“Kids Can be Monsters” By Dave Jeffery
Kids can be monsters. It’s an adage we hear all too often, the cry of desperate, sleep-deprived parents run ragged by their ‘little darlings’. As observers, we tend to sit in two camps: those who have been there, nodding our heads, sympathising through a haze of figurative nostalgia, or those who wonder why the hell any self-respecting couple would put themselves through what appears to be some kind of perpetual state of sadomasochism.
Of course, all of this is relative, and the focus always softened by the unconditional love of a parent. On Halloween, however, I find this abstract concept takes on new meaning. As parents, a vast majority of us encourage our offspring to adopt personas akin to this notion of kids as monsters. Jonny becomes Freddy Kruger, Tina becomes Annabelle. And these kids will roam through towns and suburbs, clicking pretend finger knives and swinging the hems of faded, mausoleum gowns with excitement and gusto.
But that’s okay, I have Rex. He’s a candy dispenser, a purple bowl into which you pour the sweets and treats, and Rex is a skeleton in black robes – hooded for maximum effect – his long, skeletal fingers hug the bowl to his chest and he waits, silent and passive until tiny, unsuspecting hands reach for the candy. When excited, eager fingers grab at the prize, the hidden sensor is triggered and Rex launches into action, a raucous cackle, or scream (he has multiple functions, does dear Rex), head and shoulders lunging forwards, jaws clacking and eyes flashing staccato-red, and then a loud: “Hey, kids! Get your hands off of my candy!”
The response comes, squeals of delight, startled cries of temporary fear, followed quickly by nervous giggles of relief. Parents stand on guard at the bottom of the drive, jittering with anxiety at the first cries of their beloved monsters, but ultimately laughing along with their kids and the goofy guy with the scary candy bowl. More often than not it goes swimmingly. But this is a Halloween blog post, so the tale I’ll tell is of one of the times the tables got turned on your truly.
It started in the usual way; the packs of sweets bought from the local store, opened and tossed into Rex’s bowl, my kids rolling their eyes when I proffered Rex to them in order to test his batteries out. The first batch of kids hit the doorbell, giggling when they saw Rex, recollections of previous years not blunting their anticipation or caution. More kids came, more heady anxieties culminating in loud laughter.
On the third visitation they came. I opened the door, Rex ready and eager. Three small figures stood there, all wearing Jason Voorhees hockey masks, baggy hoodies making it difficult to establish their actual age or gender, arms at their sides held no bags of Halloween swag.
I asked them who they were dressed up as and they said nothing, not one single word, three silent sentinels standing stock still, no attempt to move towards Rex, no chuckles. I told them they were very good, and they were very good because what they were succeeding in doing was freaking me out, my fertile imagination running riot in my head as the silence rolled on in almost slow motion. I had a smile on my face, and I fought to keep it there as the minutes played out, I felt the corners wavering on occasion and I feared that should some adult look upon me at that moment I would have appeared quite mad.
Then, after a small lifetime, came the peace da la resistance: as one, all three of them turned and walked away from the house, no attempt to take the candy, no attempt to look back, no cracking up with laughter at how they’d finally got the smartass with the candy dispenser. They disappeared behind the hedge and I closed the door a little faster than perhaps I needed to, as it thumped loudly in its frame.
To this day I have no knowledge who those visitors were, and they have never been back since. On that night I had a thought that has remained to this day.
Yes, kids can be monsters.
But perhaps, on one night each year, a special night such as All Hallows Eve, monsters can also be kids.
Have a great Halloween everybody!
BIO: Dave Jeffery is perhaps best known for his UK #1 bestselling Necropolis Rising series of zombie books released through Severed Press. His Young Adult work includes the critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham Series (Crystal Lake Publishing, Crossroad Press), BBC: Headroom endorsed Finding Jericho, and the 2012 Edge Hill Prize Long-listed Campfire Chillers short story collection. He has published over 14 novels and collections with a variety of publishers. His short stories and essays have featured alongside many horror impresarios including: George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead), Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream), John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, The Fog), Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Fright Night), John Russo (Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead) and Tony Burgess (Pontypool, Ejecta).
Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt by Dave Jeffery
This supernatural /adventure /mystery novel is perfect for fans of The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, The Goonies, Monster Club, Lost Boys, and Stranger Things. It might be a YA book, but it’s a fun, scary read no matter what your age.
Dare YOU open the Cryptic Crypt?
Dorsal Finn is a sleepy coastal town facing the gleaming Atlantic Ocean. It is a town with quaint customs and inhabited by people who are as welcoming as they are weird. It is also a place where long lost tombs hide long held secrets.
Because beneath Dorsal Finn lies The Dark Heart, an ancient and malevolent entity determined to be free of its eternal prison. It has lured allies to the town, people with corrupt agendas determined to resurrect the greatest evil history has ever known, and in doing so release The Dark Heart upon an unsuspecting world.
Now the fate of the world rests in the hands of four dysfunctional teenagers and a bunch of oddball adults.
What could possibly go wrong?
Praise for Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt!
“An intricately layered mystery. Supernatural YA at its finest.” – Tom Deady, Bram Stoker Award® winning author of HAVEN.
“This is a cracking, tightly wrapped mystery that delivers everything it should. Well written, pacey and intriguing, this is a winner.” – Mark West, British Fantasy Award nominated author of DRIVE.
“A book worthy of sharing the shelf with the very best that the contemporary YA field has to offer” – This Is Horror.
Find Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt on Amazon
Read an excerpt from Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt by Dave Jeffery at Crystal Lake Publishing
Frostbite by Dave Jeffery
Grant Hastings was once the leader of an elite special ops team known as The Sebs. Now he’s retired, living alone in a bedsit over a pub, and haunted by the ghosts of the mistakes he’s made in the past. Then a mysterious woman turns up to entice Hastings and The Sebs back for one last mission, to rescue an anthropologist, son of an esteemed professor, feared to be trapped on a sacred mountain in the Himalayas, a place where the locals fear the mythical yeti roams exacting cruel retribution on anyone who strays into its domain. Unfazed by local superstition and folklore, Hastings and his team see a chance to make some easy money at the expense of their employer’s gullibility. But once they make it onto the frozen mountain, The Sebs will find that sometimes there is truth behind every legend.
Frostbite: It won’t be the cold that kills you!
“A great action/adventure story – a real page-turner!” – Dane Hatchell, bestselling author of LOST WORLD OF PATAGONIA.
Find Frostbite on Amazon