Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

EP367: Lion Dance


By Vylar Kaftan
Read by John Chu
Discuss on our forums.
Originally appeared in Asimov’s (2012)
All stories by Vylar Kaftan
All stories read by John Chu
Rated 15 and up for language and adult situations

Lion Dance
by Vylar Kaftan

I knew Wing’s idea was stupid.  But we were all so goddamn sick of quarantine that it sounded great anyway.

“Chinese New Year on Halloween night, huh?” I asked him.  We sat on his broken futon and some folding chairs, passing a bottle of Captain Jack among the eight of us.  Someone leaned on a car horn outside our apartment.  When they didn’t stop, my buddy Matt leaned out the window and swore at them in Mandarin.  Matt was loud–even a flu mask didn’t muffle his bellowing.  I swear, even though every restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown had been closed since February, tourists still cruised the streets.  Even a pandemic couldn’t stop them completely.

“Dude.  Someone will shoot us,” said the guy from 4B, who I think was named Jimmy Li.  We all lived in the same nasty building on Grant Street above a dim sum place owned by our slumlord.  I knew Matt, who’d invited me, and my little brother Jian of course.  Wing lived here in 3A.  I’d just met the Chao twins who had different haircuts, and then Jimmy and some dude Xiang.  At twenty-three, I was pretty sure I was the oldest guy here.

“That’s the point,” said Wing heavily, as if he’d explained this a hundred times when he actually hadn’t.  “We’ll be in costume.  First off, all the riots will be in the Mission, so that’s where the cops will be.  Second, no one’s going to shoot a New Year’s lion.  Dude.  It’s Chinatown.  All the old cops here are superstitious.  Can you imagine how much bad luck it would bring?  Even if some cop got itchy on the trigger, he’ll think about it long enough for us to run away.”

“No one’s shooting anyone,” said Matt.  “For God’s sake, this isn’t Montana.”  He pushed his mask aside, swigged the Jack, and passed it to Jian.  I snagged the bottle out of his hands.  No freaking way would I let my little brother drink from that bottle.  Who knew where the other guys had been?  They might pull off their masks and drink, but damned if I let my little brother do it.  Jian glared at me, but didn’t fight back.

I passed the bottle to Wing.  “They might shoot if things get out of hand,” I said.  “It’s Halloween.  Everyone’s twitchy.  But you’re right, I heard a bunch of people are gonna swarm the Mission.  That’s where the cops will go.”

Wing took another swig.  He wasn’t wearing a mask; that was only Matt and Jian and me.  Wing went to the kitchen and reappeared with a stack of well-used disposable cups and washed straws.  He swiped an unopened bottle of Jose Cuervo off a shelf and handed it to me.

I thanked him and poured myself way too much tequila.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to peel the mask off, even for a minute, but it’d been a bad week.  My parents were getting evicted and Jian’s antivirals were out of stock everywhere.  Pissed me off–HIV drugs did crap against the flu, but people were desperate and they got prescriptions from quacks.  So my little brother might develop full-blown AIDS thanks to those selfish jackholes. (Continue Reading…)

Halloween Redux – Some Just Aren’t That Into It


As a writer and consumer of genre fiction, now should be the perfect time of year for me, right? After all, Halloween is just around the corner* [Ed note: Mur was very bad in getting this up, so consider Halloween having just passed us by…] and every sci-fi blog, podcast, and show is extolling the virtues of Halloween.

To me, though, Halloween… just doesn’t matter.

Now, maybe when my daughter is a little older and she starts going door-to-door asking for donations of unhealthy food** while wearing an amusing costume, I might care a little more. I might also care more if more trick-or-treaters came to my door, but I think we get an average of five per year. I’ve taken to putting out a bowl and being done with the matter.

Halloween holds no special place in my heart. Which is weird, because I write some pretty dark, disturbing fiction when the mood strikes. But I don’t care about costumes, decorations, scary movies being more relevant now than in February or June, candy (except Nerds Rope, which is awesome), or parties. I don’t dress up (I might wear a funny wig to work), I don’t gorge myself on sweets, I don’t watch The Ring or listen to a reading of “The Cask of Amontillado”. This year I’ll probably be asleep before the trick-or-treaters even arrive because I have to be at work before 6am the next day.

And it’s not just being old and crotchety. I’ve never crocheted in my life. In college, I didn’t make it a point to go to Halloween parties. When I was a kid, I trick-or-treated, but I wasn’t one of those who kept it up as a teenager. I stopped dressing up at about age 11, and that was that.

I just don’t see the point of making such a big deal out of a holiday that you don’t even get off of work or school. Maybe that makes me weird, or an outcast in the community, but I can’t be the only genre person who doesn’t care that October 31 is supposed to mean candy, costumes, parties, and scary media — I think we were all really sick of ER‘s Halloween episodes after a couple of seasons.

These days, sadly, Halloween exists to sell stuff, and so the media can trot out their “razor blade in the candy” and “check over your kid’s trick-or-treat bag” stories that they’ve been brushing off for the past few decades. Good space fillers. Good ways to sell things people don’t really need to eat. Good for kids (unless their parents object to the holiday, which kind of makes “write your favorite Halloween memory in your writing journal today” assignments pretty hard).

I’m sorry. I don’t get it.

Go and have your fun this Halloween. Enjoy your movies, and your candy, and your parties, and dressing up like Sexy Elmo, or Sexy Avatar Blue Person, or Sexy Chilean Miner’s Wife, or just your average angel or devil. Spend your money, consume your media, enjoy the hell out of it.

I’ll be sleeping.

* Or, at least, it was when I wrote this. I’ve been woefully delinquent lately.

** Come to think of it, most canned food collected in food drives is absurdly high in sodium, which isn’t good for you either.

EP264: St. Darwin’s Spirituals


By D.K. Thompson
Read by: Mur Lafferty
First appeared in Murky Depths
Host: Norm Sherman
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by DK Thompson
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated R: For paranormal sexual situations

Show Notes:

  • Enjoy our Halloween episode, which mixes a bit of paranormal in with our science fiction. Hey, it’s a special holiday, and we’re apt to get a little crazy around here.
  • If listeners want some lighter Halloween fun, “Horrorworld,” DK’s short story collaboration with Kevin David Anderson, is running as a two-part special at Drabblecast this Halloween. If people have ever had a desire to see Yul Brynner fight zombies, that’s the story for them.
  • Feedback for Episode 256: The Mermaids Singing Each to Each.
  • Next week… A special election day episode!

Saint Darwin’s Spirituals
By D.K. Thompson

The ghosts wanted a threesome – the two of them in Lucy’s body. It wasn’t an unheard of proposition, or so Lucy had been told. Prostitutes considered psychic whoring one of the safest tricks on the streets. All the pleasures of intimacy without the messy clean-up.

Ghosts had a nasty reputation for vanishing the moment after, though, no matter the talisman around your neck or the potion drunk before sunset, and so payments were usually collected up front. Not that Lucy was worried about the money. Her husband was the only thing that concerned her.

She adjusted her brass and leather goggles, peering through the ethereal tinted lenses to examine the ghosts.

They looked like the average apparitions. Both female. One spiraled around Lucy, long and curly hair obscuring her face. Large black blotches covered her body, causing her skin to peel off in patches. The other hovered several feet above the cobblestones in front of Lucy. She had a noose around her throat and her neck was bent so her head hung to the left side. She crossed her arms and took several breaths. Or whatever passed for breaths in the afterlife.

How long had it been since they’d felt someone’s touch?
Lucy wondered. She remembered something her husband had told her long ago, before the murders, before he’d disappeared. “Spirits linger in this world longing to be a part of it, to reconnect, to have some kind of physical, sensual experience,” Thomas had said. “Only a host can provide them that.”

Ghosts aren’t the only creatures haunted by the memory of a touch, my love, Lucy thought. And yet, despite being a devout spiritualist, she shuddered at the idea of the cadaverous spirits making love inside her. She’d never had a ghostgasm before, much less been paid for one. The ghosts looked sincere in their desire, not like dangerous murderers. Certainly not monsters. Still, lonely as she was, a ghostgasm wouldn’t help her find Thomas.

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