Friday, October 30, 2009


When I heard our cat making a racket last night at around 10:30, I assumed she’d seen the opossum that sometimes comes into our back yard after dark. The cat always yowls at it through the bedroom window, hissing and scratching at the glass in an attempt to get out there and show the opossum just whose yard it is. Opossums really creep me out, with their mouthfuls of pointed teeth, their almost-human blue eyes and their long naked rat tails. They hiss like snakes and are just as likely to bite you as they are to roll over and play dead when cornered. The opossum is a horrible little animal and just a bad idea, if you ask me.

“Leave the nasty big rat alone,” I called out from my writing desk. A moment later I felt more than heard something hitting the side of the house, and then I heard the cat again, this time howling in the basement. The weather has turned cold and I thought that the opossum was trying to get into our house through the window well by the washer and dryer, or maybe trying to crawl through the gap below the ancient wooden garage doors.

This was annoying, because I was in the middle of a scene I’d been trying to write all evening and wanted nothing more than another hour of quiet in the house. Intruding animals being in my half of the division of domestic labor, I had however no choice but to get up from my desk and go down the basement stairs to see what was going on. There was nothing at the window above the wash sink. The cat was scratching at the heavy fire door that opened into the garage. She was growling low in her throat like a dog. She’s a strange cat.

“Something in the garage?” I asked her. She looked up briefly and then returned to scratching at the door. I undid the lock and just as I put my fingers on the door handle, I heard something falling or being knocked over within the garage. There was definitely something in there.

“Emma?” I called up the stairs, using Mighty Reader’s pseudonym because she’s diffident and this is a public blog post. “There’s something in the garage. I think it’s that damned ‘possum.”

A moment later Emma joined me at the garage door. The cat had fled upstairs, coward that she is.

“How’s the writing going?” Emma asked.

“Fine until now,” I said. We decided that Emma would open the door and stand behind it while I would go into the garage. I had armed myself with a shovel in case the opossum was not in a mood to play dead. We have an old house and there remain a great many repairs to be made to it, one of which is to rewire the lights in the garage. It was going to be dark in there, even with all the basement lights on. The stairwell between basement and main floor blocked most of the light from the fixture closest by the door to the garage. Like most Americans, we own a flashlight but it's loaded with dead batteries. I gripped my shovel and nodded to Emma, who gave the heavy door a yank and pulled it open.

Like I say, the garage was dark. From behind me, a rectangle of light fell just inside the doorway, illuminating the floor at my feet but beyond that, it was black as pitch.

“See anything?” Emma asked.


From ahead and to the right I heard a noise, the sound of something being dragged across the rough concrete. At the same time I heard what sounded like gnawing. I thought of the opossum’s mouth full of sharp teeth, like a shark’s mouth, and I shivered and held the shovel like a baseball bat or an axe. I could feel a cold breeze. That meant either Emma or I had not fully closed the garage doors, letting into our basement whatever now hid in the darkness. It was probably me who'd left the doors open, and my absent-mindedness annoyed me as I stood there in the dark holding a shovel. None of this fussing about with opossums or whatever was getting my chapter written. It was cold in the garage and I wasn’t wearing shoes and I’d drunk too many cups of tea and needed to use the bathroom and I was getting pissed off, if you must know.

The thing in the dark corner hissed and my eyes were beginning to adjust so when it moved toward me I saw that whatever it was, it was a lot bigger than an opossum. I swung the shovel at it as hard as I could and the steel blade made contact with bone. The impact made a lot less noise than I thought it would, but the thing stopped moving when I hit it.

“What is that?” Emma asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s big. I hope I didn’t just kill someone’s dog.”

“Half a mo’,” Emma said, and she disappeared long enough to fetch an emergency candle. When she lit it and held it up we both saw that I hadn’t killed a dog. What I had done was hit our next door neighbor, Monica, in the forehead with a shovel. She wasn’t moving. She wasn’t breathing.

“Jesus,” Emma said. “You killed Monica.” Monica had a husband and two teenaged sons.

“Why is she in our garage?”

“Look at this,” Emma said, moving the candle to light up the corner of the garage Monica had been hiding in. I saw the bloody remains of an opossum. Its head was missing.

“What the hell?” I said, and then Monica sat up and gave an unearthly howl. It was not the howl of a woman in pain from a shovel blow to the forehead, but the howl of a beast, a thing from another dimension. It was not a human noise at all. To Emma’s credit, she did not drop the candle, although the light caught Monica’s attention. She looked at Emma and hissed, a thread of saliva pouring from her mouth. Emma took a step back and Monica followed on hands and knees. I swung the shovel again, the blade making a much louder sound against Monica’s skull this time. Just to be sure, I hit her a dozen more times and then used the shovel to cut her head from her body.

“Jesus,” Emma said. “Now what?”

“Monica’s got a family,” I said. “We need to go next door.”

Within an hour Emma and I had rounded up most of the neighbors on our block and we broke down the front door of Monica’s house and dealt with her husband and sons. We built a bonfire in the empty lot down the street and burned all four bodies. I threw the headless opossum onto the flames for good measure. I still need to finish that chapter of my work-in-progress. This is a story I wrote to entertain you all for Halloween.


  1. So wonderful! And I love your profile pics and names. This is the best line: Like most Americans, we own a flashlight but it's loaded with dead batteries.

    Great story, and Happy Halloween!

  2. I love your story, Scott! I've got to read it twice for good measure. If my stone face doesn't crack, anyway. :)

  3. Ha! I knew it wasn't real when you said you had been drinking tea. You were drinking single-malt last night.

    And I second Annie's choice for the best line.

  4. "Just to be sure, I hit her a dozen more times and then used the shovel to cut her head from her body."

    Nice of you to be so exact, Scott ;)

    I third the comment about best line, btw.

  5. Great story. Our rechargeable, comes on when the power goes off, flashlight has been dead for years . . . and I still keep it plugged in on the hope that it might one day work again. Not likely, but still . . .

    Off to read your story again. I love Halloween.


  6. Great story! I didn't realize it wasn't true until the very end. We have problems with possums trying to break in, and it sounded like a believable scene to me.

  7. Flashlight Tip: Store the batteries in your flashlight, but don't screw the flashlight together completely. The loose connection keeps the batteries from running out.

  8. I really like this story, Scott! My favorite line, is the one about Monica having a family.

    Opossums creep me out too.

  9. Nice, very nice. :-) Happy Halloween!

  10. Heehee! Whew! Thanks for the segue into Halloween! Love your new names and updated pix, btw. Mwahaha!

  11. Rick, this is a work of fiction, so in it I'm drinking tea. Had I been drinking single malt, things would've gone differently, I'm sure.

    My favorite line is “Emma?” I called up the stairs, using Mighty Reader’s pseudonym because she’s diffident and this is a public blog post.

    The story's a little rough, but I hope everyone enjoys it, and has a happy Halloween!

  12. Scott, that was my second favorite line. :) Did Emma like it?

  13. Awesome! I thought it might be a raccoon, but secretly hoped for zombie. We've got that flashlight too, but luckily, it's a giant maglight that doubles as a weapon when the batteries are dead. Saliva! Very creepy. Thanks for the thrill.

  14. OMG, you're killing me!

    Especially this>

    "I threw the headless opossum onto the flames for good measure."

    Love the spooky makeover, and thanks for a fun story. Looks like this is officially the Year of the Zombie. ;)

  15. Thanks for the story! Very entertaining! Like everyone else, I loved the flashlight line. Also loved this: "Intruding animals being in my half of the division of domestic labor..." The way you included details about ordinary life, in a wry voice, made the Halloween story so much more fun.

  16. Davin: Mighty Reader's comments were, more or less, "You set a horror story in our house? Why did you do that?" I don't think she's read it as yet. Frankly, when I went down into our basement last night, I was sort of creeped out myself.

    Winter: For the record, we also have one of those billy-club MagLites; it was a gift from Emma's brother, the cop. It has working batteries, too. I considered using it as the weapon in this story, but the shovel struck me (sorry) as a nastier item to hit someone in the head with.

    Tere: My first undead story! I'm so proud to be part of the Year of the Zombie.

  17. That was FANTASTIC!! You absolutely had me until you hit Monica in the head with the shovel. You are a MASTER craftsman Scott G.F. Bailey. Kudos to you for making goosebumps.

  18. Great story, Scott!! You had me too until the Monica bit. Even then I thought you were going to say Monica had rabies or something. LoL! Funny that you chose a shovel. My husband recently used a shovel to kill a ginormous, ugly 'possum in our back yard that was torturing our poor dog much like your cat in the story. Needless to say, I'm taking everything you say from now on as a possible joke. ;)

  19. You're terrible Scott!!!! You really had me going. I was believing every bit, until the end of course! I was dying to know what it was already. Great post. Thanks for the laugh!

  20. Great story. Very entertaining, which is what you were going for huh? You had me until Monica came into the story. I hadn't heard of Scott Bailey arrested for murder and burning bodies of the beast family. :)

  21. Here in Ausrtralia it's the 31st already. Thanks for setting the mood for the day! :)

    Oh, and all three of our flashlights have working batteries. It's un-American of me, I know, but the Aussie I married has this weird idea that flashlights should work.

  22. What a treat! You did such a fantastic job of using real voice and everyday creepy annoyances that I didn't catch on until way into it. Masterful and funny, which is a always a plus.
    And the profile pix are priceless. Thanks for making my day.

  23. Makes me wish I'd posted the short story I wrote instead of a real blog today.

    Awesome, especiall the bit about flashlights and batteries. What American home has a decent store of useable batteries?

    I did a "what the heck" take on the pictures before I got it. I'm slow but I get there. Way cool guys.

    Fantastic story!


  24. Excellent. The flashlight loaded with dead batteries resonated with me because this is what I encountered at my parents' place two weeks ago when I blew the lights in the middle of the night.

  25. Not that I didn't love the story -- I did love the story -- but my favourite part was the title, Interruptions, because it was so prosaic. Who knew what horrors were hidden behind that innocent word?

  26. first time visited your blog...hmmm
    your story is great ...
    have nice weekend

  27. Love your Halloween pics, and I have nominated this blog for the award here

  28. Heavenly Muse: Mwhahahah! Welcome!

    Really, we're not always this weird, I don't think...we're just decorated up for the holiday. ;)

  29. All of your profile pictures caught me off guard. Very nice.
    Happy Halloween!

  30. Great Halloween story. And you had me pulled in from the very beginning because we have a dog that goes nuts over animals in the yard and not sure we have good batteries in our flashlights either.


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