It’s Wild Card Wednesday. Anything can happen. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Put those two factors together, and they open up limitless possibilities.
Today, I’d like to take you on a tour of my favorite Halloween-themed short fiction. So come along. The path is dark, but I know the way. Shadows lurk behind the trees. Don’t fear them. Those who walk in darkness know my name. We’ll be safe.
There’s always a little mystique in the air with that first October chill. The whole month seems to be filled with the possibility of the unknown. The spirit realm feels closer than ever. Goblins, vampires, gravestones, and witches are part of the season. What is real and what is imagination?
Halloween and horror fiction fit together like puzzle pieces. Each October, I re-read a few of my favorite Halloween-themed horror stories. Let’s take a look at them. Maybe you’ll be inspired to read one.
“He’ll Come Knocking at your Door” by Robert R. McCammon
This one is a slow burn. What starts as a slight feeling of unease builds to a horrifying conclusion that will stick with you.
The folks of Essex, Alabama enjoy good luck all year around. Some good fortune is just what Dan Burgess needs. He and his family have fallen in love with Essex and all it has to offer. That is, until Halloween night when Dan learns the source–and the price–of his good luck.
“Pork Pie Hat” by Peter Straub
This is a novella rather than a short story. The narrative voice is unique, and the setting is well drawn. I found myself drawn into this world and almost believing the words on the page were true.
The setup: (courtesy of Amazon.com)
Passionate about jazz, the narrator dicovers that one of his greatest heroes, a saxophonist by the name of Pork Pie Hat, is still alive and playing at a club he frequents. Granted an interview by the Hat, the narrator gets a night of extraordinary stories from a man dying of alcoholism.
Here’s the book trailer:
“The Pumpkin Child” by Nancy A. Collins
The climax of this story takes place on Halloween. That and the pumpkin theme make it a Halloween favorite for me. It’s creepy in a way that gets under my skin and comes back in my nightmares.
Hollis Railsback comes home from WWII to find what little luck he had has gone sour. Another man has stolen his woman and his family’s business. With the help of a backwoods witch, Hollis wins back his luck at the other man’s expense. Karma is a vengeful mistress, though, and she’s coming for Hollis.
“The Pumpkin Child” is available in Knuckles and Tales by Nancy A. Collins.
“Pranks” by Robert Bloch
This is a very short story, only fourteen pages or so. It has a hair-raising twist ending.
A quiet, safe neighborhood celebrates Halloween. Children roam the streets alone, costumed and trick-or-treating. There’s nothing to fear…is there? Sometimes evil wears the most benign costume.