Friday, October 31, 2008



just to make sure that i had everything clear myself, i went through the contest entries last night and made up this quick reference/check list so that i could remember who creepily crafted which terrifying tale. here it is. check it over to make sure that YOU got a chance to read each one of these horrifying yarns yourself...

adam’s story (posted under the blog heading "the perhapanauts scary story halloween contest")
was about the last woman to be hung for her crimes in new york state.

tagg’s story
was about a haunted high school and the janitor that everyone knew about but him.

christian’s story
was about a fevered vision/dream he had about his wife tickling a giggling troll dude.

gretchen’s story
was about a post-death visitation from her beloved Papa Joe--her grandfather--come to properly say goodbye.

brian’s story
Daddy’s Little Girl
was just freakin’ creepy and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

casey’s story
was about a man on the beach awaiting the return of the woman he loves.

warren’s story
Daisy was a Good Dog
was about something landing in the nearby woods, and his wonderful dog...and stars.

jared’s story
was about guilt and regret and the things that follow you through life.
it was also about two pages too long... (ha! jk!)

uriel’s story
was about...umm...bugs. cockroaches. yeah.

david’s story
was about where we come from and the ghosts that haunt our history.

ernie’s story
was about finding friends and about the haunted house from his youth.

mike’s story
Prelude-The Man Who Lives Forever
was about a ghoul rising from the cemetery earth and taking out a priest.

the contest is over and the winner will be announced right here on monday morning! to remind everyone, the winner (the scariest story will be chosen by our panel of five unbiased secret judges) will receive:

~~ a collection of wild perhapanauts loot, including a signed run of our first story arc, "triangle", perhapanauts no.s 1-5, plus the annual and the monster pile-up!
~~and more!

~~ a role in an upcoming perhapanauts storyline as a member of the bedlam staff...!

~~ ... AND the original page of artwork featuring your comic character debut by our own craig rousseau!


and now that we've taken care of the technical junk...


hope everyone has a truly spooky weekend and that, if you do get dressed up and go to a party or whatever, you'll take a few pictures to share with all of us here at the perhapa-blog! we'd love to see what you transformed into, so scan and send your pics over to me at and we'll post them post haste!


in scanning the internet myself these past few weeks looking for images that would hopefully compliment the stories sent in, i stumbled across a file folder full of others i thought were cool, creepy, but not quite right. so here, i'll dump out that folder for you and you can enjoy some of the pics that almost made it...


and so here are your
"five for friday"...
name that ghost!

1. which shakespeare play features the ghost of the protagonist's father appearing to reveal the identity of his murderer?

2. what ghost psychiatrist counciled a young boy who could see the dead?

3. who played the recently-dead, reluctantly-evicted ghosts adam and barbara maitland in beetlejuice?

4. who is the friendliest ghost you know?

5. what was the name of the ghost that haunted heathcliff's broken heart in wuthering heights?

have a spooky halloween weekend!
smell ya later!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

mike's story


here, from craig (who apparently had his camera out more than i did...), are a few more pictures of us havin' fun at the screaming tiki con two weeks ago!

here's me with artists/pals jeremy dale and nate lovett (nate did a great 'haps pin-up that will be featured in an upcoming issue...) we look like we're ready for action!
or something...

me with jeremy's lovely wife, kelly dale (which i think sounds like it should be the name of a little village or hamlet in tellos...welcome to kellydale)
she took the following pics of me and craig in the--

---freakin' BATMOBILE!!!

yeah, that's right!
(can you tell craig just yelled at me for actually trying to start it up? also, i guess you're not s'posed to even pick up the red bat-phone that's in there...)


and here, then, is the final entry in our contest from our pal, mike estelle, called...

The Man Who Lives Forever: Prelude

The skies raged with lightning and the ground shook with thunder. Rain came down in sheets as Father Hennessy tried to find shelter from the storm in the desolate town. As he came upon a cemetery, lightning streaked across the sky giving him a brief glance of a building in the middle of the cemetery. He opened the gates and entered the burial grounds of the once thriving small town.
"I've got to get out of this storm," said Hennessy as he frantically ran towards the building. Halfway there he tripped on his robe, landing flat on his face. As he got to his knees, lightning struck again, and he found himself looking up at the most hideous tombstone he had ever seen. Atop it was a statue of a man in tattered robes, and as the lightening struck again he saw it wasn't a man, but a monster.
A hood half hid the monster’s face, but the features he could make out were a large, pointed ear sticking out from a hole in the hood, and a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, with the incisors being slightly larger than the others resembling those of a vampire. Father Hennessy was about to get up when the ground shook causing him to lose his balance. He failed to notice a hand coming up from the ground, and as he tried to stand, it grasped his right ankle. He cried out in horror and tried to break free of the hands' grip, but it was no use. Hennessy kicked at the hand with his other foot trying to break the hand off his ankle. Then a second hand came up, followed by the upper half of the body to which they belonged. What he saw scared him more than he’s ever been scared before, it was the living embodiment of the statue.
“Lord help me!” screamed Hennessy, as the creature pulled the rest of it’s decayed body from the ground. As the monster pulled itself from the ground it released it’s grip on Hennessy’s foot, and Hennessy ran for the building in the middle of the cemetery. A smile appeared on the creature’s face as it stood up and followed after the priest. As Hennessy reached the building, he noticed that the door was bolted from the inside.
“Damn!” he muttered as he turned around and saw the creature lumbering towards him. He looked around for a place to hide, but found nothing. He ran in the other direction from which the creature was approaching. As he was running he heard something fly overhead, so he stopped short, sliding on the slippery ground. Before he could fall he was lifted from the ground by the creature. Holding him up by his robes, the creature’s teeth gleamed as lightning struck again. The last thing Father Hennessy ever saw were the creature’s fangs going for his throat and then a flash of light.
As the creature finished it’s feeding, it looked around in disbelief and fell to its knees. It put its hands over it’s face and cried as it repeated to itself over and over, “No, not again. This can’t be happening again.” A bolt of lightning then struck the ground before him and he raised a fist to the skies and cursed at the heavens.

that's the last of 'em!
smell ya later!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ernie's story


here's one from our pal, ernie (cooper)...

When I was twelve, I often spent the summer with my aunt and uncle. They lived in a town called Prattsville. It was a small town, but big enough for the local kids to develop cliques, cliques that really know how to make an out-of-towner feel unwelcome. It’s not like they threw rocks at me when I was down by the river or at one of the more popular swimming holes, but they definitely never invited me into their inner circles, or even over for dinner.
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only young visitor in town looking for a clique to call my own. There were four of us. Kyle Kramer was instantly likeable. You just knew he was popular back home, and he was always slightly confused as to why he couldn’t ever fit in here. Ted Jameson was the runt of someone’s litter. He was pale and a bit twitchy, and, as we constantly reminded him, a bit of a mama’s boy. He never got to go swimming with us, and he only got to hang out with us when it was overcast. And then there was Billy Lovitz. Billy was around our age, but bigger, bulkier, and obviously a bully back home. You could tell he would rather be giving us massive wedgies than hanging out with us, but he didn’t want to run the risk of alienating his new seasonal friends.
One by one, we all found our way to the old McKay house. If you get the feeling you’re not wanted, you end up finding your way to the one spot where nobody else wants to be. And that was the abandoned house on the south end of town. It was an adventure in and of itself to navigate the jungle-like overgrowth that years of neglect had piled upon the property. Once through, though, you could play in the big yard, or just relax under a lazy sun.
I was first to plant the flag. Ted, Kyle, and Billy all appeared within the next two weeks, and before long we were sword-fighting with branches, playing hide-and-seek, and agreeing as a unit to spend more and more time in our own private playground. Ted joined us when the weather permitted. He was also not really into the whole “bashing-each-other-over-the-head-with-a-big-stick” scene, but would sit against the bole of the big tree in the front yard and yell encouragement to either side of a duel, although generally not Billy. When Billy did sometimes relapse to his non-Pratsville bullying self, Ted was often the object of his derision. When we shot marbles, though, Ted was a whiz, and he was great at both hiding and seeking.
Life was good in our little world, and none of us seemed to mind that the old McKay house was haunted.
I’d like to say it was because we were all just that brave, but it really boiled down to “any port in a storm,” and we all just knew that none of the other kids in town would bother us. After all, we didn’t have to live in the shadow of the McKay house, or hear the stories about the house every Halloween. Old Man McKay snapping and murdering his entire family. People saying the house was built on the obligatory Indian burial ground. Spectral lights in the house and roaming across the property.
You know the stories…The whole spooky nine yards.
Occasionally we’d hear distant banging coming from the house. We were always quick to dismiss the noise as squirrels, or cats, or even angry possums. We took turns yelling out random animals whenever we heard noises emanating from the house. It was almost as if we were casting some magic spell that would cause any ominous noise source to become, say, a restless squirrel.
We left the house alone, and we figured it would leave us alone. Then things started to disappear. Any ball we brought in with us and left would be gone once we got back. At first we thought some other kids had violated our little sanctum, but then things started to disappear while we were there. A stack of comics Kyle had brought with him vanished from the rock he’d left them on. We knew the stalemate with the house was over, though, when Billy’s dad’s pocket watch vanished right out of his pocket. We thought he was lying about it until Ted spotted the gold chain hanging from the rusty mailbox on the front porch.
None of us had ever been that close to the house. We looked at each other nervously, and then Billy darted forward, snatched the watch from the mailbox, and dashed back to us.
We followed Kyle’s pointing, trembling finger. In the front window, clearly visible through the grime, was the face of a woman. She gazed impassively out at us.
I’m not sure who screamed the loudest, or who was fastest back to their house, but I’m not ashamed to say it was probably me on both counts.
You’d think that we’d never go back, but we were young, and filled with that peculiar mix of bravery, stupidity, and wonderment that would eventually drain with age. Plus, two days later it was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, so it was hard to imagine anything ghostly happening under the harsh glare of the blazing sun. Kyle and Billy had the same idea, and the three of us found our way back to the house. Ted, of course, was at home, as Billy put, “hiding under his Mom’s skirts from the sun.”
Everything seemed to be back to normal, and we managed to convince ourselves that the face had just been our respective imaginations playing tricks.
Yes, all at the same time. A mass hallucination. We were twelve-ish, remember?
Within days, the four of us were back to our usual shenanigans. Things kept disappearing, and every so often one of us would tense up and look at the house as it made its usual sounds. Our cries of random forest critters seemed a bit more shrill and desperate.
And we’d still occasionally see the woman. Sometimes her vantage point changed, and she stared out a different window, but by this point we had thoroughly convinced ourselves that the truce with the house had returned, and if some ghost lady wanted to watch us run rampant all over her yard, so be it.
Then one sunny day when we were again just a trio, the house again threw down the proverbial gauntlet. As we lay on the lawn panting after a particularly robust round of kill-the-carrier, Kyle let out a horrified squawk. He pointed again, this time not at a ghostly face, but at the long-missing comic books that were jutting, mangled from the mailbox.
“Aw, maaa-aa-aann…”
He slowly walked, zombie-like, to the mailbox, and tried to gingerly extricate the remains. Billy and I were behind him, and I laid a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. Kyle was still making strangled, inhuman sounds. He finally balled up the ruined mass and hurled it onto the front porch.
We stood in stunned silence at the brazen counter-attack, and as we held our breath, heard the distinct sound of the front door softly clicking open.
From the lawn, the door still looked closed. Not quite knowing what wellspring I was drawing the strength from, I shook off my paralysis and glared angrily at the porch.
“I’m goin’ in.”
“Are you bonkers?!”
“Just wait here for me. I’m just going to the door.”
I swallowed nervously, and then took all three stairs at once. The front porch cracked and settled. The first step was like a gunshot going off, and we all cringed at the sound. It was obvious nothing living had stepped on the porch for quite some time. I made my way slowly across the protesting wood under my feet, and I could definitely see that the front door was cracked open.
I reached out, palm aimed at the door. There was a horrible creaking behind me, and I whirled to see that both Billy and Kyle stood at the top step.
“Stay there,” I hissed.
I returned to studying the dusty webs stretched across the open door. Maybe it had been open all along?
I studied the back of my open hand, wavering in the space before the door. Not knowing what else to do at that point, I leaned in and gently knocked.
“Dummy,” Billy growled.
“Shut. Up.”
Nothing. There was no sound from behind the door, which hadn’t even budged at my gentle rapping.
I knocked tentatively again, and this time I thought I heard a gentle tapping back.
“Did you hear anything?”
I was about to turn and beg for silence again, but at that point, there was a loud bang against the door. It was as if something had charged into it from the other side, slamming it shut. The door literally shivered on its hinges and a concussive blast of dust and debris showered the lot of us.
We scrambled backwards off the porch.
This time, though, we stopped on the sun-dappled lawn, not retreating all the way back to our respective homes.
“What was that?” Billy tugged nervously at his shirt bottom.
Kyle, who had been preaching the virtues of his parents buying him a puppy once school started again, offered, “Maybe there was an animal trapped in the house. He brightened, “A dog?”
I scowled. Kyle could keep wishing for a dog, but there was just no way that a dog was behind that door. Billy, realizing the house had made an uncontested and very loud sound, immediately started murmuring other – and smaller - creatures that could have just soundly slammed the door in our faces.
As he continued with his litany of small, furry animals, I had an idea. A crazy one, yes, but the house was not only threatening our summer, but it had also just violated both Captains America and Marvel.
It was time to take the fight to the house.
Into the house.
I nodded grimly. “Guys, we’re going to have a sleep-over.”
As unpopular ideas go, this one initially ranked somewhere between a school dance and a visit to the dentist. However, I managed to get them both fired up, although Billy kept saying that there was no way Ted’s mom would let him do it, and we all agreed it had to be the four of us as a unit. What had once been the source of endless ribbing was now a most convenient defense.
Two days later, though, it was gray and rainy, and we were all reunited in front of the house. Ted slowly chewed his lower lip as we relayed the story to him, and his eyes bulged as we detailed our plan to announce we would be staying at each other’s house overnight, and then secretly meet to crash whatever ghostly party was going on in the house.
“I think that’s a terrible idea. Terrible.”
We all chimed in, arguing, and then Billy shook his head, “I knew your mama wouldn’t let her little porcelain doll come play.”
Ted’s teeth ground together. “Fine.”
Billy was startled. “Um…What’s fine?”
“I’ll do it. Tomorrow night.”
Billy looked like he just swallowed a very large bug.
From Billy’s expression when we went our separate ways, I would have bet a large sum of cash that he wouldn’t be joining us, but ultimately the four of us found ourselves back at the house, this time under the cover of dark.
Kyle and I had each managed to steal a flashlight, and Billy had a small pack on. Ted had brought himself, which was probably all he could carry, anyways.
Billy hefted the weight on his back. “Didn’t you guys bring a sleeping bag or anything?”
“Do you really plan on sleeping?”
“Oh. Good point.”
We moved to the porch and I aimed the beam of my light at the front door.
“Let’s go.”
We climbed onto the creaking porch again. It seemed quieter, yet more sinister. Actually, everything seemed more sinister under the starless sky, and as thoughts of abandoning the mission raced through my head, I reached out grabbed the doorknob, and shoved. Hah. Too late to stop now.
The door swung inwards with a long groan.
“Last chance to bail out.”
Apparently, nobody wanted to be condemned as chicken, as we all remained silent.
I went first, then Ted and Billy. Kyle brought up the rear with the second flashlight. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but as the beam of light played down a short hallway, it all just seemed dusty and sad.
We crept deeper into the house, and when we reached what had once been a living room but now was a sheet-draped wasteland, I heard Billy whisper softly. “It’s her.”
The woman in the window was standing on the stairs that led up and around to the second floor. She gazed sadly down at us. She could have been real, except for the fact that her body would vanish wherever the beams of light danced across her. It almost seemed rude, so we stopped, and we stared up at her as she gazed resolutely at us.
“Hello?” I whispered softly.
She turned and walked up the stairs, vanishing after a few steps.
“Does she want us to follow her?”
I shrugged at Kyle, and then decided he might be right. We started up the stairs. When we reached the second floor, there was a sound like a large exhalation from the ground floor. We played our lights back down and across the furniture. It looked like there was something new under the sheets now, things writhing under the dusty linen. A figure suddenly resolved amidst the roiling mass, a softly glowing man.
His back was initially to us, but he seemed to be sniffing at the air like an animal. He turned towards us, and I gasped. He had no eyes. The upper part of his face was a mass of ugly scratches. Even without eyeballs, though, the ruined mess seemed to be staring straight at us.
“Guys! Guys! Get back!”
We all shrank back against the wall, and I noticed a door to my left. As quietly as possible, I turned the handle. Downstairs, the figure started to cackle. I pulled the door open, figuring the laughter would mask the sound of the door. It did, and then continued to get louder, more manic. Ted had the heels of his hands grinding against both ears. He was mumbling softly to himself, but when he saw me looking, he stopped, and then whispered imploringly, “Make it stop…”
I didn’t know how to stop it, but at that point I just wanted to get away from it. “In here!”
The four of us raced into the room, and I closed the door as quietly as possible. Behind the door, the laughter ended abruptly.
We quickly scanned the room for anything hostile. It had obviously been a child’s room. We were less concerned with the d├ęcor, though, and more concerned with whatever it was that had been in the living room. While the ghostly woman had always seemed to be a benign observer, there was no such vibe from the eyeless man.
Billy was tugging madly at his shirt bottom. “What do we do?”
“We need to stay quiet.”
Ted was crying softly. I turned the light on him, “Hey, is your arm bleeding?”
He just shook his head helplessly at me.
The three of them were behind me, cowering, as I stood at the door. I thought I could hear a shuffling sound from the other side. As I strained to hear, there was another sound behind me. I tried to frantically hush my companions, thinking it was one of them. It was actually a lone marble that was slowly rolling across the floor towards us. Kyle, wide-eyed, tracked it with his flashlight.
As the marble bumped against my sneaker, more marbles and other toys began to roll and bounce across the room, and something started to hammer at the closed door. I jumped back just as Ted began screaming. I whirled, aimed my light. Ted was walking towards me, a stricken look on his face. He reached out to me, whimpering, as bruises and welts began to bloom up and down his thin arms.
I stumbled across the floor to him, and then right through him. I passed right through his body and felt an icy blast chill me, the cold exploding across my brain. I dropped to my knees, and Billy and Kyle went completely nuts, yelling incoherently and backing away from Ted and I.
Ted’s eyes rolled back in his head, and he began to tremble uncontrollably. The hammering at the door stopped, and Ted slowly rose into the air. Kyle stopped pounding against the wall and yanked the door open. There was nothing on the other side, and since Ted was now spinning slowly in place and screaming once again, Kyle chose to make a break for it. Billy was right on his heels.
I took a swipe at Ted, feeling cold emptiness again, and then some invisible force smashed across my right cheek. My head snapped to the side and stars danced wildly around in my head. The mark it left would end up lingering for weeks.
Helpless, hurting, I turned and ran. Kyle and Billy were already racing into the living room when I hit the stairs. Kyle bolted out the front door.
And the front door slammed shut.
Billy ran full tilt into it, bouncing back almost comically. He fell hard on his left side, and the nearest wriggling sheets started to make hissing, gibbering sounds at him. I reached the bottom of the stairs, and then all of the air seemed to rush to the center of the room, and Mr. McKay appeared with the sound of muffled thunder. He was floating about three feet off the floor between Billy and I.
I fell back against the stairs as all of the dust and webbed debris in the old house began to snake across the floor towards the malevolent figure, curling up and around him, swirling in an angry maelstrom. The dust seemed to give him a physical presence even as his body began to flicker in and out of existence, strobing crazily. The ugly red scratches that made up his face turned to me, and then quickly back to Billy who was crying hysterically and clawing his way towards the door.
His forward momentum stopped, though, and he instead started to be pulled backwards towards the spectral whirlwind in the center of the room. I noticed that the ghostly woman was back, eyes downcast, to my right. And suddenly, on the left, there was Ted. He was still bruised, beaten and bloody, and just like the ghostly woman, didn’t seem to notice or care about anything going on in the room.
Billy had flipped over onto his back and was kicking wildly yet ineffectually at whatever had him.
Suddenly, the house itself seemed to speak with a low, guttural voice. “Weeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaak,” it uttered, and Billy rose into the air, kicking and screaming hysterically. “Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle…”
A slash appeared on his right forearm as the very walls continued to growl. I stood up, but something smashed me back against the stairs, holding me in place. As more bloody slashes appeared over Billy’s thrashing body, a thin voice called out over the sound of the angry house.
Ted was back. Our Ted. The Ted that had spent the summer watching us valiantly sword-fighting, but never participating. And at this point I realized I had not only never seen him swimming, but I’d also never seen him anywhere outside of the property. When we all went home, he was home.
His hands were curled into fists, his wounds were gone, and he stood resolutely in front of the imposing figure of the thing that had, in life, been his father.
“Daddy, leave my friends alone!”
The house rumbled in anger, but I felt the crushing weight lift from my chest and saw Billy plunge to the ground. Ted grunted as the welts began to track crazily across his arms again, but didn’t scream this time as he rose into the air. Racing around the perimeter I helped Billy to his feet, and with one last look at Ted locked in battle for the first time with his father, I threw open the door and fell across the porch and down the stairs.
Kyle was miraculously still there, waiting for us. We all sort of clung to each other then, most likely reassuring ourselves that we were all physical beings and not masquerading ghosts. The house was alive in the night air, and eerie lights danced and played in all of the windows. The usual warm buzz of twilight summer had been replaced by silence, as if the night itself was holding its breath as we stared up at the still-open door.
The silence was broken as Ted’s voice exploded all around us, at my shoulder, in my ear.
“Run! Now!”
And we did.
Hopefully, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that summer ended without our going back to the house. In fact, after that night, except for one sullen encounter at the grocery store, I never saw Billy again. Even Kyle and I lost contact with each other after a few years of being infrequent pen pals. I spent years trying to rationalize what I saw, the things we experienced that night. Whenever I hear someone tell a ghost story, I think of what happened that night, and realize that the best ghost stories leave out non-spooky terms like “domestic abuse” and you get oddly desensitized and tend to lose sight of what might have really happened, the source material.
So remember when you hear those urban legends and ghostly tales, and keep in mind that they’re often painted with the broadest strokes. None of us knew at the time, obviously, but I poked around afterwards and found out that Old Man McKay’s son had been a sickly little kid named Ted. Ted Jameson. His widowed mom had had kept their last name. It was ultimately just one more thing for Mr. McKay to be angry about.
He must’ve been really angry when they knocked the whole house down about twenty years later to make room for some new development. I read the little blurb online, and took a trip to Prattsville that summer. The demolition crew had torn great swaths from what had turned into a small forest over the years, so I was able to easily get up the hill once more and take a look at the house. There was still a good bit of the house left, albeit strewn around the yard. I walked idly through it, kicking boards here and there, humming to myself.
I stopped when I came upon the old rusty mailbox. The porch was gone, and so it lay on its side. As I watched, it squeaked open, and a shiny blue marble rolled out and landed innocently in the grass. I slowly knelt and picked it up, rolling it gently between thumb and forefinger.
“Maybe next time,” I called out into the empty yard, and slipped the marble into my pocket. Turning with a small grin, I strode back down the hill.

thanks, ernie!
smell ya later

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

david's story


we'll get right back to our perhapanauts scary story halloween contest in just a moment...

but remember yesterday when i said i couldn't get blogger to load up the photos of our friends from the screaming tiki con in ohio...? well, i finally got it to work...
and so here are c and my new friends, cat staggs and mark mchaley, both incredible illustrators who's gorgeous work adorns the cards and posters of many a star wars and indiana jones set--among many, many others!

cat and mark

here's a quick sample of what cat can do...

and here's a couple of mark's...

check out more of cat's stuff at:

and check out mark's at:

also part of our 'crew' were writer, marc sumerak, and artist, chris jones! marc is the writer on many a marvel masterpiece and, most notably, the award winning, franklin richards series! chris is the guy who makes the batman strikes comic book look even cooler than the show (imo!)!

marc and chris

we had a great time hanging with these guys--truly, the friendships we made at this show helped make the weekend SO much more fun! great meeting all four of you and we'll be seein' ya all again soon enough at the new york show!


and, now, here's david's story...

The following story is based on actual events. It has not been edited for time or to fit your TV...

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. Quite the contrary, it was the Fourth of July. It was a spectacular one, too. The kind you always remember, like you would see in an episode of the Wonder Years. Everyone was there: family, friends, family of friends, people from church. The festivities sprawled some ten acres to encompass both our neighbors, with our house in the middle serving as the base of operations for all activities.
Growing up in rural southwest Georgia one becomes accustomed to a single cold hard fact… gatherings of any sort mean food… and lots of it.
There were ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, pea salad, corn on the cob, corn bread, baked beans and my Peepaw’s secret hamburger relish (if you keep it a secret I may share it with you sometime). Anyway, one could only imagine the spread of food available unless they had seen it with their own eyes. Food like this isn’t eaten in course but in waves.
After all that there was always dessert. Homemade ice cream made with blackberries, blue berries and strawberries from our neighbor’s garden. Ice cream was of course churned by crank, powered by the younger ones in attendance, myself included. It was my job to ensure that the youngest, my brother, sat on the churn while we cranked. “Otherwise the ice cream won’t freeze,” I would say. Of course this wasn’t true; it was a fable created by my Peepaw when my mother was a child. The actual result was to freeze the bottom of whoever was sitting on the churn. My glee at my brother’s frozen backside was short-lived, however. My schadenfreude would eventually backfire when the trash can of ice that was used to chill watermelons was used to douse me.
It was the only time that I can ever remember having enough people over to have two full teams to play softball. That was a real treat. Back yard ball on ten acres is as exciting as the real thing when you are 12. We played a good 6 or 7 innings before the parents opted to call it. We continued playing with our abbreviated teams until it was time for the fireworks.
Four brown bags full of contraband fireworks from Phenix City, Alabama (the other Sin City --- look it up), were the main attraction. We watched the sun set as gross after gross of imported explosions erupted before us. It would have taken longer to execute such an array, but one bag full of munitions caught fire and sent rockets and members of the audience in all directions. Turned out that would be enough fireworks for the night.
People began saying good bye and making their way home, leftovers in tow. My Mom, Dad, brother, sister and I gathered around the bonfire, taking a much needed breather from the day’s events. We agreed that much fun was had by all as Mom tried to get the perfect ration of crispy brown skin and gooey goodness on her marshmallow without it catching fire.
It was quite dark now. Living in the country, the night sky seems much deeper, the stars brighter and crisper. The glow of the fire was the only real source of light in the back yard. A dirt road ran the length of our property behind the house. Parallel to it ran US Highway 19. Past the dirt road were mounds of kudzu that covered the hollow remains of slave quarters. For a July night the air was cool and moved through the pecan trees that surrounded the house and lined the driveway. Mom always said it reminded her of Tara.
My dog Boomer lay at my feet enjoying a dish of leftovers that I had prepared for her. Boomer was the best dog a boy could ever hope for. The day she picked me to be her friend was a great one. She always looked out for my siblings and me. Quick to lick a scrape after tumbling from your bike or to put herself between you and a snake if need be. Boomer never gave anyone reason to question her motives or judgment.
Imagine our surprise when her oversized ears stood up along with the hair on the back of her neck as she stared and faintly growled down the dirt road. There were no headlights; all the guests had gone. We heard nothing… wait…something was coming. What was that sound? A faint rumbling, like…thunder? No, something else. Not just a rumble, but hooves. Was that a wagon? Who would be riding their horse at this hour? The noise grew louder, but not so much louder as closer. The sounds grew more distinct: hooves, wheels, chains, and a low moan --- a moan of anguish and pain, but not a defeated moan, a defiant moan.
Other than the initial call to Boomer, no one said a word. We stood frozen. Boomer let loose a barrage of barks at the peak of the noise, but never ventured out of the yard. While we never “saw” anything, we felt the presence pass as the sound disappeared down the road past the kudzu, beyond the trees.
We looked at each other, confused. We tried to explain what we saw. We are an open minded family who understands that there are things beyond that which can be explained.
Later, we carefully began asking the questions, trying not to sound too crazy. Not sounding crazy can be hard to do when you are an outsider in a town of 1200. An outsider is someone who doesn’t have family ties to the town prior to the turn of the century. As it turns out, a century or so ago a young black man was beaten nearly to death, tied to the back of a wagon, and drug from town out past where he lived. There he was hung. I don’t remember the “reason” given. Mainly because no reason would be just. There was even a passage about the incident in the “History of…” book of our community.
We never experienced the incident again. In fact, every 4th of July we would listen. I think it was important for us to know and remember what had happened. In that way others could not forget.
Except for the burning red eyes that would pierce into by brother’s window on occasion and the unexplained hot spot on the floor in my parents’ closet, everything else at that house was fairly normal.
[Peepaw’s famous hamburger relish: 1 part onion to 1 part tomato. Chop, stir and serve with any burger or dog]

David Hunting Hill, II


nice one! : )
thanks david!

gotta go!
smell ya later!

Monday, October 27, 2008



taking a short break from our scary story contest today so that we can post the answers to the "five for friday" (below) and catch up on some things...

so, it was my birthday a few weeks ago, and while i had really hoped that i would be able to ignore this one (you do get tired of them after a while...) between myspace and facebook, it seemed like EVERYBODY knew...! so many happy returns and thanks...!

of course, my friend, wendy, didn't make things any better, announcing it in our little group over on facebook and offering a "draw a birthday greeting" challenge to alla my old college friends! i was touched, but i don't really want people going to any trouble over me...

on the other hand, i did get quite a few cool drawings and here are the two that wendy herself posted...

and one by her son, the other perhapa-fan in the family...

thanks, wend--i will get you back...!


and as matt and i continue to revel in the season and all the great new--and old--horror movies that we love, love, LOVE, he sent over this birthday greeting that he threw together himself in 'shop. i love it so much, i printed it out and carried it around with me for days...!

thanks, brother!

and as if that wasn't enough, matt hit me with this sweet, sweet (run out and get it if you haven't already!) birthday gift--new from dark horse, the collected CREEPY!! man, this is just some incredible, stunning stuff, collecting the first five issues of the warren magazine classics featuring art by guys like reed crandall, gray morrow, al williamson, angelo torres, and frank frazetta! and stories by the legendary archie goodwin! like the barker book, i've been trying to slow down in my devouring of it, savoring every last blood-dripping page. ahhh...

and christian, as much of a cryptozoology fiend as i am, gifted me with this fun and funny book that, i couldn't help it, i sat down and read in one sitting! not quite the same big as in our book, but i really, really dig this guy! (you can check out an exerpt of this, and the creepy book, over at )

well, for the last week, i've been dying to report back to you on our trip to ohio and introduce you all to the new friends craig and i met--but blogger is fighting me here and not letting me upload ANY of my pictures from the con. (well, one, and that's below).
we got to hang and have some great times with illustrators extraordinaire cat staggs and mark mchaley, fantastic artists who've both done a lot of work for all of the trading cards companies on all of the best star wars and indiana jones sets! (i'll be highlighted them more is a week or so when I CAN GET THIS #&^%$in' blogger to upload...!!)
we also spent some good times with comics writer marc sumerak--who does just about ALL of the marvel adventures line and has been kind enough to let me play with his marvel adventures spider-man over the next few months...) and artist christopher jones, who made the batman strikes comic book cooler than the cartoon!! (again, i'll have pictures of these guys later...)
it was a fun show--a first time venture for con organizers, peter and dawn smith--and they did a hell of a job! craig and i DID get our picture taken in the batmobile--another photo i'm not able to load at this moment...and chris, craig, and i had a private audience and got to hear some cool, inside-the-wookie stories from peter mayhew!

...and, finally, the only costume picture i took all weekend...and the only one i'm allowed to post, apparently...the riddler!


and here are the
answers to your
"five for friday"
this week, as we've done before, we have some initial riddles.
try to figure out the familiar sayings or values with only these numbers and initials.
(example: 52 C in a D of C = 52 Cards in a Deck of Cards)

1. 12 M in a Y

12 Months in a Year

2. 9 P in the S S

9 Planets in the Solar System

3. 200 Y make a B C

200 Years make a BiCentennial
(yes, i know it's all one word and the "C" shouldn't be capitalized--i did that as a hint--and if you guessed that but then discounted it, count yourself right...)

4. 15 M on a D M C

15 Men on a Dead Man's Chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

5. 99 B of B on the W

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

6. 6 O in an I

6 Outs in an Inning

7. 3.8 L equals 1 G

3.8 Liters equals 1 gallon
(the boys had it easy on this one. it's now printed on every urnal in the country...and what else do you have to read...?)

8. 13 S on the A F

13 Stars on the American Flag

9. 4 S in a D of C

4 Suits in a Deck of Cards

10. 32 T in an (A H) M

32 Teeth in an (Adult Human's) Mouth

gotta go!
smell ya later!

Friday, October 24, 2008

uriel's story


getting right to it, here is a story from uriel, a perhapa-fan from mexico...

Mr. Dezago,

Hi! My name's Uriel A. Duran, long time reader and first time writer from Mexico City.
Your contest seems like fun so I decided to join with a story I wrote some time ago. It's not exactly a horror story but it does talk about what fear is.
Hope you like it, and keep that great work with the Perhapanauts.

The story is:
Blattophobia (or "Fear and Uncertainty")
Ah,phobias.Those sudden sensations that inexplicably haunt us and take over our will,overcoming our supposed self-control whit that thing we call FEAR.

Well,I am moderately phobic,as almost everyone else.So far I've never any person who does not hoard deep inside themselves a little fear,usually an unexplained one towards an animal in particular.Sure,we all understand that it's quite reasonable to be afraid of a poisonous cobra or someone so untamed and cruel like a serial killer hunting new victims.But,What happens when you're afraid of an animal that strictly can't harm you?

So,this is the time when I must make a sad and shameful confession about my most deep and uncontrollable phobia:cockroaches.
I want to clarify first that my fear is absolutely not devoid of foundations.I'm completely sure that those little animals are aware of my fear...they can smell it...they look for attracts them irremediably.

I'll tell you about something that proofs that.
About one month ago,I opened the door of my house to pick up the newspaper,when I made a revolting discovery:there was a goddamn cockroach,crawling the door.So silent (not that I expected to hear it bark,you know),stalking,trying to blend itself with the brown color of the door...a roach-brown color,whose hue I'm hating more and more every day whenever I remember about the incident.And then the awful bastard stood still and did not made the slightest attempt to move or hide.It just stood there,watching me,like if it were challenging me.

I was petrified.

But immediately I recovered my courage and bravery,and so I quickly closed the door...and I started to cry against the wall as little girl.

Okay,actually not.Yes,I did close the door,but I didn't cry.In fact,I went to the kitchen,possessed by a growing rage and I took a weapon worth of the dangerous task I was about to fulfill:a powerful and lethal broom.
I got back to the door and opened it again,protecting my neck just in case that perfidious and revolting son of a bloody roach (I hate them!) tried to jump to my jugular.
And I saw it.But it didn't jump nor it tried to attack me,it rather stood there,quietly stuck to the door,moving his awful antennae as if it were saying "Come on you sissy,go ahead,make my day."
I swung my broom with a quick and accurate blow that made the cockroach fly about 2 meters...and then if finally moved.

Here I'd like to make a brief pause so I can mention a characteristic that always has attracted my attention to the topic of the phobias that people have towards animals.I have questioned many persons about their own phobias,and the answer is always the same:"The animal is not simply disgusting by itself.What really gives me the creeps is THE WAY IT MOVES."

The way it moves...

So far I have not managed to explain it exactly why,but what I detest more in a cockroach is that:its movements.

Okay,so as I was saying,the repugnant beast started to move,and I felt sick.So I brandished my weapon with fury,and threw ferocious blows that didn't made any contact.

The damned creature got away.

As its escape took it far away from the door of my house,I felt more or less relieved,knowing that I accomplished the sacred task of protecting my home.

But later,at night...

That night,I was on my bed,resting calmly.
About 3:00 am,I woke up because I heard a noise.In this city in which authorities have worked so hard fighting crime,well,you learn to be always prepared in case you see or heard something unusual.

So I went to see that everything were normal,but then when I was walking through the living room,I heard another noise.A noise coming from a pile of old magazines.I was speculating with my sleepy brain about what could it be when I felt something over my naked foot.

Yes,my friends,something walked quickly over my foot and was about to crawl my ankle.I can remember perfectly that my first thought was "Let it be a spider,let it be a spider,please,let it be a spider..." Not that I feel a special pleasure when a spider crawls my legs,mind you,but I didn't want to think in any other possibility that overflowed all the limits of my disgust and fear.

I jumped.

I went directly to the light switch,and I fell prey of panic as I found out something shocking:it was IT.You're not going to believe me,but I swear in the name of all things sacred that it was THE VERY SAME bastard cockroach that was in the door that morning.Again I felt sick when I saw it ran away and hide underneath an armchair.

I also ran away,looking for my deadly weapon and when I returned,it happened the most incredible thing.The cockroach couldn't be seen anywhere.I was there,standing in the middle of the room,snorting with disgust and horror,without finding it.Suddenly I heard a slight sound without being able to identify where exactly it came from.

And happened again.

The cockroach came from behind me and once again walked OVER MY NAKED FOOT.Yeah,in a lapse of less than five minutes I had felt twice the revolting sensation of its tiny,multiple legs scratching my skin.

Finally I yelled something like "Sonova...!" ,but I contained myself because even with the rage boiling inside me I didn't want to wake up all the neighbors.I threw some blows with my broom and the freaky spawn went to hide behind some toy soldiers.
I waited for about 5 or 10 minutes and then it appeared again:indolent,shameless and brazen.

It was then when yhe prehistoric hunter inside me lived again,the caveman whose skills made the difference in becoming the hunter or the prey.As if it were a lance,I raised my glorious broom with the right hand (the image must have been stirringly manly and epic) and I hit the revolting creature with a powerful and fast blow.

I destroyed it.There it was,now a stain,a revolting,inert evidence of my fear,all spread over the fibers of the broom (later that week,I threw that broom and bought a new one).

The blow was executed with such rage that I got an arm-ache during all the next day.

But the worse thing was the facts were very clear:the cockroach,you see,it STALKED ME.

It looked for me.
It started the confrontation.
I killed it.
But it left the fear inside me.

Although...then,I began to think about that...well...perhaps the President just died and reincarnated in the creepy-crawly that had approached me,and maybe was trying to tell me that his death was in fact a murder planned by some secret conspirators.And I killed him again for the second time in a day! Poor Mr. President! advice is,if it was really you Mr. President,and I killed you again,please,the next time you die:DON'T MESS WITH MY FRAGILE NERVES AND RATHER REINCARNATE IN A LESS SCARY CREATURE,DAMMIT! Now,if you are not dead Mr. President,my friendly advice remains the same.

Still,I wonder if am I wrong.Did I make an immoral act? Do I need professional help to overcome my fear? Does somebody knows how pathogenic are cockroaches? I already did a search in the Internet and two blogs say that they are not at all and another one says that they are highly dangerous for health,and now I am confused...

For your time and understanding,thank you very much.


are our entries getting you in that spooky halloween spirit? i hope so! with halloween just a week away, i'm trying to get in as much creepy reading and horror movie watching as i can! matt sent me a copy of "the inhuman condition" by clive barker that i have been trying not to read too quickly, to draw out the luxuriously ghoulish experience...but it's hard. and i have plans to go see quarantine this weekend, which i'm really excited about!
what are you up to...? and, anybody got pics they wanna send in of their halloween costumes? we'd love to see 'em!

anyway, here are a couple of halloween pictures to get you in the mood...


and here are your
"five for friday"
this week, as we've done before, we have some initial riddles.
try to figure out the familiar sayings or values with only these numbers and initials.
(example: 52 C in a D of C = 52 Cards in a Deck of Cards)

1. 12 M in a Y

2. 9 P in the S S

3. 200 Y make a B C

4. 15 M on a D M C

5. 99 B of B on the W

6. 6 O in an I

7. 3.8 L equals 1 G

8. 13 S on the A F

9. 4 S in a D of C

10. 32 T in an (A H) M

and that's it for me!
have a great weekend!
smell ya later!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

jared's story


here's one from my friend, jared, one of the most smiling-est people i know...and i had no idea such twisted things were running through his head...


There was very little to cheer for that evening.
For Charles Bradley Morgan III, there was very little to cheer for in general. He had watched in horror mere weeks ago as the Chicago Cubs, a ball club he had sworn allegiance to and stood by for every baseball season of his life, which constituted half of their 100 straight seasons without a World Series win, fell in the first three games of the first round in the playoffs. Crashing and burning in a fiery end to what had been their most promising season in decades.
He had watched in even greater horror, over an even greater expanse of weeks, as his chosen candidate, the first he had truly believed in, truly been excited about since Reagan, was losing to the worst nightmare of a candidate he had seen since registering as a Republican over thirty years ago in the fall of ‘76.
And now, by the very cruelest twist of fate, the bartender flicked back and forth between the two stations that reminded him of both harsh realities. The Dodgers game was on Fox, the very team that had crushed the Cubs, and they were now about to lose to the Phillies. The third and final presidential debate was on CNN. It might as well have been the first or the second as far as Charles was concerned. It would change nothing.
But even the combined weight of these two was nothing compared to what truly plagued his thoughts.
“You keepin’ this tab goin’ guy?” the bartender asked without turning, eyes on the television. He had held up Charles’ Mastercard and was bending it between his thumb and pointer finger.
“I will.”
“Another pint then?” The bartender was moving down to the taps.
“And a shot,” Charles grimaced.
“Whatever you’re drinking when you get home.”
The bartender nodded steadily to himself, back still to Charles as he reached into a cupboard out of sight for a bottle Charles didn’t recognize. He shifted on his bar stool, glancing down first at the deserted bar and then over his shoulder at the busy bustling restaurant. Every table was occupied. Every waiter was hurrying this way and that. The last thing he wanted was to stand out.
He had no reason to be there in Middletown. He had a reason of course, but not one he could explain to anyone, least of all his wife. He had met Laurie about a month ago at an apple orchard south of Woodstock. He had gone there to get a bushel or two for Diane, his wife. She loved apples in the fall. She loved all the things she would make with them and she knew that Charles loved them too. January would mark their thirtieth anniversary. By now he knew what brought her joy, all the simple gestures it took to make her smile. Apples were a guarantee and he loved to make her smile.
He lived in Woodstock and the Stone Ridge Orchards were the closest apple orchards his side of the Hudson. That was the only reason he had chosen that one. He had never been there before and the location really was the only reason. If he had chosen any other one, things would have been easier. If he had chosen any other one he wouldn’t have met Laurie.
The moment they began to talk he knew that things would be different. He had only just begun to notice Diane’s lacking interest in the bedroom. It hadn’t even been going on long enough yet for it to have noticeably diminished his ego. He had only just noticed it, but already he felt himself responding to the advances of this other woman. This strange wide eyed woman with the black shoulder length hair, fair skin, and immense bosom she had tried to suppress with a blouse that was too tight.
They talked about the orchard, they talked about the economy, they talked about the election, they talked about themselves.
Then they talked about her cottage down on Glenmere Lake.
He could’ve thought up an excuse. Any excuse would’ve been fine. He could’ve been ill. He could’ve been busy. He could’ve been gay.
He could’ve been married.
And yet there he sat, three weeks later, five drinks deep, musing simultaneously about the overwhelming guilt he felt at that moment and the unbelievable sex he had just had with Laurie at the cottage. In the midst of a futile attempt to wash away the first thought while preserving the second, he realized the first was taking a toll.
His EZ Pass, however, was not. He never took the thruway on his trips to see Laurie in Florida. Not Florida the state of course, but Florida, New York. The trip was only about an hour and a half by the thruway, but it was far too risky to take that route as his work was west in Stamford. If Laurie were to see the bill, there would be no excuse. No, he would drive south to Florida after leaving the firm in Stamford around 4:30, make it there around 6 and then take the winding back roads north to Woodstock. The fact that the firm was working on their biggest case in a decade was excuse enough to give Diane for why he would return home so late some nights. Laurie nights.
The case. That was something he really couldn’t even bare to think about at that moment. His mind, his conscience could only take so much. He just did his job and tried not to think about it. About the girl and her father and what the settlement would do to them. Them and their land.
That is not Harry and Claudia over there, he thought. It can’t be.
Sure enough, walking in the front door was his brother in law and his wife. Charles had stopped at this bar on the way home every one of the dozen times he had driven down to Laurie’s. He had never once seen them. What were they doing here? The doorman was taking their coats. They were listening intently to whatever he was saying. They seemed to know him. Thank God for that.
He finished the pint. He downed the shot.
It was time to go.
“I think I’ll close that tab now…right now.”
“Whatever you say boss,” the bartender printed up a bill and slapped it down in front of him.
Charles signed the bill, hurriedly threw down a tip and arose, stumbling a bit up the bar and out the back door.
That last shot had really gotten on top of him. He got behind the wheel of his 2008 Toyota Celica. A car he loved. A car Diane had bought him for his birthday last year. He drove out of the parking lot, heading north on a deserted road, heading home.
His thoughts drifted back to the cottage. He thought of the little room with no television in Laurie’s house where she would just read and listen to music. Not like at home, where Diane seemed to have a nagging need to keep the television on at all hours of the day. He thought of the fire he had built for Laurie in the fireplace. The fire he had always wanted to build at home, but couldn’t because the smoke made Diane sick. He thought of the warm brown quilt Laurie had made him. The one they had wrapped themselves in by the fire before wrapping themselves in one another. Rolling and groaning on the hardwood floor, the quilt had slid off of Laurie’s arched back as her head rolled back toward the ceiling, the light of the flames dancing across her breasts.
The car had come to halt, nearly in time, but not quite. Charles was staring at the steering wheel, nearly hyperventilating. He looked up in time to see a great buck limping away into the reeds on the side of the road. The lights didn’t look right. Didn’t look even.
He unbuckled, got out and walking around to the front of the car discovered, sure enough, he had broken his left headlight on the damn deer. He kicked the front left tire, cursing and reentering the car in a fury. It was the first bit of damage the car had been dealt since he acquired it. It would have to be fixed. Just one more damn thing to take care of. He put the key in the ignition and glanced up to the rearview picking up a faint glimmer.
Odd, he thought. On every one of his trips home from Florida, and subsequently the bar in Middletown, he hadn’t seen any other cars on the back roads until he was much farther north. Provided, it wasn’t that late, couldn’t be later than 10:30, but still.
For a moment, he considered pulling over to the side and letting the car pass him, but it was still a fair distance behind. They disappeared somewhat as the road dipped down a hill quite a ways back. Maybe even a mile. He was already looking at a 1 AM return time to Woodstock and decided not to waste any more time. He started driving again.
He was still a little drunk, he was still a little horny and both aspects of his current condition needed to be fully extinguished before he made it home. Becoming Diane’s Charles after spending an evening as Laurie’s Charles was a task that had seemed impossible weeks ago but he had since mastered. All it took was focusing on a single sobering thought. The case with the farm in East Durham served as that. The father and the daughter. The God damned case that occupied too many hours of his days and even more of his thoughts. He thought of the cold, merciless killer slumbering in his glove compartment and what the firm expected him to do with it.
He saw the headlights again now, as the land leveled out behind him and the car came into view. It was only a two lane highway, so if he wasn’t going fast enough Charles knew the guy would be right up behind him soon. He despised tailgaters, more than nearly anything. He almost missed his left thinking about it, heading northwest now.
He wished he’d bought some breath mints before leaving Middletown. The liquor on his breath would help masking any scent of Laurie, but he didn’t want it to rouse Diane from her sleep. He couldn’t tell how strong it was. The night’s cold had blocked all sense of smell.
The headlights came into view again. He had taken the left as well. Probably about a half mile back he was driving faster now and somewhat gaining. Charles looked at the yellow lines and realized they were breaking. He grinned knowingly and slowed down a bit as the driver was surely planning to pass him. He must know the area, Charles thought. He hated people who just decided to pass him whenever they wanted. He saw no good reason to not observe the rules of the road at all times.
The headlights gained on him, they were close now. Lighting up his rearview mirrors. The guy didn’t have his brights on thankfully. That really drove Charles crazy when people did that. The guy was taking a while to pass him though.
Charles didn’t understand what the guy was doing now. He slowed down a little more, but the headlights slowed with him. He was becoming increasingly irritated when, suddenly, it dawned on him.
No, he thought. A cop. It had to be. A cop must’ve seen me leave the bar and followed me from town. He’s waiting for me to give myself away. To do something drunk enough to warrant him pulling me over.
He wouldn’t get it.
Charles sped back up again, watching the headlights drift backwards into the darkness as he accelerated. He came to the realization that maybe it wasn’t a DUI the cop was looking for, but the busted headlight in the front. He soon abandoned the busted headlight idea though. If it was that, the cop would’ve pulled him over already. He soon abandoned the DUI idea too. This was no cop.
What is this guy doing?
He maintained a steady speed with the headlights a few yards behind him. For a moment, just a moment, he entertained the idea that Harry and Claudia had seen him stumble out of the bar and were pursuing him now to make sure he was alright. He abandoned that thought as well, Harry had never given a damn about him. He looked for a sign, a landmark of some kind, anything to give him an idea of how far he had to go. He knew his next turn was coming up soon. There’s no way the guy would turn with him again.
With about two miles until the turn he turned on the radio to take his mind off of the nuisance behind his car, to take his mind off of everything.
He had left it on NPR from earlier in the evening. They were surely talking about the economy. He couldn’t listen. He had lost so much already. His investments, his stocks that had been so secure a couple months ago. Now, almost nothing.
He switched it off, looking in the rearview. Headlights. Glaring at him. Maliciously, menacingly they judged him. They never broke their gaze, not as he slowed to turn right, not as they took the turn with him.
Alright, he thought. This game ends here.
He stopped short. He stopped the car completely. He didn’t slow down, he didn’t pull over, he just stopped right in the middle of that deserted back road as eleven o’clock rolled around.
Headlights rolled to a slow unnerving crawl, stopping a few feet from the bumper of Charles’ Celica.
They sat there like that. For five seconds, ten seconds, thirty seconds. Charles was motionless. He gaped into the rearview mirror, breathing heavier with each passing second. Finally accepting the terror that had been struggling to get inside him for miles. He loosened his tie, staring deeply into the rearview mirror. He couldn’t take his eyes off of those headlights. Then he heard it.
He wheeled around in his seat. The driver had gotten out of the car. Along the right side of the headlights a silhouette came into view. Faceless, mirthless it took a few steps into the light and toward Charles’ car.
He hit the gas and rocketed off from that spot. He shot like a cannonball down that deserted road, leaving the dark silhouetted figure in his wake.
The other car was out of sight now, but the light from the headlights was still somewhat visible in the distance. No need to do the speed limit now, this was no cop he was dealing with. There was no cop for miles. He had to be at least halfway home. Not much further to go. Not much farther to the farm in East Durham.
They told him to do it tonight. He told Diane he would do it night. He didn’t tell her what he’d be doing there, but he told her he had to ride out there to do something for the case. The firm thought that it would be done tonight, but he had to take a detour, south to Laurie. And now he was thinking, with this tail still somewhere behind him, that he should just go home, get a good sleep and drive up and do it in the morning before work. Even though they wanted it done tonight. But how could they know?
Unless…unless the driver was sent by the firm. Sent to follow him and make sure he did what they’d asked him to. When they’d asked him to do it.
It was a lot, what they were asking him to do. A whole lot. As if they hadn’t ruined the lives of the father and his daughter enough. But if they were going to put as much money on the line as they already had to take this land, they wanted some guarantees. The cold merciless killer slumbering in Charles’ glove compartment was recovered from a shootout at a nearby meth lab less than a mile from the farm. Planting it on their premises that evening was to be their security if the case started getting away from them.
So not only will we rob them, but send them to prison as well, Charles thought, gripping the steering wheel, clenching his teeth. Finally facing the great hulking monster he had committed himself to serving, the one his entire life had become. He had entered his profession to fight men like the one he had become. His marriage to Diane was to become the man he wanted to be.
He was done telling himself it was dark. He was done telling himself it was late. He was done telling himself that he was just drunk, just paranoid and just alone. Finally, he was surrendering to the foreboding.
And the headlights were behind him again.
He was really breathing hard now. Hyperventilating even. A different kind of excited breathing now. Not like the breathing that had come from Laurie, as she walked naked out of the chilly lake to meet him. Not like how her chest had pushed against his, elevating her body as she laid upon him, catching her breath and nuzzling his neck…
It had been three weeks now.
The coming home late, the phone calls at the pay phone in town, drinking out in the open at a bar Harry and Claudia are regulars in, the very smell of another woman on his skin.
Diane had to know something.
And she was getting the jump on Charles. She always was just one step ahead of him. And this was no exception. It all finally made sense. Conclusively. Horrifically. The headlights trailing him, their unrelenting pursuit. The fact that someone would be following him all the way down here for as long as this.
Diane had hired a divorce lawyer. This was the guy they sent to follow him.
What could he have? Laurie’s name? Address? Pictures? Pictures of us, on the floor, in her bedroom, by the lake? He could have everything she needs. Everything she needs to build a case that would cost him everything. Forget the stocks and bonds, she would take the house, the cars, the savings account for the timeshare in the Poconos. And he would be out on his own, starting over from square one, stripped of all he had worked and fought so hard for.
And he couldn’t live with Laurie. He couldn’t stand to live with Laurie. He couldn’t stand to have anything more than what they had right now. That’s all he wanted. No more, no less than what he’d earned. Was that so much?
Headlights, they were there again. They were burning into the back of his brain. Burning as they always had been. Since the first time he cheated on Diane. Since Carol, all those years ago. Carol, what was I thinking letting you leave? Headlights, burning with all the sobs of the lives he’d ruined in the courtroom, looking to him for mercy, for some sign of sympathy as he buckled his briefcase and quickly made for the door.
No more. He couldn’t run from them now. He couldn’t run from any of it anymore. Their light would always be behind him.
Acting fully on its own accord, his right hand popped open the glove compartment. Like clockwork he steadied the wheel with his left hand, arming the 9mm with his teeth, raising it to his brain. It was all happening so fast. The only way he’d insure he’d go through with it.
He thought of Laurie, walking out of the lake. Body dripping and cold, awash in the moonlight. Beaming at him, arms out to welcome him into her. It was a vision he had fantasized on a hundred times. It made him feel nothing this time. Her face, no more comforting than a demon’s now.
Enjoy the Poconos Diane.
A half hour later, after the car ahead of him had spun out of control, stopping only from the impact with the trees passed the guardrail, the police cars and the ambulance pulled up with their lights going. The young man, parked a few yards behind the accident, ran over, waving them down as they pulled up.
It didn’t take them a long look at the body to realize that the car crash hadn’t been the cause of death. His right hand was still clutching the gun. His left hand was still holding the wheel.
The young man who had phoned it in seemed trustworthy enough. But of course the police would follow him back to the restaurant he said he worked at in Middletown. Just to verify his story. There they would check the register to see that the suicide, Charles Bradley Morgan III, the man who laid dead and bleeding against his steering wheel, had indeed used his credit card there, earlier that evening.
The same Mastercard the young man from the restaurant had run over to show them as they pulled up.
The same one he had tried to return to the Charles Bradley Morgan III as he pursued him down those dark back roads that evening.

thanks, jared!
smell ya later!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

warren's story


as i struggle to get over this cold and back into gear after the show, it looks like i'm going to have to put off the details of the first screaming tiki comic con until next week. sorry, but thanks so much for your patience...!


if you don't read johanna draper carlson's COMICS WORTH READING, then you're doing yourself an injustice. the whole blog covers all manner of reviews and commentary on just about every aspect of entertainment! yes, johanna is a friend of ours and the perhapanauts and my blog, and she IS married to our other friend and frequent contributor, kc carlson, but even with all that, you should really be checking it out!

also, she was kind enough to review perhapanauts 3 and 4 on her latest, so get on over there and check it out!


and here's today's scary story contest entry, from our pal, warren newsom...

Daisy Was a Good Dog
By Warren Thomas Newsom

I’m standing here where our home used to be and I’m looking at stars.

When we first got married, we lived in town, but when my great-uncle got too old and feeble to live alone, we got offered his house in the country. It didn’t take too much talking to convince Annie, my wife, to move the family out to the boonies.

It was a nice, little two-bedroom house, and while our kids, Jacob and Missy had to share a room, they were still little enough to do so and there would be space enough to build on a room later when they got big enough to need to be separated. As little as the house was on the inside, there was plenty of space on the outside; surrounded by woods with a long dirt drive that connected us to the highway. We were finally able to get the kids a dog.

Daisy was a good dog, a big golden lab-shepherd mix. We got her for the cost of a checkup and shots at the animal shelter. I don’t think you could find a gentler dog than Daisy. She never barked unless something came into the yard that didn’t belong there. If a strange car came rolling up the driveway, we’d know. One time a couple of hunters who’d lost direction came strolling out of the woods. Daisy let us know we had company, and when we went out to see who she was barking at, she’d had them penned up against our storage shed, just barking away – never threatened to bite them, just barking. If a stray dog or a bobcat or some other animal that was big enough to hurt one of the children got in our yard, Daisy would send them running.

Daisy was a good dog.

I wish everything could have stayed the like that -- perfect. I wish we could have lived out there the rest of our lives, let the children grow up and me and Annie grow old. But then the sky comes falling on you and nothing’s the same again.

When you live out in the middle of nowhere, you can see the stars really good on a clear night. Some nights I’d go out after supper to smoke a cigarette and look up at all the thousands and thousands of twinkling lights up there. I didn’t know the names of them, but I knew them. It gave me a feeling of being a small part of something huge in a way that an entire childhood of Sunday school and preaching hour had never done.

Two weeks ago, on a particular crisp October night, I saw a light in the sky. It was almost straight up when I first saw it, and crossed the sky quick like meteor, only it wasn’t a meteor. It wasn’t an airplane either. Or a satellite. I had seen all of those things and this light wasn’t any of them. For one thing, it pulsed – not blinked like airplane lights, pulsed – getting brighter and then dimmer and brighter and dimmer. And when it did that, with every pulse, it would change color. Red. White. Green. White. Blue. White. Just like that, changing to white between the other colors. It was getting bigger too, like as it crossed the sky, it was coming downward.

I yelled for Annie, but by the time she got out there, it had disappeared behind the tree line.

“What did you see?” I remember her asking.

I told her it was just a shooting star. When she asked me if I had made a wish on it, I told her I’d forgot.

“Too bad,” she said, “Wasted that one.”

I didn’t talk about it the next day. I just laughed when, at breakfast, Annie told the kids that I had wasted a perfectly good shooting star wish. It was a fake laugh though, and I think Annie sensed it. The UFO (that’s what it was in my mind anyway) had left me with an uneasy feeling. I went to work and tried to get it out of my mind, but it was all I could think of.

I wound up asking to leave early so I could meet Jacob and Missy where they get off the school bus and drive them down the driveway to the house. Annie was already standing there when I pulled up, Daisy by her side. She said Daisy had been nervous all day, barking at the woods and pacing around the edge of the yard. When the bus dropped the children off, they all got in the car; wife, kids, dog, and I drove them to the house.

Things seemed calm then. Daisy didn’t go back to pacing the yard and barking. She came in with us and stayed inside, and lay on the floor in the kitchen where the kids did their homework and Annie cooked supper. Nobody was real talkative, but I thought maybe everybody was tired. Or maybe it was just that time of year, with summer over and winter coming on. But that wasn’t why we were quiet. We were quiet because Daisy was listening.

Sometime after midnight I woke up to Daisy barking at the back door. I ran through the house to see what had stirred her up so much. She was scratching at the back door and whimpering when she wasn’t barking. I knelt down beside her and tried to calm her down. When she got quiet for a moment, that’s when I heard it.

There was a whistling. That’s the only way to describe it. It wasn’t like a tea-kettle, but it wasn’t like someone whistling a tune either. It didn’t waver in tone. It didn’t rise and fall. It didn’t fade out. It was constant. But somehow, it didn’t seem like it was coming from a machine or something like that. It sounded like something alive was making that noise. That’s the only way I can describe it – something alive was making that sound.

Daisy got all excited again and tore away from me, attacking the back door with her teeth and claws.

By this time Annie was there too and when I reached for the doorknob, she said, “No! Don’t let her out!”

But I didn’t see no other way. Daisy was going to get out that door even if she had to tear it down. I opened the door.

She dashed across the yard to the woods with me following behind as fast as I could. The whistling seemed even louder now, filling my ears so that I could barely hear my dog. I stayed with her right up to the edge of the woods, and then before I knew it, she had disappeared into the thick underbrush. I heard her tear her way through the honeysuckle and kudzu, her bark booming the whole way, and that damned whistling over and above it all, seeming to come from everywhere at once now.

Then things went silent. The whistling stopped. I couldn’t hear Daisy either.

I turned to see Annie standing on the back porch and the kids looking at me out the screen door.

“Send them kids back to bed,” I said, “and go get the gun.”

You hear it said all the time, “the silence was deafening.” I’m here to tell you that ain’t just an old saying. The only sound was my own breathing. It seemed right then that the rest of the world had disappeared, just up and gone, and I was the only one left.

When I heard the sound of something crunching its way through the woods toward me, it was a relief. Then I realized that it might not be my dog that came running out to me – it might be the whistler. I stood my ground, and when I definitely heard the sound of paws pounding the ground, it was a sweet sound.

“Daisy!” I shouted when she came out from the brush. I threw my arms wide and knelt down to hug our hero who had protected us from the Unknown. Looking back, that was the wrong thing to do.

She didn’t slow down, and as she bowled me over I knew something was wrong. Before I could get away, Daisy had me pinned down. She was growling now, and her eyes were rolling wild with way too much of the whites showing. I tried to push her off, but she was strong – too strong. All I could do was try to protect my face and neck. Her jaws clamped shut on my arm and I screamed. It hurt like hell when she wrenched a chunk out of it.

Daisy’s jaws opened wide. Her teeth came down across my face. I could feel them sinking into my cheeks. She was going to kill me and there was nothing I could do to stop her.

I should have closed my eyes. Anybody else would have. I could have closed my eyes and then maybe the universe would still make sense to me. But I didn’t. I kept them open and when I looked between those jaws into her maw…

… I saw stars.

I know. It sounds insane. It would make things easier if I was crazy.

I saw stars. Not the stars I knew. Not the ones that filled me with wonder. No, these were strange stars. Stars that didn’t belong in the same creation with the night sky I had loved to look at. For a moment, I could feel them pulling me to them.

The sharp sound of my old thirty-ought-six rifle pulled me back to earth. Daisy left me and darted toward where Annie was on the porch. Annie fired again. Daisy fell in mid-leap and never moved again.

We buried her that night at the edge of the back yard. Annie wanted to get me to the emergency room, but I’d have none of that. She did most of the digging and together we lifted Daisy and carried her to her grave. The kids watched the whole thing from their bedroom window. I didn’t tell them about what I’d saw.

When the sun came up, I finally let Annie take me to the doctor. The kids came with us. Didn’t see no point in sending them to school after a sleepless night. After my 800-and-something stitches, we went to Annie’s folks to stay. Annie, Jacob, and Missy all decided they didn’t want to go back home. Ever.

I just came here to start getting our stuff out. But it’s gone. The house is gone. Where it used to be there’s a deep sink hole, and down at the bottom…

I’m standing here where our home used to be and I’m looking at stars.


thanks, warren!

gotta go!
smell ya later!