Halloween Funhouse: A Grendel Adaptation


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  1. #1

    Halloween Funhouse: A Grendel Adaptation

    This short-story is inspired by the famous adaptation of the epic poem Beowulf titled "Grendel" (by John Gardner). Gardner's creative work expands on the fantasy-adventure themes in Beowulf by presenting the monstrous antagonist Grendel as a surprisingly pensive (and sensitive) beast.

    In this short-story, I've chosen to use two iconic American horror film avatars, Michael Myers, the fictional eerie masked serial killer from the popular Halloween horror film franchise, and Leatherface, the fictional chainsaw-wielding cannibal from the popular Texas Chainsaw Massacre horror film franchise.



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    It was Halloween 2016, and both Michael Myers and Leatherface were brooding about how to make the occasion ghoulish. Myers had already been on four successful killing sprees during the last three Halloweens, and Leatherface had made a monumental murder rampage on Halloween 2008. These two super-psychos had never met but were about to find their lives intersecting.

    A young American woman named Sally was driving cross-country from Virginia Beach to Northern California right around Halloween 2016. She was going to stop in Austin, Texas to pick up two of her friends, Cynthia and Cynthia's boyfriend Sean (from Cynthia's house), drive to Lake Tahoe for a nice pit-stop, and then roll to California. She packed what she needed --- maps, bottled water, peanuts and potato chips, spam cans, and lots of spearmint chewing-gum.

    Leatherface lived in his unusual family home right outside Austin. He was looking at a series of drawings of trees his grand-father had made and was wondering why chainsaws were such a favourite tree-cutting tool for human beings. He thought to himself, "Maybe I should pretend to be an eco-terrorist for Halloween 2016!"

    Michael Myers was in Haddonfield, Illinois but had stolen a car and decided to drive to Texas. He wanted to see the culture of American cowboys and what they were doing for Halloween 2016. He packed what he needed --- a pistol, water bottles and canned tomatoes (which he stole from the market), and three large knives. He thought to himself, "Maybe I should pretend to be an eccentric chef for Halloween 2016, telling people I'm using my knife to come up with new ways to cut tomatoes!"

    Sally had reached Cynthia's house and found Cynthia and Sean there waiting for her. The three were excited about their trip to Lake Tahoe and California. They drank whiskey and ate special hashish-brownies which Sean had baked the night before. They were in a fine mood and danced to some Beatles music in Cynthia's backyard. Sean suggested, "Let me bake more of these brownies, and tomorrow, we'll eat them and then go to the Austin Halloween 2016 festival on Main Street before heading to Lake Tahoe!" Sally and Cynthia loved the plan and the three made arrangements.

    Michael Myers had finally arrived in Austin, Texas. He read signs on the town streets about the Austin Halloween 2016 festival and decided to make a splash. Meanwhile, Leatherface was driving around in his truck in the same area and also noticed the signs about the festival. Both he and Michael Myers were wearing their creepy masks, thinking that no one would think anything unusual, since Halloween was tomorrow.

    Leatherface drove by an Austin gardener's store when he noticed Michael Myers in his car (wearing his unusual characteristic plain-white mask). He thought to himself, "This guy looks interesting! I wonder if he'll attend tomorrow's Halloween festival here in Austin." Leatherface honked his horn and waved at the psychopath's car, and when Michael Myers noticed him, he wondered to himself, "This guy looks interesting! I want to meet him," and honked back. The two pulled over and greeted each other. They talked for a long while, discovering the other to be a like-minder serial killer. "What should we do for this Austin Halloween festival tomorrow?" Leatherface asked, to which Michael Myers replied, "Let's see if we meet Americans who seem reasonable enough to break-bread with, but if we do not, let's pretend we have good intentions, lure them into a remote area, and then kill them!" The two began making arrangements to make this dream a reality.

    Sally, Cynthia, and Sean had driven into Austin the next day for the Halloween 2016 festival. Sally was dressed as a witch, and Cynthia and Sean were dressed as Bonnie and Clyde. They were at the halfway-point of the Main Street parade when they noticed a strange truck --- inside it sat two eerie-looking masked men (the three did not know these two men were Michael Myers and Leatherface). "Those certainly are weird Halloween costumes! Why are they just sitting in that parked truck? I guess they're just watching people walk by in their colourful costumes," Sally remarked with a happy (but suspicious) optimism.

    Leatherface and Michael Myers noticed a group of young men drinking beers and making troublesome noise at the corner of the parade --- simple loafers. "These young lads are definitely not worth meeting. Let's kill them!" Michael Myers suggested. The two got out of the truck and asked the lads to follow them into the alley where they would be given a nice homemade brew of hashish liquor. Once in the alley, the two psychos stabbed the lads to death and stuffed them in the dumpster (they both had gloves on).

    Sean was dancing in the street (by the parade) with Cynthia, and Sally was just watching the parade. Everything was fine more or less, but Sally started looking around for that strange truck she noticed earlier. She found it parked, right near the parade, but in another spot. The two masked men were nowhere to be seen. Sally saw Sean and Cynthia dancing and having a good time, so she decided to go looking for the two masked men.

    Leatherface and Michael Myers were standing in another hidden alley, simply looking at people walk by in their colourful costumes. Suddenly, they noticed Sally (dressed in her witch costume) walking towards them. She walked right up to them (to their surprise) and asked them, "Hey what are you guys doing here? I noticed you earlier just sitting in your truck (in your masks for Halloween I suppose). What are you doing in this alley? Are you just watching the colourful people like me and my friends over there (she pointed to Cynthia and Sean) are?" Leatherface was surprised at her courage and straightforward honesty. He realized that both he and Michael Myers had found the right people to meet for peaceful interaction for Halloween 2016. He replied, "Yes, we are. We were wondering if you and your friends would be interested in coming to my house this evening for hashish liquor, Steely Dan music, and some homemade mashed potatoes." Sally accepted the offer, and Michael Myers gave her directions to Leatherface's house. "By the way, what are your names?" she asked, to which Michael Myers replied, "Let's just stay anonymous. It's more fun that way for Halloween, no?" Sally smiled and went to tell her friends of this new plan.

    Leatherface and Michael Myers were waiting in their home for their guests. Leatherface had prepared the hashish liquor and mashed potatoes, and his creepy grand-father was upstairs sleeping and out of the way. Leatherface thought to himself, "I like that girl Sally. Maybe what I need in life is the right kind of girl to serve as my companion!" Michael Myers said to Leatherface, "If these three guests start behaving erratically, let's kill them, cut them up into little pieces, make a big batch of stew, and then sell it on Main Street as road-food vendors tomorrow!" Leatherface agreed.

    Sally, Cynthia, and Sean arrived at Leatherface's house. They noticed the unusual appearance of the large but ghostly-gray house and the large wind-chime hanging outside the front door. They walked in and were greeted by Leatherface. Michael Myers turned on the Steely Dan music. They all began drinking the hashish liquor and soon everyone was in fine spirits. Everyone (except Leatherface's grand-father who was still upstairs) was at the dinner table eating mashed potatoes and making funny jokes. Leatherface and Michael Myers were wearing their masks as usual, and no one questioned why (since it was Halloween). Cynthia requested to be excused to go to the bathroom to shower, and Leatherface told her, "It's upstairs. Go ahead, but don't go into any of the other rooms. We're renovating."

    Cynthia walked up the stairs and found the bathroom, but she also noticed the doors of the other rooms in the hallway (which were closed) were very worn down. There was a strange smell, and she began hearing the noise of a very old man coughing. The voice seemed to be crying out, "Come in here! I need..." She went to the door of the room the voice was coming from and opened it. To her horror, she found a very creepy old man who turned to her when he saw her come in and said, "You're not my grand-son, Leatherface! Who the hell are you? Don't you know who Leatherface is? He's a psychotic monster with a chainsaw! Get out of here now!" Cynthia slammed the door and ran down the stairs.

    Cynthia got to the dining room and signalled to Sally and Sean who were laughing at something. Cynthia said, "Well, our new anonymous friends, while we're really enjoying ourselves (truly), I just got an emergency phone call from my dad on my cell phone and we really have to leave!" Sally realized Cynthia was serious (about something) and that she, Cynthia, and Sean needed to leave as Cynthia suggested. Sally turned to Leatherface and Michael Myers and said, "Well, it's been really unusual and interesting this fine Halloween 2016 evening. If we come back this way again, maybe we'll find you two again for more of this wonderful hashish liquor!" Michael Myers realized Sally was scared about something but didn't question her and replied, "Yes, we were hoping to meet nice people for peaceful interactions. Thanks!"

    Cynthia, Sean, and Sally got into Sally's car and they sped away from Leatherface's house. Cynthia reported to Sally and Sean what she saw. Sean suggested, "Well, there's no proof they're killers, and they don't know that we know yet, but as soon as they talk to dear old grandpa, they'll know we were suspicious! Let's just hide out in the police station until everything is sorted out and then get the hell out of Austin and head to California!" The two girls agreed.

    Leatherface confronted his grand-father and discovered what happened. Leatherface told Michael Myers and suggested, "I say we let them go. They won't call the police, since they have no proof grandpa is not just a crazy old man. They'll never come back here again, and we can keep this strange but meaningful Halloween 2016 memory." Michael Myers replied, "I agree. Who would think that two super-killers like us would find the grace of heaven for Halloween?"


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    Grendel (John Gardner)


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  2. #2
    Interesting; the killers are certainly friendlier than they are portrayed in the movies! Perhaps a little more exploration of their characters to see why they kill people would work?

    A few notes ...

    Cynthia and Cynthia's boyfriend Sean (from Cynthia's house)
    It's best not to repeat the same word too many times in quick succession, as it spoils the flow of the writing.

    he wondered to himself, "This guy looks interesting! I want to meet him,"
    Here "wondered" isn't really the right word; that would go with a question, but it precedes a pair of statements.

    a like-minder serial killer
    This should be "like-minded".

    HC
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  3. #3
    Member 20oz's Avatar
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    You're still leaning on telling your stories rather than showing. I'd say it's not as bad at "Sal the Saint" and the one sitting in Prose Writers' Workshop, both of which sound like you're reporting a short-story. No, this is similar to "The Bonebreaker: Clay's Nightmare" and "Halloween Scream". Like those two short-stories, "Halloween Funhouse" suffers the same problem I have with them: I'd rather hear the story than to read it.

    "Halloween Funhouse" is a story that needs to be told orally. It would find its place around a campfire and among friends. But I can't see it beyond that unless you're willing to show a bit more of it.

    I did enjoy it overall. Leatherface and Michael Myers acting out of character. The small recognizable parts of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween movies. It just played with my nostalgia very well--at least to an extent.

    Just keep going in this direction. You should be fine.
    Last edited by 20oz; March 24th, 2016 at 09:57 PM.
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