Choose the implausible endings of these short stories:
He’ll Come Knocking at Your Door (1986) by Robert R. McCammon. The cash-poor Burgess family moves to Essex, whereupon their luck changes for the better. On their first Halloween night in Essex, Mr. Burgess is called to a town meeting in the man cave of the town’s real estate agent, Mr. Hathaway. All the menfolk are there, and Hathaway is reading from a list of “objects.” Turns out the list of “objects” is what the Devil wants from the menfolk in exchange for all the good luck they’ve been having. Objects like a kitten, a doll, and the first knuckle of the little finger of Burgess’ kid. Left hand. Burgess freaks out and high-tails it outta there. He tries to pack up the wife and kid and skip town, but his truck won’t start. So they hole up in the house until midnight. Meantime, the Devil swoops up on their house and tries all kinds of rackety devilish ways to get in. After midnight, the racket stops, and Hathaway and company have a good laugh on the front porch. Burgess flings open the door. Turns out Hathaway and company are the Devil. The Burgess clan jumps into the truck, which starts this time, and:
- Escape, only to discover the kid’s knuckle is missing when they get to the next town.
- Are immediately incinerated in a Hellish fireball.
- Escape, running the Devil over, and leaving skid marks on his rented Devil costume.
- The truck turns into a monster and eats them.
The correct answer is four. Gives a whole new meaning to the term “monster truck.”
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Eyes (1986) by Charles L. Grant. Ron takes Paulie, his cognitively-challenged kid, out on Halloween night for trick-or-treating. A bunch of teen punks make fun of Paulie, and Ron beats on one of them. Paulie admonishes his dad. The next Halloween, Ron carves a jack-o-lantern for Paulie. But Paulie wants to carve too, so he grabs the knife and stabs away at the jack-o-lantern. In the melee, the jack-o-lantern falls and smashes on the floor. Paulie grabs the carved-out eyes, holds them over his own eyes, and starts marching through the house. In an effort to stop his son, Ron accidentally pushes him, and Paulie trips and impales his eye on a table corner. He’s dead. In the subsequent Halloweens the ghost of Paulie haunts Ron by admonishing – and convincing – him to:
- Beat up on the neighborhood punks.
- Carve jack-o-lanterns, then stab them to pieces like Paulie would.
- Make himself trip and slam his eye into the table corner.
- Participate in a “punkin’ chunkin’ ” contest.
The correct answer is three. Sharing is caring, and what a special father-son memory to share, eh?
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The Nixon Mask (1986) by Whitley Strieber. President Nixon and the First Lady, Pat, host Halloween trick-or-treating for the White House staff kids. Nixon fumbles his sentences and obsesses about the treats – unwrapped Baby Ruths. Pat tries to hold the photo op-in-the-making together by barking orders. She opens the door to reveal the masked kids, who one-by-one recite their lines. Nixon obsesses over the first mask – a Nixon mask. He flubs his lines and asks for the mask. Pat tries to hold the op together by digging her nails into his shoulder. The kid gives him the mask anyway. Nixon continues to flub his lines. One of the kids tells him to put on the mask, and during the course of the night, he does. He becomes his alter ego, and no longer fumbles and flubs. Pat freaks out and:
- Rips off her own mask, leaving her face stripped of skin.
- The mask painfully fuses to Nixon’s face.
- Stabs the mask-giving kid in the face with her nails.
- Forces Nixon to “ride her bare-back” on the Presidential bed.
The correct answer is two. So I guess a real mask is better than a fake mask. Or is that vice-versa?
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The Samhain Feis (1986) by Peter Tremayne. Katy decides to leave Mario, her philandering husband, and leaves the USA with their kid, Mike. They stay at a remote cottage in Ireland over the Samhain Feis / Halloween holiday. Mike makes an “imaginary friend” named Seán Rua. On Halloween day, Kathy catches a glimpse of this playmate with Mike, and Mike asks if he can play outside with Rua that night. Katy says no. That night, she falls asleep and “dreams” Rua comes to collect Mike while she is paralyzed. The next morning, Mike is found safe in his bed, and they return to the USA. Mario shows up, and:
- Mike transforms into Rua, and rips out Mario’s throat with his sharp, pointy teeth.
- He confesses he has a son named Seán Rua, and it turns out to be Mike’s “imaginary friend.”
- Confesses to following them to Ireland, and staging the imaginary friend out of spite.
- Transforms into Rua and shreds Katy and Mike, cartoon Tasmanian Devil-style.
The correct answer is one. At least the kid didn’t turn out like his father.
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Trickster (1986) by Steve Rasnic Tem. Alex’s brother Greg is a practical joker. Ever since childhood, his jokes have been getting more gruesome and more violent. Finally, Greg pranks the wrong people, and is beaten to death. Or maybe this is just another one of Greg’s psychopathic pranks. Years after the alleged death, Alex sees Greg at the city’s outdoor Halloween costume party. Or does he? The chase begins. Alex pursues Greg, then Greg pursues Alex, back and forth until they meet in an abandoned room off a dark alley. Greg sits on the bed, and:
- Suddenly Alex finds himself on the bed, having traded bodies with Greg.
- Apologizes to Alex before committing suicide.
- Turns into a snake and slithers away.
- Alex attacks and kills him in a fit of rage.
The correct answer is one. Don’t ever underestimate a psychopath.