Monday, October 31, 2011

The House That Murder Built

Oh, right. Halloween.

Once again, I disappeared for over a month and a half. More blog posts are coming, but things are clogged up, and for reasons that are surprisingly reasonable for once. This time, anyway.

But hey, I tossed something horribly spooky at you last year, so this year, you're getting a goofier, weirder Halloween short story again. And not very long, unfortunately. But then, short fiction is short fiction. In the least, though my short story output has been much slower this year, it hasn't halted entirely.

With how infrequently I update these days - frustrating as that is - feel free to think of this blog as a ghost. Ghost blog. You lose, Ghost Dad.

The House That Murder Built

Few things have annoyed the everycity nasties quite like Haunted Hill. Kids've called it that for generations because of its unusually large collection of menacing dead trees. They tend to continue to call it that even when they grow up to be all normal-size and partially covered in fur and all that nonsense. The problem is, there's nothing haunted about Haunted Hill. It's just a hill with a bunch of trees. Sometimes the grass gets overgrown, but Mr. Sanderson pops by about four times a year to take care of that.

You see, the everycity nasties never bothered to actually haunt Haunted Hill because it seemed too obvious. Everyone's going to expect ghosts and junk all over someplace specifically named for that. That's why you don't haunt there. You don't want to compartmentalize how you haunt and terrorize - that's a pretty good way to not scare anybody. They'll just avoid the place. Spooky is only spooky when it's unexpected.

"Oh look, there's a dancing skeleton with a hatchet or whatever." This is not the reaction you want. "Gee, I hope he doesn't dismember us or anything, what with his zero muscles and no gender. What's going on, technically an it?" Stop that!

The point of all this is, the everycity nasties are pretty annoyed. None of them really want to have anything to do with Haunted Hill, but this crap's getting out of hand. To resolve this point of annoyance, a gaggle of assorted ghosts, ghouls, mega-insects, and other miscellaneous creepy and disconcerting buggers have congregated on Haunted Hill to build a haunted house. Also, it's more of a mild incline than a hill. And roughly half of the trees that got it its name were cut down nearly a century ago during an unusually harsh winter. It's hard for anything lumpy to make much of an impression terrain-wise when you're haunting a piedmont region, I mean, why even bother? Scary things are all about angles askew. These monsters hardly amash can only really disappoint themselves and they know it.

Things are going okay, if you consider the fact that none of the creatures had an architectural degree or any handy boards with nails in them to be 'going okay.' But then, oh no! Not him! He shows up to get everybody off task! This is totally going to ruin what was probably going to go nowhere and lead to a lot of collective discomfort by replacing it with a slight variation on that very same discomfort!

None other than that accursed Greg, the socially awkward aspiring serial killer who has no human friends. The monsters let him hang out with them because they honestly just feel bad for him. He's shown up in a hockey mask. Come on, man.

"Oh look, here comes Greg," Creepula intones.

"Sorry I'm late, guys!" Greg huffs. "The community game ran long tonight." He pulls his hockey mask up, which still appears to be fresh out of the plastic. Not a trace of blood.

"Look, man," says Sledge, "you've gotta get better about these things. I mean, Brett over there drove all the way from his subterranean lair beneath Wall Street for this meeting. The least you can do is be on time."

Greg grins sheepishly. "I guess time just got away from me. Like it was a ghost. Or something."

"That's not an excuse," Gnarly-Tooth sneers. "Did you at least kill anybody on the way here?"

"I let an old lady cut in front of me in line for snacks. I mean, she kind of threatened me, but in a sense, I almost killed her with kindness. Responding to threats is totally a kind thing to do."

"Come on, Greg," Ghostly sighs. "We were just talking about this before you got here. I mean, you're a nice guy and all, and we get that it's not that easy making friends - hey, I used to be alive. But you're really screwing up the vibe we're trying to go for here."

"I'm trying really hard," Greg protests. "I'll kill somebody one of these days. Lots of people! I've just got the murderer version of that thing writers get - writer's block! I have a murder block. You guys totally get what I mean."

"None of us have ever had that. Ever." Creepula rolls her numerous eyes.

"I'll bring candy next time. That stuff's getting a big discount tomorrow. Surely some sugary treats will help you look past my transgressions," Greg offers.

"This is exactly what I mean," Ghostly groans. "Destroying humans is kind of our thing. Scaring them to death, scarring them for life, making them mysteriously disappear forever - you get the picture. We just don't feel that comfortable hanging out with a human who hasn't even committed to the whole murder thing. What I'm trying to say is, even we have our limits, Greg."

Greg shuffles his feet, putting on his best puppy-dog face.

"We gonna even start this haunted house thing or what?" Brett grunts.

"I've got a staple gun," Greg offers.

"Fine," Ghostly concedes. "Go get your staple gun. That candy next time had better be great."

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