Attempted Horror: 1996

I wrote my first horror story when I was 13 or 14 years old. I loved the genre, despite the fact that, being raised by Christian parents who obsessed about secular media consumption, I had never seen an actual horror film. I wasn’t even allowed to read Goosebumps novels for Christ’s sake. And we never went Trick or Treating.

Despite this lack of information on what horror stories were all about, I did my best to create my own, based mostly off of the descriptions of slasher flicks my friends had seen already.

It featured a monster who was the ghost of an escaped serial killer named Archibald Crane. If I remember correctly, Archibald escaped from prison but took a bullet while getting out and died out in a cornfield. His body was never found.

Years later, some farm kid finds Archibald’s skull in the cornfield and does what any kid would do. He uses it as the head of a scarecrow he is making. I don’t know what happened to the rest of his body. Coyotes I suppose.

Later that night, the ghost of Archibald Crane brings the scarecrow to life for some reason. I guess he had unfinished business, seeing as he hadn’t murdered everyone on Earth yet. He climbs off his scarecrow pole, kills the family of farmers with a scythe, and then set out towards town.

Thus ended chapter one.

I was pretty proud of my story so far. I thought it was edgy and scary, so I showed it to my buddy Greg. Greg read it through, pondered it for a second, and then asked if he could write the second chapter. I hesitantly agreed, and he dashed off a quick scene where the killer goes into the bathroom to kill a woman in the shower, but before he can pop through the curtain with his knife like Anthony Perkins, the would-be victim slips on a bar of soap and breaks her neck. And instead of calling my killer Archibald, or Crane, Greg referred to him as “Archie.”

It stung a little to learn that the darkness of my 14 year old soul wasn’t being taken seriously, but I had to admit, his story was pretty funny. We spent the next few weeks taking turns writing chapters. Mine were always gruesome bloodbaths and Greg’s were always slapstick vignettes. I’m pretty sure we illustrated it as well. Greg did anyway.

I don’t know what happened to that story. I wish I still had it. Most likely my parents found it and threw it away because of its satanic content. But even though it is decades gone, like a skull found in a field, the ghost of Archibald “Archie” Crane still haunts me. Happy Halloween!

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