Read A Fistful of Grue
Read Science Diction
Read Wrangler vs. Deadites
Read Elm Street Blues
Read Hellraiser’s Ball
Read Camp Crystal Terror
Read Overlook Fever
Read Wrong Turn to Texas
Read Scorn of the Dead
Read Short Stay in Bates Motel
Read Wrangler vs. Predator
Suggested Audio Candy:
John Carpenter Soundtrack Suite
In all the recent commotion I have lost track of my days. There has been so much going down, my recent jungle expedition being the latest in a long line of misfires, and my resolve has been severely tested on a number of occasions. Most disparaging has been the drain on my resources. I left Bates Motel without ever having my deposit returned and right now I’m down to the barest of bones. Thus it is now time for me to make some quick cash and what less troublesome manner in which to do this than with a spot of babysitting. The rates may be minimal but money is money and you’ve got to keep feeding the monkey somehow.
My new best buddy Alan has kindly agreed to take me to Haddonfield, Illinois, a small suburban town where they take Halloween very seriously indeed. The ankle-biters are out in full force, clad in their Silver Shamrock masks they trawl the streets searching for treats and generally getting in the festive spirit. Every last window ledge houses a decorative pumpkin and bowls of candies are the reward for any gallivanting whippersnapper resourceful enough to go door-to-door. My task is to gate keep a couple of bairns for a few hours while their parents enjoy a night on the tiles. It’s a no-brainer, quick easy cash, all that is required of me is to tuck said infants in and spend the rest of my evening watching B-movies and eating buttered popcorn in my jockeys. This is my kind of gig.
I arrive at the old Doyle house punctual as ever and receive instruction from my employees, kids in bed by no later than nine and don’t answer the door to any wayward trick or treaters who appear too old for candy. Couldn’t be simpler, this should be a doddle for the Brutal Word Wrangler after the shit I’ve had to endure over the last few weeks legs of my journey. I’ve learned what not to do, shopping malls are a no-no, log cabins in the woods totally bogus and I’ll think twice before booking myself in for an overnight stay at any motels off the beaten track from hereon in. There have been romantic interludes of course but between po-faced Wendy Torrance, old mother Bates and that triage of touchy feely trees, I’m feeling decidedly asexual.
I’ve been here an hour now and have just got the kids settled upstairs. We carved a pumpkin, told spooky anecdotes and toasted some marshmallows before I shipped them off to their quarters. Now the remainder of the evening is mine and mine alone, or at least that is the plan. In the back of my head, Bonus Brain is still whining about my questionable choice of locales but there seems to be no pleasing him. I think it’s high time we have our little chat as relations have been strained for some time now and I’ve had it with his cynical ramblings. Even now, he’s got the ache and keeps harping on about this not being the place to grab my much-necessitated downtime. It’s alright for him, constant passenger that he is, an opinion on everything and never one which holds much weight.
“I’ve finally sussed you out. You’re a prophet of doom, nothing more. For too long I’ve sucked it up, allowed you to have your say, done all the hard graft while you sit there in your briefs guzzling my grub and spouting odious venom. There was a packet of Twinkies in the fridge, clearly labeled Keeper, you polished off the whole batch. Bitching and griping, that’s all your good for. You’ve whittled me down to my final nerve and even that is looking decidedly tenuous. It’s time we have this out, no more cocking a dead ‘un, enough of your sulking and skulking, I want to hear what you have to say in your defense.” I don’t desire to get hard-line with him but he has brought this shitstorm upon himself.
“Can I just ask who was it that gave you the title Brutal Word Wrangler?” is his response to my outburst. “What’s that got to do with the price of milk?” I bark back at him. “You may want to reconsider is all. In my entire time as surplus cerebral matter I have never met anyone so woefully inept. You make Pauly Shore seem like a thespian. Do you ever engage that brain of yours for any purpose at all? Is there any end to your stupidity?” Sticks and stones Bonus Brain, I’ve heard it all before on more than one occasion and you’re starting to sound suspiciously like warped vinyl. “You really do believe yourself better than me don’t you? 25% percent, that’s all you are. A measly quarter of my smarts and, moreover, a constant thorn in my side. Give me one reason, and make it a good one, why I shouldn’t just cut you loose right now.”
“Okay, let me put this in layman’s for you. Take a stroll over to the window and grab a gander into the garden.” I humor him, not because I trust he will enlighten me any, but because I’m nothing if not fair. Other suitors would have pressed the eject button back in Elm Street, but not Keeper. I’ve kept the faith, trusted that he would see the error of his ways and continued to allow him to crash in my pad rent-free while he flatuates and belches like an inebriated geriatric. As I pull the curtains aside and glance outside, I am force-fed a large slither of humble pie. “You see that? That, my gormless friend, is a very good reason to call your friend and get him to swing by and pick you up like yesterday”. I spot a figure, standing firm amongst the swaying bed sheets and looking right in my direction with his head cocked to one side. Admittedly, this dude looks like he has absolutely no interest in a quick round of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
“Okay, that is a little unnerving, I’ll give you that”. My father taught me how to admit when I’m in the wrong, it can be too easy to pre-load your response before the other person’s lips have stopped flapping and nobody likes being told they’re a schmuck. I’m clearly courting danger here, the bloody bread knife being brandished by my new-found admirer suggests that I’m going to be soundly ventilated before the night is out. Credit where it is due, Bonus Brain has a point. The problem is, he’s never likely to let me forget it. “I’m never going to let you forget this you know. I may only be slight, 25% if you care for specifics, but I’m the only chance you have right now to make it through the evening unscathed so I suggest you zip that lip and start taking heed. Call Al, lock all the windows and doors, grab yourself something sharp and find the darkest recess possible while you wait for your chauffeur out of here. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t even think about watching the Magic Pumpkin.”
I like how he’s on best buddy terms with Alan when he’s hardly uttered a word to him the whole time we’ve been in transit. “No, let me tell you how this is going to play out. I’m going to call MY friend Al, lock the windows, doors too, find a weapon and a hiding spot. Then I’m going to play the waiting game, won’t be long, Al is a good friend of mine you see.” Bonus Brain has nothing, he simply shrugs and turns his back on me. “Not so smart now are you punk? You just can’t handle the fact that you need me more than I need you. If it wasn’t for Keeper, you’d still be festering in a pool of your own fluid or, worse still, languishing in a crack den, turning tricks for pocket change. You’re nothing without me, just a freeloading bandit with no discernible reason for existence.” Alright, possibly that last part was a touch harsh but he brought this shit on himself.
Silence. I knew it, he knows he’s been bettered. I don’t require an apology as his lack of a comeback speaks volumes. Besides, he’d never admit to being wrong anyhoots. I secure the front door, draw the curtains, dim lights and make my way to the kitchen to repeat the process. Fuck a clucking hen, the back door is wide open. I blame that on him, had it not been for me having to listen to him harp on about how to suck eggs then I would’ve been safely upstairs in the closet by now. Instead, I suddenly feel something less than easy. More distressing is the dead dude pinned against the wall with a kitchen knife. If I didn’t know better I’d think this some sort of sign, a signal of dastardly intent, a giant putrid dump in my morning Fruity Loops. It’s a good job I’m an optimist.
I run upstairs post-haste and into the far bedroom but stop in my tracks as my next surprise is even more ominous than the last. Ordinarily a barely clothed vixen sprawled out across the bedstead with legs akimbo would be a sight for sore eyes. My winkle has all but inverted after a less than encouraging run of striking out and I still can’t shake that image of Ma Bates tucking the bacon back into her sandwich and licking her chapped lips like a date-rapist. However, when said female is accompanied by a life-sized tombstone replica and clearly has no intention of putting out, it becomes a far less glamorous proposition. Back in the holster it goes, Bonus Balls will not be best pleased but I don’t think a blow job is on the cards.
I turn to exit, ready to activate selected memory and put this grizzly sight behind me and that is when I am introduced once more to The Shape I spotted earlier in the garden. I like to think of myself as sterling judge of character and all omens here are decidedly sucky. Despite the boiler suit, it appears reading the gas meter is not the reason for his intrusion this night. Using my own powers of deduction alone I figure out that this is no time for making friends and influencing people. This is do or die, shit or get off the pot, sink or swim. I’m going to do, shit and swim in that order. Don’t need Bonus Brain to tell me of my peril, I’m a smart cookie and have no intention of being a dead one.
I run back into the boudoir and bundle my child-bearing hips straight into the far side closet. He’ll never find me here, what psychopath would ever think to check in a place clearly designed only for storage? True to form, my antagonist stalls in the doorway, surveying the room but with no apparent application of practicality and/or logic. What a douche-canoe. What I’m not banking on right now is mutiny, I am fully aware that Bonus Brain has his beef and, to be totally honest, mine’s a twenty ounce rump but I would never have envisaged him as a snitch. “Cold, cool, getting warm, hot, blazing hot”. The shit kicking mule has only gone and led my assailant straight to me. We’ll be having some words about this later rest assured.
I frantically scan my restrictive surroundings and all that I can ascertain is a few random coat hangers. They’ll have to do, he has started making headway with his blade and fashioning a fissure just large enough for him to poke his noggin in. I unravel the metal frame and take an opportunist lunge which, much to my delight, finds a fleshy spot in his peeper socket. Fuck with the Brutal Word Wrangler will ya? Didn’t know I could scrap did ye? Arts and Crafts was my thesis bitch! The danger has passed, he’s flat-out on the bedroom floor and won’t be troubling me again. So I climb out and take a seat on the nearby couch, facing forward as I have no intention of reminding myself of the ordeal I’ve just been through.
Suddenly the long arm of his blade comes plummeting down beside me, embedding itself in the cushion no more than a few centimeters from my weary leg. I panic and grasp the nearest tool in my vicinity, a knitting needle, and plunder said spur straight into his larynx. Crisis averted, the wicked witch of the west is dead, I can breathe easy once more. Won’t be needing this knife then, I’ll just discard it and make my way back outside really slowly. Maybe I’ll stop at the doorway for a moment, grab a quick breather and ponder my next move. I know, I’ll call Alan, he’s always on hand and a darned sight more bankable than a certain somebody who seems more inclined to throw me to the buzzards.
Ten minutes, just as I expected, what a rare desert cloudburst this fella is. We chat for a minute as I’ve still got plenty of free phone minutes and I may as well while away a few of them chewing the fat with my old chum Al. As I hang up my cell I notice a new arrival, a weathered-looking bearded guy in a trench coat. That’s all I need right now, a fucking flasher. Does this never end? “I met him fifteen years ago” he starts. Here we go, just what I was hoping for, a History lesson. “I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong.” Heard it all before buddy, cry me a river.
“I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.” You finished yet Gramps? Good, now it’s the Wrangler’s turn. “Listen friend, if you want to make yourself useful then help me get this tombstone off the bed as I’ve just about had it and need to grab a quick ten winks. You can tell me all about your claim to fame another dusk old-timer. Tell you what, make yourself useful and bag up that psychopath over in the corner. The one who seems to believe he’s the Boogeyman”.
His eyes widen and a look of anguish spreads right across his face. He joins me in the chamber and I point out the cadaver, or at least, where it was when I last left it. That’s funny, could have swore he was here a moment ago. Now it’s a no-show, leaving me with liberal lashings of egg white all over my sorry mug shot. “Boogeyman you say?” he asks. “Did I stutter. Yes, Boogeyman. Don’t worry old man, we all know there’s no such thing. He was no more Boogeyman than I’m the King of Sheba.” He turns to me, stony-faced and says with grim acceptance “As a matter of fact, it was”. Meh! I’m disinterested in conspiracy theories right now and have met his type before. Megalomaniacs, anything you’ve done or achieved in your life he’s invariably gone one better.
I march downstairs defiantly, hearing those propellers gyrating outside, right on schedule. As I make my way to unfasten the front door latch and bid my adieu to Haddonfield, the land line rings. Could it be Alan? My cell has run out of charge so it could well be him trying to get hold of me. Better answer it. As I pick it up there is an elongated silence. “I haven’t got time for this. Whoever you are, spill the beans or I’m hanging this shit up”. I’m sorry Grueheads, it’s not like me to be so petulant but I’m done with niceties now. “Have you checked the children?” is the lone retort. That’s a good point, I haven’t you know. Fuck it, The Doyles can poke their five bucks. I’m out of here.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill