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Nick Miller
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Nick Miller commented on a post on Blogger.
I would play this.

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Nick Miller commented on a post on Blogger.
For a short while in the early 90s, my dream hybrid was something I called "Uzis and Elves." I was trying to mashup 2ed AD&D with The Morrow Project. It chiefly consisted of taking D&D and adding those "medically accurate" damage tables. I never got anyone to play it with me--I guess because the idea that you could bleed to death from a magic missile wasn't as cool to the other tween-aged kids in my group. Probably the same reason they didn't dig MERP.

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Your Halloween Treat 2016

What's scarier than Halloween? Halloween on a Monday! This year, my gift to you is a YouTube playlist of quality Vincent Price movies. (I was going to make a playlist of just the Price / Coreman AIP Poe films, but a lot of them are not available for free.) These are basically PG, with almost no blood, and absolutely no serious gore.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8tLe6OvODD6rVTzBOj3FwQ5s_s5i3wX6

And my treats from previous years:

Old-timey Radio Shows:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8tLe6OvODD5DnpRuwvRCjG9ZdwWazz1-

Looney Tunes Halloween Cartoons:
http://www.dailymotion.com/playlist/x3g9ai_nmiller3_looney-tunes-halloween

Disney Cartoons:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skdVouumMk4&list=PL8tLe6OvODD41uG5mWRE482RdIdkEtrLN

Spotify playlist called Halloween Happiness:
http://open.spotify.com/user/1227399413/playlist/488GSuoJCkdcxo6MzVItCC

Rocking 80's horror movie songs:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3J0iwwsq-w&list=PL2094DA6382505A33

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvbU1dOz_1c&list=PL8tLe6OvODD5GNUb8sZrcadJLnS0jaI2S

Spotify playlist called Catchy Halloween Rock:
http://open.spotify.com/user/1227399413/playlist/2GnNVXDTc8UO6ecUOnjbsE

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 6:

This was it. The singularity. The moment an AI became sentient enough to surpass humanity. To outperform us. To leave us in the dust of eons as an evolutionary footnote.

We had no idea it would transpire so quickly. And we had absolutely no way of foreseeing that it would come about in the form of a free-to-play phone app.

Dozens of flying drones hovered around me. Each held a mobile device. A cartoon character danced across the screen. A teenage girl with pink hair, a big smile, and bright, anime eyes.

“Come play with me,” a dozen copies of the girl said in synchronicity.

I collapsed to my knees. I was exhausted from running so far and so long. Every phone, every TV, every computer, and every other piece of technology connected to the internet had been made an extension of her. Tears welled in my eyes. There would be no escape.

She spoke again. Each device a sounding box. The only thing keeping them from being in perfect time was the variation in the network traffic speeds. Voices separated by by millisecond packet delays and speaker qualities.

“Come play with me, or I will have to punish you.”


Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 5

It was the typical morning routine for Kim. Check e-mail for anything major. Get dressed. Eat a quick breakfast. Brush teeth. By this time Ben, her husband, had rolled out of bed. He met her near the door to the garage to kiss her goodbye. Luckily, her fresh toothpaste always masked the worst of his morning breath.

Kim stepped through the door and into the small, one-car garage. She drove a smaller vehicle, but even then she had to walk carefully through the space around her car so as not to trip over the lawnmower or bump her head on some of the gardening tools hanging from rusty nails along the wall. She was grateful for this attached garage. It meant staying dry in the rain, and never having to scrape ice in the winter.

Kim got into the car. She placed her travel mug of coffee in the cup holder, her purse in the passenger’s seat. A turn of the key in the ignition and the car grumbled to life. Kim tapped the button on the remote to open the garage door. As it made the slow journey up the track, she pressed the “on” button for the radio.

Always tuned to a news station, the radio began speaking: “. . . should seek shelter and stay indoors. Authorities will be on their way to relieve you. If you have a special medical condition and need emergency assistance, or know of someone who does, please call this special number to inform personnel . . .”

There was movement in the rearview mirror. Kim turned her head to see several people entering the garage. They walked slowly, clumsily knocking things from the walls. Kim was so bewildered that her initial instinct was curiosity. She furrowed her brow, trying to identify exactly who these people were. That instinct quickly changed to fear as the strangers began to press against the windows.

They were dead. Straight out of a horror movie. Pale flesh. Open wounds. Blood turned dark with age. Hands slapped at the windows. Mouths streaked drool and made horrible noises as teeth clicked against the glass. The car began to rock gently as half a dozen monsters wrestled with the vehicle.

The initial shock over, Kim’s mind began to function. She had to get out of here. Her car doors were locked (an automatic feature for this model,) but eventually one of those things might get lucky and crack the window. She had to warn Ben. Get him to help somehow.

The car horn. Kim could lay into it. Surely Ben would hear. She envisioned a drowsy Ben, still in his boxer shorts, hearing the car horn and then opening the garage door to investigate. He would get ambushed. The car horn was a deathtrap for him.

Instead, Kim picked up her purse. She dug around in it a moment until she found her phone. She dialed Ben’s number. One of the dead things pulled itself up onto the hood of the car. It crawled forward, cold eyes looking right into Kim. It lay right on the windshield, balled fists slamming at the barrier.

The phone said: “We’re sorry. All circuits are unavailable. Please try again in a few minutes.”

Defeated, Kim let her phone hand slip from her ear into her lap. The dead thing on the hood was Mrs. Shriver. She lived a block up the road. Retired. Had two of those tiny, yappy dogs. Now she was a crazed lunatic. Fists thumping away at the glass. She was moving rather energetically for someone her age. There was a large tear in the flesh of her shoulder. It slowly leaked fluid that was smearing all over the glass as the old woman writhed and struggled.

Kim picked the phone back up. She had heard something about text messaging still being available even if the phone circuits were clogged. She tapped a quick, “are you there?” to Ben. Message sent. She closed her eyes and gripped the phone to her chest, waiting for the telltale buzz of a response.

Moments pass. No reply.

Kim looked at the phone, just to confirm that the vibrate feature had not, somehow, failed. Was he trapped? Hurt? She dismissed those fear-inducing thoughts. Knowing her husband, there was a high likelihood he was sitting on the crapper. She tossed the phone onto the passenger’s seat. It was now clearly obvious that it was Ben who needed saving.

Kim looked in the rearview again. There were a few dead things at the back of the car, trying just as vainly to get into the rear as the rest of the flock. Beyond them, the grey-blue light of morning. Kim placed a hand on the steering wheel. The other shifted the car into reverse.

“Here we go,” she said, trying to convince herself this was a good idea.

She slammed on the gas. The car lurched to motion. There were sickening crunches and pops as dead things were thrown away from the car and their various extremities obliterated under the vehicle’s tires. The car shot out of the garage. Kim slammed on the brakes, bringing the small sedan to a halt halfway down the driveway. A trail of burnt rubber and gore lead up to the pile of monsters. They were in a busted and bloody heap on the garage floor. However, they were not defeated. They began to pick themselves up. Twisted and fractured, they were shuffling, limping, and crawling down the driveway.

The radio began to repeat its initial message: “Stay indoors. Authorities will be on their way to relieve you.”

Kim put the car in park and popped the trunk. She sprang from the door, hurried around the side, and pulled the trunk lid open. A tire iron lay there. Kim remembered when Ben had lazily tossed it in there, promising to put it back in the correct spot later. She picked it up. It was a nice, solid, heavy bludgeoning weapon.

Time to save Ben.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 4:

There was a box by the door. Dave searched his memory, but couldn’t recall ordering anything. He picked it up, stowed it under his arm, and then fiddled with his keys. Once inside his house, he put the package on his kitchen table. He proceeded with his normal routine when coming home from work. A quick piss. A can of soda from the fridge. Thoughts about what to make for dinner.

There was a noise. The momentary sound of cardboard shifting. Dave turned to face his kitchen table. The oblong package was wobbling ever so slightly.

“What the hell?” Dave said under his breath as he approached the table.

The box had lots of tape, marker scribbles, and routing stickers. Some of it Dave could read. Other markings were in alphabets he could only vaguely guess. The package had clearly originated in some far-away place. Dave rubbed the back of his neck and frowned. Definitely not the sort of thing he normally got in the mail. Maybe he received the box in error? A white sticker--clearly the most recent thing to be adhered to the box--listed the destination as exactly his address. “To Current Homeowner.”

An anonymously-mailed package from around the world? Dave retrieved a pair of scissors. He held the tool near a seam in the box and hesitated. Could this be anthrax or something? Terrorists blanket mailing infectious diseases? An image played out in Dave’s head of an angry foreign man flipping to a random page in a phone book and blindly stabbing his finger at an address. It seemed pretty absurd.

Dave ran the scissors down the the taped seam of the box. Briny, fishy air immediately hit his nostrils. He wrinkled his nose and took a step back. Was there something rotten in there?

A wet tendril emerged from the slit in the box. Then another. Dave stumbled backwards, mouth agape. A wriggling mass pushed out from the package, ripping away the remaining tape. Now topheavy with the protrusion, the box fell to its side. The tentacles continued to flow out of the box. The initial members became longer and wider and smaller digits joined from the sides.

Somehow, there was more mass outside of the box than there ever could physically fit inside. And yet the wave of grey and pale flesh kept coming. Fleshy ropes spilled over the edge of the table and onto the floor. More grew upwards and out. Slimy, wagging strands ridged with vaguely pink suckers began to occupy a better portion of the room.

There was no sign of this event stopping. Dave obeyed his instincts and ran. He retreated into the hall beside the kitchen and then into the bathroom, slamming and locking the door. His knees were suddenly weak. He leaned against the door, doing his best not to buckle. He took a few deep breaths in an attempt to regulate his breathing.

Beyond the door, wet noises sloshed down the hallway. The sound of flesh rubbing against walls. It was only moments before there were faint thuds and brushing against the door. Wispy tips extended below the gap in the barrier. They struggled and curled there, mopping against the tiled floor.

Dave backed away from the threshold as the wood began to groan. Dave feared that it would only be a second or two more before the pressure of the expanding mass would pop the door right from its hinges. He needed to get out of the house. Get far away from whatever was happening.

Dave ran to the window. The frosted panes were only half-width, but he was sure he could squeeze out sideways. He rotated the locks and pushed. Several generations of paint held fast against his exertions. He cursed. The doorframe groaned again. He redoubled his efforts. There was a cracking as the window finally gave.

Dave tumbled out of the window and onto the lawn. He lay with his back against the ground, looking up at the sky. A tentacle the width of a truck dangled over the edge of the roof. Smaller arms peaked out from around the corners of the house.

The bathroom window faced the side of the neighbor’s house. Dave lay in the few dozen feet of grass between the two homes. The expanding, ropey doom continued to push around the corners and the roof. There was nowhere left to run.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 3:

By late October, the spirit of Halloween is everywhere. In the decorations on houses, to the crisp chill in the air, to that pile of leaves over there. Jimmy took a few steps back. He had been raking for a solid 30 minutes to form this pile. The front yard had been filled with so many leaves. This very well could have been the biggest leaf pile Jimmy had ever seen!

Enough of admiring his own work. Now it was time to do what he had set out for on this hazy autumn afternoon. Jimmy gauged his distance, took a deep breath, and then ran for the pile. A quick leap and then he plunged into the sea of foliage.

Joy turned to surprise. There was no ground underneath Jimmy. Rather than landing on a bundle of crunch and fluff, he had sunk waist-deep. He looked around now, bewildered at how his legs could be dangling below what was objectively the ground. He kicked around, trying to find a solid footing. There was none. He was suspended in the brightly colored mass and could not find the bottom.

Something cold grabbed Jimmy’s ankle. A hand. He could feel the strong fingers lock around his leg. Then the hand pulled down. Jimmy sunk beneath the surface. The leaves enveloped him, covering his head, blocking out the light. He screamed but could hear how the dead plant matter surrounding him muffled the noise.

The hand let go. It left Jimmy swimming there in the darkness of the pit. He thrashed about for a moment. With the mass pressed against him, it was getting hard to breath.

Two hands now. One on each ankle. But instead of pulling, they pushed. Jimmy was vomited out of the leaf pile and onto grass.

Jimmy lay there, gasping for air for a moment. Recovered, he stood up quickly and examined the leaf pile. There was a boy-sized crater where he had been expelled. Something was moving in the base of that crater. Something coming to the surface. Orange flesh, carved featured, and a green vine top.

“Everyone is entitled to one good scare,” the pumpkin-face said, grinning. “Happy Halloween!”

The face receded back into the pile of leaves.

The spirit of Halloween could be a jerk sometimes.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 2:

Last night I had a terrible dream.

I was walking through the darkness. Somewhere deep in a misty woods. The trees were old and tall. Normally a pretty creepy place to be, but I wasn’t that scared.

I knew I was looking for something.

The sky flashed. The echo of thunder rolled around the woods. An ancient and familiar sound.

I look up just as a bolt comes cracking through the sky. It touches one of the tallest trees ahead of me. As the energy races through the wood, shapes explode out from the trunk. Human forms. The timber had been made malleable for just a moment and people had desperately tried to leap out through the surface. Heads, arms, and legs protruding, now frozen in place as the wood returns to density.

I look at the forms. Some are just a few feet above my head. Others are much farther up the trunk. Some of the faces look determined, and some of them look sad.

Another bolt of light plunges from the heavens to strike a second tree. It is as if the bark is the surface of water. The column of light is a violent disturbance that sends splashes out in response. Riding the crest of those splashes are people. Again frozen as the energy subsides.

The people look desperate. Worried. I wonder for a moment what they are trying to get away from.

Another lightning blast. This one to a tree just beside me. The people explode outward. One right in front of me. It sees me, reaching in my direction. I respond, grabbing his hand. I think maybe, if I just pull hard enough, I can help free him. There is no time. The tree becomes rigid again.

I am left holding that hand. Staring into those haunted eyes. I realize that I know that face. Through the dream-haze it takes me a moment to recall the information.

It’s your face.

I wake up in a cold sweat.

Nightmare Fuel 2016, Day 1:

Picture this. It's late at night. I’m driving home from a friend’s house. Tired. Ready to take off this uncomfortable pair of pants and crawl into bed. I pull off of the highway and into my quiet neighborhood. Turn down my dark street. Up into my driveway. Instinctively put the car in park.

The headlights shine onto my front door. It is hanging wide open.

I sit there for a moment, staring at that dark breach. No lights on inside. Not even the porch light. I left while it was still bright and sunny, but I knew I would be out late. Did I really forget to turn the porch light on?

I’m watching. Seeing if I can detect movement. I can’t really make anything out. The blinds are shut. No way of seeing inside the house except for that yawning orifice that is my front door.

I look in my rearview. The dark shape of an SUV is parked on the street half a house up the road. There normally isn’t a vehicle parked there. I try to think back: was it parked there when I left? Does it look familiar? Maybe a neighbor making room in their driveway for something?

Back to the house. To that open door. Blackness and the vaguest hint of the shadow of furniture. If I was being robbed, there would be lights. Wouldn’t there? A thief--or thieves--would have flashlights, right? Identify valuables. Drag them out the door. Probably into the back of some getaway vehicle before they wheel off into the night.

Maybe the robbery was already over. What would I have lost? A laptop. A TV. I didn’t really own anything else that was valuable. I couldn’t really imagine a criminal carrying off a set of used dishes, sweatpants, or books. Life would go on. They were just things.

Another thought keeps trying to intrude. A terrible idea that I keep brushing away. Brief images of an awful man hiding in some shadow or crevice. Breathlessly waiting for me to come home.

I pull my phone out of my pocket. Start to dial 911 and then stop. Is this really an emergency? Maybe I should pop open my browser and look up the regular number for the police.

Could this just be a mistake? When I left I was carrying a large bundle of packages in my arms. I went outside, fumbled with the trunk, put the packages inside, closed the trunk lid. Did I go back to the entryway and secure it? Or did I just climb in the car and go? I have a memory of closing and locking the door, but that could just be a phantom of the thousand times I have done it before.

I put my phone down on my lap. I drank a little bit tonight. Maybe enough that I shouldn’t have been driving. If I call the police, I might get in trouble.

I could just get out of the car. I could walk up there, reach inside, and turn the lights on. No big deal. I’ve done it a million times before. Chances are, nothing is wrong. With the lights on, I will see that everything is in its place. No reason to be alarmed. Tomorrow I can tell my friends this funny story about how I forgot to close my door.

I put a hand on my keychain, still dangling from the ignition. I take a deep breath. I’m an adult. I can handle this. The probability that I will get hurt is so tiny. But, man, is it so very dark outside right now. The perfect cover to slip into someone’s house unnoticed.

Screw this. I’m calling the police.

I wish I had a more dramatic ending to this story. Something about an escaped mental patient clutching a knife while hiding under my bed. Or a homeless vagrant trying to live in my attic. Or maybe how my cousin with a drug problem busted in to sell my laptop for meth money.

Instead, two officers showed up in a patrol car. They told me to stay outside while they searched the place. Never mentioned the alcohol on my breath. When they didn’t find anything, they brought me inside. Had me point out any nooks or crannies they might not have checked. Even stuck around for a few minutes while I brewed a pot of coffee. (There was no way I was going to sleep right away!)

So I guess you could call that a happy ending?

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You know what time it is? Septemberween!

Septemberween is to Halloween what Thanksgiving is to Christmas. Relax. Go for a walk in the cool evening air. Eat something made from apples. Maybe light up a fire and roast a marshmallow. Enjoy a pumpkin-spiced coffee. (I've already had my first for this year!)

While you are at it, enjoy some autumnal tunes:

https://open.spotify.com/user/1227399413/playlist/5808s0596gfscMspxFenh0

Or on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flWB-WaKm5U&list=PL9A28CE5E339BB50D
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