(adopts best John Kassir Crypt Keeper Voice)
Happy Halloween, Stitchers! Here’s hoping you’re having an excellent one so far. To assist with the spookiness of this hallowed evening, we’ve got a pumpkin-full of treats for you. We begin the festivities with Halloween on Charleston Street by Nick Paschall, followed by He Came Home by Briana Robertson. This is followed by a selection of poetry by Lance Fling (All Hallows Eve), more from Briana (Vampyre’s Embrace, Phobia and Campfire) and, to finish off, a little ditty by yours truly.
If you’re feeling charitable this Halloween, I’ll take this opportunity to plug the latest release from Stitched Smile – It’s called Hydrophobia, and is an anthology of water related horrors, with all proceeds going towards the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
But, without further ado, let’s bring on the horror – happy Halloween and… #StayStitched!
Halloween on Charleston Street – Nick Paschall
Erin walked down the twisting road with a sigh on her lips and thoughts of costume parties and boys prancing in her head. Instead of enjoying Halloween like any normal teenager would, she was stuck trick-or-treating with her younger brother, Bradley. Bradley was only eight years old and couldn’t be trusted to go out into the wide world alone on Halloween night, what with all of the dangers that modern society presented to little boys. Their mom worked the night shift at the hospital, and their dad… well; they hadn’t seen him in years.
So, it all fell to Erin, yet again, to sacrifice her own time for that of her younger brother. Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she stopped and checked the time on her phone, pulling at her jacket to try and keep her warmth in and the chill of the night out. Looking around as she noted it was getting rather late, she let out a sigh as she couldn’t spot her little brother.
“I vant your blood!” Bradley squealed as he dramatically threw his cape over himself, the cheap polyester flapping in the breeze as it flew around him as he ran up from behind her to scare her.
…her younger brother who was really getting on her nerves. He’d decided to go dressed as a vampire this year, insisting on having his face made up (which was actually kind of fun) and being dressed in tatty old clothes and a cape that he’d made Erin cut up partially (which was no fun at all), to look older. In all honesty, he looked like a little drag queen with a cape, but she knew he was enjoying himself and didn’t want to ruin his night out.
“Come on goofball, one more street and then we’re headed home.” Erin sighed with a smile, grabbing the little boy by the back of his cape to slow him down. He shot her a sad pout before nodding slowly.
“Let’s go down this street! This street!” He cried, pointing across the street to a dead end lane full of darkened houses, all of which seemed to be older than the rest of the neighborhood.
“I don’t know Brad, nobody looks like they are up for Halloween on this street. Why don’t we try another one?”
“But I wanna go down this one!” Bradley petulantly cried, shaking his pillowcase full of candy. “If they’ve closed shop, that means they have candy left over that nobody else is going to get!”
Turning down Charleston Street, Erin pulled her phone and checked the time. Looking to Bradley, his bag stuffed with snacks and candies, she smiled a little. “Alright twerp, this is the last street before we head home, okay?”
“Okay!” Bradley gushed, prancing off ahead of Erin towards the end of the road, where a circle of houses closed off the cul-de-sac. All of the homes were darkened, with warped wood cracking off the sides of the buildings and old porches with rusty hanging seats and creaking rocking chairs, swaying in the cool night’s breeze.
Erin walked slowly behind, noting the lack of children in the area. It was only eight o’clock, plenty of time for the little boys and girls of the neighborhood to go about collecting candy. Idly keeping an eye on Bradley, Erin opened to the internet on her phone to look up the street they were on, a game she’d been playing all night to keep herself entertained. She’d found a site that had the blocks listed with who have the best candy, and who to stay away from.
As she entered the first half of the word, her smart search finished the street name for her. Strange… it normally only does that if the street is famous… Erin thought to herself, clicking on the first link to pop up.
“Erin, are you coming or what?” Bradley cried out, stamping his foot as he stood beneath a lamppost, the circle of light casting deep shadows around him.
“Yeah, I’m coming…” She replied, walking briskly to catch up with the young boy. “Just go to the first house already, I’ll stand on the sidewalk and wait for you.”
“Okay!” Bradley agreed, running up the path to an older two story house, the wood rotting from the walls. Faded lettering on the side of the door next to a flickering light showed it to be 9311.
Looking back to her phone, Erin smiled as the website had finally loaded. Scanning over the page, she saw an image that made her sick to her stomach. An old black-and-white photograph of seven sheet-covered bodies, all small and fragile looking, being wheeled out of the very house she was standing in front of. True, the house was in a better state of repair, but the yard was almost an exact replica of what it was now, a single tree standing over an overgrown lawn strewn with large stones.
“Cannibal of 9311” the title of the screen read, an article detailing the horrors that had occurred at the house in the early 1960’s, all at the hands of a supposed Satanist.
“While over thirty bodies of local children were found, the resident of 9311 Charleston Street was never located, one Anne Shipley,” Erin read aloud, more curious than anything else, “All residents that have lived in the house since the 1962’s murders have reported ghostly hauntings and apparitions. No one family has lived in the house for more than six months.”
Scrolling down the tiny screen, she saw the story continued, giving a different account of all the different children that this woman was supposedly linked to and how she would prey upon them. “Per authorities, Anne Shipley would entice children into her home on Hallows Eve, or kidnap them in the weeks leading up to the night. Then she would perform satanic and profane rituals on them, cutting out their hearts. What she did with the organs is hard to say, as more than forty-two were found in mason jars in her attic while only seven bodies were discovered the night the police raided her home.”
“The resulting search of her property turned up the thirty-one bodies of different children, bringing more mystique to the case as the question remained: where were the other bodies hidden?”
Looking up sharply, she watched as Bradley knocked on the door, which creaked beneath his tiny fist. Walking across the lawn to go and gather her brother, perhaps to take him to a different street with less of a history, Erin cried out as she caught her foot on a root, tripping and falling into the messy and unkempt yard, her forearm striking one of the lumpy rocks.
“Ow…” She grumbled, looking back at the root that had tripped her. Her ankle throbbed and her arm stung from where she’d scraped it, Erin already feeling them both swell from her blonde moment. Trying to sit up, Erin sank into the ground as if it were nothing but mud, the dry grass cracking as it gave way to her weight. Panicking, she reached out and grabbed the rock, pulling on it to try and gain some leverage from mud sliding beneath her, keeping her from finding purchase.
“What the…?” She said as the rock popped out of the mud with a sickening sucking noise. In the darkness, she could tell the rock was shaped oddly, and very light. Tossing it aside, she looked for something else to try and save her.
Reaching up to grab hold of the side of a tree close to her, Erin pulled herself up to her knees before she felt a familiar tugging on her jeans. “What the hell is wrong with this yard?”
Looking down, she screamed as she found not a root taking hold of her jeans, but a small, skeletal hand. Yellowed bone, encrusted with mud, had emerged from the yard like a serpent from the sea, grasping her jeans in a horrid vice-like grip. In horror, she watched as a dozen more hands emerged from the muck, grasping onto various parts of her, pulling her back down into the mire with a frightening strength. Looking around, Erin saw the stone she’d tossed aside and reached for it, scooping it up, intending to bash the limbs with it to free herself
“Bradley!” Erin screamed, looking up for him as she brought down the stone on one arm. “Call for help!”
Looking up, expecting to see Bradley looking on in horror, all she saw was the front door of 9311 closing with a slam, an audible locking noise coming from the ancient door. Her attention turned back to the arms pulling her deeper into the mud as soon skulls emerged from the depths of the slickened stew, eyes glowing a faint sapphire as they stared at Erin with the curiosity possessed only by children. The rock in her hand slowly emitted the same blue light, showing that she’d been using a skull to try and batter away the skeletal horrors that were climbing up her body.
“Trick… or treat…” The skull whispered from her hands, the jaw clacking as faded teeth ground against each other. The voice was wheezy and high-pitched, with the eyes glowing brighter by the second.
“Treats! Treats! Treats!” One skeleton cried, grabbing her shirt with muddy bones, ripping it partially as it struggled to pull her deeper into the mud.
“Another one for the party!” Another skeleton cried, clawing at her face, leaving three deep gashes along her cheek.
“But she’s too old to party!” Yet another skeleton chimed in as it pulled her legs deeper into the muck, submerging her lower half.
“Mrs. Shipley says you’re never too old for a party,” A fourth skeleton said, its childlike voice wispy. “Plus, she has another kid in their right now, so we’ll have another playmate soon enough!”
Erin screamed as two skeletons grabbed her arm, pulling it down into the molten earth with them while a third began pulling her head beneath the bubbling surface. Her free hand holding the skull shook violently as she inhaled a lungful of mud, spitting and coughing as she forced herself up from the slime.
“Don’t resist,” the skull in her hand said. “We’re all ready to play with you, just like we’ve done with the last dozen kids who’ve crossed the yard on Halloween. They all hate it at first, but soon enough they join the party. You will too!”
And with that the skull twisted in her hand, biting down on her fingers with jagged teeth. Whipping her hand back and forth, she threw the skull out onto the grass of the yard, where the bubbling mud swallowed it down until the crown was all the could be seen, a lumpy grey stone to anyone who didn’t know any better.
Erin screamed as her shirt was torn in half, her other arm grappled by a pair of skeletons that had once been children no older than seven. A larger one, perhaps the body of a teenager, rose from the muck, a dirty knife in it’s hand and a wicked gleam coming from it’s azure eyes. “We must make you ready,” it said with a hint of glee. “Mrs. Shipley likes us all to be carefree, without the weight of the world on our shoulders or sin in our hearts.”
Erin didn’t know what to say to that until the blade was plunged into her chest, the serrated edge freezing her skin as blood gushed out. Grabbing her shoulder to brace her, the undead began sawing a hole in Erin’s chest as she screamed herself hoarse, the pain excruciating. After the longest minute of Erin’s life passed, the skeleton pushed into her mangled torso, mud mixing with the torrent of blood streaming from her body. She could feel the icy digits probing about inside her until it finally settled behind her left breast.
She felt it squeeze her heart, before yanking hard.
Her vision went white for a moment, a silent scream desperately trying to free itself from the confines of her throat as the butcher’s skeletal arm slowly emerged from her chest with the pulpy red muscle. A smaller skeleton rose from the mud, a mason jar in hand filled with a clear fluid, streaks of slime and dirt marring the glass.
“Thank you,” the butcher said after the laughing skeletons unscrewed the lid. He considered Erin’s eyes for moment before letting out a low chuckle. “Welcome to the family!”
Punctuating the statement by forcing her heart into the solution within the jar, Erin suddenly felt… dizzy. Her blood was still flowing freely, but her limbs felt lighter than air, while her head was fuzzy. Letting out a drunken giggle, she looked to her arm with fascination as the skeletons began peeling the skin and muscle from her bones, the bloody pulp falling into the mud and sinking quickly.
Her giggles slowly turned into full-blown laughter as the little skeletons tickled the flesh from her bones, ripping organs and muscles free from her body, hair falling out in great clumps as her eyes popped, her vision flooding with blue light. The mud felt warm now, and welcoming. She stopped struggling and began to help flense her body of the remaining meat, tossing it aside like yesterday’s garbage. The little ones cheered, clapping their bony hands together as she reveled in her freshly freed form.
The mud, churning like the waters of a hot tub, slowly began to rise up, pulling the skeletons down into the yard. The laughter began to die on the wind, Erin’s girlish screams of delight matching the screams of fright coming from the house.
Strange… she thought. I think I’m forgetting something… oh well, time to have some fun!
The yard swallowed her whole, the grass growing back over the bare dirt a dirty yellow and brown, the tree twisting in the wind as it blew down the abandoned street, carrying the cries of a lone child that would soon join the herd beneath the yard.
He Came Home – Briana Robertson
We both knew he was going to sit up. Lord knows, we’d sat in my living room time and again, lights off, knees up to our chests, watching Michael Myers slice and dice the babysitters and their boyfriends. More times than I could count. So we knew. Of course we knew. Still, when he did rise, then slowly turn his head to stare at Jamie Lee Curtis, we both squealed.
“Get up, get up, get up!” I muttered the phrase under my breath with pressing urgency. As if she could hear me. As if it would make any difference. Even now, knowing what would happen, I almost believed if I said it enough times, the sequence of events might change.
“He’s coming, Laurie, oh my God, he’s coming! Get up. Get up. Move, dammit!” My best friend Rachel clapped her hands over her mouth; whether it was because she’d cursed–which she usually didn’t–or because she’d shouted–which might wake my parents, already asleep upstairs–I didn’t know. Either way, I giggled. She looked at me, let out a rush of breath, and smiled. The moment of levity eased the rising tension.
Still, when Michael slashed the butcher knife at Laurie, and she tumbled over the bannister and down the stairs, we clutched each other’s arms, deliciously terrified.
We watched with bated breath until the last creepy moment, when Donald Pleasence peeked over the balcony to see nothing but an empty lawn. Michael Myers had defied death, fated to kill again and again. As the eerie theme played, and the credits rolled, I turned to Rachel.
“Have you tackled that algebra homework for Ms. Reed yet?”
“Are you kidding? You know me better than that, Bri. I’m a procrastinator. I’m not planning to start on that stuff ‘til Sunday night.”
I grinned. It was true. Rachel and I’d had the same schedule all through middle school, and she always put her homework off until the last minute. I was the opposite; I preferred to get my homework done and out of the way, free to enjoy the rest of my weekend without a figurative sword hanging over my head.
“You ready for bed?” I shook my head at Rachel’s question. It was nearly one in the morning, but it would probably be at least two before we went to sleep. Neither of us would ever come out and admit it, but we were both always a little on edge after watching one of the “Halloween” films. We’d seen them all, and we knew Michael Myers didn’t exist. Still, it took a little while for reality to set back in.
We were cuddled into opposite corners of the couch, discussing our plans for the upcoming eighth grade dance, when a ghostly figure drifted through the doorway. Rachel screamed. I jolted at the unexpected shriek, then followed her gaze across the room.
A tall figure stood there, draped in a white sheet, with thick, black-rimmed glasses on, and an old, white, slinky-like phone cord wrapped around its neck.
“Geez, Mr. Feicho! It doesn’t matter how many times you do that, it still always scares me to death!” Rachel was panting, a hand clutched to her chest.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. My dad had been pulling this stunt ever since Rachel had first come over. And she was right; no matter how many times he did it, she always screamed, convinced it was the Shadow, come to life. Still, he usually waited until the morning, catching us just as we were waking up. It was a bit weird for him to come down this late at night; he and mom definitely weren’t night owls. I shrugged it off. I’d never be able to explain what went on in that man’s head.
“Hey Dad, what’s up?”
He didn’t answer, drawing the charade out. I smirked. It as so like him, never wanting to give the joke up, even after the punch line had been said.
We waited. So did he.
Finally, Rachel gave up. “Well, after that nice little scare, I need the bathroom. I’ll be right back. ‘Night, Mr. Feicho.” She was just walking past him when I caught the gleam flash in the glow of the TV’s blue screen.
Suddenly, the scene didn’t make sense. Rachel slid down the door frame, her throat slit wide, blood spurting in fountains from the gash. She didn’t scream. She couldn’t. But she gurgled as crimson bubbles popped from between her open lips. Her eyes widened in shocked terror.
“R-Rachel?” She looked across the room at me; her eyes went flat, and her head lolled. Turning, I took in the sheeted figure, a bloodstained knife in his hand. Now I screamed. The high-pitched shriek tore at my vocal cords, shredding them. I leapt from the couch, looking frantically for somewhere to run. There was nowhere to go.
Even if he heard me, it would be too late. He’d never get to me in time.
“Daddy, help me!”
Then a gloved hand, cloaked in white, gripped my throat, and the thick blade thrust into my gut. The shriek cut off. The knife ripped free, then stabbed again. A third time. And again. Finally, he let go, and I collapsed to the floor.
My vision darkened.
“Daddy. D-d-daddy.” The word was barely a whisper now, my breath coming in shallow pants. As I lay there, dying, in a pool of my own blood, I watched the man who was not my father flip the latch, turn the knob, and calmly walk out my front door.
Vampyre’s Embrace – Briana Robertson
seduced by the sounds
tripping from his tongue
fascinated by the fangs
lurking beneath his lips
beguiled by the blood
smearing his smile
she craves his kiss
a nibble of neck
wanting the wetness
leaking between legs
seeking the strike
that burning hot bite
which drives into death
bringing life after life
All Hallows Eve – Lance Fling
A laughing breeze that bends green blades, towards valley floor encased in shade.
Where honeysuckles dance in pairs, aside a stream where no one dares,
to tread the path now long forgot, for fear their footfalls will be caught,
on red-stained earth of battles fought, where stones stand witness to affairs.
And blood was spilled without a thought, to cross to Hell with full-paid fares,
an ancient battle now laid bare
The ring of swords can still be heard, upon a wind like whispered word.
An ancient Stonehenge as their bed, a monument to countless dead.
Branches tremble in a gust, descending leaves alight on rust,
of armor, long since gone to dust. And olden cries can still be heard
of battles and their bloody thrust, as souls glide down without a word;
landing softly as a bird.
Around this henge, the druids stand, footsteps stirring up the sand.
A thinning veil begins to part, wizards practicing their arts.
Calling dead from other planes, by their deeds or warrior names.
Ghostly generals stake their claims, as phantom swords pass through their hearts,
translucent heads that hang in shame, for the slaughter and their part,
in carnage, they had dared to start.
At moonlight’s rise, the veil did break, ghostly armies now awake.
To charge onto the battle ground, hoping that retreat will sound.
Druids poised inside the ring, hear phantom axes start to sing,
to solid world they barely cling, no earthly purchase to be found-
seeking peace that death can bring. As living watch from all around,
straining hard to hear each sound.
Moon descends beneath the ridge, starlight comes to light the bridge,
where dead souls, their battle done, start crossing with the rising sun.
Druid’s ring in hooded cloaks, break their circle in the smoke,
dismissing those that they awoke, the ancient battle finally done.
All Hallows Eve, the spell is broke, armies fade though no one won,
all flee before the morning comes.
A laughing breeze that bends green blades, towards valley floor encased in shade,
brings word to ear, from far to near,
of battles fought against next year.
Campfire – Briana Robertson
as though tickled
by the fickle
flickers of flame.
The air swelters
as fire melts
the sticky sweetness
noses are assaulted
a spiced incense
to the eyes.
Leaves dance and prance
in a whistling wind,
for the voice
with tales to spin.
Stories of things
that bump in the night,
of creatures that elicit
a freakish delight.
as flames shrink,
and the voice dies off
leaving only grim
of dawning light.
Phobia – Briana Robertson
A bitter chill sets in.
Eight hairy legs
carry eight evil eyes
as it scurries
and sidles closer.
Cold sweat beads
trickling along icy skin,
and the scream is caught
as terror engulfs.
the spider in its wake
as it knowingly creeps
steeped in fear.
as essence slips away,
retreating from the
which is all that remains
of a phobic hell.
The Candied Treats of the Necronomnomnomicon – David Court
A thousand ships are shipwrecked, adrift on stygian shores,
Their billowing sails all stripped and gone, but he’ll need a thousand more,
Until he’s all the white ones, they’re the ones he needs the most –
To sew them in the costume of a thousand-foot-high ghost
He didn’t eat the sailors, he left them all to drown,
He’s saving space for candy which he’ll greedily gulp down,
In his house at R’lyeh, dread Cthulhu is dead keen,
To go out trick-or-treating on this special Halloween.
Shub-Niggurath is coming too, he’s dressing as a bat.
If Hastur’s mum will let him out, he will be wearing that
flat-headed outfit he insists is one of Frankenstein.
“That’s the doctors name”, they all maintain – Hastur’s so asinine.
Yog-Sothoth can’t come tonight, he’s feeling rather peaky,
Stabbed by some investigators, that made him somewhat leaky,
Curse his vulnerability to that damned enchanted sword,
He’s at the local hospital, stuck in Charles Dexter Ward.
It’s a rare old treat for Elder Gods, this special celebration.
Herbert West’s prepared the drinks, a special green libation
“With qualities”, he proudly boasts, “of great rejuvenation”.
(Presented in a punch-bowl full of green illumination).
And if that band of Elder Gods end up upon your street
And you are faced with that grave choice, I urge you to say “Treat”.
Be sure to be insistent as you won’t be asked again –
A trick from Cthulhu and his pals can render men insane.
Halloween ends; Our Elder Gods are all clutching at their chests
To shed this heartburn and belly-ache will take a lengthy rest.
Cavernous bellies full of jellies, candies, chocolate, cake and pie
That, which is now full of sweets, can now eternal lie.