31 October, 2018

Halloween in the Hoosegow V: The Festival

[With apologies to H.P. Lovecraft]

I was far from home, and the spell of the season was upon me. In the twilight I felt it all around. And because my custodians had forced me to this old town of Bonne Terre, to my new prison, I was compelled to make the most of Halloween alone, without my compatriots in the Octoberfeast Cult. We were now scattered, and shared only the rituals of mysteries that none else alive could understand. At ERDCC, I was the only one.

The mad Arab Abdul Alhazred's forbidden Necronomicon, in the awkward Low Latin translation of Olaus Wormius that I have read only fearful excerpts from, offers means by which to summon things too hideous for sanity or consciousness, but because an old tradition compelled me, I resolved myself to strange feasting on this night.

When I added tortilla chips, nacho cheese, chicken meat, and the blasphemous motley of other ingredients to my canteen list I was half afraid. Some fear had been gathering in me, perhaps because of the strangeness of my surroundings, and the bleakness of my company, and the queerness of their disinterest in basic cable's spooky October movie lineup. And when I saw how much my canteen order totaled I was fully afraid, because I had never carried the entire cost of the Octoberfeast before. But I was not afraid long, for my Southern-accented cellmate had a glad response to my Halloween decorations that reassured me; and though he made remarks that he was a dumb country boy, he expressed a quaint and ancient welcome of my weird fanaticism, saying, "It sounds good. Hell, I'll throw in with you on that!"

The calendar taunted me. After Thursday's canteen pick-up I needed to wait six days before I could commence the festival. Madness threatened to consume my soul. I felt ferocious and inexplicable cravings.

When the day arrived and five o'clock struck, however, Hopper, my cellmate, stood up, glided to his footlocker in the corner, and got two containers of cheese. Then he started for the microwave. The tortuous line to that incredibly coveted appliance formed quickly. I looked out, amid hushed summonings of the nachos' oozing brown refried-bean soul, and saw Hopper's progress along that sinuous line of dinner-marchers seemed very horrible, and as I strewed the lurid shimmering shreds of chicken across the vast expanse of that unimaginable meal, the wait seemed more horrible still. I thought I heard muffled taunting: The beans are getting cold! But what frightened me most was the flaming column our cheese could become if Hopper wasn't mindful of the timer. For in all that seething combustion no warmth would lay, but only the clamminess of an unsatisfied stomach.

Presently Hopper returned with the cheese and pointed to the heap of deeply buried chips that no sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain wholly remember. "That's all mine?" he gasped. I nodded in response. That he did not scream and bring down upon us all the hungry legions the neighboring cells held was a wonder.

When I went delirious at eating too much unthinkably processed, preservative-laden foodstuffs, I rested. There is something on my calendar about The Pit and the Pendulum on TCM tonight. So I will watch that nerve-shattering film, and shudder doubly because Poe's tale is indeed not new to me. I have read it before, let the years conceal what they might; and I know too the mad Arab's charnel work, full of phrases I dare not quote. Abdul Alhazred writes, I will only say, a recipe for deluxe nachos that is delicious.

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