Here’s that scary story Terribleminds suggested—the first 1000 words of a 3000-word tale. I’ve started by introducing a character that really does scare me: a classic victim of Prozac Dementia. (Notice how I’ve placed him at a good healthy geographical distance from myself!) Next week some other Terrible Mind will have to tell us how he gets into the party, since he is not and has never been a student at this college, and what he does there, while I’ll have to figure out what someone else’s scary character does to make that character’s situation even scarier than it already is. During the week after next these stories will reach their gruesome ends…
Blake studied the effect of the hoodie in his bathroom mirrors, then cut out the back of the hood. It’d take three regular hoods to give his costume hood the right shape. It’d take three or four shirts to piece out the sweatpants to make the long robe. Blake didn’t know how to make the seams neater, but he liked the effect of a robe patched together with messy seams, dangling ends of thread, a tattered, even decayed effect. If that wasn’t the way people expected the Grim Reaper to look, it would be by next November.
He didn’t know how long he’d planned to celebrate this Halloween as the Grim Reaper. He thought it started when he’d been tortured in front of the Introduction to Household Wiring class.
Blake had reported that incident to Dr. Klein right away. The next time he saw Klein he’d asked whether his psychiatrist had followed up on his report, and Klein had told him that, according to City College records, there was no course called Introduction to Household Wiring, nor had Blake ever been enrolled in a class at City College. Then why, Blake said, did he continue to have pain, stiffness, cramps, and scars—couldn’t Dr. Klein see the scars?—where Professor Porrua had attached the wires? Klein admitted she could see scars on the arm Blake had put through the window the night the police removed him from his parents’ home, but that was all. Klein was a slimebag.
Blake remembered how Porrua—apparently known by some other name to the college staff, who insisted there was no Professor Porrua—had jabbed the pointed wires into his flesh and lighted him up like a lamp. Everyone jeered. The girl with the grayish-greenish fish eyes, the one who’d also told him that the name “Blake” came from an Anglo-Saxon word that meant either to bleach or to blacken, to discolor—that girl had been sitting in the front row and had laughed with her mouth wide open, food stuck between her teeth, gurgling like a drainpipe. The guy his mother used to think he should have wanted for a buddy, or at least wanted to be like, Martin Hewlett, had come up front and spat in his face as the bell rang and the others left the room.
Blake hated them one and all, especially that whole phalanx of goons who looked just like clones of Martin Hewlett, blond, skinny, tan, and broad-shouldered, with big wide mouths full of perfect teeth. Then again he also hated blacks, on principle, because he’d read how they hated whites; Blake hated whites too, despite being white. He also hated the girls for crowding into all the programs, even the Electricians’ Assistants programs, and raising the academic standards. He also hated all Chinese people for being Chinese, all other Asian people for being the next thing to Chinese, and all Mexican people for looking so much like the Chinese. That was why he really liked what that slimy fish-eyed girl had said, once he thought about it. Removing the color! Taking out any and all kinds of color! That’d be him all right. At the City College Halloween costume party he’d take out all the different colors. Everybody there, or as many of them as possible.
He giggled as he pieced a long triangular section of one of his hoodies in between the slit-open legs of the sweatpants, because he’d just remembered that people who made clothes, like his slimy crafty sister who was married in Armonk, called that kind of patch a “gore.” He wondered how much of the gore he planned to leave on the floors of City College would get onto the gores of his Grim Reaper robe.
Blake had heard people speak of the Grim Reaper carrying a sickle, but that, he knew, was not the correct word. What the Grim Reaper carried was a scythe. Blake had looked around, failed to find a real scythe at a price he could afford, and decided to go with a silly little plastic version. In the end the distraction factor was what he liked about his toy scythe. Anyone looking at the harmless little strip of hollow gray plastic that could never be mistaken for a real blade would be unlikely to notice what made the handle of Blake’s scythe so special.
A rotary saw with teeth an inch deep, its motor camouflaged by the layers of duct tape that held it below the little hollow plastic handle of the scythe, was what made the scythe so special. After Blake sawed up the slimebags of City College, politely withdrew to the men’s room, and sawed off his own head, everyone in the city would remember Blake and his scythe for a long, long time.
As he sewed and glued the edges of the hood to the grinning skull mask Blake remembered all the long-buried memories that he’d started to recall only after being tortured in Introduction to Household Wiring. His mother’s husband, who was not his real father at all, had sexually abused him for years before passing him around at a party. He’d completely blanked out the years he’d lived with some sort of relatives—who his mother really irritated him by denying were relatives, or even people she knew—in Minnesota, where he’d become a good speed skater before the fall and the broken knee. (Dr. Klein said neither of his knees had ever been broken, the lying slimebag. Why did his knees hurt the way they did if he hadn’t overstrained the one on which he’d hobbled around while the other one was broken?) He’d thought he’d been depressed because of his grades and test scores, but in fact, he now remembered, his grades and test scores had dropped after the broken knee, and having to quit the speed skating program and move back to this city, which he hated.
He was going to leave his mark on the city, though…