TWO TALES OF HALLOWEEN FROM VAL PORTELLI AND RICK HAYNES
Happy Halloween is just around the corner so what better than to read two great tales?
My good friend and fellow author Val Portelli, has just released a collection of short stories in time for All Hallows Eve. Entitled 'Simply Spooky.' More details are shown below.
The stories range from humorous and thought-provoking to downright scary, and with so many weird occurrences in the publication of her book, it does make you wonder. It's that time of the year when the dead roam the earth and spooks demand their trick or treat. 👻
With the Halloween bias, they could perhaps be classed as cosy horror, if such a thing exists. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the stories.
Anyone old enough to remember the coffee shops, with teenagers hanging out and Elvis on the Jukebox? How could this be spooky? You might be in for a surprise.
Abandoned Soul: An experiment at writing a screenplay with a single voice. Not bad for a first attempt.
Bed of roses: It’s not nice to take the mickey out of the newbie at work. Be kind.
Beyond the glass: Hints of Alice in Wonderland but with a twist.
Chills: When I’m writing I spend long hours at my desk, which makes this almost a true story.
David and June: It’s interesting how history can repeat itself through the generations.
Death by Tea: A short, light-hearted story from a coffee drinker.
Ectoplasmic Rage: One of my favourites. No wonder they get upset.
Emergency Meeting: A thought-provoking story verging towards Sci-Fi, or perhaps not.
Enchanted Cottage: Who’s to say where the dividing line falls between reality and mental health?
Friends: Social media has changed the definition of what constitutes a friend.
From The Corner Of My Eye:
Being elderly and living alone can sometimes be dangerous.
Giggles In The Night: Inspired by a comment from a friend talking about his young son laughing in his sleep.
Halloween Conversation: A first hand explanation of how the tradition originated.
Halloween Haunting: Teenagers, what would you do with them?
Halloween Party: It’s fun to get a party invite, especially if the guy you fancy is going to be there.
© Val Portelli October 2022
If you enjoy them, you can find more of her work and ways to contact her here:
And not to be outdone, here is a tale from me.
My old and tattered scarf was like the snow in winter; soft and yielding on the inside yet as cold as ice around the edges.
I hated the winter cold.
Many of my neighbours loved the new season, whereas the rays burning into me when the sun shone brightly had always been my preference. But the seasons change and, as per usual, I knew I had to adapt or face the consequences. Pulling my woollen hat tightly over my head and covering my cold hands with sheep-skin gloves made me feel a little comfortable but not by much. The scarf helped to prevent some of the cold air from entering my lungs, yet it never stopped me from struggling to breathe.
Stacking the last of the winter's logs in the lean-to made me smile. I had more than enough for my winter hibernation now so I celebrated with a tot of whiskey, and then another. New life seemed to gush through my old veins for I knew all would be well, apart from the noisy brats from number four soon to knock on my door. Happy Halloween, with trick or treat, was their idea of annoying all those like me wishing to be left alone. But this year, I told myself they would not succeed as I had a plan.
I put up my sign wishing the children good luck with their endeavours but that was as far as I was prepared to go. Maybe this year they would also read my final words on the sign. “If you do not wish to be wet, do not ring my bell or tap on the door.” I didn’t have a water pistol but perhaps they wouldn’t know that.
Needless to say, some of the kids and parents did not take any notice, for my head was already ringing to the sounds of my very loud doorbell. I opened an upstairs window and shouted as loud as I could. “Be quiet! Better still, bugger off and leave me alone.”
The yells from the kids and the sounds of their parents asking me to descend to their level and join in the fun was galling. I was so pleased they got the message and moved on. Yet deep inside, I wanted to play.
Moving back to my comfy armchair in the back room, I switched on the goggle-box and searched for a good film but that didn’t last long as I heard the sound of breaking glass. I quickly made my way to the lounge. Seeing the amount of glass on my ruby-red carpet, it didn’t take long for me to see the smashed window. My heart seemed to miss a beat or two as I cried, not in pain, but in anger.
The words of my father appeared in my brain. ‘Don’t get mad, get even,’ he told me all those years ago. I hadn’t thought about his words before, but my brain was now screaming at me with too many ideas to remember. To ensure I didn’t forget, I wrote them down, ticked off the most hideous ones, and carefully planned my revenge.
Opening an old wardrobe in the upstairs spare bedroom revealed many clothes of bygone ages. It didn’t take long before I tried them on. Some fitted me, and others were either too small or too big, but at the back, I saw an old wizard's outfit complete with a mask. I’d never noticed them before but something was urging me to try them on. I did. They fitted me perfectly as I could see from looking in the large mirror. But wearing it soon gave me a shock. As if I had worn the mask many times, it instantly moved to fit me tightly.
“It’s time to play,’ but as the voice wasn’t mine, I guessed it was my father. I felt the warmth in his words and smiled.
Walking down the stairs was always a difficult trek but not today. As soon as I reached the bottom my eyes were searching, looking for guidance. My range of old gloves was neatly stacked; my everyday clothes also but what else should I do?
“Stop dallying. You know what to do.”
“Thank you father,” I whispered as I moved to the door. I left it open and walked outside. My heart was steady, my way was clear, and my brain was urging me to take note of my father’s voice.
The nearest house was full of people having fun around a large fire. They were happy. I was pleased but ignored them. It was the same at the next house which made me grin. But I moved speedily, as the way to the fourth house at the end of our street was in my sights. Yet I hesitated at number three for one large family was celebrating Halloween in their front garden with their children. And without thinking, I walked in and demanded, Trick or Treat. The parents were speechless, the children so noisy, as they demanded a treat. Luckily, their parents quickly understood and told their children to give me a treat. A sausage roll appeared wrapped up in tin foil. I smiled, bowed low, and walked backward with the children playing around me.
That was great, I said to myself as I waved both hands in the air. Alas, a scream nearly deafened me. Another quickly followed it. Their youngest child, Dolly, had fallen into their pond. Without thinking I reached over and pulled her out. Apart from being soaked, she was lucky to be unhurt. As her parents were toweling her down, readying to change her wet clothes to dry ones, cries from their other offspring took them by surprise. The yells from the children seemed to echo all around for they had seen something their parents hadn’t. Treats? Yes indeed, for a variety of chocolate bars appeared from under my cloak and those two precious little words of, thank you, echoed off the walls. I smiled, yet inside I knew this was my precursor to the main show. It was time to leave but before I did, I gave Dolly two chocolate bars and was rewarded with a kiss on my cheek. Maybe today would be a good day, after all, I thought.
One visit, nicely, but one to go, nastily, I whispered to myself as my power was increasing; my brain overloading with ideas. Would those responsible for breaking my window understand I would be their nemesis? I grinned as it was time to find out.
Number four was situated at the far end of our close. With five bedrooms, three other rooms, an outbuilding, and a double garage in a large plot of land, it appeared to dominate the other houses. Yet it was as ugly as its residents. As I slowly walked toward number four, I could already hear a dog barking and a string of swear words. I grinned as it would soon be payback time; where the fun of trick or treat would definitely begin.
The side door was open; the pathway to the back was almost blocked with bricks and rotting wooden planks. I inhaled deeply and felt a wave of hatred surge through me as I told myself it was time. Time to wrong the right, I said under my breath.
Walking into their garden was akin to visiting the local dump. Rubbish? With bricks, rubble, glass, old and rotting wood, and the reek of dog shit everywhere, I held my nose as I walked from the dark to stand under their only lamp hanging from the back of the house.
“Good evening, people. Trick or treat? The choice is yours.”
With two adults and three children all looking at me and the dog running away howling, I awaited their response.
“Who the hell are you?” The man shouted. “Don’t you know who I am?”
“Why? Don’t you?” I couldn’t stop laughing.
He started to walk towards me. But once I stood up he could see I was much taller and wider than he was so he quickly backed off. The word coward came to mind.
“Who are you and how dare you walk into our garden?” She had a bigger mouth than her husband. I realised she wasn’t going to stop so I simply waved my right hand and made her lips stick together. I thought that would be enough to deter him from doing something stupid, but her husband had picked up a rusty axe and was walking towards me. What a shame he dropped it on his foot. His screaming was louder than his wife’s words. With them both sitting on the dead grass, nursing their predicaments, I turned my attention to their two sons.
“Now which one of you broke my windows? But, do forgive me. I nearly forgot to remind you this is all about trick or treat, so which one is it going to be boys?”
Their eyes were constantly looking at each other and then toward their parents now out of the game. I stayed silent but my eyes were sending out wave after wave of pure hatred. “You have thirty seconds to make up your mind, so chose carefully and quickly.”
“Treat,” screamed the oldest brother as his sibling shouted out, “Trick.”
“Let's start with a treat then, shall we,” I said in my nicest, softest, voice.
“You can have my secret stash of money,” The older one of the two shouted out, much to the roar of anger coming from his brother.
“You lying bastard, you told me you’d spent all your money so I gave you some of mine, ” the younger one screamed at him with real menace.
I simply nodded my head before asking the younger one what he would offer me.
“I don’t know what you want,” he wailed whilst looking at his parents for help. Alas for him, they ignored his pleas.
“You, know what I mean, junior. It’s called - Compensation!” I walked over to where he was sitting and gave him my best smile. It was so good to see him cringe; almost as good as his brother’s fear when I waved my hands close to his face seconds later.
“Now, family Wilson, it’s time for you to change. Whether you do or not is up to you but in your shoes, I’d listen very carefully. The next trick-or-treat is now, yes now, not tomorrow or next year? Do you understand?”
The wave of silence was finally broken when Mrs. Wilson stood up and approached me. As she couldn't speak I allowed her lips to reopen. “What do we have to do and how much is it going to cost us?”
“Do unto others as you would wish them to do to you. So no more of your spite and your vile temper. So here is a list of what you must do.”
“Number one; you will pay to repair my windows. Number two; you will give me your dog, Bella. She is undernourished, uncared for, and afraid of her own shadow. That must change, as I will look after her now. Number three; once your house is in order, you will sell up and move elsewhere. Where? That’s up to you, but it must be a long way from here. Number four; I suggest you learn from your experience. But if you don’t, I’ll be back.”
Bella didn’t hesitate for she followed me through the gate and growled softly as we walked home together. Once inside my humble home, I removed the wizard’s outfit and sat by my fire with Bella at my feet. A slight grin turned into a massive smile as I dragged up so many memories from my past. With my father and mother coming from a large family of wizards, it was only natural I should follow in their footsteps but I had hidden my special talents for too many years to count, but not now. I would use my power only when necessary, as would Bella, for I had given her the gift of human speech and longevity. She was as remarkable as I was now, yet no one would ever know our special powers.
“Talk human…difficult but better soon. What you do… broken glass from the window?” Bella said as she wagged her tail.
“What broken glass? “ I pointed at the unbroken window that was a pile of glass a minute ago.
Bella didn’t know whether to growl or talk, so she did both, a doggie-human language she said, which made us both laugh.
Halloween may be a special day for others, but for us, people in need were everywhere. With so much to do, we aimed to move silently and help those humans, be it Halloween or any other day.
After all, two heads are better than one, and Bella and I will love helping those in need.
You showed me the way so thanks, mum and dad.
“ Me too,” Bella said.
Happy Halloween everyone.