Here’s another old story about the delightful Mrs. Friedly!
If you like these stories, now would be a great time to order my new collection of horror tales, A PASSAGE IN BLACK AND OTHER STORIES. Everybody loves spooky stories on Halloween!
“Another year,” Mrs. Friedly piped, “another Halloween Festival!”
The Elk Ridge Community Center was decorated with paper jack o’lanterns, dancing skeletons, and dozens of orange and black streamers. Children in costume—goblins and witches, vampires and ghouls, princesses and ninjas—scurried around the large chamber, and their laughter and squeals formed a constant din.
Mrs. Friedly clucked her tongue as she watched the children. Maybe she was old-fashioned, but some of the costumes just didn’t seem very… Halloweeny… to her. Ghouls and ghosts and monsters—those were fine. But the princesses and cowboys and monkeys just didn’t seem to fit the spirit of the occasion. Halloween, as the elderly woman saw it, was supposed to be a spooky night.
What on earth, she thought, is a ninja anyway?
The festivities were in full swing. Music swelled as a group of older children (and more than a few parents) took part in a cake walk. Screams and giggles rose from the make-shift haunted house the local Industrial Arts club was putting on behind the curtain on the auditorium stage. Groups of kids were playing Pass the Pumpkin and Candy Corn Catch. All around the perimeter of the massive chamber were small booths featuring all sorts of attractions and games. Fortune tellers, face painting, apple bobbing—there was something for everyone. There was even a kissing booth, sponsored by the Elk Ridge High School cheerleaders, and the line of teenage boys waiting for a smooch was impressive.
A pudgy little boy approached Mrs. Friedly’s booth.
“What’s this all about?” he asked.
Mrs. Friedly looked the boy over in disappointment. His only attempt to get into the spirit of Halloween was to wear a t-shirt that read, “This IS my costume!” Still, she forced a sweet smile.
“This is the fish pond.” She motioned to the curtain wall behind her. The curtain was decorated with dozens of swimming fish, many with sharp, fearsome-looking teeth. “You cast a line over the curtain and fish for a prize.”
“What kind of prize?”
Mrs. Friedly eyed the boys round belly and smiled. “Usually something good to eat!”
“I’ll give it a try,” the boy said.
Mrs. Friedly giggled happily. “Oh, goody!”
The boy looked around the booth. His brow furrowed. “Where are the fishing poles?”
Just then, he noticed something large moving behind the curtain. It was the shape and size of a gorilla, but the head was misshapen and covered in what might have been wriggling snakes. The grotesque figure made awful grunting sounds as it approached.
“W-what’s that?” the boy asked.
He had his answer soon enough. The shadowy figure moved behind the curtain. A fishing line dropped down next to Mrs. Friedly. At the end of the line was a large, rusty hook. Mrs. Friedly grabbed the hook. Without a second’s hesitation, she flicked her wrist and drove the hook through the flesh of the boy’s mouth.
The boy screeched and trembled, pulled at the hook and flailed.
Mrs. Friedly looked around. No one else seemed to notice.
The elderly woman gave the fishing line two quick tugs. The line was quickly retracted, and the little boy was hoisted up. He vanished over the top of the curtain. The last Mrs. Friedly saw of him was his kicking legs flopping over the edge.
Mrs. Friedly smiled and hummed to herself as she waited for her next customer. Within a few minutes, she saw a princess walking her way, and she felt a little rush of Halloween excitement.
A few years back, I started writing these short little Halloween tales featuring the devilish Mrs. Friedly. I figured it’s time to post them again. I’ll be sharing them over the next few days, and I’m working on some new ones. The first new Mrs. Friedly story is now posted on my Patreon page for my supporters, and I’ll share another new one on this page soon. If you like these stories, now would be a great time to order my new collection of horror tales, A PASSAGE IN BLACK AND OTHER STORIES. Everybody loves spooky stories on Halloween!
By Cullen Bunn
Joshua hated Halloween. He once loved costumes and jack o’lanterns and candy. But now he dreaded the holiday.
Outside, trick-or-treaters giggled and climbed Mrs. Friedly’s porch steps. The shuddering knock sent shivers down Joshua’s spine. He squeezed his eyes shut.
The door creaked open. Cool air swept the foyer.
Guttural voices cried, “Trick or treat!”.
“Aren’t you fearsome!” Mrs. Friedly beamed at the anxious little monsters. “I’ve something extra special for you.”
Joshua squirmed as she lifted him, but the ropes around his hands and feet held tight. The gag muffled his screams. Grinning sweetly, Mrs. Friedly plopped him into one of the yawning treat bags.
“Oh, dear!” She pursed her lips. “I’m afraid I’m all out of treats. I don’t have enough for each of you.”
A disappointed groan rose from the beasties.
“Oh, I know!” The kindly-looking woman snapped her fingers and ducked into the house. She reappeared minutes later.
She dropped shiny treats into the other bags.
Wide-eyed, Joshua watched over the edge of the bag.
“Here you go!” Mrs. Friedly said. “Remember to share.”
Thanking the old woman, the hideously-masked trick-or-treaters skipped down the sidewalk, Joshua in one bag, butcher knives and meat cleavers in the others.
My collection of short stories–A PASSAGE IN BLACK AND OTHER STORIES–will be available tomorrow! It’s a great collection of stories to help you celebrate the most spooky time of the year (any time of the year, actually). The first review of the book was posted on horror-writers.com, and the reviewer had some nice things to say!
“No matter your brand of horror, there are stories that you will enjoy.”
“…this was the absolute best work I have read since launching the column.”
“This is a must own for any real horror fan.”
“Rating: 5 out of 5 (actually, can I give a 6 out of 5?)”
Check out the entire review here: http://www.horror-writers.com/papercuts-a-passage-in-black/ and make sure to order the book tomorrow!
The first collected volume of my horror series REGRESSION will be hitting the stands soon! You should pre-order it now!
From the official press release:
Celebrated horror writer Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, The Damned), artist Danny Luckert (Haunted), and colorist Marie Enger (Pistolwhip, 2 Sisters) will release REGRESSION, VOL. 1: WAY DOWN DEEP this November from Image Comics. This trade paperback will collect issues #1-5 of the mind-bending horror series.
Plagued by ghastly waking nightmares, Adrian reluctantly agrees to past-life regression hypnotherapy. As his consciousness is cast back through time, Adrian witnesses a scene of horrific debauchery and diabolism. Waking, he is more unsettled than before, and with good reason—something has followed him back. Adrian descends into a world of occult conspiracy, mystery, reincarnation, and insanity from which there is no escape.
“My father was a professional hypnotist,” said Bunn. “While his on-stage performances centered around humor, he conducted past life regressions for select groups. I witnessed several of these regressions, and each one was surreal and eerie in its own way. Subjects described different times and places in vivid detail. They spoke with unusual accents. They spoke languages they had never (to our knowledge) studied. The most bizarre occurrences were the regressions which resulted in a completely silent subject.
“To me, it seemed that either they were a genuine ‘new soul,’ or whatever they saw in their past was too horrific to so much as utter,” continued Bunn. “This story is designed to conjure that same sense of unease and horror.”
REGRESSION, VOL. 1: WAY DOWN DEEP (Diamond code: MAR178446, ISBN: 978-1-5343-0337-9) hits comic book stores Wednesday, November 15th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, October 9th.
Select praise for REGRESSION:
“Bunn, Luckert and Enger have created a real page-turner: frightening, engrossing, and clever. A must-read for horror fans.” —Steve Niles (30 Days of Night)
“REGRESSION is creepy, disgusting, and awesome. Just like Cullen.” —Jeff Lemire (ROYAL CITY, A.D.: AFTER DEATH, DESCENDER)
“This may well be the best new horror series out there.” —Nerdist “REGRESSION will get under your skin. It will shake you to your core. This is a damn scary comic.” —Horror Talk
“The team on this book is perfect, and this is consistently one of the best horror comics on the rack.” —Comicosity
“REGRESSION is certainly for older, more seasoned horror fans who appreciate the ‘body horror’ of Cronenberg’s films and comics such as Alan Moore’s Providence which challenge, horrify, disgust, and entice the reader all at once. Because of this combination, it is one of the best horror comics to debut in years.” —Horror News Network –