The night is never entirely the night, not in any major city, not in the 21st century. The sun may go down, the moon may rise, but most streets are lit, you can't even see the stars for all the lights, and thousands of people go about their business. Fewer than in the daytime, but still, so very many people.
That doesn't mean there isn't still plenty to fear.
Are there criminals? Yes. Are there gangs? Yes. Are there cops? Yes. Are there people with soothing voices and cold eyes and ready-made cold drinks? Yes. And there are good reasons to fear all of them. But they're not all I'm afraid of.
There's a man in the alley behind the coffee shop. I can't be sure, but I think he wears a burlap bag over his head, and he has the most unnervingly large knife in his hand. He never says a word, but I know he hates letting me pass. I hurry along before he can come out of the alley with his knife and his blank burlap face.
I hear a quiet jingle of bells, and I know, I just know that Flipsy the Happy Clown is somewhere nearby, cackling gleefully, axes in both hands, probably capering down the street toward me. I make a detour to pass the children's hospital -- no way he can resist a whole hospital of helpless kids, right?
I start to take a shortcut through the park, but that would be a huge mistake. I'd either run into one of those pumpkin scarecrows, the ones who thirst for your flesh, despite all the difficulties of digesting meat with a gourd-and-straw-based gastrointestinal system, or I'd meet up with the inbred McGillicuddy clan from the Appalachian swamps, who also thirst for your flesh, despite the convenience of Goldberg's Kosher Deli just outside the park. Better not to risk it.
But even the main city streets aren't without risk. I have to contend with the Tucker Twins, crawling out of the sewers, hair dangling wetly in their faces, pale, waterlogged flesh slowly sloughing off their bones. I don't actually see them, but you can feel them in the shadows, peering out of the storm drains.
There are the traditional vampires, werewolves, and zombies, too. Oh, I know, at first glance, you might think they were just birds flapping in the trees instead of vampire bats, or dogs barking in the distance instead of lycanthropes, or drunks staggering home instead of the ravenous undead -- but you'd be wrong. I know you'd be wrong.
And towering over everything is Atmodomox the Pestilent, hundreds of feet tall, thousands of mouths and eyes, a force for global chaos and terror and madness, a gargantuan, glowing shadow lurking behind the Bank of America building on 125th. You can't see it, but you can feel it, slowly driving you mad with terror.
But at last, I make my escape from all of them and return home. Home sweet home, home safe home.
I drop the bag of burgers on the kitchen table, and call the wife and kids down for supper. Thank god, they're okay -- no home invasion, and no alien invasion either. Leah and I get the kids around the table, serve up some sodas, make sure everyone has their napkins. Then we say grace, open up our cartons, unzip our faces from foreheads to chins, and let the thousands of spiders living inside our skins out for supper. We mingle together, share our food, eat each other a little bit, and even mate a little -- your standard Modern America Family Time.
And none of us feel any fear at all. Not a bit.
It's that time of year again. Let's try to scare each other.
Write an original scary story. Write a horror-themed poem. Node a story that is in the public domain. Write a factual writeup that is about horror or scary stuff. Write a biography of a writer or actor closely associated with the horror genre. Create a review of a horror film or story. It can be any length and any topic -- as long as it's scary.
What's the runtime for the Quest? The entire month of October, plus November 1, server time. Halloween is too awesome to limit to just one day a year.
If you need inspiration, or if you just want to see some more of the scary stories that Everythingians have produced, check out our previous horror quests: I can make you howl. And vice versa. Let's get down to business., Everything Quests: Scary Stories, The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest, They Hunger For Nodes: An e2 Halloween Scary Story Quest (sadly, the nodequest entry has been deleted), I Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Text: The 2005 Halloween Horrorquest, It's the Season for Graves Cracking: The 2006 Quest for Fear (another deleted quest announcement, unfortunately), The Poet and the Worm, The Night's Plutonian Shore: The 2007 Halloween Horrorquest, Necronodecon: The 2008 Halloween Horrorquest, Pickman's Nodegel: The 2009 Halloween Horrorquest, Ten Years of Terror: The 2010 Halloween Horrorquest, The Nodegel from Yuggoth: The 2011 Halloween Horrorquest, Children of the Night: The 2012 Halloween Horrorquest, and 13 O'Clock: The 2013 Halloween Horrorquest.
Again, the Quest will run for the entire month of October and November 1. If you post early or late -- too bad, so sad.
When you write a story for the Quest, just /msg me with the node title, then softlink your writeup to this node. I'll include a list of all the Quest participants below.
So start thinking horror, boils and ghouls. Halloween is coming. Let's scare each other.
My old clothes hang on a chair like ghosts of people I've been by Bitriot
An evening with Stan Feldman of the Internal Revenue Service by Pandeism Fish
maybe there is something in the dark... by chickwiththeface
Love of Insight by Uberbanana
The road is long and dark, and the night, though familiar, is full of terrors. by Zephronias
Death with Dignity by borgo
a message lodged in the machine by Rancid_Pickle
I have morphed into the drab colors that surround me by borgo
The Human in the Void by arylisa
God gets pissed by lizardinlaw
A Dictionary of Untranslatable Words by Tem42
Good Grief, Charlie Brown by Clockmaker
safety in numbers by borgo
The grace of a thousand reptilians by Jet-Poop
Overtoun Bridge by borgo
Anne Rice House by Glowing Fish
Anne Rice House by TheAnglican
Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo by TheAnglican
The Phantom of the Opera by Jet-Poop
True Detective by Jet-Poop
The Uninvited by corvus
Plague Inc. by Uberbanana
The Grave by Glowing Fish
The Woman in Black by JD
Horrorstör by Jet-Poop
It's a Good Life by Glowing Fish
Frankenstein, MD by Uberbanana
Sandman Slim by Zephronias
Node of Living Dead - October 2014 retiring of Node Heaven by jaybonci
November 1, 2014 by doyle
The Horrorquest is ended for another year! Thank you all for your enthusiastic participation!