's 2017 Horror Write-off:

HOWLoween Liquidators

Submitted by Thomas F. Johnson (email)

So, a Halloween Store opened near my house today. In the middle of January.

It was in this big brick building, a few miles away, used to hold a Sports Ect or a Party City or something like that, just this big fucking stone box of a building that'd been laying under a "For Sale" sign for a couple of months now.

Of course, I thought I might as well go in. Not like I got much better to do, flat broke and unemployed in this economy, in a town like this. Of course, there wasn't much of a sign, no fanfare or anything. Just a shitty brick thing/edifice and a shitty vinyl banner reading "HOWLOween Liquidators!"

The lighting in the place looked like it was somebody's murder basement, the walls were covered in stains, and I'm pretty sure there were more real cobwebs than fake ones. It looked a lot smaller on the inside than it should, like the walls had been put up to cover up something behind the walls of hockey masked latex spiders and solar powered witch figurines swallowing down a clown whole, But eh, I didn't wanna pry. Though it probably wouldn't have helped if I had.

The staff looked like they were drugged. Not on drugs, mind you, but like somebody'd injected them with something. Their eyes were nearly shut; baggy and bloodshot, and they were covered in bruises. They never spoke to me when I loitered to take snapshots of the giant inflatable skeleton riding a vampire, hell they never spoke when I bought that novelty Blacula pen out of guilt.

Of course, you wouldn't believe who never shut up when I kept walking through the place. There were all these TV screens around, but they all showed the same thing, footage of this one puppet; with some stock rubber mask on a cheap bedsheet cloak with gloved people-hands talking about the "great deals" they had in the most obnoxious voice possible, with the worst fucking puns accompanied by the worst fucking Halloween MIDI shit.

Like, I'll quote him verbatim: "These prices are a scream! You won't grind better deals anyscare else, even if you chop around! At HOWLoween Liquidators, we have merchandise everybone has been dying to get! Won't you join us?"

And this went on and on, it never seemed to repeat any footage, and still it was fucking insufferable. Of course, I was mostly too distracted by the weird shit around the place to scare. I mean care goddammit, care.

Like, that merch I mentioned above? That was the normal shit. Like, it was always Halloween-type, but   fucked up. Like, animatronics of zombie Richard Nixon eating not-zombie Jimmy Carter alive fucked up. Like a giant inflatable version of those arcade fortune telling machines but with the fortune teller being some fucked up furry donkey with a working clock in one of its eyes and also giant tits for some reason. Like a spaghetti pot shaped like a dead body straight out of a Cannibal Corpse album; in exactly much detail as that implies. Like a zombie dinosaur candle with red pumpkins impaled on its giant thagomizer, which wasn't that fucked up, but was pretty cool so I thought I might mention it.

It all looked so garish and ugly that you'd think the stuff'd crumble in your hand, but it was weirdly durable in fact. Of course, I got caught off guard when I heard that voice shout "Normies are such easy prey" right into my fucking ear while I was looking at a novelty toy Human Centipede candy dispenser.

I looked behind me. It was just a fucking animatronic of the puppet that popped out at you. As it retracted, I stepped forward again. As it popped back out, its next line was "Nine Eleven was an inscythejob, KEK!" and then promptly fell apart clattering onto the floor.

As if on fucking cue I heard the tape say "At HOWLoween Liquidators, we have a policy rescarding damaged bads: You offed it you sought it!" I looked up at the screen, just as it cut to a static screen of a dingy room, even Then, there was… something; sorta like a person but not under a black sheet dragging a heavy sack down a hallway. There was no music, just the sounds of dragging. And the sounds of somebody screaming and swearing in the background. In a familiar, screeching voice. And then the thing dropped the sack, and it sounded wet, and grinding. Like a pig carcass going through a woodchipper

And then it switched back to the puppet, in his normal position, saying "-And that's the true screaming of Christmas!" Welp, I was certainly never going to this place again. Especially after I saw another sack behind the counter as the drugged up chick made vague motions towards the register. It was moving.

And doubly especially after I left, it looked like there was a lot more animatronics out in the parking lot for display. All of them positioned right next to the door, in black sheets and weird masks.

But, you ain't here for that. You're here for what I saw, right? The fact that I ended up waking up that night on the couch, at my bud's, everyone else fast asleep and me up all night at 3 AM on furry photoshop porno websites (Long story, not what you think) when I hear a noise, on the street.

Of course, I get up to see it, curiosity gets the better of me too fuckin much after all. And, what I saw was a parade. At this hour of the night. With a bunch of those sheeted goons carryin bags. Just like the one in the video. Some of the sheets and rubbery hands were cut open and you could see the wires and pistons and gears. And they were following a very familiar leader.

Their leader, that motherfucking puppet, he was being puppeteered by nothing. No, not by some invisible shit, I mean nothing, just this big horrible mass of pure; unadulterated nothing, I got no clue how to explain it. Except for the fact that at one moment, he just stopped and looked at me. Just stared at me, right into my face. And then, he kept on walking.

Contrary to what you might think, I did go to sleep that night, after more swigs of my malt liquor stash. It wasn't a good sleep that night though. Even less so when I woke up, and saw a VHS tape on the floor, thrown through the window. I asked my pal letting me crash there, patience of a saint I tell ya, and he confirmed he hadn't heard a thing. Though he wanted me to clean up the glass and, like, fair enough.

He did let me use his VHS player, and what I saw on that tape was… a factory. A huge factory, shot on shitteo in snuff-camera-esque glory. Tens of thousands of gallons of meat were being piped into these horrible rusty nightmare machines and turned into… things. I'd call them monsters, but that's not enough words to describe the sheer variety, the sheer amount of the shit I saw of them. Shit from Japanese hentai fuckers to zombie martians to dragons made of worms and tonguemeat, it was enough to fill a thousand horror movies, made, produced, and zipped up in body bags and freeze-dried for god knows what purpose.

Now and then I saw another, independent monster; or a couple or three, dragging in some poor shcmuck where the machines were slowing down, the whir of the machine revving up as the screaming died down, and the monster laughter got louder and louder.

And then, it cut to the puppet. "If I were boo, which I could be, I'd tell you to slay out of this, or else you could have a bat time." Then he started laughing and laughing and laughing until I shut the tape off.

That's why I tell you this. I've seen the disappearances on the news. They say it's "mysterious," but you're clever people, you can put the dots together. I'm not afraid to die.

After all, I ain't got much to live for. And he can't kill me twice. Can he?

Oh yes I can, shank you very crutch