Thirteen Nights of #Frightmas: A Christmas Playlist

I like Christmas crooners like Bing Crosby as much as the next gal (thanks Dad!), but sometimes, you just have to rock around the Christmas tree, am I right?
If you’re looking for a holiday playlist that will add some extra zing to your family gatherings, check out these festive tunes!

1. Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight) – Ramones
2. Silent Night – The Dickies
3. White Christmas – Bad Religion
4. 2000 Miles – The Pretenders
5. Fairytale of New York (featuring Kirsty MacColl) – The Pogues
6. Christmas )Baby Please Come Home) – Joey Ramone
7. Blue Christmas – Misfits
8. Red Water (Christmas Mourning) – Type O Negative
9. Driven Like The Snow – Sisters of Mercy
10. We Three Kings – Lycia
11. Santa Claws is Coming To Town – Alice Cooper
12. Oi to The World – The Vandals
13. O Come All Ye Faithful – Bad Religion
14. Stuff The Turkey – Alien Sex Fiend

NOTE: Bonus tracks suggested by fellow Midnighter Brian Letendre:

15. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Ronnie James Dio
16. No Presents for Christmas – King Diamond

 

 

There were a few songs I couldn’t find, like Sex Pistols singing Punk Rock Christmas…but I think this list has a good mix.

What are your fave Christmas/wintry covers and tunes with a bit of an edge? Share them below and I’ll add them to the playlist!

 

Thirteen Nights of #Frightmas: DRIFT (A Short Story)

Drift

by Brian LeTendre

Snow will continue to be heavy through the overnight hours, and we are expecting up to an additional seven to eight inches on top of the foot most of the Pioneer Valley has received from storm Howard so far. Wind gusts will mean snow drifts of several feet in certain areas, and visibility will continue to be poor for the next several hours. We’re now going live to Andrew Sanders in downtown

Amber clicked back over to the crime procedural she’d been watching and pulled the quilt tighter around herself as she lay cocooned on the couch. “I can’t believe you’re going out there right now,” she said in disbelief. “It’s ten-thirty at night.”

“You think I want to go out there?” John asked, a tinge of annoyance in his voice. “The stupid snowblower’s broken and if I don’t hit the driveway at least once before tomorrow, we’ll never dig out.” He glanced over at her as he pulled a large snow boot over the two pairs of socks on his foot. “You’re welcome to join me.”

Amber’s response began with a long, slow sip of the hot tea she was relaxing with. “You’re crazy,” she said, leaving no doubt she would not be joining John outside. “I told you I’d help you in the morning, but there is no way I’m going out there tonight. The wind gusts are forty miles an hour! You’ll be lucky if you don’t get frostbite.”

“If it gets that bad, I’m coming back in,” John promised as he stood up from the couch. “Besides, I’ve got three layers on, and that with that giant scarf your mom gave me, I’ll be wrapped up tighter than the kid brother from that Christmas movie.”

He leaned down and kissed Amber, tasting the Raspberry tea on her lips. “Any more of that left?” he asked, nodding toward her half empty cup.

“Tell you what Yukon Jack,” she replied smiling, “When you get done stumbling around outside in the freezing cold, I’ll make you some, and then you can warm up with me on the couch.”

John was tempted to just forget about shoveling right then and there, but he knew he’d regret it in the morning, especially is the forecast was accurate. “Deal,” he replied. He went into the kitchen and grabbed his smartphone and earbuds off the table. “Tonight I’ll be shoveling to the sweet sounds of 80’s metal,” he said to himself. He tapped on the internet radio app and selected one of the preset stations he listened to all the time, and the chugging rhythm of hair metal filled his ears. I should still pick up the house’s Wi-Fi, even in this crap, he thought.

Earbuds firmly positioned, John tucked the phone in his inside pocket, pulled on his hat and wrapped the large brown scarf around his neck and lower face. As he turned to head out the side door to the driveway, he glanced back at Amber, who was saying something. He pointed to his ears and shook his head, and she rolled her eyes and then blew him a kiss. Smiling, he turned and pulled open the back door.

The blast of cold air that hit him almost made John forget he was still standing in the house. The scene before him looked like something from a documentary about Antarctica. The wind was howling, snow was blowing sideways, and he couldn’t see more than five feet in front of him. He took one glance over his shoulder at the warm confines of the house before pulling the door shut behind him and stepped out into the storm. He immediately noticed how deep the snow was–approaching a foot, and covering the top of his snow boots already.

First things first, he thought, where the hell did I put the shovel? He was hoping it would be laying against the steps by the door, but no such luck. “Probably in the stupid garage,” he muttered, and began taking large, deliberate steps toward the opening that was no more than twenty feet away. Luckily, he had left the large door up when he parked Amber’s SUV in there before the storm, as he would have had no hope of getting it open now with all the show. Their garage had the old style door that swung outward and then up, so it needed a couple feet of clearance in front, which the snow had already erased.

John kept his head down and trudged forward, until he felt his right foot break the barrier of the snow and find the floor of the garage. Just as he suspected, the shovel was tucked just inside the garage opening against the wall, right next to the bucket of rock salt and the extra-long snowbrush that he used for Amber’s SUV. Grabbing the shovel, he turned to face the storm again. Standing in the garage, the scene was even more imposing. Their driveway was about eighty feet long, running along the backyard and the side of the house to the street out front. A stockade fence ran down the left side of the driveway, and with the house on the right, the only places to put snow were in the front and back yards, which meant extra work when shoveling the middle. With most of the curtains in the house closed, the only real light outside was coming from the lone streetlight, and that was barely visible from where he was standing.

Times like these were when John had fleeting thoughts of moving somewhere else, like maybe a condo community, where someone else would take care of all the yard work and snow removal for him. The thought fled quickly as he looked back over at the house though, as he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

A searing guitar riff shook him out of his reverie, and John tightened his grip on the shovel. “Sooner I get started, sooner I can go in and warm up,” he said aloud.

He dug into the wall of snow in front of the garage and smiled. At least it’s light, he thought as he threw the snow toward the backyard. With the temperature hovering around the low 20’s, the snow was coming down in small flakes, making it a lot easier to shovel than the heavy, wet snow that often characterized New England storms.

His plan was to shovel a path alongside the house out to where his car was parked at the end of the driveway. Once he had a clean path to stand on, he’d then start clearing off the rest of the driveway, until he made his way back up to the garage. John’s pace was quick for the first ten minutes or so, the music in his ears fueling each heave of the shovel, and the thought of his wife on the couch under that big quilt still fresh in his mind.

As he got past the garage opening, the wind blasted John once again, almost staggering him sideways. He doubled his efforts to make it to the side of the house, where he had some reprieve from the gusts. He dared not look over his shoulder, for fear that all the snow he’d just cleared would have been filled right back in. After reaching the halfway mark of the driveway, John took a break, leaning against the side of the house and fumbling in his coat pocket for his phone.

“Eleven o’clock, on the nose,” he mumbled into his scarf. He’d been at it for a half hour now, and managed to carve his shovel-wide path only about forty feet. As tempted as he was to quit, He knew that he’d hate himself in the morning when he was shoveling a pile twice as high as what he was currently dealing with. He resolved to get the rest done by midnight, and tucked the phone back inside his jacket. “No more breaks,” he said, zipping his coat again and taking up the shovel.

John put his head down, focused on the few feet in front of him and began shoveling with renewed vigor. He blocked everything out except the sounds of the music in his ears and the shovel scraping against the asphalt of the driveway. He mindlessly repeated the same motion over and over, making his way forward at a methodical pace. He continued this way for an undetermined period of time, almost mesmerized by seemingly endless path of snow in front of him. It was only when he realized that something had changed that John paused.

For a moment he couldn’t figure out what it was, and he stood there, bent over his shovel and staring at the ground. Then it finally hit him–the metal music that was previously pumping in his ears had suddenly stopped. He pulled his glove off with his teeth, fumbled in his jacket and pulled out his phone.

“No signal?” he questioned aloud, seeing there were no bars lit up on the Wi-Fi icon. “But I’m right next to the freaking–”

John stopped short as he turned to his right to look over at his house–his house that was no longer there. He stood there, staring at the spot not ten feet away, where he knew his house should be. But it wasn’t there.

Still staring in bewilderment, John absently tucked the phone back into his pocket and began walking toward where the house should be. He got about two steps in that direction before the ground gave way under him. He let out a yelp, the glove flew out of his mouth, and the shovel in his other hand embedded itself in the snow, which was suddenly up to John’s neck. It was as if he’d fallen into a pit, and widespread arms were the only things stopping him from falling in completely. He desperately tried to find some kind of handhold, throwing up plumes of snow in the process. The more he struggled, the more he could feel himself sinking deeper into the snow.

As panic threatened to overtake him, John stopped squirming for a moment. His shoulders were starting to burn as he held himself aloft, and his ungloved hand was throbbing. He slowed down his breathing and took stock of the situation. The shovel was within inches of his left hand. He tried to lean in that direction, still using his arms to brace himself, but extending his fingers to try and pull the shovel toward him. On his first attempt, his other hand slipped, and he almost fell into the hole completely. On his second careful attempt, John managed to hook the handle of the shovel and began pulling it toward him. He was eventually able to turn the shovel toward his body and angle it over the area that he was stuck in.

Just need to use the shovel to help pull myself out, he thought. He slowly moved his ungloved hand (which had stopped throbbing and was starting to get numb) over to the shovel. He mustered his strength, counted to three in his head and then pulled himself up far enough so that his upper body was out of the hole. He then scrambled and got his legs over the side, rolling onto his back and gasping for air.

Afraid to move, he lay there in the snow and stared up at the sky, his heartbeat pounding in his ears. The snow was stilling falling a fast rate, but the wind had died down considerably, allowing John to getter a clearer look at his surroundings. The first thing he really noticed was the purplish color of the night sky, and the fact that the light was not being provided by the streetlight where his driveway used to be, but from a bluish moon in the sky above.

John rolled onto his side and got up on his knees, his mind searching for an explanation to what was happening. The only plausible explanation he could think of was that he’s somehow slipped while shoveling and smacked his head. The idea that this was some sort of hallucination was not as troubling as the idea he might be laying unconscious in the snow and freezing cod temperatures. Maybe finding a way out of here will wake me up, he theorized, and he stood up, brushing the excess snow off himself.

Before he took a step in any direction, John took the shovel and started poking into the snow, making sure there was solid ground underneath it. A couple minutes of exploration in the immediate area didn’t reveal any more sinkholes, and he actually managed to find his other glove. His hand had gone numb a few minutes earlier, and he tried to warm it up by shoving it under his armpit, but the most feeling he could get back into it was the pins and needles sensation of a limb that had fallen asleep. He pulled his glove back on and hoped there wouldn’t be any permanent damage. “That’s the least of my worries right now,” he mumbled.

No sooner had those words escaped John’s lips than a loud noise came from somewhere in the distance that made his heart leap with terror.

“Woo-uut!”

The animal-like bark or roar was not one John had ever heard before, and it felt wrong in his ears. As his mind raced to try and picture what could be making it, the only thing that came close was a hyena’s call. But this wasn’t a hyena. This was something bigger.

He spun around, trying to pinpoint where the sound came from. About thirty seconds later, he heard it again–“Woo-uut!”

That sound, while still off in the distance, was definitely closer than the first. John decided quickly that he didn’t want to find out what was making it, and he started off in the opposite direction, trudging through the almost knee-high snow, using the shovel to prod the ground and pull him forward like the oar of a canoe. He still had no idea where he was going, but he had eliminated one direction, at least.

“Woo-uut!” came the call again. Definitely from behind him.

Less than ten seconds later, a second call rang out, this one off to his left. “Woo-uut!” Same basic sound, but different inflection. There were two of them out there now.

John plowed ahead, refusing to look over his shoulder. He didn’t know what was following him. But he’d seen enough animal documentaries to know what was happening. Whatever those things were out there, they were hunting him.

He tried to quicken his pace, but it was slow going. He could barely feel his right hand, despite seeing he had a firm grip on top of the shovel. Frostbite for sure, he thought as he plunged the shovel down in front of himself. He almost pitched forward, as the shovel sunk straight down–another hole.

“Damn it!” John barked as he turned slightly to his right and headed in that direction, away from whatever those two things were behind him. With the snow coming down, he could only see a little ways ahead, but there was still no sign of his house, his street, or anything else that told him he was still in the real world as he knew it.

“Keep moving forward, John,” he said to himself, plodding ahead. He had to alter his course three more times over the next several minutes, as the entire area he was stumbling around in seemed to be pockmarked with pits and sinkholes that were invisible under the powdery snow.

“Woo-uut!” came another call. “Woo-uut!” the second responded almost immediately. One to the rear and one to the left. Closer than before.

“Wake up, wake up wake up–WAKE UP!” he shouted to himself as he took one difficult step after another. The measured pace at which he endeavored to make his escape from this place and those things that were out there threatened to break the veneer of sanity that John had built up in his mind.

“Woo-uut!” Closer this time, from behind him. “Woo-uut!” the second one answered. They were closing in on John, and he knew it. He wanted to scream, but he knew every noise he made would just bring them to him faster.

John desperately scanned the landscape for someplace he could hide. Although he couldn’t make out what it was, there appeared to be an elevated mass not too far off in the direction he was already heading. John put his head down and doubled his efforts to progress in that direction shifting to the left or right to avoid pitfalls, but keeping the same large mass ahead of him in his field of sight.

The closer John got to the mass in front of him, the more the snow and wind began to let up. By the time he was about fifty feet away, he noticed two things. First, the mass wasn’t just in front of him–it stretched out in both directions as far as he could see. Second, it looked like some kind of a wall, stretching up at least three stories.

“What the hell?” he mumbled as he pushed forward the final few feet and prodded the structure with his shovel. It looked and felt like stone, but it was smooth, almost shimmering. Whatever it was, it wasn’t part of the natural scenery.

Someone built this thing, John thought to himself, and that notion provided some comfort to him. He was still half-convinced that he was asleep, but if this wasn’t a dream, then this wall that someone had put there was the first tangible thing John had encountered since he found himself here.

“Woo-uut!” came the first call from not far behind him. “Woo-uut!” answered the second, from off to his left.

And that’s when the brief smile faded under John’s scarf. Because he had nowhere else to run now. With a sigh, he turned around, holding the shovel in front of him. His right hand was pretty much useless to him now,

“Well?” he shouted into the night.

Slowly, a figure stepped into his field of view, not more than twenty yards away. It seemed to come out of nowhere, almost materializing from the snowflakes themselves. As the form moved closer and became clearer, John had to fight the urge to turn around and try to claw his way through the wall behind him.

The creature walked on four legs, and was the size of a small horse. It appeared to be cover in fur (or perhaps feathers) that was white with streaks of gray running through it. Its hind legs were longer than its front, similar to those of a rabbit. The creature’s head looked like a cross between an owl and a dog, featuring large yellow eyes and a long beak that resembled a snout.

As it stepped slowly toward John, the creature cocked its head to one side, sizing him up just as he was doing to it. John stuck the shovel out in front of himself, and braced himself against the wall behind him. His mind was scrambling both to understand what he was looking at, and to come up with a plan to get away from it.

The creature didn’t wait for John to come up with that plan. When it got within fifteen feet of him, it leapt into the air, letting out a shriek. John barely had time to get the shovel up as the creature landed on him and pinned him to the ground. The handle of the shovel dug into the ground, and the creature’s weight drove the blade into its chest.

The creature gave a squeal of surprise and pain, rearing backward. The blade of the shovel broke off at the handle, and the creature staggered backwards, its dark blood spewing forth from the wound.

But John hadn’t seen any of that. When the creature had pounced, one of its forelegs had landed on John’s right shoulder, shattering both his shoulder and collar bones. The burst of pain was so intense that it gave him a momentary reprieve from being terrified, and because his eyes had been closed, he never saw how close the creature came to taking his head off.

The creature’s squawking kept John from passing out, as it flailed rolled in the snow, which was now stained with splashes of its thick blood.

John looked up to see that the second creature had approached, and was mesmerized by the distress its partner was currently in. The injured creature took a shaky step toward the other, but disappeared in a plume of snow, as it fell into one of the many holes that littered the area. The other creature stared into the hole, as the shrieks of the first continued to sound farther and farther away.

The second creature called out to its partner, but it wasn’t the same “Woo-uut!” noise it made when tracking John. This was a pained, almost howling noise. An anguished noise.

As the second creature stood there and stared into the hole, John thought of when he almost fell into one of those moments ago, and whether he’d still be falling if he had.

He didn’t have long to get lost in that thought, as the other creature eventually turned its attention back to him. It was making another new noise now–a low, constant growling noise that sounded like nails on a chalkboard.

“That wasn’t my fault,” John said as he tried to stand. He gave out a howl of his own as a bolt of pain shot through his right arm. He stumbled, but righted himself with the long piece of the shovel’s handle he still clutched in his other hand.

“Your buddy came at me,” he said through gritted teeth as he got back to his feet. “Self-defense,” he explained, backpedaling until he could once again feel the stone wall at his back.

The creature was moving toward John now, continuing to growl as it tested the ground before it, careful not to suffer the same fate as its partner. John was surprised at this, his assumption having been that the creatures knew this area well, and that’s why they had driven him this way.

As the creature advanced, John moved along the wall, searching for any signs of an opening or handhold, and wielding the broken shovel handle out in front of him. The two did this dance for several minutes, and John took the chance to study his adversary more closely. In addition to the creature seeming tentative on the terrain, it was constantly stealing glances in every direction, as if trying to gauge its surroundings the same way John was. He also noticed the creature seemed to be trembling slightly.

No, not trembling, he thought. Shivering.

“You’re not from around her either, are you?” John said with a forced laugh.

“Scraw!” the creature spat back at him.

“Yeah, well screw you too,” John replied. “I’m finding a way out of this place, and if you stand in my way, you’ll end up just like your buddy.” He had no idea if the creature understood him, and he didn’t know how he would follow through with that threat in light of his busted arm. Still, embracing the situation was the only thing keeping him from going mad with the pain, cold and sheer absurdity of what was happening.

John continued to move along the wall, and the creature continued to follow him. Every couple of minutes, the creature would feint toward him, John would swing the shovel handle in a wild arc, and then they’d both reset and continue along.

John could barely feel anything in his right arm anymore as it dragged along the wall. But a shot of pain up in through his shoulder signaled that something had changed. Keeping one eye on the creature that followed him, John turned slightly and examined the wall behind him. There was a seam running up the wall, as far as he could see. It was the only seam he’d encountered as he followed the wall, and he figured he’d gone at least a quarter mile along it by now. That led him to only one conclusion–it had to be a door.

He turned to the creature. “Listen,” he said as he pointed the jagged shovel handle toward it. “This here’s gotta be a way out, and I need to figure out how to get it open. You can either try to kill me while I do that, or you can let me help the both of us. It’s up to you.”

The creature tilted its head and seemed to contemplate the offer for a moment. When it didn’t immediately attack him, John turned his back and began to examine the seam in the wall. It was a little wider than his gloved finger. Putting the shovel handle down, he used his right hand to try and pull the seam open. He wasn’t surprised when there was no give whatsoever. Also unsurprising was the fact that the fingers on his left hand were starting to go numb now as well.

He stole a glance back at the creature, who was watching him closely. “Nothing,” he said to it. “I can try one more thing.”

John grabbed the shovel handle, wedged it into the seam in the wall, and leaned on it heavily. The wall still wasn’t giving at all, and John could feel the handle starting to snap. If he broke the handle, he knew he’d have nothing to defend himself should the creature turn on him. On the other hand, this was the only thing he could think to do, and he knew he wouldn’t last much longer in the cold, even if the creature left him alone.

As he was about to throw all his weight behind the handle for one last push, a booming voice filled the air. “FINISH THE MATCH,” it said in a deep, almost metallic voice.

John dropped the shovel handle and turned to look at the creature behind him. It was looking toward the night sky, searching for the source of the voice.

“Scraw?” the creature croaked.

The response that came was short, and in the same squawks and howls that was clearly the language of the creature.

John was stunned silent. Finish the match. The words played again and again in his mind. Finish the match.

And then John thought about what had happened since he arrived here, the pitfall-ridden terrain, the creatures hunting him, the stone wall that seemed to go on forever. In all of the insanity that he had experienced to that point, one thing finally made sense to him–he was in an arena.

“That’s what this is?!” he yelled into the open air. “Some kind of fucking game?! You just take people, or things, and you make them kill each other in here?!”

“FINISH THE MATCH,” was the only response he received, in the same booming metallic voice.

“Fuck your match!” John screamed back, angry now. His rage was starting to warm him back up, giving him a new burst of energy. “Send me home!”

“ONLY ONE GOES HOME,” was the response, and it was repeated in the language of the creature immediately afterward.

The creature lowered its head for a moment, and then looked at John.

“So there it is,” John said, and while the creature couldn’t understand him, John could tell from the look of resignation in its eyes that it understood, and like him, resigned itself to what needed to be done. He reached down and tried to grab hold of the shovel handle, but his fingers were too cold to even grasp it anymore.

The creature held John’s gaze as it took a step toward him. Here it comes, he thought to himself, I’m going to freaking die out here. He thought about Amber, sitting on the couch in their cozy little home, waiting for him to come inside. The idea that he would never see her again was too much to bear, and he started to break down.

The creature continued to look into John’s eyes as it slowly moved in for the kill. Or at least, that’s what John thought the creature was doing.

But then something unexpected happened. The creature stopped. It turned its head slightly, as if trying to communicate something to John. And then the creature took one large step to its right, and disappeared in a splash of snow. It did not make a sound as it plummeted down the large hole that John could not see was buried under that snow.

For the second time in the past five minutes, John was too stunned to speak. There was no doubt in his mind that the creature had known exactly what it was doing when it stepped into that hole. It had just sacrificed itself so that he would be the winner.

“Why?” was all John could get out, but he didn’t have time to dwell on that question long, as a strange, blue light started to glow from behind him. He scramble around, and saw that it was the seam in the wall that was glowing, and it was getting brighter each second.

“WINNER,” came the booming metallic voice from nowhere, startling John. He had forgotten all about his mysterious captors.

“Winner?” John mumbled to himself, and as the word turned over in his head, the absurdity of his situation washed over him once again. “Winner of what?” he yelled out, and he could feel the anger and madness rising up within him.

“What the hell is this?” he continued. “You just take someone from their life and make them fight another living thing to the death? Who are you? Where am I? What were those things? Where did they come from?”

The only response he received was from the blue light in the wall, which began to pulsate at a steady, slow rate. John stumbled backward, shielding his eyes from the increasingly blinding light. Slowly, the light from the seam began to extend out from the stone wall, in a ten-foot high rectangular shape. A blue, shimmering block unfolded like a giant movie screen in front of him, and it kept expanding, until it was protruding almost ten feet out from the stone wall.

“STEP INTO THE LIGHT,” commanded the emotionless, metallic voice.

“Get bent,” John blurted out without really even thinking. “I’m not stepping anywhere until you tell me j–”

Before he could even finish his sentence, the wall of light moved forward and enveloped him. He was blinded and couldn’t see anything, and it felt like he was falling, turning over and over in a sort of weightless state. No sooner had he started to get his bearings, than he landed hard, and everything was shrouded in darkness.

The next sensation John felt was a cold wetness, and as he blinked the haze away, he quickly realized he was face down in snow. His first instinct was to pull his arms in and try to push himself up, but the explosion of pain in his right shoulder caused him to fall flat on his face, huffing in pain. He rolled over onto his back, and saw what he thought was the most beautiful thing he’d ever laid eyes on.

A street light. His street light. The one at the end of the driveway at his house. Tears began to well up in his eyes as John rolled around like a wounded snow angel, trying to right himself. He finally mustered enough strength to stand up, and raised his fist to the sky, giving cry of joy, which was drowned out by the swirling winds of the snowstorm that was still going on around him.

“How long have I been gone?” he thought. Looking around, it was still clearly nighttime, and John could see through the crack in the curtains of the front window that the light in the living room was still on inside.

He decided he didn’t care, as the tears in his eyes had started to freeze as they rolled down his face, and he couldn’t feel either of hands anymore. He began stumbling through the deep snow toward the back door of his house. As he went back up the driveway, he found the path he’d started shoveling earlier, and it had not yet been filled in by the blowing snow. What had felt like hours in that other place had seemingly only been a matter of minutes here.

John was so ecstatic that he fell down a couple of times as he rushed to get to the back door. Each time it was harder to pull himself back up, but he knew Amber would be waiting for him inside, and he just wanted to be with her in the warmth of his own home, where he could forget about the insanity of what happened out there in that place.

John made it up the back steps and tumbled through the door, spilling onto the floor. “Amber!” he called out. “Come help me! You’re not gonna believe this!”

But Amber didn’t answer. When John looked up, he saw why.

He wasn’t in his house. In fact, he was in a room with a polished metal floor, a metal ceiling, and a metal walls. When he turned to look at the door he had just come through, it was gone. It had been replaced with a field of blue light, exactly like the one that had enveloped him out in the snowy arena several minutes earlier.

“No,” was all that John could muster, as his mind raced to put the events of the past few hours into some sort of logical order. Hadn’t they just sent him home? Why would they just take him again?

“Why?!” John screamed. “Why would you send me home and then just take me back?”

“YOU ARE HOME NOW,” came the same booming metallic voice that he’s heard out in the snow. “PHYSICAL TESTS WILL RESUME TOMORROW. PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS RESUMING.”

The metallic wall in front of him faded to reveal something resembling a giant monitor. A video feed began to stream in front of him. It was the inside of his house. The living room, in fact. Amber was sitting on the couch, sipping her tea and watching her show, with her favorite quilt wrapped around her. He could hear the theme music of the crime procedural in the background, and even the small sipping noises Amber made when she drank her tea.

Words failed John. He began to cry, as he watched Amber stand up from the couch, walk over to the window, and peek outside.

“It’s really coming down,” she said to herself. “Looks like a whole other world out there.” She padded back over to couch and took up her tea.

“I can’t imagine he’ll be out there much longer,” she muttered, taking a sip of her tea.

You can read Drift and a handful of my other short horror stories in the collection Intrusive Thoughts: Volume One, which you can grab on Amazon for $.99.

The Thirteen Nights of #Frightmas: A Poem

The Thirteen Nights of Frightmas

 

On the first night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

A severed head in a tree.

From the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas

 

On the second night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Two bloody knives

From LoveThisPic site submitted by ‘Dreamer’

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the third night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the fourth night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Four possessed dolls,

Scene from 2014 movie Annabelle

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the fifth night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the sixth night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Six roaring chainsaws,

Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw films

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the seventh night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Seven black-eyed demons,

Demon from Insidious series

Six roaring chainsaws,

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the eighth night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Eight decaying corpses,

Seven black-eyed demons,

Six roaring chainsaws,

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the ninth night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Nine haunted graveyards,

Eight decaying corpses,

Seven black-eyed demons,

Six roaring chainsaws,

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the tenth night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Ten deadly curses,

From the 1996 movie The Craft

Nine haunted graveyards,

Eight decaying corpses,

Seven black-eyed demons,

Six roaring chainsaws,

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the eleventh night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Eleven guys in hockey masks,

Ten deadly curses,

Nine haunted graveyards,

Eight decaying corpses,

Seven black-eyed demons,

Six roaring chainsaws,

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the twelfth night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Twelve nightmares on Elm Street,

From A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger played by Robert Englund

Eleven guys in hockey masks,

Ten deadly curses,

Nine haunted graveyards,

Eight decaying corpses,

Seven black-eyed demons,

Six roaring chainsaws,

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

On the thirteenth night of Frightmas the Society gave to me…

Thirteen books of the dead,

From The Evil Dead series

Twelve nightmares on Elm Street,

Eleven guys in hockey masks,

Ten deadly curses,

Nine haunted graveyards,

Eight decaying corpses,

Seven black-eyed demons,

Six roaring chainsaws,

Five vengeful ghosts,

Four possessed dolls,

Three creepy clowns,

Two bloody knives,

And a severed head in a tree.

 

A VERY MERRY FRIGHTMAS TO ALL!

Author Interview: Katie Glover Likes Pop-Tarts Too

The Davis Girl (TDG): Are you ready to be interviewed, Katie Glover?

The Katie Glover

Katie Glover (KG): Always!

TDG: Hello, Midnight Society Readers. I am joined today via Twitter DMs by Katie Glover. Hello Katie Glover and welcome to your interview. I’ve heard about you and your witchy books and penchant for tarot reading.  

KG: Thanks for having me!

TDG: Yes. Do you REALLY write witchy things? Like really-really?

KG: Yes! Because witches are amazing and powerful and awesome and subversive.

TDG: But how do you know?

KG: I read a lot of books.

TDG: What books?

KG: A lot. Right now, I’m reading Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places.

TDG: Describe it in three words.

KG: Illuminating, haunting, comforting. Sometimes the ghosts you know are better than the ones you don’t. It’s not witchy, but it’s a fascinating look at how our ghosts, metaphorical or otherwise, shape our sense of place and story.

TDG: That’s more than three words.

KG: I know, I was just—

TDG: What about YOUR book?  The witchy one. What are those three words?

KG: Queer. Questioning. Haunting.

TDG: Oh my, yes, I’d read that. What is your favorite writing snack?

KG: Puffy Cheetos and Dr Pepper. Failing that, strong, malty black tea with plenty of milk and sugar.

TDG: What’s “malty” mean?

KG: It’s…like a malted milkshake? That particular mouth-coating feel that’s warm, not quite spicy, and almost thick to the taste. I like teas that are strong enough to kick me in the teeth.

Ergo malty ones.

TDG:  Ergo. Like waffles?

KG: Like a really good waffle, yes.

TDG: Lego my ergo.

KG: Sure.

TDG: Are there waffles in your witchy book–OH WAIT WHAT IS YOUR WITCHY BOOK TITLE?

KG: Currently it’s called B-SIDE, and as a diner features in it, I can’t imagine waffles NOT coming in to play at some point.

TDG: B-SIDE?

KG: Music plays a large part in it, as do the ideas of borders and liminal spaces. I wanted a title that riffed off of music tracks (Jordan, one of the characters, is a DJ who writes her own music) but also held in it the idea of a flip side of things–in this case, the separation between the human world and Faerie.

TDG: I guess that’s pretty cool. What five songs would be on the B-SIDE soundtrack?

KG: “Drumming Song” by Florence + The Machine.

“Flood on the Floor” by Purity Ring.

“Too Close” by Alex Clare.

“Champion” by Fall Out Boy.

“Patterns” by Band of Skulls.

TDG: What’s B-SIDE about? 

KG: B-SIDE is about witches and faeries and the tenuous border between the world of humans and the world of the Fae. The first time Camellia Carlisle, witch and barista and bit of a shut-in, manages to go to Flux, one of the hottest clubs in town, she ends up with fae shot in her shoulder, and things only go downhill from there. With witches practicing in secret, Camellia has no one to turn to except for Beatrice, the border witch who owns a diner downtown. Beatrice wants to help, but she has problems of her own: the border witch who COULD deal with fae shot has gone missing, and everyone in the know suspects the faeries. Meanwhile, Camellia is struggling with her massive crush on her neighbor, Jordan, who has secrets of her own–namely, her ex-ish girlfriend got trapped in Faerie, and no one believes that happened but Jordan. Camellia is forced to confront her own sense of power and autonomy as well as her place in her witching world as she navigates the complicated relationship between Jordan and Shae, between witch and humanity, between humanity and Faerie. Add to this a peculiar song that won’t leave her head no matter what she does and the foreboding that comes along with it, and Camellia is certain that she’s going to get more than what she bargained for the day she walked into Flux.

TDG: Do you like Pop-Tarts?

KG: I DO like Pop-Tarts!

TDG: Me too.

KG: I had strawberry frosted ones with my dinner because I am an adult.

TDG: When did you start writing B-SIDE?

KG: I started working on B-SIDE a few months ago–it’s been slow going with a cross-country move and holidays–but it’s been something that’s been really fun and lovely to come back to.

TDG: Where do you write best?

KG: I have a roll-top desk that was a gift from my dad to my mom when they first got married, and that’s my writing spot. It’s right by a huge window with a gorgeous view of conifers and the Washington sky, and when it rains, the sunlight afterwards catches on every drop on the branches and turns them into tiny diamonds. It’s magical, and that helps set the mood.

TDG: How do you write best?

KG: Recently, it’s been avoiding what I’m SUPPOSED to be working on by starting something else. I work two jobs right now, so free time is sparse and valuable. I’ve been sleeping a lot. I have a playlist for B-SIDE, though, so I’ll usually put that on and start working on it when I remember that’s supposed to be my current project.

TDG: What do you do when you’re stuck?

KG: If I’m stuck, which is often, I like to talk out my problems. I’ll pretend I’m giving an interview and HAVE to come up with answers, and that usually helps me work something out. My cat has listened to a few too many plot issues, I fear. It also helps to have other projects to work on; if something’s giving me too much guff, I can always jump to something else and work on that to remind myself that I can, in fact, Do The Things.

TDG: Other projects?

KG: I have other story ideas–there’s THE DRIFTWOOD GIRL and HALLOWED GROUNDS kicking around right now–or I’ll work on making jewelry. Sometimes I have to give the old brain a break and work with my hands until I can see properly again.

TDG: What is your cat’s name?

KG: Selina. She was named after Catwoman, and as she’s almost killed a bat three times now, this seems fitting.

TDG: Does your cat help you Do The Tarot?

KG: Selina likes to do things like sit on cards. I’ll pay attention to her instead of, say, the four of swords, so I’m not sure she so much tarots as interrupts.

TDG: How did you get into tarot reading?

KG: I’ve always had a passing interest in it, and when my friend Katie got into it, it rekindled that interest for me. She and I worked on a lot of tarot together, and then my friend Corienne and I would do tarot for each other to practice.

TDG: How does tarot interact with your writing? 

KG: I think they are very intimately connected for me. They both require a sense of narrative to make sense. Tarot deals with both big archetypes and mundane details, and a successful reading will incorporate both of those things to form a story. Part of the fun and challenge of reading is finding the thread of story in what can be seemingly disparate cards; it’s why I enjoy reading for someone who is thoroughly engaged in the process. A card might mean one thing for me, but it might bring up something completely different for the querent, and that piece of knowledge can sometimes open up an entire interpretation. Similarly, writing for me is about mixing big, archetypal concepts with mundane, human details. Talking about the story in archetypal concepts shapes the overall narrative, just like a reading with just major arcana would–but the devil’s in the details, and sometimes the devil is more interesting than any other angel. The minor arcana of storytelling becomes the characters, their tics, their quirks and foibles.

TDG: What?

KG: Tarot and storytelling operate on that same corner of the brain. They both tap into this collective mythos, and I love that.

TDG: What’s the proper term for One-Who-Does-Tarot-Professionally?

KG: A tarot reader. Always tip your reader, folks! It’s a hard and emotionally vulnerable thing to do, to read tarot.

TDG: How do you recharge after tarot reading?

KG: It will honestly depend on the reading. Some are not super draining, and for those, it’s easy: get something to drink, stretch, walk around, pet Selina…simple things. Some are incredibly emotionally taxing, and for those, I go back to grounding, meditation (as best I can–I’m easily distracted), and, in extreme cases, Taco Bell. There’s not much that’s more grounding than Taco Bell.

TDG: Or Pop-Tarts?

KG: Or Pop-Tarts.

TDG: What’s an appropriate way to retain your tarot reading services? Ask? DM?

KG: My DMs are always open so you can find me here!

TDG: What century do you belong in?

KG: I think I belong in this century. As much as I’d love to be able to play tourist around the early 19th century with its burgeoning gothic horror, this century is shaping up to be one of a kind. I want to be a progressive, modern, compassionate person, and I sincerely hope that our future allows for more kindness and understanding.

TDG: What do you want to tell me that I may not have asked?

KG: I’m always up for meeting new writer and tarot people. I love communities formed around shared passions and it’s something that I’d like to grow in my own life.

On the first day of #Frightmas, The Midnight Society gave to me… haunting writing prompts and a Gremlins live tweet.

Today is the first day of #Frightmas and many of us are coming off of a #NaNoWriMo writer’s high. Chances are, even if you didn’t finish or “win” NaNoWriMo, you walked away with more words than before or better writing habits (hopefully both of those things).

Today, we’re gifting you writing prompts!

Below you’ll find 5 spooky writing prompts to keep you writing through the holidays. Extra credit points to those of you who dare go back to your NaNoWriMo projects and plug this in!

Share your short stories or what you write using the #Frightmas hashtag and we’ll leave you a comment and feature it on our blog.

#Frightmas Prompts

1. The house is dark on Christmas Eve. There’s rustling downstairs. Who is it? What do they want? And what happens next? Go as light or as dark as you want.

2. Someone’s been watching and it’s not to see if your main character is naughty or nice. Write a scene where your MC discovers this and confronts the watcher. What happens next? Why are they being watched?

3. Write a scene where someone breaks the news to your MC that shatters this person’s beliefs or views on something very important. What does that look like? How do they handle it?

4. A gift is left for your MC. What does it look like? How is it wrapped? Who is it from? And does your MC open it? If so, what’s inside?

5. The holidays are known for being a time of giving and family. Is this what your MC experiences? How do they celebrate (if at all)? How do they feel about it?

We’d love to hear what you’ve written—however long or short they are! Feel free to paste your short stories or responses below or linked to them on social media using #Frightmas. We’ll read them and feature them here!

Jingle bells and ghost moans,

The Midnight Society

#Frightmas Calendar of Events

Plug in your orange and purple lights, turn on the fog machines, and blast the Dead Man’s Bones album while you admire the dead tree you’ve dragged in for celebration.

Here, I’ll even help. Play this while you finish reading this post.

Today is day one of the 13 Days of #Frightmas!

What exactly is Frightmas?

It’s the Midnight Society’s way of celebrating the holidays! Magic, mystery, and fright come together to create 13 macabre days of fun, counting down the days until Frightmas day!

Each day of the 13 days of Frightmas, we’ll reveal a new gift for you—an advent of sorts. Expect exclusive short stories and poems, gift guides, writing tips and prompts, and more!

We’ll be updating this list with each day with the link to your goodies!

Calendar of Events:

December 13th, Wednesday – Haunting writing prompts

December 13th Special Event: Live-tweet of Gremlins 9 EST, using #Frightmas via @KathleenPalm

December 14th, Thursday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 15th, Friday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 16th, Saturday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 17th, Sunday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 18th, Monday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 19th, Tuesday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 20th, Wednesday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 21st, Thursday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 22nd, Friday Special Event: Live-tweet of Krampus at 9 EST, using #Frightmas via @KathleenPalm

December 22nd, Friday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 23rd, Saturday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 24th, Sunday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

December 25th, Monday – It’s a surprise! Come back then!

If you’re worried about missing a day of Frightmas, subscribe at the right to have these posts delivered to your email inbox.

See you tonight at the Gremlins live-tweet on Twitter!

The Midnight Society

Death Scenes and Dioramas: The Crime Scenes of Frances Glessner Lee

Steps from the White House, hanging from a red brick building lit from below like someone holding a flashlight under their chin to tell a ghost story, the banner read, “Murder Is Her Hobby.”

Well now. I was instantly drawn in to Renwick Gallery and Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Deathan exhibit that highlights her contributions to forensic science and delightfully macabre craftwork.

In a time when women were expected to pursue ladylike hobbies, Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) directed her money and energy to the emerging science of death investigation.  She worked with medical personnel and police, and became the first female Police Captain in the United States.

“Convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” – police adage of the era

At sixty-five, she combined her love of crafting with her darker interests, and began building her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, grisly death scene dioramas for training police. She spent months on each one, filling them with hand-crafted details.  She crafted each with precise elements for investigators to parse out and recreate what happened.

The Renwick Gallery rooms were dark, and the Nutshell Studies were lit from within by tiny lamps and overhead lights. Small flashlights were available to shine into them, illuminating the dark corners just as an investigator would while walking through the scene.  Ms. Lee’s details were meticulous: a smear of lipstick on a pillow, a shoe kicked off by a hanging victim, a package of meat left rotting when a body wasn’t found for nearly a week.  A victim’s cheeks in a locked garage were painted with a rosy glow in one scene.  In another scene, a cabin was burned and someone died, but close examination showed the fire didn’t come from the wood stove.

Burned Cabin (ca. 1944-48)

Burned Cabin: Skeletal remains in a burnt bed

The Nutshells, as they are called, are homey and chilling.  The victims met tragic ends while doing mundane things, like hanging up laundry.  Most of the victims were alone in the diorama, the detritus of their life and violent end discarded around them.  Some of the case studies gave witness accounts, and it felt like a potential murderer was still very close to the scene.

Dark Bathroom (ca. 1944-48): a dead woman, water running in the bathtub, and male companions who left some time ago

Most of the Nutshells are housed at Harvard University, and they are still used for training, so the solutions to the scenes are kept secret. Case studies are given for each scene, and it is up to the observer to look for clues and figure out the cause of the unexplained death.

original source: Dang Gurl, Cool Hunt .LA http://coolhunt.la/members/dang-gurl/

If you would like to play investigator, you can view five of the Nutshell Studies through 360 VR.  Click on this link with your mobile device to see the Nutshells in 360 degree view of the Nutshell Studies.

The Renwick Gallery is part of the Smithsonian family of museums, housing contemporary craft and decorative arts. The Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death exhibit runs through January 28, 2018.  You can read more about the extraordinary Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshells in The Atlantic and The Washington Post.

Getting in Your Head: Brian Plays THE EVIL WITHIN

I LOVE horror games (shocker, I know), and I just spent the past few months revisiting two of my all-time favorites, Dead Space and Dead Space 2. When I finally put them to rest, I was looking for something to play when the ads for The Evil Within 2 started coming out. I’d played about ten minutes of the first game, so I decided to go back to that one and play through it so I could eventually get the sequel as well. I’m glad I decided to give The Evil Within another shot, because it’s great. I’ve started a let’s play series, and you can watch the first episode of the playthrough right here!

If you enjoyed the first installment, you can check out the rest of the series over at the Co-Op Critics YouTube channel.

Let’s Watch a Horror Movie: Christmas Can Be Scary Too

Tis the season! Lights! Love! Hope! And don’t forget a bit of horror. Christmas horror! A gift that becomes a bit more than you can handle. A dark spirit of Christmas ready to punish all who don’t believe. So, dear scary-loving friends, let’s watch a horror movie…NO, let’s watch two Christmas horror movies!

First…

Movie poster for 1984 film Gremlins

A 1984 horror-comedy directed by Joe Dante.  No one can resist fuzzy little Gizmo in a Santa hat! And who can pass up creepy killers singing Christmas carols? Not me. A fun destructive romp through the lovely town of Kingston Falls where murder and mayhem are the perfect seasonal events.

Wednesday, December 13th at 9 pm EST press play on Gremlins! Turn out the lights…they don’t like bright lights…and join me for the fun.

 

But I can’t leave it there because I have another favorite scary Christmas movie!

Poster for 2015 movie Krampus

Another horror-comedy for the season directed by Michael Dougherty was released in 2015. A fabulous look at the darker side of Santa, who visits those who no longer believe in Christmas spirit, who let go of the magic. A strange spirit comes to deliver punishment. I love creepy snowmen, elves, and deranged gingerbread men…who doesn’t?

On Friday, December 22nd press play at 9 EST and join me in watching Krampus!

Time to celebrate the season and watch horror movies together. That’s what Christmas is all about.

Over the River and Through the Wood

I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving on the edge of a Florida swamp. Our cabin was perched in the crook of a bend of the Little Withlacoochee River. It stood on eight-foot posts because sometimes the blackwater river would come out of its banks and spread through the swamp. You’d have to wade to the cabin then, shuffling to find the hidden logs, your legs lost in the dark water. It was pretty great.

Thanksgiving Day was spent fishing, exploring the woods and making holiday crafts my mother devised. One year, we traced each other’s outlines on butcher paper. Everyone, even the adults, went home with life-sized paper dolls of themselves dressed as Pilgrims and native Americans. Another year we made cornucopias filled with nuts and dried corn cobs that the squirrels dragged away and ate.

We even had turkeys for a while, in a pen on the edge of the woods. My dad was still building the cabin, and they gobbled whenever he hammered.

Blam! Gobble gobble gobble.
Blam! Gobble gobble gobble.

I ate their giant eggs for breakfast. Then one day, we didn’t have turkeys anymore. Something came out of the swamp and tore them to bits.

When I reach for writing inspiration, the swamp and river emerge again and again. Florida swamps are layers upon layers of living and dead things. The trees are covered in lichens and air plants. Their roots are sunk into dark muck, built from the decomposing bodies of leaves and other living things. Water runs through it all, giving life to some things and drowning others. It’s fertile ground for monstrous stories to grow.

Fall nights came early at the cabin, hemmed in by swamp. Creatures lived in the woods that roamed at night, and you could hear them rustling just outside the lights of the cabin. From the porch you could here things sliding in and out of the river, and occasionally a splash from something too large to be a fish.

On Thanksgiving, consider that the true horror story isn’t whether the turkey was properly cooked. It’s the story of how they were torn to bits by something that came out of the woods. The storyteller’s question is whether you would rather see the monster, or do you want to keep wondering what’s there.

Keep listening to it rustle. Try to make it out amongst the trees. And wait.

Over the River and Through the Wood is an American Thanksgiving poem by Lydia Maria Child.