As Summer Fades…

A blue moon hangs above me, high in the sky as August peels away and reveals September. These transitory periods make for strange, hazy, and sometimes anxious days. Every year I begin to see hints of the magic to come but it’s wistful and elusive. Still, as I sit here and write glancing occasionally out the window I can almost smell it on the air. I know it’s out there, indeed I know it’s coming.

Soon I’ll begin visiting drug stores, browsing with delight at the selection of Halloween related items and eagerly awaiting the release of the treasured Fear Finder. I’ve wondered at times if the thrill of this enchanting season would ever wear off but it hasn’t yet and I suspect that, for me, it never will. It is undeniably my favorite time of the year, a time when I feel the most alive — most at peace. This season is about more than just horror movies, haunted houses, and trick r treating — it’s about nostalgia, and wonder, and love.

PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

I have long had a desire to work in a haunted attraction and on a few short occasions I’ve had the pleasure of dipping my toe into the murky waters and it was blissful. Truth be told though I’ve never simply taken the plunge and that’s due almost entirely to the fact that working at a haunted attraction would severely limit the number of haunts I could surely visit in a given season. I strongly considered it after last season — I had managed to visit 18 separate locations with a total of 23 haunted attractions, it would be difficult to top that. Furthermore over the past seven years or so I feel that I have witnessed a solid sampling of all varieties of haunts and yet here we are on the cusp of another season and the lure of the open road and haunted adventures seems just to great to pass up. I love the thrill of the hunt — that adrenaline rush that races through my body when a new and exciting haunt has been discovered. There is nothing else quite like it. This whole haunting business is in my blood, etched into my very DNA.

SPOOKY STORIES TO READ IN THE SUMMER

I’ve been reading a book this summer, a compilation of stories to celebrate Halloween called October Dreams. It’s been a fun read, in addition to short stories and poems, the book also features genuine Halloween memories from various authors. Thus far my favorites include one recollection entitled A Condemned Man, where the author tells the story of feeling to old to go trick r treating but several hours before dark is compelled to give it a go anyway. He threw together a crude costume which consisted of an old checkered shirt, brown corduroys, and an old pillowcase for a mask. He proceeded to cut holes in the pillowcase and secured it with a piece of rope when he discovered it was loose. He hunted for candy in complete anonymity that Halloween going from house to house in his small town. When asked by one resident what he was supposed to be he respond with, “a condemned man.” Near the end of his nocturnal jaunt he approached a house and was shocked at the sight of what was approaching him: himself. Another trick r treater stood opposite him in a nearly identical homemade costume. The two stared at each other wordlessly for a moment before the mysterious doppelganger ran off into the night. As the tale ends the author writes,

“Most importantly, I hadn’t a clue who this fellow was behind the mask, and I never found out, although we had to have gone to the same school — hell, there was only the one school, and I knew everybody, absolutely everybody in it, and I couldn’t begin to guess who this could have been. It really creeped me out. It creeps me out still.”

Another tale that grabbed me titled Yesterday’s Child told the tale of a middle aged man whose wife had left him, whose daughter hated him, and if truth be told he had come to hate himself. He accepts a post with the neighborhood watch on Halloween and has an eerie encounter with his adolescent self. I thought it captured the nostalgic power of Halloween very well not to mention the magic of childhood. It put me in mind of so many bittersweet episodes of The Twilight Zone and as a matter of fact, in the afterword, the author acknowledges both Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling for being formative influences.

FUN WITH URBAN LEGENDS

Honestly, who doesn’t enjoy a good urban legend? A friend informed me of the Slenderman earlier this summer and at first I laughed at such a notion but I soon found myself quite taken with the mythos even if it is entirely steeped in fiction. If you aren’t familiar with the Slenderman a simple Google search will reveal the staggering internet subculture that has helped to popularize the mythos. There’s pictures, stories, parodies, and memes — there’s even a creepy little video game. It’s a strange world out there.

I think he’s a neat character though and my cousin Ryan and I have decided to feature the Slenderman in an episode of our sketch comedy show the Mud Puppets — our Halloween special to be precise. We’re greatly looking forward to it — I know it’ll make the entire season a little more special to me. It’s just one more fun event to anticipate with glee. If you’re interested we can be found on youtube under the username: themudpuppets.

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