Friday the 30th

All Hallow’s Eve will soon be here (in fact by the time you read this it will have already passed) and hence I should write a scary story. It is a task better left to a writer with some skill in the genre. I stink at it. Nevertheless, to quote Herman Melville, I try all things. I achieve what I can.

I set out to conjure up my best Edgar Allan Poe, but that resulted in sitting on a bench in Baltimore after three days of snorting ether and drinking absinthe, dressed in rags and with nothing to show for it. That wouldn’t do. When I finally returned to my house I sensed a slight tremor up through the rafters. A low, dull twitching. How spooky, I thought. The house, in fact, the whole block seemed to have a mild sway to it. At first I chalked it up to ghosts, but then I read that the whole globe was reverberating from China’s national frenzy of sexual intercourse following the news that it is now legal for Chinese families to have TWO children instead of one. You get a billion people screwing at once and every plot of earth from the Seward Peninsula to Tierra Del Fuego is going to feel the effects.  Even the animals are spooked, which is appropriate, considering it’s halloween and all.

Now to my horror story.

I must admit that I am bored by horror. (Indeed, what a terrible way to begin a horror story.) I mean the cinematic kind, not the real kind. The real kind of horror is unimaginable–plane crashes, human trafficking, political debates. The movie kind of horror is nothing more than a joke with murder as the punchline. On one hand, that is why I used to love them when I was a kid. The villains were so villainous. Laconic fiends who did nothing else but slaughter a whole cast of dim-witted teenagers. No eating, no sleeping, no personal maintenance. Jason Voorhies was never stuck in traffic. Michael Myers didn’t have certain dietary restrictions. Freddie Kruger never had to apply for a low-interest mortgage extension. Imagine that “Pinhead” character from Hellraiser having to go through airport security? Forget it.

I should mention I recently inherited a castle. It was bequeathed to me by a distant uncle I never knew I had. He was the rich recluse type, with ties to the occult. Go figure. The castle sits on the side of a mountain, surrounded by cold walls of granite. The sky above my castle is dark and gloomy all the time. Lightning is constant. One of those things the realtor always fails to mention. Constant gloom. Never one to inspect the teeth of a gift horse, I am making due. It is drafty, though.

Anyway, I shouldn’t condemn the horror genre. There are a handful of movies that are done well. The rest are cheap rip-offs. That could probably be said about any genre, really. Horror movies are so exaggerated anyway. It takes a special skill to use the formula without exploiting it. A good horror director doesn’t want the audience to feel, at the end of the bloodbath, that the real choppers and manglers are the movie editors. The sadistic madman is the screenwriter. The lazy police force is overshadowed by the lazy special effects department. The victim is originality.

I should mention I have an assistant. His name is Rogi. He is a diminutive fellow, somewhat psychically sensitive, who tends to his responsibilities with the singular mania of a bomb maker. He lights the candelabras, brings me my brandy, scares the bejeezus out of the traveling salesmen. I’ve talked it over with Rogi and we’ve decided to throw a dinner party in honor of my new dark and foreboding castle. Kind of a housewarming thing. The plan is to gather a bunch of my friends under one roof and then kill them off, one by one. Some may ask why I would do such a thing? Because they’ve all led kind of morally ambiguous lives. Still doesn’t warrant a massacre, some might say. They are entitled to their opinion. What if I promise to kill them all in creatively different ways? That’s even worse, some might say. That is way beyond malice aforethought. Once again, I respect their opinions. 

My friends are as follows: a professor, a retired colonel, a young starlet, a sportswriter, an ex-rockstar, a playboy millionaire, a woman who moonlights as a madame, a football coach with bad knees, a university student, a noted explorer, the guy who survives and the really hot woman he saves. Some may question the improbability of such a wide array of friends. What can I say? I get along with everybody.

For the first part of the night everything seemed to be going well. Rogi had prepared an excellent dinner and had maintained just the right balance of warmth and creepiness. When it came time to chop the old colonel’s head off (I lured him out under the pretense of an emergency phone call!) anyway when it came time to chop his head off and roll it back into the parlor where the rest were congregated with their dessert drinks, I actually put too much spin on the damn thing and it got lodged under the sofa. Peeved, I marched into the room, parted the group, got down low and began to loosen the old dingbat’s noggin by the ears (these old couches are damn heavy) and instead of a perfectly timed mortal shock the whole thing ended up losing its effect as the rest of the guests offered tepid suggestions about how best to retrieve the poor colonel’s cranium.

“You’ve got to kind of wiggle it.”

“Maybe just wait for it to decay a little.”

“That oak slat is the problem.”

Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe the rest of the evening. When I suggested we all split up to search for the killer, someone pointed out my huge knife and blood-soaked clothes. The police were called and I can’t even tell you the legal troubles that have befallen me. The prices these lawyers charge. Talk about eviscerating. As I stew in this lonely cell, responsible for one of the worst slash jobs in history (I mean, of course, this blog entry) I will list some really scary stuff for those who crave it.

All true, just to warn the faint of heart.

Scientists can actually create the flavor of vanilla out of cow shit. The thawing permafrost is revealing peculiar viruses that have long since been dormant in the ice. The Kardashians are role models. The snake known as “Fer-de-lance” is the ultimate pit viper, charging at its enemies when it feels threatened. Children in South Sudan are forced into cannibalism. A girl in Oregon recently developed a case of bubonic plague. The Australian funnel-web spider can hunt and kill a man, move in with his wife, and try to raise the dead man’s kids according to its own weird spider values.

I made up that last part.

Happy Halloween.

More Alembics to come. 

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