Friday, September 23, 2011

Library Lines Redux "The Witching Hour" October 2004

The Witching Hour by M. Riley

Children love a good scare! I remember spending nights with my friend Lee, barricaded behind beanbags and pillows awaiting whatever ghoul might wander through the bedroom door. As our imagination took over, the likelihood that such a ghoul would appear began to increase tenfold with each passing minute.

Crouched behind our makeshift fort and stocked with every projectile one could find in a nine-year-old's room, we would concoct elaborate attack and escape schemes well into the morning hours. Only sleep would save us from our moment of dread, but in the witching hour sleep was certainly our worst enemy. Sleep would mean horrible things even beyond our wildest imaginings. Our nine-year-old minds did the best they could to imagine the worst. The more outlandish the creature breaking through the bedroom window, the more heroic our deeds would seem after we slew this beast and saved the neighborhood from annihilation.

We would spend hours rigging the room to our ghostbuster satisfaction. When Ghoul A opens the front door, this string tied from knob to knob will pull open the top drawer of this dresser knocking over Lee's soccer trophy, which will then fall onto this skateboard causing it to roll under the ghouls foot thus tripping it to the floor, allowing time for the heroes to begin attack and escape mode. Ghoul B, coming through the window, had a similar fate involving hairspray and various kitchen chemicals.

I still swear that on at least two occasions, I saw this horrible beast peering in between the curtains of Lee's bedroom window. It was scaled and slimy green, with yellow fangs all crooked and long. It had reptilian eyes just like Lee's favorite pet gecko, only one hundred times as large. I'm sure Lee saw it as well, but by the time we could get his mom into the room the creature had already moved into the garage or on top of the roof. Soon the adults would be back in bed and we would be left alone to follow the noise of its tail scraping along the walls of this curst danger zone.

In the morning, Lee's mom would make her way under the booby traps and over the baseball bats and cans of hairspray. She would begin to wake up the two groggy-headed heroes with bribes of breakfast and a trip to the park. As the sun rose higher in the afternoon sky, the night of battling monsters would begin to fade as if all a bad, but exciting, dream. Yet even still, I remember those midnight hours as being as real as most everything I have encountered in all the days since. Maybe Lee and I were just plain lucky. Or maybe our hours of diligent planning impressed upon this fiend the need to spook elsewhere. Maybe it is still out there slithering to a bedroom window near you!

The Friendswood Public Library has a slew of haunted books and movies to keep the hairs raised and the heart pounding during this Halloween season. For the children, we have the ever-popular Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series by Alvin Schwartz or the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, amongst dozens more Halloween books. For the grown-ups, try Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, or Neil Gaiman, or choose from nearly 200 horror dvds. 

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