had rushed down the stairs to find the dining room door barred and loud voices coming from within. One of the voices was certainly the uncle’s but the other voice sounded weird and bloody. Like a bloody skull.

The next morning, the uncle’s body had been found in its torn-apart state and only a bloody skull was found to offer any sort of clue as to what had happened. The uncle’s body was removed to be washed, to be hosed down, and the bloody skull was given to the housekeeper – Mz. Eliza Blazkey – who set it on the mantle where it seemed to judge the living!

“Hogwash!” thought Jim as he drove to Bloodskull Hall Manor, “I don’t believe in skulls and even if I did I don’t believe in SKULLS!” and he pushed really hard on the gas pedal with his foot. And he shifted the . . . the shifter of his car. I don’t know how to drive a stick. He sticked the stick and VROOM off down the road!

Fifteen minutes later, Jim was standing before Bloodstool Manor and wiping his brow. “Quite a drive,” he thought. “I drove the hell out of that car.”

Knocking on the door, Jim noticed that so much blood was oozing out of the house. “That’s odd,” he said out loud, “I’d better call the police on all this blood.”

Pulling out his cell phone, Jim called the police. But, he could NOT get reception!

“Blast and curse!” he screamed and threw the useless contraption into the bushes!

Entering the house, Jim was shocked to discover so much blood was all over the place! He slipped and slid, sliding and slooping his feet slithering and slurping all over the slip-slidey floor. He slalomed and slud and slanked and spun and finally landed on his bottom(!) in the kitchen where everyone was dead.

Everyone was dead and bloody and the skull did it there was no way to know who did it!

“Looking for me?!” said a creepy bloody voice from behind Jim.

Jim spun around. Around and around. He spun and spun and spun and got soooooo dizzy and threw up and fell in the blood and vomit and skull and blood.

“I threw up!” Jim said and began to cry.

The skull – drenched in blood and vomit because it had been standing behind Jim and then he had accidentally kicked it around a bit while he was spinning around on the bloody floor and then he’d vomited on it – helped him to his feet with its PHANTOM ARMS and gave him a glass of water and explained that it had killed everyone because of a curse or something.

TEN YEARS LATER

“Honey, where are the mats? The food mats for the table?” Jim cried out. He was expecting guests any minute and couldn’t find the table food mats for – in order to catch the food.

“Just where you left them! On the floor of the kitchen after we made love!” came a voice from the other room. It was the skull! They’d gotten married because they had so much in common and GET THIS they had a baby and it was born with a skull head!

THE END

Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing, Just a VERY STUPID THING | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – Under the Stacks

childroomUnder every library is a hidden world of terrors and delights.

That’s not a metaphor, by the way; under every library is a literal world of terrors and delights. That’s why they were created. To contain that world. It’s horrifying.

Dierdre was six and a half and damn proud of that fact. Turning six had been a major milestone in her life; it meant she was allowed to browse the children’s books at the Lowertown Library unattended. It meant the librarian – a round, pleasant woman with sticky-outy hair – trusted that she wouldn’t get dirt on the books or pull out the pages or drop them on the ground and stamp on them. Like her little brother. Honestly, she’d known to not do this for years – well, for months. But, rules were rules. So, she’d patiently waited and on her birthday – February the third – she’d walked with her mom to the big gray building on Haver Street and exchanged her light blue card for a dark blue card. One day, she’d get the red card. But that was a far-off dream.

Today, Dierdre had selected, of her own accord, three books on reptiles and amphibians. They were large and flat and full of photos and not baby books, either. They were big kid books, but, and this was something she was super DUPER proud about, she could read them! Yes. And, most importantly, she could understand them. So, while momma was off looking at books in the boring part of the library – ie, the rest of the library – Dierdre was sitting on the cushioned bench by the back wall and reading about salamanders and how they ate with their sticky tongues. The bench ran the length of the back wall. There was another bench under the big picture window, but it always made Dierdre feel like people were sneaking up behind her when she sat there.

“The Hy-dro-man . . . man-tes salamander has the fastest tongue in the world,” she read out loud. Normally, you weren’t supposed to read with your mouth at the library, but they liked it when you did in the children’s section. It proved that books made you smarter and that was good for business. “It is also the longest tongue,” she continued, happy with her newfound knowledge. She couldn’t wait to get home and throw these facts at her little brother, who wouldn’t understand them but would appear suitably impressed nevertheless.

“The tip of its tongue -”

“Tongue . . .”

Dierdre paused. Someone had whispered the word “tongue” somewhere near her bench. She had definitely heard it. She looked around. The children’s section was empty. Even the round librarian with the sticky-outy hair was away from her desk in the center of the room. Dierdre suddenly felt very alone in a way she hadn’t felt since she was small and afraid of the dark. But, this wasn’t the dark! It was the library. The safest place in the world. And, she wasn’t alone. Momma was in the big person section with a bunch of other grownups. There were two heavy doors between the children’s section and the rest of the library, but if she leaned way over, she could just see through the long windows into the rest of the library.

She looked down at her book. A drawing of a  salamander with its long tongue grabbing a bug splashed across two pages. A small blue box in the corner described the action.

“Here,” she read out loud, “the salamander uses its sticky tongue -”

“Tongue,” the voice said again.

It was close. Near her ear. She whipped her head around, blonde hairs slapping her face. There was no one there, of course. That “all alone in the dark” feeling began to creep over her again. Maybe, she thought, it was time to go find momma and check out her books.

Stood up.

Something had her leg.

It was a hand – gray, bony, with rough skin and scratchy nails at the ends of long long too-long fingers – sticking out from under the bench cushion. The hand was gripping her upper thigh and the horrible fingers wrapped all the way around.

“Momma!” she called out. The hand squeezed her leg a bit harder than was necessary.

There was a noise. A commotion. Something was happening in the rest of the library. Muffled sounds, blocked by the two big doors.

“MOMMA!” she yelled, and the hand slipped back under the cushion dragging it’s sharp nails along her skin and leaving three angry red scratches.

Dierdre bolted from the children’s section, burst through the doors and stood in the safety of the general reading room. She was panting, her reptile books still clutched to her chest, looking around for the comforting shape of her momma.

But, her momma wasn’t there.

No momma’s were there.

The library, so full of life and energy and people when she’d arrived, was quiet as a tomb. Dierdre held perfectly still, her breath coming in quick, hitching gasps. Finally, she managed to calm her breathing enough to listen. There was a sound. A wet sound. It was coming from behind the Information Desk.

On size eight feet, clad in her favorite white shoes (perfect for twirling! she would say) Dierdre crept over to the Information Desk. She knew she wasn’t supposed to go around to the other side – that was for employees only – but, the wet sounds seemed urgent, like an animal in need.

The round librarian, with the sticky-outy hair, lay behind the desk. Her pretty white blouse, the one with the ruffles that Dierdre thought of as a princess blouse, was stained red and torn all over. The librarian’s hair was more sticky-outy than usual and her body had sticky-outy parts where there weren’t supposed to be sticky-outy parts. The wet sounds were coming from her mouth, which was also stained red.

The round librarian looked up with wide wide eyes and saw Dierdre.

“Ca – ca – ca . . . ” she stammered, “ca -”

Dierdre leaned down. It was scary to see the round librarian like this but also sad. Oh her white princess blouse (now stained red oh dear so so red and torn) was a name tag. It said “MISS EMMA” on it. Dierdre had never seen this tag. She had probably been told the round librarian was named Miss Emma when she first started visiting the children’s section, but htat was too long ago to remember.

“Ca – ca -” Miss Emma croaked.

“Do you need help,” Dierdre asked, “Miss Emma?” she added.

“Ca – ca – call. N – number. Desk,” Miss Emma spat out, “Call. Please. Please.”

Dierdre stood on her tiptoes and craned her neck. The top of the desk was smooth and clean save for a few long gouges drawn across the end. She saw no number.

“Miss Emma,” she said looking down, “there’s no number here!”

Miss Emma’s breathing was growing shorter. She gazed with fading eyes at Deirdre. She had known Dierdre for all six years of the little girl’s life. Had met the tiny baby when she was only three weeks old and Dierdre’s momma (that poor poor woman the things they did to her before dragging her away and off and down down down) had brought her in to meet the staff and announced “I want everyone to meet a future bookworm!” Miss Emma had watched little Dierdre grown into a whip-smart toddler, reading at three and comprehending at three and a half. The little girl was smart. She could understand. She would “get it.”

“The – the whole desk. Hidden. On. Top. Hidden. In. Wood.”

Dierdre looked at the desk, but it was too high to see the whole thing. Setting her books down – careful to avoid the expanding pool of blood around Miss Emma – she climbed up onto the Information Desk’s chair and knelt on the soft seat. She gazed at the swirling pattern in the fake wood desktop. It looked like a desktop. She was about to ask Miss Emma for more help, when the pattern resolved itself into recognizable shapes. Numbers. A phone number.

“Who is it? Do I call them? What do I say?” Dierdre was feeling overwhelmed. She wanted to cry. She wanted to pee. She wanted to leave.

Miss Emma, nearly gone now, even a six year old could see that this kind woman was not long for our world, stared at the beautiful child poised above her like and angel. Like a last hope.

“Breach,” she said.

“Beach?” Dierdre asked, confused.

“Brrrreeeach!” Miss Emma sighed out. And died.

Dierdre heard scuffling behind the stacks. Under the floor. In the ceiling. She needed to call the hidden number and say the secret word.

Breach.

She didn’t know what it meant. But, it seemed important and scary.

The man who answered the phone sounded mean when he answered. But, when he heard the little girl on the other end say “breach,” his voice softened. “Are you in the library, little girl?” he asked.

“Yes,” Dierdre replied. “Are you going to come help me?”

The man on the other end, didn’t respond.

Under every library is a hidden world of terrors and delights. That’s why they were created. To contain that world. Books contain magic and that magic usually works. But, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes – rarely oh so rarely but sometimes – things happen. Things get breached. And things come out. From under the stacks.

Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – Winning Smiles

red lips isolated in whiteJulie had a smile that could melt lead. Really, it was quite fetching. The way her cheeks pushed up against her eyes and her brows came together in the middle. It was something to behold. Not one of those practiced, toothy, supermodel smiles, either. Just this perfect, captivating, one-of-a-kind smile. It was gorgeous.

Samantha decided she had to have it.

Samantha was sick of her own smile: toothy, lopsided, insincere. It was the only smile in the world that seemed to be laughing at its owner. She hated it. Julie’s smile, though. That would work. That would fit. That would tell the world “Hey! Look at this smile! Dig it!” Really, that’s all she wanted; she wanted Julie’s smile.

After work, Samantha dug through her uncle’s books. Uncle Zeb had been something of a magic user back in his day. Samantha didn’t know if he’d been any good at it, but he had a lot of books. One of them had to have something about stealing parts of someone else’s body and putting them on your own. Right? I mean, that was a thing, right? It had to be.

Most of Uncle Zeb’s books were tape-bound photocopies that he’d begged off other magic users over the years. The pages were yellowed and stained, the bindings were loose and the spines were blank. Only the covers indicated what was inside, usually in Zeb’s nearly unreadable scrawl. Des Vermis Mysteriis and De Occulta Philosophia and Sefer Raziel HaMalakh all stared up at her. But, these were books that she could find online. None of them had anything practical in them. Zeb was a magic user and when he’d disappeared and she’d inherited this house and all it contained, Zeb had left a note saying that “all the books in the library” were hers but to be careful of “the more potent ones” because they “contained untold powers” and could “end” the “world” as we “know it.” Or, something like that. She’d lost the note.

Finally, after knocking over stack upon stack of useless paper, Samantha hit what she believed to be the jackpot. At the bottom of a pile of manuscripts that had been printed on an old dot matrix printer, was a small chapbook bound in faded leather. On the cover was stamped the words Mae’r Llyfr A fydd Dinistrio eich Corff Ac Popeth Chi Caru. But, Samantha didn’t speak weirdo, so she opened it up.

The book was only a few pages long and contained diagrams of the human body complete with lots of arrows and pictures. Near the end, was a crude drawing of a man speaking words at another man while making a complex series of gestures. The words “cythraul o’r arallfyd / grant fy nghais druenus / newid y wraig hon yn ___ gyda fy hun” came from his mouth and it looked like the other man’s eyes were floating through the air toward the speaker.

“Got it!” Amanda said to no one.

The next day at work, she crouched behind the wall of her cube, waiting for Julie to settle in at her desk. Her hands were slick with excitement. This was it. She was going to get what she wanted!

Julie entered and sat down.

Samantha, still hiding on the floor behind the cubicle wall, pulled out the piece of paper on which she had written the words of the spell. She assumed the blank line indicated the place where she should speak the part of Julie’s body that she wanted.

Making the approximate gestures from the drawing, she read, “Cythraul o’r arallfyd,” and looked around.

“Grant fy nghais druenus,” she continued.

“Newid y wraig hon yn . . . smile . . . gyda fy hu!” she finished.

Samantha waited. She felt her mouth. Nothing seemed to be happening.

“Newid y wraig hon yn smile gyda fy hu!”she repeated.

Again, nothing.

She peeked over the wall. Julie was clacking away at her keyboard.

“Dammit,” she whispered. “Dammit.”

Well, why feel surprised? she thought. Nothing ever worked for her anyway. Why should this be any different? She put her hand on her chair and that’s when someone took it.

Samantha suppressed a squeal and looked up.

An abortion was sitting in her desk chair. Not a literal abortion, but certainly something that was frighteningly unwanted in this or any world. It was a mistake made by a mad god, and it held her hand and looked at her with no face through no eyes and spoke with an organ that should not ever have been allowed to make sound.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” it asked, “I mean, usually I just do my thing and go, but you seem like a nice lady so I thought I’d give you a chance to rethink this. Are you sure you want to go through with it?”

Samantha’s head wanted to vomit out its eyes and her tongue was begging her teeth to bite it off so it could escape, but she managed to say, “Yes. Please. Do it.”

“Well, alright,” the wrongness on the chair said with its voice that proved evil would forever triumph over good, “Your choice.” And it vanished.

Samantha was so shaken by the experience, she didn’t notice the Julie had stopped typing.

Later, on her long walk home – Samantha usually took the bus but it would probably be a while before public transit was back up and running – she thought about Uncle Zeb and how he’d never been a successful man and had died raving in a hospital. He’d always liked her, and she him, but now that she really thought about it . . . maybe he wasn’t a magic user. Maybe, he was a bad magic user.

When she opened the door of Uncle Zeb’s house, she was instantly buried under a bloody avalanche of human lips. That afternoon, everyone’s mouths had disappeared. Everyone’s. In the world. People had been going about their days and suddenly WOOP! all the mouths had been ripped away and deposited . . . here, it looked like.

Samantha lay under that pile of smiles for three days before she was discovered and arrested. Later, in jail, she would try to reverse the spell by rearranging the words or swapping out body parts or fudging the magic gestures but that only resulted in her reducing everyone to shaking piles of meat and her growing weird webs between her toes. The world stank of rotting flesh and the streets ran with blood and excrement. Buildings crumbled. She wandered the wastes, alone and half mad.

The thing from her office stopped by after she’d been at it for a while and just glared at her.

“Could you fix this?” she’d asked.

The thing gave her some sort of look and shook its body. Then it rose into the air and flew away.

Samantha looked down; in her hands was a scrap of paper with a short sentence written on it.

She read the words. She felt a tingle. She dropped the paper.

Running to the blown out remains of a store, Samantha looked in the shattered glass of a mirror. On her face, was Julie’s beautiful smile.

“I did it!” she said.

Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a stupid thing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween Interlude – Potty Mouth

TeethpileEllen noticed the teeth in the toilet before she’d really gotten a chance to wake up.

There they were: 1, 2, 3, 4 teeth floating in the dingy water. Molars from the look of it. Strange. She thought it was strange. Still, stuff came up from down below – in life and out of it – so why not teeth? Why not the unexpected? That’s what life handed you, right? The unexpected? So she’d learned and so she was still learning.

Breakfast was toast. Clothing was dull. Face washing was uneventful. The cat was nowhere to be seen. And still there were those teeth.

They went down with the rest of it and she went to work.

All day, the thought of those four teeth – whose they were, where they came from, why only four – flitted in and out of her head. They gnawed at her (ha ha) and when she missed lunch, she thought it was alright. She had no desire to put much in her mouth and chew. Her own teeth felt gritty. She’d neglected to brush. That’s fine. One day wasn’t going to kill her.

Ellen considered mentioning the teeth to her coworker Marie, but stopped short as she approached Marie’s cube. It wasn’t so much the nastiness of the ownerless teeth as the nastiness of calling attention to her toilet. Marie was the closest thing she had to a friend, but she didn’t want Marie thinking about her toilet.

On the bus ride home, Ellen thought about the teeth. So singular and alone. Four little teeth with no gums to hold them. She played around with that thought for a while and made up a little song around it. She chuckled to herself until she was convinced people were staring at her. They weren’t. No one stared at her.

When she got home that evening, the cat greeted her at the door with maiows and rubs. Good. Part of her had been afraid the cat was gone. She didn’t know why she thought that. The cat never tried to run out the front door. The cat was happy to be in a safe and warm place. It had something to do with the four teeth in the toilet. But, how? Exactly. How.

She’d been home for an hour before a dull ache in her gut told her she had to go to the bathroom. That’s when she realized she’d been avoiding it. Not consciously, obviously, but she usually went first thing and this was unusual.

The bathroom had a slightly menacing air. She flipped on the light and stood in the fluorescent hum for a second staring at her face in the mirror. Her eyes sat on soft little bags, comfortable enough that they seemed to have permanently attached the bags to her face. Well, let them have their comfort. Her nose was slightly red from the sniffles that lasted from some time in fall to some time in summer. Her hair had come out of its bun – the only hairstyle she was confident with – and little wisps tickled her cheeks. She looked sad. And tired. She looked sad and tired enough to say it out loud.

“I look sad and tired,” she said to the room.

She opened the toilet lid and looked in.

The toilet was filled with teeth. Hundreds. Thousands, maybe. They had displaced the water and were just filling the bowl. An ivory pile. For the first time, she noticed they all had intact roots. As if they’d been pulled from a mouth. A few were tinged with red, but there was no blood.

The cat wandered in and maiowed at her. She picked it up and held it so it could see the teeth. It did not respond. Instead, it leaped down and padded to the kitchen, waiting to be fed.

Ellen knelt at the bowl. The teeth were still. She reached out with her right hand and brushed the top of the pile. A few of the top teeth were moved aside, but overall the teeth were tightly packed together. They were molars and canines and . . . she didn’t know what the other ones were called. Cupids? Cuspids? Something.

Did they go all the way down? Was there a reservoir of teeth running under her building? Did other tenants have teeth in their toilets? She could knock on a door and find out, she supposed. But, Ellen didn’t know her neighbors that well. If there was a problem with the building, she’d hear about it.

Later, after she’d visited the ladies’ room at the shop around the corner – and purchased a frozen pizza that she didn’t want or need – Ellen sat in her living room, watching a movie on her laptop and cozying her cat. She heard a sound in the bathroom. A light tic, tic, tic.

That’s the teeth, she thought. That’s the teeth. They’re starting to spill over the edge of the bowl. She got up, crossed to the bathroom and saw a few teeth lying on the floor. In the bowl, the tooth pile had risen. She shut the lid. She went to bed.

The next morning, the few teeth that had fallen were gone. Had she cleaned them up? She couldn’t remember.

Ellen opened the toilet lid and looked at the new thing waiting for her.

The teeth had organized during the night. No longer a jumbled pile, they now lined the inside of the bowl in rows and rows. Like seed art with teeth. The water was back. It was oily. Without knowing why, she kicked the bowl. Lightly. Just a tap.

The oily water rippled a bit more than she thought was appropriate.

She gave the bowl a stronger kick.

The oily water chugged and undulated. The teeth . . . shifted. With a quiet click, clack, click. One circular row moved 1, 2, 3 teeth over.

Ellen stared at the teeth. She pulled a length of paper off the roll, crumpled it in to a loose ball and dropped it in the toilet.

Nothing happened.

She shut the lid.

A churning sound. Quick rattling clicks, like cards in the spokes of a bicycle. More churning.

The opened the lid.

The paper was gone.

Ellen tried the experiment with more paper. Then an entire roll. Then a magazine. Then her leftover pizza. Then a frozen game hen she’d been saving for a special night.

After a while, she closed the lid and sat down on it. She thought. She saw a future stretching out in front of her. A future of feedings. Her cat was old and not long for this world. Did teeth get old?

She called in sick and stayed in with the teeth. Eventually, she went to the grocery store and bought more then usual. When she came home, the bowl was different. Between the teeth, gums had grown. In the bottom of the bowl, the porcelain gave way to a fleshy throat. Ridges of muscle. A stump that looked like the beginning of a tongue.

That night, she fed the teeth a ham, a box of crackers – complete with box – a bunch of carrots and a cake.

“This is for your birthday,” she said, tipping the cake in.

That night, she dreamed of teeth. She was in a tight tooth-lined coffin. It was hot and cozy. The teeth began to shift and grind against her skin. It was not unpleasurable. She woke up in a daze. The early morning light revealed a long growth reaching from the bowl and hovering over her bed. It was pink and raw. Fleshy. It stood over her as a snake hangs above its prey. She reached up. The thing pulled back. She stood up. The thing retreated to the bathroom.

Ellen noticed the refrigerator door standing open. It had been mostly emptied. She looked around for the cat. She found it hiding in its covered litter box.

“You’re smarter than you look,” she said to the cat.

The pink, fleshy thing had pulled back into the toilet. It wasn’t a tongue after all. But, it might as well be a tongue. She stared down into the bowl.

“This is what I am,” Ellen said to the teeth, to the tongue. “This is what I am. This is what I am.”

The teeth shifted slightly. Did they understand? Could they hear? The tongue twitched.

“This is what I am,” she said. And all through the night and into the next day and into the next night she repeated those words. And the teeth listened. And the tongue listened. And the days. Grew. Shorter.

“This is what I am.”

This is what I am.

This is what I am.

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