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Tales From the Crypt: Downunder Edition

"Spooky shenanigans; boobies too."

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Competition Entry: Spooky Tales

Typical; should have guessed there’d be an unnerving start to Friday-the-thirteenth at Chez Annie. As my beloved girlfriend goes to fill the coffee pot, water suddenly pulses up into the air and falls waterfall-like onto the kitchen tiles.

Carrie is totally shocked. But I’m not as horrified, after all, it’s just a tap going walkabout. It would be totally spooky if, down under, there’s a faucet going AWOL.

The first water spurt scores a direct hit on our cat Jonesy. Soaking him, transmogrifying our ginger furball into a bedraggled, bad-hair-day pussy. Embarrassed, he scampers under the table, eyeing the tap as if it’s possessed by an alien.

Which it might just be; our new kitchen geyser erupts again and again unerringly targeting Carrie. She flaps; she’s flustered, turning the tap off and on. Nothing works, water keeps soaking her until she loses it, screaming, like a banshee, “How do you fix this, Annie?”

“We need help.”

“Who you going to call?” my girlfriend shrieks, water seeping deeper into her décolletage, rendering it attractively transparent in that B-movie kind of way. It’s not really a trade secret, B stands for big boobs; we horror movie writers have come to rely on those impressive racks covering a multitude of script shortcuts.

But this isn’t the moment for sartorial remarks. So, reassuringly, I reply, “Rosemary, baby.”

Carrie is anything but comforted. Suddenly her eyes are shining, going all Jack Nicolson on me. She yells in the pitch-perfect shit-scared voice of a horror movie extra, “Not that stone butch, Annie!”

“Like, I know Rosemary could use a charisma transplant, babe. But she’s a damn fine plumber.” Grabbing my mobile, I hit a speed dial button.

Carrie’s running scared, away from the tap, the water dripping off her slick hair adding to the transparency of her blouse and bra. Attractive; but my heart misses a beat as my vision swims with redness. Carrie’s oozing like a bleeding vixen. Not that vixen of course, rather it’s like she’s the twin of that gory Carrie. You know the one; yeah, she so had an unfortunate prom night.

“Stopcock Plumbing.” Rosemary huskily answers my desperate call. My vanilla, but still bloody wet, Carrie reappears. That stills my racing heart, it’s just another of my silly optical illusions.

“Carrie’s dripping. My pussy’s wet.”

I hadn’t realized you can hear a smirk over a mobile phone. “Jonesy?”

“For God’s sake, what else could I possibly mean? Of course, Jonesy.”

“So, what do you need from me?”

“Surely Stopcock also stops spurting taps.”

“Be thankful it’s not a faucet, Annie. But yes, I can do that. I’m coming.”

“Sixty-nine Elm Street, remember. Come quickly.”

“Of course, I always do when a pussy’s wet.”

After a bit, miraculously, the kitchen’s water fountain stops gushing. Jonesy, haughtily ignoring the fact he looks like a Pet Sematary extra, struts, dripping, over to the backdoor. He sniffs, seemingly suspicious that there might still be aliens about.

“It’s just Rosemary, baby,” Carrie says. Jonesy doesn’t look reassured, even when plumbing’s version of an Easter Island statue slouches through the door. A view I empathize with; I feel like someone’s thinking, ‘I spit on your grave.’

“It’s stopped,” Carrie exclaims in wonderment.

“I fiddled with the stopcock outside, Luv,” Rosemary replies, her eyes lingering as they traverse my girlfriend’s wet t-shirt look. Carrie blushes, haemoglobin red.

Our mate the plumber is dressed in the tradie version of summer chic. A grubby singlet does little to hide the Ripley branding of her cheap sports bra or indeed her love handles. Shorts are worn low on the hip, so low that when she leans forward to inspect the tap, Carrie, Jonesy and I have that cliched glimpse of tradie arse-crack.

Rosemary fingers Carrie and my plumbing for a bit. Then she declares herself satisfied; job well done. I’m so relieved that we’ve saved Carrie from the water torture.

But, glancing at my watch, I realize it’s time to skedaddle. I can’t be late today; I’m presenting my radical idea for a new movie script to work colleagues in an hour.

Kissing Carrie, I say, reassuringly, “Got to go, babe. You settle up with Rosemary.”

“A cup of char to start,” Rosemary says, “Bye Annie. I’ll look after Carrie; she certainly needs getting out of those wet clothes.”

Carrie blushes, but I’m in way too much of a hurry to linger and save her from grubby innuendo. Driving through suburban Sydney, heading north-by-northwest to the Harbour Bridge, a flock of cockatoos repeatedly swoop down over the car. Endearing at first, but then a tad spooky as they fly closer and closer to the windscreen.

Fortunately, I’m too blond to be Suzanne Pleshette. The birds aren’t crows. And there’s no Cathy to protect. So, I sigh with the relief of knowing I’m not actually driving into a Hitchcockian kill-Annie plotline.

Parking in front of the Opera House, my eyes are drawn to the gothic lettering of our new logo. I hankered after calling our scriptwriting company something highbrow, like Pride and Prejudice with Aussie Zombies. The boss, Mike, almost went with Devil’s Diary, but, in the end, chose Monsters Inc. Wonder why?

Inside, the only other woman on our team, the receptionist, Celia, wishes me a cheery, “Happy Friday the thirteenth.” I’m the last to enter the funhouse, the room where the creative staff is gathering to select which movie ideas are taken further.

Bill and Ben get their script outlines approved and then it is my turn. “Jason’s mum gets killed by a female camp counsellor. That results in oodles of massacres. Typical, it’s always the woman’s fault. Men in horror wield knives that come with a misogynistic get-out-of-jail-free card. Boys just have to do evil.”

“But, the Friday the thirteenth movies were successful, Annie.” That’s such a Ben thing to say, the only scriptwriter I know who judges everything by the bottom line.

“So was Wes Craven’s, Scream. Remember Sidney; she gets gaslighted by an ex-boyfriend telling her she’s crazy for thinking he’s a killer and shaming her for not putting out. But, she’s courageous, not letting abuse seduce her into evil.”

“That’s fair,” Ben says, “And after all you did support my proposal, ‘Bruce’s chainsaw nun massacre.’”

“Another thing. Have you noticed that it’s always a girl who bares her titties whose death is graphic and bloody with lashings of gratuitous nudity? You know what that message is, don’t you? She’s slutty, and deserves more than the naughty corner.”

Having just had his movie script, ‘All topless cheerleaders must die,’ approved, kill Bill has the decency to look embarrassed.

But Mike interrupts, “Remember that Alfred Hitchcock once said, ‘I always believe in following the advice of the playwright Sardou, who said, ‘Torture the women!’ The trouble today is that we don’t torture women enough.’”

“My proposal is more Jennifer’s Body than another version of The Craft. Its unashamedly feminist, modern horror for the modern generation of women. It’s time for a change; more and better female killers. It’s time for a change; women don’t need to be topless torturers.”

“What do you think Celia?” Mike asks.

Celia Mae strikes me as intent on working her way from receptionist to scriptwriter, via whatever position Mike might like a wannabe girlfriend to adopt. Although dead calm while I outlined my plot, she goes all Linda Blair on me, her head spinning and then projectile vomiting a green slimy stream of sick all over a printed copy of the script outline I’d left on the table.

She bats her eyelashes doe-like at the boss and simpers; her cold iris that of a femme fatale puppet master. “Women rock. But this pig needs lipstick, boss. Let me work on it; more boobies and tomato sauce and she’ll be right, mate.”

“Bloody hell, that’s the ticket, Celia. Hey Annie, you do reception for the week while Celia fixes up your idea.”

Bill and Ben are brain dead, nodding like a couple of Stepford wives. Looking out from our office window things have taken a turn for the worse. Apocalypse now has dawned and life sucks in Zombieland. The sails of the Opera House turn a vivid crimson as if they’re dripping with blood. I’m sure it’s a premonition. Rushing to the car; got to save Carrie.

Get to the harbour bridge before the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. The undead blocks the road, watching King Kong climb the southern pylon. He’s already up to the flags of empire and state. Fay Wray in one hand, Jessica Lange in the other. Eat your heart out Fay, Jessica’s topless; got to concede that’s one plot-improving rack.

Biplanes crash onto the road; swerving to avoid the carnage. Really! Australia shouldn’t just rely on American defence spending; next time we could buy some jets.

Eat your heart out, New Year’s Eve fireworks, Godzilla is climbing the other pylon. Jeepers creepers, it’s a double feature, King Kong versus Godzilla plus Jessica Lange’s boobies. That’s distracted the cockatoos, no birds when I glance in the car’s rear window.

More of the underworld is awakening on the other side of the harbour. Not going to panic even though there is a cluster fuck of evil dead close to my final destination. Only one thing on my mind, Carrie; maybe bloodied, never unbowed.

This isn’t going to be a picnic at hanging rock. The inexorable march of the undead has met a nightmare on Elm Street. Werewolves of Sydney, dream warriors, wielding shovels and cricket bats, digging in and driving the apocalyptic zombies for cover, four at a time.

Blair Witch, cricket’s finest pundit, still projecting a last day werewolf win. Maybe Ritchie-witchy’s not the dream master? The killer tomatoes still to play the wild card.

So, do it! Be the dream child; make daddy proud. Focus, I’m going to be Carrie’s wonder woman. Claude Rains is the invisible man. Slytherin! Slithering through sleepy hollows; Virginia Bruce rocks, kitty, kitty, kitty.

Jonesy’s there, peeing on the front doorstep. We’re cat people; so, let’s save bloody Carrie. Alien hounds have been barking from the Baskerville place next door. He’s got to run; burnt too many lives today. Taking sanctuary with the children of the corn, that’s eighteen years.

Save Carrie. Just me; bursting through the door. Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell, echoing off the walls. Oh no; knew it! My darling Carrie’s complexion is so pallid. And she’s wounded. Twin peaks of congealing blood are vivid against the ashen skin of her neck.

“The crazies will pay, baby!”

“I’m Rosemary’s baby, now, baby.” Carrie casts soulful eyes at our plumber, her tradie-chic now accessorized with more blades than Edward Scissorhands.

“No, no, no.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Rosemary replies, “You should call me Countess Elizabeth Báthory.”

“What have you done?”

The countess, formerly known as Rosemary, bares her fangs. “Looked after Carrie. Got her out of her wet clothes. Admired her boobies. Then the kiss of a vampire; savouring her haemoglobin. I’ve promised her a blood bath, Annie. Your blood.”

My screams echo off the walls, jolting my eyes open. It takes a moment to realize I’m not looking at the soothing designer pastels of our home. Rather the walls are antiseptic white. And familiar, I’m in Sydney’s premier mental health unit. Once again.

“Carrie!” I call out.

“I’ve told her you aren’t well enough for visitors,” a disembodied voice says from the end of my bed.

I can only move my head; looking up I see her, stony-faced. Carrie’s best friend, Rosemary Racheted. She’s a great nurse, always there for Carrie helping her with my treatment.

“You’re the movie buff, Annie. You know One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Maybe, I should call you, Mac McMurphy.”

“But that’s silly. Lobotomy’s illegal nowadays!”

“True, unfortunately. So, think of me as Chief,” she says, puffing a wafer-thin hospital pillow.”

“But, Carrie?”

“That’s the point. Chief leaves the bedlam. I need to take Carrie away from this madness too.”

Screaming, I tug at my bonds. That familiar obsession floods my mind. Got to get out, got to save Carrie. But how, my body seems too weak?

“Help me, Rosemary.”

“Sure, psycho. I’ll give you another dose of happy drugs. Back to sleepy hollow, Annie. Sweet dreams.”

Nurse Racheted has always been generous with my medication. That heady intoxicating feeling of all being well courses through my bloodstream. The candy man’s so sweet. Giggling; no need to be wishing stairs. After all, resistance is useless.

Dreamtime; my world fades to black.


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