Spooktober is a 31 day event of coming up with original horror ideas based on prompts my writing group argues over. These are my entries.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #18 — Revenant
TITLE: Len Ross
PREMISE: My parents were messed up people with an out of control life and three kids to haul around. To get by they sometimes had to rely on help from parents that they did not love. When we moved from California to Washington when I was very young, that meant switching from the paternal grandparents to the maternal set.
My sister’s birthday came around shortly after we got to this state. Grandparents got her a gift – a cabbage patch kid, as was the thing at the time. This was upsetting to my brother and I, then something like five and seven years old. Why does she get something and we don’t? We had been getting gifts at xmas, but all we got at b’days was cake. We didn’t know birthday gifts were a thing.
To settle the acrimony, at some point my brother and I got cabbage patch kids. Mine had hair made of little peach yarn loops similar to the color of his skin, and was named Len Ross. I don’t recall how we played with those dolls, but we did.
But my brother and I grew into angry young men, in the usual way. We blamed our childhood strife on our father’s drug use and, despite being into grunge, were very prejudiced against drug users. When playing our Alice in Chains tape, we’d pause shortly after “Rooster” began and flip it, so the B side would start after “Junkhead” was over. (Unrelated note, I now find the latter song darkly hilarious and never skip it.)
Len Ross, forgotten, lost, dead. From the mist of time he emerges, now a twisted image of everything I once despised. I’m back, father. Can you spare me twenty-five dollars? I need it for a greyhound ticket. Just this one thing, man.
HORROR ELEMENT: Honest art from me is bound to be scary lol.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #19 — Clown / Circus
TITLE: Big Top Poppy
PREMISE: Poppy the Clown is queen of the Van Klavert Big Top Travelling Circus. She’s got all the clown chops, but dresses more like a showgirl, which turned out to be a crowd-pleasing combo. While everybody does like her, behind the scenes some villainy is afoot. Ringmaster Grooseus Van Klavert is a closeted clown chaser who takes out his inner strife on the young lady.
He uses his tyrannical control over the performers to get away with escalating public acts of sadism against Poppy for various imaginary offenses. Sometimes these involve being locked inside the boxes or glass cages of escape artists and stage magicians. This escalates from hours to whole nights at a time, when she isn’t needed for performance.
One day Poppy disappears and Grooseus is suspiciously mum about the reason why. On the assumption he finally killed her, knife thrower Janice the Blade snaps. She organizes the entire circus to dress up in her costume and haunt him, before hunting him down and killing him. A lady performer with dwarfism and a soft spot for the vicious ringmaster finds Poppy alive in a chest in his private trailer and goes to prevent the mob justice, but is too late.
HORROR ELEMENT: Psychosexual drama, oppression, violence, and murder.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #20 — Nautical / Underwater
TITLE: A Typhoon
PREMISE: A young businessman, his wife, and her best friend are touring Southeast Asia, combining his business with their pleasure. He works for a shitty US agricultural concern, cutting exploitative deals with local governments and businesses willing to fuck their own people to death – though he seldom sees the fruit of those efforts, and has no imagination for how dire the realities are.
A descendant of Spanish colonists, proud to have no local ancestry, has a fairy-tale European-styled hacienda on a small island in the Philippines. Businessboy and his ladies take shelter there as a typhoon approaches. The master of the house is very genial with them, but as they catch glimpses of his atrocities, the relationship sours. They realize they are in a place where nobody checks the authority of a brutal patriarch, and nobody will know what happened to them if they never leave.
HORROR ELEMENT: Wet wetness. The violence of the elements and the violence of mans. You don’t wanna know what happens to ladies in the Mermaid Room.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #21 — Surreal Horror
TITLE: Heaven Within Hell
PREMISE: The Woman in the Red Dress lives in an abandoned, stripped-out church building. Every day she wakes up there are masses of severed hands growing out of a well-like structure where the altar used to be. She ferries them to an incinerator in the basement to get rid of them, shows a great distaste for them. But she is getting more thin and ill, showing signs of starvation. The hands look tempting – still disgusting, but tempting. When her stomach growls, a demonic red face can be seen on it for a moment. When her mind is contemplating something terrible, the face appears in her hair.
HORROR ELEMENT: She starts eating the hands. At first she’s careful to cook and season them just so, and still gags as she tries to force the meat down. But eventually she just mashes them up and slurps them down raw. Time passes and the demon face is no longer a phantom, but a physical growth across her chest and abdomen, like a parasitic twin. She eats through that maw while her head lolls as if dead. The end.
The other horror element is that the name makes no sense. Have a nice day!