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Slightly Scary Stories to Tell in the Afternoon

For readers who frighten easily

I technically wasn’t allowed to read the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books (written by Alvin Schwartz). I was the sort of kid who would see a picture of a scary dinosaur and refuse to sleep for twenty nights in a row, because I knew a T-Rex was going to break into my bedroom and eat me. My parents were not in the mood to deal with that level of drama on a regular basis, so they tried to keep me away from scary things.

The Medium-Sized Dog

Horace left his house with his lunch pail and his big yellow raincoat on a Tuesday.
Horace was afraid of dogs.
There was a medium-sized dog who lived on his street.
The dog’s name was Buddy.
On Tuesday, Buddy hadn’t been fed yet, because his owner was a walking bag of dicks and purchased a dog without carefully considering the responsibilities of being a pet owner and that it isn’t fair to own a dog you don’t really care for.
So Buddy was hungry.
Through no fault of his own.
And Horace looked like a bit of a snack.
Through no fault of his own.
Buddy got out of his yard.
Buddy ran toward Horace.
Buddy barked.
The bark meant, “I am very hungry and you look tasty as hell.”
Somehow Horace knew this, even though he didn’t speak dog.
So Horace threw his lunchbox at Buddy and it opened and inside was a ham sandwich with mustard and a red apple and a chocolate chip cookie.
Buddy ate the food.
Horace went to school.
He was hungry when lunchtime rolled around, but he did not die.

The Creak in the Hallway

There was a creak in the hallway on the second floor of the old house.
Gertrude lived in the old house.
She heard the creak.
She didn’t think about how old houses creak a lot, especially at night when temperatures cool because atoms grow smaller when air is cold, causing materials like wood to contract and take up less space, which means everything shifts slightly and can cause creaking noises.
No, Gertrude was pretty sure there was a demon making the hallway creak.
She drew the demon and showed it to her mother.
And her mother said, “Gertrude, there isn’t a demon in our house. Could you maybe draw something nice like a plant or a horse?”
But Gertrude liked drawing demons.
She drew another one.
It was blue.
Then she drew a yellow demon.
She kept drawing demons until she got a scholarship to art school and now she lives in New York and makes a lot of money and her drawings are hanging in the MOMA.

The Ghost in the Theater

There was a ghost living in the theater who liked to watch the plays and make the lights flicker after everyone went home.
He was a real, actual ghost, not a memory or a wish or a symbol for the fear of death.
But he wasn’t scary.
One day a theater technician saw him standing in the corner wearing a faded robe.
“I did not know this theater was haunted,” said the theater technician.
“Surprise. It is,” said the ghost.
“Who are you?” asked the theater technician.
“I played Henry the Tenth. I played Godot. I played Norman Bates’s mother in the theatrical adaptation of Psycho. I am the best actor to ever tread these boards,” said the ghost.
“Cool,” said the theater technician.
After that, whenever there was a play at the theater, on opening night the cast left out a glass of wine for the ghost.
He did not drink any of them, because he was a recovering alcoholic.

Written by

Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts.

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