Sunday, December 13, 2015

Arkham for the Holidays

 
 
The sleepy town of Arkham, which lies along the Miskatonic River, is waking up to a brilliant new day. The night before had been a flurry of snow and howling winds, but this morning the sun is shining and all is calm. Blanketed in drifts of snow like piles of powdered diamonds, a quiet hush surrounds this quaint little town.
 
 
Even the snow plow in the distance sounds muffled and does little to upset the tranquility of this glorious morning. Murray’s been out with the plow since before dawn and he is almost finished clearing the main roads.



The townsfolk are just starting to stir, coming down in their pajamas.
 
 
They’ll drink coffee and eat pancakes,
before shoveling driveways and clearing sidewalks.
  

 
As soon as chores are done, the kids get down to business. There are snowmen and forts to be built, snowball ammunitions to stockpile and hills in need of sledding.  Larry is out in the backyard with his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl.
 

The Alden kids have hit the ski trails. Henry and Benny are in the lead,
with the girls bringing up the rear.
 
 
Looks like Mr. Hankey has already started delivering trees and there’s Kenny with a sweet crunchy apple for Mr. Hankey’s trusty old mare, Beatrice.
 
 
Little Timmy is at the tree farm too, picking out a tree with grandpa. They’ve done this every year for as long as Timmy can remember. Later when they bring it home, the whole family will decorate the tree together, though secretly Timmy always thinks of it as his tree. At this moment it’s still just him and grandpa, and he swells with pride as his grandpa exclaims that Timmy has found the best tree yet.


There are errands to be done, last minute shopping and packages to mail, but today they seem less of a chore and more of a welcomed excuse to get outside and head into town.


The post office is bustling with activity. There are lots of packages to be delivered and even a few last-minute letters to Santa Claus.

 
Passersby are drawn into the bakery by delectable aromas. A couple from Boston moved up last year and took over the bakery when Old Man Jenkins retired. They’ve done a fine job of it and there’s talk of them adding on a little café. 
 
 
Speaking of Old Man Jenkins, he’s out picking up a tree for the holidays too. He might seem like the town curmudgeon, but don’t let that perpetual frown fool you. There’s always a twinkle in his eyes, especially this time of year. Oh sure he likes to grouch when the carolers come by, but he always has a pocketful of candy canes for them. And he might grumble about how spoiled kids are these days, but I know for a fact he’s responsible for a bunch of those donated toys around the big tree downtown.

  
Even Arkham Asylum has gotten into the spirit of things or at least tried too.
There are some places so forlorn that any attempt at cheering them up just makes them feel more desolate.


Not that any of this matters to their newest arrival,
he’s been catatonic since the accident. Strange case that one.

  
Let us not linger under the gloom of the asylum any longer, but sail back under the blue skies to the town center where carolers are heralding in the finishing touches on the holiday tree and look at all the wonderful gifts donated to Toys for Tots.
 
 
Further on there’s the ice rink where the hot chocolate is rich and creamy with a mountain of whipped cream.
 
 
From the ice rink you can hear the band playing across the park in the gazebo.

 Today is one of those magical days. Everyone is in good spirits and the weather is fine. Nothing could possibly put a damper on a day like today. Tonight shoppers will bustle home, kids will stomp their boots and shake off snow before heading in, fireplaces will crackle and kitchens will be full of good smells. But that’s not until later, for now we’ll just enjoy this perfect moment.

 
Meanwhile, back at the asylum…

  
Things have gone terribly wrong with the new patient
and Dr. West’s experimental serum.
 
 
Bright red arterial spray coats the walls like some ghoulish holiday Pollock painting. The floors are slick with it, and bodies litter the hallways. The only thing more horrifying than the stench of blood and loose bowels, is the breeze carrying in the crisp clean scent of winter air. There must have been a door left open to the outside. May God have mercy on us all.   


Ms. Foster has always like living on the outskirts of town. Some might be put off being a stone’s throw from the asylum, but she’s found them to be quiet, unobtrusive neighbors. There are some disadvantages to being so far away from town. For one, it’s such a long walk, maybe that’s why Gladys is looking a little peaked. Then again maybe it’s her newfound appetite for human flesh. 


Poor Timmy, it doesn’t look like there will be any tree decorating in his future. After the fiend departs, having sated his hunger, Timmy will faithfully stay by his grandfather’s side. Later when his eyes flutter open, Timmy will tearfully ask him if he’s ok and grandpa will answer him, with his teeth. 



 Oh my God! They killed Kenny! Those bastards!

 
It doesn’t look like Violett is going to make it home for supper.
And if she does, we’ll have to separate her head from her shoulders.
 
 
It’s up to Darryl and Darryl to save the snow fort now. 


The power is out over most of Arkham, the main transformer was hit by a fleeing vehicle. Those that didn't make it out of town have barricaded themselves inside and the ghouls are closing in on these remaining survivors. The post office was built like a fortress in the 1800's, but even it won't be able to keep them out forever.    


Armed with anything they can get their hands on, the citizens of Arkham aren’t going to take this lying down. If there’s one thing they know, it’s how to battle against an army of undead.  Seems like around here this kind of thing happens more often than leap year. 


Murray’s plowing through reanimated corpses left and right, while the others are picking off the stragglers. Good thing R2 decided to come home for the holidays, that laser beam gizmo has saved the day more than once.  

By morning everything that should be dead is staying that way. There’s bodies to bury and blood to clean up, but I hear tell there’s fresh donuts at the bakery.


~~~~~~~~~~

 
I guess with old age there's a danger of your references becoming obscure.  There's quite a few in this story, some more obvious than others.  Maybe you'll recognize them and maybe you won't. Except for the horse, there isn't one character named that I didn't steal from somewhere else.  Mostly it doesn't matter, but my kids made me realize there are generations that don't know who Larry, Darryl and Darryl are and that's a shame.  So if you don't know them, let me introduce you, and if you do know them, well this is bound to be a pleasant reunion.      

 
Fitting enough while I was finishing this up (procrastinating on facebook) a friend posted this bit from NPR which has an interesting take on horror for the holidays.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Creepmas! Thanks to everyone who has made these thirteen days a little darker, a little scarier and a lot more interesting.

4 comments:

  1. Wow, that is an impressive montage! - Mark Kuether

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  2. WOW! Great story and wonderful builds! I like the asylum decor!

    Merry Creepmas!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. Merry Creepmas to you too!

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