Something’s Up

(This is a first draft, it’s not fleshed out, it’s just an idea that’s popped up in my head a few times the past week or so)

I’m starting to believe that my neighbors aren’t human. Not so much as creatures from beyond the grave, but more like…extraterrestrials. And only fascinating in a trainwreck kind of sense because they’re more like the rednecks of the universe.

When they first arrived, it was a woman and two children. The kids were small, but I’m terrible at guessing ages and the best I can guess is one was elementary school age and the other was in a diaper. There’s nothing wrong with this and that’s great that a single mom can rent a house to raise her two kids. Welcome to the neighborhood; we’re quiet, we keep to ourselves, and the bus stop is four houses down.

I noticed their recycle bins that the city gives to homeowners were taken away. Small yellow plastic boxes, barely bigger than office trash bins, for paper and plastic were filled with bags of stuff. The recycle logo in a dark purple to show off what the bins were for, and yet they stayed at the end of the driveway filled with what I assumed was not the proper materials.

The large green trash bin stayed parked in their backyard, a few steps away from the back door. It never moved from that space and yet bags and bags started to overload the thing. By the time that I noticed the pile around the bin becoming almost as tall as the bin itself, I realized that there were 5 kids in that house.  The toddler seemed to have grown more than toddlers should, the other kid that I had noticed when they moved in seemed to have stayed the same size. I found this odd because the kid looked like he had been old enough to start getting growth spurts that seem to always happen during summer holidays.

The mother had changed. Not so much as a cut-and-dye job that would change her, but her shape and her features changed as well.

Maybe it was someone else? An aunt or cousin perhaps?

The kid called the first woman I saw “Mom” and the kid is still calling this other woman “Mom.” The other kids could’ve been neices and nephews, or kids that this woman was babysitting, but those other kids were calling this woman “Mom” as well.

Then the screaming started. I could hear it from the backporch as I read and enjoyed the sunsets. Strange, unintelligible screaming that sounded as though it made sense in a weird way. One person would do odd rambly screaming and someone else would reply in a different type of screaming. It was like going to a family reunion and showing up after someone handed around the drinks but right before the meltdown of who said what during your cousin’s nephew’s wedding when someone didn’t bring their own lawn chair.

A few days ago, I noticed that I hadn’t heard anything from the neighbor’s house. The pile of trash from the back door to the bin had stayed a decent foot and a half, and the pile of trash at the end of the driveway seemed to have tripled in size over night and I think I saw bits of carpeting as I drove by on my way to work. You’d think that with a pile of trash like that, we’d have a vermin problem, but I haven’t seen any mice or rats. The gopher that usually hangs out in the neighborhood hasn’t been around for days.

I wonder if they thought that vermin was a delicacy here. I’m definitely not going over there in case I’m wrong. But I haven’t seen anyone in a while and it seems kind of odd. Show up one day out of the blue, disappear a few  short weeks later.


+ The lawn chair thing. You may think it’s just a Jeff Foxworthy joke, but my cousin’s…3rd (2nd or 3rd) wedding had really fancy invitations that had a bright neon orange peice of paper shoved inside that said “bring your own lawn chair for the BBQ.” I wish I was making this up.

+I am more excited to be able to justify this than I should be.

+ It is so hard writing with a 30lbs cat on my lap who refuses to budge. I love Snooch, but omg.

+ We have recycle bins here, but they’re the same size and shape as our trash bins and neon blue. They came with a pamphlet or what can and can’t be put in them, there’s a sticker on the bin that says what can and can’t be put on them, and a magnet. We have had a neighbor get their bin taken away for repeated use as a trash bin (our trash bins are a dark navy blue)

+ Again, first draft. I don’t expect to be perfect, but this has been popping up every so often over the past few days and I wanted to write down something. I’ve got a couple short stories I’m “working” on and I have no idea where I’m going. Even a faux ending like the one above is better than I have been doing.

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stuff

+ I give up on The Last Motel by Brett McBean. The idea was really neat and I don’t often come across stories set in Austrailia. The whole “found a dead body in the trunk of the car we just stole” was enough to keep me intrigued, and the sodomizing of a kidnap victim didn’t bother me because the author is portraying a serial killer–and stuff like that has been recorded as actually happening. The random three-some, I could easily skip over and ignore. It’s a random chapter and I have no idea who the lead character in that chapter is supposed to be. Ok, whatever. But then the random makeout session happened and I’m done. The characters aren’t drunk, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for this to happen. I skipped three pages and it’s still on that scene.

I told Jamie that I gave up and he suggested that I just pick a random book. I told him that’s how I got this book. He suggested I pick a letter and just randomly grab a book. I told him that’s how I ended up with The Lurking Season. He shrugged and went back to the anthology he was working on and I went back to re-reading Witches Abroad before going over to The Man From U.N.D.E.A.D.

+ I began listening to Wooden Overcoats via Stitcher and realized it’s a really bad idea when you have a migraine. It’s an intriguing podcast and the mayor sounds very familiar, but I had to give up midway through episode 2. I figure I’ll get back to it later on.

+ I realized today that it’s been a while since I’ve heard the ice cream van. I’ll be relieved when the sounds of tinkling Christmas music stops being played exceedingly loud through the neighborhood. It’s always unnerving hearing it, but maybe that’s because it reminds me of the Robert R McCammon story and various horror films. It’s really neat that there are people who are driving around selling ice cream, but to me, it’s super unnerving.

+ I’ve been trying to learn more crochet stuff. I’ve figured out how to do the first little inner square for granny squares and realized this would be fun to just do the little four-square area for little pixeled creatures. I could make my own Bowser or Dry-Bones this way! It’ll be a fun little concept and idea that I plan on adding to my list of project ideas. It’ll go on the list with the rag rug and various Dr Who inspired things.

Goober dog

Before the thunder hit, the dogs were outside. I was rolling the trash bin back up and realized that Firefly was in our garden area. Houdini-dog strikes again.

Apparently the grass growing up through the melon/squash leaves are extra tasty.

Film Review: Last House On Cemetery Lane

Film review:
The Last House on Cemetery Lane

The basics are: Lee is a screenwriter. He is a horror writer and he has writer’s block. So, he rents a house in the middle of nowhere to “finish” his script and strange things happen.

Ok, I can get behind that. Sounds a bit cheesy, but I like cheesy horror films. So homeboy meets up with the…realtor? Landlady? And gets the keys from her, looks around, and she mentions that oh yeah, there’s an old blind woman who lives in the attic but don’t worry about it. And she frolicks off into the sunset to do whatever.

Writer writes and mopes around before meeting a “neighbor” who is picking berries for a pie. They talk, they hang out, they go on a “date” and everything is so cute and adorable that I wonder what’s wrong.

The writer spends most of his time alone in the house and various things happen. He has nightmares, the record player cuts on, and you get ominous violin squeaks. The little old lady, Agnes, never leaves the attic.

Eventually, the guy uses a spirit board and a shot glass to figure out what’s going on. He gets into the attic and Agnes tells him that her daughter killed her friend and she protected her daughter by stuffing the body in a cupboard in the basement and sealed the basement up.  He tears down the wallpaper and voila, it’s a doorway. The daughter of Agnes is the landlady weirdo who kills her mom and goes after the writer, who in turn kills her before finding the remains of the dead woman who, surprise surprise, is the girl he’s been seeing and hanging out with (the girl he met while she was picking berries on the land)

In the morning, he locks up the house, puts his breifcase and screenplay on the passenger seat of the car, and drives off into the sunset. The screenplay is titled the same as the film and you’d expect it to end there, but no. The landlady weirdo is waiting on a new schmuck to show up and that doesn’t make any sense. The last scene should’ve been cut. It should’ve ended with the guy driving off.

I had a few issues with the film, besides it being slowly paced and all. The nightmares every night didn’t make much sense. Even as a person who frequently has nightmares, this doesn’t make much sense.

There’s a character, Agnes, who stays in the attic the entire time. The landlady is quoted as saying that she doesn’t come out and no one comes to visit her. Her door is always locked. So, how does she get food? How does she go to the bathroom? Is she dead? (no, we find out that she is not later on in the film). No one even bothers to look up at the attic windows to see if they can spot her.

Eventually, you get the feeling that Agnes is a ghost and she’s the one mucking about the place. Then you get the girlfriend, the girl who was picking berries in the beginning and then hangs out with the writer. When the writer hears Agnes’ story, he becomes greif-stricken and you realize, as he realizes, that his girlfriend is dead (or you’re like me and suspect that early on). When he finally gets the cupboard open, all you see is a skull. A dirty, old, brown skull.

Anges’ story starts 20 years in the past, when her husband died, and gives the murder of the girl, as my guesstimate is, about 5 to 10 years later. I’m really not sure because, honestly, I was trying to beat a level of Sailor Moon Drops while the whole reveal was taking place.

If it was only 5 to 10 years since the death of the girl (well, 20ish year old woman), there’d be a smell (number one) and there’d be more…gooey bits about. At least, that’s my understanding of basic human decomposition in a musty old basement with basic accidental refrigeration. This is set in England, where the temperature, from my understanding, is a bit cooler than it is over here. Summer’s not as muggy, so being stuck in a dank, dark, moist basement would’ve probably kept the decomposition process pretty slow. Slow enough to leave more than a brown skull at least.

And then there’s the whole use the spirit board by yourself thing. Ok, I get it, it’s for a film. However, for someone who’s in the middle of nowhere, how the hell did this guy get a spirit board the size of a small coffee table? And he uses a shot glass instead of a planchette. Is this normal over there?

I know that during the time when mediums started to become all the rage and the Ouija board was being created, they did have a tendency to use a glass and cards to speak to spirits, but why is that in this film?

I guess that’s there to get people intrigued in the process of speaking with entities, which is bad because you have to be really careful with that shit

Overall, I found the film to be more of a suspense film than a horror film. The screechy violin peices seemed to be put in random places. It was a very English slow burn film. Very slow. I feel like I wasted the 20 minutes of finishing up watching the film.

It’s great that they did what they could, but omg it was so slow. Like, I could probably have recited the entirety of Jabberwocky before anything of interest started happening.

A half-review

The other day I decided that I am going to at least attempt to finish reading the horror novel I started…two weeks ago (hey, two weeks on one book is a long time for me if it isn’t a textbook or something the size of The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort)

I can’t do it. I’m 63% through the book and…I just can’t. (I’m calling this a half-review because I didn’t finish the novel. this…turned out lengthy)

So!

The book is: The lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty.

Pretty much, it’s basically:: Small town, going under like some small towns do, have traditional…fair-folk who terrorize the outlying farms.

Sounds great, right? Well, it intrigued me enough to want to add it to the kindle. It starts off generically enough (girl “sneaks” boy into house, gets set up for a “movie night” and drama ensues) and a new chapter starts.

Each chapter is titled with a main character’s name. If you’re not familiar with the A Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones), it can be kind of strange. For certain parts of the story, it makes sense: we have girl from the first chapter in a different area than the girl in the second chapter. But, while GRRM does things within those chapters (like Jaime’s inner mantra), it doesn’t make much sense for some of these. I really don’t need a handful of chapters bouncing from character to character when they’re at the same place.

Also, what gets me is that this is less than 300 pages, why do I need almost 10 “main” characters?

During this, we have things called “Haunchies.” The most description I’m able to gleam from this is that they’re magical hobbit ninjas with killer nails. Within the…27 chapters I have read, this is the best description I have. The most that I can remember of any sort of description is: they live in the woods, they’re small, and they look like living straw dolls. After one character gets captured, we learn: they eat humans, use human women for breeding purposes, and therefore share at least some of the same genetic code as us humans (because basic science teaches us about crossbreeding).

So, traditional fae, sans the whole “women are only useful for breeding” thing. The whole idea of someone writing a story about the shining ones and using the tradional “they will eat you, dummy” was really fascinating.

However

I have spent more time skipping through paragraphs of sex than should be necessary in a basic horror novel. I told Jamie that it was like reading the novelization of an 80s slasher film because it really is::

We just met, let’s have sex! Oh, the power’s out mysteriously, we should have sex right here!

Jamie’s response was: “Oh, so you mean a basic pulpy 80s horror novel.” Yep.

I don’t read horror for sex and I don’t go looking for fictional horror to read about rape. If it was one or two sex scenes, I could skip over it and keep going. But when you spend more time describing a sex scene, or even a rape scene, in more explicit detail than you bothered to use on your scenery or even basic characters, then I’m done.

I don’t need to know that some character practically gets naked so she can fuck a guy she just met that day and then uses the “opportunity” to have sex with her later as a lure to get the idiot to go out on a walk through Haunchie territory.

I don’t need to know all the details of “The Watcher” raping a girl and the constant references to how “perfect” her boobs are. I don’t need to know any details of that. There is enough of that in reality that I do not need to go into fantasy-land and read more of it.

I read horror for horror’s sake. Funny, weird, gorey, suspenseful. You can easily use your words to imply things have happened or are going to happen without using explicit detail. If I want to read something like that (consensual sex), I’ll go read Maggie Shayne or I’ll go and read me some fanfiction because I can guarantee you, it’ll be written better and I’ll know what I’m getting into instead of being sideswiped with the erotica version of a cheap summer thriller.

And then, there are some things about the setting itself that kind of bother me.

So, you’ve bought a falling-down farmhouse. Well, I assume it’s a farmhouse by the lack of description besides the house is falling apart and that used to be a corn field. You’ve bought a house that you plan on converting into a recovery center out in the middle of nowhere. Ok, I’m on track with this. It happens. People like to help others and purchase property where they can. After a while, we’re told that it’s a 2-storey house because people “chose rooms upstairs.” Uh…can I get a layout?

But you’ve set your characters up in a house where the only heat available is the fireplace and whatever blankets they can scrounge up (let’s not forget human heat, hur hur). And you’ve got them going to this house, to repair ittwo days before a snowstorm.

Why?! Why would you do this? Does it help with the ambiance? Does it help so you can rip apart one of your characters? Does it feel more terrifying when you’re inadequately prepared for such a normal phenomena that your characters conveniently forget how to do things like prepare?

And how do you get from “It’s been three years” and “This house wasn’t touched by the fire” to “this house is so run down it should be condemned”? I’m trying to figure that one out because, from personal experience with our house, it was unoccupied for 2.5 years and was built almost 90 years ago. Some of the stuff is strange, and most of the rooms stay pretty cool during summer. So how is the house in the novel so dilapidated that wind creeks and acts like it blows through the walls?

Seems kind of weird to me.

So.

The concept/idea seemed really cool and I wanted to keep reading it, but…no. Just no. I can’t do it. I don’t care if “The Watcher” gets mangled or there’s a beautiful scene of viscera. I have no empathy for these characters that the author has created. I loathe these characters.

The other night, when I was just at 60% of the story, I was rooting for the Haunchies. But now, I’ve barely gotten through another chapter, and I could care less. I tried, but I also started 5 other books after I started this one, two of which I’ve read dozens of times before.

I could try another novel by the author, but  I don’t know if I will. He’s got a handful of them and that’s pretty awesome, but I’m a bit wary. (and hell, I had more fun using alternate names for fae than I did reading what I slogged through.)

bleach and vinegar

So! A few things:

+ Jamie took a week of vacation last week, so we…didn’t do much. Spent time with the dogs, slept in til 8 or 9, and generally lounged around.

+ July 1st began the “I just got back from one of the Carolinas and I bought fireworks!” extravaganza. The neighbor’s down the street decided to wait until about 9:30pm to start it. They set off a bit , then stopped, waited until about 10pm and set off a few bottle rockets. Quiet for 10-15 minutes, then they’d set off Roman Candles. Again, quiet for about 10-15 minutes. Then, mortars. (yep, I can tell by the fwoomph and pop for a few variations of what they are). It lasted long enough to where you could tell when the police arrived, spoke with them, and left the neighborhood.

July 2nd. They half-heartedly do a few bottle rockets because nature has decided to rain. And rain. And…rain.

But hey, whatever. It works for me. The downside is that I can’t plant my new roses, but the upside is that the vegetables are getting water.

July 3rd:They have a cache of Roman Candles. I have thought terrible thoughts and ended up cursing our house. I am currently in the process of appeasing the gods that need appeasing and fixing my mess.

July 4th: at 9.24am they set off a bottle rocket and nature went Nope! and it started the scattered downpour that we would be having throughout the day. The weather gets progressively worse and they are setting off bottle rockets periodically during the day despite the rain. Other neighbors set off little whizgigs, bottle rockets, and Roman Candles during the few moments of no rain.

The rain continues and becomes bad enough to where both Roanoke and Vinton cancel their fireworks they had planned. Initially, only Vinton planned to reschedule for the 5th, but then Roanoke turned around and said that they were going to set them off but there’s no food or music and you have to find your own way down here so nyrr. It made me wonder if Roanoke is having a tantrum again. (probably)

July 5th: Couldn’t tell if it was Vinton’s fireworks or the neighbors found more mortars.

+ I sent bad vibes down to the neighbors (in a general “I hope something bad happens to you, like washer overflowing or whatever”) and ended up cursing our house. This is something that does always have the possibility of happening and, of course, I walked right into it.

We’ve spent a couple days working on fixing the small curse. I’ve looked up which gods to appease and I get the nagging suspicion that I may be missing one or two. Now the house smells like bleach and vinegar. Well, I can’t smell it, but Jamie likened it to “a weird chemically smell.” I’ve apologised to the universe in general and have continued looking up stuff. Tentatively, I’m hoping I’ve figured out what’s happened and just have to wait for Jamie to get home so he can help me.

+ Jamie found the Patrick Macnee Ghost Stories on Amazon Prime and I made him save it for me. I love this shit.

It’s been long enough that I can’t remember exactly what’s in each story/episode that it makes me excited and watching this cracks me the fuck up. I love that we can find stuff on paranormal investigators who use their own selves as a way to “see” things, an early look at an EMF reader, and watch people before the time of “Whoa! Dude!” or “Wait…what was that? Did you hear that?” It’s great and I love it.

The downside is, this was also around the same time that a Teeny Tiny Manders got ahold of the internets and spent that majority of her time on paranormal websites, watching those still-photo webcam things on the “help me find my ghost!” websites, and whatnot. Man, I miss those websites. But Dave Juliano’s website (the shadowlands) is still around (in all of its 90s glory. but no, seriously, go read some of the stories. just beware the paragraphs of doom)

+ I’ve been trying to get through The Lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty. And…I just don’t know.

I’m all for horror stories and it’s decent writing, barring the excessive description of what someone looks like and then breezing through landscape. It took about a chapter or two to get used to it, but I’m ok with it.

Apparently it’s Small town has killer fae. Like, traditional I will eat your children fae. So, that’s why I’m still sticking with it (even though it’s taking forever). But omg I am tired of all the sex. It’s an 80s slasher film in book form: we just met, let’s fuck. Oh look, we’re in spooky territory, let’s have sex! You’re traumatized, let’s have sex.

I’m rooting for the Haunchies by now.

+ I also started The Last Motel by Brett McBean. I’m still in part one (approximately 10% into the book) and it’s decent so far. The downside is that it’s taking me forever to read this and during this time I’ve finished The Fifth Elephant again and started The Lurking Season (the one above this one), The Academy by Bentley Little, and The Man from U.N.D.E.A.D by  Darren Humphries as well as starting Men At Arms again.

All I know is that two drunk idiots just stole a car and ended up at Creepy Motel while upset couple have done something and ended up at the same motel. Apparently there is a serial murderer on the loose somewhere near by.

And, instead of working on my own fiction, I’m reading other peoples.

We also won 2 goodreads contests. I won Cthulhu Fthagn! and Jamie won The Arab of the Future 2 by Riad Sattouf (it’s an ARC, which is pretty neat) and really cool.