Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 Frankie Laine “Mule Train”
 Frank Sinatra “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
 Blind Willie Johnson “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground”
 The Chordettes “Lollipop”
 Tiny Tim “Tiptoe Through The Tulips”
 Billie Holiday “You Go To My Head”
Welcome to the house of fun Grueheads. I appreciate you taking the time to purchase your ticket ro ride (we have 24-hour surveillance cameras to consult if you didn’t) and I trust that your short visit will be both pleasurable and enlightening. Frightening? That depends on your willingness to strap yourself in and allow your master of ceremonies to steer the wagon. It just so happens that I have a number of surprises up my lengthy sleeve and can guarantee white knuckles and turned stomachs for those of a more delicate persuasion. You see, this is no ordinary ghost train preparing to launch, and your safe passage is in no way assured.
There will be a number of stops en route to our final destination; each meticulously devised to chill the blood in your bones more than the last. I’d like to think that I have a fairly tight handle on what’s scary and what’s not and the former has been more than generously catered for. The rest is up to you fine gluttons for punishment and those glorious imaginations I hear so much about. This trip is all about relocation and placement; your ability to donate yourself freely to a group of unflavorsome scenarios that you’d pray never to experience in your lifetime. So whaddya reckon? You ready to throw some hands in the air?
As your host, I shall try my darndest to set the appropriate tone and have hand-picked each spectacle according to my own consternation. I’m thrilled to report that I’m easily scared and mastered both relocation and placement way back when Hammer House of Horror dashed my innocence. Indeed, show me a supposed servant of the macabre who knows no fear and I shall rip the stripes from their lapel and banish them to the sin bin for devouring. I’m ideally positioned to know precisely what crawls under the skin most effortlessly, which stubborn psyche stains linger longest, where the most unsparing savages skulk and how to access every last one of them.
At any rate, we are now approaching our first pit stop, and if you suspected that I’ll be easing you in, then you were very much mistaken and can take it up with the ticket office if you make it that far. Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce you to a young lady whose DIY skills leave rather a lot to be desired – one time Pretty Polly model, now poster girl for the hazards of long-term crystal meth abuse – Tristana Medeiros.
Any questions? Yes, her breasts are 100% natural. Miss Medeiros is rather photogenic don’t you think? Admittedly she’s not at her best today but she wasn’t expecting company and had no time to put her face on. I would advise not making any sudden moves as Tristana tends to get a little edgy around company. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she’s been locked away in the penthouse suite for the past few months like some dirty little secret, since a deadly virus broke out in her apartment block. Our timing could have been better as she’s been attempting to put a shelf up for three weeks now and it’s just not happening. It’s perfectly acceptable to point and stare as Tristana is as blind as a bat, although I’d recommend against allowing her to smell your fear as she takes this as a personal insult and has been known to get a little territorial from time to time.
Don’t look now but here she comes and she doesn’t appear best pleased by the unannounced intrusion. I think it would be best for all involved if we move swiftly on to our next attraction as this could be about to end rather unfavorably if we stick around when we’re clearly not welcome. You see, what she lacks in muscle mass, Tristana makes up for with mad whack-a-mole skills and it looks like it’s hammer time folks. Fret not as there’s an elevator at the end of the hallway, and if I could just release this stubborn hand brake, then we’d be out of here before blitzkrieg ensues.
Okay so that was a little gross. I reckon we should just chalk that one down to experience and never speak of it again, don’t you? On the bright side, the elevator has now arrived and it’s twelve floors down to the lobby so there should be sufficient time to settle those fraying nerves and enjoy the therapeutic lift music. That said, does anyone else feel like we may not be alone here? Just a hunch.
Thank goodness for that, it’s just a harmless pensioner. Nothing to fear here. To give the old boy his dues, he’s certainly light on his feet and I’m sure he wasn’t present when the doors closed. Never mind, what’s an elevator ride if not mildly excruciating right? One unanticipated bout of flatulence and we’ll all be feeling the pinch, although given his advanced years, it shouldn’t be too hard to pin any expelled methane on him. The best thing for all involved would be simply to ignore our travel companion. I’m sure he won’t bother us if we keep our eyes front and centre and don’t pay this unusual fellow any mind.
That’s the thing about the elderly. They love nothing more than giving the young and reckless a piece of said mind and he’s nothing if not magnanimous. I’d advise smiling politely and departing the lift in an orderly fashion when it touches down. Speaking of which, I may have got it wrong on the floor count as it would appear that they’ve just opened up a thirteenth and our consort has only gone and pressed the button. Best not cause a fuss, with a little luck they’ll have all the amenities on hand to kick back and relax some after such a turbulent start to our expedition. You see, they even have a fully functional TV set. Ye of little faith.
Okay so the tracking is a little off. What do you want? Not everyone can afford plasma technology you know. Besides, I’m sure it’s nothing that a spot of tuning won’t see right. Leave it to me and I’ll find us a frequency in no time. Any objections to staring at a seemingly innocuous dormant well while I grab the instruction pamphlet? It has to be around here somewhere right?
What’s that? Company you say? Don’t mind Sadako, she may give off rather a frosty air but I hear she’s got healing powers. Actually that might be the good Sadako. I’ve never had the dubious pleasure of meeting the bad one. It’s not easy to ascertain which of the two has paid us a visit from behind that mop of greasy black hair but she’s only a little girl after all and hardly looks capable of freezing us in a state of permanently contorted terror. Besides, she can’t bother us from inside the screen. Even Japanese technology isn’t that advanced.
Well that’s a neat trick. It’s like Jaws 3D all over again although I’d much rather our personal space be encroached upon by a shy adolescent than a 30-ft great white shark. I wouldn’t worry, she’s likely got far more pressing concerns than scaring us witless. How do teenage girls normally pass their downtime? A spot of shopping? Perhaps getting their nails done while they’re at the mall?
That’s a negative on the manicure. I’m not convinced there’s a cuticle kit on the market that could get those nails lustrous. Never mind, a timid wallflower such as Sadako would be far too bashful to introduce herself formally. That said, she appears to be plucking up the courage.
Abort! She’s clearly menstrual. I think it would be wise to bid Sadako adieu and leave her to ovulate in peace don’t you? That’s the thing about teens, so downright unpredictable. That’s why I’ve decided to pay a visit to one not quite so fuelled by hormones for our next stop. You’ll like this one, a cute little ginger haired kid who loves nothing more than public shows of affection. Looks pretty huggable don’t you think?
They grow up so fast don’t they? Moving swiftly on, I know one species guaranteed to be sweetness and light as I’ve never once come across a flower fairy who held a grudge. I figure that we could all do with taking five and the pixie in question appears just to be waking up as we speak so I’d say she’ll likely be more scared of us than we her.
Couldn’t you just eat her? Hold on, who’s this shady character taking his seat at the dinner table and straightening his napkin? We haven’t even said grace yet for crissakes. Something tells me this isn’t going to end at all well.
Now that’s just not on. In his defense, The Pale Man has no eyes, so I guess he could have gotten our dainty friend confused with beef jerky, but I would’ve thought the delicate cries for mercy would have given her away. Actually I’m somewhat relieved that this pasty motherfucker is blind as a pint-sized pixie barely constitutes as hors d’oeuvre and who’s to say that he’s not still feeling peckish? Feel free to flick him the bird before we venture forth as he’s hardly going to catch us at it now is he?
Bollocks, we’ve been rumbled. Time to skedaddle methinks. Given that he’s currently digesting a flower fairy, I make it only right that we head directly over to the rose garden and pay our respects. While we’re there, perhaps we could make ourselves useful and give the lawn a quick mow. I’ve got to come clean, I’m far from what you would call green-fingered but it’s just a case of steering in a straight line right?
I reckon I’m getting the hang of this you know and we could still come out of this heroes provided we finish the job without incident. Don’t wish to be cocky but this lawn mowing business seems suspiciously like a cinch. Look ma, no hands!
Please tell me that was a garden gnome we just ran over. Unless they come with spring-loaded intestines nowadays; I suspect it may not have been. On the bright side, nobody appears to have observed our little speed bump incident so what do you say we call time on our adventures in agriculture and sneak away sheepishly? Too late, that pesky little pissant, Ralphie Glick, is up way past his bedtime again and he’s witnessed the whole unfortunate act through his bedroom window.
You ever get the distinct impression that things aren’t going your way? I’m fast running out of ideas here, and for all my most noble intentions, it appears that this outing is doomed to end in tears. Worse still, all this drama is starting to give me the most intense migraine. Admittedly I’m something of a wimp when it comes to pain, what man isn’t? But this one really is something of a humdinger.
I’ve taken a fistful of paracetamol and they’re not even beginning to take the edge off this particular tense, nervous headache. I shit you not, my head feels like it’s about to explode and, before you go calling me a wuss, check out the bulging temple vein and tell me I’m not well within my rights to bitch and gripe. Better make it quick. Just saying.
Told you. While I’m busy cleaning up all the spilled membrane and trying to locate my bifocals, perhaps you can work on your timekeeping as that whole unpleasant episode could have avoided with an Indian head massage. To be fair, it was rather a showstopper and I even managed to snap a quick selfie just as my bonce burst wide open like an over-ripened cantaloupe. Fortunately for you, I have no problem whatsoever with poking fun of myself for the amusement of my associates, and by my own reluctant admission, it was something of a doozy.
The least you could do would be to grab a mop and bucket. I would ask that hulking juggernaut in the apron to lend a hand, you know, the one wearing the mask made of rotting human flesh and clutching a bloody mallet like he has every intention of cracking some skulls. However, I forgot to tag him when I posted my snapshot on Twitter and he’s evidently got the raging hump with me right now so it may be wise just to leave him be.
Someone really should give that door a good lubricating. A few squirts of WD40 on the hinges and it’d be as good as new I’m sure. At any rate, we’re now approaching the end of our tour and I reckon it would be shrewd to quit while we’re ahead (no sniggering in the back carriage) and pay the Tunnel of Love a visit instead. Tell you what, while you lot unfasten your harnesses and depart the train in an orderly manner, I’ll go and grab the ticket inspector, Mike, and inform him of our plans to vamoose. There he is, over in the corner with his head down and eyes front. I bet he’s having a sneaky wank. Not in my House of Fun he bloody isn’t. Oi Mike?..Mikey? Michael? DUDE?
Slight change of plan. Mike said he’ll catch us up further on down the line. Just to be clear, you’re not going to press charges are you? Tell you what, if you have any grievances, feel free to pop over to the suggestion box and don’t forget to pay tonight’s sponsor, Deborah, a visit while you’re at it. She’s a great little listener that one. As a matter of fact, there she is now, offering an impromptu tutorial on the best way to consume cotton candy without getting your fingers sticky. Ta-ta now.
Click here to read Carnival of Terror
I really enjoyed this trip, Rich. So many disturbing scenes. Particularly, the little boy becoming that creepazoid guy and of course, the lawnmower. I can’t get enough of that one. The entire time I felt like I was in a freak show which is a good thing. I always enjoyed going to those as a kid when they were available. Great job!