Fried chicken, interlude

It’s scary, interlude

…When I’m busy researching how to write horror. Today it’s research on ghosts. I’m studying in my bathroom, on a rainy, quiet afternoon, and then my dog starts howling. Like he’s in pain. I’m getting hairs on the back of my neck standing up…

I get out of the bathroom and into the den just to find he’s trying to tell me our house guest is back to continue repairs….

–from an interview with renowned horror film director Teddy “Marsh Bob” Fobberman, on the topic of house guests his family would receive back when he was just starting out as a director. Recorded June 1998, Scared Coatwire Productions, inc.

Caramels, interlude

Caaraamels, Caaaaraaameels. Carrrrameeels!

from a scene in the new horror film, “54 Caramels” debue film director and culinary chef Waltz Fry-Marshmallow, ca January, 1998.

Dishonest, Interlude

Horus Corley calmly walked into Beth Azure’s bedroom. The cat sleeping on her bed stirred, immediately knew something was wrong.

“Hey there, baby!” grinned Corley. He flashed his surgically sharpened teeth. The cat arched his back, hissed, and jumped off the bed. Corley laughed as he watched the cat run down the hallway.

It only takes Pestilence Men two minutes to make their target sick. Horus Corley had been standing at the foot of the bed for a half hour. Despite his best efforts, Beth Azure slept soundly. Corley smiled his surgically sharpened teeth, but it was only a smile of embarrassment. He tried again.

“Heh, heh. I’m not sure what’s wrong. Have you simply have been taking more vitamin C this whole time? You keep sleepin’ like you’re dead. Well wake up!”

Beth, curled up like a little child, hugged her pillow like it was a teddy bear. Whatever she dreamed was pleasant enough to make her smile. Was it the warmth of the blankets?

“Why won’t you listen to me?!” shouted Corley. Then he covered his mouth. Shh. Don’t wanna get the rest of her family sick. They’re not on the list. Yet.

Aw, no. He heard coughing in the next room. Beth no longer smiled in her sleep.

“Com’n, fever up,” said Corley, “I got others to sicken tonight. Wait a minute—!”

He saw Beth put her hand on her ear to check something, then went back to sleep.

Earphones?!

Something Corley’s boss did not tell him was that Beth Azure always slept with earbuds connected to her phone, which played soft music all night.

“The Briostone coulda been useful tonight,” muttered Corley.

Despite their reputation, Pestilence Men, like delivery services, had to follow rules. Corley was presently invisible, incorporeal, and could not simply remove the earphones. Due to job ethics, the Briostone, which made Corley flesh and bone for a brief time, could not be used while on the job. So how would he accomplish his mission?

He’d just return the next night. He’d return as long as it took, until the night when Beth forgot to wear them, or something unfortunate happened to her phone.

When Corley left the house, he was contacted by his boss.

“Is the task complete?” asked the voice on the other line.

“Yeah. Sure is, boss.” Corley smiled, “She is sick as a dog.”

There was a long pause.

“It will snow tomorrow,” said the voice on the other line, “The snow makes everything better for us.”

From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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Unlisted, Tangible, Interlude

Principal Gordon Luthar winced as he removed his shirt. How could Horus Corley have left him with a terribly nasty knife wound on the shoulder, yet made a simple stroke with his fingers? Luthar never knew it was there until he got home that evening.

He got out the antiseptic and bandages and went to work. There. That should hold until the next tribute arrives. Tribute of ether from other specters allowed the Briostone to heal his body, but the next payment would not be due for another week.

“Gordy! Supper’s almost ready!” said his wife.

“Sounds good, Lucille,” called Luthar, “What is cooking?”

“We’re havin’ minute steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and steamed broccoli! And carrots!”

“Oh, baby! You KNOW what I like to eat!”

“Oh, I know what you LOVE to eat!” Lucille laughed.

Lucille and Gordon Luthar had been married for over 15 years. She had yet to discover his secret. Such was the skill of his Briostone. He was so alive it was like living forever. Perhaps, when she was near death, he could get a Briostone for her too?

The Briostones could, with various degrees, give its wearer the best of life and death. It could turn its wearer tangible, giving them the physical body to continue living as if they had never died, but keeping the advantages of being a specter. But that also means he or she is now susceptible to all the dangers of life. They could die, were vulnerable to attack from other specters, and therefore had to learn some form of defensive combat.

In Luthar’s case, his Briostone was among the Rare types. He could get dressed, have a wife, and run a school with all the demands being Principal required, at the cost of lesser specters paying him tribute.

Specters with Lesser type Briostones could not have the life that Luthar enjoyed. Not without lots of hard work to raid other stones. Consequently Luthar had many enemies.

Ether now flowed in the veins of specters, instead of blood, and it was what kept the Briostones from shriveling up. Merging them with other Briostones could make them more clear, increasing their skill.

Certain levels could be acquired from injecting ether into a Briostone to change it from common quality, to premium, to rare. But there was that certain level of quality that just could not be attained.

The Unique class of Briostones was legendary. They required far less ether to perform, which explained why the specters who had them never revealed themselves. Scarcity and random appearances were telltale signs that a specter had a Unique class Briostone. The more they showed, the greater the risk of being attacked and losing it.

Yet if Luthar could get his hands on a Unique level Briostone, merge it with his own Rare Briostone? Who knows what it would create!

Actually, it might blow up.

Never mind that, it’d still be cool to have one!

There were 23 other specters whose haunts were on school grounds. Luthar knew them all rather well. They all had agreed to give him tribute on certain days of the month. Some poor soul had written a children’s book about them. The teachers would never know how frighteningly real it was.

Yet that was a book on the specters who appeared most often. In reality, there were a few other specters in and around the school and the neighborhood. They did not appear as often and therefore were not considered as “scary” as Luthar, alias “Hector Hundred.”

The Unlisted group of specters appeared at first glance to be solo types. Their need to appear only happened when other flashier events happened, like New Year’s Eve, or in catastrophic events like hurricanes or tornados. In truth, they were a very tight-knit organization. Their level of danger was far greater than that of Luthar. That bothered him. They had to go.

All the occasional, strange phenomenon, without-a-trace stories were the work of the Unlisted group. They tended to have their meetings in abandoned buildings under heavy guard. But they never invaded onto school property. What if they ever did? Would the students be safe?

Luthar mused briefly if Corley was working for the Unlisted. Hmm. The only specter he knew that might know the Unlisted group members personally was the former head coach. He only appeared on a quarter moon. Or was it a half moon?

It didn’t matter. He showed up in human form, body intact, often enough at the local pub. Luthar hesitated, then looked up the number and reached for his home phone.

 

From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

Accidents Happen, Interlude

You knew already how this would end,” said Luthar.

Horus Corley held his hand to his face. He winced in pain, limping away.

“This isn’t over, Luthar,” said Corley, “Or should I say, ‘Hector Hundred.’ Perhaps your beloved school should learn the truth?”

“They will never believe the truth if it comes from a kidnapping thief,” said Luthar.

“Oh, well I’ll just take that to heart. I might take on the protective persona too.”

“But not without this,” said Luthar. He held Corley’s Briostone in his hand. The latest knife stroke removed it from Corley’s neck.

Corley looked wild eyed. He kept feeling for the Briostone. His beloved “children,” now free of his control, vanished. The specters’ dual for dominance was over.

“Thank you for your patronage,” said Luthar, “This will provide that I stay in charge a little while longer.”

Luthar held his own Briostone with Corley’s. The former absorbed the latter and became more translucent.

“Mine proves the stronger,” said Luthar.

“Oh, Yeah?  Well, watch your back, Luthar. Cause there are others. Just like me,” sneered Corley, “Know that we don’t like you as Principal. So watch. Your. Back!”

As he said it, he tossed something at Luthar. Instinctively Luthar dodged the projectile, but the missile was not seen or felt. What was it? Was it even real?

“What did you throw at me?!”

Corley only grinned surgically enhanced sharpened teeth. He tipped his fedora and vanished.

 

The local TV news had by now arrived and were able to cover Principal Luthar exiting the gutter drain with Shawn Skipperson. The seventh grader was taken to the hospital to make sure he was ok, which he was. At the insistence of the reporters, Luthar made a brief statement.

“Accidents happen,” he said, “I’m so glad it did not end in tragedy.”

One reporter asked why he went in himself.

“I’m principal of Bernard Berenson Middle,” said Luthar,  “It is my responsibility to look after ALL of my students. They are MINE, even as they are yours. Even the deviant skateboarders. Mr. Skipperson is important to me as everyone else.”

Roger was at home. He had finished his homework that afternoon and was working on an article. It wasn’t something he was particularly excited about: construction for a new building dedicated to science and math. The teachers and staff were mostly upset about it because it would take up parking space. It would take two years to build. Roger would not see it until his Sophomore year of high school.

But then Principal Gordon Luthar was on the news. Footage was seen of him coming out of a gutter drain with a boy in his arms. Apparently he had rescued the boy, who had been trapped. Somehow Roger could not believe that. There had to be more to the story than that.

Wait. There. It was brief. Roger paused the DVR. On Principal Luthar’s left shoulder was a red patch staining his dress shirt. Blood. Anything could have caused it. But in a gutter drain?

 

From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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Beyond the Gutter, interlude

Subsisssstence. More. Subsissstence,” was heard from far below in the darkness beneath the grate that would not open. Even further in could be heard the screams of a frightened teenage boy. The terror had reduced his emotions to that of a little child, squalling, wailing, whimpering—

And then silence that screamed infinite times louder.

 

Gordon Luthar wasn’t in his office and had gone for the day.

“Can you give me his home number?” asked Assistant basketball coach Mr. Hind to the secretary.

She gave Mr. Hind the number to Principal Luthar’s cell phone.

“He doesn’t like to be called unless he’s in the office,” she said, “But if this is an emergency, I think he’ll understand.”

“Thank you,” said Mr. Hind. He then called Principal Luthar.

“Hello, this is Gordon Luthar”

“Yes, Principal Luthar?”

“Indeed. Who is this?”

“I’m Jeffry Hind, the assistant basketball coach.”

“Oh yes. Congratulations on yesterday’s win.”

“Thanks. Listen, a young man has fallen into a gutter drain. There seems to be some trouble down there, and, well, I can’t get the grate open.”

How delightful, he thought.

“The grate is spring-loaded. Like a mousetrap. Have you called the local authorities?”

“Yes, I have.”

“You may not want to go down there yourself.”

“I feel it’s my responsibility,” said Mr. Hind.

“I insist. Call them anyway. If you feel you must help, there is a latch that unlocks the grate in one of the corners of the opening.”

Mr. Hind found a small knob in one of the corners, but it needed pliers to move it. A well timed strike with a crowbar set the knob to unlock. The grate opened like shutters in a window.

“Okay, it’s open,” said Mr. Hind.

“There should be other teachers still on school grounds at this hour. I will be right over. We may need to call the boy’s parents.”

Principal Luthar hung up first. A police k-9 unit drove up. An ambulance drove up a few minutes later.

When Principal Luthar drove up, paramedics, a fire engine, and local police had arrived on the scene. Yellow police tape was now sectioning off the area.

“I am Gordon Luthar, principal of Bernard Berenson Middleschool,” he said to the chief firefighter, “What is happening so far?”

“I tell you what, we’re havin’ a tough time finding the boy.”

“How so?”

“The drain opens up to the city sewers. The sewers go for miles. He could be anywhere.”

Luthar started to understand the situation. If the boy was not found and retrieved in a timely manner, then his plans would unravel. He’d never hear the end of it if the boy died. He had an idea where he could be found, but simply leading authorities would be suspicious.

Luthar waited until the firefighters went into the drain single file. He counted to 100. Then he went in himself.

In the drain it was cold and dark, but one could stand upright. The firefighters carried flashlights. A couple police officers went with them for protection. But they were going the wrong way. Trouble didn’t lurk that direction.

The Briostone, that Luthar wore around his neck, not only kept his physical appearance. It also helped him see in the dark, speak with other ghosts, and gave him a sense for danger. He went in the opposite direction as the authorities. Soon he was hearing what he wanted to find.

“Subsssistence,” could be heard in the next room.

“Simper, what are you doing?” said Luthar.

There was young Shawn Skipperson, huddled in a corner of a large room. Six feet above the ground he had been plastered with mud and filth to the wall, but was still alive and unhurt. His captor, a lemon colored, massive crocodile, stood there watching his prey. The real culprit couldn’t be far away.

“Horus!” said Luthar, “Horus Corley! Where are you?!”

Another yellow crocodile appeared out of the shadows of the room. Beside it, smiling wickedly, stood a squat little man. He was dressed in a trench coat and hat. His ears, which in life he had surgically altered to look long and pointed, stuck out from under his fedora. His purple lensed glasses concealed conniving eyes, and reflected light from another place.

“Is it time to visit me again already, Luthar?” said Corley, “I’ve paid my tribute.”

“The honor you had is now tarnished,” said Luthar, “Why have you captured one of my students?”

“C’mon, man,” said Corley, “My children gotta eat.”

“I normally let you have your fun,” said Luthar, “But your activity today is causing a scene. It is getting in the way of MY PLANS.”

“Look, man,” said Corley, “We’re hungry. Don’t you smell that? It’s liver. Liver! Fresh! Young! Liver!”

“I am asking nicely,” said Luthar, “Release the boy. Unharmed. Return him to his friends. Depart from this particular drain.”

Corley turned to his crocodile familiars.

“What do you think, Madison? Simper?”

“Sssusstain,” The two yellow crocodiles hissed. They had a sudden weird gleam in their eyes.

Luthar stretched out his arms. From his sleeves emerged twin daggers. He clanged them together to make sparks.

“This is MY school,” said Luthar, “You will cease this. Or I shall bleed your etherial blood dry.”

“You’re not the only one with a Briostone, Luthar,” retorted Corley, “How about if we got ether from you this time?”

Corley took out a single dagger from his coat.

SHING

The dagger extended two feet longer.

“Naw, sorry Luthar. I think we’re cozy right here.”

From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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