5 tips for surviving Halloween

What’s that?

You mean, you don’t want to be scared to the point of your hair falling out and your eyes turning to ice? You mean you’d rather think about what presents to get little Bobby for Christmas? You mean you’d rather drink sherry for breakfast and try out your new recipe for how to make the best, most scrummy, least smelly Brussels sprouts ever?

Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place?

Here’s five tips for how to survive the horror season.

Avoid clowns AT ALL COSTS

This probably means avoiding the heady heights of Northampton.

I’m not even sure I can talk about clowns without climbing behind the sofa, hiding under a duvet and gnawing on my fist to stop myself from screaming. The only thing worse than clowns might be kids… or kids dressed up as clowns. Yeah, kids dressed up as clowns, whispering nursery rhymes… If you see any of them, run, scream, or lie down and pretend you’re dead already. Because they are coming for you.

NEVER get your water from a well

There’s a well in the yard outside our house.

There’s a well in The Ring. There’s a girl who climbs out of the well and crawls towards you, trailing dirty water, reaching with clawed fingers towards your throat.

You want to look away but your eyes sting with tears of blood and you just can’t blink.

She will never let you escape.

But – the thought crosses your mind – maybe you will like it in the cold, wet darkness?

NO YOU DEFINITELY WILL NOT.

We don’t look at the well at night.

It’s best to pretend it’s not even there.

Fancy going caving? BAD IDEA

Small spaces.

Possible floods.

Chance of getting wedged between two rocks and a non-existent oxygen bubble, while creatures all pale and withered with jagged splinters for teeth and glowing, buggly eyes scratch at your feet, tearing away the flesh until they can gnaw at your naked bones… fairly strong.

This, combined with the sheer inability to keep a hard hat on my head for any length of time, means I think I’ll pass. And I think you should probably give it a miss too.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Well, what about a nice break in a remote hotel?

NO. No, no, no, no and a thousand million badgers chanting to you across the fields – no. Haven’t you ever seen The Shining?

Hotels will make you crazy.

Especially in winter.

Especially if no one else is there and there’s an empty bar with a slightly see-through bartender offering you unlimited shots of brandy.

Yeah, sure, it seems like a grand idea at the time, but when you’re tottering through the hallways (lined with psychedelic seventies carpet) and there’s creepy kids on tricycles following you around, it’s not going to be the sort of holiday postcard material you were hoping for.

And if you absolutely must go and stay there, then at least don’t take your loved ones… lest you forget you actually love them, and instead try to kill them.

Forget that idea of a nice, romantic meal out

You get to the restaurant – deserted, except for the woman behind the counter. She’s wearing a dress (all leopard skin pattern with black lace trimming), and her wrinkled, sun-spotted cleavage heaves against the low-cut neck line.

She asks if you want a drink.

Glancing at the dust covered punch in the bowl, you think you’ll pass.

“Well, how about some food?” She smiles at you and there’s lipstick stains across her teeth.

The pages of the menu stick together, brown gunk stretching and snapping away as you leaf through. Page one; meat and mashed potato. Page two; meat and boiled potatoes. Page three; meat.

An old boy joins you in the waiting area. She asks him if he wants the usual, and he nods. She hands him a pitcher of dusty punch.

It’s about now that you notice the reek of piss and lavender stinging your nose is tinged with something more metallic. You can taste pennies in your mouth.

“Now, what’ll it be?” She’s all beaming and grinning and eyes wide open to the point of popping.

You tell her that actually you’re not hungry now, in fact, you’re a vegetarian… no, a vegan… no, a fruitarian… no, you wouldn’t like any punch, you’re allergic to fruit.

Her face drops and her perm bristles and you’re out of the door before the menus hit the floor.

Gulping in mouthfuls of cold, October air, you stagger towards the streetlights on the main road. The windows of the restaurant glare at you, dark and cracked, in a row of buildings that whisper horrible nothings to you; you would have liked it, she just wanted to feed you, why don’t you just have a drink. But the worst, the most spiteful building, tells you that it’s hungry. You break into a run past the funeral parlour.

Perhaps you should just get a takeaway.

BONUS WARNING

Never check that banging noise in the spare room. It’s definitely not the hamster that escaped three months ago.

And if you absolutely must find out what the noise is, don’t do it on your own.

Better yet – leave the house, never to return again.

So, that should help you avoid the horrors at Halloween – but have I missed some? What else should you steer clear of? Share them in the comments below – because it’s a scary time of year, and some people just want to think about Christmas instead.

About the Author

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Author of Grind Spark, near future pre-apocalyptic fiction.

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Writing

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