Tuesday, October 27, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: Tonia Brown


I Remember Halloween
By: Tonia Brown

As we approach the end of the year, the weather turns cold and we huddle in our hovels waiting for the long days of winter, we we tend to find ourselves looking back at the days stretched behind us.  Halloween is especially great for this because it's derived from the ancestral holidays of the Celts.  Remembering folks and ideas and deeds at this time of year is ingrained into the fabric of our humanity.  We should always remember.
            I remember a lot about my past Halloweens.

I remember our parents dressing my twin sister and me as robots when we were very young.  They used cardboard boxes painted silver for our bodies and heads and dryer vent tubing for our arms and legs, as well as lots and lots of foil.  They called us Pete and Repeat.  We were instructed to say our names when asked what we were dressed as.  Sister was Pete.  I was Repeat.  We couldn't sit up in our costumes because of the boxes, so our parents slid us into the back of the station wagon flat on our backs.  When we arrived at the next neighborhood, they would pull us out by the feet, prop us up, and we would waddle around the block saying Pete and Repeat over and over and over.  Adorable twin robots scored lots of candy.

I remember one year our mother dressed us up as nerd joggers.  Worst. Costume. Ever.  I don't have anything else to add to that.

I remember when we lived in Georgia our dad got us to help him make a home haunt.  He called it the "Devil's Graveyard" and we spent hours building a coffin out of cardboard and hanging plastic sheets to enclose our garage.  Dad rigged a body in the coffin to sit up when you pulled a string.  He put a devil mask on it and put little twinkling lights in the eye holes.  We ended up with more candy than what we started with because we scared the neighborhood kids so badly they would drop their bags and run.  The following year dad had to do a tour in Korea, and all of the kids came again expecting the Devil's Graveyard, but it wasn't there.

I remember our teacher giving us an assignment right on Halloween night, due the next night.  This, of course, cut into my trick-or-treating.  I went to the teacher and asked if I could turn it in two days from then instead of the next day, explaining how we always did stuff with our dad and how much I loved the holiday and how busy I would be.  He was so moved he allowed me an extra day.  Then I went and screwed it up by bragging about it and the teacher overheard me and withdrew his permission.  I had to finish the work before we could go out that night.  Needless to say my twin sister and dad weren't pleased.

I remember my first Halloween with my future husband.  He knew sister and I did a lot of special effects makeup and wanted me to help dress him up as a hippie vampire.  I agreed only on the contingency that I got to pick his costume next year, because he had silly ideas.  Nineteen years later, we still take turns.

I remember the year he wanted to be a robot bee.  The experience of being Pete and Repeat came in handy.  He was an adorable robot bee.  Yes, you're reading that correctly.  Robot bee.  What can I say?  At least he is creative.

I remember the year my twin sister's asshole ex-husband decided to end their marriage on Halloween night.  It wasn't coincidence, he planned the whole thing.  He was supposed to be on the road with a job, but he snuck home early, trashed their house, packed up all of the valuables and drove straight to the haunted house we were running at a friend's house.  We ran our groups through in a tour like fashion, and this asshat just stormed into the middle of a tour, pulled her out of her hiding hole where she was working her Halloween haunted house magic, and demanded she come with him to talk about their marriage.  She basically told him to get lost because she was busy.  She also said if he loved her, he wouldn't ruin her Halloween like the giant turd he was.  Basically he made her choose Halloween or him, and she chose wisely.  Her current husband would never do that to her.  And that's why they have been happily married for so long.

I remember setting up a haunted garage at another friend's house that was so successful we had to turn people away by the end of the night because we were all so exhausted.  We didn't do anything particularly special.  Folks just love a free haunted garage.  I know we do.

I remember the year we all dressed as zombies and went out to find a good haunted trail.  The very first one we arrived at loved our costumes so much they pulled us out of line and asked us to be in the haunt for the night.  We spent the next few hours scaring the crap out of the same people we were standing in line with earlier that night.

I remember the time sister and I helped manage a Halloween store in the mall during our time off from our regular jobs.  It was a requirement to work Halloween night and dress up so you could give away candy to the hundreds and hundreds of kids that came to the mall that night.  I dressed up as Dr. Zira from Planet of the Apes.  I must say, it was a pretty good costume, so good it caused a scene of sorts.  I was giving away candy and found myself invited to pose for pics with almost every kid that came through the store.  The mall management ended up coming to the store to let us know we needed to move the photo op into the mall proper because we were holding up the candy line.  When I stepped out of our store and into the mall area, I saw a line of eager kids backed up about six stores down.  I spent the rest of the night off to the side of our store posing for pics with kids.  One of the best Halloweens ever.

I remember spending many a Halloween running around, haunted house hopping or going to bars or entering costume contests.  These days we live to watch horror movies and carve pumpkins and just hang out with family and friends.  I guess as you get older you appreciate the atmosphere of the holiday more than the excitement.  Or maybe I am just getting old and crabby and don't like dealing with people anymore.  Maybe both?

I remember setting up a haunted garage at our dad's house many moons ago.  We scared one little girl so badly, she dropped her bag of candy, ran back up the hill screaming, jumped into the car and continued to scream as her dad walked back down the hill to retrieve her bag of candy.  He was laughing so hard at his daughter he couldn't talk to us.  We apologized but he just waved his hand at us, laughed and returned to his car.  They drove off screaming and laughing into the night.

I remember the mix of screaming and laughter being the perfect soundtrack to a perfect Halloween.


About the author:
Tonia Brown is a southern actor with a penchant for Victorian dead things.  She lives in the backwoods of North Carolina with her genius husband and an ever fluctuating number of cats.  She likes fudgesicles and coffee, though not always together.  When not writing she raises unicorns and fights crime with her husband under the code name Dr. Weird and his sexy sidekick Butternut.
            You can learn more about her at her website.

About the books:

Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication date: 3.15.2010
Pages: 117

Clockwork, steam and secrets power a passionate adventure in the skies.
            Everybody's looking for something.
            Captain Rose Madigan of the airship The Merry Widow is looking for a paying job for her all-female crew.  Gabriella Upstairs, her newest recruit, is looking for a reason to be glad she's on board.  And Madam Ruby of the Red House Bordello is looking for the secret laboratory of a missing mad scientist - and is willing to hire the airship.  When they find the lab and its single occupant, Atom Loquacious, danger and passion start steaming up.
            Everybody's got a secret.
            Captain Rose is secretly too ethical to complete this job.  Gabriella's secretly attracted to Atom.  Madam Ruby's secretly hungry for power.  And the secret Atom is hiding might just threaten the lives of everyone on board.

Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication date: 2.21.2011
Pages: 134

The west isn't only wild.  Sometimes it's just plain strange.
            When the airship The Merry Window arrives in Professor Von Maxwell's city of gruff coal miners for fuel, the lonely men of Ironstation scramble to impress the all female crew.
            But the crew isn't in the mood for romance.  On the run from a vicious bordello Madam, the ladies of The Merry Widow are recovering from a run-in with a pack of wild natives.  Not to mention that their ship houses the world's greatest scientific breakthrough since the invention of the airbag... a genuine clockwork man that goes by the name of Atom Loquacious.
            The west just got a big weirder in this tale of clockwork romance and sky-bound adventure.

Genre: Horror, Paranormal
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Publication date: 1.27.2015
Pages: 263

At the behest of his dead uncle's spirit, Otto Waldorf seeks out a hidden fortune, only to end up with a quarter million of the mafia's money. With both the mob and the FBI on his tail, this lonely mortician flees the country with money in tow.  Throw in a nervous schnauzer, a moody hit man, and a blonde bombshell for a comedy noir of haunting proportions.
            When the spirit of his recently deceased uncle appears in his kitchen, lonely mortician Octavious Waldorf can only guess the ghost isn't there just for the coffee.  His miserly uncle reveals the location of a hidden fortune with the promise of more if Otto will spread the dead man's ashes across the Caribbean Sea.  Through a simple mistake Otto ends up with almost a million of the mafia's money instead of his uncle's simple few thousand.  Otto does what any desperate man would do and flees the country aboard a cruise ship headed to the Bahamas to fulfill his uncle's last request.  With the money, his dead uncle's ashes, and a nervous schnauzer in tow, Otto sets out to change his fortune and life.  That near million just so happens to belong to crime boss and all around bad guy Tony "Waldorf" Maloney (no relation), who happens to be on the same cruise.  Maloney isn't interested in just getting the money back.  Along with the help of the much feared hit man Mr. Banjo, as well as the blonde bombshell Penny Lane, Maloney plans on squeezing the money as well as a few vital juices from Otto's cold, dead corpse.  On the other end of the law, the FBI is hot on Maloney's trail.  Special Agents Frank Wallace and Larry Lawrence aren't sure who this Otto guy is, or how he fits into Maloney's organization, but they don't plan on letting either of them get away.  Maybe it's time for the nearly retired Frank to take a much needed cruise to the Bahamas.  It's a comedy noir of hilarious errors as Otto learns that sometimes money does buy happiness.

Genre: Horror
Publication date: 4.6.2012
Pages: 238

The Great Undead Uprising of 1870 devastated the western frontier and destroyed the Indian Nations.  Though the Army was able to contain the menace before it could devour the entire country, the United States lost claim to her western territories as the survivors fled to the relative safety of the east coast.
            Samantha Martin is among the rare folks traveling west, seeking asylum within the infected territories.  Running from a past that threatens to consume her, the young Sam dons the mantle of a male and hides in an all boys' workhouse that borders these Badlands.  From there she is thrust into the service of the skin trade; the terrible deed of trapping and skinning zombies for profit.  The work is grueling and perilous, but along the way she finds out what it takes to be a man, why she misses being a woman, but most of all she learned what it means to be human.
            Can Sam keep her masquerade up long enough to flee the Badlands, or will the outlaws that rule the western frontiers find out she's female before she can escape?

Genre: Horror
Publication date: 7.12.2013
Pages: 115

Something is devouring Milo, and this time it isn't just his guilty conscience.
            Meet the Bentley brothers; Milo, a troubled man who slaughters women at the behest of his cruel older brother, Spencer.  Their already complicated lives slip into a spiral of madness when Milo is attacked by a werewolf during a routine body disposal.  While Milo is unsure what is happening to him, Spencer finds he prefers the company of the wolf, and does everything he can to keep Milo from discovering the truth.  The truth, however, is a complication all its own, with or without the beast.
            The family that preys together stays together, in this wild take on the werewolf mythology.

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