There are ghosts roaming around / Don’t you hear that spooky sound? / They’re out to scare / It’s like a nightmare / There are ghosts roaming around / Tonight’s their night / They’re out to fright / There are ghosts roaming around / Where oh where? / I think one’s there! / There are ghosts roaming around — Nick Ozment, 3rd grader, 1980
Okay, that is one of the earliest pieces of writing I have, about thirty-three years ago. As you can see, my themes haven’t changed much. October is my favorite month.
Sooo, throughout October, my Black Gate blog posts are all going to be horror-themed, building up to my favorite holiday (which I spell with an apostrophe), Hallowe’en.
For those readers who have been following my blogging of Arak, Son of Thunder through the first 10 issues of its 50-issue run, fear not! I will be returning to that in November (so you’ll have to wait a month for another installment, coincidentally the typical wait for a new issue of an actual comic).
Ghosts and hauntings are on my mind pretty much year-round (for the record, I consider myself an open-minded skeptic). Nary a month goes by that I don’t watch a horror film or read a horror story or do some prying into the paranormal, and this month in particular such thoughts will be at the forefront of my haunted lobes.
Aside from the decorations that are already popping up all over our house (and I have a wife and kids who all dig Hallowe’en about as much as I do); apart from not being able to turn on the TV without seeing cable channels running various iterations of “31 nights of terror”; on top of all those reminders, I will be hosting a “ghost tour” of a city in Minnesota about 13 evenings in the coming month, with another tour of a nearby town an additional 6 nights. I’ll be guiding guests to alleged haunted sites, visiting paranormal hot spots, and regaling brave folks with local legends, macabre historical events, and ghostly folklore. That third-grader who wrote the poem above would’ve loved it!
So, as we bid farewell to September, here are a few words to serve as introduction to what’s to come…
The days are growing shorter. Night creeps up on us with a chill in the air. Skeletal branches of trees emerge from the falling leaves. Our thoughts turn to — what was that?
A door creaks open in the middle of the night. Most often that creaking door can be explained: a gust of wind…it wasn’t latched…it’s hung in such a way that its weight naturally swings it open. Wind, gravity, nothing more. But what if that door is solid, hung straight, latched, and there was no wind? What then?
Indeed, what then?
Those who dismiss anything paranormal, when confronted with a door that opens with no physical explanation, will resort to the fallback position: Well, then, you just imagined it.
Yes, many times seemingly supernatural experiences can be attributed to human fallibility and imagination: our eyes and ears play tricks on us. But in every single instance?
This time of year we share stories of the sort we do not tell during the day. Night-time history, tales of the grotesque and the macabre, tales especially suited for fall and the coming chill blanket of winter.
Hallowe’en approaches, which, according to ancient beliefs, is a time of the year when the veil or membrane separating our world from the one beyond grows especially thin. Let’s go into that October Country together, shall we, with the likes of Bradbury, Poe, Leiber, Jackson, and King as our guides. Romero and Raimi will provide some suitable theater; all you need to do is bring the popcorn.