Halloween Ennui

The last year I handed out candy for Halloween was a long time ago. I spent most of the evening at home, and in the end, there were exactly two trick-or-treaters. Now, I like children dressed as devils and corpses as much as the next girl, but that does seem like a whole lot of boredom for two kids, and especially two kids I don’t even know, even out of costume.

Halloween,–even in my remarkably safe little town– has moved to the commercial sphere. The merchants hand out candy (and advertisements) and the whole affair goes downtown, or to the mall. The greedier parents dump their kids off in **ahem** take their kids to the “rich” neighborhood (not mine) and that’s about the end of it. (Driving through the”Rich” neighborhood on Halloween is like taking a truck through a cattle drive. But a whole lot more pink and sparkles.)

There are, of course, a few activities for grown ups. (Drinking. Also Drinking. You know… Like on Thursday.)

When I was in bigger towns… when I was dancing… it seems like I was in costume, dressed up as something every other week. Costume’s half the fun, you know. And once I started winning costume contests… well, you put the money back into the next costume, until you have your own little costume closet. And that’s been a while, too.

The thought that always comes to me around Halloween is the idea of dressing the candy bars up as books. (Not as my books, of course. Other people’s books. People who write for children.) Print the cover on one side of a paper, and a coupon code for the book on the other side of the paper, and glue the thing on a Hershey’s bar. (Or, you know… something good, if you happen to be in the “rich” area of town.)

I’m not one of those people who would give a sweet, innocent child a box of raisins–or a toothbrush–for Halloween, but a book?  That sounds like something healthy and fun. I could approve of that.

I fiddle around with the details, of course. The coupon codes would have to be set up in advance. It would have to be e-books to be cost effective, especially for a poor writer who’s paying for it, herself. And you might need separate bowls of candy for different age groups. I’m not sure. Different age groups would probably mean more than one writer.

And in order to get much traffic, you’d almost have to barge in on one of the businesses that actually gets trick or treaters, or buy a booth at the mall.

 

Mrs. Willoughby’s Heart

There were still a few pieces of Mrs. Willoughby on the slab, after the master finished his do-it-yourself project. All of the intestines. A bladder. No one wants the hassle of taking a monster to the toilet, after all. And there were other things. Odds and ends the monster wouldn’t need. A pair of emerald-green, sling-back pumps. Her right hand, still clutching a worthless can of pepper spray. The master had replaced that with spare parts from his Jeep. And Mrs. Willoughby’s heart.

The monster, you see, ran on propane and electricity, and a beating heart was just a relic.

Igor was supposed to clean up.

He was supposed to sweep the leftovers into the bin, and carry them down to the incinerator. He was supposed to hose down the lab, and empty the filters on the floor drains.

But the whole process had been horrific.

Mrs. Willoughby didn’t want to be a monster. She wanted to be a second grade teacher. And when Igor finally did get her back to the lab, it turned out the master didn’t want a second grade teacher. He wanted a Woman. Not a woman. A Woman. Not a woman. The master repeated himself with curse-words and fury, and in the end, Igor pretended to understand.

Then, there was the dissection.

Igor threw up four times before the master threatened to dissect him.

By the time they got to the electro-ressurrection, Igor was a little dizzy. He could barely stand up, and he would have gone home, if he had any sick-time left. He didn’t have any sick time left, though, so he pushed himself forward. Willed himself to keep going. He was careful. Slow and careful, and if he took his time–
The master threw the switch.
Mrs. Willoughby’s body convulsed. All at once, her muscles contracted, and then… The master cut the electricity. Mrs. Willoughby’s fist shot out, and hit Igor in the face.

And the Master threw the switch again.

And again.

And again.

Igor was black and blue before the thing that had been Mrs. Willoughby sat up and started to recite the times table.

By the time the monster got to thrice eight, the master cut out its vocal cords, and there was silence. Then, the monster began calisthenics. And the monster wasn’t content to do calisthenics alone. Oh, no. It grabbed Igor by the ear, and made him touch his toes.

The master just laughed and watched, and by the time calisthenics were over, Igor was black and blue, and out of breath, and exhausted. None of the other monsters had been that much trouble.

Then, the master took his new monster and left to do whatever peasant-chasing, village-burning things mad scientists and monsters did together.

Igor did intend to clean up. He intended to put things away, and tidy up the lab, but he dozed off.

Mrs. Willoughby’s heart was the first thing he saw, when he opened his eyes. She had a beautiful heart. It was perfect. Big, and warm. And it was his favorite shade of red. It quivered a little, as if it had been crying, and didn’t want him to  know.

He still knew. He could feel the heart sobbing in his brain. And he knew why, too: Mrs Willoughby didn’t want to be a monster, and her heart didn’t want to go in the bin.

The mess was still there, too, but the master could clean it up, himself.

And while he was at it, the master could get his own Women. He didn’t like the way Igor did it, anyway.

Igor put the heart in his knapsack and hefted it over one shoulder.

He was leaving. Mrs. Willoughby didn’t want to be a monster. Her heart didn’t want to go in the bin. And he didn’t want to be a laboratory goon.

On the climb down the mountain, Mrs. Willoughby’s heart chirped encouragement. Sometimes, the sound was lost in the waking songs of birds. And sometimes, he got distracted by flowers, or the rising sun. But by the time he made it back to the village, he knew what to do.

He was going to teach second grade.

Starting Short Stories For Halloween

Yesterday, I started a short story for Halloween. I’ve been reading Douglas Adams, and I think it shows. That might not be a bad thing, for a short story. Anything longer, and I’d have to start taking pills. The whole story is a lot more relaxed than most of what I write. I’m having fun. I’m not revising as I go. And my characters just dismembered a second grade teacher.

I don’t know why they would have dismembered a second grade teacher. Mine was actually pretty good. She was also–actually–my fifth grade teacher, so that makes her one of two teachers who managed to survive me not once, but twice.

Good for her.

In the beginning, I was thinking about it for the PG-rated, non-child-unfriendly blog hop I’m part of. And then, I realized the dismemberment was probably a step too far, and there’s usually not even a hint of necrophilia in children’s books.

(Is it still necrophilia, if you re-animate the corpse first?)

So, being a responsible adult**ahem**fine, upstanding citizen **er** slightly afraid of my kids’ lit friends…. I’ll be writing something more suitable, and saving this one for later.