White Cats, interlude

..When I was young, my grandfather never liked cats. He didn’t mind me having a dog though. But I was more fond of cats. I asked him one day why he felt the way he did.

“…Because dogs keep the mad scientists away,” he said.

..It took a few minutes to get him to explain what he said…

“..When I was young, I thought I could go into the state park at night. I didn’t fear the dark, didn’t know the danger that stalks…

“You’ll never see the white fur which seems to glow in the dark, or the eyes that reflect your flashlight,” he said, “You will hear neither the purring that comes down from his perch, nor smell the ammonia stench of his white lab coat flowing.. You won’t feel the prick of the blow dart or be aware of where you land…

“You won’t recall the taste of dead leaves upon hitting the ground, or see Dr.Winter, the large green eyes, watching and making his plans…

“So don’t find yourself in his laboratory. Be careful when you venture at night. Always be watching the trees. For you don’t know when Dr. Winter is watching. Be careful when you hear the breeze…

“He’s always looking for new test subjects, he watches, waits for the unwary…

“So get a dog, get a dog, grandson, and keep Dr. Winter at bay.”

–from “The White Cat of the Labyrinthine Woods” by Tyger G. Caterwauling, Summer Sunny Squashmare Publishers, Topeka, Kansas 1985.

Jack ‘o lanterns, interlude

Good evening. Our car broke down a few yards back. May we come in to use your phone?

–from “Count the Pumpkin Skins,” the 1980s horror film about a vampire who gets turned into a living jackolantern, who then preys on unsuspecting teenagers.

Creeper Corner Films. Air date: October 1981

Flammable Darkness, Interlude

 

Sparks. Find something that makes more sparks. The black slime creature had evaded the sparks sent out by the broken portal generator.  June ran to her kitchen with a crazy idea.

In the kitchen June kept a brown paper bag full of sparklers. They were leftover from last year’s July 4th.  She grabbed the bag and her cigarette lighter and ran back to the utility room.

June smoked, but not in the house. She never let her son see her do it, knowing the risks and all the scary stuff cigs were supposed to do. For once her bad habit could do something to save her life.

A sparkler was lit. The creature’s slick body reflected the light emitted from the sparkler. It slowly backed away toward the wall. June threw the sparklers at the creature. Not good enough. The creature evaded it until the sparks went out. Then it started to advance.

June went for bear and lit all of the sparklers, throwing them at the creature. So many sparks, so much light.

There was an audible wail as the sparks did their damage. It didn’t take much to quickly incinerate the creature until it was all smoldering ash.

FOOM

The creature exploded like one of those puffball fungi, filling the room with black, purple, and blue smoke. The smell of death and rotting flesh and decay washed over the room. June, lightheaded, was covered in the ash and ran out of the room coughing and sick to her stomach.

The ash was filling the house. June had to get out of there. she ran to the kitchen, opened the door, and out of the house. the whole house was filled with the smoke and ash, becoming clearly seen by the neighbors. Someone called the fire department. An ambulance was also sent.

*

“Oh thank God you’re safe,” said June’s mother Carol. Along with June’s mother were Frank and Anne, friends of June. Their children had invited little Eddy to stay over. Eddy was there to visit too.

June had been sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation while fire and rescue personnel searched the house. The entire inside of the house was covered in black soot and it had been determined that the fire started in the utility room.

“What happened?” asked Carol.

“I don’t remember. Electrical shortage maybe,” said June, “I feel fine.”

“No, I mean what happened to your eye?”

There was a bandage on her eye. June touched the gauze lightly.

“It doesn’t hurt. I don’t remember it being here.”

In walked a nurse to check on June. she politely asked friends and family to leave the room. Then a tall man in a black suit with a white overcoat showed up. June assumed he was a doctor.

“Hello, ma’am. I’m Doctor Thomas Phasmid. In addition to your smoke inhalation, we’ve done some tests on the type of smoke. It isn’t anything we’ve ever seen.”

“Why is my eye covered?” asked June.

“Well that’s what baffles us,” said Dr. Phasmid, “It appears the smoke infected that eye, but we were unsure as how to treat it.”

“I feel fine.”

“You’re also on pain killers. The infection was spreading. We  removed the eye.”

 

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

 

Next page (stay tuned!)

previous page

It hungers, interlude

black swampflat

“Maybe I can contain it,” June said to herself, “The police will never believe me.”

The portal generator wasn’t through transporting and its small size meant it wasn’t built for something so massive. The creature in June’s utility room slowly crept toward her. It would never be satisfied with a single meal and viewed June as fair game.

June remembered she kept a gun in her hall closet. How long did she have? The thing wasn’t giving chase so far. June found the box and opened it. The gun was missing.

The portal generator kept processing. The creature’s body flowed through like black honey with various luminescent colors here and there. Perhaps it was a mistake to go this way? The creature was stuck where it was until all of it was through the portal. It turned around and examined the machine. Oh, fairly simple; you just press here to speed it up.

June searched in her room for the gun. It was on her night stand but unloaded. She just liked the security while alone in the house. Now with loaded gun in hand, she ran to the utility room.

The creature was about through the portal. The portal generator was now moving faster. Just a little more.

June saw the creature concentrating on the portal generator.

BLAM BLAM

Two shots were fired and hit the creature in the head and chest. They passed harmlessly through it and into the wall. The creature ignored her, it was so fixed on getting fully out. What if she destroyed the portal generator? Whartleburg would not be able to come home.

BLAM BLAM

The portal generator blew apart and immediately stopped its work. The remainder of the creature would stay on the other side forever. It was like a faucet was turned off. June had the creature’s full attention.  That faceless head slowly turned toward her.

The lights in the hallway flickered and went out. Then the lights in the utility room started to flicker. In the renewed darkness could be seen two points of faint white light from deep within the creature’s face.

June stared at the creature and immediately regretted having destroyed the one thing it that might have saved her life. She could still see the remains of the portal generator spew sparks.

June saw the thing move this way and that to evade any sparks. Sparks. She had an idea and ran for the pantry in the kitchen.

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

To the next page 

See Previous page

Coach Headsman, interlude

“Look, Luthar, unlike you, I don’t like being seen,” said the former basketball coach for Bernard Berenson Middle School.

Jeroboam Steadman had, in life, been the most celebrated Men’s basketball coach at Bernard Berenson Middle School in twenty years. The trophy cases were filled mostly because of his leadership.

At the very height of his glory days, Coach Steadman was killed in a terrible accident when a metal ceiling beam fell during a game. Rumor had it that coaches at rival schools paid to have the beams loosened.

The old gym was named Steadman Court, post-humous in his honor. A few weeks later it was no longer used for night games and a new one was built that year.

Newspapers stated the new gym was built for expansion sake and to invite new growth to the school. Off the record interviews stated a different reason.

Disturbing sightings started to surface in the old gym of a flying human head, behaving like a giant bat, in the furthest corners of the metal rafters of the ceiling.

Eye witnesses claimed it was Coach Steadman looking to make sure the bolts were tightened. Soon after students ventured inside the Steadman Court, saying “Watch out for Coach Headsman!”

Yet as a specter, Coach Steadman wanted little to do with haunting. He had been blessed with a rare type of Briostone that allowed him to remain in human form almost year round.

Instead of using a second chance at life to continue with a sports career, Coach Steadman could be found at his favorite sports bar “Irving’s,” seated on a bar stool and eating pretzels.

Gordon Luthar had located “Coach Headsman” Steadman and insisted that they meet. Luthar had forgotten that Coach Steadman was as curt a specter as he had been in life.

“Yes, I know you make your appearances complex,” said Luthar, “Which is why you are a member of the Unseen.”

“So what?”

Coach Steadman was eager to get back to watching the game.

“There’s a particular young man who wants to investigate the other specters on campus. You included. Do you mind moving your appearance date to the day after?”

Each specter was different in how they viewed being sighted without a decent Briostone. Some were fine with it. Luthar knew Coach Steadman found it embarrassing to be seen when he made an appearance.

“Sorry, Luthar,” said Coach Steadman, “I used to give you tribute every month, but now I answer to loftier authorities. The kid can see me or not. I really couldn’t care.”

“You have a membership with the Unseen only because of your unique class Briostone,” said Luthar, “It does not require much ether to work, so you make your ghastly self rarely seen. But rarest sightings generate the most ether.”

Coach Steadman sipped his beer with a shaky hand and stuffed a few pretzels in his mouth. His cool composure was fading fast.

There was a reason Luthar was able to sway all the specters on school grounds, hailing him with a tribute of ether each month. He had a way with words.

‘Why do you hide in here, Coach?” asked Luthar, “Who are you supporting that needs all that ether?”

“I’m tellin’ ‘ou noffin’, Luffar,” said Coach Steadman with his mouth full.

“I believe you said something similar to me before,” said Luthar, “Back when I offered to let you have your rare occurrence, in exchange for tribute. A small amount of ether given to me was all I requested. I ask it again. Unless you want to lose that goldmine, and, perhaps, anger whoever you’re working for.”

“No, you’re not serious. I’ve had that gym from day one!”

“I am not getting any tribute from you lately,” said Luthar, “Why should I let you stay on such a lucrative schedule?”

Luthar’s words finally soaked into Coach Steadman.

“Oh. Ok, so this a blackmail deal?”

“You know specters who are scarier than me,” said Luthar, “See what strings you can pull. I do not want Roger Flair to write anything revealing the truth about the school.”

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

Go to Next Page

Go to Previous Page

Not Scary Interlude

“Creepy?! No way, no how. I’m an honest businessman, and my wholesaler is a professional antiques dealer. But, I get what you’re saying. My product does have that unsavory rumor.”

After his daily run, Charlie showered, shaved, got dressed, and hurried out to door to work. He knew who would be expecting him at the office, dreaded it, and therefore wanted to get a head start to prepare.

On the way to work, he noticed the sky was clouding up. He’d forgotten his umbrella. It didn’t look like rain anyway.

Charlie’s office was on the third floor. He passed by the receptionist.

“Hi, Suzette, any messages for me?”

Suzette looked more of the classic school lunch lady then a receptionist: portly, mid-fifties, thick glasses, perm. Today she seemed very glad to seem her boss.

“There’s someone by name of Owlman here to see you,” she said as she handed her boss a cup of fresh coffee.

Charlie was already expecting him. “Thank you. I’ll handle it from here.”

Upon opening the door to his office, Charlie found a tall man of refined features, sharp angles on the cheekbones, chin and nose, and sharply dressed in an Armani suit and oiled hair. Francisco Owlman sat in a chair across from Charlie’s desk. A large bulky guy in a suit stood next to Owlman with hands folded in front of him.

“Good morning, Mr. Vandyrzash,” said Owlman. “I’m sure you know why we’re here.”

“Uh, yes, look, if you are here for counseling, fine, but don’t come in here trying to sell your creepy lamps.”

Owlman immediately feigned weakness and put his hands up.

“Creepy?! No way, no how. I’m an honest businessman, and my wholesaler is a professional antiques dealer. But, I get what you’re saying. My product does have that unsavory rumor.”

“Your product has caused more grief than help!”

“But you must admit, it is good for business is it not? How many people have you heard talk about some weird little man scrambling about in their room? In the kitchen? Or even under the bed?”

“They all speak about how they, or a loved one brought home this beautifully crafted sterling silver lantern, said to be over a hundred years old, and not to open the lid—”

“–Lest they let out the ‘Dyrnak’ or the ‘Ptyphyoth’ or even the ‘Ahmn’ that may or may not live inside it, or was trapped there by powerful wizards in another dimension, or whatever they want to believe. And it isn’t silver, it’s ceramic. I mean, c’mon, seriously, do you believe this stuff? It can’t open, if it doesn’t have a lid!”

“Mr. Owlman, whatever is causing stable people to suddenly become unstable and need my services is not something I welcome.”

“C’mon, look, see?”

He showed a ceramic lamp base that looked like an urn. The whole piece from top to bottom was glazed to mimic smooth silver. It was indeed beautiful to look at, like an exaggerated hourglass.

“Does it have a lid, or secret compartment? No. There’s nothing there that suggests anything. How do these people think that there’s a way to get inside it?”

“They break it,” said Charlie.

“What?”

‘There must be an opening, it’s a lamp base,” said Charlie. “They break it, get hold of some narcotic or whatever is inside, which causes those horrific hallucinations from which they never recover. Rather simple, very maddening. And illegal. Which is why I want you to stop selling them.”

“Ok, tell you what, I’ll have Brewkin here break one and we’ll show you the product is not the culprit, ok?”

The big guy took one of the lamp bases from a carrying case and smashed it on the ground.

“There’s nothing in the center here. Only cobwebs and dust.”

Brewkin blew into the hollow part of the broken lamp base causing dust to fly out the other side.

“See?” said Owlman, “There’s nothing inside—-!”

Suddenly the doors closed shut by themselves, followed by screaming on the other side of them. Poor Suzette.

“Aaw! Get off my back! Get off my back!” came the secretary’s panicked voice.

“Quick, open the doors!” said Charlie.

All three men tried to open the doors but they would not budge.  From behind them it felt like someone had opened a window, but there were no windows in Charlie’s office.

“Free at last,” came a sudden creaky voice. “Now to awaken my children.”

The other lamp bases started to break on their own, followed by their own “Free at last” comments.

“Now, let us depart, my children, away, to reclaim our beloved home—”

STOMP

Owlman suddenly found the source of the voice, a tiny, hideously pompous little man clinging to the wall, and squashed it with his shoe.

“Well, that’s one down,” he said. ‘About thirty to go!”

Excerpt from “What’s Trapped in Ceramic Lamps” from the book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

Wait for the End

I’d Rather Not, Thanks

Don’t come any closer or I’ll swallow him whole!” warns the monster jacket.

You decide to obey rather than defy, so you wait and don’t move. The monster suddenly realizes this and laughs as the bulge in the monster’s belly you knew was the trapped little boy suddenly disappears.

“Ha! I can’t believe it! You really believed I wouldn’t do it!”

The monster collapses even as he laughs at simply pulling the wool over your eyes. It is now just a large overcoat busily taunting you. Yet you immediately realize the child somehow found a way to escape. Even as the cackling overcoat continues to taunt, you see the boy run to his mother and embrace her.

The park ranger comes over and picks up the over coat.

“Hey, park ranger, can you believe this guy?”

“Zip it, Oswald!” says the ranger to the mouthy overcoat. Then he turns to you.

“Thank you for your help today,” says the ranger.

“What?! That guy just got fooled by an overcoat, and you congratulate him?”

He gives you a brochure.

“Have you considered becoming a park ranger?”

Your hike in the Park could be a full time job. But for now focus on today.

You realize your efforts to find the lost child. He’s back with his mother. But there are still some loose strings to tie up. Why was he kidnapped in the first place? Are there other children like him who are still out there? Will the perpetrators be caught? What about those other jewels? What will they open once collected?

Whoosh. zzt.

Something zips past you and hits the nearby marble of the park mansion. It’s a blow dart. The needle has stuck into the stone. Blue liquid oozes out of the vial of the needle from the blow dart and runs hissing down the wall.

Two more darts follow the first and also hit the wall behind you. You’re almost certain they’re aimed at you. But then you hear the marble stone begin to grunt and growl.

To your horror, the side of the mansion has formed a large humanoid figure. It pulls itself out of the wall, raises its arms in clenched fists, and bellows. It hungers.

“Holy cow, we’ve got trouble!” says the park ranger into his radio, “A marble animate, I repeat, a marble animate. Someone is targeting the mansion!”

The boy and his mother run back inside the mansion. The marble monster wants them, but the ranger gets its attention first. Other park rangers arrive on the scene and open fire with their guns. The marble animate doesn’t go down easily. It doesn’t need to move fast. The bullets hit their intended mark. They open into nets made from steel chains and their weight eventually begin to out weigh their target.

While the park rangers wonder what has happened, you see up in a nearby tree something white. He scratches his ears with his back feet and cleans his whiskers, checks his lab coat. You see him put a bamboo blow gun back inside his lab coat. Then he looks up and sees you. The white cat in a lab coat returns his gun to his coat and jumps down from the tree. He’s in no hurry. The cat casually walks behind the mansion and out of sight.

This is the crossroads where paths are woven,
Now is the place of a road newly chosen. **

*Beware of White Cats. They’re crazy.

*Desire for treasure outweighs curiosity.

–editor’s note: stay tuned, hikers!

Out here be monsters seen on your Hike in the Park.