In honour of Halloween, I decided to resurrect a couple of Halloween related stories from my books and post them to my blog. Here is the first one, from Out of My Mind. Enjoy, and have a Happy Halloween.
Mourning Halloweens Past
R. Brian Campbell
The full moon was high in the night sky as the bat flitted quickly towards its destination. It hovered briefly over the All Hallows Inn, before descending. As it approached the boardwalk, it began to blur and grow, until it transformed into a tall, lean man, dressed entirely in black. As his feet touched down, he began walking swiftly to the entrance, his black cape fluttering behind him.
As he walked through the swinging door, he took in the room at a glance. Two demons were playing pool, both trying to cheat by using magic to manipulate the balls. Some ghouls were at a corner table, nursing steaming mugs of some concoction. At a central table, the vampire growled under his breath as his eyes rested on them. Clowns! For Hell’s sake, clowns, of all things! What is Halloween coming to?
He saw the werewolf sitting at the bar, wearing his standard ragged jeans and plaid work shirt; no shoes, of course. The vampire eased onto the seat beside him. “Good evening, Harry.”
“Hi Vlad,” the werewolf responded, his smile revealing sharp fangs. “How are you doing these nights?”
“I don’t know, Harry,” Vlad said, shaking his head sadly. “I’m a bit depressed.”
A witch materialized across the bar from Harry and Vlad. Her pointed hat was cocked jauntily to one side and her long, black hair was streaked with white. “Hey, Vlad. What’ll it be?”
“Good evening, my dear Abigail. By any chance, could I get a Bloody Mary?”
“Sorry Vlad, all out of Bloody Mary. How about some Bloody Victoria?”
The vampire shook his head. “Too bitter for my taste. Would you have any Bloody Anne left?”
“Sorry,” the witch responded. “I do have one bottle of Bloody Catherine left.”
“That will do fine. Thank you.”
“Coming right up.” Abigail turned to Harry. “How about you? Is there anything I can get for you?”
“I wouldn’t mind another plate of Lady Fingers with Sheep Dip, please,” Harry said with a grin, as he picked the last digit from the plate in front of him, stirred it in a bowl of crimson goo and popped it in his mouth, crunching the morsel happily.
“Coming right up.” She disappeared, leaving the vampire and werewolf on their own.
“Vlad,” a voice called out. “Good to see you.”
Vlad turned to see a spectre shuffling towards him, dragging a huge length of chain behind it.
“Marley,” Vlad said, his fangs gleaming in the lamplight as he smiled. “It has been centuries. How have you been?”
Marley shrugged. “Same as always. Still lugging around the old ball and chain.”
“Could I buy you a drink?”
The ghost shook his head. “Thanks, but no. It goes right through me.”
“I understand. It is good to see you all the same.”
“Good to see you too. I gotta shuffle off now. Places to go, people to haunt.”
“Take care, my friend.”
As Vlad watched Marley shuffle away, he saw some mutants come into the bar and join the clowns’ table. He hissed sharply.
Harry looked at him, concern showing in his yellow eyes. “What’s wrong, Vlad?”
“That’s what’s wrong,” Vlad grumbled, gesturing towards the table of young creatures. “Clowns, mutants, zombies, guys with masks and axes. What happened to All Hallows Eve?”
Abigail reappeared with their order. She shook her head as she set out their food and drinks. “Not like it was in our days, is it?”
“You had better believe it isn’t,” Vlad snarled. “When did these guys become the faces of Halloween? Seriously.”
Harry growled in agreement. “Used to be, seeing me turn from a man into a wolf would have people screaming in terror and running for their lives. Now you have to carry a chainsaw or a machete to scare someone.”
Vlad nodded. “You know, I can almost accept the zombies. After all, they are rooted in voodoo rituals going back a few hundred years. In some ways, they are at least traditional.”
Harry added, “Even the mutants have a bit of a history too, going back to the days of Frankenstein and Dr. Moreau. But now it isn’t magic or science experiments gone wrong. Now it is all nuclear war, bombs and radiation.”
“Even when they do have a traditional monster, they do it all wrong,” Vlad hissed. “What is this crap about vampires sparkling in the sunlight? Have you ever heard of such nonsense?”
“Exactly.” Harry agreed. “What in Hell’s name is a zombie apocalypse anyway?”
“And when in Hell did clowns become scary?”
“Keep it down guys,” Abigail warned.
But their complaints had already reached the table of young monsters. One of the clowns, a tall, misshapen guy, with flaming red hair, an evil grin painted on his face and a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth, turned and smiled wickedly at Vlad and Harry. “Do you Old-Worlders have a problem?”
“Old-Worlders?” Vlad and Harry shouted in unison. They both stood up, Vlad hissing in anger and Harry’s fur bristling as he bared his claws. The clowns and mutants stood up as well, some of them raising weapons. Suddenly Abigail was between them, glaring at each in turn.
“Hold on! Rein it in there gentlemen.” Abigail ordered. “There’ll be no fighting in my bar. Now sit down! All of you!”
Vlad turned to her. “But…”
She put a finger to her lips. “Shhh. Let me handle it.” She snapped her fingers. “Salem!”
A black cat ambled delicately down the length of the bar, leapt off the edge and transformed into a slim, raven haired young woman before lightly touching down. She turned to face Abigail. “You called, mistress?”
A tray of shooters had materialized on the bar. “Yes. Please deliver these to my young guests at the centre table. Tell them it’s on the house.”
“Yes, mistress.” She expertly hefted the tray in one hand and sauntered over to the table.
The clowns and mutants accepted the drinks with a rousing cheer. The tall, misshapen clown raised his drink in a toast to Abigail, Vlad and Harry. They all downed their drinks at once. Suddenly, there was huge cloud of smoke, entirely obscuring the table. When the smoke dissipated, the table was occupied by an army of large, loud, croaking frogs.
Abigail cackled merrily, as she rubbed her hands together. “Ha! I’ve still got it. Salem, please gather those creatures up and bring them to the kitchen. See that none get away.” She turned to Vlad and Harry. “How do you gentlemen feel about frogs’ legs?”