All In the Telling
The only thing to fear is fear itself ... and
I am the biggest chicken you can find. This story is in tribute to my
ghoulish sister and her disciples, my nieces, those traitors who succumbed
to Jason, Chuckie, Freddie and all other things that I prefer to avoid.
This harkens back to a time before they became the ghouls they are today
but well on their way.
a time when things crept along in the dark. It was a time when the moon
hung low, golden in the sky and clouds rushed angrily across its face.
It was a time when a long howl pierced the air and dry leaves whirled
in the air casting eerie whispers onto the wind. It was a time for ..."
shouted two very young and eager voices.
in the rounded eyes of her two little nieces who each clutched a Halloween
lightstick in their hands, their faces barely visible in the dim light.
Behind them on the windowsill was the flickering face of the pumpkin
whose evil visage dripped blood... actually red food coloring, another
of her ideas and heartily endorsed by the older of the two girls, Katie.
She was 7 and her sister Sarah was 3. Together they'd helped their aunt
scoop out the 'icky guts' of the 'mumpkin', as Sarah referred to it.
Once hollowed, she had carefully cut out the grim visage followed by
the bloody drippings trailing from its teeth. The seeds had been washed,
salted and baked in the oven becoming a treat for the youngest though
she vowed to save some for their finicky and plump guinea pig to gnaw
on. If the guinea pig was lucky she'd get a handful.
nieces were staying overnight at their aunt's house as mom had to work
today and part of the next day. Tomorrow was Trick or Treat night and
the two little girls were already squirming in anticipation without
the benefit of a sugar high. They'd dined at McDonalds and were now
ready to begin the ghostly tale their aunt had promised. Ensconced in
a bed of pillows and blankets lumped together on the living room floor,
the lights had been turned off to properly create the perfect atmosphere
for scaring the crap out of children with a tale of horrific adventure
... needless to say they were excited at the prospect.
Aunt Carol ... you promised" whined Katie as she leaned forward waving
her hand in front of her aunt's face.
yeah where was I?" Carol cleared her mind and let go of her reverie
of earlier in the day.
in the night."
I continued to drive along the deserted country road sure I had made
a wrong turn on the way to my friend's Halloween party. "
piped up the younger of the two nieces, now somewhat uncertain if she
really wanted to emulate her big sister.
Sarah, she hasn't even got to the good parts yet."
alright, scoot over here and sit next to your auntie."
herself next to her aunt.
the car when I noticed what looked to be a gravel driveway up ahead
on my right. Turning onto the drive, my headlights lit up the scene
in front of me and I gasped in shock."
was it a monster?"
worse, it was gravestones ... I had found a country cemetery, an old
and neglected one. Some of the headstones were tilted and a few were
face down. Big ol' trees had branches that hung down so low that they
nearly touched the ground. A small stone fence surrounded the graveyard."
scary." Stated a miffed Katie.
telling the story, me or you. Thought so. Anyways, I didn't like the
looks of the place, so I put the car into reverse and started to back
up when it happened..."
paused to heighten the moment as she set the stage.
engine stuttered and died. I tried to start the car, but all I got was
grinding. Okay give it a few minutes I told myself. But I made sure
I locked the car doors just in case."
closer to aunt leaving not a hairs-width of space between them.
more attempts at starting the car failed. I was gonna have to walk back
along the road to find help."
you just use your cell phone?" asked Katie.
back then they weren't invented yet ... after all I am old as
giggled at that comment, they so loved teasing their aunt about her
age. To them, anyone over 20 was old.
the glove compartment for my flashlight, made sure it was working and
turned off the lights. Slowly I opened the door and left the car. It
was then I heard it..."
effective pause, after all part of telling ghost tales was building
... tap .... scrrrritch ... tap. It was coming from the graveyard."
on her shirtsleeve brought her face towards Sarah. "Run Aunt Carol ...
... I was frozen in fear, my eyes glued to the entrance of the cemetery."
.... the sounds were the branches on a gravestone .... right?"
it wasn't ... you see at the entrance stood a ghoul ... and he was dragging
a skeletal arm that was making the noise."
back in the car and lock the doors."
... couldn't... locked the keys in the car to my dismay. I was trapped
there and as I slowly backed away the ghoul came towards me." Carol
had quickly improvised musing to herself that she almost blew the story.
"But I wasn't paying attention and instead of backing up the driveway,
I backed into a big tree. My knees gave way and I slumped to ground,
my free hand groping for a stick to use as a weapon. It was then I found
knife. It was rusty, but I pulled out the blade and it shone big and
bright in the light of my flashlight. I could smell the rotten breath
of the ghoul as he lumbered towards me, his tortured moan creating goosebumps
on my arms."
up at that moment, "Turn on the light, I'm scared."
... it's just a ghost story, it's not real."
up to turn on one of the lamps. "Ha, don't be so sure about that. It
was real enough that night. I had no choice now but to defend myself.
I leapt up and ran for the front of the car. I figured all I needed
was to put some distance between me and it. But I was wrong. It turned
and followed. I yelled at it that I was armed, but still it came. I
shone the light directly into its eyes hoping to blind it, but it was
then I found out the true horror ... it had no eyes, only empty holes
and worms were crawling in and out of them." Sarah was now in her lap,
her head against her chest. Katie was leaning forward, eyes large and
unblinking, completely entranced in the tale.
up my courage and ran full tilt towards the monster, tackling it to
the ground. Whipping out my trusty rusty knife, I grasped its rotted
tongue and cut it out. I yelled at the ghoul .... 'so what do you say
now!' 'Mmmppphlffhggg' it replied."
at the idea of her aunt cutting out the tongue of a monster and asking
it a question when it obviously couldn't reply.
evilly, "'Ehhh .... what was that? Got nothing to say'. I threw away
the tongue and pierced its chest with my blade, slitting it open to
reveal a still beating heart. I ripped out the heart and held it as
it thumped away in my hand. Squeezing it, the blood flowed down my hand,
I told the monster, 'now you die.' But still the monster writhed beneath
me. I reached my bloodied hand into its chest and cut out its lungs.
But still the monster moved. So I reached inside once again and pulled
out its stomach, the guts trailing behind and cut those out with my
trusty rusty knife. I wrapped them around its neck, strangling it and
still it breathed. I picked up the skeletal arm and beat the ghoul's
head, but still it moved. What would kill this ghoul?"
I know... a wooden stake through its heart."
a vampire ... just a common everyday ordinary ghoul."
did you do?"
up, ran back to the car and used the trusty rusty knife to pick the
lock. Praying, I turned the key and the engine roared to life. I rolled
the car back and forth over that ghoul, squishing it into the gravel
until all the remained was a puddle of goo."
point Sarah added her two cents, "Ewwwww that's disgusting."
was, but the monster was dead and I was safe thanks to the trusty rusty
knife I had found."
about that for a moment and then asked, "I wonder who owned that knife?"
replied leaning forward to be nose to nose with her oldest niece, "Not
sure, but I think that maybe, some other kid had found that ghoul
and dropped it before they could use it.... in fact the skeleton arm
could've belonged to that kid." Katie shivered at the thought.
time for bed the story's over."
can I sleep with you, I don't want monsters to get me."
leave the light on too?"
I will put the nightlight on."
about me?" asked Katie. "No way am I sleeping by myself."
wanted a ghost story!"
Sarah gets to sleep with you so do I."
isn't room enough for three of us." Carol was now regretting having
told the tale if her sleep was going to be interrupted by her heat-seeking
missiles nieces that slept plastered to her side no matter how much
she moved them. "Okay, how about we all camp out in the living room.
We can sleep together on the floor." More like you fall asleep and
I head to the couch, she thought.
the nieces agreed and happily went about rearranging the blankets. They
went to the bathroom, brushed their teeth and settled in on either side
of their aunt. It wasn't long before tiny snores filled the air and
Aunt Carol carefully extracted herself from the twosome's grasp. She
carefully drew the blanket up around the two girls and then settled
herself on the couch. As much as she would've liked to head for her
bedroom, she knew that the two would be irate if they awoke alone in
the living room. Besides, she adored the two girls and a little discomfort
was better than grumpy nieces. Turning slightly she felt the lump in
her pants pocket. Reaching in, she withdrew a pocketknife ... a bit
rusty, but the blade still shone bright and sharp. Smiling to herself,
she carefully placed the knife on the nearby coffee table close at hand
if needed. Still my trusty rusty knife after all these years.
she always carried it with her every Halloween out of tradition, but
perhaps out of suspicion and a need for a good luck charm. You never
really know what goes bump in the night, now do you, until you find
yourself on a dark and isolated country road one Halloween night.
to the Academy