Last year, R.C. Rumple wrote a fantastic story – one that really had me giggling – so when this year’s guest post opportunity came around and he said he was writing me a story, I was seriously giddy in anticipation of what he would send me. And he did not disappoint. One of the best ones yet. I love the way this man’s brain works.
(You Gotta Play to Eat)
When ghosts and goblins hit the streets
With empty bags awaiting treats
And witches fly high overhead
Cackling their laughter to wake the dead
For Halloween brings smiles to most
Costumes covering each little host
Children believe it’s all in fun
Saying, “Boo” to scare everyone
They have no idea it’s all so real
So precious their bodies that we steal
In Hell we know whom to choose
Which kids will win and which shall lose
We wait in shadows on sides of streets
Watching them taste their candy eats
Knowing our hunger will soon be sated
With flesh from those for whom we waited
“So, how did you do in the lottery?”
All day long, that seemed to be the standard question asked around Hell. It was almost nice to hear something besides, “How many more friggin’ new arrivals are coming in today?” Oh, true, bitching about the way things were in Hell was normal. But recently, all of us demons were stressed out.
See, Heaven was getting extremely picky about who they let into their so-called Golden Gates. St. Peter had finally let go of his precious book and moved into the computer age, about twenty years behind everyone else. When he had once been slow to find reasons to keep out Heaven’s new applicants for entry before, now, all their bad deed files were so easy to find the bastard had basically locked the gates and thrown away the key. (Damn thing probably fell through the clouds and into a missing CIA file labeled, “The Truth About Weapons of Mass Destruction in the White House, 2001-Present.”) We demons were overworked with the torturing Satan required for new arrivals. Day and night, we whipped and beat them until it wasn’t the fun it had been. It’s pretty bad when torturing becomes torture. Kind of like the networks having to produce another Steve Harvey television show.
Anyway, with Hell becoming Hell for even the employees, Satan figured we demons needed something to look forward to. He had already tried broadcasting comedy returns on our IDGAF Network… shows like “Modern Healer Family” and “Christian Science: Aliens from Space,” but those were too predictable. Even the shows, “Hell’s Got Talent” and “Dancing with the Demons” drew poor ratings. So, a few year’s back, he’d started a lottery figuring it would give us something to look forward to each other year. You know, to keep us from going on strike and picketing… kind of like raising hell in Hell. Anyway, ten tickets would be up for grabs, each having a different value, but all giving their owners a chance to feed on the fresh blood of a human child. And, not just any child, but one whose spirit was deserving of early entrance to Hell!
Hot and spicy food… who could resist?
Anyway, the drawing date was set for noon on Halloween. For weeks, every demon in Hell fasted. We wanted to be ready to enjoy the grand prize… three “fresh meat” children to savor in one night… without being too full to enjoy them. Nothing could interfere with the weeks of joyous heartburn to follow the feasting.
So, a few minutes before noon, all of us gathered with our tickets, paid for by the compilation of screams of pain and “Help me, Jesus” profanities we’d been able to collect from our torture victims. (Two-hundred screams and one “Help me, Jesus” equaled one ticket earned.) Satan took the microphone and drew the numbers from an open torso of a new arrival, just for kicks. As the final ticket was read, the misery of the moans and groans from the losers put a big smile on the red guy’s face. “There’s always next year,” he announced, watching the demons trudge back to a fresh load of new arrivals being delivered. As his laughter roared through Hell, most gave him the honorary salute he deserved, a raised middle finger.
Ten of us walking away hid our smiles. We were the winners, the holders of the lucky tickets! But, to let the losers know would invite a mass attack. With the rule of Hell being, “Survival of the fittest,” we needed to keep our luck a secret. Otherwise, our tickets would end up in the claws of those who’d been there much longer. (See, in Hell, you continue to enlarge in size as a demon each year, so those there the longest would be larger and the strongest. I know it’s common sense, but since that’s in short supply anymore, I thought I’d fill you in.) I continued at my work, torturing some kid who’d committed suicide after being disappointed about living with his parents for years after graduating college with a degree in Political Science and thinking he was entitled to more. Try as I did, it was hard to keep my mind on my job. Deep inside, the joy at knowing I’d soon be biting into hot & spicy youngsters kept me going.
Returning to my pit after my shift, I filed down the scales of my wings to a nice point and sharpened the claws on my feet and hands. Checking out my image in the mirror, I was amazed at the great looking demon who stood there. I was one hot son-of-a-bitch, if I do say so myself. My eyes, with their red glow set on Medium, were ominous enough to bring fear, but not bright enough to be mistaken for a Harley Davidson set of taillights. My ears, long and pointed, cast a very nice shadow on the wall behind me, as did my dragon style wings. I had almost been ashamed of my appearance before I’d cleaned up. Flying home, my shadow had looked like a friggin’ flying elephant in a Disney cartoon. I flossed one more time, peeling away a month of plaque I’d accumulated from fasting, to ensure it didn’t mix with and taint my later meals. Popping in a breath mint, I was ready. I hated to lose the gangly odor of rotten breath, but the last thing I needed to do was have some kid smell my rot and alert them to my presence. It would ruin the surprise for them I’d planned.
Flying out of my pit, I joined the other lottery winners at the gate. Some had won the chance at one kid, others two. The lowest ticket combination had the least chance of success, while the Grand Prize winner was assured of at least some feasting.
I was that winner.
Yes, as Grand Prize Winner I had won the opportunity to feast three times… three! The temptation for my taste buds was totally tantalizingly tremendous. (I know, a play of words within an info dump. How callous of me. You were expecting friggin’ Stephen King?) I could hardly keep my tongue in my mouth. Yet, as with anything Satan cooked up, the quest for food wouldn’t be easy. I, and the others, would have to hunt for our food and follow a few rules.
Rule Number One stated we had to have our asses back in Hell at Midnight. After all, that was when Halloween ended. It made sense. But, I hoped to have an ace in the hole on that one. The time of Midnight was based on the local time of our victims. By being the Grand Prize Winner, I might just have the advantage of each being in different time zones. Rule Number Two stated we couldn’t harm any human besides our target. This took some of the fun out of the havoc and carnage I had hoped to indulge in, but rules were rules. Friggin’ Michael Myers had already put a hurt on the number of Trick or Treaters out and about, so I guess it was for the best. None of us wanted new year’s lottery to be called off for lack of victim participation. Rule Number Three is the toughest of them all. No one can see us but our prey… no one. That one’s a bitch! With all the scumbag meth-heads on the streets these days, parents are getting harder to avoid. All these damn millennials think it’s cool to go Trick or Treating with their kids and if a parent doesn’t, they’re reported to Social Services. I miss the good old days of conservative evangelism with Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker’s PTL Club. Parents in those days were so naive about giving other’s their trust. Now, ANTIFA has everyone scared to trust anyone. Friggin’ liberals!
As the seconds before the first gate opened ticked away, I couldn’t help thinking about what lay ahead. Three kids… human veal… tender, sweet, and oh, so good to eat. I needed to control myself. My eyes were already beginning to glow brighter with anticipation, as were those of the others around me. (If we stayed this way, we’d make someone think they were following a friggin’ motorcycle gang.) Oh, don’t feel sorry for the little bastards. Like I said, most of the ones on the lists we were to be given were on their way to join us in Hell, anyway. In fact, rumor had it, Satan had gotten this whole idea from Santa Claus.
What? You roll your eyes at that? Shows what you know. Santa has elves, right? Elves are lazy bastards. Santa would do better to go to the Mexican border and hire his help there. At least it wouldn’t take two hundred of them to put together a friggin’ Transformer toy. Anyway, Santa uses elves to go through mail and decide who’s naughty and nice. One day, this elf says to the fat man, “Hey, why don’t we get Satan to eliminate some of those requests? He could send his demons out to feed on the naughty ones and cut our workload down a little. Every little bit helps!” So, Santa decides to use as his clean-up crew to help out his poor, overworked elves, and to save him from having to pay out for overtime hours.
Now, I hate to give the lazy bastards credit for anything. (It’s like, “How many elves does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Ten… all telling Mrs. Claus to get up off her big ass and do it!”) This, however, was a good idea. The first year of the lottery, Satan only allowed one demon to feast. Santa really bitched about that. So, the big red guy has annually increased the number we take.
A loud screeching overhead indicated the first level gate was open. This was to our prep and planning area. One by one, we showed our tickets to the guards and were given our individual victim/target lists and exit passes. Oh, my Devil, you wouldn’t believe the moans and groans, especially from the three millennial demons in our group. They always felt they were entitled to more than what they got. You know, crap like, “I want a big pit not a small one. It’s not fair they get one and I don’t. I went to college and they said we should have more than anyone else.”
There are times I wonder what’s happened on the surface world. It’s sure gone to Hell since I left it a couple of centuries ago. Our population explosion down here is proof of that.
I overheard some talking about their low chance of scoring a meal tonight. One had been given targets who were in juvenile detention and others in gang ridden neighborhoods. Both were unfavorable toward success. I envisioned Satan laughing his ass off when he had come up with those. It was his way of putting the Trick in the supposed Treat. Still, others had to pick theirs out of crowded city streets and apartment complexes… all again with huge chances of being seen. I was afraid a few would return to Hell as hungry as they’d left it. Taking the chance of breaking the rules and being seen would carry the penalty of losing their “Demon” status and returning to human form to be tortured. No meal was worth that.
My list showed promise. Being spread from East Coast to West, my hopes were granted with the advantage of having a three-hour difference in time zones. True, there was travel time involved, but with good weather, I could easily cover the ground necessary for a three-course meal. First, I had one in Providence, Rhode Island, then one in Oklahoma City, and then one in California in Huntington Beach. If I could snatch the first one quickly, I’d have no problem reaching the other two with time to spare.
“Demons, Start Your Wings!”
Lights were flashing and electric guitars were twanging… it was almost time. All of us, even the moaners, began flapping wings like crazy, hovering just in front of the starting line. (I hadn’t had such anticipation since watching the British light the first torch to burn down the Presidential Mansion in 1814.) When the lighting flashes in front of us, the race was on. You never saw a group head so fast up to the surface in your death… err… life. It was a mad rush, each pushing and shoving the others, like there was only one commode in the bathroom and we all had a bad case of diarrhea.
I immediately headed to the East coast. I had little time to waste, so I engaged myself to lead the pack. One by one, they faded away into the lights of the cities below, the last of them being two of my friends from work. Neither had much chance of feasting. New York was a nightmare. Few dressed up for Halloween there. With all the Drag Queens and Kings, half the population dressed like it was Halloween daily.
Within minutes, I was over Milford, Connecticut with the lights of Providence looming just ahead. I did a quick review of the directions on my phone and headed onward. (How demons ever got around before MapQuest is beyond me.) My first challenge to this target would be to locate him outside of his apartment. This would be my only complex dweller, the other two residing in their own houses. Plus, Providence was larger than I had remembered it.
Oh, my devil, I neglected to tell you how we were to know which kid was our target. (Yeah, time for another info dump. I’m practicing my skills, can’t you see?) Hunger does that to a person… makes them forget things. As children perform bad deeds, they earn an aura which can only be seen by selected demons, like myself. The more evil they do, the brighter the aura. First, it’s white, then yellow, then orange, and for the really bad ones… our targets… it’s bright red. This aura can be seen through every type of vehicle or structure. So, if we’re flying overheard and the target is inside the building, we can see exactly where they’re at. Bad thing for us is the aura only illuminates the evil one, no one else. (See, you were afraid we’d fly overhead and see you screwing around on your spouse with your battery powered lover, weren’t you?)
Locating my prey, he appeared to be going down an inside stairway and headed out onto the street. The best I could hope for was that he was alone.
Out from the building comes this eleven-year-old, with another youngster tagging along beside him. I’m guessing it was his sister, much smaller and younger… and without my aura. First thing this boy does is yank her so hard he damn near disconnects her arm from her shoulder socket. Of course, she starts crying, so he slaps her and yells, “Shut your fucking mouth!” He then drags her to the alley and sits her ass down in a puddle of dumpster rot, before taking off his vampire costume. It’s easy to see he could care less about Trick or Treating. This kid plans on scarfing up by stealing the candy gathered by others. (I almost hate to eat him. Such a nice lad.)
It’s early in the evening yet, so foot traffic on the street is light. Gradually, tired of being smacked around, his sister rests her head upon her knees and cries herself to sleep. No longer having her to pester, this kid takes his position at the alley entrance and keeps a lookout for any Trick or Treaters with full bags of treats. He has it all planned out. Well, almost. He never factored me in the equation.
I wait until just before the streetlamps are switched on and then silently swoop down into the alley behind him. I do a double check to make sure his sister is asleep (reminding myself to thank the kid for doing what he had to help me not be seen by her) and slip up behind him. I reached around, cover his mouth with my hand, and snap his neck, all in a split second. (Yeah, I have a bad memory. So much for thanking the little bastard.) As the boy fell back into my arms, I dug my claws into his shoulders and took flight. Just outside the city, I find a wooded area to land in and partake of my first meal.
I enjoyed stripping away his flesh and carefully chewing each mouthful, but hoped his taste wasn’t an indication of things to come. At eleven, he was borderline human veal. Kids seem to lose some of their sweetness as they get older. (Just look at Miley Cyrus.) Still, I couldn’t complain… fresh meat is fresh meat. Still, a little barbecue sauce would have helped nicely.
Feeling a little better with something in my stomach, I took to the friendly skies and made my way to Oklahoma City. Of all things, I ran into one hell of a rainstorm… more like a fuckin’ monsoon. The wind blew me halfway to Dallas and came close to putting me behind schedule with my luggage on another flight. Avoiding being dumped by overbooking, I finally made it to OKC. Checking my Smart Watch, I saw Trick or Treat time was nearly over. Plus, the storm I had been thrown had a sister here… and she was bringing a tornado along as a companion. I would have to hurry to make this one my second course.
My target was a young lady. While most little girls play with dolls, this one loved playing with animals… puppies and kittens to be exact. This seven-year-old got her jollies by dropping them off bridges, throwing them out of haylofts, and even pulling their legs from their bodies… one by one. She had taken her baby brother from his crib and bounced him down a flight of stairs while her mother had been playing a video game, and claimed he had managed it all by himself. She had the beginning of a future serial killer, for sure. This “Mommy’s Little Angel” had an extremely bright aura for a girl, even surpassing that of Lizzie Borden in her younger years.
Anyway, there she was being driven from house to house by her father, trying to hit as many homes as possible and get as much candy as she could before the weather shut her down. I knew I’d have to hurry. I’d already had a problem flying in the wind of the storm and a tornado would spoil my evening without a doubt. (I’d probably end up in Kansas with a damn little dog humping my leg while I clicked my heels together saying, “I wanna go home, I wanna go home.”) My only chance would be if I could get her father to shift his gauze away from her for a second or two. Thinking fast, as the girl walked up to the next house, I nose-dived at full speed, snapped a small limb off a tree, slammed it into the glass of his driver’s side window, and, while his attention was drawn the other way, plucked up his daughter, all in a split second. (Yeah, fuck Superman and the Flash, I’m faster than both of those suckers.)
Doing my best to get away before the storm caught up with me, I shook my head knowing I had almost messed it up. I had been traveling at such a rate of speed that I came close to snapping the girl’s head from off her neck. I’d have been pissed if that would have happened. Not only would it have left evidence as to what had taken place, but I would have missed out on sucking down her little brain. (Brains are a delicacy. All I do is fix my lips to her left ear and suck really hard. It’s my version of a Slurpee, minus the straw.)
With two decent meals under my scales, I pushed on to the West Coast singing,
“California here I come, gonna eat me another one.
So tender, so helpless, oh they taste good.
So sweet now, so young now, just like they should.
California here I come, have me waiting another one.
California here I come,
I’ll wipe my mouth when I am done!”
I know, but I’m a demon. You expected Taylor Swift? (Maybe, next Halloween.)
The last stop on my list was Huntington Beach. Ocean beaches, vacant shopping malls, and miles and miles of Chinese restaurants offering special combo platter pricing. (A city where the loneliest man in town is the dog catcher.) Passing over a car dealership, I realized I had a few extra minutes and headed out over the ocean, hoping to see a shark grabbing a bite from a night surfer or swimmer. Once again, California proved itself to be all talk and no show as none were feeding. Disappointed, I turned back and went to seek out my third course, or dessert, if you will.
This target was indeed a special child. Barely six years old, she had already been showing powers far beyond those of many residing in the management offices of Hell. It was rumored that Satan himself had been her father on a visit to the human realm. Her mother, a topless dancer, had loved the size of his wallet and taken him home for a night. Yeah, you and I both know it only takes once.
Unknown to him, she’d set up her phone camera to record the event. Under threat of blackmail, Satan gave in to her demands of support, seeing how he knew how a trial would come out. (OJ had lucked out, but he had a glove. If Satan had worn a glove, he wouldn’t be in such a mess.) So, he had managed to indirectly provide the woman with cash whenever she ran short. Once, there had been a suitcase full of cash tossed in her yard by drug smugglers being chased by the police. Next, an armored car had smashed into a tree and caught fire next door. By some quirk of fate, one of the main deposit bags had flown through her bedroom window and never sought by the authorities. He had even set up her finding a mouse in a bowl of fast food chili. That had brought in a huge payoff. But, no matter how much she got, it was gone before you could ask, “Harvey Weinstein did what?” No, the mother was no angel, now or in the future. Satan couldn’t wait for her day in Hell. He was paying now, but she would pay later.
The daughter was following her mother’s example, but with powers most humans never had. The first incident took place two years before, during a kindergarten class. After stealing another girl’s doll, and ripping the appendages and head from its torso, she had gotten mad and turned the doll owner’s hair into the color and smell of vomit. It had stayed that way… even after being shaved and new hair had grown in. (To this day, the girl’s parents accept donations from those who think the youngster is going through chemotherapy.) Another time, she had been mad at being teased by a neighbor’s boy while visiting at their pool. When their parents had gone inside to prepare drinks, she had levitated the boy high above the pool and then dropped him. Sad thing was he missed the water, and instead, landed on the concrete side, instantly killing him. (Gotta admit, she had perfect aim.) Those two instances were just the beginning of things to come. Over the last couple of years, the young girl had gotten progressively worse.
Satan wasn’t the type of guy to handle fatherhood well. He was sick and tired of the girl’s mother blaming all the girl did on him never being around and providing his daughter with the proper guidance. (Yeah, she was a millennial as well… a real blame shifter.) The big guy just wanted done with the whole mess. Being ever so coy, he had listed her as my third victim of the night. There was one catch. I had to restrain my appetite to the point of saving him one of her legs and thighs to munch on. Something to do with the expression, “A family that eats together…” or something like that. I forget.
So, I soon found myself flying over the section of Huntington Beach once known as “Little Saigon” by the locals. Having been home to Vietnamese refugees at one time, several generations still made the area their home. Locating my target, her aura nearly blinded me. In fact, it temporarily destroyed my night vision. I was flying blind as a bat and looked like one, too. After a few minutes, I regained my sight and could see the girl’s mother taking her door to door, doing the Trick or Treat thing. I had to chuckle a at an elderly woman who had originally come into the states from Asia and rejected the candy giving custom. As the youngster walked away empty handed, the trees in the old woman’s yard became magically covered with rolls and rolls of toilet paper. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it had been used and stunk to high Heaven!
Now, where the carload of young hoods came from, I have no idea. I have my suspicions the big red guy might have had a hand in it, but have no proof to that. I have to say their entrance couldn’t have been timed any better. As the girl and her mother walked along the section of sidewalk where the streetlamps had mysteriously burned out, the car slowed and those inside began shooting at the house behind the two. The loving mother dropped to the ground instantly and covered her head, forgetting about her meal ticket… err, daughter. Panicked, the young girl went running off across the street and tried hiding in the bushes. No, didn’t make a lot of sense to me either, but who’s complaining? With all attention being on the car and the house being shot at, I swooped down and snagged the girl.
Boom-wacka-boom-wacka-boom… just that easy!
I sat on the beach, watching the waves rush into the shore, eating my ever so sweet third course, and enjoying my Slurpee. About halfway finished, I found myself getting a headache, probably from too much MSG, and decided to not only save the requested parts, but to add in the heart and an arm as well for my boss. It never hurt to brown nose a little, even with a red guy.
The peaceful calm of the ocean began to grate on my nerves. Yes, I missed the screams of those being tortured back home in Hell. Having had my fill of the fishy smelling ocean breezes, I took flight, returned home an hour early, and made my way to give Satan his snack. I think I made some brownie points with him. He especially enjoyed the girl’s heart.
Retiring to my pit, I folded up my wings, lay back against the rocks, and patted my bloated stomach. It had been a wonderful Halloween. I’d eaten well, traveled and seen places I hadn’t visited in a while. Plus, I’d made my boss happy.
Lying here, I wonder, since I have been such a good demon, what Santa is going to bring me in a couple of months. I hope it will be the winning numbers to next year’s Halloween lottery.
“Yummy, yummy, yummy … more kids for the tummy!”
* P.S. Dear Santa, take that damn eggnog and shove it up Rudolph’s ass. That shit sucks!
What happens when a Yankee transplants to the South? What happens when Rhode Island meets New York City meets Bloomington, Indiana meets Mobile, Alabama meets Lexington, Kentucky … with Europe in between? What happens when a 70’s radio DJ becomes a stand-up comedian, and then a corporate training director and manager of sales? Richard Rumple!
“The advantage of living in many places is that you get to experience the best and worst each has to offer. From that, you get to know the people and what makes them tick. You’re able to look at life from the outside and see various points of view instead of living life wearing blinders.”
People and their stories are the essences of his writing. Relationships are the basis of his tales and the rest, be it the horror of reality, or horror of the paranormal are added to spice things up. His stories don’t end with the dismissal of the foes. They end with life moving on and your interest in where they may go from there.
It’s a different style of writing. Don’t pass by without experiencing it.
A book that will have you wondering every time a door slams in your home! Horror Across The Alley isn’t the typical book you’ll find on Amazon. It contains a cast of characters you’ll either love or hate, as well as those oddities you’d never want to meet.
Renters move in but quickly move out … either on their own or by ambulance. Now, a recent military veteran moves in and finds another enemy to confront. Will he and his group of acquaintances survive, or will the spirits of the house claim more victims? You’ll need to “Add To Cart” to find out!
Summer vacation 1966… time for fun and excitement… NOT! “Stand By Me” meets “Cujo” when four pre-teens have to deal with a pack of man-eating dogs, venomous reptiles, a local thief and kidnapper, and much, much more. Action packed horror thriller that will have you wondering if you’ll ever go in the woods again!
Gabriela: Tales from a Demon Cat
Thirteen tales of horror from Gabriela’s past lives and those she’s heard in Hell while waiting to be reborn into her next. Demented human monsters as well as beasts of folklore, legend, and technology await you in these twisted stories. Advance readers have said, “I couldn’t sleep for days”, “You’ve got it down, now”, and “God, what a visceral read.” Don’t gamble with fate. Tame the demon cat before she seeks you out!
Deranged Minds: A Short Story Collection (with Charles Lynne)
From deranged minds come twenty-two horrific tales of misery, torture, and savage acts. Stories to give you nightmares… stories to make you wary of what lurks in the dark. How will the shadows you see out of the corner of your eye haunt your very soul? How will those you trust plot your demise? Are your demons real, or only in your mind? The pages within provide answers to your questions. Are you brave enough to take the demented journey? Do you dare?
One of the last wagon trains heads west facing numerous dangers. The wagon master has dealt with most on previous trips… disgruntled travel companions, terrible weather, deadly reptiles, vicious wild animals… all common to him. Yet, there is a new beast stalking in the darkness. A creature created by the magic of the medicine men of numerous tribes, more savage and dangerous than he’s ever faced. Will any survive?