Cecil McGee and Turner “Bubba” Teague are the lovable cursed redneck duo of Terry M. West’s popular Southern-Fried Hex Series. Cecil & Bubba were introduced in their first tale, Cecil & Bubba meet a Succubus. In this story, the two slackers accidentally ran over the dog of Rosalita, a local gypsy, while they were leaving the parking lot of a local bar in Lake Worth, Texas. Rosalita cursed them on the spot: “You shall be plagued by the strange and evil until the end of your days!”
Shortly after that, Cecil & Bubba accepted a job on Halloween Eve assisting a paranormal researcher who was investigating a local haunted house. And during that investigation, the boys discovered that Rosalita’s curse was very real!
In their second tale, Cecil & Bubba meet the Thang, the duo have survived their first encounter and now it is Halloween night. But before long, Cecil & Bubba run afoul of an even greater supernatural threat.
The Cecil and Bubba series is a fun mix of horror, comedy and science fiction and any fan knows that there is actually a third Cecil & Bubba tale: Cecil & Bubba meet Santa! Written last year around Christmas, West continues his tradition of sharing this twisted Christmas poem for the holidays. So, without further ado, here we go, y’all:
Cecil & Bubba were hunting while drunk.
Both were trying to shake that old holiday funk.
It was a dark, cold and windy night.
It was Christmas Eve, if I remember it right.
With their rifles, Cecil & Bubba made haste.
The venison meat they could already taste.
But both were wasted and out of shape.
The feisty buck made a great, quick escape.
Cecil screamed and pitched a fit,
and he quickly blamed Bubba for all of it.
“You’re stupid and you’re slow and you’re big as a house!
Your knuckles drag and you breathe through your mouth!
I should have done this without you here!
I am out of chew and we got no more beer!”
Cecil turned and angrily stumbled away.
But Bubba wasn’t gonna let him have the last say.
With a devious grin, Bubba shot in the air.
And it gave Cecil a huge drunken scare.
It started a fight and they intended to brawl.
But then something above them gave a panicked call.
They looked up into the cold night sky.
And such a strange sight caught their eye.
Fighting the reins of a plummeting sleigh
Santa was shot, dying and slipping away.
The magical sleigh and its frightened deer crashed.
Into the trees and the earth and the lake they splashed.
Cecil & Bubba looked though the smoke and strewn toys.
Creeping slowly and sadly through the debris were the boys.
There were pieces everywhere.
Bloody limbs of all the reindeer.
Pieces of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen.
Only Rudolph’s head was left,
his nose was still glowing in all of this mess.
Santa was dead, the steering stabbed through his heart.
Bubba wanted to cry, realizing his part.
“It’s the curse,” Bubba said.
Cecil filled up with dread.
It was the curse for accidentally killing the pet
of an angry old gypsy they’d drunkenly met.
Cecil toughened and gruffly spoke,
and tried not to cough with all of the smoke:
“Well, we could cry and crawl away.
But tomorrow is another damned day.
I say we just leave this like we weren’t here.
And I bet these magic beasts taste better than deer.”
Bubba took his cooler and collected the meat.
He took plenty enough for both men to eat.
Bubba frowned as he worked and said, “What a tragedy, man.”
But he was getting hungry and he agreed with Cecil’s plan.
Cecil spotted a few collectibles and tucked them away.
He knew he could make a killing that night on eBay.
So they took what they could, and left in their truck.
And they chalked it all up to the curse and their luck.
But deep in the woods, Santa’s corpse gave a moan.
And he issued a curse to the boys of his own.
He was immortal and would heal and he had a herd of reindeer.
And he would pay a special visit to Cecil and Bubba next year!
There was the bad list and the good list, and the judgment that came.
But Santa’s shit list was not a place where you wanted your name…
The lot was hedged with thick shrubs and squat bushes. Where there were gaps, there was fence. Nice, tall ,plank fence. Miller stared up at the moon with wet eyes and spoke quietly to no one. He picked up the spade and knelt beside the garden. A small rectangle of tilled earth adjacent to the unused garage. He gouged and turned the soil and watched the dislodged worms as they squirmed and wriggled back into hiding. He swiveled and took one handle of the black cargo bag that sat on the grass. He unzipped it and took out his newest trophy.
The pale green silk of the handkerchief had darkened from the blood that soaked it. He looked at the heart in the moonlight; a fist of glistening black muscle. It had held all of her love. He gently placed it in the furrow and covered it with dirt. He picked up the small marker he had made, a ruler-sized sliver of wood with a name written upon it in flowing cursive. This one was Emily. She had actually kissed him. Her lips dry and trembling, tasting of fruit flavored wax. He picked up the watering can and sprinkled its contents over the tiny mound, as well as the six other marked mounds and their name stakes…
Mary, the one who had held his hand.
Thelma, the tall girl with the birthmark over her ear. She talked to him for hours, but never listened.
Carrie, plain and sweet but so full of self loathing. Sara, the dark haired dirty girl, her eager hands were her downfall.
Alice, she wanted money and fame and was gone as soon as it was made clear Miller could supply neither.
Patricia, the quiet girl. She smiled and listened and did all the right things, but in the end, she was not the one.
His knees popped as he stood and looked at the garden and the markers. It was like a miniature cemetery. He went back into the house to get something to eat and to prepare for his evening.
Loneliness is a lot like a too big room or ill fitting clothes. These girls. These girls all been loved by him but at some point sought to leave him. They all broke his heart. He knew it was not their fault. The heart is a seed. It can only grow as much as the hull will allow and if the seed is damaged or sick, then it will grow monstrous and wrong. If you love something set it free…
He decided to free the seeds and plant anew. He stood at the kitchen window and watched the moonlight soak his garden. And as he chewed, he saw the ripples in the soil. Small rolling waves. He saw the fingers as they sprouted from the earth and reached towards the sky. He saw the arms extend. They were growing. He saw the arms and heads break through the earth, the moonlight painted dusty breasts silver. It was working. My God, it was working!
He sat at the table and straightened his tie. Seven heart-shaped boxes of candy and seven single roses waited on the wooden surface. He heard muffled groans and the sound of bare feet on patio tile. The cloying smell of earth and something deeper was coming through the window screen. He licked his fingers, smoothed down his hair, and wished he had a mint.
“One more piece please, Mrs. Greene?” Jeffie Danks said with a smile she couldn’t say “no” to.
“You know, Jeffie, it’s only one per trick-or-treater.”
Jeffie’s shoulders slumped. “But it’s not for me.”
Mrs. Greene kept the bowl filled with Snickers bars and Milky Ways between them.
“It’s for Robbie.”
Hearing Jeffie’s brother’s name sent an invisible knife into her pancreas. “Robbie?” she asked, concerned.
“Yes. I can’t talk about it,” the ten year old replied. “It’s a secret. But everything is okay.”
“Okay…” Mrs. Greene said, uncertainty creeping into her voice.
“So can I?”
“Can you what?”
“Have one more piece?” he asked.
She watched a childish grin halve his face.
“Sure, sweetheart.” Holding the bucket of candy out, Mrs. Greene looked beyond Jeffie, into the dark street where no cars passed and no other masked wanderers traveled in search of delicious treats. The night seemed to change in that instant, growing darker and more dangerous. “You be careful out there tonight. Tell your mother to call me when you’re home. Okay?”
Jeffie agreed, then took off, swinging his pillow sack full of collected goodies over his shoulder. He sprinted down the sidewalk, toward the path behind the Woodard’s yard that led to the mouth of the forest. The moon, full and bright, provided the luminance he needed to get where he was going. Jeffie ran faster than he ever thought he could, and stopped when the path finished twisting and turning and deposited him within the clearing where the giant pumpkin tree awaited.
The tree, somewhat of a roadside attraction amongst city folk, stood twenty feet tall. Pumpkins hung from the branches like dead suns within a dark, cancerous universe, void of positive energy. Jeffie ran to the base of the tree and looked down into the dark cavity filled with bags of candy. The tree had absorbed a few of them, accepting earlier offerings, but Jeffie’s most recent gifts remained; still, this was good news. The kids from the neighborhood told Jeffie it couldn’t be done, that the tree was nothing but an abnormality, holding no secret abilities other than standing the test of time. But here he was witnessing the magical moment firsthand. The pumpkin tree had accepted his gift and Jeffie waited with eager anticipation to see if the phenomenon would grant his request.
The hole glowed, wisps of tangerine smoke rising above the surface. The earth shivered as the tree’s infinite chasm gobbled the sacks of candy Jeffie had collected.
“Please…” Jeffie said. “Please let this work.”
The Pumpkin Tree Giveth…
In the distance, Jeffie heard the bell on his brother’s bike’s handlebars, the one Detective Stern had found in the woods next to Robbie’s mangled corpse.
The Pumpkin Tree Taketh…
Deformed vines several inches thick corkscrewed Jeffie’s neck, fragmenting his vertebrae before he could scream.
The dark coupe prowled like a jaguar. Tinted windows concealed the driver, who only brought the car out at night to hunt. During the day the coupe hunched dormant in a garage. They were a team . . . a throbbing, growling, killing machine.
Most of the time they picked off random stragglers. This evening was special. A glorious flock of children roamed sidewalks and lanes, many of them unchaperoned.
A smile glinted in the rear-view mirror. The Creeper’s tongue swept lips and chin. Pallid facial tissue quivered with eagerness, anticipating the spoils. Red eyes shifted from the mirror to a side window. There.
Wet embarrassing noises erupted as if out of a deep cistern. The gurgling subsided when the entity resumed its disguise: an unremarkable identity named Sebastian Munn, bearded and chubby. The creature grinned and chortled at the thought of the treats it would rake in like free candy on Halloween. How ideal for a predator, this foolish tradition. Kids were even more vulnerable than walking to and from school.
The vehicle matched pace with two figures — adolescents in horror garb, mimicking monsters, shuffling along a patch with no houses. If they knew they were being targeted for prey, the punks would run screaming. Delicious. The Creeper’s tongue thrashed excitedly. Then retracted as Sebastian Munn donned composure like a cloak to hide behind.
The car braked next to a curb, window lowering. “Hey, kids!”
They halted, uncertain, zombified faces turning.
The driver’s door unlatched. A pudgy form climbed out and straightened on an empty street. “I’m lost. Trying to find a party I was invited to. I live in another city. Could you point me the right direction?” Sebastian had practiced the earnest tone, the nervous squeak that put people off-guard.
Faux monsters peered at him, deeming the masquerader harmless. Normality was his costume.
“Sure.” One of the kids smiled. “Where you going?”
So trusting and innocent. Children were the sweetest.
“It’s that way.” The kid aimed a forefinger.
“I drove around and around. I couldn’t find it.”
“That’s a cool car you got.” The second boy ogled Sebastian’s black Matador.
“It’s a classic. They don’t make these anymore.”
“She’s a beauty!”
“I’ll give you a ride if you show me to the address.”
The lads conferred. The second boy marched over. Sebastian scurried to open the passenger door. “I have room for you both.”
“Come on, Sammy!”
Reluctant, the first boy crossed. He crawled inside a skimpy backseat, while the first kid sat in front. “This won’t take long, will it? I don’t have permission to ride with strangers.”
“Not long at all.” Sliding in, doors secured, the beast dropped the act and revealed itself. The car’s interior transformed too, physically coalescing to serve as the beast’s abdominal cavity, absorbing fresh meat while The Creeper squealed with pleasure, tongue swinging avidly. Once its feasting concluded, the monster humanized and drove a shiny red sports coupe home.
Servant of the Red Quill is the follow-up to Terry M. West’s haunting period piece, The Giving of Things Cold & Cursed. The star of both tales is Baker Johnson, a flawed, British psychical researcher living in New York city in the 1920’s. The first tale in the Baker Johnson series received glowing reviews and was read by many fans of classical Gothic horror.
Servant of the Red Quill takes place in 1927, two years after the events of The Giving of Things Cold & Cursed. Baker Johnson has turned his back on the paranormal field and he spends his days drunk and in the company of questionable women. When Baker is approached by the attorney of a powerful man, the psychical researcher is reluctantly pulled into a case involving a troubled family in Yonkers. Jeremiah Simms, a wealthy collector of haunted objects, has acquired a rare tome penned by the infamous Marquis de Sade. Titled Servant of the Red Quill, this cursed book unleashes an evil spirit that threatens to destroy the Simms family. Baker must face a cunning and powerful demon to save the innocent. But the deadliest demons of this battle lie within Baker.
This new 11,000 word novelette will be released on Amazon Kindle on 01-02-15 with a paperback version to follow. It has a price of $1.99. West also recently announced a third Baker Johnson story, Weird Tales of the Dark Prophet. While a release date or details of the third entry haven’t been announced, West did confide that the legendary HP Lovecraft would be appearing in the tale.
Loup garou. Lycanthrope. Hombre lobo. Werewolf. No matter what you call it, it’s someone who physically changes – willingly or not – into a vicious wolf-like creature with an appetite for human flesh. The concept dates back to the classical Greek and Roman eras. In his novel Satyricon, Roman writer Gaius Petronius (27 – 66 A.D.) tells the story of a soldier who turns into a wolf that attacks a flock of sheep. The wolf is wounded and later, the soldier is found with the identical injury; while the story is fiction, it indicates familiarity with the legend of the wolf-man.
According to various legends, you can become a werewolf by being bitten by one; inheriting the condition from a parent or being born with a birthmark; using a magic potion or ointment containing such ingredients as deadly nightshade (a poisonous plant), bat’s blood and opium; wearing a magic belt; being cursed by a witch; eating the flesh or heart of a wolf; or eating human flesh. A full moon may or may not be required.
You can protect yourself from werewolves by wearing garlic or a silver cross (and you’ll be safe from vampires, too); carrying holy water; having silver bullets in your gun; or wearing wolfsbane (another plant). To kill a werewolf you must shoot it with a silver bullet or arrow; stab it with a silver knife; make it ingest wolfsbane; or cut off its head or rip out its heart.
Medieval Europe took the werewolf very seriously. Numerous people were accused and convicted in court of being werewolves. One famous documented case involved Peter Stubbe, a man from Bedberg, Germany, who was arrested in 1589 after villagers allegedly witnessed him changing from a wolf into his human self. Stubbe confessed to having made a pact with the Devil, who had given him a magical belt that could change him into a wolf. He admitted to killing and eating at least 16 people while in his wolf form. He was convicted of murder, tortured and executed.
Another historical case was that of Jean Grenier, a thirteen-year-old boy arrested in 1603 after a girl claimed she was attacked by a large, wolf-like creature in the Gascony region of southern France. Grenier said he had become a werewolf after being given an ointment and wolf skin by a demonic being he called the Lord of the Forest. He confessed to killing and eating several people. He was tried for murder, proclaimed insane, and imprisoned in a monastery where he died in 1610.
More recently and closer to home, huge wolf-like beasts have been reported near Delavan, in southern Wisconsin. In 1936, a certain Mark Schackelman allegedly encountered a human-like creature covered with dark hair. It had a muzzle, prominent fangs, and pointed ears on the top of its head. A number of subsequent witnesses have described the same creature as recently as 1999. It has become known as the Bray Road Beast and so far remains unexplained . . .
Bottom line here: what you see is mostly what you get. If you happen to be into the ‘found-footage’ genre, and you also like to explore the best and the scariest of the local haunted houses wherever you are, THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT is going to feel to you like a two-check payday. If you happen to dislike one or the other, or even worse – you have an aversion to both things, this movie is going to be one hell of a slog for you. And that’s if you have the patience to wade through to the ending.
Personally, I didn’t find it a problem. I loved that they documented actual Texas haunts throughout the movie, including Haunt House, Moxley Manor, Phobia and several others. The found-footage angle becomes totally believable due to this, even when things begin to take a turn for the worse and the creepiest, as you would expect.
In the now almost-required BLAIR WITCH tradition, the five actors play versions of themselves, as five friends, (director/co-writer Bobby Roe, co-writer Zack Andrews, Mikey Roe, Brandy Schaefer and Jeff Larson), who decide to rent an RV, equip it with several cameras besides the ones they’re carrying, and do a freestyle documentary about their statewide jaunt to explore haunts of all different kinds, with the ultimate goal of trying to discover THE most ‘extreme haunt’ of them all. Although the film’s trailer, in stereotypical fashion, spoils several of the movie’s most hair-raising moments, it never reveals whether or not they achieve their goal. I will only say that the old saying “be careful what you wish for’ most aptly applies here.
For a found-footage entry, it is pretty well put together and fairly well-acted, considering. My guess is that the familiarity of the ‘characters’, in terms of the kind of people you know in your own daily experiences, will determine how much you like or dislike Bobby, Mikey, Zack, Brandy and Jeff, and whether you give a damn about what happens to them.
One of the things that took me out of the movie at first, were the typical idiotic “horror movie victim” decisions that they made as they got closer to their “unholy grail.” There are several key points throughout the journey, where I – as the viewer putting myself in their shoes, could not see myself making the kind of boneheaded calls they do, when the time comes to choose a sense of personal safety over the opportunity for experiencing not-so-cheap thrills. And that is aside from the fact that there are subtle, chilling, background hints of foreshadowing that we, the audience are given, that these doofuses could hardly be expected to pick up on, in between the necessary scenes of ‘buddy-bonding’, (and yes, that does include pot and the munchies that follow it.)
Besides the nicely grim, doom-laden portents – which, by the way, if you have a fear of clowns, won’t help your phobia one little bit – the inside ‘tours’ of each haunt the ‘Fearless Five’ go through, give you an excellent idea of what the different attractions are like, and how varied they are; from the conventional ‘jump-scare’ palace, to one that features a more unique aspect – “zombie paintball”, and yes, even zombie strippers. (No, it’s not just a B-movie concept anymore – if the strip bars didn’t start it first.)
Finally, in the conclusion, which is oddly satisfying, (if reminiscent of a gazillion other horror flicks, both in and outside of the found-footage genre), it’s worth contemplating how the ending actually tweaks the audiences’ noses a bit about the state of horror these days, and the way people perceive it. In the quest for a good scare, for the rush of terror that you used to feel at the movies you saw when you were a kid, or felt at the scare attractions at the theme parks…how much IS it really worth to get that feeling again? When it comes to the extremes of “extreme”, how much is too much? And do we really want to find what’s on the other side, if we dare to cross that boundary?
For my own experience, I would give THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT about three-and-a-half out of five stars. Your chills and thrills may vary.
Horror iconsRobert Englund (Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and John Kassir (Crypt Keeper, Tales from the Crypt) lend their voices as a group of inter-dimensional beings in an all-new episode of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlespremiering Friday, Nov. 14, at 8:00p.m. (ET/PT).
Englund lends his voice as Dire Beaver, the leader of the group, and Dark Beaver, the vicious, monstrous and evilly intelligent one, while Kassir plays Dread Beaver, the maniacal and cruelest of the lot, and Dave Beaver, the silliest of the pack. In the new episode, “In Dreams,” each Beaver targets a different Turtle using various methods. These creatures, which feed off dreams, trap the Turtles inside their own dreams, so April and Casey must find a way to wake them up.
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