"Hunh," he wiped at his ear, and brought back the hand to view of the whiteness, "oh, this shit? It's—"
"Shit? Upon your ear? Again?" At least I was relieved that he and I . . . that we . . . in some drunken stupor, had not pursued an exchange of the material genetique though in truth I knew no way that such a thing could be accomplished, nor if it could even possibly have such an effect . . . but mammalian reproduction and evolution is still powerfully obscured in my understanding. At any rate, that it was just a matter of feces upon the ear—
"No, no," Rob spoke absently, standing over his computer, leaning to the front over his chair, and clicking through upon the screen, "It's, whatchacall, pancake make-up. I was a zombie—"
"Were a zombie?!? Which is to say you are no longer? You have discovered a cure for—"
Robert to me turned, shocked, hands out stretched. His chair, it did spin in sympathy with his sudden revolution. "Lord A.! Will you please fucking stop interrupting. All the goddamn time, you ask a question, I start to answer, then it's this goddam Whose on First? Laurel and Hardie bullshit. Can I just fuckin tell you what I was up to yesterday?"
He paused. I coiled in my tank, small enough to compress my whole mantle into a large jar, only my eyes, my beak, bulging.
His eyes flexed, bulged.
"Apologies, Rob. Continue, hinderless."
"Thank you." He relaxed and turned to present a three quarter profile. "Anyway," he spun his hand in the air, "I spent all Saturday working on and in the Haunted House at the Pumpkin Festival Pre-Halloween Halloween thingy at my nephew's school, handing out candy, groaning and chasing kids through the halls. This shit—" he held up his finger with the white smear upon it "which isn't shit shit, just, you know, stuff— is some of the make-up. I was decked out like a zombie. Shit doesn't wash off easy, and I haven't really had a shower yet. So, that's what it is."
"Pumpkin Festival," he made gestures of the hands, indicating size and girth and roundness. I had seen these gestures— or gestures similar to such— made by Rob on occasions prior, when discussing female physiognomy with Goat Ramirez, "You know, like a pumpkin."
I made a loop of one hunting tentacle, then slid the tip of the other tentacle in and out of the loop, pantomiming another gesture I had seen Rob make while conversing with Goat. "Pump can?"
"No, Lord A., it's pumpkin, it's . . . shit, like, a, ah, like a big orange squash—"
"Squash?" I pressed the tips of two tentacles together.
He spun his chair.
"What? No, like, a squash, as in a gourd— like, a vegetable. It's a big orange vegetable."
He slumped into his chair and hung his head backward, looking ceiling-ward.
I need little note that, by this stage, the confusion had grown great and powerful, with the Pump Cans and the Pump Cannots, the Haunting of Houses, the candies and candied, the bobbed apple, the vegetable coitus— the whole matter had devolved to nonsense, so predictable, yet nonetheless heartbreaking all over again. At my behest, Rob did then start again, from the beginning, and revealed unto me your strange and wonderful Hollow Eve custom, in which you honor the dead, extort of the sweets, set fire to vacant properties, and transgress many social norms in the name of worshipping some unnamed Dark Lords ("like, Satan and witches and Druids and shit") no longer Worshipped.
Finally I asked the why of these religious ministrations (specifically believing, in my shallow estimation of Rob's faith, that as with his other religious observances, Rob did this as a part of court-ordered service to his community.)
He shrugged, wagging back and forth in his chair, his knees like the sagging tale of some pitiful dog.
"You know, it's scary and fun."
"Fun because you are scaring the young?"
"Well, yeah, but fun for the kids, too. It's fun to get scared, you know."
But I did not know— I know not if I can clearly communicate how foreign this is, the notion of Fun in Fear; for all squidkind— for all sentient beings, I had once thought— Fun and Fear dwell, equal and opposite on the far ends of a spectrum whose ends are utterly meetless . . .
But in your gruntmonkey sorts, they are seemingly one in the same. I felt, in that moment, that there was a great unlocking in my understanding of my future subjects (Vote Squid!). It was a gentle joy which flowed over me, and I set to scheme (not unlike a demon that is dreaming) on the exact form and forging of the funnest conceivable evening of all time. Considering this coming Sunday to be, in the first, too long a time to wait to spread the FearJoy and, in second, too close to the élection présidentielle— for I will admit that, in the moment of my dawning of understanding of the HorrorJoy of humankind, I did imagine that my partaking in this festival, and providing to orphans a fair and good festival they would otherwise lack, might impress the fence-sitting members of my constituency to drop from the fence and Vote Squid— I resolved to prepare and present my Hall of Hollow Horrorific Delights this OctoBear the 27.
The elements of said evening were clear: there must be a pod of dissembling children, sweets for to eat, film of the fright-filled variety, and a series of corridors equipped with the simulacra of the restless souls of the dead and ersatz maleficent spirits.
The only question was how to implement the plan? How to acquire the man-spawn? How to equip the laboratory in time? What films to acquire and how to demonstrate them?
Owing to Rob's prior failure, I took it upon myself (with the liberal aid of my troupe of francophonic chimpanzees) to pursue these matters directly.
First, for the film, my research indicates that human children of the American variety are possessed of spans of attention quite brief, so I took the liberty of splicing together minute and staccato portions of some traditional Hollow Eve fair (It is a Great Pump Can Charlie Brown, Begotten, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Faces of the Death, as well as some newsreels documentary footage, both from third-party sources and of my own experiments and researches, and the violent pornography featuring the forced carnal intercourse of man and beasts) so as to best and most fully impact and stimulate the children's tender psyches.
Using a tetrad of video projection units, these filmic explorations were cast upon the walls and ceiling of the ultimate room of my Haunt Filled Corridors, this reached after the final long crawl through the Canal of Weeping and Filth.
This then leads us backward to the Corridors of the Haunt, which were constructed hastily, dare I say lustily, by a sub-committee fore-lead by Claude himself. As I myself had never set foot within a House Haunted, I need make do with Rob's sketchy description and my own imagination. Hence, my Corridor of Haunts included (but by no means was limited to) the Hall of Bones, the Witch's Cradle, the Razor Slide, Suspension, the Bed of Kittens Swollen, the Intestine's Compression, RedRum, the Feast of Salvation, SkinHut, Drop and Deliver, the Hell of One Thousand Moments, Fear in a Handful of Dust, Privation, et cetera, ad nausium.
And at the head of this all, or as here into its tale, were I and Bernard upon the streets of the city, he the little simian at the wheel of a green Vanguard Converted, and I stalking the pavement on the spear-tipped legs of my auto-velocitator. As the filmic enjoyments were prepared to my specifications, and the Terrors most Sweet assembled in the hallways, Bernard and I set about the gathering of spawn from each of the darkened corners of this City Detroit— which, in practice, tended to mean the Our Lady of Fatima Orphanage. It was not the easy to persuade them into the van driven by my Francophonic chimp, for they neither spoke the language of Napoleon, nor did they appreciate the agility of the simian driver. Often, I was left to stun them briefly with an electrical probe, and on one occasion, when the van had grown too dense with gay revelers, Bernard and Dominique took it upon themselves to re-adjust the position of a certain boy's arm so as to allow him the fit along the top of the pile. The child but moaned quietly, for I had stiffened him thoroughly with the flowing of electrons.
And so we were back to the laboratory, children on great carts used normally to transport the crates of the dogs from my kennel to my tank. Some carts piled as much as four children high. In all twenty and seven spawn wept groggily at the gaping maw of the tunnel horrible as they gently disrobed and drew about themselves the plastic and bile-soaked-burlap Costumes of Chaff and Depredation.
All was prepared; the blood, the fetid offals, the candy and sweet breads and razor embedded apples, the stroboscopic lights, the 170 decibel 19 cycle roar, the joyous frights of chimps disguised as the dead, screaming bloody couplets in the language of Marie Curie. And so, the evening did most agreeably unfold, each child forced in his turn to enter the maw horrible alone, denuded of hope, and sup full of the horrors in which his sort delights.
"Dude, Lord A., I think you really fucked those kids up bad; they totally shook out of their, like, zombie-coma in the van on the way back— crying and screaming and pissing and shitting. I sorta dropped them off at the gate and booked it. Van's gonna need a steam cleaning. Fucking Ramirez Bros are gonna be pissed when they see the condition of that shit."
"Indeed, Rob. But all worthwhile, is it not, for to share in the joy of the terror of the holy day season with these unfamilied babes of the electorate? Primed for the HolyDay proper, they shall have their Happy Hollow Eve, yes? And happy brood make for happy voters this approaching Tuesday, do they not?"
"Um . . . yeah. I guess. Anyway, I'm not fucking touching that van again."
A Happy and Horrible Hollow Eve To All,
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson