Dan Challis: Witching Hour Cometh

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Saturday, October 23 had started out like any other Saturday night at Haddonfield General. The usual eclectic mix of drunks, time-wasters and ominous domestic injuries. Last week a man was admitted with a loafer lodged in his rectum. Despite his insistence that it was just an innocent slip while lathering, we both knew the truth. Since when does that daily rubdown extend to giving your small intestine the old ‘wax on, wax off’? The obligatory x-ray was more akin to carving open Jaws to discern his daily intake. An old boot, rolled up copy of Mad Magazine and the obligatory license plate all shared residency with his internal organs and there was to be no digging himself out of that particular hole. I gave him some creme and sent him packing, then watched as he hobbled off down the hallway of shame. Just another night in the trenches.

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This week’s reprobate was clutching something other than his serrated sphincter. Harry Grimbridge was a respected store owner and figure of the community. Ordinarily he was affable enough and there was little cause to believe that anyone would want him dead. When he arrived at the emergency room, holding onto a jack-o-lantern mask for dear life and babbling incoherently, his sanity was hanging from the slenderest of threads. “They’re going to kill us. They’re going to kill us all” was about all I could make from his incessant blathering and I put it down to over-indulgence on his part. It was no secret that he enjoyed a tipple in the tavern after lowering his shutter and I could smell the Bourbon on his breath as his gurney trundled past. He was placed under my jurisdiction but I had other patients to tend to and figured sleeping it off would be the best course of action for Harry. On this occasion, the doctor didn’t know best as, by the time I performed my final rounds, he was dead.

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Now, people die all the time in hospitals, there’s no escaping that eventuality. However, this was clearly foul play. Grimbridge’s eyes had been pressed back into his hemorrhaging brain by an unknown assailant and one of the nurses spotted a smartly dressed man wearing leather gloves striding briskly from the scene around the same time. Moments later there was an almighty blast in the car park and it would appear that his killer then ended his own life through self-immolation. I smelt a rat. I’m a surgeon by trade, not a detective, it’s my job to bag and tag the stiffs but solving crimes isn’t in my job description. However, something didn’t add up here and never before had one of my patients been murdered on my watch. Actually, as much as I’d love to take the credit for my chivalry, the dead man’s daughter asked me to help and she had a most delectable hiney.

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Listen to me getting carried away with myself. I haven’t so much as introduced myself and that’s just bad form. My name is Dan Challis… Dr. Dan Challis. I am in my late forties, almost impossibly handsome, and have been likened on many occasions to a certain film star you should all be aware of. Tom Atkins, that’s right I reside from the same gene pool as possibly the single most sexy male ever to wear pleated slacks. I dress to the left and know exactly how to work that booty, driving women to sterility just through raising either one of my eyebrows. Folk often stop me in the street and inquire “Dan, how did you become so devastatingly handsome? What’s your secret?” With that, I give them ‘the look’ and reply with a voice-box seemingly pilfered from angels “That would be telling now wouldn’t it?” before ending the communication with ‘the wink.’

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Anyone astute enough to have spotted my trademarks will know already of ‘the look’ and ‘the wink.’ Let’s start with the look shall we? You’ve either got it or you haven’t. There’s no learning ‘the look’ and very few people ever have it in their facial repertoire. It relays everything while saying nothing at all. Among the winning lines that the look has become famed for are the following: “Hello. Yes that’s right. I do look remarkably like Tom Atkins”, “My cologne? Yes that is Poison Challis made from the authentic sweat of stallions” and “Let me assist you in unhooking that bra”. ‘The wink’ then seals the deal. No sooner have I fired one off, than a ping occurs and the bra in question becomes an open invitation for me to fill her starboard with sailors. The seafaring dynamos in question move faster than a speeding diaphragm and hit the target with the accuracy of an armor-piercing bullet. They have been known to impregnate on site and any more than the recommended daily dosage can cause temporary blindness.

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If the peepers don’t get you then it’s left up to the ‘tache to moisten those gussets. Fashioned from the finest mahogany trimmings and worn like a sexual sheriff’s badge, this beauty can stimulate a clitoris to the point of max horsepower while my chin dimple keeps the motor running and Adam’s apple pops the trunk. All three prizes can be won when the ‘tache is revving that engine. I could shave and balm every night and it’d be there in the morning, bristles blowing in the breeze even though the room has no ventilation. Many have tried and failed grooming a comparable growler and, the truth is, ain’t one of them that has come close to succeeding. The thing even comes with its own health insurance. I never pay the premium, the wink performs the transaction without my snakeskin wallet ever once sliding from my slacks.

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Anyhoots enough about me, no really, it’ll go to my head. Let’s talk about Ellie for a moment or two. I had to help her, after dislocating her femur with my sexual prowess in the sack, I figured it would do her good to walk it off. Driving down to Santa Mira, California sounded like a fairly decent way to spend some annual leave and I suspected a guided tour of Silver Shamrock would provide some answers as to why her father wouldn’t let that mask out of his grasp. During our short vacation we would drink malt liquor, make love in uncomfortable places, and solve the crime, in that order. Then we’d reverse the cycle once more ending in a stiff drink before I claim the bounty she leaves on the dresser for services rendered, crime comes free, my semen however doesn’t. She’ll never forget me, will measure any future suitors against me, but won’t ever call again as she knows that you only get one taste of The Challis.

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According to Rafferty, the owner of our motel, Santa Mira owes any prosperity to the Irishman responsible for heading up operations at the factory. Conal Cochran is an elderly entrepreneur and business magnate who has become the figure of this small community and whose production line is kept under strict wraps from the general public. Most revere him but there are the more cynical residents as I found out through a fleeting conversation with a lady named Marge. She keeps herself to herself mostly but must’ve fell for the ‘tache as she spilled without once receiving either ‘the look’ or ‘the wink.’ She believes Cochran to be inherently evil and up to all manner of mean-spirited shenanigans behind those factory doors. I’m inclined to agree, something isn’t right in Santa Mira for sure, to be honest the place is making my dick itch. From tip to balls.

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I also crossed paths with Buddy Kupfer, his wife Betty and their snot-nosed freckle-ridden son Little Buddy in reception. They informed me of a guided tour that was being laid on for their eyes only and it sounded like the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at what kind of seedy operation Cochran was running here. I didn’t have an entry pass but one would never be necessitated. One wink and the girl on front reception almost slid from her perch. I’d given her a different look, one that said “I’ll be back for you later”, call your husband and tell him to make his own TV dinner” and “you may want to line up that hip replacement.” That’s right, she would get it. I knew it, she knew it, Ellie accepted it and Little Buddy got that monumental first tweak in his nut beans because of it. Watch and learn son, you’re in the presence of The Challis.

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That Cochran may think he’s pretty smart but I had his balls in my back pocket and had every intention of taking a seat. Outside in the car park I noticed old man Grimbridge’s discarded vehicle surrounded by well-groomed suits much like the one seen leaving the hospital the night of his death. He may have greeted me with a warm smile but that shit didn’t fool me. He’s in it up to his brows and those bushy growlers meet precisely in the middle. There are two things I learned from watching The Company of Wolves as a child, the first was that often folk are hairy on the inside and the second was never to trust a man whose eyebrows aren’t clearly distinguishable as plural. He was, of course, the perfect gentleman and his hosting skills left nothing to be desired but I knew at once that beneath this hospitable veneer lay an evil mastermind capable of wiping out the entire free world in an instant.

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I took the tour, engaged in customary niceties, and smuggled one of his masks out in my jacket pocket. Little Buddy was thrilled to have met one of his heroes and rather enjoyed the Silver Shamrock tour also but now had the somewhat embarrassing task of explaining to his mother why his underwear would need a double rinse come laundry day. Ellie was understandably shaken by seeing her father’s vehicle but it was nothing some massage oils and an Al Jerreau LP wouldn’t fix. Ten minutes later I was balls deep in The Challis Slide and she had forgotten her own name, let alone that of her father. I was momentarily distracted from my stroke by a large bolt of electricity which appeared to have emanated from Marge’s boudoir two doors along but figured her Rampant Rabbit had shorted a fuse and kept on pounding.

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Ellie had gone. There was no sign of her whatsoever. I stepped out of the shower, took the Mel Gibson naked walk across our dimly lit bedroom, catching a glimpse of my buttocks in the full-length mirror and stopping for a moment to admire them further. No wonder the ladies swoon, such a firm derriere deserves it’s own ‘tache, a vertical one straight from Texas to Minnesota. As much as I could have stayed a while basking in my own reflection there were greater priorities afoot. In twenty four hours my posterior would still be able to crack a walnut but for Ellie it may well have all been over. Seems like a waste to me, she was double-jointed and could stretch her foot behind her head effortlessly. Such aerobic elasticity demanded further exploration and I couldn’t undertake my research if she had been snuffed from existence. I had to find her, comfort her in my own exclusive manner, and take her for another canter around the paddock before dawn.

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Those smartly dressed men definitely had a hand in her disappearance. I know as much as they returned to the motel to snatch me away also. I was forced into escaping through the bathroom window, snagging a belt loop as I did, and ruining my fourth favorite pair of slacks. They’d pay for that! I decided to sneak back to the factory and reveal once and for all what Cochran was playing at. Inside I ran into one of his goons and knew it was high time I unleashed Rory and Randy. A quick left-right combo from these explosive game changers would knock most grown men spark out in an instant but were ineffectual against this particular combatant. He didn’t so much as flinch, instead just kept on coming, and I knew there was no conceivable way he could be human. Always thinking on my feet, I reached into his midriff and grabbed myself a clutch of his circuitry, yanking it free and forcing him to boot down.

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I never trusted robots. Ever since Metal Mickey was implicated in a illicit-sex ring in Bolivia, I have been wary of any man who takes his dumps in a recycle bin. After right-clicking this synthetic chump I was set upon by two of his brethren and, despite my valiant struggle, they overcame me. I was led away to a small enclosed room where I remained until Halloween morning, left to ponder my insolence while Cochran decided what punishment would fit the crime. He would pay a princely sum for messing with ‘The Challis’, I had every intention of ramming a crud-encrusted catheter straight up his urethra and pouring absinthe down his urethra by way of filter funnel for snatching my wench. Poor lass hardly had time post-coitus to tuck the meat back in her kebab before being forcibly marched from the premises and that’s just plain mean-spirited in my book.

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Finally it was Sunday 31st, or Halloween morning to be more precise. Today is the day when I was to receive the final leg of my tour, access all areas. Cochran brought along several of his dapper droids to make sure I didn’t give him the slip and together we made our way down to Final Processing. Sounded ominous and I was assured that it was every bit as portentous as the name suggested. Here I would learn the true inner-workings of Silver Shamrock moments before my own denouement. I always found that a bit counter-productive on the villain’s part. Surely their energy could be put to better use than revealing their dastardly plan when they fully intend on battering me to death with a wrench straight afterwards anyway. Don’t tell him I told you this but I think the old coot is losing his marbles. Senility is a bitch, especially when all your other faculties are failing on a bi-daily basis. Fuck it, he has had it coming, I hope his kidney bursts.

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I knew it all along. It just had to be something to do with Stonehenge. He pointed me towards a number of his minions who were busy chipping tiny fragments away from an oversized rock. The worker-androids were placing these miniscule shards of slate into the microchips on the reverse of each mask. Around this stone were a formation of meticulously arranged work stations and TVs and it didn’t take a genius to decipher what was planned. It seemed obvious to me, the transmissions sent via that infernal commercial I had been hearing all week would somehow cause the chips to overload, killing anyone foolhardy enough to have bought into Cochran’s evil master plan. Stonehenge is widely known as the place that witches like to congregate and we all knew the kind of undesirables they brew in their cauldrons.

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Poor Little Buddy. Cochran had his cronies tie me to a chair in Test Room A while he flicked channels to show me how my friends were faring up. For Marge, alas, it wasn’t looking encouraging in the slightest. She was burned beyond all recognition, her lifeless corpse still clutching one of those pesky masks. Ellie was still alive and holed up in another part of the facility which meant there was still time. Sadly for the Kupfers time looked to be at a distinct premium. They probably believed they had the best room in the house as their quarters had its very own flat screen TV. Little Buddy was genuinely elated as tonight was the night of Cochran’s famed ‘big giveaway’. Special surprises were in store and he excitedly pulled on his jack-o-lantern headgear in anticipation. The commercial began like any other Silver Shamrock ad but, as the announcer exhorted his addressee to “watch the magic pumpkin” things took a turn for the more pestilential.

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The visuals gave way in favor of flickering digital imagery and it appeared at first as though Little Buddy was having some kind of epileptic seizure. I’m fairly sure that epilepsy doesn’t cause serpents, arachnids and millipedes to pour from your skullcap so the moment when a python popped out his eyeball and began slithering forth, accompanied by all manner of unpleasant creepy crawlies I knew that placing him in recovery position was to prove fruitless. Buddy Senior and Betty flapped like battery hens, totally horrified by watching their precious little trooper’s noggin burst wide open like an victimized piƱata. Within a couple of minutes the whole chamber was overrun with swarms of venomous ankle-biters and their family fate was sealed.

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I was left hogtied in front of a TV set which was playing Halloween. In little over ninety minutes the big giveaway would commence and I knew that I had to stop it at all costs or else the entire population would be wiped out. Using my considerable strength and ingenuity I managed to shuffle my seat over to the TV, smash it with my feet and grab a shard of glass to sever my shackles. I then stopped by at the room where Cochran was keeping Ellie and released her too. This alerted the guards and the whole factory went into lockdown although merely escaping was not number one priority anymore. This evil fuck had to be stopped before the nation tuned into his frequency. The look, wink and ‘tache were all superfluous to requirements now; this would require every glob of my grey matter and more than a spoonful of cunning. Thankfully…I’m Dan Challis.

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We headed back to Final Processing and I grabbed a box of microchips, hurling them from the catwalk above as I pressed the sequence of buttons that triggered the big getaway video, and watching on as the entire room became awash with blinding light. Instantly every one of his drones were shut down where they stood, motherboards fried irreparably by the Hiroshima-like blast. Cochran however, appeared unfazed by the course of events and instead fired a wide-mouthed grin in my direction as he returned to factory settings. It occurred to me that his firewall was probably bang-up-to-date as, if anything, he drew more power from the ruination of his cruel empire. Posthumously he planned to have his retribution and a quick glance at my Rolex revealed that I only had 45 minutes left to pull the plug on his operation before it was too late.

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I grabbed Ellie’s wrist and we fled the building, returned to the motel to retrieve the car and headed back to Haddonfield in a final throw of the dice to halt the carnage before the 9.00 pm reveal of Cochran’s cunning plan for humanity. It occurred to me as I drove hell for leather out of Santa Mira for the final time that Ellie had been decidedly docile since I rescued her from certain doom. One would have been forgiven for expecting at least a hand job, if not lip service, to say thank you but instead she just sat dormant. I knew immediately that something wasn’t right, after all, what woman of sane mind can resist the allure of The Challis? I know nuns who would change their persuasion after a single sniff of my collar and the last time we had been alone together she was rampant for my trouser snake. There was only one possibility that I could deduce, she had to be one of them.

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My initial fears were then realized as she lurched across to the driver side, clamping my throat with her metallic hands in an attempt to throttle the life from me. The car careered off into a field and I took this opportunity to unfasten my seat belt and flee before the vehicle had even ground to a halt. She was like a dog with a bone and persisted in her attack so there was only one thing left to do. Look, wink, ‘tache, she was impervious to all three and it was left to Rory and Randy to save the day. I gave her a couple of flurries and hurriedly grabbed a tire-iron to finish what I had started. First her arm, then her pretty little head, but Elliebot just kept on coming. I was more than used to fighting off droves of spirited women answering the call of their quims but none of them bore a CPU. I dismantled the shit out of her and hobbled back to the car but, as I prepared to floor it, her disembodied hand crept up between my legs and commenced moving towards my crowning glory. I stopped it just short of the unzip, pulled over, and threw it in the trunk. Couldn’t bring myself to dispose of it entirely as you never know when a hand will come in handy.

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Finally I made it back to the petrol station where Grimbridge had been picked up and delivered to the hospital eight days prior. At last a phone that was connected, every last landline in Santa Mira had been pre-loaded with the same recorded message. I plied it with dimes and began calling various networks in an attempt at getting this commercial off-air before the shit really hit the fan. All around me, kids were mirthfully trick or treating, utterly clueless as to the horrendous fate about to befall them. To my amazement, and after a ton of persuasion plus the fact that I’m Dan Challis, the executives started to take heed to my warnings and began pulling the plug. On the stroke of 9.00 pm the last station caved into my request and Cochran’s big giveaway had been averted. I knew I would do it all along, never a doubt in my mind.

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Now to celebrate with a tumbler of Bourbon and a quick perusal of my little black book. Candy? Caprice? What about Christie? She would be just what the doctor ordered right now. I plumped on suitor number three and prepared to deliver her the good news. Tonight she would have the exclusive pleasure of taking a full dose of Challis’s magical jumping beans straight to the baby maker. Suddenly a feeling of panic washed over me as I heard that wretched jingle once again. Frantic, I pleaded with the attendant to tell me where the audio was coming from. He looked me dead in the eye and explained with a clueless nonplussed smile “One of those little cherubs uploaded the video to YouTube. It’s up to nearly three million hits already, ain’t that a trip? You know, kids can be mighty resourceful. Makes you wonder where the hell we’d be without computers.”

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Keeper of the Crimson Quill

Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014

 

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