Artwork by Jimmy Boring
About two years ago I started to write a short Halloween story to put on the blog. For some reason, most likely laziness, I never completed it and it lay forgotten in a notebook. So, this year, as Halloween approached, I remembered it and dug it up and made a few changes and decided to finally post it. It's not spectacular, or particularly good, just a weird, somewhat humorous tale of holiday decorating gone perhaps a bit too far, depending on one's particular tastes in such things. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe get a little chuckle out of it.
Gunther had worked feverishly the past week, setting-up and perfecting every little detail of the Halloween display that had slowly transformed his meticulously manicured front lawn into a necropolis of unimaginable horrors.
Still, there was much more that needed done yet, and time was quickly running out. The judges would be by tonight to evaluate and score his hard work, and this year he was certain he would take the top prize for best display. He had worked tirelessly, put many months of painstaking planning and effort into it. He just had to win. He was determined he would.
Gunther looked out through the large picture window at his work so far, only to witness a handful of thieving crows atop his centerpiece, missing the irony it being a scarecrow. They went about happily plucking delectable eyes from the holes of the masked corpse, trailing optic nerves wiggling free from their sockets like groups of long bloody worms.
“Oh, you little bastards!” he yelled, running for the door. Gunther flew from the porch, arms waving furiously, scaring the vile creatures off, fearing they had ruined his wide-eyed scarecrow and any chance he might have had at winning first prize.
Gunther thoroughly inspected the damage to the figure, which stood proud and impaled upon a blood slicked post, front and center facing out toward the street. He was relieved to find the scavenging crows had in fact, if anything, improved upon the look he was striving for. Newly dislodged chunks of gore dangled from ragged eye holes between the battered and frayed burlap mask, giving the totem a new sense of wicked blight. He liked it. No, he absolutely loved it!
He raised a friendly hand into the crisp autumn air, saluting his new carrion eating friends, who still circled high overhead, no doubt eyeing other prospective meals from neighboring sections of his yard display. Perhaps taking a newfound fancy toward the neatly de-skinned gentleman that hung festively from the corner oak tree on an oversized and rusty meat hook.
Gunther went about his preparations with military-like precision. No detail, no matter how slight or seemingly insignificant, went unnoticed, unattended to.
The yard was festooned with a plethora of Jack-O-Lanterns that Gunther had made himself, lovingly hollowing out dozens of skulls. He lit candles within each one, the flickering light dancing playfully about, glowing a beautiful sunset red through the voided eye sockets.
From the depths of the basement, he carefully carried up his old woman corpse. She was his oldest, most fragile piece, having dried to a delicate dusty shell that smelled like nutmeg and old leather shoes. She was his favorite, so grandmotherly in appearance and smell. He supposed she very well could have been, most likely had been, someone’s grandmother at one time. But now she was his, and during Halloween she had always taken on the roll once again for children all over the neighborhood. Gunther set her in a creaky old rocker on the front porch, leaving the lattice work of a year’s worth of spiders webs intact to complete the look. He fluffed up the ancient lace collar of her dress, picking away the stray strands of brittle grey hair that tangled in the pattern, fixing what was left of the hair that still clung in a tight bun to the dry skin of her scalp. She had always been the perfect prop to use as candy distributer. Gunther placed a large silver bowl full of treats in her bony lap and gingerly contorted her dry brittle fingers so that they appeared to be grasping the sides. Her eyes had long since sunk and withered to dust, deep grey wrinkles taking their place like puckered lips, as if her eyes were now smiling.
Gunther had filled the silver bowl, like always, with his best Halloween treats, relishing the sound they made as they plopped against the cool metal. Candied eyes, caramel coated fingers, brightly colored kidney balls, and of course his favorite, chocolate toffee stuffed tongues. It was a festive treat bowl if he ever saw one. The trick-or-treaters would no doubt swarm his house once word got around tonight.
Just as Gunther was inspecting the last of his work, approaching footsteps echoed along the sidewalk, crunching through dry leaves. From the darkness appeared five well-dressed individuals who stepped up to his front gate sporting wide smiles each. The judges had arrived.
Gunther was all smiles, ear to ear, as the judges ooh’d and ahh’d over his yard displays, commenting over and over again at how incredibly life-like everything was. They praised his custom Jack-O-Lantern skulls and their uniqueness, and were especially pleased with the masked scarecrow centerpiece, looming over it all. It looked as if his hard work and perseverance was going to finally pay-off.
One of the judges let out a shrill scream, followed by nervous laughter. “Sorry,” she said. “It just moved and brushed against my leg. Very effective.”
Gunther looked quizzically at the object in question, a twisted corpse rising half out of a burial plot. The corpse, which obviously now seemed wasn’t a corpse at all, moved again, twitching a bloody arm, its fingers raking through the grass. As he approached it let out a soft, exasperated moan. It was ruining his display and he was none too pleased and morbidly embarrassed.
“Excuse me,” Gunther said, mortified by this most unfortunate oversight. He grabbed hold of an axe that was lodged firmly into the torso of a young girl laid atop a fake boulder, and with a grunt pulled it free and returned to the twitching grave corpse.
With the axe raised high over his head, Gunther brought it down swiftly, forcefully, and repeatedly with maniacal determination, slicing into the corpse’s back with bone crunching whumps. Blood and gore flew about in a widening arc, covering himself as well as the five judges, who all gasped in wide-eyed unison. Intestines oozed out from the corpse’s gaping mouth, and alas the cursed thing twitched no more.
The now bloodied judges stood frozen in place, silent, looking at the axe now buried to the hilt in what little remained of the grave crawling corpse. And, as if a switch had been thrown, they all simultaneously began to applaud and cheer, elated in the efforts Gunther had endured to deliver such a realistic and original interactive yard display. Smiles erupted from faces running and dripping with blood.
“This is a first rate display,” said one judge as he wiped away blood from his forehead.
“First prize without a doubt,” said another.
Gunther beamed with pride, his first place ribbon pinned proudly to the front of his gore splattered shirt, and he began thinking about the Christmas display he had planned.