Posts Tagged With: scary

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.

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Categories: Halloween Interlude, Halloween!, Horror, Just a 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 – Here Come the Jack-O’-Mans!

This Halloween, there were fifteen Jack-O’-Mans on my block. That is one, two, three up to fifteen Jack-O’-Mans in one block! Holy and crap. Is that a lot of Jack-O’-Mans? For one block it is, yes sir.

What does it take to produce so many Jack-O’-Mans? And why. I took it upon myself to investigative report the answers.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE FIFTEEN JACK-O’-MANS?! IN ONE BLOCK!
by [REDACTED]

I talked to the proprietor of the first home – a gentle-man by the name of Allen Bates. Here is a transcript of our discussion.

ALAN BATES: Leave me alone!

ME: JACK-O’-MANS!

And then my tape machine broke.

I bought a Jack-O’-Man skull at the local conflabulary – a spicy store on the corner called “Grocery Store?”

ME: One Jack-O’-Man skull, my fine lady!

LADY: I’m sorry, do you need help?

ME: Direct me towards the Jack-O’-Man skulls that I may see within and discover their hoary secrets!

LADY: The Halloween decorations are at the front of the store, by the carts.

ME: Unhand me!

LADY: I’m not touching –

ME: UNHAND ME!

And then my tape machine broke.

This was getting me NO-WHERE! All about me were evidences of Jack-O’-Man activity, but nothing to show for my investigations but a package of Root Beer Barrels and a package of Root Beer Barrels.

ME: WILL NO ONE SHARE WITH ME THE SECRETS OF THE JACK-O’-MANS!

I woke up all over the place. I dreamed of Jack-O’-Mans and their eyes and beady eyes. GODS! How do you craft a Jack-O’-Man?! I grabbed one from a stoop and screamed WHY ARE YOU HEEEAR!? So many children came out to look at me and then ran back up into the trees! Stop stealing my bird-food, children!

That night was the night the kids wore masks like popular car-toons (HEEMAN, Skeletorn, The Princess, Jon and the Holmograns, Gummy Bear, The Smurf, Bat-man, Spider-man, Hulk-man, The Avenger, Star War, Drancula, The Skizzzz, Rubiks Cube, crayons in a pot, Salt and pepper shakes, a fork, plates and a cup, several napkins, a place-mat, doormat, a door bell, deer doer, the Big One, Smurds, Stamberry Shorktakes, Rainbow Bright, my pony pony, Blank byouty, the blak stallion, gross weatherman, that guy that looks, other kids, kids with faces, purple pie-man, all-you-can-eat, mY Bologna, the wig, ear picker, galaxy high school) and you give them sweets.

I still hadn’t a JACK-O’-MAN!

I had to resort to desperate measures.

I stole a Jack-O’-Man skull and dug INTO IT!

After it was done I took the inside of the SKULL and thrust the bits at children who came to my door.

I HEAR YOU CAN MAKE PIES OF THESE! i might have screamed.

Kids ran hither and thither and moms yelled and I had to spend a NIGHT IN THE POKEY!

So, the moral of this story is: I broke out of jail.

It was sooooo easy because it wasn’t a “jail” it was a “room” and I didn’t “break out” I “left” because it was “my room” and I had already “spent a night” in “real jail.”

BUT

When I got home, there was the SKULL MESS where I’d dropped it, on my floor and I spoooooooooooned it up and made the most amazing pie in the WORLD by eating the goooooooooop in a bowl of milk. PIES!

Next year, I will NOT have a Jack-O’-Man they are too much trumble and don’t make good guests and the kids in the neighborhood chew the eye sockets.

My momma once told me there were no Jack-O’-Mans but she was wrong. There are.

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Halloween Interlude – The Shortest Ghost

THE SHORTEST GHOST

The Shortest Ghost was very short
Not even two feet high
He looked up to the other ghosts
Who called him “Little Guy.”

The witches called him “Goblin Food”
The mummies called him “Thumbkin”
The Draculas just picked him up
And stuffed him in a pumpkin.

The werewolves all turned up their snouts
As if he wasn’t there
The bats and spiders laughed at him
The Devils pulled his hair

Each Halloween he hoped and dreamed
He’d pull off one big fright
And listen to the children scream
And cry for mom all night

But, when the spooking hour came
The other ghosts would sneer
“A tiny ghost with no loud ‘Boo!’
Does not inspire fear!”

This Halloween, he sat at home
And watched some DVDs
But scary films just made him sad
And he’d seen all of these

And so the Shortest Ghost set out
He thought he’d Trick or Treat
With emphasis on “tricks” because
The treats he could not eat

He stalked a motley group of kids
Who’d not, for hours, be missed
And with a pounce enveloped them
Within his spectral mist

He showed them sights – obscenities –
No living being should see
The face of Death, the Hills of Ot
The Red Pnakotic Sea

He led them through Zehirete
The Holy Womb of Light
And bathed them in The White Fire
Which Is Darker Than The Night

Shub-Niggurath – the Black Goat
With a Thousand Hungry Young –
Ignored them, but not Nyarlathotep
God of the Bloody Tongue

The King In Yellow, Hastur,
Lord of Interstellar Spaces
Was dropping by and broke their minds
By showing them his faces

The Shortest Ghost then dragged them deep
Beneath the ocean’s waves
Where mermaids, fat with sailors’ blood,
Lured men down to their graves

And, down where dead Cthulhu dreamt
And Dagon held court, too
The Shortest Ghost swam in their ears
And whispered to them
“Boo.”

The children screamed, or tried to,
For the ocean filled their lungs
But, soon enough, it mattered not
For death had stopped their tongues

He’d played his trick, he’d had his treat
The dawn would soon be there
The shortest ghost now had his proof
That he knew how to scare

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!” his brothers cried
As he rose out of the foam,
“The Old Gods wake! The Howler Screams!
The Shambler starts to roam!”

“You’ve called attention to mankind
With your stupid little trick
We’re sorry that we called you short
But, this is pretty sick!”

The Shortest Ghost looked hard at them
And, then into the sky
The stars blinked out, the clouds dripped blood
The moon revealed an eye

He thought, “Well, no more haunting now
The dead won’t fear the dead
And, no more Halloween for us
Just endless dark instead”

But, never did the Shortest Ghost
Regret what he had done
For size is always relative
Beneath a blackened sun.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Halloween Interlude – It Was All a Dream!

And then I woke up.

Still shaking, I went downstairs and poured myself a glass of water. Something normal. Something I could do to wipe everything that had just happened out of my head. This is my house. These are my hands. This is my refrigerator. This is a glass. This is water. Drink. It’s all like it should be. It’s all

blood

like it’s supposed to be.

There is nothing in the dark. Just dark.

I sat down at the computer to surf until I started to drift off. The wind was picking up outside and I thought I could hear a small rustling behind the wall by the baseboard. Mice. Again. Such is life.

I grabbed the flashlight and crouched down to shine it in the heating vent. If those things were chewing through the wall, I needed to get some traps out. Well, at least this was taking my mind off

fingernails

bad thoughts. I shone my light around inside the vent.

A face looked back.

And then I woke up.

Still shaking, I went downstairs and poured myself a glass of water. Something normal. Something I could do to wipe everything that had just happened out of my head. This is my house. These are my hands. This is my refrigerator. This is a glass. This is water. Drink. It’s all like it should be. It’s all

mice

like it’s supposed to be.

There is nothing in the dark. Just dark.

I sat down at the computer to surf until I started to drift off. The wind was picking up outside and I thought I could smell something across the room. Coming from behind the wall by the baseboard? Did something die in there? Well. Such is life.

I grabbed the flashlight and crouched down to shine it in the heating vent. If a little animal was slowly decomposing in there, I needed to get it out. Now. Well, at least this was taking my mind off

eyes

bad thoughts. I shone my light around inside the vent.

Something grabbed my flashlight.

And then I woke up.

Still shaking, I went downstairs and poured myself a glass of water. Something normal. Something I could do to wipe everything that had just happened out of my head. This is my house. These are my hands. This is my refrigerator. This is a glass. This is water. Drink. It’s all like it should be. It’s all

hands

like it’s supposed to be.

There is nothing in the dark. Just dark.

I sat down at the computer to surf until I started to drift off. The wind was picking up outside and I thought I saw something across the room. Looking out of the vent by the baseboard? What was that? Nothing to do but check it out. Such is life.

I grabbed the flashlight and crouched down to shine it in the heating vent. I thought I’d seen a . . . well, it looked like a body. Arms crossed over the chest. It was impossible but, well, at least this was taking my mind off

pulling

bad thoughts. I shone my light around inside the vent.

Fingers brushed the sides of my neck.

And then I woke up.

Still shaking, I went downstairs and poured myself a glass of water. Something normal. Something I could do to wipe everything that had just happened out of my head. This is my house. These are my hands. This is my refrigerator. This is a glass. This is water. Drink. It’s all like it should be. It’s all

wait

like it’s supposed to be.

There is nothing in the dark. Just dark.

I sat down at the computer to surf until I started to drift off. The wind was

STOP!

picking up outside and I thought I could taste

WAKING!

something on my lips. My tongue. Something dripping from the ceiling?

Did something die up there?

UP!

I grabbed the flashlight and pointed it up at the ceiling.A black stain was spread about three feet across right above my head.  Well, at least this was taking my mind off

KSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS –

bad thoughts. I shone my light at the black, greasy spot and it

dropped.

And then I woke up.

Still shaking, I went downstairs and poured myself a glass of water. Something was wrong. This house. These hands. This  refrigerator. This glass. This water.

Don’t drink.

It’s all wrong. It’s all

wrong

off somehow.

There is something in the dark. But, not this dark.

I looked. I opened my eyes and I looked.

I sat down at the computer to surf until I started to drift off. The wind was picking up outside and I thought I could smell something across the room. Coming from behind the wall by the baseboard? Did something die in there? Well. Such is life. 

I grabbed the flashlight and crouched down to shine it in the heating vent. If a little animal was slowly decomposing in there, I needed to get it out. Now. Well, at least this was taking my mind off bad thoughts. I shone my light around inside the vent.

And then I woke up.

It perched on my chest. Its long black fingers snaked into my nostrils, my ears, the corners on my eyes. It rocked slightly as the fingers sucked and pulled and caressed the insides of my mind. I tried to raise my hands against it, but they wouldn’t move. I could feel it taking. I could also feel it giving back in equal measure. It wanted what I had inside. But, it also wanted me to know what it knew. It wanted me to see. It was important that I see.

So I saw.

I saw the vast darkness beyond waking. I saw the beings of shadow that crouch just outside our range of vision. I saw the multi-winged angels that swooped above our heads by night, their tentacular arms and scythe-like nails whipping the air and cleaving the souls of those deemed unworthy of the light. I saw through the air, to the solid miasma of unbreathable vapors favored by the entities that stalked the corridors of nightmare and the avenues of dreaming. I saw Terror riding a skinless horse, its bleats heralding madness for those who heard its call. I saw millions of lost innocents, screaming for discovery and the passionless monstrosity that silenced them with a viscous shattering of bone and rending of flesh.

I saw.

It wanted me to see that I might understand. And, as I understood, I sank back into sleep.

Where the fear lived.

Where the unknown dwelt.

Where truth lay mercifully, mercifully hidden.

And then . . .

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Halloween Interlude – Oh, Donna!

Donna?

Donna?

Oh, Donna?

DONNA!

Sorry! Sorry. Just had to – had to get your attention. Wow! You are a tough one, we tell you. You are a tough one to crack with all your . . . mental things and your . . . strong personality. Yeah.

So, hi! We’re your . . . wow, what do you call us? I’m your “demon” we guess is the word? We’re your demon; We’ll be inhabiting your body now for, um, about, forever . . . from now on. Yeah, the goal with us is to move into a body, preferably a human body, until we use it up and discard it like so much spoiled meat, so . . . hey! Here we are!

Yep. Well, it’s nice in here. You’ve . . . We see what you’ve done with the place. Roomy. You don’t keep a lot of extra junk in here, eh? Just the essentials. Wow. But, sweetie . . . oh, sweetie, we’ll fix it up.

We hope you don’t mind, we’ve been taking the liberty of rummaging around in your memories a bit – just the surface stuff! Nothing too buried. Yet. You play your cards pretty close to the chest. Looks like you had some awkward experiences in high school with guys, a few uncomfortable moments with your parents. Huh. Nothing very good. We’ll dig deeper. Most people think they have to go out and get all new things if they’re going to rebuild a personality from the ground up. Not us! We believe in recycling, reusing and RELAXING! Most people don’t realize what they have stashed away until we get in there, dig around and dredge it all up to the surface.

It’ll be beautiful.

Promise.

Oh, and you’re my first female! That’s exciting. Yeah, well, we tried a couple of girls back in the 60s – the 1560s, yeah. Didn’t work out too well. I’m a guy’s guy. Or, a guy’s “personification of the horrors of unfettered avarice.” That’s what we are. That’s what Satan calls us. Or, that’s what this one guy who knows Satan . . . that what he calls us. But, he said he’d mentioned us in front of Satan once and that Satan totally knew who he was referring to. He, like, nodded like . . . yeah, like that.

Look, I’m sorry we had to paralyze you like this. It’s uncomfortable, we know. Don’t worry though. Pretty soon you’ll loosen up and move around and we can take turns running this old meat-suit in to the ground, eh?

Yeah, oh, so we were saying, we’ve possessed about twenty different people over the centuries – not very good numbers, mind, but we do what we can. People aren’t as open to this kind of thing as you think they’d be. Most people having crises of faith were never very faithful to begin with, in my experience and . . . well, the numbers have to add up. If x is the amount of faith a person had and y is the amount of doubt they’re experiencing and two trains leave the station at the same time, blah, blah, blah. We usually get around the figures by pushing really hard! It’s crude, but what can you do?

So, here we are! We moved in a few things, hope you don’t mind. We have a big collection of negative experiences and horrifying emotions that we need to stash. We’re going to bury them all in your cerebral cortex. You may start feeling things that you weren’t aware a human mind could tolerate. It’s totally normal. No big.

Oh, we’re gonna have fun. We have so many things planned for this place!

First, ugh, look at that psyche! How long have you had this compassion for all living things?! I’m sorry girl, but it has got to go! We’re just going to rip that up and replace it with a nice, new 100 percent authentic loathing for all life on Earth. How’s that grab ya?

Then we’ll tear out these reflections of the people you love, the subtle elements that make you “you,” and the light behind your eyes that inspires trust and love in your fellow humans and replace it all with a noxious toxicity that poisons everyone you love and brings ruin to your relationships and community!

Because, we’re going to tear your family apart! Just splendid!  We tore a family apart in 1867. France. Beautiful time of year. Drove a man’s wife insane just by changing his eye color every time she looked at him. Ha! The secret is to make tiny alterations that are barely noticeable; drives ’em nuts trying to figure out what’s wrong. So, we’re going to do that with your husband and son. Mommy’s not mommy anymore! Oh, it’s terrible. But, if it works, it’ll be great.

Then, we’re going to lure your parents to their deaths, BUT! But. We’re going to do it so they die at a moment of sin. So, we’ll have to convince them you’re dying, or your son’s dying or something so they try to . . . steal something? Kill someone? We’ll work out the kinks. Your dad’s suffering from delusions, right? Good. We can reveal ourself to him and no one will believe him. Then, BOOM, dead and they’re in Hell having terrible things do terrible things to them.

Let’s see, we’ll drive your charitable organization into the ground. All that money you guys raised for cancer research? Fwip! Out the window. Think I’ll tie it up in some sort of embezzlement scandal before disappearing it – NO – funnel it to a major terrorist organization. HA! Good times.

Oh, Donna, this is going to be great. We are going to hurt so, so many people.

See, once upon a time we were a loose conglomeration of malevolent spirits, screaming in the depths of the inferno, devouring damned souls and excreting them, still conscious, into the eternal dung heap to be picked over by demoniac weevils while burning forever at a temperature of thousands of degrees, and we thought, “Is this all there is?” So, we incorporated and started out own possession gig. It’s worked out really well.

So, I’m really glad we’re getting this chance to work together! We’re going to whip this place into shape and really, really do some damage.

Oh, Donna.

It’ll be fabulous.

Categories: Halloween!, Horror | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Halloween Interlude – Tar

There is a door that leads nowhere and above that door is tar.

It’s not really tar, I’ll tell you that right now. Looks like tar. Stinks like tar. Ain’t tar.

First of all, it don’t flow right. Tar has a certain viscosity and it thickens as it cools. Tar is heated to usefulness. When it ain’t hot, it’s just a thick mess. This stuff that ain’t tar, it flows steadily. Slowly, granted, but steadily. And it stays warm. It stays so warm.

Second, there’s a smell beneath the stink. A sour/sweet smell, like fresh vomit or spoilt meat. It’s faint, but it’s there. Stand beneath the tar for a couple of seconds

(but, not too long. Oh, god, not too long)

and you’ll smell it. Like to make your stomach turn if you think about it too long.

Third, and this is the killer, third, it follows you. That’s the killer. It follows you. You walk past that tar that ain’t tar and it’ll change direction. You gotta look carefully and closely and enough people walk by all day to keep it switching directions, but you’ll see it move. Tiny like. But, it happens.

And the door. No one opens that door. I never seen it open. Oh, I figure it can – someone has the key – but I never seen behind it. Because there ain’t nothing behind it. Other side of that wall is just stairwell. Still, you hang out in this building late enough, you’ll sometimes see light through the glass, or hear sounds behind the steel. Whispering like.

They don’t say words, just sounds. Sounds that make you feel things.

I think the whisperings are connected to the tar. Can’t prove nothing of course. It’s just a hunch.

We put buckets underneath it and they’re filling with the stuff. I’m afraid of what happens if it reaches the top. Building maintenance says it ain’t their responsibility, since they can’t find a source. They sent one guy to find a leak or a pool of it. They sent him through that door. We never saw what happened to him, but the company won’t send any more guys.

So, we sit. And we pretend to not notice the tar that ain’t tar. And we go about our business.

But, the tar keeps moving. And the buckets keep filling. And I’m afraid something has got to give.

Came in this morning, there was a new stream of tar. A few feet down. I guess it’s figuring out how to move around the place.I don’t want to come in – heck, I don’t think any of us want to come in anymore – but, those whisperings are mighty persuasive.

Besides, there ain’t much left outside for us these days. It’s pretty cold out there.

And the tar is so warm.

It’s so warm.

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Halloween Interlude – In the Bag

Margaret sat staring at the bag for a good long time. She had never expected to actually come into possession of it, and frankly she didn’t quite know how to proceed. She opened the book, but any instructions it may have contained were lost to time and the elements. It was just her and the bag now.

The bag shifted.

Margaret stood up and walked around the garage. She fought the urge to throw the bag into the trash or smash it with one of her father’s wrenches. She even envisioned herself clamping it into the workbench vise and going at it with a Sawzall.

But, of course she wouldn’t.

The bag was hers now. Her responsibility. And, Margaret had no intention of shirking her responsibility. Not after all she’d been through. Not after last night. And this morning. And the shape in the alley. Not after all of that.

The bag shifted again.

And, honestly, she wasn’t sure she could even harm the bag if she tried. At least, not what was in the bag. Margaret wasn’t particularly strong, she was sneaky. Sneaky could help you accumulate things but it wasn’t much good in the muscle mass department and the thing in the bag was tough.

To say the least.

As she pedaled home from her . . . experience in the alley, the bag hung from her handlebars and she could feel – or sense – the contents pulling her along, guiding her from street to street, corner to corner. It wasn’t a mental suggestion either, it was a physical tug. If this thing was that strong without touching you . . . well, it was pointless to dwell on abstractions. The thing was hers now, and nothing was going to change that.

A car drove by outside and Margaret stiffened. “Please don’t come home early” she thought/prayed to her father, “Please don’t walk in here and see he like this. I don’t think I could stand it.”

Margaret left bloody footprints as she paced the garage  The thing in the bag seemed to follow her as the crossed the room, or maybe she imagined it did. She was pretty lightheaded by this point.

She stopped pacing and stared at the bag. Was she daring it? To do what?

She needed to open it. That was part of the deal.

It couldn’t be as easy as just pulling the string. There had to be spells and counter-spells. Binding charms. Sacrifice. Something.Margaret picked up the book. Since receiving it (and what a thrill that adventure had been) she had practically memorized most of its contents. It was so detailed, with charts and maps and long descriptions of ritual and rhyme. But, it crapped out at the end. There was nothing past the instructions on acquiring the bag. Just  torn remnants and water-stained smears of pages.

She went to the workbench and picked up one of the razor blades, the one least-covered in gore. She sat down next to the bag and inspected the string. It was tied in a complex knot. She counted to three. She cut the string.

Or, she tried to.

It wouldn’t cut.

She sawed at the string with the razor blade, growing more and more furious as she hacked and slashed at it. All of her fear was fading and a blind, stupid rage was building in her chest. A couple of slahes caught her on the arm and fingers (hardly noticeable by this point) but she kept hacking.

The string held. The bag held.

“What do I do?!” she screamed to the empty garage, “What else do I do?! Please!” She threw the bag across the garage and broke down in tears.

Margaret sat rocking back and forth, her hands clutching her red bangs, sobs racking her small frame. It was so unfair. She had given up so much for this: her friends, her puppy Bubble, her whole senior year. All in the pursuit of . . . something unknown. Something in a bag. She hated it. She wanted it so bad.

Her bloody hands shaking, Margaret picked up the bag.

“Please open up. Please come out. Please. Please. Please.”

The air in the garage grew thick and humid. The blood running down Margaret’s arms and legs flowed faster. The lights faded. But, the bag stayed closed.

Margaret spread out on the floor. She had tried so hard. She was so tired.

She curled up with the bag clutched to her chest, the way she had clutched Bubble once upon a time. She could swear the bag moved against her. She smiled.

The blood flowed out of her and the room grew cold. Then warm. Then nothing.

When Margaret’s father found her body, covered in lacerations, his heart broke.

The bag opened and hell crawled out.

Categories: Halloween!, Horror | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Halloween Interlude – Cool Cats

He loved cats. Loved the hell out of them. Not in some weird “I eat cats” kind of way; just loved them. Thought they were cool. Their little minds. Their weird habits. Cats were cool. It was cool to be a cat and he totally supported their right to their cattiness.

Shame they had to go.

The shape had said “No cats. The cats must go,” so, here he was rigging little traps all throughout his basement.

The traps were small and string based. They would be quick. Or, should be quick. God.

He looked at all the little bowls. Fifteen in all. Fifteen little bowls. And he kept them filled all day. The cats came and went through the hatch in the basement door. Of course, the occasional raccoon or possum probably came through as well, but as long as it didn’t deter the cats . . . that was fine.

He baited the traps with expensive cat food.

There had to be at least twenty regulars. And he had a name for each one:

Mr. Ritz
The Captain
Eleanor Wigby
Sam Sham
Spelunker
SweetSweet
Jimmy Two-Times
Tux-a-do
Coke Can
Fuzz
RompleStomple
Magic Meryl
Coffee Hands
Ten Toes
The Dramatist
Helluva Stink
Mad Ball
Wolf Face
The Mannequin
All About Town

Some of them may have actually been several similar cats, but he tried to make them all feel special.

And, now they were doomed. Doomed as a cat can be because what choice did he have?

“I have no choice,” he thought and looked down at his remaining fingers. “Nope, not at this point.”

He went upstairs and dreaded the morning.

Some time at around two in the morning, he woke up and went downstairs.

The basement was empty. None of the traps had been sprung. Maybe the cats smelled something was wrong. Cats could smell wrongness. That was also cool.

He looked at the traps and then at the circle in the center of the floor.

The cats were his friends. You didn’t hurt your friends. His hand still hurt. He had to get his priorities straight.

He took down the traps. He filled the bowls. He waited.

The cats came. They purred. They ate. They left.

He waited.

The shape came. It screamed. It ate. It left.

The cats returned the following night and gathered up what was left of him. Not his body. That was gone. But . . . the rest.

The cats walked him to the moon.

There were millions of cats. And thousands of people. Everyone seemed happy.

“Thank you,” he said.

“Thank you,” said RompleStomple and All About Town.

“This is where we bring The People Who Feed the Cats,” said Ten Toes, “Feeding cats is cool. It makes you cool like a cat. You’re cool.”

“Cool,” he said.

“Cool,” said the cats.

Then, they all sat down on the moon, looked at the Earth and felt cool together.

Categories: Halloween!, Horror | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Halloween Interlude – Morning Run

It was brief, so I can’t be sure I really saw it. A face – a kid’s face? – looking out of the upper floor window of a bungalow. I ran by so quickly. Still.

Five o’clock is pretty early for a kid to be up. But maybe, I don’t know, maybe he couldn’t sleep. Or, she. They. Maybe they couldn’t sleep. Maybe they wake up every morning and just stare out the window. Maybe, they’re looking for me to run by.

No, wait, that freaks me out to think about.

Maybe, they wait for anything to happen. Something to keep them interested. It’s not a busy street.

Maybe it was a fluke?

It was a white face. I know that. The streetlights made it shine a sickly yellow, but it reflected them well enough that I know it was white. Whitish.

Also, it moved. He moved. They moved. The kid moved. It wasn’t an “it.”

It was a kid.

Or, it was small at least.

I run by the house – I run by a lot of houses in the morning – and I see this face in the window and it freaks me out. I don’t, like, scream or anything, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop seeing it.

I keep expecting this weird feeling to fade.

What was it looking at? That’s all I want to know. What was it doing with its hands?

Oh, shit, it had hands.

I forgot about that.

It had hands and it was doing . . . something with them. Moving them. Waving? In front of its face?

Covering.

It was covering its face with its hands and doing a peek-a-boo motion with them.

Right.

How did I forget that?

I ran past and it peek-a-boo’d at me. Really quick. Hands-face-hands. Really quick. 1, 2, 3. Blink, blink, blink. Really quick.

It was sitting there with its face covered. Waiting for me to run by. Why would it do that?

Running. Face. Hands. Face.

No.

It didn’t cover its face. It just stared.

No.

It did cover its face. I never saw its face.

No, wait.

It – it covered its face once and once it –

I’ve seen it before.

No, once it covered its face. Once it didn’t cover its face. Once it peek-a-boo’d.

1

2

3

Blink, blink, blink

How many times did I run by?

1, 2, 3 –

Wait, once it waved. It did wave. 4

1, 2, 3, 4

Covered, uncovered, peek-a-boo, wave

Did it say something.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Covered, uncovered, peek-a-boo, wave . . . whisper?

Mouth?

5?

Or, yell.

6

Or hit the glass?

7

Did it crawl out? God, was it crawling out of the window?

8

Down the side of the house?

9

It was not unlike a child.

10

It moved wrong. Like it had too many legs. Or arms.

11

Too many mouths.

12

I can’t stop running.

13

I can’t stop running.

14

I can’t stop running.

Categories: Halloween!, Horror | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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