The Revolt of the Skeletons in the Closet - Jason Ray Forbus - ebook
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In the seemingly peaceful and pleasant town of Wolverhampton, England, an entrepreneur had the brilliant and terrifying idea of creating a Park of Horrors. The idea was the brainchild of Sir Desrius – better known as the “Warlock” – a cruel and unscrupulous man who did not hesitate to imprison monsters and fairy creatures from every corner of the globe to populate the park. For years now, the monsters have been forced to suffer abuse, yet for some time rumors have spread of a rebellion… Dedicated to those who are victims of prejudice, “The Revolt of the Skeletons in the Closet” is a fairy tale that speaks straight to the heart of young and old alike.

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The Revolt of the Skeletons in the Closet

Copyright © 2010 United States Library of Congress

ISBN 9788833460420

Written by Jason Ray Forbus

Illustrations: Giorgio and Matteo Franzoni, Martina Gianello, Ramadan Ramadani

Cover Graphics: Giorgio e Matteo Franzoni

Internal graphic design and layout: Sara Calmosi

Ali Ribelli Edizioni

www.aliribelli.com – [email protected]

Non authorized reproduction, even partial and by any means of the text and images contained in this book is strictly forbidden.

The Revolt of the Skeletons in the Closet

by Jason Ray Forbus

English translation by James Brunetti

AliRibelli

Table of Contents

I. The Charter of Conditions

II. Just How the Warlock Accepted the Charter

III. A Very Important and Secret Meeting

IV. The Saddest Day

V. A Tear to Go and One to Return

VI. Castle Dwellers to the Rescue

VII. The Yeti’s Secret

VIII. At the Reception Center

IX. Every man for himself!

X. Planets not too far away

XI. Torches and pitchforks

XII. The Mutant Zoo

XIII. An (Almost) Impossible Mission

XIV. The March of the Underdogs

XV. The Battle of Terror Street

XVI. And after the Roar came the Silence

XVII. Coup d’etat!

XVIII. The Escape

XIX. A Desert of Memories

XX. The Great Halloween Festival

XXI. Hollywood in a Closet

XXII. And they lived happily ever after… (or at least for a while)

To Brotherhood

I

The Charter of Conditions

The crowded streets were all coloured red as the sun set on Wolverhampton. Greybones, a very unique skeleton was riding his green bicycle. He was pedaling so fast that it seemed like he was being chased by the devil himself (Greybones actually owed the devil money.) He was late and if he didn’t get a move on, the assembly would start without him. Normally it would take a skeleton fifteen minutes to arrive at Forgotten Castle, the five star hotel where he worked. However, it was easy to get distracted among the flood of people that crowded Terror Street during rush hour.

“Late as usual, uhm?” the Wicked Witch snapped. She may have been the meanest receptionist in the world.

“It wasn’t my fault, there was a lot of traffic. Right, and I’m the tooth fairy. Come on, they’re ready to start.”

The witch guided Greybones to the Conference Hall where the assembly would take place shortly.

As he entered, he was greeted by a stream of whistles and dirty looks. He worked with most of the monsters in attendance and they seemed rather nervous: For example, Mr. Blob, who was usually impeccably dressed in his elegant bellhop coat was sweating gallons of water from the tension which could be felt by all; even Jordy the Zombie wasn’t his waxy self. They all had good reason to be worried. The much long overdue meeting marked the beginning of a radical change in their existence.

What decisions were going to be made? And even more important, what would happen afterwards? When all was said and done, everyone was scared to death of the foreboding rage of the Warlock.

“Good evening my friends”, was the greeting from the President of the Monster’s Union.

There was a warm applause. The skeletons had turned out in masses just like the ghosts and vampires. The living on the other hand were just a few. The demanding obligation to represent ‘those who breathe’ was taken on by a werewolf and a red dragon cub that all the residents affectionately called ‘Blaze’, due to his bad habit of setting on fire everything that got in his way. At that exact moment he was eyeing excellent fuel: an unfortunate vampire whose dry skin was famous for catching fire at the first ray of the sun. The temptation was too much for the little dragon, who with a powerful blow engulfed the vampire in flames and he began to dance his way through the gathering. The poor fellow had nothing left to do but hop through the crowd searching for a fire extinguisher. That foolish werewolf who had seen his singing career fail on Broadway, took advantage of the moment to flaunt a ghastly howl. The ghosts began to improvise with a song and the skeletons were happy to join in with a freewheeling tap set. That is how this assembly turned into pure bedlam.

That day Greybones was wearing a bohemian suit and a pair of ballerina slippers, a gift from his great Aunt Spinster Bones. Yes, his moment was finally here, he couldn’t fail. The empty eye sockets of the young female skeletons ogled him with admiration. The open space of the assembly seemed like a dance floor prepared especially for him to showcase his remarkable talent.

He would have sent the entire Forgotten Castle into exaltation, he would have become a dancer who was all the rage – boom! – renowned on the big screen, renowned in Hollywood, renowned… “You’re a herd of sheep!” His dreams of glory were abruptly interrupted by the spirited reprimand of the President whose skull had become purple with rage.

“Sheep?!” protested the wolfman. “Why, I’d eat them for breakfast!” “We need order here!” the President continued to speak, pretending to not have heard the comment. “One more word and I’ll cancel this assembly!”

“NOOOO!” whined the crowd. Why cancel the assembly now that the tension was finally fading.

“Somebody shut that low life up, and let’s continue in an orderly fashion…”

Greybones sighed. This was his umpteenth chance to perform in public and he blew it. However he still didn’t bring out his secret weapon; the miracle spikes.

“Comrades, the fateful day is drawing near! After years of oppression we will soon be free of the Warlock’s tyrannical rule.”

“Whoopee!” some yelled.

“It’s about time!” added others.

“Let’s burn down the castle!” exclaimed Blaze, completely caught up in the passion of the moment. This comment however brought about some bewildering and dirty looks from all at the rally. “OK, OK!, I was just sayin’.”

“After years of exploitation we are finally beginning our Revolution. The days of being locked up in a closet and killing termites are over!”

The environmentalist wing of the union hastened to raise the posters that paid tribute with the pro-termite slogan that looked something like this: ‘WORKER TERMITES UNITE”, TERMITES YES, TERMINATION NO’ and so on it went…

“Soon we will be ready to come out of the closets!”

When Mercurius the vampire exposed the motivation of his people, they too had the right to come out of their coffins. They concluded that there should be a clause in the Charter that included them and that it should state the following: “We vampires are prisoners in our own homes! Why can’t we have a snack when we feel like it? One time, right at midnight, I couldn’t help getting out of my coffin, and just as I was opening the refrigerator, I was grabbed by an Iron Security Guard. I can’t tell you how many months I spent in an underground prison suffering from the humidity with three drunken rats and a goblin that wouldn’t shut up and burped on cue… believe me it was a terrifying experience!”

“As far as being released, I was forced to wait for my lawyer who took forever to get here. Of course he had to cross the ocean to get to the Forgotten Castle; you see he is a dear cousin from Transylvania…”.

Mercurius’s words hit home. Many of the participants had knowledge of the underground prisons, and some murmured with a reverential fear about the dreaded ‘room of torment’.

Then it was Lilia’s turn. The ghostly, fair damsel from the sixth tower, ninth floor, third door to the right with a panoramic view leading to the moor adjacent to the castle (with bath and kitchen of course) came to restate her case; and she presented it in the dignified style that distinguished her people. “And we, or hence poor wretches, to live in such squalor. The Warlock had assured us that these chains were a gimmick to attract tourists, but the truth was it served to enslave our spirits in this place!”

“Everything will be included in the Charter of Conditions. Do the living who are participating in the assembly wish to add something else?”

“Me, me! I want to talk!” the werewolf made sure he got everyone’s attention by wagging his tail and yelping.

“You don’t need to make such a scene to address the assembly. We are taking part in a civil and democratic meeting, not a soccer match…”

The words fell on deaf ears: the werewolf, Walt, didn’t listen to a word that was said; he was busy biting his tail. The skeleton invited him to share his thoughts but to keep it short: you see, he would often engage in declamations that would go on forever. He could go on for hours always with the same result; extolling his ‘glory days’ on Broadway and about the bad luck of the werewolves, that forced him to abandon a successful career at its zenith.

“I’m not asking for much, I just want a girlfriend!” the poor dear said as clearly as he was capable of.

The audience sighed. He started again with the same rhetoric.

The Warlock had placed restrictions on the night activity of werewolves. Walt needed to put himself at the highest part of the Castle in full view of the adoring tourists that would take pictures of him and then would go to sleep happy and satisfied.

“But if I’m up all night singing, how can I werewolfize the tourists? Oh well, I feel so alone at night without the moon…”

The ghosts, who were a coterie of depressed romantics immediately formed a circle around Walt, and Lilia, who possessed by a poetic soul, recited a tear jerker that moved even the bricks in the walls as they cried drops of humidity.

The jostling of the Assembly continued to the point that everyone was expressing their own ‘conditions’. I finally concluded that as a faithful mummified pencil pusher would carry forward the Charter of Conditions therein:

-- The Charter of Conditions --

The Monsters of Wolverhampton Horror Park Union.

Request:

The release of the skeletons from the closets;The equitable treatment of termites and all wood insect devourers in general;The right for vampires to go out at any time at night;Improvement of cafeteria services (85% of the personnel can’t digest the rocks) and a donation of a new type of refrigerator (preferably one that has an automatic ice cube maker);The removal of the deluxe magical chains from the ghosts’ ankles;The eradication of the underground cells and the substitution of the brutal Iron Guards with a community volunteer protection program;Human treatment for the non-human employees;Permission for Walt, the werewolf to werewolfize a tourist (if they consent) and to find a suitable companion;The start of a system of procurement of hay so that the dragon’s red cub, affectionately known to us as “Blaze” will be able to adequately satisfy his natural pyromania;The renovation of a fire prevention system.

Wolverhampton (England), October 5, Two thousand and something

President of the Committee

Knucklehead Sampton

The employees put a lot of hope in their Agreement. The petition would be brought to the attention of the Warlock and presented by a representative from each species. At this point the chosen ones were: Greybones, for the skeletons, (among all the others, his extravagant style was the closest to true elegance); Mercurius would represent the vampires (his relationship with the famous ‘Count’ disclosed that they weren’t all poor wretches); Lilia would represent the ghosts (among all the proposals her sophisticated way with words left one to believe that there was a glimmer of intelligence at the base of their requests); Walt for the werewolves (his distinguished uniqueness or, for the constant wolfiness to which he subjected everyone well exemplified their immediate needs); and last, for all of the other creatures in general, Blaze, the dragon cub (his terrifying presence was more of a warning… when all is said and done you don’t play with fire!)

In short, every group had to convey something to the Warlock, who would understand whatever he wanted to and nothing more. But here is what happened…

II

Just How the Warlock Accepted the Charter

The Warlock had a good nose for business. As a child he was able to give away his broken toys at twice the going market rate. As a boy he succeeded in selling bundles of horrifying shapeless wool spun by his grandmother (that he ingeniously renamed the ‘new extravagant fashion’) to his deadbeat friends; and as a teenager he put his own parents on the auction block at the East Fair, and made a bit more than the usual couple of quid.

In other words, he knew how to get ahead. He was one of those people that you would say: ‘He could sell sand in the Sahara desert’. And in fact that is how his climb toward success began. For four glorious years he convinced the nomads in the desert that he was a Warlock and that their sand possessed miraculous powers. He convinced the Bedouins to sell everything they owned, even their camels, to corner the market on what in reality was common everyday sand.

The fortunes of Sir Desrius IV (this was is real name) was in even step with his greed. He invested in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Ukraine, wherever he could impoverish, exploit and plunder. His fame as a businessman reached all the way to Norway, where he was considered for the Nobel Prize of Cunning Contempt. But, because of the protest from the neighboring Santa Clause from Lapland it was a forgotten matter (there was no follow through).

All of this however was on a path to destruction in 2008, when an economic crisis of vast proportions bankrupted all of the financial institutions in half of the world, causing millions of investors to panic. In spite of the losses, Desrius succeeded to scrape up a few millions and take refuge in a tropical paradise where he was able to expertly cover his tracks. A life of the eternal vacationer would likely arouse the imagination of just about anyone, but not someone like him who would prefer to be in someone else’s pockets as opposed to sitting around twirling his thumbs. In addition, the entertainment and service on the beach was terrible; one more week in that place and another set of the Macarena would have killed him. After much deliberation, Desrius decided to follow the suggestion of a native bartender, and start an investment in an industry where he would never have imagined investing a sterling: tourism.

Suggesting to Desrius to invest his fortune in the tourist industry, the carefree bartender couldn’t have imagined what kind of monstrosity he was involuntarily inspiring. The Warlock was that type of man who played by his own rules and as an unscrupulous businessman, the first thing he would do is eliminate the competition. It sufficed to corrupt a few politicians, to acquire, barely staying within the law, a vast area of land in the western Midlands region, including the little city of Wolverhampton. An idyllic place noted mostly for being the first city in the world to install automatic stoplights.

The Warlock was nurturing a dream – or should we call it a nightmare? It was worthy of a madman: build a Park of Horrors. Agreed, it isn’t the embodiment of originality, but no one had ever thought of a park that huge. At first, the citizens of Wolverhampton were happy with the idea of the Horror Park; especially during a period of recession like that one. Everyone hoped that this type of novelty would create hundreds of new jobs. The poor unsuspecting citizens could never imagine that Desrius had purchased not only the city, but also their mortages that caused the citizen’s interest rates to shoot through the roof. A few days before the inaugural ceremony, the Warlock sent a letter to all the citizens speaking of ‘difficult but inevitable choices’. He gave everyone the choice of either taking some part in the show or being evicted by sunset. How could this have happened?

The Prime Minister limited himself to a few random tweets, but the online tweeting served exclusively to legitimize the absurd expropriation. There were those who attempted to disrupt his plan, who found themselves knocked against a formidable obstruction of corrupt public officials and politicians. They believed that they recognized, in this drama, the recovery of the economy in the region. In the end, citizens who faced the problem preferred to leave. They left a free hand to troops of amateur actors. Everyone, whether they were the citizens who remained, or the incompetent actors, were forced to interpret a variation that was more or less diverse from the ‘transylvanian peasant’. From the suspicious mayor to the hostess that warned visitors of the ‘dangers of the mysteries of Wolverhampton’, the intrepid vampire hunter, to the writer of romantic novels who just ended up there… The Horror Park was missing nothing from old Dracula movies.

Without a doubt the most difficult part of the operation was to hire a main act: A Horror. Desrius commissioned the ‘Ghost Catchers’, that is to say, four lively older folks that during the 1980’s started a company that specialized in the capturing, and importing/exporting and selling and buying of every type of monster. In spite of there advanced years and aches and pains, the four of them carried out a masterful operation and in a very short time. ‘The Horror Park of Wolverhampton’ was able to open its gates in grand style. Numerous celebrities were invited to the grand opening of the park along with squads of paparazzi, and in a very short time the park became one of the most famous in the world.

But now, let us return to our story.

The ‘Day of Truth,’ this name was the preferred name of the ghosts because of its symbolism. It was a day like any other day when the monsters would finally present the Charter. Those who were not preoccupied with the diplomatic aspect of the mission hurried to work so they would not risk being fired. In a world full of prejudice, where could they have gone? The Park was the only place where they felt safe. As difficult as life was there, in the outside world where humans were, the uncontested bosses, it would be much worse.

Greybones, Mercurius, Lilia, Walt, and Blaze formed a happy group of eccentrics. To reach Warlock Tower, the luxurious residence of Desrius, our heroes had to first cross Terror Street, the main thoroughfare full of stores and other distractions that promised to make this trip anything but comfortable.

“Lets stop here for a second,” Greybones suggested impetuously, stopping the cart in front of the ‘Poltergeist Supermarket,’ “I need to buy some cigarettes.”

“Those cancer sticks are going to be your undoing!” Lilia said reprimandingly.

“No Problem. I lost my lungs a while back and my wallet hasn’t had the company of a 20 pound note since before that!”

Hey Greyee, can you buy me Playdog?” Walt asked handing him enough for the purchase.

“Sure. Does someone else want something?”

“Tomato juice, please” chimed in Mercurius.

“But don’t vampires drink blood?”

“I’m trying to quit, mate. There are too many diseases associated with blood today.”

“Hey Blaze, don’t you want anything?”

The dragon cub scrutinized him with a stern gaze “Yeah, I want you to get your rear in gear!”

Blaze’s message was crystal clear and Greybones ran into the Supermarket. Greybones felt like an undercover ninja in the store. He was able to duck out of the way of shopping carts with the deftness of a floating feather; swiftly moving out of the way of shopping carts and any other obstructions that would have slowed him down. The other shoppers, most of them being tourists, admired his nimbleness in awe and when he was in the checkout line, one of the tourists mustered up enough courage to talk to him. “Is there a dance show tonight? The brochure doesn’t mention anything about it”.

“Oh no, no… but we are working on something big, you’ll see. It might be a question of a week, or perhaps just a few days”. Greybones caught sight of new rays of hope on the horizon, in his heart he was sure that the Warlock would have conceded these rights for which they yearned.

“Excuse me. May I ask you something?” another tourist asked with hesitation.

‘Maybe,’ Greybones couldn’t help thinking, ‘this timid tourist with a moustache wants an autograph. How exciting! My first autograph!’

“Certainly,” answered Greybones, flaunting the best smile that his set of ivory teeth would display.

“Tell me, are you a skeleton or a robot?”

That silly and unexpected question deeply hurt him. “I’m a skeleton, sir, in skin and bones… or maybe just bones.”

“Did you hear that Anne? I told you he was a regular skeleton. We won’t find any robots here, just good old-fashioned monsters…”

So it was. After the first triumphant years of success, the people grew weary of the Horror Park. This was due to the fact that the Warlock, in spite of the initial profit, decided to give the old attractions a new coat of paint and rename them, instead of renovating them. So the copies of the monsters and their images were the same minced clichéd reproductions. Even someone like Stephen King would have found the place uninteresting after a second visit. It was because of this that the Park’s visitors became fewer and fewer. But, Greybones was convinced that the new Charter of Conditions would have changed the politics of the Park and given it a new life.

“Do you have an ID?” the cashier asked in a curt manner while she put the items on the counter.

Greybones had forgotten about the odious law that forced the monsters to carry an ID and be at the ready to show it whenever it was requested of them. The law was implemented a few years ago when the landings of an alien race that came from a nearby planet intensified. The aliens belonged to a previous earth colony that for years was plagued by war and famine. Thousands of extraterrestrials had secretly landed in Wolverhampton with the hope of a better future. As soon as they arrived they took advantage of a series of earthly laws that gave millions in aid to the host city for welcoming the refugees, and the Warlock had willingly accepted them. However, of the thirty pounds awarded for the daily maintenance of each interstellar visitor, not even ten per cent was spent and the majority of the money ended up in the pockets of those without any scruples who pretended to be champions of the weakest. The aliens would then be locked up in a welcoming center and would remain there for an undetermined period or at least until the money supply continued to flow. Those who possessed the slightest inkling of freedom would go to other cities in search of paid employment that at times involved some other science fiction movie. They were forced to settle for jobs that promised a pitiful wage and longed for the poor wretched, but dignified existence they knew before they arrived in Wolverhampton. The fact is that to combat this ‘illegal competition’ from the aliens who were willing to work for absolutely nothing, the humans in Wolverhampton had created a political association called ‘The Human League.’ Following many TV appearances, the Secretary of the Party had lobbied for the changing of the law in the Horror Park, so that from that day forward hundreds of monsters were compelled to undergo rigorous trimonthly checks at the Office of Monster Demographics. The extraterrestrials that were caught without an authorized residency permit were immediately banished from the Park. You would think (and you would be correct) that the majority of the aliens couldn’t wait to leave Wolverhampton and go to a city that could offer them better opportunities. Perhaps you were not aware of the fact that the expulsion was carried out by a trebuchet that dated back to medieval times, an object enormously appreciated by the Warlock who was able to corner it at an auction. I can assure you it was not a pleasant experience.

But let us return to us.

“Oh, splendid. Here you go…” said the skeleton as he showed the cashier his ID, an annoying teenager beyond hope.

The document showed a picture of Greybones sneering with a lopsided hat. His name was written at the bottom (among skeletons, ‘Greybones’ was a very common name, along the lines of Mario Rossi in Italy and John Smith in English speaking countries); and his profession was listed as a ‘bellhop’. The entire ID was sealed by a red intrusive stamp that quantified the holder as ‘AUTHORIZED’. Thanks to the stamp, skeletons were allowed to wander about the city and go to the supermarkets during pre-approved times. That ID card described nothing of the true person whose name it carried; it did not define his dreams, his passions, his qualities, his fears, his friends or his experiences. The only component that was important to the cashier was that he was authorized to be in his store. It was a consumer-centered society that placed money at the top of the pyramid, then humans, and holding the entire structure up, monsters like them.

On the other hand, the mistreatment endured by the monsters at the hand of some resident humans and tourists served to fuel the war between the poor that played right into the Warlock’s objective. Greybones knew this and he also knew that democracy was the only weapon at their disposal to change things. He then mumbled a ‘thank you’, clutched the shopping bag and came out more determined than ever.

Thereafter, the carriage went on its way expeditiously and without any further stops, at least until they reached the Cinema of Horrors. Seeing the poster, Lilia went into raptures.

“There you go! How wonderful! They’re showing ‘The Dawn of the Dead’ by Romero: there is no way we can miss this. You must know, my dear, that I play a very important role in this movie,” said Lilia.

In fact, Lilia played the part of a victim, the blonde who was torn to pieces at the beginning of the film. Everyone had seen the movie at least a dozen times except Blaze, who had extreme difficulty remaining quiet and in silence in places like cinemas and libraries, and who disobeyed any order given to him. It was, after all a classic, authentic movie. But none of them had the heart to refuse Lilia’s invitation. Ghosts are very proud creatures, as anyone who has had the misfortune to live in a haunted house has experienced knows well. Just move the mayonnaise jar a mere centimeter or forget to put the cap back on the toothpaste to incur the wrath of the spector on duty and, in addition, a poltergeist with a lot of flair. Despite the urgency of the mission, therefore, our heroes wisely opted to watch the movie from beginning to end, and during the interval, Greybones even smoked a cigarette and Blaze mangled a half-ton of popcorn.

After the film, the group set off again and soon saw the residence of the Wizard. They drew nearer to the residence and caught sight of the terrifying gargoyles guarding the sharp spiers of the high and dismal tower (actually, those winged monsters were suffering from vertigo and they would have never dreamed of abandoning their stone perches). To create an even more sinister atmosphere, the management of the tower created a thick ring of black smoke produced at regular intervals by expensive machinery (bought, well what a surprise, with funds earmarked for extraterrestrial refugees).

The screaming bell they rang was actually the mummified head of an unfortunate door-to-door salesman. The heavy gate opened with an annoying squeal and a moment later an Iron Guard met them rattling a bunch of dangling keys.

“Stop there, scum! Do not dare take a single step forward,” the Guard barked in a threatening tone.

“No need to get all heated up, tin head, “said Blaze. The dragon cub hated two things in the world: orders and bullies.

“Tin head? Do you know who you are talking to?”

“Uhm… let me think a moment. A stupid tin head?”

Mercurius and Walt coughed, while a frustrated Greybones scratched his skull.

There was trouble ahead.

“Watch your smart mouth puppy. I have fought in hundreds of battles, I have!”, contested the guard.

“Yeah, and I bet you lost them all!”

Blaze and the guard would have taken each other’s heads off had it not been for the providential intervention of Lilia.

“Now, fair-monsters, that’s enough! This is not how noble creatures should behave. I’m confident that neither one of you wishes to drag the other into a grotesque struggle to the death!”

Huh?” said the guard, not understanding a word of what was said.

“Please Lilia, I implore you,” pleaded Blaze, “Let me sterilize this over-grown coffee pot. As a favor to me, PLEASE!”

The two warriors were about to start there altercation up again when the powerful appearance of a third party immediately attracted everyone’s attention and stopped them in their tracks. With his black greasy hair, those wax earplugs, and his penguin outfit it could only mean the entrance of one person. It was Frankenstein. The Warlock’s butler, who was a jack of all trades.

“Sir Desrius IV awaits your presence,” said Frank. “Please allow me to accompany you to meet the illustrious one.”

Greybones and Lilia gave a deep sigh. They felt that this time luck had smiled on them.

See ya TIN HEAD!” Blaze couldn’t resist a parting zinger thrown in the Iron Guard’s direction that made everyone giggle. The Iron Guard did not respond. He grunted and returned submissivly to his outpost. The Guards known for their low I. Q. would never dare disobey an order from their cruel unforgiving master.

The butler guided our heroes inside the fabulous home. Judging by the furnishings and the objects present in the castle, the Warlock led a truly luxurious life. They walked through the long corridor. On both sides antiques were displayed in a spacious hall. Portraits of the macabre and cuckoo clocks gave the room a touch of extravagance. On a banner hung from the ceiling was written, ‘Time is money, don’t waste my time or you’ll take it up with my lawyers.’

“You may wait here”, said Frankenstein, “my father will be right with you.”

“I didn’t realize that Frankenstein was the old guy’s son”, Greybones mumbled to Mercurius.

“No he’s not. He’s a bit nuts and just thinks he is”, replied the vampire. Merc knew everything there was to know about everyone in the Park.

After a few minutes the hall doors opened and the Warlock appeared accompanied by his inseparable bodyguards the notorious mountain gorillas King and Kong. You would think that with those two striking primates at his side all eyes would be fixed on them. However it wasn’t that way at all. Desrius was handsome in his own unpleasant way and was always able to steal the show. He was short, bald and with a smile as slimy as mud, but he had an upright posture, worthy of any self-respecting tyrant. The truth was that Desrius was rather narcissistic, and was known to spend hours in front of a mirror studying the pose he considered most appropriate for the specific event.

“He’s not worth half of what he thinks he’s worth,” Lilia said in a low voice. The ghost knew men well, and though Desrius tried to conceal his true nature, she was able to read him like an open book. It had to do with the way he looked anxiously around himself, trying to satisfy everyone with a fake smile. This behavior warned her that he was a small and vain tyrant.

When the Warlock appeared everyone snapped to attention except Blaze who had dozed off.

“Good Evening your Majesty!” Everyone said in chorus like trained puppies.

Good Evening, good evening to all of you”, said the Warlock.” Do I see a lady ghost gracing our presence this evening! How blessed we are with her visit, as I understand ghosts do not usually stray far from their surroundings.”

Lilia immediately understood the comment directed at the reputation of ghosts as cowards. She glared at the Warlock with contempt and said, “Perhaps you would see us more often, if you would allow us to manifest our presence. Frightening tourists, howling and shaking chains only serves to increase the sale of aspirin. It would not surprise me to learn that you are consorting with the pharmaceutical companies.” Desrius glared at her, but by clenching his teeth he managed to keep calm and mumble an excuse.

“Of course… please forgive me.”

Lilia smiled affably.

“But tell me, friends, to what honor I owe the privilege of your visit to my humble abode? As you well know, time is money and, unfortunately, urgent commitments call me elsewhere. I suppose you want to ask me for something? Maybe for a new foosball table for your re-creation room?” Desrius asked as he fiddled with his expensive designer tie.

“Actually… we wanted you to read something we wrote”, said Greybones as he took a step forward. Greybones walked toward the Warlock and presented the Charter of Conditions with all the elegance and grace of a true diplomat.

“Let’s see…” Desrius began reading. ‘In the name of the Monster’s union representing the employees of Wolverhampton Horror Park…’

At first the Warlock merely glanced distractedly at the document.

But then, as he read more he began to pay more attention to the details. And the more he read, the more he frowned. Greybones and the rest of the group began to exchange worried looks… The most difficult part of the mission was upon them.

“YOU… you miserable ingrates! How dare you insult my intelligence?” shouted the Warlock, ripping out the precious paper in a thousand pieces.

Greybones, Mercurius, Lilia and Walt remained motionless and speechless. They never expected such a violent reaction. Maybe they should have laminated the document like the wicked witch suggested. That way it would have been harder to tear it to pieces.

Desrius’s caterwauling awakened Blaze from his peaceful nap. The dragon puppy opened his eyes just in time to see the last bits of the Charter falling to the ground. It was like being hit with a direct punch right in the heart. All of their hopes and dreams were contained in that document. What right did that tyrant have to think he could randomly destroy it? Blaze’s anger was growing like a wildfire…

“King! Kong! Arrest these lowlifes! Take them to the dungeon and throw the key into the abyss!”

“Abyss? As far as I know the pool hasn’t been drained yet…” said Kong stealing the thunder from the Warlock’s command.

“It’s just a figure of speech you moron! Barked the Warlock. “Now do something about it!”

The two giant monkeys exclaimed “Yes Sirrr!” They were just content that they were given permission to thrash someone. Unfortunately for them, they did not even have the time to lift their arms up. They were immediately engulfed in hellfire from head to foot. The only remains of the primates were two piles of smoking debris. The Warlock glared at Blaze with mixed feelings of anger and terror. He never expected this type of retaliation. In fact he never considered any quid pro quo whatsoever. He took a deep breath, tried to calm down, forced a smile and said: “Okay kids, let’s calm down. I’m sure we can arrive at some type of compromise and I’m willing to let bygones be bygones and forgive your audacious insolence”.

This type of reverse psychology had worked for the Warlock thousands of times. The idiots would think: ‘Whew, that was a close one. We are so lucky that the Warlock in all of his magnaminous clemency is willing to forgive and forget.’ Little did they know that Desrius NEVER forgave nor forgot.

This time, however, the Warlock realized he wasn’t fooling anyone with his methods, and during what seemed to him a long and embarrassing minute of silence, he prepared to escape from the room. Walt was the first to speak.

“Hey! Do you know what you can do with your forgiveness?”

“Can we scorch it?” The dragon cub interjected.

The werewolf nodded, happy with the proposal.

Mercurius also took his turn and nodded in agreement shaking his long black mane. Lilia, on the other hand could not control her disappointment and the raging stream of anger that was flowing through her. She hastily blurted out: “Sir, you are a common boor, you, you are an unpleasant man!”

“Come on guys, let’s leave this place before I throw up. Do you really want to see a skeleton without a stomach throw up? “Greybones’ threat caused the group to head straight for the exit.

Just outside the hall, Desrius summoned his butler. “Frank! Where are you, you damn monster?!”

“I’m here, Father,” Frankenstein answered, coming out of the kitchen. “Listen to me carefully, because your life itself depends on what I’m going to ask you to do.

You have to make sure that our guests leave the tower safe and unscathed. You are not to harm a hair, bone, flake, or tooth on them. Have I been clear enough?”

“It will be done, Father.”

“Excellent… quite excellent” Desrius who had the reputation of a wicked filmmaker burst out in a laugh that echoed through the corridors and the most remote rooms of the tower. Unfortunately for him, his health was no longer that of one time and that vicious laugh caused him to have a violent coughing attack that forced him to spit up some disgusting phlegm.

For now Desrius seemed to be letting them go. He wanted them to think that the issue had been resolved. In the near future however he would be presenting them with the final bill to pay with interest.

First thing on the agenda was the obliteration of that stupid union from the face of the earth. In his eyes there could be only one master there at the Park, and it was time to remind them who that was…

III

A Very Important and Secret Meeting

It was turning out to be a bad day for the Warlock. The meeting with his employees had caused him stomach pain. So, he thought it best to eat something.

“Duck with fried chicory. Crispy.” He ordered Frankenstein.

In addition to the multi-year experience as a butler for the filthy rich, the beast could boast that he possessed a Nouvelle Cuisine Degree from the famous Academy of Good Eating in Paris. His culinary abilities were renowned and appreciated everywhere in the world. But that day, that single day, after years of an honored career, the poor wretch overcooked and pulverized the duck into a fine powder. As punishment, Desrius shocked him with a huge jolt of electricity causing a blackout that hit the whole county.

“Father! Why are you doing this to me?!” Frankenstein bellowed, overcome with pain.

His agonizing cry could be heard all over Horror Park, which made the tourists imagine it was part of an upcoming attraction.

“You’re delirious my son! A shock a day keeps the doctor away! HA! HA! HA!”

The torture was brought forth in His individualized style, resembling the old days in the Sahara Desert when the Warlock, dedicated his efforts among other things to all manners of arcane and ritual tortures. You must realize, my dear readers, that everyone has a preferred pastime, and Desrius was no different. He enjoyed torturing people, monsters, and animals a hobby that he performed with ruthless delight. After all one of his mottos was: “You can always have a little fun thrashing someone”. Sociologists goal was always to do their best to make everyone’s life happier and create more freedom, but if one of them ever had the bad luck to meet someone like Desrius, well let’s say they would lose any hope of a better future and probably would prefer to dedicate their time stamp collecting rather than helping humanity.

All those cries of agony strengthened him, reestablishing his proverbial appetite for ghastly humor. Having satisfied his demented need for revenge after the duck fiasco, Desrius could now direct his attention to another phase of his manic plan of revenge towards the monsters. He was looking directly at his medieval armor collection when an idea popped in his head.

‘Why not organize a Total Torture Tour? The tourists would relish the idea of observing the enactment of typical medieval torturing methods. The tourists would think that the whole performance was fake, when in reality the pain would be real, oh yeah, very real! This would put all of those buffoons in their place; actually it would set them a few steps backwards.’ (Desrius let loose with a diabolical laugh, Uhahuhhaha).

Desrius was so taken with his fantastic idea that he paid no attention to the possible presence of injudicious ears. The ears that I’m referring to, even though they were plugged up with wax, heard him loud and clear. A second before he fainted from the horrific torture of Desrius’s folly, Frakenstein swore that his beloved and hated ‘Father’ would woefully regret the pain and agony that was inflicted upon him. My dear readers, you most likely realized by now that Frankenstein is a tad impractical and had the habit of calling all of his employers father, pop, or even daddy, depending on the level of trust and confidentiality that had been created between them. This bad habit had caused trouble for him in the past, for it led to him being grounded, and sent to his room.

In spite of this difficult relationship between father and son that, when all was said and done, was the cause of the major problems in human and monstrous family settings, the friction between the two had never reached this point. This time the Warlock wasn’t content with just taking away his Playstation or not allowing him to eat chocolate bars. The painful electric shock created a unique experience that bordered on the limits of a paranormal connection. Zounds, even the hair under his armpits stood straight up and looked awful, and whoever was young at one time, recognizes the importance of a good look for a young person. For example, Frankenstein did everything in his power to maintain his hair thicker and greasier than any other living creature. His efforts were so successful that a famous cosmetic company wished to study his hairstyle and create a shampoo that would duplicate his style.

At this time the torture that Frankenstein underwent had caused him to waste months neglecting his appearance. He tried his best to keep his hair sticking to his head and looking as dapper as could be. As evidence that he rarely reacted to abuse until then when his trust was betrayed, as soon as Frankenstein recovered from the torture, he snuck out of the Tower and went to the Forgotten Castle.