Friday, December 23, 2011

Deadly Treats: Halloween Tales of Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem

Sabrina's Scary Christmas Part V

This will be the final review of 21 short stories found in the Halloween anthology, Deadly Treats: Halloween Tales of Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem compiled and edited by Ann Frasier.

Today's short stories are brought to you by Paul D. Brazil, Michael Allan Mallory, Theresa Weir, and Daniel Hatadi.
 They contain a little bit of this, and a little bit of that... mingled with a killer house, a prankster-playing Grim Reaper, a baby in a basket, and a deadly public playpen.   Enjoy.

"Ten Sycamore Hill was, in Peter Ord's mind, the font of all of his misfortunes." 

When I was in 4th grade my step-mother, Freda, decided to buy a house on the other side of town... without telling my father. I still remember the night he found out we had moved, without him, while he was on the high seas moving cargo to Korea. It was a sore spot for, well, until they divorced. So when I read the opening line to This Old House by Paul D. Brazil, this memory is what I thought of, 'cause I'm pretty sure my father felt the same way about the house on 235 N 8th Street. The place was a money pit, always needing work. The detached garage was so rotted you couldn't even park a car in it, and the roof above the addition was ready to cave in. The only thing that gave my father peace was the acreage... and his garden; always working his green thumb, he was. Today, at 86, he's still eating fresh veggies from his garden, and when we bring up the house on N 8th Street... he cringes.

It's that same cringe I see on Peter Ord's face every time he heads to Raby Arms to get drunk and looks up at his house on Sycamore Hill.  Seems that whenever misfortune, lost love, and disappointment would strike Peter the house would lose a shingle, a door handle, or a window frame. When his health started to fail... the heating went out.  I'd like to think it was the heating that was the last straw for Peter- the straw that gave him the idea to hire someone to burn the place to the ground- but I can't. Truth be told, Peter is a drunken fool, and he's not about to lose any more of his drinking money on home repair costs. But it's now or never as Guy Fawkes Night is just a couple of weeks away; a night of bonfires being a perfect night to "accidentally" burn his house to the ground. But the guy he hires confuses the date with Halloween, and the house... well, do you really think a house that connected to it's owner is gonna be burned to the ground without him? Something tells me that with a little bit of home improvement love, Peter would have had a much better life.  Hmmm... this story makes me wonder how many years I gained with this kitchen remodel? We're adding a fireplace next. Then a new master bath and walk-in closest. The exterior will be redone in five years. At this rate... I'm never gonna die!
Shortly after we had moved into our home, Richard would get a kick out of sneaking through the back door, making his way to the front room, and popping his head around the corner to scare me. I hated it. The terror of the moment would make me freeze, and my screams, well, they were always delayed. I mean, they were loud... they were just delayed by a few seconds.  So one day I arrived home from work before him and thought it would be a great time for pay back. So... I picked up our little puppy and I took us to hide out in the shower stall. Without fail Richard always takes a shower when he gets home from work. So, I took our little dog and we waited. Then I heard him come home. He looked around for us, and must have decided we were out on a walk 'cause he went straight to the bathroom for a shower, stripped out of his clothes, and pulled the shower curtain back to start the water. And that's when I made my move... I popped out my head and screamed, "BOOOOO!" Richard was startled, shocked. He froze in place and then, after a short pause, he screamed. And I laughed. Nothing quite like a naked man screaming in fear.  *giggles* 

In Boo! by Michael Allan Mallory, we meet Leonard Skupic, a widower still feeling lost without his wife by his side, and a lover of practical jokes. This year for Halloween he's set up an elaborate display that, with a pull of a string, releases Joe Scarecrow from his chair and sends him flying toward unsuspecting trick-or-treaters waiting for candy. It's a pretty cool setup, and the little kids seem to get a kick out of it. But the older kids... not so much. In fact, one group of older kids are starting to take the fun out of Halloween for Leonard. In fact, Leonard is so upset with the older free candy moocher's that when Death comes calling for him, he gives him a piece of his mind. Thankfully Death didn't seem to care. In fact, when the older kids come back to 'cause problems Leonard enlists the Grim Reaper to help teach the kids a lesson. Hey, Death has traveled far... and it's his last stop for the evening. Might as well have some fun while you can, right?
A woman living in the north woods of Minnesota wakes to find a baby named, James, on her door step in Girls From The North Country by Theresa Weir. At first she seems surprised, but then remembers that little James comes from the cloning company that gives her the privilege of living so isolated from the world... just the way she likes it.  And it also doesn't take long to realize that this little boy she's been feeding, potty training, and teaching the alphabet to is... James Dean. It seems cloning the rich and famous is their specialty. Just shy of his sixth year, the company comes back to claim him, and in exchange for her silence they're offering to clone someone for her at no charge. They offer some suggestions, of course. Johnny Depp. Sean Connery. Even Jesus Christ, although the "DNA is questionable."  But this woman doesn't want a famous person. She doesn't even want a long lost love or relative. Nope, this woman wants to clone herself. And clone herself she does. Hmmmm. Personally, I don't think the world could handle two of me. And if I was living in the north woods all by myself I'd probably clone... Hugh Jackman. Oh yeah, baby! Those eyes. That hair. His abs. Totally mine.
Manny and little Tim are good friends spending a day together at the Kids Playhouse on Halloween in Plaything by Daniel Hatadi. All the kids are busy running around and diving into the sea of red, yellow, blue, and green balls and occasionally bouncing balls off each other, while Manny is following Tim deeper and deeper into the playpen. Suddenly Tim dives below the balls and Manny, of course, dives in after him, only to run into something fuzzy and odd just below the surface where his friend should be. Frightened, Manny backs into a corner, and then after looking around patiently for his friend he decides to find his father to tell him that little Tim is lost. Manny's heard about Tim's father, how's he's responsible for Tim's bruises, and see's this anger first hand during the search for Tim.

After an evacuation from the building takes place, Manny sneaks back inside for another chance to find his friend. Turns out there's a giant made of mold taking children one by one, and the only way to get them back is to sacrifice an adult. Manny makes up a story to get his father and Tim's dad back in the building... only to learn the hard way that this monster doesn't care about the character traits of his victims. A father's life is taken to save the children in this creepy little story, and the father that deserved to be taken... is left behind.

This concludes my review of Deadly Treats: Halloween Tales of Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem. Deadly Treats can be purchased HERE!



Paul D Brazill said...

Great review. Thanks for the kind words. Glad to see that This Old House made so much sense to you!

nigel p bird said...

I love Paul and his song titles. Shakin' Stevens did a great job with the cover and Paul always nails a story.

Love the out-of-season review, Kate.

Anonymous said...

Sabrina, just stumbled upon this a couple of days ago. You are fabulous!! Reviews to savor! So delightful! So glad you enjoyed the anthology and thrilled to see it given it such wonderful attention here. So many greats stories and writers. Thank you.

Anne Frasier