Category Archives: Halloween

Done With This

It happens every year.  My prized herb garden begins to bolt. Plants become leggy, and I wonder if I will pluck the caterpillars from my parsley or let them gnaw the lot to sticks. The grass (what little there is to be had amidst the clover and wiregrass) becomes my enemy, a vast refuge for countless mosquito swarms that swell upwards in a whining cloud the moment my feet brush its surface.  I begin to grumble about the heat and humidity, shrug off the raggedy appearance of my hedgerows.  Last night I dreamed the tree leaves were beginning to yellow, first one, then another, a creeping progression of golden, glorious decline.

It is now official–I’m done with summer.

I knew this moment was coming.  The past few weeks have been hot, intolerably so.  While cranking the AC and stalking the weather page to find the one acceptably-climed day in which to venture outside and quickly shear my grass, I have been perusing stores’ shelves, impatiently watching for the first peeks of fall decor, knowing the Halloween products will not be far behind. It is no secret I love Halloween more than Christmas, that I search for odd and wondrous decor like others hunt for the perfect holiday gift.  I walk through craft stores in late summer and breathe a sigh of contentment at the walls of orange, gold, crimson, and black.  Fall is my holiday season, and Halloween sits atop it like the cherry on the most perfect sundae.

It is by fortune my mother-in-law shares my zeal for All Hallow’s Eve.  We covet one another’s collections, share our spooky resources.  She gives me books to peruse for ideas and inspiration, brings me Day of the Dead dolls from her travels to Mexico, and finds the most promising shops in Florida for us to haunt when I go down there on vacation. She feeds my desire to have the Perfect Halloween. It is, then, no surprise I have decided this year I will have a party. What might be surprising is I have never hosted one before. Maybe it was because I never before had such huge resources of friends to fill my house, or maybe I was waiting to have a collection big enough to support my grand ideas.  Either way, I am ready, and stupidly excited about it. I have thus far planned on spooky projections (or maybe a silent film showing on a wall), a tree branch barrier, my huge ouija board collection displayed, my glittery Illuminations lanterns hanging from the ceiling…  I have more ideas than space, and more ambition than money, but that is not going to stop me from hosting one hell of a bash.

I’ve sounded summer’s death knell and begun counting the days ’til Halloween on my own internal, dark Advent calendar.  I will continue to tend my garden, of course, but my soul’s longings will stretch to October. My only concern is, can I spend the next ten and a half weeks sporadically breaking into, “This is Halloween” without going mad.

I guess we’ll soon find out.  


Happy Halloween, everyone. If you haven’t before, check out my Halloween-themed flash fiction in my three previous posts. Then, to give you a better horror fix, follow the posted links embedded at the top of my stories, “Empress of the Fescue” and “Problem Child” to a cornucopia of shiver-inducing tales penned by some crazy-talented writers.

If you’re more of a visual type, take a gander at this horror movie homage by Rob Zombie (while still in his hot phase), then “I walked with a Zombie” by Wednesday 13–fun treats for you boys and ghouls!

Halloween Flash Finale

Well, Halloween is almost at hand and I’ve come up with a final flash piece to contribute to Charles’ Halloween Horror Flash Fiction-a-thon. This one’s been hiding in my files almost as long as The Empress.

If I don’t get around to writing another post this week, have a Happy Halloween. Listen to some spooky music, light a bonfire, dress up as the creature you’ve always wanted to be. Oh yeah, and go get some candy for me (Baby Ruth’s are the preferred donation).


The Love of the Job

Like a mechanical mosquito the needle hammered into his flesh, drawing out slick smears of crimson, depositing various shades of gray in return.

Remember Nikky, this spot is mine.

Those had been the last words spoken to him by his grandfather, Sid “the Ink” Shepherd, as the dying old man patted the final bit of virgin skin on Nick’s motley arm. Now only the walls’ collection of flash stood as silent witness to the fulfillment of that promise, the memorialization of Nick’s mentor, despite the torturous regret it fostered.

The job was going horribly wrong.

Nick’s sweat-slicked right hand clung to the battered, duct taped armrest as his defiant left arm steadily worked his grandfather’s prized shader across his flesh. He could no more stop its progress than will the frenzied staccato of his heart to slow. The needle buzzed into his skin with hot, jabbing intensity. The newly injected ink swarmed through the dermis, breaking lines here, joining others there, willfully reshaping his chosen design to suit its own undisclosed end. Nick could do nothing but watch.

After hours of slow agony, the maniacal tension in Nick’s arm dispelled and the shader clattered to the floor. His stomach knotted with trepidation, Nick grabbed a handful of rough paper towels and wiped away the sanguine and ebony swirls. From its place in the center of his forearm, the grayscale visage of his grandfather stared sternly up at the collection of lewd cartoons pinned to the ceiling. Like a slow moving wave, the skin on Nick’s arm gathered and broke, folding over his grandfather’s eyes as dark, hooded lids. The tattoo gave a slow blink and then rolled its gaze down, sweeping back and forth, studying its new incarnation. Sweat ticked down Nick’s face as the eyes–those eyes wrought by his own hand–turned upwards to bore into him. With a careful stretch of its mouth, the tattoo gave Nick an admonitory scowl.

“Your shading is shit, boy.”

Halloween Horror October Numero Dos

As it it both October, and the thirteenth, I’m honoring two of my favorite things with another installment of the Halloween Horror Flash event, sponsored by the one and only Charles Gramlich. Our charming host has two stories up with more promised soon. Head over to Charles’ site and check out Goodnight and Spot. The ever-twisted (and your future president) Stewart Sternberg, has offered up Fat Man. Read it and see if you think our protagonist is evil, or if you’re like me and think he just might not be all bad. Sidney has channeled his inner angst and presents us with, Having His Say, a good read for all you resentful youngsters out there. Laughingwolf gives us, Flight–don’t let the lightheartedness fool you; darkness lurks in this wolf’s soul. Miladysa gives us, Twisted, a dire warning to those of you inclined to take shortcuts. If I’ve missed anyone on the rounds, drop me a line and I’ll be sure to scurry over and read your flash, and add your link here.

As for me, I had a traumatic incident this past week. Well, three, exactly. And they all boil down to the same horrible conclusion; I’ve become Damian. I didn’t really want to be, what with the responsibility involved and all, but it has happened all the same. The first incident was last Friday. I was raking the yard and came upon a young mauled dove sprawled on my back patio. Then, on Saturday I went to a friend’s house on the river. We kayaked in the sun, and then headed back to the house to get some wine. On the walkway, right at my feet, was an injured bluebird. Then, yesterday, as I watered my garden, I noticed a large group of flies around my pot of mint. I peeked in, and, sure enough, another dead dove. It seems my former avian friends are dropping from the skies wherever my feet touch the earth. So, if you’re trying to avoid me and my new sinister career path, just go out and buy yourself a yellow canary like the miners of old. If it drops dead, beat it out of there, because I’m sure to be on the way over.

So, with no further jibberjabber, here’s the next flash:

Problem Child

The creature stopped twitching, and immediately she wished she could take it back. She held her daddy’s hammer tightly in the palm of her shaking hand and stared at the mess that had not too long before been a head. The insides of her stomach twisted into a dozen tight balls of string. There was no taking this back. No putting life back into the small form.

She gazed at the ruined body in contemplation. It had been so small, so weak. When she had picked it up, the thing squawked and squealed in panic, but had been helpless to do anything more. Surely that meant something? Her young mind gnawed the problem, chewing it like tough meat. She gazed at the lifeless shell, and the bits of swirling emotions settled, locking in her mind as a much more logical, concrete outlook.

Because it had no chance against her, the creature deserved to fall under her control. With no means to defend its life, its death became hers to decide. She hefted her daddy’s hammer in her hand and felt a surging swell of dominance. The young monster gazed down at the rest of the tiny, scurrying humans, and smiled.

Writer’s Block and Thinning Veils

Not writer’s block for the important things, luckily. No. I’m having blog writer’s block. I’ve been thinking for some time now that I need to step up and post another entry. The problem is, I can’t think of thing one to write about. Even as I’m typing this I have no idea where this entry is going or how it will ever become one coherent piece of writing. Maybe it won’t.

I’m having the same problems with my MySpace journals, too. There’s so much going on at this time in Resonance’s story I shouldn’t be having issues with getting an entry together for her. Still, I can’t seem to get one out. The same goes for my MySpace blog. I can’t think of anything relevant or even remotely important to say. Personally, I’ve been to see some really great bands, I’ve been making progress with the novel, my favorite holiday will be here in a week… There are tons of topics to write about. But, I feel like a kid in school staring at those dreaded words etched across the top of my double-ruled notebook paper, “What I did on my summer vacation.”

So, if I have topics, does that mean I can officially be diagnosed with Writer’s Block? I don’t think so. Then, it must be something else.

The wind is blowing today. The sun is in and out, leaving my desk in dappled brilliance one minute and then doused in shadow the next. It’s around fifty-five degrees and the chill is creeping through the un-insulated panes of my ancient windows.

I live in a historic neighborhood where there’s more sidewalk than lawns. Outside, the leaves from my neighbor’s trees are skittering down the street with that dry, rustling sound. I’d like to join them. Not that I’d actually enjoy tumbling down the street, getting tar, gravel and a random piece of glass or two embedded in my skin, but in fantasy-world, I think I’d like to be a wind-blown leaf, toppling around with nothing but the breeze for a guide.

Most people become distracted when the flowers start to bloom and the trees are all tinged with green and the first whiffs of warmth are tucked into the wind. But here I am, getting excited because the air has finally picked up that deep, earthy smell. I’m happy the time has finally arrived when the oppressive heat and rampant verdancy has given way to the brief period when the leaves become bright and then fade as they fall to the ground, when the air becomes chill and the stars in the sky seem to shine a little brighter (and a lot earlier). I have ‘fall fever.’ I’m in love with the newborn autumn and there’s no room in my heart (or mind) for anything else at the moment. If there were any deadfall other than pine needles decorating my six-foot wide backyard, I’d be raking and then jumping into them, pulling the leaves over my prone body like a blanket as I did when I was a kid. Only in the fall, only with leaves can death smell so wonderful.

Next week is Halloween, or, for the pagan-minded, Samhain (SOW-in, not Sam-HAIN). The veils between the worlds will thin and the spirits of those that have passed can again freely walk among us. It’s an ancestor night. A time of remembrance. It’s also grown into a night that is a mixture of fun and fright — for demons, monsters, costumes and candy. I respect and celebrate both traditions, and look with glee to the time when the hour falls back this Sunday in seeming preparation for Tuesday night. The spirits, as well as the ghouls and devils, will then have ample darkness in which to wander.

Maybe I’m distracted because I can sense the veil thinning, can feel the shades as they prepare for their bi-annual return to this plane. Or, more likely, I’m a writer, and live more in my imagination than I should. If that’s the case, though, why aren’t I writing when this time does so much to heighten my illusions? Why aren’t I taking the energy I feel with the fall and infusing it into one or more of my journals? I guess the answer is because this is the one time of year where I don’t have to pretend alone. Everyone else is finally with me, creeping through the darkness, squinting through the shadows, ever on the lookout for the denizens of the Other World. This is my Christmas and I’m happy to be celebrating it with everyone else.

I guess that’s a good enough answer for me. There’s probably some bullshit in there, but that’s what happens when one tricks oneself into writing an entire post. At least I had the chance to expound on one of my favorite subjects.

I was in Target a while back and they had just put out the costume displays. A woman pushed a cart past me. In the basket, leaning forward like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic was a little boy. With arms stretched out towards the far-off display, he yelled, “Halloween, here I come!” I couldn’t have said it better.