I love October and Halloween, especially Halloween. Samhain is nice too, but that's more of a religious thing. No matter how crappy things are I'm at least brightened, however momentarily, in some way by the fact that it's October. I love everything about October from the decorations and colors to the focus on horror. Especially the horror!
In keeping with the last year's October blogging, I will be writing posts about nothing but horror and supernatural things.
I've been rewatching The Walking Dead (season 2 spoilers ahead. But really, if you needed that warning, shame on you) to get caught back up in time for the new season. I'm so excited. The 14th needs to get here because this will be my face:
Aww Yiss is right little Kitty. [Source other than Tumblr]
I'm currently on episode 9, 'Triggerfinger', of season 2 where Hershel is being coaxed by Rick and Glen to come back to the farm when they have it out with the boys from Jersey and eventually have to take one of them, who is injured, back.
While watching I kept thinking about the scenario they were acting out and the main theme (from my point of view anyway) that seemed to be there of being stuck and captured. Rick and his gang are 'stuck', in a manner of speaking, and wish to remain so even after their wounds are healed on Hershel's farm. Shane wants to capture the farm for his group if Hershel doesn't let them stay. Maggie and family friend Patricia are stuck caring for Maggie's catatonic sister while their father is away drinking his grief (since Hershel was revealed to have a drinking problem, you could even go so far as to say he has been 'captured' in a sense by the demons of his past and is stuck there). Rick, Glen, and Hershel are then stuck when the two boys from Jersey come in and keep them from leaving by talking and trying to figure out where their farm is.
I really like this scene too because it is actually a somewhat intense verbal dance of silence and information gathering that they're doing. Rick's group knows something that Jersey's doesn't. Jersey's group seems to be giving everything away but we can tell, from body language and mood, that there is again that threat of capture much like from the Shane example I gave before. Each group is trying to get more information in some way while trying not to give any away. You can really feel the tension that the actors are trying to create in the scene. The theme continues with one of the Jersey groups boys being stuck on the fence. He is then captured by Rick's group and taken back to the farm where he is stuck while they figure out what to do with him.
Man, way to run with a theme. Sorry for getting carried away with the examples.
Anywhoozles, after watching this episode I started thinking of my favorite story from a book I used to read as a child, The Scary Book. The story was Bony-legs. It is about a girl that is sent by her Aunt to get a needle and thread from a witch named Baba Yaga. She is captured by the evil Baba Yaga who lives in a house on chicken legs, and is intent on eating her. The girl uses her cunning, along with help from animals she helped on the way to Baba Yaga's, to help get herself out of the house and back home.
As soon as I remembered that story I was inspired by that tale, along with The Walking Dead episode I was just watching, and came up with my own updated version.
So, without wasting your time anymore, here we go with the story:
Lizzie And The Tent That Stood On Zombie Feet
A light breeze blew throughout the small cabin, cool yet revolting. Twelve year old Lizzie looked at the window frowning and narrowed her eyes at the nasty smell that invaded her space. If she could have it her way all the windows would be shut and locked tight, but her mother was sick and the cabin was hot. Lizzie opened a bottle of water and poured half into a bowl while her mother moaned softly in the background. She took quick count of their dwindling supplies. Two and half bottles of warm water, half a package of beef jerky, a couple of cans of soup, and some food and soups with dry ingredients that used water they didn't have. Her father had left to look for supplies and track a deer for food. He had been gone for two days now, leaving Lizzie to care for her mother. A small whimper from behind caught her attention. Lizzie jumped and spun around, dropping her bowl in the process, only to see no one was behind but her feverish mother. She looked down and sighed deeply. This was another reason why she liked to have the windows shut. She was always jumpy, always worried that those things would crawl in. Lizzie picked up the bowl and refilled it, throwing the now empty bottle across the room in frustration.
"I'm coming mama," she whispered across the room.
Lizzie crossed the room in hurried, silent steps to the bed where her mother lay, eyes closed and sweating. She was careful to wring the rag out extra well before wiping her mother's forehead, her father would be back soon she hoped but they couldn't be sure and their supplies had to last. The last time he left to track an animal it had evaded him for four days. Lizzie gasped and jumped but once again it was not zombies, just her mother's hand grasping her wrist.
Her mother slowly pulled herself into a sitting position. She held Lizzie's hand in her lap and breathed in deep, looking up at the ceiling.
"How much water do we have, honey?"
"Only two bottles now. I...I accidently spilled half."
Her mother rubbed Lizzie's arm. Lizzie sat in a chair by the bed and cast her eyes down, not wanting to look up. Her mother never got angry with her, always patient, but she just couldn't look at her knowing the wasted supplies were her fault.
"Are you thirsty mama?"
Her mother made a 'mmhmm' sound and nodded her head. Lizzie took the chance to wriggle free from her mother's hand and steal across the room and back. She opened the bottle and gave it to her, looking into her eyes for the first time since she woke. Her mother drank slowly, setting the bottle down and waiting between each drink. When she was half done she held the bottle in her lap. Her thin hands enclosed it on both sides and she tapped her thumbs on the sides of it. She looked over at Lizzie and stroked her long, black hair.
"Lizzie, I need you to be brave and do something for your mama."
Lizzie's eyes widened while she seemingly stared off into space.
"We don't know when your father will be back and we need water at the very least. I can't go, you know that. Up the road is an abandoned convenience store. I think it should still have some supplies left, enough at least to last us until your dad comes back. You can be brave and do that, can't you?"
Lizzie looked up at her and timidly nodded her head.
"I'm sorry to ask this of you, I really am. Daylight is dwindling so be quick, but careful, and take the lantern with you just in case. If you hear any strange noises, or see any zombies run away. If it comes down to you or supplies, I'd rather have you."
Lizzie stood and took a few short breaths, steeling herself to go outside. She rolled up some beef jerky in a napkin and put it in her pocket. Before they split up, or got killed, she had seen some of the people in her group distract zombies with food like jerky or ham. The zombies didn't really like non-living food but it was enough of a distraction to give the people a chance to sneak by and run away. She grabbed a backpack and the electric lantern and hugged her mom for the last time before heading out the door.
Looking into the sky she could see the sun heading west. She had time, although how much until actual sunset she didn't know, to get there and back before it got too dark. Her knees trembled a bit as she made her way to the steps. Only the thought of her mother and no water kept her from racing back into the house. Quickly and quietly she made her way down. A few steps away from the house she felt a stinging sensation on her ankle. Lizzie looked down and noticed a bunch of ants stinging her. She looked back at the steps. On the ground was a smashed ant hill. Ants scurried over the flattened mound trying to find the hole to their home. Lizzie walked back over and moved away some of the sandy dirt so the ants could get back in. Then she gently brushed the rest off of her ankles and continued on her way.
It had been twenty minutes that she had been following the trail through the woods, stopping every so often to listen for any groans or shuffling of feet, and finally she came to the road that led to the store. It was getting dimmer as the sun continued its short trek to the horizon. The store was two miles down the road. Lizzie walked faster. With half a mile left to go, the sun began to set and Lizzie turned on her lantern.
She had only been walking for five minutes when she heard a rustling off to the left of the road. Hiding the lantern behind her back she crouched low to the ground, peering off at the ditch beside the road. Her heart pounded in her chest, the muscles in her legs tense in preparation. She relaxed a little when she heard a small growl. Zombies just moaned, groaned, and kept you awake holding your pillow in fear. They certainly didn't growl like cats. She stood up and lifted her lantern in time to see a gaunt calico with silver claws leap out after a floating light.
With each swipe the cats claws glinted in the dying light. The sharp claws seemed to cut the very air in front of it. The little firefly dodged the claws but didn't quite manage to escape the pads of the paw that whacked it to the ground. It flew in a dizzy spiral. The calico readied itself to leap after it and finish the job.
"No, no, no!"
Lizzy stuck her hand between the cat and its prey. A look of surprise overtook the cat's face. It turned its head and hissed. She ignored the angry hiss and dug the jerky out of her pocket, throwing the few pieces she had on the ground in front of the cat.
"This will feed you much better than some poor little firefly."
She picked up the firefly, setting it on a leaf on the side of the road. Staying a bit to rest, she scratched the cat's ears while it ate. As it ate the last of the jerky she turned to leave and felt something tugging on the back of her pants leg. She whipped her head around and saw the cat tugging on the bottom of her pants with its mouth. She smiled and patted it's head
"I'm sorry, but I have to go."
She turned again and felt something rush against her calf, followed by a cool breeze. She looked down at her pants legs, now adorned with four cuts. They were clean, like a knife would make. The calico let out a warning growl. Frightened, Lizzie ran ahead. Her youthful energy allowed her to outpace the cat in a manner of seconds, leaving it down the road to yowl at her as if to call her back.
Soon Lizzie came to the store. There were shadows to the side that didn't remind her of the bushes that were normally there. Having given up her meat distraction she took caution to be extra inconspicuous and turned down her lantern. She slowly opened the door just enough to ease her body in before closing it just as cautiously.
Taking a quick tour of the place to make sure there were no zombies hiding, she began to search more thoroughly. She found cough and headache medicine quickly and stuffed them into her backpack. As she made her way down the food isles, grabbing ready to eat cans of food like beans and soup, she heard the door creak open. Lizzie knelt down at the end of the isle, turning her lantern off. Her eyes darted in the dark, frantically trying to adjust and look for a back exit. Her thoughts raced and she didn't know what to do. Scrunching her eyes tight she bit her quivering lip and concentrated on breathing, something her father always told her to do if she ever got scared and had trouble thinking.
"Where do you think she went, sister?," an old voice asked.
Lizzie's eyes flew open. There were people, not zombies! Past experience, however, kept her from calling out. People could be just as dangerous as zombies, especially if supplies were low. Another voice answered, this one just as old sounding but lighter and excited.
"I don't know, but I know that she definitely came in here."
"Find her quickly! I haven't eaten in days!," a third voice croaked.
Lizzie gasped at this revelation from the third voice.
"Did you hear that? Down at the far end."
Lizzie looked around now that her eyes had fully adjusted. Against the wall, to the left of where she knelt, she saw a burnt out exit sign and off to the side underneath that, half a case of water bottles. If she could make her way to the exit without being seen, she could take some of the bottles and be on her way. Hunching over, she ran to kneel, again, in front of the door. She stashed five bottles and zipped her backpack. Just as her hand came to rest on the doorknob another grabbed her by the shoulder, followed by two more on her arm. Lizzie screamed this time and was spun around to meet the owners of the voices.
There were three old women. Their faces looked entirely made up of wrinkles. Even though they looked frail Lizzie could tell by the grip on her arm and shoulders they were much stronger than she was. All three of them had grins on their faces. A smile that did not hide evil intent, but instead amplified it.
"Why hello there my dear. Tell me how a child comes to be on her own out at night. It's very dangerous out. Are your parents around?"
The shorter of the three sisters in the middle pinched the flesh of Lizzie's bicep and murmured to herself, "She's pretty skinny, perhaps we could make a broth of her bones."
The third and tallest sister hissed and rolled her eyes, while the first one released Lizzie's shoulder to smack the middle sister on the back.
"You idiot! Now she'll never tell us where her parents are!"
"Let's take her back to camp with us. Even if she doesn't tell us where they are we still have her," the middle one said cowering.
Lizzie found her voice and squeaked, "My parents are dead."
Her lie was met with a laughter that sounded like the hissing of snakes. The tallest sister extended her hand and used the tip of her long, claw-like fingers to force Lizzie to look her in the eyes.
"Don't lie to us dear. Witches can always tell when people lie."
The trio laughed again and pulled Lizzie after them, struggling all the way, through the forest to their camp.
Walking into their camp Lizzie's nose was assaulted by the smell of decay. All the tents around them were on platforms supported by feet the sisters had hacked off the zombies they had killed. The smallest witch leaned into Lizzie and whispered to her, "The zombies don't like their own kind. They won't eat each other. The feet help to keep them away."
The first witch shot a look at her sister, "Hush. We don't make friends with our food."
If the smell from the zombie feet was bad, the garbage strewn around the camp itself didn't make it any better. Apple cores, food tins, rotting vegetables, and bones were littered here and there. Lizzie surmised that the bones were from people like her. People unlucky enough to come in contact with the three witches. If being eaten by zombies was bad, she thought, this was much worse. At least the zombies didn't know what they were doing. They were just the victims of an awful disease no one could do anything about.
The witches pushed Lizzie to a center tent at the edge of camp. The tallest and strongest whirled her around and dug her nails into Lizzie's shoulders, eliciting whimpers of pain. The witch thrust her wrinkled face into Lizzie's, close enough for her to smell the witch's putrid breath and see her yellowed teeth.
"Look at me little girl. You have one last chance to tell us where your group is. If you do we'll make sure your death is quick. If not, we'll use our magic and seal you in this tent without food. You'll die a slow, starving death and when your parents come looking for you, we'll get them anyway."
Lizzie began to hyperventilate and gasped out between breaths, "I told you! My parents are dead!"
The witch frowned and snarled, "Have it your way."
They took her backpack and threw it beside the tent and pushed her in. The zipper to the flap glowed for a few seconds then she heard the witches walk away, grumbling about rude children with no manners. For the next couple of minutes she wasted time trying to open the zipper. She looked behind and saw a small screen window in the tent. An exploration proved that it had no zipper, nor could she poke any holes in it for she had no knife or anything sharp. Eventually, Lizzie gave up and sat down in the middle of the tent beside her lantern. She crossed her legs and steepled her hands in front of her face, resting her forehead on them. Tears leaked down her face and she cried harder than she ever had in her life.
She was so wrapped up in her thoughts of doom that she didn't hear the tearing sound of fabric behind her. It wasn't until she heard the sharp, short meow that she looked around. A gaunt calico cat with silver claws that glinted in the moonlight stood on the platform, peering in through the rips it had made.
"Did you follow me Kitty?"
"Of course, I'm the witch's cat."
Lizzie was stunned. She never met a cat that could talk before.
"Those stupid witches never feed me, they only think of themselves. You helped me then, I'll help you now. Now leave before they realize what's going on."
Lizzie grabbed her lantern while the cat enlarged the rip, then she climbed out of the tent and off the platform. She had only walked a foot before she remembered her backpack and started walking back.
"Hey, where are you going?," the cat hissed after her.
Lizzie put the backpack on and trotted back to the cat, "I couldn't leave without my supplies. I need them too much to leave them here."
They were creeping away when an old voice rang out, loud and clear, "Sisters, our prisoner has escaped!"
There was a rush of feet as the witches ran after her. Lizzie froze up and the cat whacked her leg with its paw.
"What are doing? Run!"
She didn't need a second warning and ran past the edge of the forest into the woods. Back at the edge of camp the first sister yelled at the calico, while the smallest gave it a sharp kick to its back legs. The cat just hissed and swiped at them, causing them to jump back, before running and hiding under one of the platforms where they couldn't get to it.
"Just you wait," the tallest said, "we'll get you yet for this. Forget the cat you nimrods, go after the girl."
In the woods Lizzie ran as fast as her legs would carry her. A zombie came out from behind a tree surprising her and causing her to yell out. She successfully pushed him away, running under his outstretched arms, but she could hear the witches behind her and knew they had found her. She vaulted over a fallen tree, pausing to make sure the zombie couldn't follow. They may have the element of numbers and surprise, but they were very dumb and such obstacles could hinder them greatly. Before she could turn to leave she saw the witches in the distance. The first one raised her hand and pointed, yelling something foreign sounding. In an instant Lizzies lantern blew out and clouds obscured the moon. The forest was thrown into darkness.
With the witches gaining on her, and a zombie who may have made his way around the fallen tree, Lizzie stumbled through the darkness hands outstretched. She was slowed down greatly and listened to the sounds of approaching footsteps and jeers while she whispered to anyone, or anything, that would listen to help her.
Through the darkness she spotted a glint of light that appeared sporadically, floating through the trees. It was approaching faster and faster. In no time at all a little firefly was in front of her.
"You saved me from the witch's cat, now I'll save you from them. Let me be your light and follow me."
Lizzie was getting too tired to even pretend to be surprised by a talking bug. First zombies, then witches, cats that spoke. If cats could talk, why not bugs. Guided by the firefly's light, they navigated the woods quicker leaving the witches behind. When they got to the road, her lantern turned back on and the clouds disappeared from the moon.
"The witches know you've escaped even further," the firefly warned before flying away, "be cautious in the moonlight and get home quickly."
Lizzie took one step onto the road and heard a small voice on the ground calling for her attention. She angled her lantern down and saw a group of ants beside a pile of sand.
"Word passed through the colonies and our Queen sent us with this gift. If the witches catch up to you, throw this sand over your shoulder and run faster than the light travels. It won't last long, but you won't want to be around," they said, then they scurried away.
Confused, Lizzie picked up the sand and ran down the road clutching it tight in her hand. She was a couple of feet from the trail that led to home when a loud groan and three women laughing erupted behind her. Lizzie knew before she turned to look back and stamped her sore feet. The witches were behind her, with the zombie from the forest leading the way on a magical leash.
"Now we've got her!," the tall one cheered.
"Perhaps she's close to her parents," laughed the short one.
Remembering the ant's words, Lizzie threw the sand and ran. She was partially down the beginning of the trail when three shrill screams pierced the air. Lizzie turned around to look. A horde of zombies, as many zombies as there were grains of sand, overtook the witches. Knowing it wouldn't be long before she was noticed she made way down the trail once more, comforting in the thought that at least the witches were no longer her problem.
Exhausted by her ordeal, she walked up the steps head down and dragging her backpack in the dirt behind her. It wasn't until she heard the gruff but loving voice of her father that she looked up. Lizzie dropped the backpack to the ground and threw her arms around his neck. Her father kissed her and held her a long time. Finally she was home, and so was he.