Guess the implausible endings of these short stories:
Miss Mack (1986) by Michael McDowell. Mr. Hill, the town’s elementary school principal, wants to ask the petite Miss Faulk, a 3rd grade teacher, to marry him. But Miss Faulk is more interested in the huge Miss Mack, another 3rd grade teacher. Miss Faulk and Miss Mack are best buddies, and spend every weekend together in Miss Mack’s cabin in the forest by the lake. They play rummy, go fishing, and talk into the night. Mr. Hill is jealous of the odd couple. So on Halloween weekend, he orders Miss Faulk to host the school Halloween party. Miss Mack must drive to her cabin alone for the last warm weekend of the season. But that’s OK, Miss Faulk will join her at the cabin the next day. But Mr. Hill has other plans. That evening he drives to the forest road leading to the cabin and casts some magic spells. Miss Mack goes to bed in her cabin, and after a night’s sleep, wakes up. But something is definitely amiss in the forest, and amiss in Miss Mack. Turns out the spells Mr. Hill cast were:
- An “anti-girl-girl” spell and a “pro-girl-boy” spell.
- A “Mack truck” spell and a “buried in a hill” spell.
- An “isolation” spell and a “stop time” spell.
- A “disappearing fish” spell and an “appearing bears” spell.
The correct answer is three. Miss Mack will be forever alone in the forest on Halloween night. At least she can play Solitaire with the cards, once her eyes get accustomed to the perpetual darkness.
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Hollow Eyes (1986) by Guy N. Smith. Julie loves her slovenly, lazy, free-loading boyfriend Hutch. He’s nothing like her proper, hard-working, responsible father Lester. And Lester hates the lecherous Jabba the Hut who screws Julie every chance he gets. His hate is a raging bonfire. When Lester catches Hutch screwing Julie in her bed on Halloween evening, he snaps, and Hutch and Julie run out of the house. Now Lester must find and kill Hutch. He doesn’t want any Hutchite grandheathens. So Lester pockets his gun and ventures into town, through the Halloween throng of costumed partiers. That’s odd – a jack-o-lantern suspended from a tree. Only it’s not a jack-o-lantern. It’s Julie’s severed head. His hate stocked to inferno-level, he makes his way toward the towering Halloween bonfire. He sees a bloated body at the top of the tower. It’s Hutch, his fat melting and dripping and sizzling in the flames. Hutch rolls down to the base of the bonfire and says:
- “The spell is complete. I win and you lose. Now Julie and I will be together forever, Mr. Miles!”
- “I didn’t kill her, Mr. Miles. God’s truth, I didn’t. It was them! They’ll kill you just as they killed me.”
- “Now nobody else can ever screw your daughter, Mr. Miles. You can thank me in Hell!”
- “What can I say, Mr. Miles? Your daughter likes it rough. She’s a wild one!”
The correct answer is two. Maybe the troll wasn’t so bad after all.
* * * * *
The Halloween House (1986) by Alan Ryan. On Halloween, Dale has a schoolboy crush on Colleen, and Colleen has a schoolgirl crush on Dale. To mark the occasion, they decide to visit an abandoned, supposedly haunted house in the neighborhood. The door to the creepy house is unlocked, and they venture inside. It’s damp and musty, and too dark already to see much of anything, so they leave. That night, at the town bonfire party, they pick up a couple of friends and decide to go back to the haunted house – a double date. The boys set up a giant candle ahead of time to light the interior of the house. The four explorers gather inside and look around. But this time, it’s different. Moister. Smellier. And by the light of the giant candle, they see:
- The rotting bodies of the state’s missing children of the last year.
- A huge human-mushroom hybrid farm in the kitchen, spilling into the dining room.
- They have wandered into the cellar, and are face-to-face with “Pumpkinhead,” the town’s Halloween legend.
- They are trapped in a huge jack-o-lantern.
The correct answer is four. Sounds kinda nice, actually.
* * * * *
The Three Faces of the Night (1986) by Craig Shaw Gardner. Colin hates his so-called friends. They’re always trying to get him into trouble. And on Halloween night, they plan to snare Colin in a game of trouble and blame. But Creep Crawford, the neighborhood’s grumpy geezer, has taken a liking to Colin. Crawford gives Colin an apple and puts his hand on his shoulder. A chill runs through him. Later that night, Colin goes trick-or-treating as a vampire. Passing Creep Crawford’s house, a hand emerges from the hedge and pulls him through to the other side. It’s one of his faux friends. Then a scream from the house – a trickster accidentally stabbed himself trying to trick Crawford. Colin hears Crawford call his name. So he enters the house and finds Crawford naked in a tub of blood and water. He emerges from the tub and offers his slit, bleeding wrists to Colin. Many Halloweens later, Colin has a new love interest – Priestess Lenore. She seduces him, and he becomes her:
- King of the Wood. Colin commands the trees to do his bidding.
- Creep Crawford replacement. Lenore has a thing for grumpy geezers.
- Blood-letting slave. Priestesses get thirsty too.
- House caretaker and hedge-trimmer at Creep Crawford’s old place. And the lineage continues.
The correct answer is one. At least he has better friends now.