Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror 04/08/2017 – 04/14/2017
The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.
If you missed the first post you can find it here.
Step into my parlor my dear and have some tea. It’s not poisoned. I promise.
Edward Hall – Richard Conte Dr. Eliot Rathmann – John Larch Maya/Miss Thompson – Suzanne Lloyd Narrator – Rod Serling Written by Charles Beaumont
Highlight to see Trigger Warnings: Jump-scares in a fun house, a man jumps out of a window, effectively committing suicide in a dream. A body on a couch. End Spoiler.
We open on a zoomy freaky PoV shot of a very tall office building. Soon we see the man who’s point of view we are sharing.
Serling: 12:00 noon, an ordinary scene, an ordinary city, lunchtime for thousands of ordinary people. To most of them this hour will be a rest, a pleasant break in the day’s routine. To most, but not all. To Edward Hall, time is an enemy. And the hour to come is a matter of life and death.
Edward Hall looks like he’s working up his nerve to enter through the scary revolving door. Can’t say I blame him, those things are freaky. Only slightly less freaky than escalators. Finally he peels himself off the pillar he’s on, only to lean against the wall of the building. Well, that’s progress, I guess. Eddie finally makes his way through the revolving door.
He goes to door 1410 Eliot Rathmann M.D. He goes through the reception area into the doctor’s office, after he takes a good long look at the receptionist.
Eddie oozes into Dr. Elliot office and leans on a desk, the doctor thinks Eddie is ill but he says “No, I’m just tired.” Dr. Eliot says Eddie needs to rest and leads Eddie over to one of those famous leather couches. I’m curious, do psychiatrists actually use those? Eddie closes his eyes for a moment. Things get a little dimmer. They brighten back up though as he pops up from the couch. Dr. Eliot wants to know if Eddie’s so tired then why doesn’t he lay down. Edward says he is tired, he’s been up for 87 hours. Almost 4 days.
Dr. Eliot asks why Eddie can’t go to sleep and Eddie says that it’s not that he can’t, it’s that he mustn’t. If he falls asleep he’ll never wake up. And we actually get the DUN DUN DUNNN music!
When the lights fade up again the doctor is lighting Eddie’s cigarette for him. Eddie wants to walk around so he doesn’t fall asleep. Dr. Eliot tells him to stand on his head if he thinks it will help. Eddie thinks he’s a strange sort of psychiatrist. Dr. Eliot chuckles and asks what Eddie expected, Sigmund Freud? He says he’s thought of wearing disguise and puts on a pair of glasses.
Eddie doesn’t think the psychiatrist can help him and says he only came to see the psychiatrist because his regular doctor suggested it. Eddie wants to leave and Dr. Eliot says to do as he pleases. Eddie wants to know if Dr. Eliot promises not to put him in a strait-jacket but the psychiatrist promises nothing. He’s actually pretty funny. Eddie wanders over to the window to look at a very nicely painted city scene. He opens the window and looks down at the drop. I think it’s weird that the window of a psychiatrist’s office would even open or be made of real glass.
Dr. Eliot pulls him back in and closes the windows. Eddie’s amused and says he just wanted some air. He wants to know if the doctor thought he was going to jump. Dr. Eliot says he doesn’t know, hence the need for caution. Eddie says there’s not a chance of that. Dr. Eliot tells him to start from the beginning and now we finally get to why Eddie is at the psychiatrist’s office.
Eddie looks at a painting of a ship on the wall. He wants to know if the doctor has ever really looked at it. Eddie says he can make it move. At least, for him. He starts telling the doctor about having a picture similar to the picture of the ship at his home when he was younger. Eddie’s mother told him to watch it long enough and it would move. Which seems a little mean but before TV mom’s did what they could to keep their kids amused.
One evening it did move. He realized that it was just an optical illusion but after a while he couldn’t control it. Every time he would look at the painting it would seem to move. Even though he knows it’s an optical illusion it still terrifies him. A boat moving terrifies him? Mmmkay.
Eddie pops a few uppers and the Dr. Eliot wants to know if that’s how he’s staying awake. He also washes it down with some of the doc’s water (that I thought was brandy at first. While smoking a cigarette that Dr. Eliot helpfully lit for him. Damn, they were hardcore back then. After everything he’s just downed he says he has had a rheumatic heart since the age of 15. I’m sure those uppers and smokes will do that rheumatic heart real good there.
He was ordered by his general physician to be calm and relaxed. No strenuous exercise, no long walks, no stairs, no shocks. especially no shocks. They forgot about his imagination that he apparently has no control over. At all.
When he read about a woman being killed by a murderer who hid in her backseat (which sounds like something he heard from a friend of a friend) that freaked him out. He imagined the murderer in his own backseat. So much so that he crashed his car. Eddie says that his doctor told him one more shock would kill him.
Dr. Eliot wants to know if there has been another shock. Um, I’m pretty sure he hasn’t doctor because he’s alive and in your office. Eddie does say, however, that there will be, the next time he goes to sleep and it will kill him.
Eddie starts talking about his dreams and how he always dreams in sequence, like the old movie serials. He hasn’t dreamed in a while. That is, until a few weeks ago. We get an awesomely thrilling detailed description of his night and how he fell asleep.
Dreamland: Eddie suddenly finds himself in an amusement park. It’s very real and detailed but also very disturbing, twisted and dark. He’s looking at a Ferris Wheel, a creepy carousel. Eddie’s shooting at a big swirly thing trying to win one of those terrifying Kewpie Dolls. Who the hell would want one of those things? They rank right up there with Troll dolls on the creepy scale.
Anyways, Eddie gets distracted by a dancer named Maya the Cat Girl. So he ditches the Kewpie Doll (wise decision) to go check out the Cat Girl. Maya does a very awkward ‘cat dance’ that is out of rhythm with the drum-beats.
She shows some fifties risque leg (they are very nice legs though) She starts twirling and he gets scared and runs away. She laughs an evilly brunette laugh at him.
Eddie says he doesn’t know who she is (duh, she’s Maya the Cat Girl). He’s drawn to her but also repelled by her. He goes to light a dream-cigarette but finds out the random arm lighting his cigarette belongs to Maya. She wants to know why he ran away. They have some flirty talk while they share a smoke. Well, not share, exactly. She plucks it out of his mouth which is supposed to be sexy, I guess.
She wants Eddie to come with her but he’s scared to. Because of her cat eyes. Which are kind of scary because she went a little crazy with the eye-liner. She asks him if he’s afraid and he says no because it’s a dream. She then invites him to come…and I’ll just back away from that one.
He rudely drops his cigarette, littering his dream carnival. She wants to go in the fun house which she says is cool, dark ad soft. He foolishly follows her into the ‘fun house’ that looks more like a cheap haunted house and it doesn’t look that fun. Or that scary, really. They share a smoochie but are rudely interrupted by a scream and a gorilla-bigfoot thing. Eddie runs off while Maya evilly laughs again.
Office: Back in the office Eddie is telling Dr. Eliot that he’s sure Maya is trying to kill him. He woke up with his heart beating fast (I’ll bet) and he had to lie still for an hour until it settled down. Dr. Eliot asks if Eddie knew her. Which he literally just said he didn’t, I’m starting to wonder about this doctor. Eddie says that she looks vaguely familiar but doesn’t really recognize her.
Dreamland: The dream is out of control now and Eddie’s running. Maya is close behind and taunting him with the fact it’s only a dream and he can do whatever he wants to in his dream. She lures him onto a roller-coaster using strong-arm tactics like, you know, asking. He doesn’t want to go but he’s helpless against her sequins. So they get on the coaster Maya is chuckling (and to be honest her voice and laugh is pretty creepy). He wants to stop the coaster but they can’t and he keeps saying he wants out. So, reasonably enough, she tells him to jump off the coaster. Sounds legit.
Office: We’re in a slightly terrifying close-up of Eddie’s face. Basically he’s in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. If he falls asleep she’ll reach him and push him off (I guess safety harnesses weren’t a thing in the fifties) but if he stays awake any longer then the strain will be too much and his heart will give out. Eddie thinks the doctor can’t help him and goes to leave. Eddie steps out into the lobby but sees the receptionist. Eeek! It’s Maya! Receptionist Maya this time, not Cat Girl Maya. He freaks out and runs back into the doctor’s office. Dr. Eliot wants to know what is the matter. Eddie says it’s her, it’s Maya the Cat Girl. Dr. Eliot says that the receptionist isn’t named Maya. Eddie says to himself “I’m not letting her take me alive!” And jumps out of a window. Makes sense. I guess. Eddie plummets to the sidewalk. I guess it wasn’t until later that the unbreakable windows caught on.
Back to the doctor, he is sitting at his desk and looking thoughtful. He calls his receptionist (Miss Thomas) in. Eddie is dead on the couch. Dr. Eliot checks his pulse. I’m not really sure why he wanted the receptionist to come look at the dead guy on his couch. Miss Thomas says he just came in a few seconds ago. Dr. Eliot says Eddie came in, laid down and in two seconds was asleep. (Remember the ominous dimming?) Dr. Eliot says that Eddie screamed and died. They guess it was a heart attack. Well, I guess they’re not going to bother with resuscitation or an ambulance or pesky little details like that. Dr. Eliot thinks it was a good way to go at least, peacefully in his sleep. I think Eddie would disagree.)
Serling: They say a dream takes only a second or so. And yet in that second a man can live a lifetime. He can suffer and die and who’s to say which is the greater reality. The one we know? Or the one in dreams. Between heaven, the sky, the earth, in the Twilight zone.
As you can tell this one was good but I just couldn’t help poking fun at it every once in a while. It does have a wavering air of reality and unreality. Such as Miss Thomas/Maya. When Edward first enters the building he takes a good long look at her and it doesn’t seem to bother him overly much. As he’s “leaving” though, he suddenly seems to realize that she looks just like Maya. And is the personality of the doctor really so flip or is that just what Edward’s mind conjured up? It certainly raises some interesting questions.
Join me again for next week’s Twilight Zone Tuesday – Judgement Night. A great episode with a bit more of a serious bent to it. I’m looking forward to ‘watching’ it with you guys!
From the Netgalley Blurb: “Imagination and motivation are key to young children’s happiness and health. Thinking about dreams and goals can help children cope with challenges when they arise and view life through a hopeful lens. With this encouraging book, nurture children’s imaginations and help them enjoy taking responsibility for their choices and goals. Back matter includes advice for motivating kids and teaching about goal setting at home, at school, and in childcare.”
Our Review of Dream On
Miss L: I really liked that the little boy was so nice, and he was talking about things that made him feel good, and what he wanted to do when he was older. The pictures of space were cool! Oh, and he likes soccer! I like soccer to, so I think he’s cool! Also, the colors were pretty.
Adult: Dream On! A Book About Possibilities not only encourages children to work hard and follow their dreams, but it also helps them to understand important lessons like ‘sometimes things don’t work out’. I think that those messages need to be served together hand in hand a lot more often than they actually are.
The book is laid out in a format that, while it doesn’t particularly suit itself to a ‘bedtime story’, enables parents to go through it slowly (and even repeatedly) with their kids, and gives a forum to discuss dreams, possibilities, and the importance of working hard and being a good friend at the same time.
The illustrations are nice, and have a bit of a ‘daydream’ air to them, which I’m sure was the intended effect.
I definitely would recommend this book to other parents with pre-k to second-grade level kids.
Title: Dream On!: A Book About Possibilities | Author: Cheri J. Meiners, M. Ed (site) | Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing (site) | Publication Date: 2015-9-15 | Pages: 42 |ISBN: 9781631980558 | Genre: Childrens | Language: English | Triggers: None | Date Read: 2015-10-12 | Source: I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.