I bet you’re feeling it right about now. That strong desire to be walking through the Universal Studios gates into the fog-filled streets of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). To fill that hunger for HHN, we’re continuing our short story collection of past haunted houses and scare zones stories. In this next chapter, it’s time to flashback to 1984, where the year is about to end with one “killer” New Year’s Eve bash. But a party can’t start without the right tunes…
Getting Ready for the Party
“Dude! Check this out,” David bellowed with excitement. “Not a cassette in sight!” His voice rang out over the electric door chime as he and Chuck entered Shades’ Record Shop. David went straight to the back corner of the dimly-lit store.
“Good stuff’s always in the back, man,” said David as he reached out to start thumbing through a box of records. He continued, “Can’t believe you were holding out on me. I thought I knew every album shop in the five boroughs.”
“You gotta save the best for last,” Chuck explained, as he leaned back on a box of records next to David. He had finally pulled his hoodie back and lifted his sunglasses to his forehead. Chuck stuffed his hands into the pockets of a faded jean jacket he wore over his hoodie. Headphones could be seen curving around the back of his neck with the earpieces resting on his collarbone.
“Besides,” Chuck said with a grin, “I didn’t know if you’d be cool enough to hang in here.”
David stopped thumbing through albums as he raised an eyebrow, looking at his friend. “You serious, man? That’s bunk. This place is just a record store.”
“Chill out, man. I brought you in here, didn’t I? I know the owner, so be cool. Or was I wrong about you?” It was Chuck’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Besides, I wanted you to meet the guy who had the 411 about what went down at that homecoming parade out west.”
David stood up from leaning over the box of records and moved close to his friend. “Wait, is that why you brought me here? I thought we were just looking for some tunes for our New Year’s party. Should’ve known when we walked in here and they had that old rockabilly music playing. Why do you obsess over an accident that happened back in the ‘50s?”
“Dude! It wasn’t an accident.” Chuck started to lean in and whisper excitedly to David. “Rumors have it people were torn up like animals, and there were others with zero blood left in their bodies. I’m telling you, it was…”
“Chuck,” David said in complete exasperation. “Do not say it. Don’t say—”
At Chuck’s exclamation, David poked his head up to look around the store. There were only a few other people in the shop. One was a lone punk. She had a tall pink mohawk and was wearing a red leather vest with spikes. There was also a duo of guys in velvet tracksuits that were looking at albums together. None of them seemed to notice Chuck’s ridiculous outburst as they continued to browse the store.
“Ok, man, no one heard you being a total wastoid.” David was completely frustrated with Chuck. He placed a hand on Chuck’s shoulder and looked him dead in the eyes. “That kind of thing is why people picked on you so much. You make it hard to be your friend, man.”
Chuck’s eyes grew big as he pleaded for David to understand. “You’ve got to listen to me. People have covered that stuff up for thirty years, but I’m telling you, something weird went down.”
“Chuck, there is no such thing as freaking vampires. It was just an accident at an old homecoming parade. Nothing covered up or weird happened. It was just—”
“Oh, I don’t know, Daddy-o. I’d say some weird things went on at that Hollywood homecoming parade back in ’55.”
The owner of the interrupting voice seemed to appear from nowhere, as David certainly didn’t hear him approach. He was tall and slender, wearing jeans rolled at the cuff, and a black leather motorcycle jacket over a tight-fitting white T-shirt. His jet-black hair was styled high in a pompadour, and despite the darkness in the back of the store, a pair of black aviator sunglasses covered his eyes.
Chuck gestured to the newcomer. “This is the guy I was talking about, David. He knows all about what happened that night. This is Shades.”
David looked Shades up and down. “Um… Shades? Are you serious, man? You dress up like this everyday, or are you going to a sock-hop party?”
Shades let a wide smile spread slowly across his lips. Something about it unnerved David. As the smile reached its apex, Shades pulled out an unopened switchblade from his pocket, bringing it up between him and David’s face.
David twitched in shock as the blade swung open to reveal it was just a comb, and not a true knife. Shades combed back the hair on the sides of his head as he chuckled.
“No need to agitate the gravel, I’m just making sure the hair is looking good.” As Shades finished fixing his hair, he asked, “What’s buzzin’, cuzzin’?”
“What’s buzzin’ is my friend’s head. You’re not helping if you’ve been filling it with vampire nonsense,” David said as he recomposed himself standing tall to Shades.
Chuck jumped in, “Sorry, Shades. Ya know, he hasn’t heard all those stories.”
“I get it, daddy-o. He’s not someone that gets impressed easily,” Shades intoned as someone truly out of his time.
David looked incredulous. “Can you cut it with the daddy-o crap? It’s almost halfway through the ‘80s, man. How am I supposed to take anything you say seriously?”
Shades tipped his head down, and his dark eyes just barely peaked over his sunglasses at David. “Normally I’d tell you to put an egg in your shoe and beat it, but I like a challenge,” Shades said with a grin. “I can tell you what happened back in ’55, and you be the judge of what’s true and what’s not.”
David looked back at Chuck who had the most excited grin on his face. His eyes begged David to listen to the story. “Ok, fine,” David said, giving in. “What really happened?”
Twirling a toothpick through his fingers, Shades began his tale.
“No one knows where they came from, but just as the sun was beginning to set, and the homecoming parade was getting started, a whole gang of greasers rolled up on their bikes. The line of motorcycles stopped in front of the parade, so the whole thing just had to stop in its tracks, ya dig? The marching bands stopped playing, the cheerleaders stopped riling up the crowd, and people were really quiet, just staring at the audacity.”
David listened to Shades’ story. He was unimpressed, but Chuck was nodding along and loving every word. Like he’d heard the story a thousand times, and each next part was his favorite bit.
“So,” Shades continued, “no one was sure what to do. Turns out, the only guy who was willing to lay some apple butter down on this crew and see if he could talk them into moving along, was this guy pushing an ice cream cart around. Paper hat and all. I mean, can you believe it?”
“No,” David stated flatly. “I can’t.”
“Neither could they,” Shades continued, seeming to miss or ignore David’s insult.
“So, what looks to be the leader of the crew gets off his bike, real sweet ride by the way, and walks over to the ice cream man. He looks him in the eye and tells him, ‘if you give me a tasty treat, we can let the party get started.’ Looking back at the crowd, then back to the leader of the pack, the ice cream man decides to do just that. He reaches into his cart and scoops some strawberry ice cream onto a cone, then holds it out to the guy. The greaser gang starts laughing and their leader starts chuckling. Even the ice cream man joins in with a quiet laugh. He thinks it’s all smoothed over. So do some of the nearby townies who join in with nervous giggles. Then suddenly, the laughter stops when the greaser boss reaches out and grabs the ice cream man’s arm instead of the cone. Everyone freezes in place, as the boss says—”
“This is my favorite part!” Chuck shrieked.
Shades looked sternly at Chuck. “Cut the gas!” Chuck seemed to shrink like a dog being scolded as Shades continued, “Now, where was I?”
David, who hated to admit that he was at least somewhat enjoying the story even if he didn’t believe a word of it, reminded Shades, “The gang leader or whatever. He grabbed the ice cream dude.”
“Thanks, daddy-o,” Shades said warmly as he nodded in thanks. “So, he looks at the ice cream man and says…” Shades paused for obvious dramatic effect. “‘I don’t like anything sweet with my meat.’”
At this, Shades let out a laugh. David heard more laughs join in as he realized the other people in the store had gathered closer and had begun to listen to Shades’ story, as well.
Shades continued excitedly, “Then the boss-man opens his mouth wide, and those blood bags looking on see these big fangs shining in the last of the sunlight. Next thing they know, the boss chomps down on the ice cream man’s neck. The blood starts to spray everywhere, and the place erupts into total chaos. People start running, but the greasers fire up their bikes, and start chasing them down with their own fangs bared for the kill.”
Shades looked expectantly at David. “So, whaddya think, daddy-o?”
David looked around at the people who had stepped forward to listen. The punk, the guys in the track suits, and even Chuck, were all looking at David.
“I, uh… I mean, it’s a cool story, I guess.” David tried to ignore everyone looking on as he turned his head back to Shades. “Would make a rad flick, but, I mean, I don’t know. How are you gonna say something like that is true? Besides, it’s not like you were there.”
“Oh,” spoke Shades slowly. A wicked grin spread across his face as he continued, “But I was there, ya dig?”
Shades’ smile made David squirm inside. He started to think about leaving, but with the other shoppers in the store having moved closer to listen, he couldn’t just make a break for it. Their presence cut off any quick exit.
“You were there?” David asked. “Come on, man. That was, like, 30 years ago. You’re what, like, 25 at most?”
“I’ve been 25 for a long time, daddy-o,” Shades said as he smiled wide, exposing two very sharp fangs.
David started to back up but was stopped by someone. He looked back to see Chuck grabbing his right shoulder, and the punk girl grabbing his left. “Chuck, what are you doing?”
Chuck looked sad for a moment. “David, I’m sorry, dude.” Then, Chuck’s face lit up with excitement. “But this is gonna be rad, man. Don’t fight this and we can party forever!” As Chuck spoke, his incisors began to grow long.
“Yeah, David,” Shades said as he pulled his sunglasses off, revealing eyes of red. “In just a few weeks, we ring in 1985. Let me tell ya, daddy-o, we got a big party planned for when that ball drops.”
“Get away!” David screamed as Chuck and the punk held him tight, pulling his arms behind his back. The two men in tracksuits began to chuckle as they moved behind Shades. Their laughter also revealed growing fangs.
“You’re a panic-and-a-half,” Shades said coolly as he slid up close to David’s face. “Like your pal Chuck said, take it easy, and you might just survive to join in the fun. Come on, snake, let’s rattle!”
Laughter filled the store as David screamed. His cries were cut short by the fire he felt in his neck as Shades bit down. David’s world went red, then faded to black.
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