SomeThing

A tale of horror

Something moves. Or does it? Del isn’t sure. He looks and listens hard. For an instant, the thin, wiry man sees a motion, a movement among the trees at the edge of his back yard. Holding his shotgun with both hands, he readies himself to aim and fire. His eyes again search the trees and the marsh beyond the trees.

All is quiet. Nothing stirs, only the troubled whimper of a wind. Strange. Usually the marsh is alive with chirps and buzzes and all kinds of splashes. But now, not a sound. He listens harder, more carefully. Slowly he begins to hear the normal, marshy voices that grow louder as the afternoon light fades and evening approaches.

“Nothing here,” he decides. “Must be her imagination. She’s always thinking up things.”

He turns and steps easily across the wet grass, drenched from a sudden afternoon downpour that ended only moments ago. Returning to the house, he enters the back door and walks into the kitchen. Ginny stands waiting by the sink. She clenches a large butcher knife.

“Well, d’you see anything?” she asks, her eyes filled with terror.

“Nary a thing.” He sets his gun in a corner by the stove.

“You think I’m making it all up. Well, I’m not. I did too see something sneaking outside the bedroom window. Heard its growls too.”

“Now, now.” He takes his wife into his arms, then eases the knife from her hand and lays it in the sink. He holds her close to him.

“You must’ve heard the noises yourself. They were loud enough.” She settles into the sanctuary of his broad shoulders for a long, lingering embrace. Her whole body is shivering. He runs his hands gently through her hair and whispers soothing words into her ear until she is calm. After a few minutes of silence pass between them, he lightly kisses her lips.

Releasing her from his arms, he asks his usual, “D’you fix my supper for work?”

“You still going to work after what I seen?” She holds onto his arm.

“Course I am. How could I not?”

“Please stay home tonight. Just this once.” Her hand squeezes tighter and tighter.

“Shush.” He wrenches her hand from his arm.

“Sure wish you would stay home with me tonight.” She reaches again for his arm.

He forces her hand away. “Finish my supper while I get dressed,” he says, ignoring the supplication in her voice.

She chokes out the words, “It’s ready. ‘Cept for wrapping up a piece of that chocolate cake I made special this morning.”

“Look, if you get scared again, have George come on by,” he says, referring to their only son. “You can go stay at his house tonight. I’ll pick you up in the morning.” These are his last words on the subject. It is time to ready for work.

Del goes off into the bedroom and changes into his security guard uniform and is back in the kitchen just as Ginny is placing the cake into his gray lunch box.

Her eyes plea with him to stay with her and not run off to work. But he takes his supper from her hands and pulls his Atlanta Braves cap off the hat stand by the outside kitchen door.

Flipping the cap onto his head, he kisses her cheek a goodnight kiss. Then he is through the door and gone.

Ginny walks into the living room at the front of the house and watches Del through the large picture window as he drives away in his Ford Explorer. Then she drops into the large comfortable chair, Del’s chair, and trembles. Soon her entire body shakes. Tears well up into her eyes. Her face, wrinkled and sagging, appears to be much older than her fifty-seven years. The room darkens as the night fills it with its blackness. Ginny sits alone, afraid to fall asleep because of the nightmares she’s been having. She fights off the sleep. It is too much for her. She’s so tired from her lack of sleep over the last few days that she’s soon dozing off.

Asleep, she starts drifting in and out of her subconscious. It is then that a something eases its way out of the shadows of her sleep and into her dreams, those worlds of gray and fog and unhappiness that inhabit her slumber. Through these lands of mist and uneasiness, of phantoms, specters and dark, ugly things, this SomeThing walks, consuming everything in its path.

Thunder shakes her awake. Her clothes are drenched with sweat, the kind of sweat that only comes from fear. Out the window, a storm rages with a hard, driving rain pelting the grass. Again, the thunder grumbles and a tree crashes in the distance. Lightning streaks the sky and brightens the room.

Just for a moment, she sees it. A shadow, or at least what she, at first, believes to be a shadow. It isn’t. It is the SomeThing that had haunted her nightmares for days, the SomeThing that had made those awful growling noises, the SomeThing that had escaped into nothing earlier that afternoon, the SomeThing that had come from some hell of an evil place.

And a wicked looking SomeThing it is, its eyes cold and cruel with a hate that can only come from another world, its mouth dripping a mixture of white, rabid fear and dark, red blood, its huge body a black silhouette outlined against the lightning flashing in the distance.

Ginny cowers into her chair, struggling to breathe. She wants to scream, tries to scream, but the scream does not come out of her mouth. The Thing, the SomeThing reaches for her, its long talons grasping to tear open her neck.

*****

The house is unusually quiet when Del gets home. It is four o’clock in the morning of a cold, clear February night. The storm earlier has passed, leaving everything drenched and a full moon to fill the sky. Guided by the light of the moon, he hurries through the living room and into the dark bedroom. He leaves the light off so as not to wake Ginny and quickly undresses for bed. He crawls under the clean sheets, then turns to give his wife of thirty-seven years a goodnight kiss.

Ginny is not there. She is gone from her side of the bed where she always sleeps.

He starts to get out of the bed, but then decides, “Must be at George’s.”

He is relieved. Within minutes, he is snoring. His dreams delve deep, deeper and deeper and deeper into that subterranean underground that is his inner consciousness until he is struggling through a swamp, legs hip-deep in water. Cypress trees everywhere, and a heavy, red fog closes in around him.

Alone. No other life in the swamp, but the flies. Those damnable flies circling his head, making no noise. An eerie silence breathes on him as he forces his way through the muck and the mire. Feeling eyes following him, stalking him, he turns and sees…nothing. He looks back to where he is going. A necklace, his wife’s necklace, drops into his hand and opens. His photograph smiles back at him. He looks up. There she is, Ginny pinned to a tree.

This startles him awake. His body is unable to move, frozen with fear. Rain beats against the rooftop. Thunder groans nearby. Lightning lights the room while the shadow of a SomeThing covers Del’s face.

Be careful what you ask for

The light from the windows of her hundred-year-old house streamed out onto the lawn late that night in February. The light reflected the shadow of her silhouette behind the curtains of her second story bedroom. She was watching me, I knew, as I stood next to the fence across the street and waited. I had been here every night for one hundred days, in rain, in fog that came up off the nearby sea, and on clear nights. It was the key to the door of her heart.

I wondered if she would ever recognize my love for her. At first, I had sent her notes, then candy, then flowers, first one, then a half dozen, then a dozen. But she ignored them. When we had last spoke at our high school, she had urged, “Please don’t.”

But I loved her too much to give up and I knew she would come to love me. It was fated to be and only a matter of time.

Each night I watched her father arrive from some late night appointment and go into the house. He was always going and coming at night. But why? Why did he do this? After all, he was a successful lawyer who had an office downtown, open for appointments all day long. Why did he need to be out this late every night?

One night her father walked out of the house and headed for his car. I looked at my watch. Eleven o’clock. I decided to follow. I hurried around the corner and jumped into my old beat-up green Buick. I started it, then sat there. Her father backed out of the driveway and headed east.

I pulled in behind him, about twenty car lengths, and tailed him. We drove for thirty minutes or so until we came to an old rundown warehouse. He parked in its parking lot, next to the three or four other cars there. I pulled to a stop a block or so away and watched him enter a side door into the building.

I got out of the car and walked over to the partially lit parking lot. I went around to the side and listened in through a half-broken window. All I could hear was the sound of barking dogs in the distance. I pushed my ear closer to the window. Then I felt it. The cold metal in my back. It was a gun.

“Come with me,” the man behind me demanded and grabbed me by the neck and shoved me forward. Before I could turn around to see who it was, I was forced through the side door and into the warehouse. Before me stood several men.

“I caught this outside,” the voice behind me said.

“Welcome, Mr. Benedaro,” her father greeted me with a smile.

I was pushed toward the group of men and forced to drop onto my knees. I was in the center of a circle of these men.

From behind me, I heard her voice. “Now, Father?” she said.

“Yes, Daughter,” her father said.

I turned to see a large wolf, charging me with its teeth bared.

“What the he…,” I screamed as she bit into my neck.

“It’s just the wind”

“It’s just me, the wind,” the wind howled, trying to calm our fears. It was not working. No, the bewitching lie of that West Texas wind was not working on my ten-year-old brother and me. Ralph and I buried our heads under the bed sheets, shivered in our pajamas and hugged each other. We were barely breathing, trying to keep that wind from finding us all alone in the house.

“Th-th-that wind d-d-d-don’t like us, do it?” Ralph said. There was a hope in his quiet, chattering voice that I would contradict him. But I knew that he was right. That Old Devil Wind was outside, circling our house and hankering to come at us inside. I swallowed hard and there was nothing to swallow. My throat was dry.

Just then my brother surprised me. He buckled up his courage, wrestled himself free from my hold and threw the covers off us to face the dark. Sitting bolt upright in the bed, he said to the wind, “You’d better leave us alone, or we’ll tell our Daddy.”

Still the wind howled. But its words changed, “I ain’t none too scared of your daddy, but he should be scared of me,” it laughed. It was not anything near a human laugh. More like a banshee screeching at us.

I sure wished my Daddy was home to prove it wrong. He would prove it wrong. At least, I could hope. Mother and Daddy had gone out to a party for the evening and wouldn’t be back until past midnight.

Ralph ducked back under the sheets and pulled them completely over us. He scrunched up beside me and grabbed a tight hold of my twelve-year-old body. I wrangled myself free. The wind’s screech turned into a wail. A tree branch clack-clack-clacked against the bedroom windowpane. I reached for my brother and we held each other close. I felt him shiver; he felt me shiver. The smell of his sweat filled the bed. His strategy had not worked and now the wind knew where we were. It smelled our fear. It was coming, and it was coming for us. It was just a matter of time.

“Do you have to sweat so much?” I asked. “That Old Devil Wind is going to smell you. It’ll know exactly where we’re at. We’re going to be goners. It’s going to eat us alive.”

“I can’t help it. I’m scared and I sweat when I’m scared. That thing out there scares me. ‘Sides you’re sweating too. More’n me actually.”

I hadn’t realized. My pajamas were soaking wet with sweat.

Everything went quiet. The house. The tree branch. The wind. Nary a sound, not even a whimper. No wind wailing at us. Just a dead silence, the kind of silence you hear in a cemetery in that evening twilight after everybody has departed from their loved ones’ gravesites and before the spooks come out to go on their nightly haunting. Seemed as if the wind had left us in peace, and maybe, just a big maybe, headed out across the West Texas plain that reached out and shook hands with the sky.

“You think?” Ralph whispered into my ear.

“Shhhh.” I was taking no chances. Could be that Old Devil Wind was lying outside in the grass like the snake it was, waiting till a cloud slipped over the full moon and dowsed its bright light. In the darkness, it would strike. “Boo!” It would be out again and on the hunt for my brother and me. We couldn’t drop our guard. We had to keep scared. That wind loved to eat brave boys. At least that was what one of my friends at school had said. Said he knew a boy that stood up to the wind. Rumor was that his scream from the wind’s bite could be heard across three counties.

I whispered back to Ralph, “It’s just waiting on the moon to slide behind one of them clouds. That’s cause the moon and the wind ain’t friends and it ain’t coming out till the moon has disappeared. You know that, don’t you?”

“No, I never heard.”

“Oh, it’s true,” I said, trying to keep my mind off the thing that scared me most. “Those two, the moon and the wind, they don’t get along at all. ‘Least that’s what Daddy says. And he ought to know. He’s had dealings with the moon.”

But it was quiet and, after a while, we were feeling a little safe, relaxing our grips on each other.

“Look,” I said in my quietest voice, “and see if it’s gone.”

“I’m not about to look. What if he catches me looking?”

“He won’t ’cause he’s gone.”

“If you’re so sure, you look.”

“Aw c’mon. Be brave.”

“You be brave. You’re the older one. Mom says you’re supposed to watch out for me. I’m just a dumb little kid. I’m allowed to be scared. So you be brave and look.”

Well, it was quiet. Seemed like it was safe enough to slip the covers from over my head and down to my neck. Couldn’t hurt anything. My head peaked out from the bed. The moon filled the window. The shadows grew longer and longer as the moonlight reached across the room and shone in my eyes.

“I got to go pee,” Ralph said, throwing the bedding off of the two of us.

I grabbed his hand. “Are you crazy? He’s probably waiting to ambush us like some outlaw gang when he catches us by ourselves. You stay here, y’hear me?”

“But I can’t wait. I got to go.”

I choked back my fear. Maybe it would be all right. We hadn’t heard from Old Devil for quite some time. Maybe it was in Amarillo by now and wouldn’t be back. I released my brother’s hand.

“Well, go,” I said. “But you get back here in a hurry, y’hear? Before you-know-who…before it’s back and at us again. And leave the lights off so it won’t know you’re up.”

Ralph jumped out of the bed and lunged for the hall. The moonlight was fading, a cloud passing across the sky. A shadow crossed my face. Then the room was dark, then chilly. It seemed like a good idea to go all the way back under the covers to warm up.

The wind rose from the grass, then whistled its way across the field and toward our house. Under the sheets, I heard that hunter coming for its prey and prayed that my brother might make it back to the bedroom before the wind go to us. Maybe together we could fight it off. Alone there was no hope for Ralph or me against the beast.

I thought about giving a yell out to warn Ralph. But he could hear the wind and would hurry back to the bed as fast as he could.

The whistle outside grew stronger and transformed itself into an even scarier howl than before. The tree branch tap-tap-tapped against the window. The howl became a banshee scream just the other side of the window. The branch kwak-kwak-kwak, and it broke the glass. The wind was inside our bedroom and slammming the door to the hall shut. Every board in the body of the house creaked under its weight.

Under the covers and shaking, I heard Ralph from the hallway. He turned the doorknob and pushed at the door. “Let me in,” he said. Let me in.”

The demon of a wind laughed, knowing it had me trapped.

“Let me in, Door. Please. Let me in,” Ralph said, struggling with the door.

The banshee was coming for me. I could feel its cold breath and it was turning frosty under the sheets. If I didn’t move, maybe.

“I’ve got you,” the wind’s words seeped into the bed.

But it was not talking to me. It was talking to the door. It was threatening Ralph. It was readying itself to let him fling the door open and rush into its arms. Then that would be the end of my brother.

“No,” I said and threw the bedding off my body. “You leave my brother alone, y’hear me?” I jumped out of bed and made for the door. I grabbed the knob, turned it and jerked the door open. Suddenly the wind was gone.

“Dad?” I said.

My father’s silhouette stood behind Ralph in the dark hall. I hugged Daddy’s waist as tight as I could.

“What’s the matter, boys?”

“The wind, Daddy,” I said, relief surging through my body. “The wind was coming for us.”

“Ah, the wind.” He looked down at me and, even in the darkness, I could feel reassurance in his voice. His fatherly smell of Brut Aftershave calmed my nerves that had been all shot up with fear from that Old Devil Wind. “Where is it now? I don’t hear it. Do you, guys?”
I had to agree that my Daddy was right as he usually was when it came to things that go bump in the night. “No,” both Ralph and I said.

He took my brother and me by the arms. He ushered us back into our bedroom, still dark from the lack of moonlight. “Get back into bed.”

Ralph and I did as we were told. Tucked into bed and under the sheets, I looked up at my father standing at the end of the bed. Though I could not see it, I could feel his smile. I knew that there was no wind in the world that could challenge that smile.

“Haven’t I told you boys not to be afraid of El Diablo. It can’t hurt you. That is unless you let it scare the fear into you. James, when you suspected your brother was in danger, you stared it down face to face. You wouldn’t let it bully you. Now, look. It’s gone, and it will stay gone as long as you don’t let it get at you.”

Daddy reached down and mussed my hair, then Ralph’s. Then he said, “We’ll repair that window tomorrow.” He walked out into the hall.

“Is everything all right, Alan?” I heard my mother’s soprano ask my father.

“No need to worry about our boys. They’re brave boys.”

Their steps receded down the hallway and outside onto the back porch. Safe in my bed, my brother already dozing, I looked through the broken windowpane and saw the moon peak out from behind the clouds. My mother and my daddy gazed up at it. Then my parents, two werewolves, raised their heads toward the sky and bayed their love song for that moon.

Halloween County

It was well-known through out Halloween County. If you became sick, you were going to Dr. D’s hospital and eventually would end up in Dr. F’s mortuary. So the people of the County went on strike and refused to get sick. Unless it was absolutely necessary.

At that point, the EMTs delivered the person to the Emergency Room at Dr. D’s. Before they left home, it was “Goodbye, Uncle Osar” or “It’s been nice knowing you, Aunt Agnes.”

So the people of Halloween County did not get sick. It just wasn’t done. Or if they did, they acted like they were still well.

Before you could say, “I want to bite you on the neck,” Wellness Clinics sprang up around the County. Pretty soon they were like the churches. There was one on every corner.

One of the Clinics advocated exercise. Another gave out herbs. If the acupuncture treatments didn’t work, there was the Pyramid Spa. There you spent a day in the crystal construction. When you left, your pores were cleaned and your eyes saw through walls. At the Om Clinic, you did here an Om, there an Om and everywhere an Om-Om-Om. On every corner, there was an acapella group singing, “Om on the Range.”

Some of the residents didn’t trust the fancy-dancy new treatments. They went home remedy all the way. Maude Hickenbottom’s was the most popular. She recommended that  folks drink a thimble of bleach at midnight of a full moon. So every full moon you could hear the howls on the other side of the State.

And mothers were constantly urging their kids to take their vitamins. “But what kind of vitamin is it?” Junior asked. “I don’t know. Take them anyway.” Then mom added a threat that went all the way back to Hansel and Gretel, “Or you end up at Dr. D’s.”

This led to some good news and some bad news. The good news was all the residents of the County were healthy as horses and nobody ever went to the hospital. There was a Halloweeni woman who was a 137 years old and ran three miles a day. “I’m going to run till I drop” was her motto. As everybody knew, she never dropped.

The bad news was that Dr. D’s and Dr. F’s business had run out of customers. Being resourceful, the two of them brought in a team of experts.

For months, the team went through the County, examining each of the residents and studying their lifestyle. During the exam, one of the team would attach a whatchamacallit to a thingamajig and jot down the readings. Then they would ask a series of questions that would drive an advanced degree in physics student up the wall.

Finally the head of the team, Dr. Hypochondriactus, met with Dr. D and Dr. F. “There’s only one conclusion we’ve come up with.”

Dr. D was white as a sheep and had been unable to get a good day’s sleep in his coffin despite drinking a whole cellar full of Transylvania Kola. He leaned forward and demanded, “What?”

Dr. F joined Dr. D in his “What.”

“There is nothing wrong with these folks. They don’t have any special immunities or extra special genes to enable them to fight off sickness. There’s only one thing they all have in common. And it’s the one thing that prevents them from visiting your establishments.”

“And what’s that?”

“Fear.”

“Fear?”

“That and they drink a lot.”

Munsters: A Horrible Little Comedy

A little unusual for me to post on this blog a smattering of a play but here’s the beginning of a musical comedy. The characters will be all the creatures from those old movies you know and love. So here goes.

Narrator: These stories always begin the same way. It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was. Lightning flashed, revealing a castle standing on a mountain in the darkness. Deep in the recesses of the castle is a large, wooden door. Sparks can be seen coming from behind the door. Then a voice:

Dr. Frankenstein: I’ve done it, I’ve really done it this time.

Narrator: The door opens. A white-haired man in a white laboratory coat leans over a large male body. The body is connected to electrical wires. Sparks slowly dying are coming from the body. He seems to be asleep. Then he begins to stir.

Dr. Frankenstein sings lovingly to the body the song, “Got a Blind Date and Ain’t Got Nothing to Wear Blues”:

I’ll be your Hannibal Lector, you’ll be my fava beans.

When you come to dinner, there’ll be lots of screams.

First I’ll cook up the liver, so tender and nice;

Then a kidney pie, I’ll cut you out a slice. 

Fee fee fie fie fo fo fum

I smell the blood of everyone.

I’ll be your Jack the Ripper, you’ll be my London girl.

You’re, oh, such a cut-up, the best in all the world.

From London to Paris and all points beyond;

Such a crazy pair, we’re having globs of fun.

Fee fee fie fie fo fo fum

I wanna taste the blood of everyone

You’ll be my Dr. Jekyll, I’ll be your Mr. Hyde.

Walking hand in hand, we’ll walk side by side.

The thrill of it all, just the two of you and me.

Just call me Mr. Multiple Personality.

Fee fee fie fie fo fo fum

I’m gonna suck the blood from everyone.

I just got bit by rabies, rabies in my drawers,

As I walked my bloodhound way out on the moors.

If I were Bing Crosby, I’d surely wanna croon;

Me, I’m really hungry, so I’ll howl at the moon.

Fee fee fie fie fo fo fum

There’s no blood in anyone

And we’re having oodles and oodles of fun.

Narrator: The large body rises and jerks the electric wires from his body. He is monstrous-looking but charming in a lost kind of way. He looks at the doctor, then he looks at a large pinup of a woman in a bathing suit nailed to the wall. He walks slowly over to the pinup and sings “Virgin Blues”:

When I was in school

We said it was cool

To be a virgin

We laughed at those

Who were not supposed

To be virgins

Sweet sweet virginity

Like some disease

Got stuck to me

When I got out

I roamed about

Still a virgin

Now in my older days

I’d like to dump the ways

Of being virgin

Sweet sweet virginity

Like some disease

Got stuck to me

Narrator: In the kitchen upstairs a small man, Igor, finishes preparing dinner for the doctor and his patient. He loads it all on a tray and takes the food downstairs, singing:

I likes them flies

when they dives

them flies

them flies

I likes them dried

peppered and spiced

and toads

big and growed

make the grade

for my lemonade

When all is said and done

lunch will be fun

and I can’t wait

for supper to animate

I catch me roaches

as they approaches

me roaches

me roaches

I likes them fried

strung up and dried

and snakes

is all it takes

to make a stew

good and grue—

some.

Narrator: Igor opens the door to the laboratory.

Igor: Room service.

Narrator: He takes lunch over to a table and uncovers it. As he does, he smells something odd. An odor. He looks over at the large fellow in love with the pin-up. He walks over and pulls the monster’s coattails.

Igor: Fellow, you are not going to get a girl, smelling like that.

Igor sings “Feed your feet”:

You can dress ‘em up just like Christmas      

In flip-flops or sandal ware                            

Loafers, brogans or cowboy boots                 

I really couldn’t care                                      

But I want you to understand                                   

What’s been since time began                        

That nothing can make a bod compleat         

If that body don’t feed his feet                     

Feed your feet, feed your feet               

For if you don’t, they’re sure gonna stink     

So feed those dogs or I can tell you well      

If you don’t, they’re gonna smell                  

Many’s the time I heard the shout

“What’s that odor? Get it out!”

Neither Mom nor wife would allow

That kinda small anyhow

Now I want you to understand

What’s been since time began

That nothing can make a bod compleat

If that body don’t feed his feet

Feed your feet, feed your feet           

For if you don’t, they’re sure gonna stink     

So feed those dogs or I can tell you well      

If you don’t, they’re gonna smell

Narrator: Igor leads the monster over to the bed, sits him down, pulls off his shoes and sprays his feet with Ye Olde Foot Spray.

Narrator: Meanwhile in the village below the mountain, a criminal is prowling the streets.

Narrator sings:

Oh, what do you know about Jack?
He had a mighty good knack
So let me give you the facts
He was needing
He was pleading
“Just give me a midnight snack.”

Oh, she made her way about town
Just a girl making her rounds
A bride in search of a gown
“I shall not tarry
Soon I’ll marry
A lord I think is a clown.”

Oh, why would she marry this guy?
He couldn’t even zip up his fly
No matter how hard he did try
He’d heave the ho
Give it a go
But the zipper had gone and died.

Said she was out for the money
Just a girl who’d never had any
And the lord had more than plenty
“Marry for love
You’ll grovel for grub”
That’s why her name was Penny

Well, she was out roaming the streets
Shopping for all kinds of treats
When it was the Ripper she meets
Her bodice did fall
Her bosoms enthralled
That night Jack fell off his feet

Soon Jack the Ripper was gone
He gave up ripping alone
These two are ripping real strong
Fast as they go
They doe-si-doe
Now they’ve got two ripplets at home.

The play does not end here. There’s more but where it is, it’s anybody’s guess.