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.
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?”
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Something weird happened today. My mom’s work number rang around lunch. Caller ID said it was me calling her, but I have never called her on that number. I do have that number in my phone, but my phone didn’t even show a purse or pocket dial. She says she answered and it sounded like someone was crying on the other end. She kept saying my name, but no one answered and then the call cut off. She called me in hysterics, and I had to talk her off the ledge. I have no way to explain this except to say that maybe my number was spoofed. I’m sure there is an explanation, but a tiny part of me is worried it might be some sort of premonition. There’s a short story where a woman keeps answering the phone at home and hears someone crying. It happens for a year, and then her husband dies and in her distraught state at the hospital she calls home and she answers, but in the past. She realizes then she’d been calling herself from the future. Anyhow, now that’s kicking around in the back of my head. If it happens again, I’ll definitely write about it.
On to today’s prompt in my fictional story. The prompt is Color Blind.
“Gregor watched as the group, all dressed like they were from Medieval times, put their instruments aside and gathered in a circle. The one dressed like a friar raised his hands in the air. “The time is at hand, my friends,” he announced. He produced a large apothecary bottle full of blue liquid from behind his back.
“We should get going,” Richard’s ghost pointed out.
“Yeah, yeah, in a minute.” Gregor shook his hand at the ghost and kept his eyes fixed on the group. They reminded him of his LARPing days. Oh, how he missed those days.
“Repeat after me, my friends. Quod semel avulsum est, iterum totum est.” The rest of the group followed his lead. When they were finished, he tossed the bottle into the flames. The glass shattered and the air filled with blue smoke.
“Did it work?” the friar asked.
“No, my limited collector’s edition figurine is still broken,” another member of the group replied.
“I said, we need to get going.” Richard tapped Gregor on the shoulder, but Gregor felt it. He looked over to see Richard’s reanimated corpse. He screamed. The corpse screamed.
Richard reached out and tried to wrap his hands around Gregor’s neck, but it didn’t work very well considering he had several broken bones. “Why are you choking me? I thought you were over it,” Gregor gasped.
“Turns out I’m still mad. You were going to kill me!” Richard shouted.
The two of them fell through the bushes into view of the group. Everyone screamed. Richard had to give up his choking effort. “Alas, my poor broken body,” he bemoaned.
Gregor sat up. “What do you expect, you’re dead.”
“Dead?” a woman in the group spoke up. She looked at the friar. “Gavin, did you mix up the bottles again?”
“No, I tossed the green bottle in the fire,” he defended.
“Damnit, Gavin. You threw the blue bottle. You haven’t mended our broken stuff, you reanimated the dead.”
Gavin winced. “Sorry, y’all. You know I’m color blind.”
I was a little under the weather yesterday since I got my flu shot, so I didn’t write a blog, but I’m back today. Also, get your flu shot. It’s important, especially this year.
Today’s prompts, Grandfather and Folk Music.
“Gregor knew he should get up and press on, but he couldn’t muster the energy. He kept staring up at the stars. “My grandfather told me not to go into higher academia, you know, told me it was cutthroat and ruthless. This coming from a guy who spent half his life in the military, but he kept on insisting. I didn’t listen, obviously. No, I was going to cure some major disease or make some huge discovery and win a Nobel prize, but where am I?” Gregor glanced over at the body tangled up in the tree limbs.
“I did admire you, you know, until you stole my research and thwarted my publishing attempts, and I know you did it to me because someone else did it to you. Guess my grandfather was right.
Gregor took a shuddering breath. It felt like the weight of the last 20 years was pressing down on him. “That same grandfather, he was Jewish, and he told this story from the Old Country about a king and his servant. The servant came to the king one day, all upset because he had seen Death in the garden and knew he was going to die. He asked the king to borrow his fastest horse so that he could travel to the next town ten miles over and escape Death. The king lent him the horse, and the servant rode off. The king went out to the garden and Death looked really confused. ‘What’s the matter?’ the king asked. Death replied, ‘I am supposed to kill your servant today in a town 10 miles from here, but unless he rides on the fastest horse, I do not see how he can get there.’ Then my grandfather said it was fate, and you can’t fight fate. Maybe this is fate, right here, right now.”
Gregor fell silent and the night was enormous around him. “Are you kidding me?” a voice spoke up and Gregor almost screamed. “Get your sorry ass up. Get my body up, and get moving.”
Gregor looked over to see Richard’s ghost hovering nearby. “I thought you wanted Dr. Hozier to kill me?”
“I may hate you, but I hate him even more. I’ve thought about it, and that asshat does not get to win. He couldn’t even manage the department’s budget properly.”
Gregor sat up. “Right?!”
“I may not be able to help you physically, but I know how to motivate you, Gregor. If you get to your apartment and dispose of my body, I promise to tell you something, something I should have told you a long time ago. And then you’ll take Hozier for all he’s worth.”
“Now get up and get going!” Gregor sprang to his feet and removed the body from the limbs. “Can you not hit my body on every branch.”
“I’m doing my best. I hadn’t planned for a giant tree.” As Gregor finally managed to extricate the body, a strange noise caught his ear. It wafted along on the night air. It sounded like a song his grandfather would have played, a song from Eastern Europe. “Do you hear that music, or is it in my head?”
“I hear it,” the ghost confirmed.
Gregor lay the body back down and slowly crept to the thicket of bushes ahead of them. He peeked through to see some sort of ceremony taking place complete with lutes and lyres. “My grandfather was right about something else. The woods are weird at night.”
I was able to get away for a little bit this weekend and make a trip with some college buds to the Carolina Renaissance Faire. It was good, but always too short, as it always is. Here are some pics from our adventures.
Playing catch-up tonight. Prompts, A Special Birthday and Branches of a Tree.
“Gregor had found the car key, and now he found himself crammed into the wayback of an SUV with Richard. “Thanks again for the assist, man,” Kevin said. Not to Gregor’s surprise, there was booze in the car. Kevin took a swig from a mystery bottle and offered it to Gregor, who declined. “You really saved my birthday,” Kevin concluded.
“Happy birthday,” Gregor said. It was more of a reflex than anything else.
“Thanks, man. I’m 22 today. Can you believe it?”
“And you wanted to dress up like a zombie?” Being a researcher, Gregor was genuinely interested in this bit.
Kevin got a little teary eyed. “My buddies here got me the greatest gift of all, the chance to overcome my greatest fear. I am terrified of zombies, but now I am a zombie, and I’m hanging out with a bunch of zombies. They signed me up for the dash, we got dressed up, we rolled up and yeah I freaked out. . .”
“But then we took him to drink in the woods and now he’s fine, and he’s ready to party with some zombies!” one of the others shouted.
“Zombie birthday fun! Zombie birthday fun!” they all began to chant. Kevin looked at Gregor expectantly, and he joined in.
“This is the best! This is the best!” Kevin crowed when the chanting stopped. “Man, your friend is really out of it. You sure he’s all right?” He reached out and poked Richard. Gregor really wished he wouldn’t.
“He just needs to sleep it off,” Gregor assured.
“Once you conquer your fear of the undead, Kevin, maybe you can conquer your fear of the dead,” one of his friends spoke up.
Kevin visibly cringed. “You don’t like dead people either?” Gregor probed.
“No, man, if there were a dead body in here, I’d jump out of the car now.”
“Imagine that.” Gregor couldn’t help but laugh.
“What about you, man, what are you afraid of?” The question caught Gregor by surprise, as did the intensity on Kevin’s face. Gregor was suddenly at a loss for words.
The car slowed to a stop. They were close to the main road now, thank goodness. Soon Gregor would be home with his charge and he could do what needed to be done. He saw flashing lights ahead.
“Look at this traffic,” one of them bemoaned.
“Cops, cops, hide the booze,” another instructed.
Gregor’s heart fell into his stomach. As soon as the car had stopped, he was opening the trunk. “Where are you going?” Kevin asked.
“Thanks for the ride. My house is real close. I’ll go the rest on foot.” He pulled the body out after him, closed the trunk, and carried Richard back into the wood line.
He was at least closer to his house. He just needed to get around those cops. Gregor was pretty familiar with this terrain, but there had been some heavy rains lately. His foot slipped on an incline and before he could stop it, he and Richard were tumbling down a bank.
They landed in the branches of a recently felled tree. As he regained his faculties, Gregor gazed up at the stars above him. “Is this where you saw your life going when you were in undergrad?” Gregor wasn’t sure who he was asking. Was he asking the heavens, God, Richard?
“That’s my greatest fear, you know, that I’ve done all this for nothing. Years and years of schooling, endless research and writing, and what has it all been for? Where do I find myself, tangled in the limbs of a tree with my dead mentor. Really makes you think, doesn’t it?”
I hope you all have a good week. #writingchallenge #Halloween #spooky
Happy Friday! Tonight’s post will be short. The spouse and I are with friends for our annual, 2020 not withstanding, trip to the Carolinas Renaissance Fair. This is the first time we’ve been away overnight since early 2020.
Today’s prompt, A Lost Key.
“Gregor and his charge pressed on through the night. How was he supposed to get back to his place before sunrise at this rate? “Don’t suppose you have any ideas,” he quipped to the corpse.
“You killed me. You’re on your own,” Richard’s ghost replied from somewhere. Gregor couldn’t see him, but he was colder all of a sudden, so he knew the ghost was there.
Gregor rolled his eyes. “Were you not paying attention ? I didn’t kill you, Dr. Hozier did.”
“You were planning on killing me. Now you’re aiding and abetting.”
“If you’re not going to be helpful, go away,” Gregor griped.
“I hope he kills you, too,” the ghost remarked and then it was gone.
Gregor took a breath and stopped. He really needed a plan. Before he could think too much, he heard voices. Suddenly, a person crashed through the bushes. He was followed by two others. Gregor shouted and dropped the body. The first person screamed, too. The light from his flashlight illuminated his chest and face. He was pale and also kind of green and had gashes on his face. His clothes were also in tatters.
“Oh, man, I’m sorry. Did you lose your car keys? I came over here to piss and dropped ‘em.”
“Kevin, did you find your keys?” one of the others asked.
“No, I found these other guys.” Kevin looked down at Richard’s body and Gregor’s heart almost stopped. “Oh, man, your friend is passed out. Gnarly make up job. Are you all in the Zombie party, too?”
The annual Zombie Midnight Run! Gregor was saved. “Yeah, we were, but this idiot here can’t hold his liquor.”
A thought occurred to Kevin as he swayed on his feet. “Dude, do you all need a ride?”
Gregor truly was saved. “Yes, yes we do.”
Kevin swayed some more. “Awesome! Find my keys and we’ll take you along!”
Watching all the Treehouse of Horror episodes of the Simpsons. This Halloween tradition is much easier thanks to DisneyPlus. (Not a paid advertisement, just appreciation.)
Today’s writing challenge prompt, Professor.
“Gregor whirled around. A loan figure slowly stepped out of the shadows and into the only light. It was a dingy streetlight, and it bathed everything around it in this sickly, yellow glow. It made Dr. Hozier look paler than usual. Richard’s ghost was suddenly nowhere to be found.
“Dr. Hozier, but why?” Gregor managed to ask.
The former head of the department cocked his head and considered his colleagues for a moment. “I’ve watched you idiots ruin my department for years now.”
“We were cleaning up your mess.”
“You convinced me I was crazy, turned the students against me, took my tenure.”
Oh, yeah, they had done that, or at least some of it. Dr. Hozier had done plenty of it himself. “Richard there was the worst offender.” The Professor pointed to the body. “You were further down the list. I figured framing you for Richard’s death was enough, but it’s become clear to me that you had planned to off him yourself.”
Gregor sputtered. “I never . . .”
“You have the worst poker face, spare yourself. You wanted him dead. I wanted him dead. He’s dead. The question is, who gets the blame? I’ll cut you a deal, Gregor. You dispose of this body for me, and I’ll put in a good word with that journal for you.”
“The Anals? But Richard shut me out.” Did Gregor dare to hope?
“Again, Richard is dead. You have until sunrise, just to make things dramatic.”
“Wait, how are you going to know what I do?” Gregor’s eyes narrowed.
“I know a lot of things, and I’m always watching. Maybe I made a deal with the Devil tonight? Maybe I made a deal with Death itself?”
That struck a nerve. “And if I fail?” Why had Gregor asked that? His therapist was right, he really was his own worst enemy.
“You go to jail for Richard’s murder, or I kill you. I haven’t decided yet.” Dr. Hozier turned to go.
“If you gave me a ride, it’d be much faster,” Gregor pointed out.
“Yeah, I’m not getting any DNA in my car.” With that, Dr. Hozier was gone, swallowed up by the night.”