Oct 31: All Hallow’s Eve

We’ve reached the end of my October writing challenge and of this story. As I type this, my black cat Duncan is on my lap, my Jack-O-Lantern is flickering beside me, and Rocky Horror is playing on the TV. I’m also eating way too much candy. So, it’s definitely still Halloween in this house.

Thanks for hanging in there through this challenge and this story. I had no idea when I started the places it would go. I don’t know if this is a comment about higher academia or what, but here it is. Also, I am very much a product of higher academia and have benefited from it. Still, I have seen the toxicity of it nearly eat my friends alive. Like everything, it has two sides to it.

My Jack-O-Lantern with a curious Katy cat.
Fall at the family compound.

Prompt, All Hallow’s Eve.

“One Year Later

Gregor finished his lecture. The students seemed utterly confused and a little frightened. It was his best lecture yet. They all filed out at the end of the hour, happy to be leaving, but especially happy to be leaving for their own Halloween festivities.

As soon as they were gone, Gregor reflected on that night a year ago. Dr. Hozier had been found guilty on all four counts of murder. It’d helped that he’d left a detailed account in his journal in his house. (Always the braggart.)

Now Gregor was a full professor, what he’d always wanted. That night 365 days ago seemed like a distant memory, except for one thing. Gregor looked around and removed a key from his jacket pocket. He used it to open a secret drawer in his desk. Inside that drawer was this pickled head of Richard, his former colleague and mentor. He’d kept it from the cops, lied about it. Why had he kept it? Maybe to remind himself of where he’d been, maybe to remind himself of what he was capable of.

Gregor smiled and closed the drawer. Outside his class, three students remained. “Man, Professor Jenkins is the worst,” one of them commented.

“I think he takes pleasure out of ruining our GPA,” the other bemoaned.

“I’m afraid I’m not going to graduate because of him,” the third added.

“Someone should really do something about him,” the first remarked. “But what?”

“I don’t know, but someone that awful, karma has it out for them,” the second ensured.

“He did survive the death of all his friends,” the third reminded them.

“That doesn’t excuse his asshattery,” the first replied. “Trust me, he’s going to get his.”

Gregor came out of the room at that time and the students scattered. Gregor smiled. He ruled with an iron fist. Out of the corner of his eyes, he thought he saw a flash of something. It looked like . . . No, it couldn’t be. It was his mind and the anniversary playing tricks on him. He could have sworn he’d seen Death. Gregor shouldered his bag, hunched his shoulders, and headed out into the night.”
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Oct 29-30: A Cemetery & Devil’s Night

Happy Halloween! I’m a little behind, what with the ongoing Covid situation in my family compound. I’ll finish up the writing challenge tomorrow, on what is really Nov 1st, but I think it still counts.

The spouse and I got to go to a Halloween wedding yesterday. I was Nadja from “What We Do In the Shadows” and they were Ralph Wiggum from “The Simpsons” as Idaho. It’s a deep cut. (We’ve taken several Covid tests and only went because we are negative)

Just a reminder that I have spooky stories on demand via Haints and Hollers ebook. You can get it here. Also, you can enjoy some scary short stories in my eBook Comes In Threes. It’s available here.

Cover art by Jeanne G’Fellers.

Prompts, A Cemetery and Devil’s Night.

“Gregor did what needed doing, and then he walked into the Red Masque Ball with the most confidence he’d ever felt in his life. Gavin’s party was kind enough to let him borrow a mask, a Devil’s mask. It was eerily perfect for the task at hand. He soon spotted Dr. Hozier in his plague doctor’s mask. Hozier was a little surprised to see him, but he played it off.

“I suppose I should have stepped out into the solitude of the cemetery and called from there,” he quipped as he pulled Gregor aside. “Is the deed done?”

“Yes, and the proof is outside in Matt’s car, since you slashed the tires on mine.”

Dr. Hozier smiled. “Oh yes, I did do that. I also singlehandedly murdered all your competition. You should be thanking me.”

“Please come out and see the proof. I want this horrible night to end,” Gregor did his best to sound desperate.

Fortunately, Dr. Hozier complied. He followed Gregor out, gloating all the way. “My car’s on the other side of the cemetery,” Gregor explained as the noise of the party grew dim behind them. Say what you will about the Red Masque Ball, they were respectful of the cemetery.

As they walked, there was a noise, it was an odd noise, almost like fingernails scratching against marble. “What was that?” Hozier asked.

“I didn’t hear anything,” Gregor commented.

“How far to the car?”

Gregor smiled. “Just a little further. Wouldn’t be smart to park too close.”

Suddenly, Matt’s undead body lurched out from behind a tombstone. Hozier screamed and stumbled back. Dwight came from behind and Neil appeared at his side, boxing him in. “No, this isn’t possible! I killed you all!”

“You did, but I have brought them back,” Gregor proclaimed.

“No! This can’t be real!” Hozier tried to run, but zombie Matt held him fast.

“On any other night, no, but you forgot to take into account the power of this night, the Devil’s night!” Gregor grabbed Richard’s head and threw it at Hozier. The other man caught it.

Dr. Hozier looked down. At that moment, Richard opened his eyes and said, “Boo!”

Hozier screamed again. He dropped the head, clutched at his heart, and then fell down dead. Gregor looked up to see Death standing there. He waved at Gregor, smiled, and was gone, taking Hozier’s soul with it.”
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Oct 27-28: An Old Church & Fancy Dress Party

Another short entry for today. There’s still a lot going on in my family. Halloween is usually my favorite holiday, but this year is less fun and truly terrifying for many reasons. I’ll try to have longer entries for the end of the story.

Prompts, An Old Church and Fancy Dress Party.

“The steeple of the Church of the Dearly Departed came into view. It was an old church, but a grand church. It wasn’t really used for religious services anymore, it was more of a party venue. And once a year, it hosted the Red Masque Ball.

Gregor pulled off into the woods, leaving plenty of space between him and the old church. He was near the cemetery, filled with crumbling stones. Through the trees, he could see everyone in their fancy dresses and masks. He needed to act quickly.”
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Oct 25-26: Dearly Departed and Captured Soul

How are you all? Are you hanging in there, still along for the ride? I’ll be honest, I just figured out where this ride is going. Also, there are many things going on in my personal life right now. After a year and a half of trying to keep Covid at bay, it has found us at my family’s compound. Right now, I am negative and my spouse is negative, but my mom has it, my nephew has it, and my sister has it. Mind you, we’re all vaccinated, but also extremely immuno compromised, that’s why we’ve worked so hard to avoid it. My sister is currently in the hospital with Covid pneumonia, but she’s ready to fight. Tonight’s entry will be short. I am exhausted, for a lot of reasons.

I revived my Scar Disney Bound for the Halloween edition of the StoryTown Radio Show on Monday. We record before a live audience, so the costume plays.

Prompts, Dearly Departed and Captured Soul.

“Gregor wasn’t sure what his life was anymore. But here he was, driving through the night, with a decapitated but still animated head in the front seat and three moaning zombies in the back seat. He’d taken Matt’s car and loaded his colleagues in the back. Fortunately, the bike Gavin had leant him had contact info written on it. He was able to call Gavin and drive to meet him and his group. They had performed the same spell on the bodies of Matt, Neil, and Dwight, but some of their ingredients were running low, so the results weren’t the same.

“What’s wrong with them?” Gregor asked as his former colleagues lurched around.

“For starters, they’re dead,” Sheila remarked.

“They’re low on juice,” Gavin explained. “It’s like running on a low battery. We’ve captured their souls for a bit longer, but there’s not much there in terms of brain activity.”

“It’ll work,” Gavin decided.

Now here they were, all in the car on their way to the Church of the Dearly Departed.”
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Oct 23-24: The Clocks Change & A Beautiful Scarf

The seventh season of my cemetery play A Spot On the Hill has come to an end. It was an amazing experience and the weather was perfect. I could not have asked for a better cast, and the audiences were so appreciative. Here are a few shots from the second weekend.

I also have another play, a ten minute play, set in a cemetery that is part of A Mourning Hollow. You can purchase the theatrical anthology through Amazon.

Prompts, The Clocks Change & A Beautiful Scarf.

“Gregor worked quickly in the dark. Did Dr. Hozier have to leave the power off? Of course he did, the jerk. It was kind of fun, though, it was like going back to his roots, working by the light of the Bunsen burner. It reminded him of when he first started, before Richard was his adversary, before any of this. It almost made him feel bad to hack Richard’s body apart, but it had to be done, and his zombiefied state actually made it less messy. 

He was dissolving a limb when the phone rang again. Gregor startled, but managed not to drop acid on himself. With a huff, he returned to the kitchen and answered the phone.

“Tick tock. Tick tock,” the familiar voice reminded him.

“I get it,” Gregor replied and hung up.

He returned to the task at hand and worked until his fingers were numb, but the minutes continued to pass by. “I don’t think you’re going to make it,” Richard’s head observed. Gregor had set it on a nearby counter.

Gregor had to stop. His hand was cramping. He, too, was fearful of the time. He stood to stretch his back, and his eyes caught site of the calendar illuminated in the candlelight. His eyes grew wide with realization. “No, we’re going to make it. And do you know why?”

“Blind optimism?” the head remarked.

“No, because time changes tonight!” Gregor pointed at the calendar. “We get an extra hour.” He looked down at the head, and for a moment he felt pity for Richard. He felt pity for all of them. No, it couldn’t end this way.

“Dr. Hozier doesn’t get to win,” Gregor decided. He recalled the last phone call they’d shared. He’d heard background noise. Lots of voices and a church bell? His eyes grew wide again. “I know where he is, Dr. Hozier. He left, after he killed the others, and he went to the Red Masque Ball. I doubt he even saw you. He doesn’t know you’re, well, this.”

Richard’s eyes grew wide, too. “He came here on a whim, thinking you’d realize my house was closer.”

“I say, we go to him and give him the shock of his life. Show him exactly the hell he’s wrought,” Gregor proclaimed.

The dismembered pieces of Richard’s body were left in the tub. Gregor found a beautiful scarf in a drawer and made it into a sling. He’d wanted to put Richard’s head in a backpack, but Richard had protested. He was claustrophobic.

“My mother’s scarf,” the head lamented as Gregor tucked it inside the makeshift sling. “She’d be glad it brought me comfort one last time.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Gregor remarked, very uneasy. “It reminds me you were human once.”

“If it makes you feel any better, my mother was a saint, so I doubt I’ll be seeing her again when I get to my final resting place.”

“Well, my mom was hell on wheels, so we’ll probably have eternity together,” Gregor sighed.”
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Oct 21-22: Raven and An Unexpected Phone Call

Life got real busy last weekend, folks. So, I am a bit behind. Forgive me. I did get to learn about Victorian mourning customs on Thursday at our History Happy Hour. I knew some, but now I know so much more. It was fascinating, and disturbing.

Death tintype with eyes painted on. Terrifying. Thank you to the Pipitones for sharing their collection and knowledge.
On Friday night I was a generic Princess for a three year old’s Halloween party.

Prompts, Raven and An Unexpected Phone Call.

“Gregor stumbled back from the bodies of his dead colleagues. The night seemed so eerily still around him, and then suddenly a raven burst forth from the trees behind him. It swooped over his head and he screamed. Gregor probably screamed all the way back around to the front and into the house. He slammed the door behind him, turning every lock. It was so dark inside the house, too. Where had the moon gone? It had been swallowed up by the clouds.

“What is it?” Richard’s corpse asked.

Gregor could just make him and the bike out in the dim light. “It’s Neil, Matt, and Dwight. They’re - they’re dead!”

“Did you kill them?”

“No!”

“You haven’t succeeded at killing anyone tonight,” Richard remarked.

Gregor couldn’t believe they were having this discussion. “That’s not the point!”

At that moment, a phone rang. “My emergency line in the kitchen,” Richard commented. “No one has that number.” He finally sounded scared.

Gregor slowly made his way to the kitchen in the dark. He found the phone and answered. “Hello?”

“Those others were taking up your time, keeping you from the task at hand,” the cold voice of Dr. Hozier replied. “Remember, the clock is ticking. Tick tock. Tick tock.” Then he hung up, but Gregor held onto the phone until the busy signal beeped through.”
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Oct 20 – Dead Leaves

As predicted, today was tiring, but it was also good. It was good to have a big school group back on site. I also gave a pretty awesome spooky tour this evening. I definitely got my steps in today, probably over 10,000. I’d like to thank the full moon for the spooky tour energy.

Full moon behind the courthouse.

Today’s prompt, Dead Leaves.

“Gregor begrudgingly found himself playing Matt’s stupid game. He was able to get outside eventually and check on the corpse in the bush. “Get rid of them,” Richard enforced.

“I’m trying,” Gregor whined. But Richard was right, he had to find a way to stop the game, or at least get out of it. Maybe he could lure them outside and lock them out?

Good fortune worked in his favor for once and soon everyone was outside, stumbling around the yard. They’d had a lot to drink. Gregor led them around the side of the house and then double backed to the front. He left them gleefully howling at the moon in the back yard. He wrestled Richard and the bike out of the bush as quickly as he could and made a beeline for the front door.

He was almost there, when he heard it, nothing. The howling had stopped. “They’ve stopped. Why did they stop?”

“Who cares?!” Richard whispered.

Gregor cared, or at least he was curious. He shoved the bike and Richard through the front door. He fell over with a clatter and a, “Hey!”

Gregor closed the door. And ran to the back of the house. It was clear why his coworkers had stopped howling. There, under the moonlight, on top of a pile of dead leaves, were the bloodied and very deceased bodies of his peers. Their throats had been slit.”
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Oct 18-19: Black Cat and Moonlight at Midnight

I’m back! It’s such a busy two weeks with Halloween events. In addition to the play, I am doing macabre history tours through our historic town. Also, we have a big school group tomorrow, and it’s the first big school group we’ve had since pre-Covid, so I’m a little rusty. I know I’ll be worn out tomorrow.

I’m still finding ways to celebrate the season, that aren’t work related. I love the show Halloween Wars on Food Network. It’s a little different setup this year, thanks to the pandemic, but it’s still fun. They took away the pumpkin part of it, though, not sure why. I love watching the pieces of scary, edible art come together.

Prompts, Black Cat and Moonlight at Midnight.

“Gregor stashed the bike, and Richard, in the nearby bushes. He slowly crept into the house on high alert and ready for anything. He was still scared out of his mind, though, when the black cat came hurtling trough the air at him. The cat screamed, he screamed, and then someone . . . Laughed?

His jerky colleagues, the ones who had slashed their tires, came around the corner. Gregor looked down to see a Halloween decoration had been thrown at him.

“Real funny, guys.”

“You should have seen your face,” Matt cackled.

“What are you all doing here?” Gregor didn’t have time for this.

“I got a key to Dick’s place when he went out of town. I water his plants,” Matt explained.

“Yeah, we were going to scare him,” Dwight added.

“Why isn’t he with you? Did you kill him or something?” Matt asked.

Gregor tried not to look guilty. “No. After our outing, he had to go and meet Dr. Hozier.” Yes, he could go ahead and plant that seed, put all the suspicion on the real killer.

Dwight grimaced. “He’s the only person worse than Richard.”

“You look like hell, Gregor,” Neil observed. “Do you need a glass of water?”

“I’ve had a rough night, okay? Someone slashed the tires on my car.” He gave them all a pointed look.

“We didn’t do that,” Neil protested.

“Naw, man, we’re not assholes.” Matt picked the stuffed cat up off the floor. “Sounds like you ran afoul of some Yuletide pranksters.”

“Hey, let’s see what vintage Richard has in his wine fridge,” Dwight suggested. The party moved to the kitchen.

Gregor managed to excuse himself to go outside. “It’s the guys,” he told the corpse in the bushes. “Matt, Dwight, and Neil.”

“Oh, Lord, they’ll drink my good wine.”

Gregor rolled his eyes. “That’s hardly the worst of our problems.”

“Get rid of them,” Richard hissed.

“Well, obviously.” Gregor returned to the house to find a glass of wine had been poured for him. He was on a tight schedule, but he could also use a glass of wine.

He drank it down, contemplating how he could get rid of his colleagues. Just as he finished the glass, the power went out.

“That blows,” Neil remarked.

“Yes,” Gregor thought. “Now they’ll leave.”

The moonlight streamed through all the windows. It illuminated the house in a creepy glow.

“Guess we should head out,” Dwight suggested.

“Or,” Matt spoke over him, “we can play moonlight tag.”

“Moonlight tag?!” That was the most ridiculous idea Gregor had ever heard.

The elegant grandfather clock in the house struck midnight. “Come on, Matt, it’s midnight,” Dwight pointed out.

Matt smiled. “Even better.”
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Also, if you need even more Halloweenie goodness, check out this cool light show. https://youtu.be/SbK8lMi0CBk

#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

Oct 16 & 17 – A New Home and The Red Door

Here’s another double edition. We lucked out with the weather this past weekend and were able to successfully perform A Spot On the Hill outside for all three shows.

Prompts, A New Home and The Red Door.

“Wait! Stop, stop right here!” Richard’s reanimated corpse commanded.

Gregor begrudgingly agreed, but he was secretly thankful for the break. His calves were killing him. “What is it? We have a long way to go to get to my house.”

“I know that road.” Richard struggled to point to the dirt path to his right, Gregor’s left.

“That’s not a road.”

“It’s a road, trust me. I live down there.”

“Nice attempt to lure me off onto a dark road, but we’re going to my place.” Gregor tried to move again, but Richard started to struggle.

“My house is down there!”

“I’ve been to your house, and it’s not in the deep, dark woods,” Gregor argued.

“I moved a few months ago. I wanted more privacy.”

Gregor huffed. “All the stuff we need is at my house.”

Richard rolled his eyes. “We’re both chemists, Gregor. I daresay whatever you have at your house to dispose of my body, I have at mine.”

They compared notes and soon Gregor was steering them down the dark road.

“At least I’ll get to see my house one more time,” Richard sighed. “I do love it. Lots of windows. It is my dream house, and I only got to live in it two months. That’s irony, right?”

Gregor pedaled even harder and soon lights began to come into view. Sure enough, a stately house appeared on the horizon. It was ostentatious. Of course it was. It had dozens of windows, all lit up.

“You leave your lights on when you’re out?” he inquired.

“Security feature,” Richard replied.

The front of the house had a beautiful red door and it was standing open, swinging in the night breeze. Gregor brought the bike to a halt. “Do you also leave your front door open?”

“That I do not do.”

Well, crap.”
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Oct 14-15 Conkers & A Torn Flag

I’m a bit behind. My cemetery play A Spot On the Hill went into production this week. Here are my entries for Thursday & Friday.

I am playing Betsy Cooke in the show this year. I’ve heard so much about her & her work in the library. I hope I am doing her proud.

The prompts for this edition are Conkers (look it up) and A Torn Flag.

“Did you say he killed you?” one of the other members in the group asked.

“I didn’t kill him!” Gregor protested.

“He was going to kill me, but someone beat him to it.” Richard’s corpse struggled to sit up. It was a rather revolting site to watch.

“Dude, how many people don’t like you?” asked a man dressed like a jester.

“Gavin, what do you have to say for yourself?” The woman gestured to the friar.

“I’m sorry, okay, Sheila. Tristan was going to check the bottles for me,” Gavin explained.

“Are you really going to blame Tristan? He had to go to his grandmother’s funeral tonight.”

“I don’t mean to interrupt your petty squabble here, but what I am supposed to do with that?!” Gregor pointed to Richard.

“You can take me to the hospital so they can fix me,” Richard fired back.

“Oh, no, that won’t work, dude. You’re dead, like so dead.”

“Yeah, the spell will wear off in about five hours,” Sheila informed them. Richard was crestfallen. “But maybe you can get justice against your murderer before the clock runs out?”

They both perked up at that. “It’ll be much easier to get you back to my place now.” Gregor stood and tried to help Richard up, but his legs were less than cooperative. “Get your feet under you.”

“If someone hadn’t slammed my body into every rock and tree, this would be much easier!”

Gregor huffed and looked at the group. “Can any of you give us a ride?”

“We don’t drive here. We ride our bikes,” Gavin replied.

“How old are you all?” Gregor wanted to know.

“How are we supposed to get on a bike?” Richard asked from the ground.

Several minutes later, Gregor was sitting on a bike with Richard strapped to his back. Since his legs were already broken, they folded them up. He was fastened to Gregor with conkers on strings, of all things. Apparently, the game was good for relieving stress and Gavin was British. Richard was still having trouble sitting upright, though.

“Do you have anything else? It’s hard to keep my head up.”

“What do you need to see? You’re dead,” Gregor remarked.

Gavin stepped forward. “I have something.” He produced his flag and started to tear it.

“No, Gavin, not your sigil,” one of his friends bemoaned.

Gavin would not be dissuaded. “No, this is my mess, it’s my job to make it right.” He ripped the flag into multiple pieces and secured Richard’s corpse to Gregor’s back. With fond wishes, the unlikely duo road off into the night.”
These are conkers, also known as horse chestnuts. Apparently the point of the game is to break your opponent’s conker.

#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

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