Halloween Haunts: Bad Blood Begets Worse Blood by Catt Colborn
Future relatives are the worse of the bunch when it comes to what terrifies the small and the weak, but just around that corner, a big wheel begins turning, and like Danny in The Shining, that kid spinning those “Big Wheels” comes out on top of the terror. In the 1970’s, blood, clowns, rock stars that painted their faces like evil clowns that spit blood, begat kids roaming the streets being these things on Halloween, and their terror did beget more terror, more blood, more screaming into a mic, but that reaction to something darker isn’t what you’d think.
I am not a serial killer, but I do kill in my books, brutally, vengefully. I go all Art of War on my antagonists. Sometimes my protagonist, too, depending on my mood. But I am only a small child of the 70’s still screaming inside my older brain, adrenaline eventually rushing to wonder, of the unknown things on the street on All Hallows’ Eve 1970-something. There I am with a plastic bunny mask cut in half, sweating cold sweat into my mother’s hand, with a plastic pumpkin in the other.
The 70’s child was made a tough model: We didn’t get put in car seats all the time, we didn’t wear helmets when we biked, skateboarded, scootered, or roller-skated. And we surely spent small times alone in the house if our mother forgot something included in the dinner menu.
Speaking of being a rebel of this generation, you would think that I would’ve been a lot better at the Halloween thing in those early years. The ones I first could remember anyway, all calm and cute, dressed as forest animals usually, bounced around a car in traffic and going it alone for short stints. You’d think I’d be hopping around as any other toddler would be on Halloween with a melted chocolate smile.
But that was the year that the rock band KISS descended or arose, I should say, into Philadelphia. No, this is not another essay about putting the band down as devil worshippers and labeling them “Knights in Satan’s Service” or anything like that. I was too young to even know what any of that was back then and quite honestly, I’d have to ask relatives what my mother had thought about it, too. All’s I can remember about it though, is who would eventually become a really good friend, my brother-in-law, and my loving big brother dressed in white and black paint with stars and other shapes on their faces, adorned with big mangy black wigs with bang ponytails, in spray-painted silver platforms, jumping in my face, and letting blood spray out their teeth and down their chins in my direction.
“Who were you people anyway,” I’d later scoff before finishing, “spitting blood at an innocent toddler?”
Truth is, it’s one of the many belly laughs my family has about Halloween, unfortunately, without my mother hemming and hawing anymore in the background (but if you believe in the afterlife and ghosts like we do, then we’d all agree that she still is). My brother-in law was born the day before Halloween, so I guess he felt he could get away with anything on his birthday, and his mother and my mother were good friends, and you just didn’t start fights in the street where all the neighbors could hear.
When it comes to my mother, the frights didn’t stop there. As gentle as she was about agreeing my dad should change lightbulbs and do “man things” about the house and thought only she knew how to cook dinner, this woman that everyone thought was a cliché product of the 50’s wasn’t at times. I am living proof. On the weekends, I clearly remember Creature Double Feature being turned on without any regard to my impressionable young age, and her putting laundry aside as vampires bit into women’s necks, and ghouls came out of dark places with their fingers curled towards some helpless stranger’s body. Yet, this woman did not move for the dial (yes it was a dial on the actual television that clicked to your channel) to stop my staring, bulging, blinking, watery eyes, from coming out of my skull (and let’s not mention the Incredible Hulk years in the later years on TV). Apparently, mom was into sci-fi too!
Now as a professor, who, teaches argument sometimes to her college writing classes, I have come across many an article in textbooks and databases that suggests violent displays create violent children, but I am here to tell you, I am always on the side that it does not after the passiveness of a what’s deem good parenting just bowled right over when anything supernatural and horrific was about. We were raised to be good people. We were 70’s kids raised to be indifferent to bloody unknowns and deal with them.
Example: MOM: I don’t want you to be afraid of what’s not real.”
DAD: “Cat-t, you should be more afraid of the living than the dead.”
Apparently, I got fresh with him about the term “undead” and that was the last of his bringing me water and the last of my mom sitting on the edge of the bed until I fell asleep at night.
Ultimately, even though I, to this day, still think my old bedroom and my hundred+ year-old colonial now is haunted, I can argue that I am a good killer…a killer horror writer and performer, trying her best to keep the passion of my dead mother instilled in me. I believe that you could have a good laugh or cringe at an artful on-screen kill, as long as you know that it’s fiction, and like dad said, you should be afraid more of the living than the dead. Horror does, in a way, turn that microscope glass in another direction, so it opens a larger world to where the true monsters really live.
And as for my brother-in law and that big wheel, turning around the corner to pay him back, he always remained surprised that the tiny kid got the best of him, when they crossed over his feet, as he packed his cigarettes from the corner store. Eventually, we both nodded and grinned, when I looked back and kept going, kept looking for more horrors, lurking around our neighborhood and not finding much to talk about until next Halloween.
Catt Colborn is the author of Small Bites, a short horror tale collection, and Polygon #29, a Gothic fiction novel, from PFI Press. She also published Weekly Furapy, a weird fiction novella, from Bizarro Pulp Press, a weird and strange imprint of JournalStone Publishing, and numerous other pieces in literary magazines, insightful blogs, and artistic anthologies. Catt is an Academic Member of the Horror Writers Association. She teaches classes on argument, literature, and research at Stockton University and ACCC in New Jersey. She has a fondness for wiener dogs, fine cigars, and smooth bourbon. Catt has been called the Harley Quinn of weird horror writing and scary screenplays.
Links to Catt’s Books:
Small Bites, A Collection of Short Horror Tales: https://www.amazon.com/Small-Bites-Collection-Short-Horror/dp/B09DN1JBGQ/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=small+bites+by+catt+colborn&qid=1630427004&s=books&sr=1-1
Prologue from Small Bites, A Collection of Short Horror Tales
The Legend of the Lion Knocker
“Lust and revenge are a drink best served hot with the blood of your enemies on the week of All Hallows
-Toutemine to Jean Lafitte, from Legend of the Lion Knocker
The call rang out a few days before All Hallow’s Eve. The war bell clanged and made a
clamor from the ship for miles upon miles. Until the moment of its final blow, and still until the
reverberation of that clapper, hitting its opposite side, the quick thrusts of battle slowed to mimic
dripping molasses. Everything slowed that is, but she. She remained in the prior pace of the
upheaval of the English Commander’s rapier’s joust, and the gnarly pirate, Jean Lafitte’s, swift
stab, and snarl technique.
Toutemine’s sword sliced at any head in the path of her violet horse’s tangled mane and
held those prizes high against the tangerine sunrise over the bayou of New Orleans. The artful
witch held time in her palm, and when all the heads were collected, and tied to her reigns by her
Demon Riders; skinless zombies that rode horses, she stared into the abyss of both leader’s eyes.
Finally, she opened her hand as to release time back to them, it swirled like a small purple
tornado in her fingers and the mist was hurled behind her, along with the dust from her wake.
Silence. Neutrality. Truce…until the morn…until another messenger sent to read aloud,
“Press on, or be hung as a traitor to your country.” Jean Lafitte himself became hotter than any
piping cherry, from the tip of any iron, hammered upon his anvil. His Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
that he owned with his brother, when he was not fighting, only momentarily cooled with the cold
sweat of his ale, along with the cold sweat on the scalp, which thankfully still rested upon his
“Why shall I help this cause any longer?” A crew member hastily spewed out.
The rum should have fermented his tongue so the exhausted Captain would not have had
to remove it for him. As the scream ceased, the captain cleaned his blade on the porter’s apron.
Lafitte took another mug of ale off the porter’s tray and yelled, “Do ye a favor and
remove thy tails from between thy legs or I shall ‘ave ‘em before ye heads could ever ride off wit
The other camp was filled with shapeless dirt mounds. The Demon Riders took some of
them away just as dogs would be thrown the bones from a dinnertime carcass as a reward. The
men sat there shivering, but it was not from the evening chill. Still, the English pressed onwards,
brainwashed those soldiers knew they could die and that was the end of it. But men were to fight
men and only fight demons behind closed doors. What was this new hell that welcomed them
The smell always made the wolves howl. Toutemine cackled at these moans as she kept
her skull-shaped, wooden ladle, turning all day. After all, it would be a shame to scorch her
drink, on the sides of her brand-new cauldron. It was her “sweet gravy” as it was lovingly
deemed; it reminded her of her mother’s grape vine that was ripe in picking season with
wonderful intoxicating juices, boiling down, for jellies and sauces. Her family would also
ferment the grapes for the best wine in the bayou.
Toutemine strained each part and put it in the mincer and spoke to the lovely liquid that
drained from a pottery spigot. “There is my precious wine…my color of pride and passion.”
The next night as the sun started to turn into a golden yolk, the Captain Jean Lafitte
tossed his black hat down upon his first mate’s head and ran toward the forest. Every step, his
legs began to move slower, as if lariats were being tightened around them. He looked to the sky
as he threw himself over a log, and resided towards the blazing heavens, where a bird was stuck
in midflight. It was only then, when Jean Lafitte was able to sit up swiftly; he knew that the
forest somehow remained untouched by Toutemine’s wrath, during the battle. He saw a lonely
horse that was missing an owner and jumped atop of it.
It’s hard to catch a Demon Rider, especially when he is blocking you, with parts of your
loyal deckhand’s dead body. Captain mounted as he fought-off the others skinless, slithering
zombies from their horses. The animal was driving him, and only let him dismount into a bush
near a wooden cottage. He waited for the night to fall and entered the already cracked door.
There was a set feast before him…a feast fit for a…
“Captain Lafitte, please join me. I’ve been waiting.”
The captain and his enemy never showed fear and that’s what they respected most about
each other. Lafitte sensed this on the battlefield, although they never said so out loud. She always
stared at his determination to try and break her spell. He fidgeted as he sat but remained silent in
his thoughts. Whatever plan drew you here, Captain Jean Laffite, whatever your plan to
vanquish, failed! Failed! You must think of something else.
The captain took her hand, “Am very lonely and ‘tis very rare that I ‘ave met a respected
Toutemine let a puff of laughter move her red veil and then cleared her throat and spoke,
“Am I to believe you are here out of respect or just plain out of pirates, that is?”
Lafitte exhaled out of his nostrils like an angry bull. “Ye ‘av probably taken the last of
‘em. At least the ones dat be worthy of ye sword handling, Madame.”
“But that’s not all?”
“A handsome reward awaits the defeat of the Brits, luvy.”
Toutemine squinted in his direction and let her arched eyebrows relax on the term of
endearment. “Yes, I know this secret as you’ve seen in my slaying. I do not wish the British to
keep the territory and feed like maggots across my enchanted settlement,” she replied, as she
opened her arms out to the tiny cabin. “It has been in my keep, thriving for centuries, and it shall
remain this way.”
Lafitte slammed his fist on her table and plates and sugar bowls danced and returned to
the oak finish. “Nay! Then why do ye take French freedom fighters to thy grave e’vry eve, mon a
“I am in need of something special.”
He turned his back to the woman as she tapped her foot under the table. “Surely, a
conjurer of stature as ye’self needs no help of thine, Madame,” he stated.
She stood, touching his arm gently, making him turn towards her, and replying,
“Everything conquered is conquered for a price, my prideful pirate friend. A willful desire is
inanimate of life and must be forged from fire and fury and sometimes death. The devil hath
willed it so.”
Lafitte towered over his company, but from what he had witnessed on the battlefield of
her whimsical land, he would never forget the lesson she taught him about fooled appearances.
“Then the devil’s daughter shall ‘ave what she desires,” he stated.
She grabbed him by his forearms as he gnashed his jaw but dared not part his lips. “Forge
me a golden door knocker shaped like a fierce lion. It can only be made of your own hands, do
not enlist the help from your dear, innocent brother in your shop. And when it is complete; it will
lead you back to this very door. Fix it upon the door and only you will be able to enter.”
Lafitte abruptly removed his arms from hers and rubbed his nape. “Tis all? Can’t be?”
Toutemine walked back to her chair and sat, where two skulls with the tops lopped off,
appeared before her seat and his. “No!” she started and pointed to the drinking vessels. “You
must come every night, and drink of the blood of your enemy, over tales I have heard over space
and time.” She paused with a little cackle of joy and pointer finger went up to the sky. “Lust and
revenge are a drink best served hot with the blood of your enemies on the week of All Hallows
Eve.” Her finger poked the wooden table three times, and she grew louder. “You’ll do this and
visit my company or I here, until there’s enough blood leftover, to dye that cotton thread.” In the
corner where she pointed next, there was a thick, fresh string turned off a wheel and falling in
deep folds into a woven basket. “You shall await my death shroud from it. Upon its completion,
and only then, will you be free of our nightly companionship and leave New Orleans victorious.”
Lafitte’s eyebrows raised as he looked toward the color of the thread in the loom. “I do
not understand, but you have my wor—”
The witch interrupted, “And half of your treasure with honor and glory or death, defeat,
and failure to your cause.”
Lafitte crossed his hat over his heart and nodded. “Oui, Madame, Toutemine.”
Lafitte awoke in his shop and began forging the Lion Knocker. His sweat from his brow
as he beat every groove, cooled the metal, and made it sizzle. Every line was heated and chiseled
until it resembled the great Leo of the Zodiac. In the mouth, instead of an ordinary brass ring,
Lafitte forged a British crown that held tight in the great feline’s four canines.
The crown lifted almost immediately into the air, and pulled toward the direction of the
place, where Captain Jean Lafitte was now bound. The air was hazy, the cabin was dark, and so
was the pirate’s heart; he was tired from the week’s battles and forging of the Lion Knocker.
With his last bit of strength, he grabbed the hammer from his belt, the two nails he had clenched
in his teeth, and fixed the knocker onto its final resting place.
The door swung open and there sat a young maiden.
She kneeled and wiped the brow of the captain with a bright red cloth. “Where is thy
Mistress?” Lafitte asked.
The mistress smiled with a mouth full of pearly white teeth and eyes as violet as the
witch’s horse. “She’s hard at work, my darlin,’ collecting the heads of thy enemy for her
Lafitte raised a fist and waved it to the heavens from the ground and shouted, “Aye!
Bordeaux is what it be! The great color of the great wine of a great town!”
The maiden smiled and let a laugh escape her rosy lips. “It is in thy favor, my Lord.
Please, rise and come inside and toast this with me. Let us begin our nightly tales retold over
coven fire for centuries about our supernatural traveling through past, present, and future.” She
giggled again as Lafitte’s face flush towards her, and she added, “but only until our wonderous
thread is dyed and woven, ultimately, the devil loves legends to tell whilst evil plans ferment.”
Lafitte’s cheeks were as vibrant as the thread in the loom, and he massaged his beard, and
fussed with his clothing. “Surely, I am delighted and please, I beg, call me, Jean.”
The maiden led Laffite to the table and filled the wide-open skulls with deep red drink.
“Let us begin with a story from the past, when your dear Toutemine, witnessed a last lady,
escape a human, possessed by a demon that hungered for devilish debauchery and bloodied flesh,
such as we partake tonight…”