I CRASHED THE MASH AT CASTLE FRANKENSTEIN ON ALL HALLOW'S EVE
A GORDY THE PUMPKIN ADVENTURE
Alan Dale Dalby
Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
~Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr.
The children of the night made beautiful music once more for a grinning Dracula. He poured himself into his coffin for a good day's sleep after a long night of partying. The rest of the gang would disperse in time and go off their separate ways, not to return to Castle Dracula until the following year. Those were the good old days that stayed with the vampire as the yearly mash turned to every-other-year. Soon the distance between celebrations extended, until they ceased altogether. Dracula grew old and bitter, but bit no one, for he was too depressed to eat. Each October, Halloween would come and go, silent and solitary; without so much as an angry villager with a blazing torch to spice up his night. And so Count Dracula consigned himself to a hermit's existence, vowing never to exit the walls of his castle again.
There was a loud knocking at the gate one evening. A voice called out but was stifled and inaudible. Dracula forced open his heavy eyelids and slowly rose from his crypt. He stopped to groan as his bones cracked and his rarely used joints popped. Whomever dared darken his doorstep would soon know the full extent of his fury, he told himself; but first a quick breather at the halfway mark. The old count sat on his favorite couch and panted. Another banging sound echoed through the castle and his frail body. The muffled voice he had heard before was no clearer, but did manage to grow slightly louder. Or was that simply on account of Dracula being closer to the gate now? He pondered the thought for a bit before his own snoring woke him back up. Ah yes! He smiled as he stood once more. There is an unwelcomed guest at my door!
A box flew in through a window and crashed upon the stone floor at Dracula's feet. It soon became clear that the voice he heard was coming from inside of the package. He bent over to check the box and found himself unable to stand back up. An hour passed this way, the old vampire staring at an unmarked package that was doing its best to annoy him with endless murmuring. There was a crash and a small yellow pumpkin exploded out of the box. Dracula was startled back to a standing position. The loud crack of his back startled the pumpkin which rolled back toward him. Dracula tried to read the words that had been written on the vegetable but could only make out a blur of sharpee ink. He bent over to see if he could make them out more clearly..
Party at Castle Frankenstein tonight! BYOB (Bring Your Own Blood).
Dracula tried to stand up straight but found himself stuck again. "Drat!" He said aloud.
The music was booming loud enough to shake the walls of Castle Frankenstein. A bat that had crashed in mid-flight danced atop a rolling yellow pumpkin as both approached the open gate at the mouth of the castle.
"Hello there my good Count." A thin old man towered over the pumpkin. The bat flopped onto the ground as the pumpkin came to a stop. It huffed and puffed for a few minutes before a cloud of smoke transformed it back into one Count Dracula.
"Doctor Frankenstein," Dracula grimaced, "I was quite surprised to receive your invitation."
"It has been a very long time old friend." Doctor Frankenstein smiled warmly as he took Dracula's hand and helped the old vampire to his feet. Dracula checked for the madness that had once thrived as a bright sparkle in the doctor's eyes. He was saddened when he did not find it.
"So, how is Igor these days?"
"Dead, I'm afraid. How is Mister Renfield doing?"
"Undead. I did him that favor so he could enjoy eternal life; I figured I owed him that. On his first day as a vampire he tried to go swimming at the community pool at high noon."
"Isn't the community pool outdoors?"
"I'm afraid so yes. He didn't make it past the front yard the poor devil." Dracula bowed his head. The somber conversation was interrupted by the muffled mumblings of the little yellow pumpkin as it rolled over to Doctor Frankenstein. It crashed against his wingtips and took note that they were in desperate need of some polishing.
"Ah, my little messenger has returned to me as well I see!" As the mad doctor bent over to pick up the pumpkin, Dracula noticed a small hint of the old spark in his friend's eyes. The pumpkin shook in the doctor's hands and whined. "Let's fix that muted speech of yours shall we?"
Doctor Frankenstein took the pumpkin inside. He waved Dracula in and drew the front gate closed. The castle was in slightly better condition than his own, but then Dracula was a few centuries older than the doctor so more time had passed since he last cared to bother dusting away the cobwebs. The trio landed in Frankenstein's kitchen. The mad doctor plopped the yellow pumpkin down and opened up a drawer. He fished through it while grumbling lowly to himself. Finally he shouted AH-HAH! He produced a small plastic packet and a large dull steak knife. The pumpkin seemed noticeably nervous. Doctor Frankenstein laughed wildly as he sliced open the plastic packet and stuck two large google-eyes on the side of the pumpkin that he had not written the invitation on.
"What do you think old friend?" The doctor asked as he showed the pumpkin to Dracula. The old vampire wasn't sure how to react. He just raised his eyebrows and nodded approvingly. The pumpkin kept on mumbling and Frankenstein raised a knowing finger in the air. "He must be allowed…to SPEAK!" He laughed and searched through the drawer for a mouth. He could not find anything suitable, but did manage to find some glue and fuzzy colored craft balls. The doctor improvised and used the materials to construct two eyebrows, a nose, and a neatly-groomed handlebar mustache. He took slow steps back and admired his creation. "Come on then, SPEAK!"
"Are you serious with this?" The pumpkin caught his reflection in the microwave door and gasped. "I look like Captain Spaulding. I'm supposed to be a jack-o-lantern!"
"I think perhaps this little pumpkin of yours is not very grateful to you dear doctor." Dracula smirked.
"My name is Gordy, and I am not a pumpkin. I am a jack-o-lantern! Every year I have to go through this all over again. I can understand with most people, but you Frankenstein? You should know what the deal is."
"So, you actually want to be carved up and scooped-out?" Dracula stepped forward.
"Well it beats what Doctor Hobby-stein did to me. How am I even talking? You forgot the mouth."
"It's under your mustache. It wiggles every time you talk." Dracula pointed out.
"See? I've still got it!" Doctor Frankenstein pumped his fist in the air.
"Oh you do eh? Then where are the rest of your party guests doc?" Gordy tried hard and managed to raise his right eyebrow at the doctor.
"So it's a party you are looking for is it? Then let's step outside; the party is in the back yard…and it is off the chain son!"
Dracula and Gordy exchanged doubtful glances. Still, Dracula picked up Gordy and they followed their host through the large castle and out to the back yard. They were greeted by a long skirted table littered with snacks and a bowl of punch with some plastic cups. A large familiar face stepped in front of the trio and blocked their view. Frankenstein's Monster groaned and choked and wheezed at them before finally spitting up the feather he was choking on.
"Oh Francis, did you forget to pluck the pheasant before you cooked it again?" Doctor Frankenstein asked.
"What mean cook?" The monster lovingly known to his creator as Francis asked before coughing up a beak.
"I am dreadfully sorry but it seems dinner will be quite late, if at all existent." The doctor shook his head,
"I have no problem with that, do you Drac?" Gordy pointed the black plastic pupils in his google-eyes up at Dracula.
"No, I've been on an all blood diet for a while now. Let's just enjoy the party." As Dracula stepped past Francis he took notice of the other guests. All of his own old Halloween party guests, now transplanted to their new host's castle; and all of them looking awful.
Larry the Wolfman was falling in and out of sleep in a lawn chair. The light of the full moon betrayed his receding hairline and his itchy hotspots. One of his fangs was broken and the other was in the midst of decay. He waved at Dracula but quickly went back to scratching his fleas.
The Mummy was using its wrappings to soak up some of the punch it had spilled on Frankenstein's table. The colorful floral pattern on the white wrappings gave away the big secret that it was filling in the gaps of its old moldy wrappings with store brand paper towels.
There was an impressive fountain in the center of the yard with one broken cherub statue spitting water from the top into the pool below. The Creature from the Black Lagoon emerged from the algae-coated water and popped its neck. Dracula spotted the excessive fin rot on the Creature and shook his head.
"This…is…sad." Gordy said.
"You have no idea little pumpkin." Dracula replied.
"Jack-o-lantern." Gordy corrected.
"Whatever you say." Dracula took a seat in an empty lawn chair and placed Gordy in the grass beside him. He looked very deep in thought, as if his mind was traveling to another place far away. In fact it was traveling back in time, to the glory days of the annual Halloween Mash.
"You're not just going to sit there and bum out on me are you Drac?"
"What a sad sight to behold my little pump…er…jack-o-lantern." Dracula lamented. "Do you realize that they used to fear us? Every year the villagers would gather, and their dread of what horrible acts they imagined being performed at Castle Dracula would help add fuel to the burning fire. They have penned stories and songs by the hundreds, maybe thousands, dedicated to the glory of our wild get-togethers."
"Yeah, some of those songs are annoying." Gordy felt a twinge of fear as Dracula scowled at him. "That's just my opinion though, Count." Gordy's mustache smiled nervously. This was after all, THE Count Dracula. Even if he had passed retirement by a very long shot, he was not the guy who a simple little jack-o-lantern wanted to make angry. "I think I know how we can breathe some life into this little shindig."
"Is that an undead joke?" Dracula still looked grumpy.
"Not at all Count, um…sir. Just hoist me up and I will show you the way."
"Fine. But if you don't get this mash off of the ground by midnight, you are going to be a very sorry little pumpkin."
"Jack-o…" Gordy wisely stopped himself from speaking for a change. "Let's just go over to the stereo system."
"The Victrola?" Dracula asked as he picked Gordy up.
"Whatever. Just take me to the music." Gordy was toted over to the old Victor-Victrola Phonograph and set down beside it. There was a dusty old box of records next to him.
"What am I looking for exactly?" Dracula asked.
"Name off some albums to me." Gordy peeked at the box next to him as Dracula flipped through the records.
"The Four Tops?"
"Okay," Dracula continued to flip. "Simon and Garfunkle?"
"Ah! Smashing Pumpkins?"
"NO!" Gordy snapped. He was trembling for a minute after.
"I didn't think that would bother you, seeing as how you are not a mere pumpkin but a mighty jack-o-lantern."
"What's that record there?" Gordy did spot an album that caught his attention, even if it worked a bit too well in changing the subject. His mustache curled into a large grin. "That's the one."
With a scratchy old pop the record began to play. The Mummy stopped mopping up the Wolfman's drool and both of them perked up their ears. Francis stomped over to the fountain and yanked a struggling Creature out of the pool. The creature stopped struggling as the music filled its ears. The four monsters came together and began to dance. Doctor Frankenstein smiled and walked over to Dracula.
"It looks like they are enjoying this one." The mad doctor said.
"They should enjoy it. It was written in all of our honor." Dracula stood tall and proud as the song pumped out of the Victrola. The monsters all did as the song recalled them once doing; they did The Mash. The party was cut short when Francis lost his left leg and fell onto the Creature. The vibrations caused the Mummy to stumble and come completely unraveled as the Wolfman held onto the end of its paper towels.
"I'm naked!" The mummy screamed. The group of fellow monsters whom had only heard the mummy groan before watched in stunned surprise as she ran inside the castle.
"Oh my!" Doctor Frankenstein said. "Who would have guessed it?"
"She is remarkably well-preserved." Dracula noted.
"Um, gross." Gordy added.
"Oh lighten-up Gordy." Dracula said. "What happened to Francis?"
"He's falling apart all of the time. My funding got cut and I kept running out of actual supplies. I had to start shopping in the hobby section of the Mega-Mart." The ashamed doctor revealed.
"What is holding him together?" Gordy asked.
"Gorilla glue and duct tape, mainly. There are quite a few stitches in there but his body doesn't support the them anymore."
"What happened to us my old friend?" Dracula put a hand on the doctor's back to comfort him.
"You just said it. We have gotten old." Doctor Frankenstein and Dracula sighed. They looked over at their fellow Mashers all trying to put themselves back together.
"Someone should help the Creauture. It looks like it is already dead underneath Francis there." Gordy interjected.
"I am immortal my friend. How is it even possible that I have grown too old to party?" Dracula said.
"I'm serious guys. The Creature isn't moving or breathing. It probably needs to get back in the water, if Francis hasn't squished it to death that is. Guys?" Gordy was left ignored.
There was a moment of silence before they all heard the rhythm that boomed from beyond the walls that enclosed the back yard. It was very loud, very lively, and it was causing them all to move their hips to the beat.
"Where is that coming from?" Dracula asked.
"It's some children of the night that you have yet to meet Drac. But they are over there making beautiful music right now. I say we go crash." Gordy wagged his thick eyebrows.
"Crash, you say?" Dracula smiled at Doctor Frankenstein. He caught that mad twinkle in his old friend's eyes as the doctor smiled back. The two walked away and left Gordy behind.
"Hey! What am I, squash?" The Wolfman was fresh from saving The Creature from Francis, he came over and picked up Gordy.
"Did you get left behind little fella?" He said in a raspy strained growl.
"Follow the vampire and the crazy scientist. We have a party to crash."
Gordy arrived well after Dracula and Doctor Frankenstein thanks to the Wolfman's crippling hip dysplasia. As soon as Gordy could make out the lyrics to Grim Grinning Ghosts he gasped.
"What is it?" The Wolfman growled out his question. Then he saw the glow that lit up the gravestones in the sprawling cemetery below them. The Wolfman followed Dracula and Doctor Frankenstein as they walked down the hill towards the glow.
"It's a bad situation, and I caused it." Gordy frowned with his fuzzy mustache. Dracula popped his knuckles and the mad doctor palmed a scalpel in his jacket pocket. The two heads of the annual Monster Mash stopped at the edge of the cemetery and did their best to look menacing. Gordy braced for the clash that was about to happen.
"Hey!" Dracula yelled at the dancing ghosts and brought them slowly to a floating halt. "We've told you kids before to keep down that noise!"
"Oh boy." Gory rolled the black pupils in his shiny plastic eyes. "This is so embarrassing."
"What is embarrassing about it?" The Wolfman growled. "We've had to register complaints with the villagers about them."
"Oh yeah? How did that go?"
"We got chased off by villagers with torches and pitchforks. I mean, I get that they are scared of us…but can't they get a new routine?"
"Like guns?" Gordy asked.
"Never mind. I'll stick to torches." The Wolfman parked himself next to Dracula. The four members of the monsters stood their ground and watched the rebellious young ghosts as most went back to their singing and dancing.
"We have as much of a right to party on Halloween as you guys do." The lead ghost floated over to the monsters with his glowing arms crossed.
"All Hollow's Eve is our night. It always has been and it always will be." Dracula announced.
"Oh my gosh it's really Dracula!" A female ghost floated over and smiled at the old vampire. "I was you for Halloween every year until I couldn't pass for a boy anymore."
"That is disturbing to me on so many levels that I don't know where to start." Dracula frowned.
"I'm saying that you are one of my childhood heroes." The female ghost pouted.
"Really?" Dracula smirked a bit before he caught himself. "Nonsense! Spider-Man and Batman are heroes young lady. I am a terrifying monster from beyond the grave!" Dracula raised his voice dramatically and raised his cape.
"Batman was probably a knock-off of you though." The lead ghost chimed in. "I mean, the cape and the bat thing and all, you were definitely an influence there."
"Gosh, he's been around since like the forties or something!" The female ghost glowed a bit brighter with glee. "That was like a really long time ago."
"Yes. I suppose it was a very long time ago." Dracula frowned harder. The female ghost turned a bit red. Gordy was amused to learn that even ghosts blushed when embarrassed. It didn't make any sense since they had no blood or bodies anymore. He decided to stop worrying about it and just go along with the whole thing.
"Don't be such a drag old man." This new voice sounded very familiar to the monsters. A male ghost wearing a robe and sunglasses approached. Dracula squinted as for the very first time in his afterlife he was seeing the face of a man he had known for a very long time.
"Is that really you Griffin?" Dracula took another step forward and was now standing on cemetery turf.
"Surprised to see me?" Griffin laughed.
"Well it is not every day that I get to look at the Invisible Man. What happened to you?"
"I died. It happens to the best of us." Griffin said. "You don't have to take my word for it though." He floated aside and presented two more friendly ghosts.
"Igor!" Doctor Frankenstein rushed forward to hug his old assistant only to fall through a group of ghosts and land flat on his face.
"Oh master, are you okay?" Igor was genuinely concerned. The mad doctor rose to his feet and held open his arms.
"You hug me, how does that sound?" The doctor huffed. He soon felt a faint tingling sensation wrapping around him.
"It's good to see you master."
"Let's forget that master stuff shall we? Just call me Victor."
"Okay…Victor?" Igor felt wrong about it but was content to do as his master asked, loyal even after the last.
"Renfield?" Dracula stepped forward now and smiled at his own glowing ex-servant.
"Hello to you my master." Renfield bowed. "I am so glad to be reunited with you on this marvelous Halloween night."
"I've sent for the others." Griffin said as he toyed with a glowing pipe. Was it a ghost too? Gordy thought he must be the only one there wondering about such things. It was a strange feeling to be the most normal creature at the party for a change. "I hope that is okay with you dear Dracula."
Dracula turned to see what all of the ghosts were marveling at. The Mummy arrived in fresh silky wrappings that did a far better job of showing what was left of her feminine curves.
"You look stunning my dear." Dracula told her.
"Griffin left behind his old stuff for me from when he was the Invisible Man. They fit like they were tailored to me!" She twirled happily.
"Well, I did have a rather thin frame I suppose." Griffin coughed.
"Check it out!" The lead ghost pointed to the Creature from the Black Lagoon as it approached. It dove into a pond nearby where the ghosts had dumped a bucket of aquarium salt into the fresh water.
"I took the liberty of checking the pH levels and treating the Creature with some Tetracycline. I think we caught the fin rot early enough to knock it out before he loses any fingers." Griffin said.
"How do you know it is a he?" The Wolfman growled out a question.
"Please, don't ask me that." Griffin shuddered. Francis stomped up to the cemetery and raised his arms in the air, hollering with joy.
"Squishy people fix me!" He pointed to his leg which had been properly sewn back on. A tear came to Doctor Frankenstein's eye as his creation donned a smile for the first time in a very long time. "Hi squishy people!"
"Hello!" The ghosts collectively replied before going back to their singing and dancing.
"What about me?" The Wolfman growled.
"This isn't the end of The Wizard of Oz you know." Gordy grumped. "We're not all going to get what we wanted all along."
"Everybody else did!" The Wolfman dropped Gordy and scratched at one of his many hotspots. Gordy screamed as he rolled into the cemetery. The Wolfman howled at the full moon, but his howl was cut short by a violent fit of kennel cough.
"It just so happens that we have a very good veterinarian here Lawrence." Griffin said. He put a soft ghost hand on the Wolfman's shoulder and showed him the way to the cemetery's vet. "She may need some things from the village in order to help him out." Griffin nodded at Doctor Frankenstein. "You're always the best one to send downtown doctor. What do you say?"
"I am afraid I am at a loss for funds these days old friend." The mad doctor said softly.
"Not anymore you're not. We've put together a little trust for you out of all the precious metals many of us were buried with. My man Josh here was buried with a suitcase full of cash for crying out loud." Griffin nodded to the head ghost who was now known to be Josh.
"I thought maybe you could take it with you after all." Josh said. "Turns out that you can, but it doesn't do anything for you."
"We're not saying that money can't buy happiness." Griffin smiled. "We're just saying that we are happy just as we are. You will be too one day doctor. For now, you have a lot more work to do."
"You've really put the life back into Halloween Griffin. Whatever happened to the insane madman out for blood that we all knew so well?" Doctor Frankenstein asked.
"His death wasn't noticed by any of you. That is a major side effect of being invisible you see. I wasn't even missed at the later parties was I?" Griffin raised an eyebrow.
"Well…" Dracula and Doctor Frankenstein felt very embarrassed by the question.
"It's okay." Griffin smiled. He looked down at the little yellow pumpkin laying on the ground and picked him up. "As for you Gordy, I have something very special in store for you."
"Oh no, I'm going to be a pie aren't I?" Gordy panicked as the Mummy approached wielding a sharp steak knife.
"Not exactly kiddo." She said.
The monsters came together fully with the ghosts and partied deep into the night. Francis danced far more delicately with the Creature, only losing an arm this time around. Doctor Frankenstein took note of all of the things he would need to put his creation back together for good. He was handed the mummy's knife and taken over to Gordy who watched nervously with his plastic google-eyes as the doctor sunk the knife deep into his forehead. Dracula saw the full madness twinkling in the doctor's eyes and smiled. He took the Mummy's arm and asked for a dance. The two monsters spun away into a waltz as Doctor Frankenstein laughed.
"IT'S ALIVE!" The mad doctor proclaimed. He held his right arm up high in the air. Atop it braced in his palm was Gordy, now a fully carved and very real jack-o-lantern. The candle inside him glowed far brighter than it normally would have, fueled by the spirits of the dancing ghosts and monsters, Gordy lit their party for the remainder of the night.
"You did something very wonderful for us all Griffin." Dracula said to his old friend. "I wanted to thank you."
"No thanks are needed I assure you. Just enjoy the rest of the party." Griffin darted his glance over to a sudden protrusion from the ground below. It was a partially-rotted arm reaching blindly in a desperate attempt to free the rest of its body from the grave.
"Don't tell me…" Griffin shook his head and sighed.
"What is it?" Dracula looked around as more and more hands popped out of the ground. The cemetery was soon full of another group of party crashers. This group however was definitely not welcome.
"It's just our bodies coming back to life as zombies." Griffin groaned. "Aren't you zombies getting enough attention lately?" He yelled. "I swear zombies are everywhere anymore."
"Well let them be everywhere. Death is wasted on the young. Tonight is still our night." Dracula put his arm around his ghostly friend. "We'll stick with the classics." Dracula smiled warmly.
"BRAINS!" One of the zombies moaned as it wobbled over to Gordy.
"Check the ground pal." Gordy the jack-o-lantern said. The zombie scratched its head as it picked up the seeds and pumpkin innards. "BRAINS?"
Once again Halloween had been the best night of his little life. At dawn the guests dispersed, starting with Dracula, who had to get home very quickly. But he would not wait another year to see his old friends again. They would all spend more time together, until their very last breath. After that, Dracula imagined that they would all be found with their new pals at the cemetery.
As for Gordy, he would return to the pumpkin patch and find himself in another new form so that he might return again the following year.
Whether he was orange, yellow, or as green as old Francis; Gordy would always be the little jack-o-lantern trapped in a pumpkin's body.
As Always… HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO ALL,
AND TO ALL A CREEPY NIGHT!