Posts Tagged With: stupid

Mr. Kalan and His Inheritance – A Flop House Spook-em-Up! Part 2 . . .

Donegal_Castle._County_Donegal,_Ireland-LCCN2002717385Stuart’s Story

“Goodnight, Dan!” Stuart called out semi-mockingly. This was going to be an easy win. He’d seen way too many horror movies and read way too many horror novels to fall for this set-up. Obviously, the old man stood to inherit the castle if Elliott failed tonight and so he was going to do everything he could to scare the guys and take the place for his own. And why not? It made sense to Stuart. He’d do it, too.

Closing the door, Stuart took in his surroundings. He’d chosen this room because it had a large bookcase filled with ancient volumes and, who knew? There could be a Necronomicon or De Vermis Mysteriis or Cultes des Goules up there. Old castles always had lots of magic books, right?

In the middle of the room, standing atop a threadbare green rug, was Stuart’s bed, a rickety twin size with a musty looking mattress. At the foot of the bed stood a small case with two hinged doors. Inside the case, Stuart found candles, matches, sheets and a blank notebook with a pencil. As the light was already growing dim, he lit three candles.

On the other end of the room, Stuart found a battered desk. It was one of those desks with lots of little drawers, and Stuart opened each one finding nothing until the last. Pulling out the drawer, he heard a rattling inside and, upon further investigation, discovered the drawer had a false bottom. Sliding the false bottom out of its slot, revealed a small silver key. Stuart held it up to get a better look at it. Engraved into the top was the strange triangular symbol from the old man’s parchment.

“Must be, like, the sign of this castle or something,” he said to himself.

Stuart glanced around the room, but didn’t see anything that might require a key to open. He began perusing the books.

As he’d suspected, most of the volumes were written in languages other than English. Stuart was fluent in French, Spanish and Greek, but his Latin was rusty and his Gaelic practically nonexistent.

He pulled book after book down from the shelves, holding their covers up to the candlelight.

“Dang,” he said as each one proved more impenetrable than the last. “Dang.”

Just as he was about to give up, he noticed a slim, shiny volume on the bottom shelf. The cover was made of a textured leather, dyed yellow and lacking any writing. Stamped into the cover, however, was the mysterious symbol from the key.

“Well, well, well,” Stuart said, “This looks totally scarifying.”

He tried opening the book. The cover wouldn’t budge. There was no lock holding it shut, at least no visible lock.

“That’s weird,” Stuart muttered to himself. He ran his fingers along the front and back of the book, feeling for a latch or indentation. The spine was slightly curved and at the apex of the curve, Stuart felt what seemed to be a slight flaw in the binding. He pushed against the flaw and felt something inside the book shift. Just a small vibration as if some internal mechanism had been triggered. Still, the cover would not open.

“Oh, it’s going to be like that, is it?” Stuart asked the book. It gave no response, which Stuart interpreted as a further challenge.

Settling himself on the bed and pulling a candle closer, Stuart began his examination of the book in earnest. He flipped it over, rapped on the cover, scratched at the pages and finally, after a few more minutes, his fingernail snagged another imperfection.

*click*

“Gotcha,” Stuart whispered.

Another movement from inside the book. The candle fluttered. The room seemed to grow slightly cooler.

Stuart’s face was covered in a sheen of sweat. He now felt as if this book – and the knowledge contained within – were the only things he cared about in the world. He had to get in. Had to! His fingers flew across its surface, studying its bumps and contours. Stuart began breathing more heavily as his hands spun and flipped the volume this way and that.

“There has to be one more switch,” he said. “I can’t see it! Where is it?!”

As he grew more and more agitated, the breeze in the room seemed to pick up, blowing across his neck and back. The candle flame sputtered on the verge of blowing out.

“The candle!” Stuart suddenly yelled and leaping up, he snuffed it out with his fingers.

Now, in the pitch black, Stuart felt the book in his hands. It was like holding a lover’s face; he knew it so well. Had studied it for years. He exhaled and, had he been able to see, would have noticed his breath crystalizing in the air in front of his face.

Slowly, he ran his thumbs up the spine of the book. He felt a snag and pushed.

*click*

The yellow volume heaved in his hands. He almost dropped it, the movement was so strong. More than the small vibration of before, it was a complete shifting of weight. Like an animal gaining consciousness and smelling the air around it.

Stuart tried to open the book in the dark. Still, it would not budge.

An intense anger flooded his senses and he was about to heave the book across the room when the image of the key floated before his unseeing eyes. Scrambling in the dark, he located the silver key in his pants pocket. He searched with his hands for a keyhole – there had to be one! This had to be it! But, he found nothing. Just the impression of the symbol on the front cover.

Wait.

Stuart took the key and, laying it on the book cover, positioned it so the symbol on the key lined up with the symbol on the book.

*click*

The pages flew open. Words spilled out across Stuart’s hands. What did they say? How were they crawling up his arms? When had the candle relit? Who was in the doorway?

Stuart looked at Dan standing in the entrance to his room. Dan’s eyes were missing and the skin around his mouth had been pulled back exposing skull, gums and teeth.

“I found a book,” Stuart said.

“Let me read it,” The Dan thing said.

The door to Stuart’s room slammed shut and Stuart’s screams began in earnest, mixed with laughter and the wonder of a good book.

*****

Elliott’s Story

“You boys behave tonight!” Elliott called down the hall and shut his door. He was shaken. This little adventure did not feel right, not at all. First was the extreme fatigue. Never had he been this tired. He’d been all over the world, had travelled back and forth from America to parts unknown on numerous occasions, and had never been hit like this. Was he sick? He didn’t feel sick, exactly. It was like something was draining his spirit. Something in this castle. Castle O’Kalan? The more he thought about it, the less sense it made. He didn’t have any ancestors in Ireland, for criminy’s sake! What had put that in his head?

He took out his cell phone. No bars, just like the old man had said. No bars in this cell, he thought and smiled. Normally, he’d come up with some sort of clever play on words, but looking around, he didn’t feel like making jokes.

The room he’d picked had seemed cozy on first glance. It was also the only room that came with pre-lit candles in the wall sconces. That offered some comfort, but not a lot. The lack of windows had made him feel at ease, like nothing could get in. But, now he realized it felt more like he couldn’t get out. Cell, indeed.

Elliott opened his door. He looked up and down the dark hallway. Stuart and Dan were probably already settling in – Dan was probably already asleep by now; that guy could sleep through the “1812 Overture” if he was playing the cannonball – but, Elliott knew he wouldn’t be sleeping tonight. Besides, they didn’t use actual cannonballs in the “1812 Overture.” That would be stupid.

Throwing open the cardboard box at the foot of his bed – that seemed to be the old man’s idea of a “footlocker” – Elliott tossed the sheets, candles and matches onto the floor. At the bottom of the box, was a journal and a pencil. The journal was tied shut with ribbon, and looked new. Elliott lit a candle and brought it over to where he was sitting. Untying the ribbon, Elliott flipped through the journal. The pages were all blank.

Elliott set the journal down and then picked it back up. Something was nagging at him. Something about this entire scenario. Old castle? Mysterious benefactor? It was hitting too many familiar beats. He’d seen enough bad movies to recognize lazy storytelling; and, this was some of the laziest he’d ever experienced.

So, what would a lazy storyteller do in this situation? Well, a blank journal left in a box of supplies was obviously meant to be found. But, why?

Elliott flipped through the journal again. The pages steadfastly remained blank.

“What would the Hardy Boys do?” he said.

Holding the journal up to the candle, he turned the book so he was looking at the pages edge-on. He adjusted his positioning in minute increments and slowly flipped the pages until he saw what he was looking for. Setting the book in his lap, Elliott picked up the pencil and began to lightly rub the lead over the seemingly blank page. As if by magic, words appeared on the pages.

“Of course,” Elliott said. This whole trip was following a script. He felt like he should be two steps ahead of it, if only his head wasn’t so foggy. Peering at the page, Elliott began reading the words out loud.

“They. Are. Gone.” he read, “And. You. Are. Next.” He looked up. Was the candle being blown by something?

“Do. Not. Look. For. Them. Where. You. Can. See. Them. Look. For. Them. Where. Your. Sight. Does. Not. Go.”

Who? Elliott wondered. Look for who? Stuart and Dan? That couldn’t be it. That was DuckTales-level mystery solving. Nothing would be that obvious.

Wait. DuckTales. Something about the opening theme song of DuckTales was playing around in his head. What was it that happened? Huey was climbing a cliff during the “D-d-d-danger” part and then the three of them were looking at a gem during the “Watch behind you” part but what happened? Right. Something jumps out at them while they’re focusing on something else. Right when they’d made some sort of discovery, whatever it was that had been out to get them used that moment of distraction to –

Something grabbed Elliott from behind, squeezing the breath out of his lungs.

Something else grabbed his legs. Whipping his head around, Elliott looked into the face of Stuart Wellington.

“Stu!” he managed to gasp out as Stuart’s powerful arms constricted his chest,”Stu! What are you doing?! What happened to your face?!”

Stuart’s face was covered in what looked like writing; but, it was a language Elliott had never seen before. It covered Stuart’s neck, arms and hands. Stuart’s eyes were red and rolled back in his head; a strange rasping came from his throat and a vile black liquid oozed off of his tongue.

Glancing down, Elliott realized that Dan had ahold of his legs. Dan’s arms weren’t nearly as strong as Stuart’s, so it didn’t hurt very much. In fact, Dan wasn’t really having an easy time lifting Elliot.

“Come on, Dan!” Elliott called out, “Lift with your legs! Just, watch your knee!”

The thing that was Dan seemed to shudder with an intense sigh as it looked up at Elliott. So much of Dan’s face had been pulled away, that it was mostly skull that greeted Elliott. The empty eye sockets leaked the same horrid fluid that poured out of Stuart. And, from deep in Dan’s chest, came that pitiful rasping, moaning sound. As if someone had burrowed into Dan’s chest, and was chanting or singing or weeping.

“Dan!” Elliott cried out, “I know it’s you! Fight this! Let me go! We’ve been tricked! We’ve all been tricked and we played right into the hands – or, you guys played into them; I was doing a pretty good job of figuring things out on my own – of, whatever it is that’s been doing this to us!”

Stuart increased the pressure on Elliott’s small frame and Elliott began seeing stars.

“Well,” he said as he faded out, “I always thought this is how I’d go: with you two fighting over me.”

The Dan thing grabbed the sheets Elliott had tossed on the floor and flung them over Elliott’s form. Stuart and Dan bundled up the little man and Stuart hoisted him over his shoulder. As they exited the room, the candle blew out.

*****

“Nope!” Elliott cried, looking around, “None of this!”

He had come to in a dimly lit chamber, tied to a stone table, still wrapped in the sheets from his room. The alter was surrounded by four unlit braziers. To his left, Dan stood against the wall as if waiting for a command. Stuart mirrored him on the other side, but seemed slightly more sure of himself.

“Guys!” Elliott whispered. “Come on, guys! Let me up. Get me out of here! I know it’s you two. Dan! Get me out of here and I’ll never interrupt you again!”

The two figures stood placidly, ignoring the entreaties of their friend.

“Stuart! Stuart, I’ll get you a writing job on the show! I don’t actually know if you want a writing job – it’s a lot of hard work and you’d have me over your shoulder and, frankly, I’m a pretty difficult guy to be around on the best days – but, just get me up! Come on!”

“They won’t listen to you, Mr. Kalan,” came a familiar voice from across the room.

Dilbert O’Kalan had entered, dressed in long purple robes, tied at the waist with a length of rope. Around his neck, he wore a chain with a jewel pendant. In his hands, he held a metal basin and a long blade.

“I have many legions under my command, Mr. Kalan,” the old man said, “and, given the opportunity, they will push a man’s soul from his flesh and inhabit his bones like a fish in a reef.”

“Wait,” Elliott said, “Wait, are you saying a fish wears a reef like a suit? Have you ever seen a reef? Fish don’t walk around in them, like David Byrne’s big suit. Coral reefs aren’t clothes! Reefs? Is it reefs or reeves?”

“Quiet!” cried Dilbert O’Kalan, “You will not distract me so easily. I am not one of your weak-willed compatriots. We have business to attend to and not much time.”

“Oh, well I better make things easy for you! It would certainly be in my best interest to let you get along with whatever it is you’re going to do with that knife and bowl!”

“Oh, Mr. Kalan,” the old man said, “You have no idea the things I’m going to do. I’ve been stuck in this decrepit flesh suit for far too long. Now, it is time for a change.”

“Into what? Into me? You look just like me! It won’t be that big of a change! It’s hardly worth it!”

“Unfortunately, the Kalans and their relatives have always been the only humans capable of containing my essence. I contrived the story of your inheritance to bring you here. I also needed two vessels to serve as retainers to my glory, and you complied nicely by providing them. I am happy you did not bring along that brother of yours. It would have complicated the process.”

“He probably would have started talking about sports, too,” Elliott said.

“Yes, I listen to your program. It is amusing how you denigrate the works of others for the amusement of your social inferiors.”

“I think we have a new tag line,” Elliott said.

“But, enough. I am going to slice you open, remove your soul and enter your body. The procedure will take about five minutes. Your soul will writhe in torment . . . forever.”

Dilbert O’Kalan lit several of the braziers. The pungent sting of incense filled the air. Dilbert began drawing strange diagrams and symbols on the floor around the altar. Elliott struggled against his bindings, but they were far too tight to move.

“Hey, Dilbert!” Elliott cried, “Who are you, really? How are you tied in with my family? Why me? Do you really listen to our podcast?”

“I know what you’re trying to do, Mr. Kalan,” Dilbert said, continuing his work, “You’re trying to distract me while you think of a way to escape. But, don’t you see that even if you got off of the alter, your friends would simply stop you. Stuart is strong, stronger since his transformation. He always had a bit of the rebel about him; now he has everything he always wanted: unnatural strength, cosmic knowledge, eternal life! Dan finally has power over you. He no longer has to put up with your attitude! Your jabs! Your unending stream of useless knowledge!”

“Listen, Dilbert, you can say what you want, but Dan and I are friends. Sure, we rib each other on the show, but what you’re hearing is just a bit!”

“Nonsense! This man has no respect for you! The way he sighs! The way he swears at your singing! Dan McCoy is no friend of yours!”

“He is a friend!” Elliott shouted, “Dan! Aren’t you my friend?”

The Dan thing remained still, but its eyes shifted ever so slightly towards Elliott’s prone figure.

“See?!” Elliott cried, “He looked over at me! That’s a thing! Stu! Tell this guy where he can go and then get me loose!”

Stuart shifted slightly in his place but otherwise remained still.

“It’s working!” Elliott cried, “They’re coming to! They’re going to wake up, set me free and then beat the stuffing out of you, Mr. O’Kalan if that is your real name!”

“They’re not waking up,” Dilbert said, “They can’t ‘wake up’ because, as I keep telling you, their souls are no longer in their bodies! Those are demons in there! Their souls are trapped in eternal torment!”

“Bull! If their souls were trapped, you’d have them somewhere!”

“I do!” Dilbert shouted, exasperatedly, “I have them in this gem around my neck!”

“Ah HA!” Elliott shouted and burst free of the ropes.

“What?!” said a startled Dilbert O’Kalan, “How?!”

“I suspected something was up when I found that terrible secret message in the journal in my room!” Elliott explained, “Fearing the worst, I palmed a few of those matches you’d provided. This whole time we’ve been talking, I’ve been slowly burning through the ropes, trusting that the smell of incense would hide the odor of burning hemp!”

“Well done, Mr. Kalan,” Dilbert calmly intoned, “But, too little too late. Slaves, grab him!”

The Dan thing and Stuart darted towards the altar upon which Elliott now stood. Stuart dove for Elliott’s legs, but a well timed jump allowed Elliott to safely evade his grasp and land on the floor.

“Fools!” Dilbert cried, “Secure him! He must not escape!”

Elliott ran around the alter, straight into the Dan thing.

“Sorry about this, buddy!” he said and kicked with all his might at the Dan thing’s bad knee.

The Dan thing let loose a wild howl and collapsed, moaning with pain.

“Stuart!” Dilbert O’Kalan cried, “Destroy him! I can still use his body, even if it is slightly damaged!”

Stuart darted around the altar. Elliott realized he would be no match for Stuart’s increased speed and strength. He couldn’t go face-to-face with him. He had to get to that gem!

Feinting to the left, Elliott counted on the thing inhabiting Stuart’s body to not be quite as quick-on-the-take as Stuart himself would have been. He guessed correctly and used Stuart’s brief mistake to dart around the other side of the altar, straight at Dilbert O’Kalan.

The old man was quick, but not quick enough. Elliott grabbed Dilbert around the waist, tackling him to the floor. With both hands, he yanked as hard as he could on the chain around the man’s neck and pulled the gem free.

“Ha!” Elliott shouted. But, something wasn’t right. He looked down.

Dilbert O’Kalan had shoved the sacrificial blade into Elliott’s torso, all the way up to the hilt. So sharp was the blade, Elliott hadn’t even felt it go it.

“It’s over, Mr. Kalan,” Dilbert said, “You played along very well. Now, my soul will enter your body and your soul will be trapped forever in torment!”

“Think so?” Elliott choked out, “Well, let’s take a look . . . in the mailbag.”

And, he smashed the gem on the stone floor.

A flash of light. Wind. Dilbert O’Kalan looked up. Elliott was suspended in the air, three feet above his head.

“Elliott!” he cried.

“There is no Elliott,” Elliott said with a deep, rumbling voice, “Only Zuul!”

“This is not possible!” O’Kalan yelled, “What have you done?!”

“It’s more what have you done, spooky!” Elliott spoke, “You cut me open, I let my friend’s souls out. Now, they’re in here with me! Think I’ll take ’em back to New York with me!”

“What? How?!” O’Kalan spluttered.

“I don’t know, man, it’s your little world! I didn’t make the rules. You okay in there, Dan? Yeah, I’m fine. You alright, Stuart. Yeah, eternal torment sucked. What should we do about this guy?”

Elliott turned his head. Across the room, the Dan thing and Stuart were watching everything with interest.

“Hey, chuckleheads,” Elliott said to them, “Is there a rule that, like, once the souls of the bodies you inhabit have been freed, you no longer have to do what this guy says?”

The Dan thing and Stuart looked at each other. Stuart gave a shrug.

“Works for me,” Elliott said, “I guess you can do whatever you want with him.

“No!” O’Kalan shouted, “No! Stay back! I command you! Stay back!”

“Okay, let’s wrap this up. Fine, Dan,” Elliott said, “Sheesh. You’d think you’d be happy to be freed from eternal torment. No, I’m glad you got me out. Got Meowth? No, ‘me’ ‘out’. My words are a little slurred from being trapped in eternal torment for so long. No, I think you said ‘Meowth’ because all you took from this is a reminder of the video games of your misspent youth. Good takeaway, Dan. *sigh*”

*****

“On this episode of ‘The Flop House’ we answer the burning question ‘Is Martin Short more irritating in animated form?’ with a burning ‘yes’.”

Dan hit Pause on the recording program.

“Okay, guys,” he said, “We’re up for doing this?”

“I think so,” Stuart answered, “Got my beers; got my food. Let’s do it.”

“Elliott? You ready?”

“Of course I’m ready, Dan. I didn’t just sit through seven and a half hours of ‘Legends of OZ: Dorothy’s Return’ to not be ready.”

“Well, if your voice starts to get hoarse, let me know.”

“Dan, if my voice starts to get hoarse, you’ll know. How would you not know?”

“I’m just looking out for you, Elliott.”

“Well, thank you, Dan.”

“You’re welcome, Elliott. Okay, here goes.”

Dan hit record.

“Welcome to ‘The Flop House,” he said, “I’m Dan McCoy.”

“I’m Stuart Wellington.”

“And, I’m Elliott Kalan.”

The recording continued. The three Original Peaches spoke at length about a terrible computer animated children’s movie. The banter was quick. The jokes were on-point. There was even an appearance by the House Cat. Elliott sang a Letters Song. Stuart officially retired “Castle Freak.” Dan sighed. Things were pretty much the same as they’d always been.

Except, they only need one mic, now.

THE END

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

Mr. Kalan and His Inheritance – A Flop House Spook-em-Up! Part 1?

Donegal_Castle._County_Donegal,_Ireland-LCCN2002717385“Guys, I’m inheriting a castle!”

Elliott Kalan’s reedy voice bounced off the walls leading up to Dan’s apartment. Usually, Elliott waited until he was actually in the apartment, arms laden with boxes of fried chicken, before he started squealing excitedly about one thing or the other.

“Did he say something about a castle?” Stuart asked Dan.

“I don’t know,” Dan sighed. They’d been waiting for the tardy Mr. Kalan for twenty minutes. Dan had a podcast to record; time was ticking and, well, this was serious business. Yes, Elliott had a new baby at home. Yes, Elliott was the head writer for a major cable comedy program. Yes, their bad movie podcast was most likely about as far down on Elliott’s priority list as anything else not directly related to family or income. Yes to all that. But, come on. Bad movie podcast!

Elliott threw open the door, sending Dan’s cat scurrying into the kitchen.

“Sorry I’m late,” Elliott cried, “But, hold on to your butts! You will not believe what I just found out!”

“You’re inheriting a castle?” Stuart said from his position on the sofa.

“Y – wait, how did you know?” Elliott asked.

“You were bellowing it as you ran up the stairs,” Stuart replied.

“Right! That. Yes.,” Elliott said, “Sorry, it’s just been a bit of a whirlwind.”

“Are we going to be able to start soon?” Dan asked fiddling with the microphones, “And where’s the chicken?”

“Forget the chicken!” Elliott said, “Forget the chicken, forget the mics and forget the podcast! This is bigger than any of that! Guys! I’m -”

“Inheriting a castle, yes, we know,” Dan said.

“It’s more than that,” Elliott said, “I’m inheriting a castle and we’re all going!”

Stuart leaned forward, his beer momentarily forgotten. “Explain, dude.”

“Okay, I know I’ve mentioned this to you guys before,” Elliott began, “But the Kalans have a deep deep cultural history in Ireland.”

“Wait, what?!” Stuart said.

“Yeah, there’s a huge Jewish presence out on the moors. Watch out we don’t bite you, or you’ll turn into a Were-Jew.”

“Is that, like, a man who only turns Jewish once a month?” Stuart asked.

“No, it’s just a guy who’s half Jewish. Like, his dad was Jewish and he never went to Hebrew school. Werrrrre-Jeeewwwww! Watch out! Don’t get bitten or you’ll be suuuuuch a disappointment to your mottttthhhherrr!” Elliott waggled his fingers in Dan’s face.

“I have a feeling we’re all disappointments to our mothers,” Dan said.

“Well, don’t bring the room down, Dan,” Elliott said, “I’m trying to explain my Irish heritage and my wonderful new castle.”

“Why do you get an Irish castle?” Dan said, “I’m the McCoy! Shouldn’t I get an Irish castle?”

“Gee, I don’t know, Dan,” Elliott said, “Why don’t you hop in a time machine and ask your ancestors to work harder? ‘Hey, Seamus McCoy!'” Elliott mimed knocking on a door, “‘Open up! It’s me, your great great great great grandson, Dan! Uh, I’m here to shame you for not being nobility! What? You want to burn me as a witch?’ Sorry, Dan, you’ve been burned as a witch.”

“Look,” Dan said, trying to get things back on track, “Did you or did you not actually -”

“Yes, Dan, it’s what I’ve been trying to explain to you. Castle O’Kalan has stood for hundreds of years, being passed from O’Kalan to O’Kalan by complicated lineage. I got a call this morning from a solicitor who informed me that my fifth uncle three-times removed -”

“That’s not really a thing,” Dan interrupted.

“My fifth uncle, three-times removed,” Elliott continued, “just passed away -”

“What was his name?” Dan asked.

“Uh, Dudley O’Kalan,” Elliott said.

Stuart choked on his beer.

“Dudley O’Kalan died in a mysterious accident. Apparently, through the twistings and turnings of our complicated, um, Torah-based Irish inheritance system, his castle falls to me. But, in order to claim my inheritance, I have to spend a night in Castle O’Kalan. However, I’m allowed to bring two retainers to spend the night with me and I choose you guys!”

“So, wait,” Stuart said, “does that make you a Lord? Are you Lord Elliott?”

“Yes, I’m a Dark Lord of the Sith. Darth Heritor. Because, by Sith naming convention I have to take a word that begins with “In” and remove the prefix. Beware my psychotic inheriting abilities.”

“Elliott,” Dan said, “We can’t just pack up and head out to Ireland. We have lives, jobs, families.”

“It’s one night, Dan. We’ll fly in, get to the castle – we’ll be so jetlagged, we’ll probably just fall asleep, wake up and the castle will be mine! I’ll have a castle and it’ll all be thanks to you two!”

“Can’t you ask your brother to go with you?”

“David? No, he’s not allowed to set foot on Irish soil.”

“What?!”

“Stop bringing up painful family secrets, Dan!”

“But, I – ”

“So,” Stuart interjected, “When do we leave?”

“I got us three tickets to Ireland, leaving tonight!”

“Tonight?!” Dan said, “I can’t just leave tonight! I have stuff I need to -”

“Tonight!” Elliott repeated.

“That’s cool,” Stuart said, “Can I finish my beer?”

*****

At seven the next morning, Dan, Stuart and Elliott – jet-lagged, achy and in the case of one of them maybe a bit hung-over – were packed in a cab and heading across Ireland for Castle O’Kalan. Their driver – an old man named Bill – was chattier than they were hoping, but pleasant enough. He had many tales about the moors surrounding Castle O’Kalan, which the men listened to as well as they could.

“And, that, lads, is why they say to never wear a shawl after sundown by Castle O’Kalan!” Bill let loose an uproarious laugh.

“That’s great,” Elliott responded. His extreme fatigue was beginning to wear on his sanity a bit. He wished he could sleep, but excitement combined with anticipation was making that impossible. Also, being hemmed in by his two compatriots on either side. Stuart was snoring lightly and Dan just stared out the window with a semi-shellshocked look on his face.

“So,” Bill said, “What bring ye lads out to Castle O’Kalan? Doin’ a wee bit o’ sightseein’?”

“Actually,” Elliott said, “My name is Elliott Kalan. I’m a descendant of Dublin O’Kalan, the original builder of the castle. I found out yesterday that I’m inheriting it.”

Bill didn’t slam on the breaks, but he did take his foot off the gas pedal and let the car slow to a halt.

“You’re inheriting Castle O’Kalan?” he asked. Elliott noticed that all the color had drained from Bill’s face.

“Uh, yep,” Elliott said.

“I – I’m sorry boys,” Bill said, “But, I’m going to have to ask you to leave my vehicle.”

Dan, who had been lost in his own thoughts, suddenly looked around.

“Hey, did we stop?” he asked.

“Yes, Dan,” Elliott said, “About five minutes ago.”

“Why are you getting out of the car?” Dan asked.

“Because Bill here has asked us to,” Elliott replied.

Dan looked at Bill. The old man’s eyes were watery and his hands were trembling as he opened the trunk and took the three suitcases out, setting them gently on the ground.

“Wait, you can’t ask us to leave your cab,” Dan said, “That has to be illegal or something! We’re in the middle of nowhere!”

“Geez, Dan,” Elliott said, “It’s modern Ireland. Way to insult this man’s entire history. Your country is a vast wasteland! We’re all in danger of being eaten by a grue!”

“Elliott,” Dan snapped, “We are at least ten miles from the castle. At least! We’re tired. Hungry. Stuart is barely able to hold himself up! How are we going to make it all the way to Castle O’Kalan? How?!”

Ten minute later, the cab was speeding away behind them and Dan, Stuart and Elliott were dragging their bags up the dirt road to Castle O’Kalan.

“I wish you dudes had woken me up sooner,” Stuart said, “I’d have tossed that cabbie around a bit. Maybe hijacked his wheels. We’d be sitting pretty all the way to the castle.”

“You’re drunk, Stuart,” Dan said.

“I’m not drunk,” Stuart shot back, “I’m hungover and angry!”

“No, no,” Elliott said, “Dan was calling you Drunk Stuart. You’re Drunk Stuart, he’s Mopey Dan and I’m Computer Kalan. We’re the new members of the Burger King Kid’s Club. Except, I should really be in a wheelchair. I’m Wheels Kalan. The gang just calls me ‘Wheels!’ I’m a computer whiz!”

“Why are you in a wheelchair?” Stuart asked.

“Per Nineties cartoon convention, every group of characters numbering more than five, has to have at least one kid in a wheelchair,” Elliott answered.

“Then, wait, was there always a drunk?” Dan asked, “I don’t remember many drunk kids on television in the nineties.”

“Well, of course you couldn’t see their illness, Dan. Geez. Alcoholism can be a silent addiction. Not all alcoholics are hilarious Andy Griffith Show caricatures. Have a little compassion!”

“But, I’m -“

“Any other groups you’d like to rag on? We’ve got quite a walk ahead of us. MAybe you’d like to dip into orphans.”

“Gross, dude,” said Stuart.

“Forget it,” Dan said.

“I’m just curious,” Stuart continued, “As to what you said to our cabbie that made him take off like that.”

“Nothing!” Elliott said, “I just mentioned that I’m inheriting Castle O’Kalan, he stopped the car, told us to get out and drove off! That’s all! I didn’t insult his mother or anything!”

“Maybe you should have,” Stuart said, “Maybe he’d be into that.”

The three men walked in silence for the next few miles.

“You know,” Dan said, “I would have thought we’d have seen some other cars or something by now. This isn’t exactly a deserted spot and Castle O’Kalan is listed as a semi-popular tourist attraction.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Dan,” Elliott said, “I’m a powerful man but I don’t have control over the world’s cars just yet.”

“I’m just saying,” Dan started.

“Maybe they’re all at work,” Stuart said. “It’s a Friday and people usually work on Fridays. That’s a worldwide phenomenon, right? Work on Friday? It’s not some isolated American thing?”

“Yeah, these kooky Irish with their four-day work-weeks and easily frightened cabbies,” Elliott said, “Those are probably the two biggest Irish stereotypes: short work-weeks and easily spooked. That’s why the Notre Dame mascot is a leprechaun hiding behind a bush watching TV while outside the window you see kids going to school.”

“That’s a fairly convoluted shorthand for ‘four-day work week’,” Dan said.

“Well, in the fast-paced world of mascot design, you’ve got to hit your audience with your message and move on,” Elliott said, “If your sports team mascot doesn’t convey a) your contempt for a specific culture and b) how many days a week that culture works, it ain’t doing its job!”

Three hours later, Castle O’Kalan came into view.

“Thank god,” Dan said.

“Wow,” Elliott added.

“So,” Stuart threw in, “no one’s made a ‘Castle Freak’ joke, yet, because we’re not talking for the benefit of an audience, but if I may: ‘If that were my castle, I’d freak.'”

Indeed. The pictures the guys had found of Castle O’Kalan had in no way prepared them for the sheer immensity and presence of the ancient edifice. The structure stood at the end of the road, in the middle of a foggy landscape, surrounded by modern fencing. A small parking lot stood off to one side, but it was clear of any vehicles. The castle itself was large, grey, ugly and intimidating. Ivy clung to its sides. The windows, few though they were, betrayed no sign of life. Castle O’Kalan stood as a silent sentry. But, against what?

“Were we supposed to meet anyone here?” Dan asked.

“The solicitor told me a caretaker lived on the grounds,” Elliott said, “But, I don’t see any lights on inside. Maybe, he has a separate house or something.”

“Welp,” said Stuart, heading for the door, “Only one way to find out.”

“Find out what?” Dan asked.

“Whether or not this place is filled with g-g-g-ghosts!” Stuart answered. He rapped on the heavy wooden door.

There was a pause. Stuart had lifted his arm to pound again on the door, when the sound of a latch being thrown broke the silence. A loud metallic clanking noise filled the gloom and suddenly the door began to creak open, seemingly of its own accord. It scraped against the ground and the men could see that it was being pulled open by a series of chains and weights. Obviously, someone was inside operating a crank of some sort.

“Someone must be inside, operating a crank of some sort,” Dan said.

“Obviously,” Elliott replied.

The door stopped moving and stood open. Simultaneously, the guys leaned forward, trying to see through into the darkness.

“Hel-” Dan began, when a figure stuck his head around the door.

“Gah!” the guys cried out. Elliott pinwheeled his arms, lost his balance and sat down hard in the dirt. It wasn’t the sudden appearance of the man that had thrown him, but the fact that – except for the gray hair, mustache and stooped shoulders – he looked just like Elliott!

“Welcome,” the man said, “to Castle O’Kalan.”

Somewhere in the distance, a dog howled.

“Things just got spooky,” Stuart pointed out.

*****

“My name,” said the old Elliott-looking man as he poured the three guys cups of hot tea, “Is Dilbert O’Kalan.”

“That’s not a real name,” Dan said.

The old man looked up at Dan, “Sure it is, lad. My father before me was Smedley O’Kalan. His father was Scoop O’Kalan. Going back hundreds of years, the O’Kalans have had a presence on this island. ‘Twasn’t until the 1880s when Hawley O’Kalan set sail to Ellis Island to found the first – and, sadly, last – O’Kalan’s Haberdashery and Locksmithery, that we had a presence outside Ireland. Hawley’s people soon dropped the ‘O’ prefix. Wanted their name to sound a little less ‘ethnic’ they said. Hm. Well, in any case, he took with him to the States a branch of the inheritance line to this castle. See, it’s not a direct inheritance.”

Dilbert pulled a large, rolled-up piece of parchment out of a case by his feet. Carefully, he unrolled it on the thick wooden table around which the men were seated. On the parchment, lines intersected one another. Strange symbols and marking indicating who-knows-what seemed scattered across the surface as if at random.

“What the heck is this?” Stuart asked.

“This is the lineage calculator we use to determine inheritance in the O’Kalan family. It goes back to antiquity. Takes three scholars a year to calculate a single inheritance. That’s why we O’Kalans have learned to forgo the complicated process and make sure we don’t possess anything when we die. ‘Live Hard, Die Poor, Skip The Complicated Inheritance Process’ is what it says on our Coat of Arms. In Latin or somesuch. In any case, this is the map of your lineage, young Elliott. See? There you are in the whole morass.”

Elliott, who had been strangely quiet since Dilbert had answered the door, followed the old man’s finger to a triangular symbol on the parchment. In the middle of the triangle, a circle was drawn with lines radiating outward from its center.

“What does that symbol mean?” Elliott asked.

“Oh,” said Dilbert, suddenly looking apprehensive, “just, um, inheritor or something. Nothing. It’s a symbol. So. According to the rules of inheritance, you and your retainers have to spend one night in Castle O’Kalan in order for the castle to come into your possession. If you leave the castle for any length of time and for any reason, you forfeit . . . your claim.”

“Why did you pause just then?” Stuart asked.

“Pause just when?” Dilbert asked back.

“Before you said ‘your claim.’ It sounded like you were gong to maybe say something else and then you stopped yourself and said ‘your claim.’ Were you maybe going to, I dunno, threaten Elliott? Maybe say ‘your life’ or something instead?”

“No,” Dilbert said innocently, “Just, um, picking my words carefully is all.”

With one grand gesture, he swept the parchment up, rolled it back into a tube and secreted it away in his case.

“The castle has rudimentary toileting facilities, is lit only by candles and there is no cell reception or wi-fi. You are, for all intents and purposes, isolated. The larder is stocked for a day or two of eating. I will be leaving now and returning in the morning. If you leave the castle . . . I’ll know.”

“How will you-” Dan began.

“I’ll know!” Dilbert interrupted, “Rooms are upstairs. Three beds have been set up for you. Supplies for your quarters will be found in footlockers a the ends of each of your beds. This includes candles, matches, extra sheets, towels, etcetera. Any questions?”

The guys looked at each other.

“Uh, none,” Elliott finally said.

“Wonderful,” Dilbert said, “then enjoy your stay in Castle O’Kalan! And, I’ll see you on the morrow.”

And, with that, Dilbert left the castle and they were alone.

“That guy,” Stuart said, “Is the worst guy.”

“I know,” Dan added, “At first I thought he would be all helpful and charming, but then he ended up being condescending and kind of creepy.”

“Well,” said Elliott, “let’s get settled in. I’m so tired, I can barely think straight. I don’t even have a quippy comment for Dan.”

“I’d noticed,” Stuart said, “Are you feeling okay?”

Elliott thought for a second, “I was going to say ‘yes’ but that’d be a lie. I feel weird in here, guys. I’m kinda sorry I dragged you into this.”

Dan looked his friend in the eyes, “Elliott, it’s just a creepy old castle. We’re going to be fine. Nothing will hurt us and if anything tries, we’ll help each other out.”

Elliott looked back at Dan, “What are you talking about? Of course nothing’s going to hurt us! I’m not five, Dan. I know the Goosebumps books aren’t real! I meant I’m sorry I pulled you away from your lives, not dragged you into a haunted charnel house! Geez!”

Elliott walked into the hallway, “Let’s go find our rooms! Dan, I’ll try to make sure yours doesn’t have a secret passageway behind the bookcase with skeletons hiding inside! OooooOOOooooH!”

Dan just sighed and followed.

*****

DAN’S STORY

 “I’ll see you guys in the morning!” Dan called out of his doorway. His room proved to be less creepy than he’d anticipated. It was round, with a stone floor and walls. One small window looked out over the fog-shrouded landscape. A beautiful crimson rug ran most of the length of the room and decorative pennants hung from the stone walls. His bed was a large fourposter with an overstuffed mattress. An ancient brown chest rested at the foot of the bed.

Opening the chest, Dan felt a chill across the back of his neck.

“Great,” he said out loud, “A draft. That’s just what I need.”

The chest contained the candles and matches as promised. Also extra sheets and pillowcases. A small flashlight. And, curiously, a leather-bound journal and pencil. The journal was blank.

“Guess if I get in the mood to write, I’m taken care of.”

It was early evening, but the activity of the day had left Dan completely wiped out. He lit three candles, changed out of his travel clothes and threw on his pajamas. Normally, he’d stick with boxers and a t-shirt, but the draft he’d felt earlier made him realize how chilly it was growing. Strangely, it hadn’t been cold at all when they’d entered the castle, but now a strong chill was creeping up his spine. Even standing on the rug, Dan could feel the cold in his feet. He put on a pair of socks, grabbed his laptop and settled into bed.

Despite the lack of wi-fi, Dan had plenty of movies stored on his hard drive and he’s decided to pop one on as he fell asleep. Secretly, this was how Dan preferred to watch a film: on a small screen, through earbuds, all by himself. The guys were great and he loved his wife, but Dan knew the best audience was an audience of one. He called it the “Danience.” Sometimes, when a movie was over, he’d say, “What did the Danience think about that?” And then, depending on what he had thought, he’d respond, “I give it two Dans up!” or “I give it two Dans down!” Then, he’d laugh. It always cracked him up.

Tonight, the movie of choice was an old favorite “Aguirre, the Wrath of God.” He’d seen it a million times and Klaus Kinski’s portrayal of the crazed conquistador never failed to delight him as he drifted off to sleep. Unfortunately, his video player didn’t seem to be cooperating. He pressed ‘play’ over and over again, but no picture resolved itself on the screen.

“Come on!” Dan said, “Come on you stupid machine!” He clicked play again and again, but to no avail.

“Dang it!” he said, “Dang it all!”

Disgusted, he closed his laptop and turned to set it aside. That’s when he noticed the shape of the body in his sheets.

Dan’s blood went cold. There was someone under the sheets in the bed next to him. He couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman but he certainly hadn’t noticed anyone in the bed when he’d gotten in and no one had entered the room since he’d closed the door. And yet, by the flicker of the candlelight, there it was. A human form.

“I have to get out of the bed,” Dan thought to himself. He shifted his weight to one side and the body under the sheets . . . crawled. Just a bit. But, it crawled, pulling itself towards him with now visible hands and fingers. Dan’s heart began pounding. And the air in the room grew insanely cold. He breathed out and saw the frost form in the air in front of him.

Dan’s only thought now was to get to the door. Exit the room. Find the guys. The edge of his bed seemed miles away as he moved his leg to throw himself off.

The shape under the sheets scuttled toward him.

Dan froze.

The shape froze.

“Help,” he said, but his words were barely a chocked whisper.

“Hhhhhhllllp,” a voice came from under the sheets.

“Go . . . go away,” Dan said to the thing.

“Guuuhhhhhh whhhhhaaaaay,” the thing repeated at him.

Remembering the laptop in his hands, Dan raised the computer above his head and quickly brought it down onto the shape.

Not quickly enough.

A strong wind blew through the room, extinguishing the candles and causing the sheets to rise like a wave at the beach. Underneath, the body was visible, embedded in the other side. A desiccated corpse formed from the folds and weave of the bedding. It was a tangible nightmare; its face rotting and peeling away, it’s eye sockets dark holes and its teeth. It’s teeth gaped open in a silent scream or in a desperate hunger. Flapping as if propelled by an unfelt wind, the sheet corpse flew at Dan, wrapping his body in a constricting squeeze. Dan tried to cry out, but he felt the air crushed from his lungs. The sheet covered his face, and even in the darkness Dan could see the other face looking at him. It’s mouth so hungry. It’s eyes so empty. The cloth around him felt like arms, but too many arms. As his consciousness faded, he continued to kick and struggle against the thing in his bed.

Five minutes later, the sheets floated to the ground. The candles relit. And Dan was nowhere to be found.

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

The Awesomeness Of Martha Jones

Awesome

“Thank you for all of your help, Martha Jones,” said the man in the blue suit standing on the stage holding all of the awesome medals, “It was a big help and saved the world. So, you win all the Awesome Awards and we present you with all these awesome medals for being awesome.”

Martha Jones did not care about awesome medals, but she knew that if she did not show up to accept them – all of them – the public would be disappointed because they cared so much. So very much.

“I accept all of the awesome medals,” she said to the man while looking him directly in his eyes as was her way because she was every man’s equal, “I accept them all. The Awesome Awards.”

The man in the blue suit put all of the medals around the neck of Martha Jones and, though they were heavy, she held her head high so she could look every person in the eyes as equals because that is what they were. And, they were all into it because they cared so much.

“I hope you have a safe drive home,” said the man in the blue suit, “Be careful. The roads are slippery and the whole country – nay, the whole world – would weep if you were injured.”

“I will be careful,” said Martha Jones, “because I value safety and I value your feelings, although I would never put them before my own.”

Martha Jones got in her car and drove away and everybody was impressed and they all cared so much because they all thought she was so awesome.

Categories: Just a stupid thing | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On Hal’s and Carpeting and . . . mores?

Let me tell you a little story.

car1When I was a child, I walked to school every morning – let’s not get into what year this was; I’ll just say, yes, cars had been invented by then (BIG FAKE LAUGH)! – and every morning I passed a carpeting store. Hal’s Carpets. Hal’s was a neighborhood fixture, had operated in the same storefront, with the same staff for further back than my young memory extended, and our community relied on Hal’s for quality carpets at a reasonable price. They may not have been the best carpets available – that honor went to the carpets at Carpet-A-Rama – and they may not have been the best value – that would be Carpet Pete’s (Pete was Hal’s half-brother on their father’s side and they’d had a bitter rivalry since childbirth. They were both dead by this point, but the feud carried on through their children and store managers) but Hal’s Carpets was a fixture and community uniter. Not a Halloween went by that we didn’t throw on our sheets, or masks, or sheeted masks and trundle our pillowcases down the street to Hal’s Carpets bellowing our “Trick or Treats” at the tops of our lungs until we were quieted down by a screaming neighbor, or angry tramp or a hose aimed at us by the local constabulary. We never got any candy on Halloween, – candy and other sugared snacks had been outlawed by city ordinance decades before I was born – but the annual Halloween Yelling at the Carpet Store united the youth of our community and kept us busy while the adults had their key parties and gin baths; and as we trundled home on November 1st at about five in the morning, soaked, bruised and otherwise banged around, we felt a sense of pride, of community, of unity.

So.

When Hal’s Carpets shut down in my third Junior year of High School, you can imagine the uproar. Gone were the carefree afternoons hurling mud and invectives at the carpet delivery vans as they sped off to parts unknown. Gone was the opportunity to transition immediately from Public School into Hal’s Carpet’s Post-Graduate Carpet Management Training Club and Bartender Supply Company. Gone was the sense that we belonged to something bigger. Something grander. Something that might pay us enough money to afford a ticket out of this town that consisted of little more that strip clubs and carpet stores. Gone was Hal’s. We did receive a bit of an economic boost when Hal’s was razed and tourists started flocking in to see the “mystery grave pit” that was discovered under the foundation, but after a few skulls went “missing” from the “evidence locker” and the deacon disappeared, they shut that little enterprise down right quick.

My point being, kids today know no deep appreciation of carpet and paint in public spaces.

Categories: Just a stupid thing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post-Halloween Interlude – CGI Ghosts!

CGI ghosts are horrifying. They creep up behind you, seeming to almost blend in with their surroundings. Their feet kinda hovering above the floor – are they supposed to be floating or is it just poor compositing? Doesn’t matter. It’s ghosts!

CGI ghosts are nothing but possibility. They could be in the room with you. They could be just outside the window. They could be in the foreground or background. Are they transparent? Are you? It’s almost impossible to tell! It’s ghosts!

CGI ghosts aren’t limited by the confines of the physical world. Or even the metaphysical world. They don’t feel the need to to enter a room through a door, a window or a wall. They just float in from off-screen. CGI ghosts don’t leave like normal ghosts either. They can burst apart into a thousand identical leaves or crumble into unconvincing ash. It makes no difference which. It’s ghosts!

CGI ghosts sometimes bear the faces of dead loved ones, but these faces are plasticky and the mouths don’t move right. This is not a flaw, however, it is a feature. It makes these ghosts seem unreal and therefore scarier. The eyes of the CGI ghosts seem to float within the head, hovering just behind their eye holes. The muscles of the faces of CGI ghosts move independently of one another and not always in concert. Still, it is creepy. It’s ghosts!

CGI ghosts don’t need no bustin’ because they are always welcome despite their hostile actions. CGI ghosts are the real life of the party. CGI ghosts push envelopes. Think outside boxes. Impress your girlfriend. Know all the best bands. CGI ghosts don’t haunt; they help . . . you be a better person. It’s ghosts!

You got a problem?

CGI ghosts!

You need a hand?

CGI ghosts!

You like that girl?

CGI ghosts?

That’s some good soup!

CGI ghosts!

CGI ghosts!

CGI ghosts!

CGI ghosts!

CGI ghosts!

Categories: Halloween!, Horror | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

It's Del Toro Time!

With Phil and Ollie!

Deep In Bear Country

A Berenstain Bearcast

Sonic More Music

A blog about Music....because really what else is there ?

Berenstain Bears Bibliography & Blog

A Complete List of the Berenstain Bears Book Collection - A Resource for Collectors and Parents (Books and Memorabilia)