Join Scott Carruba as he reminisces about Halloween as a kid…
I love Halloween. It has always been my favorite holiday. Sure, as a kid, Christmas was great. I recall many a sleepless Christmas Eve as I waited for dawn and the chance to get all those goodies, but Halloween still got the number one spot. There was something darkly appealing about it and how it stoked my imagination. Not to mention the dressing up and adventuring through the neighborhood for candy. The best spots were houses that really got into it. I still recall some to this day.
I spent my earliest years in a typical suburban neighborhood, so Halloween always proved a joy as me and my friends paraded up and down the streets for our annual treats. But when I was nine, my parents moved us all out into the country. We went from being one of many tightly packed-in houses to a lone home on a thirteen acre lot. As you might imagine, this dramatically changed Halloween. At the time, there was only one neighbor within reasonable walking distance. What were we going to do?
The first year my parents drove us back to the old neighborhood, and we trick-or-treated with our friends. That wasn’t going to last, though I didn’t realize it as a child. My parents weren’t big on Halloween, anyway, and I suppose it didn’t quite resonate with them how much I was going to miss it. I don’t even think my two sisters were that into it.
It turned out that a few miles up the road stood a couple of buildings on a small lot dedicated to community use. I’d go there sometimes for cub scouts. The city would throw a Halloween celebration here, so we ended up going. It was a typical small town festivity with games, treats and the two main events: a haunted house and a costume contest.
I love haunted houses. I was so into them and Halloween that I recall talking my parents into letting me throw a Halloween party when I was still young (middle school age, if I recall), and I turned our garage into a haunted house. It was fairly good, if I do say so myself, and we had more than a few of the visiting kiddies running out there filled with good-natured thrills.
I was quite eager to experience the haunted house at this community event.
I went in there with a typical snotty young boy attitude. I was excited, but I wasn’t going to be scared. No way. We went into a sort of abattoir room, and the mad scientist presented a “fresh brain” amidst his gory collection. “Nice cauliflower,” I proudly proclaimed. Yes, I was one of those.
There were typical jump scares and people with garden tools repurposed as weapons. They proved good for a quick yelp and run. We eventually ended up facing a tall guy dressed like the Grim Reaper. He made no sound, just loomed. As we were moving on, he grabbed me, and that did it. I felt real fright. I didn’t want them to keep me from my mom. I jerked free (or more likely, he got his desired result and let me go), and I clung closer to my mother as we finished up the tour. By the time I left, my heart was pounding. They had done their job and scared the snotty kid. Good for them.
Next was the costume contest. I don’t recall if it was the same year as my frightening, but I entered one time in a typical hobo clown costume. I had ragged clothes, worn shoes, a crappy, plastic bowler hat. I had my face painted up in down-on-your-luck fashion. As I sized up my competition, I felt I stood a good chance of winning. And then everything changed.
The people conducting the contest had put the haunted house on pause, and all the players from it came traipsing in to join the contest. I looked upon all those older kids and young adults in their seriously spooky get-ups, and I knew I was doomed. I recall hearing some murmurs of that being unfair. I didn’t think much on that. I just knew I was wasting my time.
The judges looked us over. We turned this way and that, did whatever. We were all there simultaneously as they perused us. I remember looking out and seeing my mom making some sort of gesture with her fingers toward her mouth. It then dawned on me. I had forgotten about the plastic cigar prop I had tucked away in a pocket. I pulled it out and got more into character as I puffed on the thing and acted, well, silly.
I can’t say if that made the difference, but I won the costume contest.
Looking back, I wonder if putting the players from the haunted house in was just meant to pad it and make everything more exciting. I would have done the same thing were I in charge. Still, it ended up a great Halloween memory for me – the time when a hobo clown slew a room full of frightening monsters.
Born in Houston, Texas into the temporary care of a bevy of nuns before being delivered to his adopted parents, Scott discovered creative writing at a very young age when asked to write a newspaper from another planet. This exercise awakened a seemingly endless drive, and now, many short stories, poems, plays, and novels (both finished and unfinished) later, his dark urban fantasy Butterfly series has been published.
The seeds for this tale began with dreams, as many often do, before being fine-tuned with a whimsical notion and the very serious input of a dear friend. Before long, the story took on a life of its own and has now become the first book in the series.
Having lived his whole life in the same state, Scott attended the University of Texas at Austin, achieving a degree in philosophy before returning to the Houston area to be closer to his family and friends. During this time, he wrote more and even branched out into directing and performance art, though creative writing remains his love.
A modern dark urban fantasy, telling of two powerful families who uphold a secret duty to protect humanity from a threat it doesn’t know exists. Though sharing a common enemy, the two families form a long-standing rivalry due to their methods and ultimate goals. Forces are coalescing in a prominent Central European city- criminal sex-trafficking, a serial murderer with a savage bent, and other, less tangible influences. Within a prestigious, private university, Lilja, a young librarian charged with protecting a very special book, finds herself suddenly ensconced in this dark, strange world. Originally from Finland, she has her own reason for why she left her home, but she finds the city to be anything but a haven from dangers and secrets.
The tale continues in Sword of the Butterfly, book two of the series, as Lilja and Skothiam continue to fight demons within and without. The infernal forces make a grand play, hoping to stab the world in its very heart. Casualties mount as further tensions rise in the City, threatening the vigilante with a loss of freedom and life. Children become victims of a madman’s design while the hunt is on for a powerful creature wreaking havoc across parts of the U.S. Lilja begins to question herself and her place in Skothiam’s life even as the very treasure they must protect comes under danger.
The third Book awaits. The last of them. All holding promises of untold power. Skothiam and Lilja continue their journey as they follow the trail to places unimagined. Strange forces lurk, biding for the moment to strike and exact price. Unexpected allies arise even as others seek to disentangle from the web. Who will gain and who will lose? What shadow waits, eager to consume them all? Find out in the conclusion of the Butterfly trilogy.