Örümcek (for Reuben)

Örümcek lives on an island,
In the Mediterranean Sea.
A spider of monstrous proportions,
Who eats bad little boys for his tea.

There he waits all day long for the time,
When the children have all gone to sleep,
Then he pulls on his eight-legged frog suit,
And wades his way into the deep.

At the galleon wreck near the rocks,
He gathers his octopus friends.
And together they head for the shore,
To the shelf where the creaky pier ends.

And they wait and they watch and they loiter,
While the hubbub quietens down
Then they climb out onto the shingles,
And make their way into the town.

The pavements there offer no problems,
For the over-size eight-legged creepers.
As they look for the best means of entry,
To capture the mischievous sleepers.

They simply examine the doorways,
For suitably large letter slots,
Or drop into unguarded living rooms,
By climbing down old chimney pots.

But while getting in is quite easy,
It’s the egress that causes the stress.
Squeezing children out of small crannies,
Can leave behind tell-tale mess.

Far better says octopoid wisdom,
To devour them while still in their beds,
And prevent the ensuing screaming,
By swiftly consuming their heads.

Then after the gulping ingestion,
They hide there in wait ‘til near dawn.
Safe and snug under the blankets,
While they wait for their food to go down.

But at first hinting of sunlight,
It’s back up the chimney they go,
They squeeze their way out of the letter box,
Or push through an open window.

And at Örümcek’s secretive sign,
They make their way back to the foam,
They drag themselves over the shingles,
And back to their watery home.

At seven the town begins screaming,
“The children are gone from their beds!”
(Some appear to be lying there still,
But admittedly, missing their heads).

Then the grapevine whispers of paedos,
And the internet takes all the blame,
But no one looks out to the ocean,
To the place whence the creatures all came.

And back over the sea on his island,
Örümcek’s waits in his cave,
For the time to feast once again,
On little boys who just won’t behave.

Bucket of blood…

My big idea to replace the already-bloody-annoying phenomenon of people drenching themselves in iced water. How about the ‘Bucket of Blood Challenge’?

I leave the type of blood and the means of extraction to the popular imagination… 

bucket of blood_cropped

(This is the sign from a pub in Cornwall that we visited a few years ago. I ate a steak (bloody) and whiled away the time chatting to the voluble landlord about his haunted cellar).

Is anything scary anymore?

Can you remember the last time that you watched a movie that really scared you, or read a book that made you listen out for creaking sounds in the night?

With certainty I can recall a time in the deep and distant past when I wouldn’t have had to ask this. The most memorable was probably as a child when I read about the Phantom of Croglin Grange. It was in one of those books of ghosts and the supernatural that publishers like Usbourne and Hamlyn did so well back in the 70s and 80s. This was a vampire story in which the beasty in question scratched out a pane of glass in order to open window and gain access to a house. Steeped as I was in vampire lore, even at that young age, I was troubled by the fact that it had managed to get in without being invited. Surely this was against the rules?

This was in the days when the laws and conventions on such creatures were not up for discussion:

  • Vampires could not stand crosses, silver or garlic.
  • Sunlight was fatal to them.
  • They could not cross running water.
  • The best way to kill them was by thrusting a sharpened stake into their heart.
  • During the day, they had to sleep in a coffin lined with soil from their native land.
  • They could not enter a house without being first invited.

These rules have all been thrown out of the window and many vampires in recent fiction now walk around in daylight with almost gay abandon (though I quite like the idea in the Blade comics that guns can fire UV to dispatch them).

But back to my scary experience.

Of course, I chose to read this particular tale in bed, on one of the hottest nights of the long summer holiday, and as a result the bedroom windows had been left open by my parents. Once it was ‘lights out’ I pull the blankets around me and couldn’t take my eyes of the nearest window. I was sure that any slight breeze that disturbed the curtains was going to be followed by a claw-like hand attempting to find purchase on the ledge. It was the longest night of my life, and come the morning light, the relief I felt was ruined by the fact that I found myself lying in a soup of terror-induced sweat.

At breakfast I complained about my lack of sleep due to the heat. Without missing a trick, my mum imposed another of her many (ineffectual) bans on me reading horror books. She knew exactly what had happened and rebuked me for my self-imposed ordeal.

But this was the fun of it: these stories were terrifying to me and I was insatiable. The ban just meant that I’d live in the local library on a Saturday and read books there without actually borrowing them. Undisturbed, I could get through a whole novel without fear parental reprisal.

And now I’m big. I’m an adult (if not a particularly grown-up one) and my passion is unabated. But the problem is that the frights are now so few and far between.

The first Paranormal Activity film did make me feel slightly uneasy in places and a while before that I do remember The Blair Witch Project making the old neck hairs stand to attention. But nothing recently. I watched The Quiet Ones at the weekend and enjoyed it very much. It was a well-made film with an interesting story line. But it didn’t put the wind up me in any way.

Its the same with books. There have been some really enjoyable contributions to the horror genre recently, but none that had that essential fear factor.

Am I just jaded through over-exposure?