Somewhere far away, someone was burning leaves. When the breeze blew, the smell reached the farm grounds, somehow crowding out the nearer aromas of frying donuts and baking pies and simmering apple cider. The noise—the babble and movement of a few dozen people, the laughter and shrieks and running footsteps of children, the crying of at least one baby at any given moment, it seemed—receded, too, when the smell was present, as if Paul’s senses were straining exclusively toward the sharp fragrance of invisible smoke. Continue reading
Kevin ran. He tucked his plastic sack of candy tight against his chubby belly, put his head down, and churned his stumpy little legs as fast as he could.
He almost made it. The warm glow of the porch light was reflected in Kevin’s eyes, he imagined rushing up the steps and through the big black door, heading upstairs to gorge himself on trick-or-treat loot. Then someone screamed and Kevin turned his head to look back. Continue reading
Gauls, wearing wooden masks and little else gyrated to a cacophony of fifes and drums by the light of two blazing pyres. Most engaged in blatant seduction and howled like animals into the late autumn night, their shadows stretching across the ground in demonic parody.
I turned from the spectacle and focused on Weylin, my host. “You promised me King Midas, old man. What is this?” Continue reading
As Maggie Sullivan walks to work, kids dressed up as pirates and superheroes pass her by. No one notices her blue and purple scrubs; no one says Happy Halloween or offers her candy. It’s just as well, she figures. As soon as she enters the large waiting room, a sign declares NO MASKS. Next to the fake cob-webby stuff up on some of the large windows, another sign declares NO CANDY. Especially anything with peanuts, though this prohibition is pretty much a given now wherever Maggie works. While the hospital is willing to open its doors on the one night where it is said their morgue could rise up and walk the earth, they aren’t taking any chances with anaphylactic shock. No patrons of the ER may wear masks and they may not have peanuts. This is a government building. What do you take us for, anyway? But Happy Halloween. We respect all nationalities, sexualities, and creeds. Just please no peanuts and we need to be able to see your face for our security cameras. Continue reading
“Imp!” My master’s voice rumbled with the comforting malice of a thousand forges. “What the Heaven is this?”
I leaned forward hoping to appear sufficiently inquisitive and peered at the Soul List. Created from the flayed skin of the eternally damned, the scroll unfurled across his obsidian desk. Smoke trailed from the blackened rim of the hole he’d made with his stiletto-like finger. Around the hole the remaining letters of a name faded from view.
Blinking once, I blinked again. Even by the bastardized physics of Hell, something like that should have been impossible. But my master demanded an answer and I made a great show of pinching my features in pensive repose, heeding the first lesson upon my servitude that ignorance was an undesirable virtue. Continue reading
Nell watched a beetle trundle past her shoe. The white lady gurgled like a backed-up sewer, and then she was quiet and there were only the wet smacking sounds of Grandmother eating.
The white lady’s gun lay in the dirt. Nell thought about taking it, but it was too heavy and too long–at least twice as long as the rifle Mama was teaching her to shoot. Instead she dragged it into the shadows and hid it beneath some scrap wood. The spyglass on top looked valuable, but Nell didn’t have time to salvage it. Continue reading
The McClemen’s residence looked like an abscessed tooth jutting out of the earth, three stories high, flaccid and diseased. It was surrounded by a sea of cornfields of green presently bending lightly to a south-westerly wind. There was an aged sycamore at the end of the driveway, chained to it, a dog and a goat, and Lawrence Shoemaker at last rolled his Cadillac to a stop in the tree’s accompanying shade.
The stink of shit and animal parlayed with a cloud of dust, rising up and through the opened windows of the Cadillac. Lawrence cursed, reached for a handkerchief and covered his nose. When the dust settled, he grabbed his clipboard and stepped outside, shielding his eyes against the rays of a setting sun. Continue reading
Dom doesn’t lose his temper as easily as his brother, so normally he’s the one who deals with it when shit goes pear-shaped. But shit has been going pear-shaped a lot lately, and by the time Dom gets to the warehouse Marc is already in full swing. Literally–he’s gone after poor Jimmy with a nine iron. Continue reading
Memory plays a crucial role in many a horror narrative. In memory can lie, for instance, the key to defeating the evil. “You will remember what your father forgot” (King 422), Danny is told in Stephen King’s The Shining. And he does: in the nick of time he remembers the boiler (which, untended, will explode) and thus deflects his possessed father’s murderous rampage. Often, memory’s unlocking of a mystery leads only to further danger (to Jessica Harper’s dismay, as she discovers the witches’ secret lair in Dario Argento’s Suspiria), or the resolution arrives too late to do any good (and so David Hemmings realizes who the murderer is in the split second before she attacks him in Argento’s Deep Red). In Session 9, written by Steve Gevedon and Brad Anderson, and directed by Anderson, memory is itself the horror, and so it is repressed. The effects of that repression, however, are still more horror. This is the despairing dynamic of the film: false dreams are lethal, but to wake up from them is to confront a reality no less destructive. The diagnosis, however, leaves the viewers with the responsibility to defang that terrible reality. Continue reading
Della wiped the outcropping of books from her brow. Damned things were appearing more frequently. She flicked aside a copy of Jeffrey Kline’s autobiography as small as the nail on her little finger. She wouldn’t have minded so much if she sweated classics, but the trash that came from her pores was just embarrassing. Worst of all, she had no idea why it kept happening. The bin by the side of her desk was full of the miniscule paperback tomes. Yesterday she had wiped at least fifty copies of the chat show host’s autobiography from her neck and under her arms. She didn’t even watch his chat show Talking Life. Continue reading