Ricky Raven Meets a Horror Writer

This is a sequel to my poem Ricky Raven, which was in turn a sequel to Edgar Allan Poe’s similarly titled poem.

Once upon a midnight dreary, I did ponder, weak and weary,
On a story I had written a few minutes before,
For you see, I am a writer, a thriller, an exciter,
I stay up at night to write stories of horror,
Yes, I am a writer of horror,
Tales of terror and nothing more.

I am known far and wide, as one who’s terrified,
Many a reader with books filled with blood and gore,
The tales I like telling, they have people yelling,
And they are best-selling; they want more and more and more.
Yes, my readers, they want more,
Of scary stuff they want more.

Well, once I wrote a story, and it wasn’t gory,
In fact, a humour story came from my keyboard,
It featured Frankenstein, drinking beer and wine,
And having a good time with goofy jokes galore,
‘This,’ said I, ‘was an accident, I’m sure,
An accident and nothing more.’

Yet when I tried to write, it all came out too light,
Jokes and puns that’d make one laugh and roar,
‘But I’m supposed to be scary, not jolly and merry,
I write of monsters that are hairy and bring forth lots of gore,’
Said I to myself, ‘Don’t write fun any more.
Frightful tales and nothing more.’

I tried writing something creepy, though I felt very sleepy,
I knew I had to force myself to write terrifying lore,
While I tried to keep from napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my front door.
‘It’s the raven that says Nevermore!
‘Poe’s Raven that says Nevermore!’

No longer tired, I thought I’d be inspired,
Of that ghastly raven known to bring horror,
What came to my haven, was indeed a raven,
But not what I was craving, for he stood smiling at my door,
‘Hello,’ said he at my front door,
Hello, he said, not Nevermore.

‘I know you’re having trouble, so I came on the double,
I am here to help you, so please don’t shut the door,
You wrote stories cold and chilly, that gave people the willies,
Now you write things that are silly and you throw them on the floor,
Well, take those stories off of the floor,
You should shun the humour world no more.

‘Now here’s something funny: a story of a mummy,
And it is a satire rather than a tale of horror,
And you should really know, it was made by E.A. Poe,
You also made a hoax, in a newspaper, I’m sure,
He wrote funny stories I am sure,
He wrote those things and much much more.

‘Don’t be ashamed, it won’t ruin your name,
If you write humour along with tales of horror,
It’s a good thing to see, that you have variety,
And writing your stories, in just one genre is a bore,
The same old thing is just a bore,
Don’t try one genre, try some more.’

So I took his advice, and I must admit it nice,
For me to tackle something other than horror,
New genres can be tricky, but with the help of Ricky,
It won’t be so sticky, though his singing I abhor,
Ricky, could you sing no more?
Please, please, sing never more!

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The Demon in the Supermarket

patty

I know of a demon,
A creature from Hell,
She works at the supermarket,
Stocking the shelves,

She has horns and purple skin,
A forked tail and no hair,
But no-one seems to notice,
No-one seems to care.

She just goes and does her job,
Causes no fear or death,
And when she goes on her break,
She just has a cigarette.

On one of her breaks, I spoke to her,
For I wanted to know more,
How she ended up on Earth,
Working in a store.

She said she once lived in Hell,
And was supposed to torture sinners,
But she spent too much time on her phone,
And cooking microwave dinners,

So for not doing her job,
And wasting many hours,
She was banished from Hell to Earth,
Losing all her powers.

She said she likes being on Earth,
She likes her job and flat,
But she said she wishes,
She could have her powers back.

No longer can she transform,
Breathe fire or possess,
Unless she can make someone evil,
And make them cause distress.

I made friends with this demon,
(Her name’s Patty, by the way),
She’ll get her powers back,
I’ll do evil deeds today,

I’ll terrify the entire world,
Drive them out of their minds,
But I’ll do it all for Patty,
I’ll be cruel to be kind.

 

Cinderpizza

This story features Lisa the Pizza Woman, who appeared in my earlier stories Pizza Woman and Night of the Pumpkin Woman, as well as other characters from previous stories.

I woke up at 2am. It’s an incessant thing with me; often I’ll have a dream about something that’ll wake me up, and what inspired my dream will refuse to leave my head, so I’ll stay awake for hours even when I have work later.

I had a dream about fairy tales, and I woke up thinking about my failed auditions.

Christmas was approaching, and with it, panto season. Earlier on this year, I attended several pantomime auditions, and failed every one. Why not audition for a role, I thought. I spend a lot of my life playing a part. When I go out, I wear a mask. I pretend to be a normal person, so why not pretend to be Snow White or Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella instead of Lisa the mutant with a pizza for a head and a body made of mozzarella.

I told myself to go back to bed. I told myself I had work the next day, and despite the fact people at the office still try to nibble on me, pay is pay. Still I stayed awake, however. Still I found myself picking up a certain book I keep near my bed.

A book full of photos and mementos. On a page is stapled an old book of coupons. One of those coupons has been ripped out, and that coupon I owe my very existence to.

Mum heard a lot of good things about “The World’s Best Pizza Place”, so after a hard day of work, she thought the perfect pizza would calm her down. It did, but not in the way she thought.

They brought her a pizza that offered more than passata and pepperoni. A pizza that could talk and think, a pizza that could comfort her and have conversations with her and make her feel more confident. The perfect pizza. The world’s best pizza.

Dad.

Yes, they married, they started a family. In my book, there’s a photo of my birth. A little baby with a cheese body and a pizza slice for a head, but my mother’s expression is the smile of seeing a new life.

There’s a photo of my graduation, me in mortar board and gown. University was hell, for I am the staple food of students, but in this photo is not a weird cheese creature, but a woman with a future.

The latest photo in my book is a selfie. Me on the sofa with my latest, and currently only, friend, The Pumpkin Woman. Actually, her name is Natalie. She told me that. A creature that could only be summoned when Halloween was in the air, so I summoned her several times throughout September and October.

There’s still Halloween stuff in shops, in the clearance aisles. Perhaps, I thought, I could summon her again.

The picture I was drawn to, however, was my seventh birthday. My trip to Fairy Tale Land, where I went in a big blue dress and plastic tiara, sitting before my birthday cake – I know no living cakes or people with cakes for heads – with Mum and Dad and the other princesses of that park.

I wondered if that was why I went and auditioned for all those pantomimes. That birthday I felt like a princess, and I wanted to feel like a princess again.

I rubbed my face, disturbing the pepperoni slices on it, and walked to my bedroom mirror. There have been times in my life when I wished I could just collapse in my bed and weep, but I can’t cry. My eyes are mushrooms and my pupils are tiny pepperoni slices. I can see, but I can’t make tears fall.

So whenever I feel sad, I sing.

When I was a child, I saw a Christmas cartoon about a creature that melted – a possible fate for me – and since I couldn’t cry at it, I sang the song from it. I sang that song again in front of my bedroom mirror, quietly so as not to wake the neighbours, in hopes that would calm me enough that I could get back to sleep.

I didn’t feel any more sleepy. In fact, I felt more awake than ever.

Light filled my bedroom.

I turned around and there she was; a ghostly woman in a long dress, her head topped with a tiara not unlike the one I wore on my seventh birthday. A woman who glided towards me, holding out her hand. I froze.

‘You have a beautiful singing voice,’ said the woman, ‘and it’s a voice that deserves to be heard.’

I said nothing.

‘Hello, Lisa,’ the woman continued, ‘I’m your fairy godmother, and I know what you want.’

I remained silent and still, attempting to process this occurrence. This was something I had dreamed about for decades, that after all the suffering, all the mockery, all the drooling and licking of lips, someone would come along and end it with magic. They’d deliver punishment upon all those people who tried to munch on me, perhaps have rats chew on them to see how they’d like it. They’d give me an audience to watch me perform and sing.

They’d make me beautiful. They’d make me like everyone else, a being of flesh and blood instead of mozzarella and passata.

This being before me, I felt she could do all that. She had teleported into my bedroom, after all, and she teleported me and her into a familiar place.

Fairy Tale Land. Abandoned for years, with the shoe house and the Three Beard’s cottage covered in graffiti. And there was I, standing in the middle of this abandoned place in my pyjamas. I never went out without a mask or an umbrella or a coat or a cooling vest like sports mascots wear. It was a cool night, so there was little chance of me melting, yet there was still the chance it could rain. I wrapped my arms around myself.

‘Don’t be scared,’ said the Fairy Godmother, a goblet in her hands, ‘I know you’re tired of being a pizza creature. Drink this, and you’ll have a better body. One not made of cheese, one lovely and attractive.’

Something rattled in my brain telling me to run, yet my mushroom eyes were drawn to the goblet. Years of anguish and anxiety, I thought, could be ended with a single sip of that liquid. I imagined guzzling it down and then, where once stood Lisa the Pizza Woman, there would be a beautiful woman who could never melt or be reduced to nothing by mice. I could sunbathe without worrying about melting, I could take a shower without coming apart, I could cry.

‘Come on, drink.’

I still stared at the goblet before me.

‘Come on.’

I reached out for it, only for it to be knocked away by a certain hand.

‘No!’ Natalie now stood before me. ‘It’s a trick.’

That’s why I hesitated in drinking it. It sounded too good to be true.

‘Stay out of this!’ hissed the fairy godmother, right before Natalie punched her head off. Yes, the godmother’s head came right off, revealing wires and circuits.

Natalie pointed to a display based on The Wizard of Oz. Behind the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Lion sat a little yellow possum, working some controls and speaking into a microphone.

‘Fairy Godmothers can be robots,’ she said into the microphone, ‘Don’t think me less legitimate…’ She looked up at us and snarled. ‘How dare you betray me,’ she said to Natalie, ‘I summoned you to do my bidding!’

‘Well, sometimes I don’t want to do bidding,’ retorted Natalie, ‘You were going to turn my friend into chocolate and feed her to…’

‘You got to admit,’ said the possum, ‘that would have been pretty funny. She hoping that she finally has a chance for a normal life, only to…’

It happened involuntarily. I stretched my arm towards the possum and it wrapped around her. As she bore her teeth, I tightened my grip, only for her to disappear and reappear on top of the Scarecrow. ‘Don’t do this!’ the possum snarled, ‘I am all-powerful!’

‘Yeah, yeah, sure,’ smirked Natalie, ‘hence why you needed that bucket of bolts there.’

At that, the possum whistled, and from behind a cottage, there came a pink moose charging towards us. ‘Get them,’ growled the possum.

Again, it happened involuntarily. I lifted my arm at the moose, and I actually shot some cheese into his eyes. After I did that, I grabbed Natalie and we both dove out of the way as he ran and then crashed into a wall. Now that I knew that I could do that, I shot another blob of cheese, this time at the possum. She flew backwards into her machinery before she and the moose disappeared.

‘Lisa!’ Natalie and I embraced each other in a hug. ‘Glad you didn’t drink any of that stuff,’ she added, gesturing towards the bubbling liquid on the ground.

‘That would have really turned me into chocolate?’ I said, shaking my head, ‘I almost did drink that, you know.’

‘Because you thought it would make you “beautiful”? It would make you “normal?”’

‘Yeah.’

‘Well, why would you want to be normal? Did you see yourself out there?’

Twenty-six years I’ve been on this earth, and it was only then I learned about my powers. I tested them out again, stretching my arms and legs, throwing another glob of cheese, with Natalie applauding me all the while.

‘You could be a superhero, you know,’ said Natalie, ‘The Amazing Pizza Woman! Speaking of which, the Lemon Possum has a prisoner we really should be freeing.’

Natalie was brought here to torture a prisoner. I was brought here to be turned into chocolate and force-fed to that prisoner who didn’t like chocolate. That prisoner was a kangaroo in a business suit; Natalie claimed his daughter summoned her at a party once.

‘Thank you,’ said Karl, for that was his name, as we undid his ropes and removed his gag, ‘any enemy of the Lemon Possum is a friend of mine.’ As we helped him to his feet, I explained what happened, and found myself talking about why I had woken up that night, my thoughts and my story.

‘Oh,’ Karl said as we left where he was being kept – Red Riding Hood’s house, ‘I’ve been in pantomimes myself, you know. I could probably get you a role in one, with what I have in my wallet…’

‘No, thank you,’ I said, ‘but you can listen to me sing, if you want.’

‘Very well then,’ replied Karl, and he and Natalie sat on the ground as I sang the song I sung before I came here. Normally, I sung when I was sad, but this was a song of relief, a song of happiness that served to emphasise the fact I was here with my best friend and I accepted who I was.

‘Very lovely,’ said Karl, before handing me a card, ‘you do remind me of my daughter; she had a beautiful singing voice too. You can call me when you need me.’ He gestured at the card before Natalie waved her arm and made him disappear.

‘Could you get me back too?’ I asked Natalie, ‘I have work tomorrow, and I think it’s about to rain.’

In an instant, I was back in my bedroom, with Natalie beside me. ‘You can call me when you need me too, you know,’ she said before we embraced again, giving a warmth that soothed me instead of melting me. When we let go, Natalie smiled at me and said, ‘And you are beautiful.’

A Duck, a Snake and a Costume Shop

This is a special Halloween story set in the same world as my book The Adventures of a Duck  and features the eponymous duck and her snake boyfriend.


Harry the snake opened the door wearing a black and red cape with a big fake moustache. ‘Ah, Lucy,’ he said in his best Bela Lugosi impression, ‘will you be my vampire bride?’

It was a greeting for his girlfriend, Anne the duck, who watched his little one-snake-show with a smirk. ‘Very funny,’ she said, ‘but I think of myself as more a Mina.’

‘Oh,’ sighed Harry, taking off his moustache, ‘but then I’d have to be Jonathan Harker, won’t I?’

‘No,’ replied Anne, ‘Mina and Dracula would work well together. Though I wonder with your moustache, would they think you were Snidely Whiplash and me your victim?’

‘Dracula had a moustache!’

‘Most people don’t know that though.’

Anne took another look at Harry’s costume and smiled as she remembered what it signified. The other day, her housemate, fellow duck Melissa, had not only invited Anne to her Halloween party, but said ‘Ask Harry if he wants to come along too.’ Despite him being certain Melissa’s friends insulted him behind his back, Harry accepted, so this party was special. It was not only Anne’s first Halloween party ever, it would be the first Halloween party Anne and Harry attended as a couple. Thus, to mark this special milestone, they both decided they would have couple’s costumes.

‘You know,’ said Harry as he spun around, ‘with this cape, I could probably pull off Erik the Phantom, and you can be Christine…’

‘Does it have to be Gothic literature though?’

‘Well,’ replied Harry, stroking his chin with his tail and dropping his moustache, ‘it’s just…we’re celebrating being a couple, and we became a couple because of our tastes in books…’

‘Yeah,’ said Anne, ‘but it does feel a bit, well, pretentious.’

‘Oh, come on. Everyone knows Dracula and Phantom. I’m not going as Lord Ruthven or anything.’

Anne picked up Harry’s fake moustache. ‘I know. I think I’ve got a black dress somewhere. With that and this moustache, we could be Gomez and Morticia.’

‘Can you speak French?’ Harry said, ‘Yeah, that’s a possibility. Hey, I think I saw a costume shop nearby. Maybe we could go look there for some ideas.’

So out the two went, and as they did, Anne felt a little quiver of nostalgia, as she remembered her Mum buying her a big pointed hat and broomstick to go along with her binbag robe. As they walked down the street, Harry said, ‘You know, if we buy costumes there, they really have to be good ones.’

‘Well,’ replied Anne, ‘nothing too expensive. I don’t think we’ll be using them for much else.’

‘Oh, I can think of a time when we can use costumes,’ said Harry with a sly expression on his face.

‘And what would that…’ Anne said before realisation hit her. ‘Harry!’

Harry used that Bela Lugosi voice again as he said, ‘Come into my coffin…’

‘Let’s just focus on the party,’ said Anne as they approached the shop. “Funny Bunny Costumes”, it was called, and the storefront window boasted a pseudo-graveyard presided over by two mannequins: a Grim Reaper and a witch. Harry looked the display over and suggested he and Anne dress as characters from A Christmas Carol; ‘Well, the Christmas stuff is in shops already,’ he said. Anne ignored that joke and entered the shop.

The shop was called “Funny Bunny” and sure enough, a rabbit in a polo shirt sat at the counter. He didn’t exactly seem funny, looking at Anne with a bored expression while drumming his fingers, and according to his name tag, his name wasn’t Funny Bunny, but Larry.

Harry slithered in, and Larry actually smiled. ‘Hello,’ said Harry, which made Anne, who still had trouble talking to store staff, want to sigh with relief. ‘We’re looking for…’

‘…for costumes,’ said the rabbit with a wide grin, ‘So you can pretend, is that right?’

‘Well,’ replied Harry, ‘I wouldn’t say…’

‘Because the costumes in this store,’ Larry continued, gesturing to the wares behind him, ‘don’t let you pretend to be someone else, they show you who you really are!’

Harry turned to Anne and whispered, ‘This is my kind of guy.’

Larry pointed to a poster cellotaped onto the side of the counter, which showed none other than himself on stage. “Confessions of a Haberdasher”. ‘That’s what I did before I opened this shop. A one-rabbit show where I had a different name but it was the real me up there.’

‘I wouldn’t mind being an actor,’ said Harry, ‘I have all of Banquo’s lines memorised…’

‘But you’re an actor already, aren’t you?’ From behind the counter, Larry pulled out a pair of devil horns. ‘You, snake, I can sense a lot of darkness within you. You wear a mask, you pretend to be good, but there is a lot of evil in your soul. With this…’ He shook the horns. ‘…you can reveal who you truly are.’

He threw the horns at Harry. They landed on his head.

They became part of his head.

Harry’s scales changed from green to crimson. His fangs elongated and what looked like an arrow-head spring onto his tail. Harry roared in pain, breathing fire as he did so.

Anne could only stand and shudder.

‘And you, duck, you wear a mask too. You pretend to be braver than you actually are, but you don’t have guts.’

Before Anne could run away, Larry threw a skull mask at Anne. All of a sudden, it felt like everything within her had been scooped out, leaving only a cold hollowness. Her skin, her feathers, her entrails – they had all vanished. She felt her gut twist, even though she no longer had it.

So where there once stood a duck and a snake, there was a skeleton and a demon. Even Larry had changed: he now bore blazing red eyes, and his teeth were now like those of a shark, with saliva dribbling down his mouth.

‘Now you are what you truly are!’

Harry turned to Anne, swallowing as he did so. ‘Well, Anne, I guess our costumes being pretentious is the least of our problems now.’ After he said that, he belched another torrent of flame, though it singed nothing.

Though Anne lost her insides, she could still speak. She approached Larry, staring him straight in the eye, and said, ‘Why are you doing this?’

‘I said! To show that we all wear masks, we all pretend…’

‘You really think,’ said Anne, ‘that makes you deep? You really think…you really think you’re the first person to say that?’

‘What?’

‘You’re just trying to look smart, aren’t you? I’ve heard this stuff before; I’m a university student. “We all wear masks” has been used about a hundred times in the poetry classes…’

Harry joined in. ‘Did anyone come to your play?’

Larry roared, raising his arms into the air, then the entire costume shop was enveloped in red light.

The light subsided. Anne was again flesh and blood and feathers. Harry lost his horns. They stood on the streets, with “Funny Bunny” replaced with a closed-down fish and chip shop.

‘So,’ said Harry to Anne, ‘I think I have a jacket somewhere that’ll make me look like Gomez, eh, “Tish”?’

The Haunted Farm

You may think me foolish,
You may think me a berk,
But I went to a place,
Where monstrous things lurked,

I took a deep breath,
And tried to stay calm,
As I went and entered,
The Haunted Farm.

Where the tractor roars,
And comes to life,
And comes after you,
With teeth sharp as knives.

And the fields are filled,
With vicious beasts that say, ‘Moo’,
And poultry-geists float up,
And loudly go ‘Boo’,

And the farmer’s a mad scientist,
And you can tell he’s smart,
Because he made his farmhands,
Out of corpse’s parts,

You may think me foolish,
You may think me a nutter,
But I went to the Haunted Farm,
Because I like their butter.

A Zombie on Halloween

Halloween is a night,
When you dress up and seek treats,
It’s also said to be,
When the undead walk the streets,

It’s like in the stories,
It’s like in the movies,
The dead rise from their graves,
And you see tonnes of zombies,

Well, here’s something I’m going,
To share with you,
Those legends are only,
Partly true.

I was walking back home,
From a party,
And I saw a single,
Solitary zombie.

It had large eyes,
And an exposed brain,
And when it saw me,
It howled in pain,

It stumbled towards me,
But I froze in place,
I couldn’t help but,
Stare at its face.

It didn’t want to kill me,
Or eat my flesh or bones,
It was a zombie kitty cat,
Who just wanted a home.

So I adopted the zombie cat,
And I think he’s wonderful,
Just, please don’t ask me,
What I put in his foodbowl.

A Pumpkin Complains Through Haiku

When you carve my face,
Please don’t give me angry eyes,
I’m no pessimist.

When you give me eyes,
I want to have pupils too,
Not just triangles.

I want big sharp fangs,
Not just a few chunky teeth,
Put round here and there.

Yes, they are scary,
But please don’t carve into me,
A politician.

If you don’t carve me,
And just put stickers on me,
I’d rather be pie.