I’ve got Halloween Fever, and I’ve got it bad!!
Need I say more???
It is time to get geared up for Halloween. Shiloh and I started with a batch of our six-word stories, on a seasonal theme. Below are the 13 I wrote, the ones I got my Mum to write, and the link to Shiloh’s posted on her blog.
Kiss a frog? I’ll get warts!
Dancing shadows can excite the imagination.
Looming shadow groans. Is it Frankenstein?
Stalking the prey. Carefully placed footsteps.
A gleam of fangs. Vampyre’s kiss.
To do list- tune up broom.
Blood of flitter-mouse goes in cauldron.
Harvest mandrake root for serious magic.
Tiny princess runs from bogeyman brother.
Trick or treat shout costumed children.
Goblin wants my candy. Must run!
Goodie bag stretches, too much candy.
One more story before bed kids.
After I had these 13 I thought of another-
Too much candy? Take this medicine.
Zombies attack. Flee, flee! Too late.
Black Cats. HIgh fence. Night music.
In her hair, Bat’s beware- Batmobile!
Vampire Picnic. Midnite tonight. Blood Bank.
Conjure sleep. Count spiders, not sheep.
You can find Shiloh’s at:
Last Friday I saw a film on the Chiller Channell that I spent the next four days raving to Mum about. The day after that Matt found it at Bookmans’ and had them hold it until we had the money to buy it. We paid what we felt was a tad much for a used DVD, $12 US. It is worth every penny though.
The story was chilling, the sets and costumes were perfect for the era, 1928-32, I fell in love with the cars and the sets. All those high-ceilinged rooms, with ice boxes, hand-tatted lace and those beautiful old radios.
The characters were all believable, and so three dimenbsional, from the main character- the infamous child-killer and cannibal, Albert Fish, to the police officers at the missing persons bureau. The actor who portrayed Albert Fish was amazing, he could say something as simple as “I’m starving.” and send chills down your spine.
Individual scenes stand out, like the one when Albert Fish kidnaps Grace Budd, everything else, people, clothes, buildings, streets, even the light seems greyed and dirty, except for the ill-fated Grace, clad in her snowy, pristine Confirmation Dress, with perfectly white hat, gloves, stockings and shoes.
Later, Albert is seen cutting a piece of meat from Grace’s remains and sniffs it in a transport of gustatory delight. The actor portraying Albert Fish manages to make a cheerful old man whstling as he worked as a labourer, and buying candy for neighbours’ children someone utterly terrifying, to the point his voice alone can send chills down your spine.
Everyone from the producers to the behind-the-scenes-that-aren’t-listed people did excellent jobs. This is a film that can be watched more than once and you will see things with subsequent viewings that you missed before that make the film one worth buying.
Once upon a time, not so long ago in my family’s history, my parents were already separated, and Mum was working three part-time jobs to support us. We already knew quite a few of the patients, we went there after school and played with the patients until Mum was finished with work and all four of us walked home together.
Often we would stop at the house and get our silver-and-black Alsatian (German Shepherd), Tina and take her to the nursing home, where she would make the rounds, visiting with every patient that responded to her presence. I still remember her sitting by the side of someone confined to a wheelchair and resting her head on their lap, they would beam and stroke her gently.
I think the supervisors turned a blind eye to our visits and our dog’s because the visits became something for the patients to look forward to. When we would arrive in the dayroom, there would standing room only of the folks that came to called Grandma or Grandpa, play with ‘grandkids’, and pet the dog instead of sitting in their rooms waiting to pass over.
One of my personal favourites was Grandma Buddha, with her crown of silver braids that wrapped around her head twice, she would chatter blissfully away in Hungarian and I would sit next her nodding and smiling.
I learned my first word in Hungarian when our cat Toulouse followed us all the way to nursing home, and in as well. Grandma Buddha took one look at Toulouse’s handsome steel blue and silvery white markings and his wide bright golden yellow eyes, and began calling, “Macska!”
Toulouse found visiting the nursing home to be delightful, He, too, like Tina, would go from patient to patient, and be petted and called by the names of cats long-since gone on to be rosebushes and memories.
Halloween came and we needed costumes for school, as well as for trick-or-treating. We didn’t have the money to buy the costumes so Mum got creative. I was Holly Hobbie, replete with the bonnet that Holly wore, brim stiffened with a paper grocery bag.
My brother Matt became a small, slender Frankenstein, who wheezed his way through school and trick-or-treating, before going to the hospital to get injected with Adrenaline, and then Susferin, before he and I stayed up all night, watching spooky movies and laughing at them.
Jim had the costume of the year, at the nursing home, at school and trick-or-treating. Mum had gone through the nursing home’s bedding, and torn the poorest of the sheets into strips, she used these to wrap Jim, who was clad in pink long johns, left over from the year he went as a baby.
When Mum finished wrapping Jim he started walking down the hall in the Nursing Home, known as “Bare-A## Manor”, one of our favourite patients, Leila, took one look at Jim and pointed a long, slender chocolate coloured finger at him while going, “Oohh! Oohh! Oohh! Oohh!!! Babybabybaby…”
Jim went over close to our friend and Leila patted his wrappings and murmured wordless distress for almost five minutes before she lost interest, and began trying to free herself to wander the halls in the altogether.
Halloween is less than a week away, and all the Hostess’ with the Mostess’ are getting together prizes for their Halloween Bash Games. This year some of the Hostess’ were generous enough to share their favourite games.
The most famous Hostess is none other than ‘Mina Dracul author of the best-selling “Fangs of Destiny”. Mina’s family delights in the ever-popular “Pop Goes the Zombie”; they play it regularly with delighted guests.
Apparently, the Zombies are all volunteers, I wondered why a Zombie would volunteer for this game, and Mina explained that Zombies continue to decompose and eventually all their teeth will fall out, at which point they would starve to death. So those Zombies are the grateful volunteers for “Pop Goes the Zombie”.
Elsa L. Stein, wife of the prominent Dentist Frank N. Stein, are famous for their rowdy rounds of “Musical Coffins”, I have personally witnessed the consequences of a dybbuk and a dragon fighting over the remaining coffin. That incident was the cause of the controversial ‘No use of fire allowed’ ruling of 80 years ago.
Elsa has the thoughtfulness to have made special coffins for the game that are easy to get in and out of and are still sturdy; best of all, Elsa says, is that they stack neatly when not in use.
The Poulter-Geist family delight in “Hide and Go Shriek”, Paula Yakkity Poulter-Geist, the renowned architect, designed their home to be full of cubbies and hiding places. Their large, rowdy family often have their games ended on account of daylight.
Another perennial favourite is the primary coffin class game of “Spook, Spook, Ghost”; this game delights wee ghosties of all ages. This game has easy-to-remember rules, and the potential for all sorts of personalised variants.
The Poulter-Geist family often does this over their graves, and the Zombies bounce aimlessly off another until the last zombie that hasn’t been bounced is declared the winner.
My own family loves a busy round of “Pin The Tail On The Werewolf”, and yes, the clips that hold the tails in place are patented. We’re working on variants for all of the Halloweenish species.
As our pack has slowly grown, we’ve had to add more tails as well as add the “No Double-Tailing Rule” of 1935. Now there are enough of us we can each have 20 tails, and not tail every member of the pack. We’ve also added different colours and some colour schemes so every pack member has different tails.
Other Halloweenshire favourites are the “Reverse Hangman” with fresh corpses. “Bobbing for Organs”, and “Spin The Poison Bottle”.
Now, lookin’ around I can see some faces that didn’t hear about the Witch and her poor dog. I’m sure any of the others’ll be more than happy to tell you the tale later. I’m not here to be repeating myself.
The Witch told us things were gonna get worse, we should have believed her, but we thought is was her grief talkin’. Like they say, hindsight is always 20/20. Things hadn’t even quietened down from that dog, and more dogs started showin’ up dead, or not showin’ up at all. The town went awful quiet after the dogs was silenced.
Dogs that should have been playin’ fetch, guarding their Master’s home, or catching bad guys were bein’ mourned every day. After the dogs were mostly gone, except for some little puppies, the cats started disappearin’. They lasted a little longer, but eventually all the cats that had sat in laps, chased a piece of yarn, and loved their person hade been buried under rosebushes, and mourned just like the dogs.
Yes, the Witch stayed, even though she knew how bad things were gonna get. She knew she’d be needed, she was there to offer comfort, and make a pot of her tea for the ones left behind. Yes, she was there until the bitter end.
I asked her once why she did it. She looked at me with those sad, gentle eyes, and when she spoke her voice sounded so tired, “Because it is the right thing to do.”. I still hear her sayin’ that in my nightmares. After all the dogs and cats were gone people started disappearin’, or dyin’.
I remember the very first human victims of that madman. Nothin’ but a pair of kids really, still in school. It was horrible what happened to them, on the night of the prom too! And here ‘Bubba’ was set on asking his sweetheart to marry him after the prom.
He’d gone so far as to buy a diamond ring, a real pretty one, too. Bubba wasn’t the smartest kid by any road, but he worked hard n studied harder, and always had a smile for everyone. He was joining the Marines, had it all set for after he graduated. Bubba’s sweetheart wasn’t from around here, she came to town to live with her Aunt and Uncle after her parents were killed while they were workin’ with Doctors Without Borders.
Still raw from losing her parents, with an accent, and the faintest little scar from her hare-lip surgery that poor child had Bully-Bait written all over her in big, bloody red letters. The sad thing was that she was always pretty-ish, and her scar made her even cuter, it pulled her mouth up in such a way that she looked like she was ready to laugh out loud.
On her first day of school here the girl, Priscilla-Anne, was so nervous she almost stuttered when she was sayin’ hello to a room fulla strangers. There was an awful bully in her first class, Hank, and he lit into her right off, like a shark that smells blood. Hank was well on his way to makin’ poor Priscilla-Anne cry when Bubba came back from the Nurse’s Office.
Bubba took one look at what was goin’ on and he stood up for Priscilla. From that day on, they were inseperable, even goin’ to church together, and their always held hands. Nothin’ show-offy, or like they owned each other. More like they were two parts of the same star or something.
By the time they were in HIgh School together Prissy and Bubba were destined to be Prom King and Queen, from their very first day as Freshmen. Bubba could have been a great football player, except he were just too gentle. He played baseball and his Home Run record still stands. Yes!! That Bubba!!
He played the trumpet so fine he could bring tears to your eyes when he played “The Star-Spangled Banner”, ot “Amazing Grace”. He never could whistle worth a darn, but he made this buzzy trumpet-noise through his lips all day long. You could always tell what he was trumpetin’. Well, I don’t know what else to call it!!
On the night of the Prom poor Bubba was so nervous that he kept playin these odd little sounds, but when he looked at Prissy he’d start into some Classical piece. His Math teacher asked him what it was, and this plain 18 year old kid says, “Romeo and Juliet Overture” by some fellow by the name of Tchaikovsky.
I heard that song a couple times after that, and I saw bubba and Prissy on the stage, wearin’ their King and Queen crowns of cardboard, gold filligree foil and some shiny crystals in bright colours, smilin’ under all them lights.
Seein’ that hurt so bad I had to stop listening to it. Bubba wasn’t patient, and in a silly, love-struck gesture he got down on his knee on that stage and asked Prissy to marry him. She shrieked like Miss America and hollered “Yes!!” before she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tight-tight.
It was a wonder that the roof of the gym didn’t fall in in, everyone cheered and clapped that long and loud for them. Well, just like the kids in one of them scary movies, Bubba and Prissy took Bubba’s Daddy’s car and went parkin’, down by Dead Tree River. When they didn’t show up at midnight like they had promised their parents started worryin’, but they trusted their young ones.
It’s true that back then, things were different than they are now; little kids could play outside ‘till sundown and nobody thought a thing of it. Somebody’s Momma was sure to chase all the kids home when they hollered up their own. Heck, back then kids went Trick or Treatin’ on their own, and nobody worried about where they were or who gave ‘em what candy.
Most of the Momma’s knew one another from the PTA, Boy or Girl Scouts, the Library Club, and such-like. Half of the costumes were made by their Mommas to begin with. I remember the one year, Missus Wheeler made her eldest boy into a Mummy by ripping up old, raggedy bed sheets an wrapping around and around her boy.
She did this while she was workin’ at the nursing home. Her man weren’t any good and up and left her for a younger gal, so she was goin’ to school to be a nurse, raisin’ her kids on her own, and working 2 and three part-time jobs to support them.
Anyway, back to Bubba and Prissy, there they were, parked in that battered old Ford his Daddy drove to work, talkin’ about their dreams an’ plans. They didn’t notice ‘till too late that the battery were goin’ dead. When the lights shut down and the music stopped playin’ (Prissy said it was “You Light Up My Life”), they both sat there holdin’ hands and blinkin’.
There were some awful scary noises in the woods, animals huntin’ for their dinner, and animals bein’ dinner; Bubba didn’t think nothing of it, he’d been huntin’ with his Daddy for about ten years, and he knew them woods pretty well. He reassured Prissy that they would be fine, and told her he was goin’ to go Apple Tree road, it weren’t but a half-mile away and every so often they could see the lights from passin’ cars.
Prissy begged him to take her along, or for Bubba to stay with her till morning came around. He patted her hand and kissed her, but he went anyway, not wantin’ to have Prissy out all night. As he walked towards the road she could hear him making that trumpety noise, she said it were “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”.
Accourse it faded away and Prissy was there by herself, in the dark-dark of the woods, with them noises goin’ on around her and getting’ more scared by the minute. Back then girls just didn’t go campin’ or huntin’ with their Daddies, no more than a boy would take Sewin’ or Home Ec. in school.
She started cryin’ a little bit and then she thought she heard Bubba comin back, because she heard his trumpetin’ far-off and soundin’ kind of funny. It stopped and she was hopin’ that meant that Bubba had found someone to give the car a jump. She snuggled under the car blanket Bubba’s Daddy kept in the back seat, and started thinkin’ about their wedding and how she wanted the whole town to be there, so they could all be as happy as she was.
She said later that she might of fell asleep, and got woke up by this funny chokin’ noise. It seemed like the night had gotten darker, and there was something scratching away on the roof of that old Ford. It weren’t too long and the choking noise went away and there was just that soft ‘skritch skritch’ on the roof and the softest little dripping sound. She couldn’t see a thing through the windows, and wondered if some clouds might of moved in to cover that little scythe of a moon.
Eventually she got lulled to sleep by the skritchin’ and the sound of the wind in the trees, She told me herself, as she was packin’ to move as far away from here as her Aunt and Uncle would go. Next thing she knew, someone was callin’ her name and knockin’ on the car.
She answered the Sheriff and told him they were okay, that Bubba had gone to get a jump ‘cause they’d run the battery in his Daddy’s car dead.
“Prissy, honey, I want you to take my hand when I open the door, follow me and whatever you do, don’t look back.” The door creaked open and the Sheriff’s big ole calloused hand was stuck in. Prissy done what he said, until about halfway to his police car; then she asked where Bubba was, an’ was he all right.
The Sheriff kind of choked an’ said he’d tell when they was in the car. Prissy stopped dead in her tracks an’ told the Sheriff that she wasn’t goin’ anywhere till she knew that Bubba was okay. The Sheriff almost fell, she were that stubborn, her feet was planted just like a mule’s and her chin stuck out, makin’ her look like one o’ them kitchen witches.
“Where… Is… Bubba?” She snapped, soundin’ an awful lot like a Marine D. I., “I want to know if he’s all right.”
She spun around and started screamin’, by the time they got that poor child to the Doc, her voice was gone and she just sat there, starin’ at nothin’. The Doc gave her somethin’ and she collapsed like a balloon when the air gets out.
Y’see, when poor Prissy turned ‘round, there was Bubba, hangin’, upside down from a tree branch over the car, his throat cut wide open, blood smeared all over that old Ford, and his fingernails skritchin’ just a little on the roof of the car. The worst part was that his lips an’ tongue was gone.
To this day I wonder who was makin’ that trumpet-buzzing that night. The Coroner said that Bubba had died almost as soon as he got outta the car, so he couldn’t of been doin’ it. People say we’re better off not knowin’, an’ they’re right. I saw who did that to Bubba, an’ I’ll never forget, or tell another soul; it was that bad.
Nope, I’m not sayin’ another word, it is getting on to suppertime an’ I hear some o’ your parents callin’ you in to eat. Hurry on home, an’ don’t stop to talk to any strangers.
Well kids, I recognise more of your faces this year. I’m gratified to see you coming back that means I’m doing my job right. Yes, there are still plenty of things happening in Hadley City.
Jake Masters himself told this one to me.
He was the old, old law here, back before we had city police, staties, and county mounties, and Federales poking on the ground, in the airwaves, and now virtually.
Yes, even someone as old as I am knows about computers. Maybe I can’t play those complicated joystick games, but I can still read a book and add things up in my head. Can you?”
Now I didn’t come here to be mean to any of you. I came here to tell you about Hadley, and that’s what I’ll do.
Jake Masters was the bartender back then, he kept a wary, worried eye on the man in the corner booth. He had come in alone; bought a bottle of whiskey, then settle in for a preoccupied binge.
The small pale man sat before a length of rope and bottle of whiskey,that was more than half-drunk. He was sunken of eye, sallow of skin, and wrapped in an eerie stillness.
He motioned to Jake Masters, and Jake nodded to the young man he was trainin’ up, and then sat carefully across from the little stranger.
Who was the man he was training? That was Old Man Walker. Yes!!
I know he died over twenty year ago.
I spoke at his memorial service.
Now, how old I am don’t matter any more. I’m just plain old.
When Jake was standin’ next to the quiet drinker, the feller spoke in a ghost’s voice. “Sit down. Please?” Anyway, the little stranger took another shot off the whiskey like a machine, neatly, without his face changing one bit. When he locked eyes with Jake; Jake swore there was nothing there, just two bottomless pits in a face like a desert.
“M’name’s Cecil and I need ta tell someone this
I used to have a fine life, yessiree-bob, I surely did. Married me up a good, and pretty wife. She took amazin’ care of me, and the choldren we made were all beautiful little girls, seven of ‘em.
Come a winter night we would all gather in the big bed, and my wife would read to us outta the family Bible. She could make those begats sound like the finest fiddlin’ you could ask for. Almost like God’s Choirs of Angels.
Then the Hard Times started and everything started goin’ bad. Real bad. There was the drought, and no work to be had, people were actually dyin’ of hunger, sittin’ on big spreads of what was supposed to be good farmland- rich and deep. People started movin’ less, spoke little, and cared almost nowt.
Yup, even me, with all eight of the blessings from the Lord I called fambly. A body can only sit and feel your belly eatin’ your backbone for so long, and then he commences to thinking strange. And that’s when bad things get worse.
I was sitting, looking at my pretty girls all get pale, hungry, and there weren’t a damn thing to do. I couldn’t leave, but I couldn’t bear to see them all dyin’ slow-like. I watched my pretty Margie lose all o’ her hair, like spun gold, the colour of autumn wheat when its heavy and ripe.
All the girls except the youngest had Margie’s hair, the straight, shining river of sunshine down their backs. I watched all their hair fall out too, and their rosy, round cheeks went pale and sunk into their skulls, as they got hungrier, and hungrier.
The youngest’ hair? Why our Jezzie Belle’s was shining like a blackbirds’ wing; gleamin’ all the colours of a rainbow. She had eyes that were black, and they went back forever it seemed like. She was always a pale little thing, hated the sun and cried when Mother bathed her.
She loved to hear her Mother sing and would sit there and smile all the while her Momma sang. And wouldja believe, the first word that child learnt was ‘Amen’, imagine that, a baby not yet nine months old sitting in her basket sayin’ Amen’ when there was a church meeting to go to.
When things went bad I started dreadin’ getting up of a morning. I was sure I would see my smallest angel lyin’ there all still and cold. An’ every morning she would be lyin’ there, watching everything from the deeps of her eyes.
No, it were my eldest Susie Anne what went first. I found out later, she was givin’ her food to the younger children, so’s they could keep on growin’. She made sure her Momma et too, seein’ as how Margie was still breast-feedin’ the baby girl. Susie-Ann went in her sleep, lookin’ almost peaceful, if it weren’t for the hunger-scars acrost her face.
I buried her under the last few limbs of the Lilac tree her Momma was growin’ up for her. Even then I couldn’t dig the hole proper-like, the edges weren’t straight, and it tweren’t barely deep enough. Her poor Momma was already too weak to cry, she just had tears runnin’ down her face and leavin’ little dark spots on the thirsty ground.
I kilt the last cow that evening, and made all of my girls promise to eat their food, and not give it all away. All of ‘em swore on the Bible that they would eat their food. And they did eat their own food, little as there was. One night, all we had was broth cooked from a bone a dog wouldn’t chew. There weren’t even a few grains of rice or a woody old turnip to add to the broth, nope, not even salt.
If I coulda cried I woulda, the shame of watchin’ my fambly die when I loved ‘em all so much was that bad.
Then the next eldest gal up and died, and if she’d had anything left coverin’ her bones I swear there woulda been teeth marks in it. As it were, there was some little holes here and there on her skin. But she didn’t bleed none, so I figured she were took by the Hunger too.
Now her Momma couldn’t even go out and see her Terrie Lynn buried, and that were a mercy, there weren’t much more’n two feet of ground over her little body. And the cross was standin’ sidewise, lookin’ drunker’n I was, and all I could do was watch the Blight spread over more and more of Hadley Valley.
Then came the day I had been dreadin’ the worst. Our well dried up; there was no more sweet, cold artesian water to quiet hungry bellies with. Now I had to take the last horse, Ned, who was barely able to stand, to the river for water.
The little bit o meat on poor ol’ Ned fed my children for almost a week, but still the third girl, Becky Marie didn’ wake up of a mornin’. I covered her in stones, and that took me two days to do. Momma didn’t even cry this time; she just lay there, letting the baby girl nurse on her dried-up tit for some comfort.
All through this, the littlest one still thrived, as much as a skinny, pale changeling baby can. Momma was getting’ weaker all the time, and now I prayed no more of my choldren would be sent to Lord, for I surely couldn’t bury ‘em proper, and I didn’t want to watch a dead daughter rot in the same bed she was borned in.
The Lord wasn’t answerin’ prayers no more, for less than a week later my fourth girl, Linnie Sue, never woke up. She were just as pale and bloodless as the rest. She didn’t weigh no more’n’ a feather pillah and I covered her as best I could with some rocks and slab o’ wood.
Now there was me, Margie an’ our three youngest girls, and two o’ them was getting’ weaker by the minute, and I knew I would be losin’ them soon. That night I couldn’t sleep; there was too many thoughts I had to think; and I had a funny, cold feelin’ creepin’ up from the dark places in my brain.
It were nigh onto sunrise when I saws my youngest rise from her bed and go to the fifth daughter, she patted her face and whispered quiet-like to Annie Lynne, that girl said “Yes.” Clear as a bell, keepin’ her eyes closed tight, and turned her head away from the baby.
That little hell-spawn opened her mouth, latched onto her own sister and stared makin’ these suckin’ noises, like a new litter o’ piglets tastin’ mama’s milk for the first time. When she looked up her eyes were glowin’ like a mad fox caught in lantern light.
Afore I could move, she done the same to her onlyest sister left, and then moved on t’ her own Momma and sucked her dry too. That’s when I knew what I hadta do.
The next night I told that spawn of Lucifer that we was going on an adventure. She seemed happy as can be to hear that. We lit two lanterns and I almost’ crawled to the caverns out on Hadley’s Hill. I led her to the room of pits, far away back in the dirt.
We sat there in the fadin’ light of the lantern and talked. Where I found the words I dunno, I know I prayed one more time to the Lord, and this time he answered my pleas.
I pushed with all my might,
I pushed with all my love.
I pushed that tiny body
Into the deep, dark pit.
I heard her holler as she fell,
But I never heard her hit.
The next day a gentle, forgivin’ sort o’ rain fell, and kept on fallin’; fallin’ until all the valley were green and growin’ again, and everyone left was getting’ meat on their bones and crops in their fields.”
The little man swallowed the last of his whiskey, and spoke in a chilling whisper.
“I heard her holler as she fell,
But I never heard her hit.
An’ sometimes I dream I turn around and I see them devils eyes o’ hers risin’ outta that pit after me.” Cecil rose in the shadows of the closing bar, thanked Jake softly and walked away with his rope.
They found him, where he had hung himself from the railroad bridge over Hadley River the next mornin’.
Until the day he died, Jake could never forget them words:
“I heard her holler as she fell
But I never heard her hit.”