Tales from the Wine Cellar - Chapter 1
An eerie smoke slowly rises from the collections of cauldrons as a mysterious potion bubbles inside. “I can’t believe you’re making me work on Halloween. “Says Jennifer, a 22 year old bartender, as she carries a tray of mini caudrons from behind the bar.
“Believe it,” says Jim, the owner of the club, as he stands behind the bar making sure their inventory is stocked.
“We’re going to be jammed pack tonight. Ever since we posted those pictures of all of our Halloween themed decorations on the bar's Facebook page we've been getting slammed with RSVPs for tonight's big Halloween Bash. I need everyone here, speaking of which, where’s Ben? He’s thirty minutes late.”
“No idea,” says Jennifer as she places the smoking cauldron cups on the top of the bar next to several different Halloween themed drinks. Jim walks over next to her and takes in the various Halloween drinks displayed; there are shot glasses shaped like skulls and martini glasses with fake eyeballs inside and several others. “These look good. So tell me how this idea of yours works.”
“Ok, well when someone walks in they’ll come up to the bar and they’ll point at, let’s say for an example, this one,” She points at a cocktail glass with blood colored rimming sugar around the edge. “Then I’ll take one of these glasses, put some swamp water inside, add a gummy worm, and then collect my tip.” Jim looks up and down the bar.
“Ok, where’s the swamp water?”
Jennifer shrugs, “No idea, Ben’s in charge of that.”
Jim looks livid, “Are you serious? The doors open in 10 minutes! There’s already a line out front! Where the hell is Ben?”
Ben appears from the back hall holding a brown paper bag. “I’m here; I had to stop to get my Halloween costume.” He says excitedly as he sits his bag on the top of the bar. “Check it out!” He reaches in the bag and pulls out a plastic bright orange jack o' lantern pumpkin mask. He lifts it up and puts it on his head. “What do you think?” His voice sounds muffled from inside the pumpkin head. Jennifer doesn’t say anything as she heads back behind the bar, Jim looks unimpressed.
“Can you even see out of that thing?”
Ben takes the pumpkin mask off, “Kind of. Oh wait, I forgot the best part!” He rushes out the back door. Jim shakes his head in disbelief.
Jennifer grabs a bucket from behind the bar. “I’m going in the back to get some ice”.
Jennifer stands inside the ice closet and looks around for the ice pick to break the ice up, she can’t find it anywhere and leaves annoyed.
Jennifer walks back behind the bar and sees someone wearing a pumpkin head standing over Jim as he lays on the ground deathly still with the ice pick deep in his back. “Ha ha ha guys, really funny. Now can you hand me the ice pick so I can finish getting set up for tonight?” says Jennifer.
As the person in the pumpkin head turns to face Jennifer she notices it doesn’t have the same bright plastic look as Ben’s mask. There are no painted triangle eyes or nose like Ben’s either. Instead this pumpkin head is a dark earthy orange, the holes for eyes, mouth and nose have been jaggedly cut and the only thing she can see through the eye holes is darkness. He slowly starts walking towards her, his breath coming out in a deep grumble, it pauses less than a foot in front of her face. Jennifer scrunches up her nose as the smell of something decayed and rotten invades her nostrils. As she stares up into this decrepit face, a spider crawls from out of the pumpkin head’s nose, scurries across its face before disappearing in to one of his eye sockets. Jennifer watches as the corners of his mouth curl up creating an evil smile. Her breath catches in her chest as her heart in suddenly gripped in cold fear.
“Ok, now check it out!” Jennifer turns around and sees Ben standing there wearing his plastic pumpkin mask with a pirate’s hat sitting on top. Ben puts his hands on his hips and lifts one knee in the air and to the side, his muffled voice escapes the inside of the pumpkin, “Can you guess who I am?” He takes the pumpkin head and pirate hat off. “Captain Jack! Get it, like a jack o lantern!” He notices the scene at the other end of the bar: Jim’s body and the pumpkin head figure creepily standing there. “Oh cool! We’re you guys trying to trick me? By the way man, not cool, I’m already doing the pumpkin head costume.” Jennifer turns slowly back around and looks at the pumpkin figure nervously.
It grabs one of the knives off of the bar countertop. Jennifer turns around quickly to run but he yanks her back by her hair, she yells out in pain. Ben is standing there confused, still not sure if this is all an elaborate prank.
The pumpkin head slowly lifts the knife in the air as Jennifer’s fingertips quickly scramble across the bar top and sink trying to grab a hold of anything. Jennifer’s fingers wrap around a 2 tier rimmer sitting on the edge of the bar and she pulls it towards herself just as the pumpkin creature drives the knife quickly towards her chest. The dull knife hits the bottom of the rimmer and bounces off. Jennifer notices it was one of those cheap knives her boss bought from some discount store. She thinks to herself thank goodness he didn’t grab a bar products kitchen knife; I’d be a goner right now!
The pumpkin head looks angry as he lifts the knife to try again, Jennifer screams, “Ben, help!” Ben unfreezes; he grabs a martini glass from off of the counter top and throws it at the pumpkin head monster. He lets go of Jennifer to shield himself from the impact of the glass. She turns around and smashes the rimmer against the side of its head. She hears a grunt of pain as he stumbles back. The pumpkin man throws the dull knife on the ground and picks up a steak knife. Ben grabs Jennifer’s hand and pulls her away from the pumpkin monster. Jennifer tries to resist as she says “Wait, what about Jim?” “We gotta get outta here! We’ll come back for him!”
They scramble from behind the bar through the door to the kitchen. Ben hits the switch to cut the lights off, plunging them into pitch black darkness. He holds Jennifer’s hand as they crouch down and creep through the kitchen.
Suddenly light shines into the kitchen as the door opens. They look and see the black silhouette of the pumpkin head man standing in the kitchen door way, his grumbling breath is the only audible sound. Ben silently tugs her hand and leads them from their current hiding spot. He opens a metal door and whispers in Jennifer’s ear “Quick, in here” as he pulls her in. He quickly closes the door, shutting them in to the cold damp darkness.
“How long do we have to wait in here?” asked Jennifer, her teeth chattering as she kneels on the floor of the cold dark walk in refrigerator.
“I don’t know, its been about 20 minutes, do you think he’s gone?” Ben responds.
“I don’t know, what’re we gonna tell people if we get out of here?” says Jennifer.
“If we don’t have that crazy pumpkin killer no one will believe us, we’ll sound crazy. Everyone is going to think we killed Jim,” say Ben.
“That’s if they ever even find Jim’s body,” Jennifer whispers.
“Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out, once we get out of here” Ben responds reassuringly.
“Ok, let’s give it 5 more minutes, it’s just so cold in here” Jennifer says.
“You can use my shirt, I have a tank top on underneath” says Ben as he starts unbuttoning his shirt.
“No, its fine,” says Jennifer as she reaches out her hand to stop him from unbuttoning his shirt any further.
Suddenly light and noise come pouring in as the door to the refrigerator opens, Jennifer and Ben both recoil in fear. They squint up at a silhouette standing in the doorway, momentarily blinded by the sudden brightness.
“Oh my God, are you guys in here hooking up!?” exclaims the scandalized voice of the silhouette, Jennifer groans as she recognizes the voice. She almost wishes it was the crazed pumpkin killer instead of Tracie, the shot girl and bar gossip. As their eyes adjust to the light, Jennifer sees that Tracie is dressed as a Playboy bunny for Halloween.
“Seriously guys, gross, we store the food in here,” says Tracie, as she reaches around Jennifer and grabs a tray of jello shots from off of a shelf. “Here, hold these,” says Tracie as she stuffs the tray in Ben’s hands.
She reaches up and grabs another tray of Jello shots, "Jim wouldn’t let me leave last night until I finished making these," grumbles Tracie. “Anyways, everyone has been wondering where you guys were, we’re like totally swamped!” Tracie declares as she exits the fridge, Jennifer and Ben following nervously.
As they walk through the empty kitchen the sound of music and talking grows louder. Tracie slows down her pace until she’s next to Jennifer, leans over and whispers excitedly “So how long have you and Ben been hooking up?” As they pass a door a rumbling noise makes Jennifer jump and she looks around fearfully with her eyes open wide. Tracie looks at her like she’s crazy.
“What is up with you? That’s just the ice machine. That reminds me, so no one has been able to find the ice pick and we’re running really low on ice right now.” At the mention of the ice pick Jennifer looks petrified. “Calm down, it’s not that serious, we’ll just use a knife,” say Tracie confused.
As they walk through the doors leading from the kitchen, Ryan, the bar back, lunges out in front of Ben with a plastic pumpkin mask on and yells “BOO!”. Ben screams and the tray of Jello shots goes flying through the air. Ryan, roaring with laughter, snatches the mask off. “I found this sitting on the bar when I got in”. Tracie looks at Ben and Jennifer annoyed, “What is up with you two!? I was here all last night making those!” She hands her tray of Jello shots to Jennifer, “Here, I’m going outside for a cigarette” she says before disappearing through the crowd.
"Wait Tra..." Jennifer tries to follow her but is immediately stopped by a trio of girls dressed as various felines. “How much are the jello shots?”
“Um…$2” says Jennifer absentmindedly.
As Jennifer hands out the Jello shots and collects the money, something across the room catches her eye. She sees the pumpkin head man. Then as a crowd of people walk by, he disappears. She looks around the crowded place nervously, but is surrounded by people trying to buy more Jello shots. She looks at the bar and catches Ben’s eye. He looks at her alarmingly then turns and stares at something across the room. Jennifer follows his gaze and she sees the pumpkin man standing near the back exit. He’s holding Tracie and has her head tilted back, and Jennifer can tell that Tracie is petrified. No one else seems to notice as everyone walks back and forth in front of them dancing and laughing.
“Hey, how much are the Jello shots?” asks a guy dressed as Abraham Lincoln.
“Here, take ‘em,” Jennifer distractedly pushes the tray of Jello shots towards the guy and his friends. She starts to walk towards the back exit when the pumpkin man lifts up a knife and runs it across Tracie’s throat. Blood rushes out quickly as Tracie’s mouth opens and closes repeatedly making her look like a fish out of water.
“No!!” Jennifer screams as she fights against the oblivious dancing patrons, struggling to make her way across the room. Ben hops over the bar and rushes over to Jennifer. Tracie’s body falls to the floor landing in a pool of her own blood. Several patrons, notice Tracie fall to floor, “Oh cool, is this some type of Halloween performance!?” one of them asks.
Jennifer and Ben reach Tracie’s body but take a step back as the pool of her blood grows. The pumpkin man grabs Ben by the front of his shirt and tosses him through the air. He lands hard on the ground, and struggles to get to his feet. The pumpkin man then takes his knife and slashes at Jennifer, she moves her head slightly and the knife cuts her cheek. The crowd cheers and Jennifer notices some are even recording this on their cell phones. She turns and runs towards Ben who’s limping, she’s grabs him and they hurry towards the front door, the pumpkin man watching them.
They emerge from the bar and Jennifer tries to help Ben across the parking lot towards her car. “Let’s take mine, its right here” says Ben, gesturing towards his mustang. Jennifer hops in the passenger side as Ben gets into the driver’s seat. Ben backs his car up and turns it towards the exit. The pumpkin man emerges from behind a tree and stands in front of Ben’s car’s blocking the exit.
“Hit him Ben!” Jennifer screams. Ben looks nervous. “What are you waiting for? Run him over!” Jennifer shouts. Ben slams his foot on the gas and speeds towards the pumpkin killer.
As Ben speeds towards the exit of the bar’s parking lot the pumpkin man leaps onto the hood of Ben’s car. Jennifer screams as they go speeding blindly into traffic, their view of the road obstructed by the body of the pumpkin man. Ben drives turning his wheel back and forth aggressively trying to shake the pumpkin monster loose, the blaring sound of horns following them down the street. As Ben yanks his wheel the car goes quickly speeding off of the road. They stop abruptly as the front of the car smashes into something and Ben and Jennifer are thrust towards the windshield.
They slowly climb out of the car, the cut on Jennifer’s cheek bleeding more freely. “Where is he?” asks Ben tentatively. They look around, but the pumpkin man is nowhere in sight. The front of Ben’s car is wrapped around a tree and smoking excessively.
“Maybe he’s dead” whispers Jennifer.
“Then where is his body? We have to find it, without it we have no proof-“
“What’s that?” inquires Jennifer, pointing through the trees towards Old Lady Gammell’s house. Ben follows her gaze and they see a steady stream of eerie bright green smoke emitting from the chimney of Lady Gammell’s old dilapidated house.
“I bet that creepy old lady has something to do with this, c’mon, let’s go.” declares Ben as he heads towards the trunk of his car. Ben pops his trunk and starts rifling through something as Jennifer walks up to see what he’s messing with. Ben is rummaging through his Traveling Bartending Bag, tossing aside flair bottles and jiggers as he searches for something.
“What are you looking for?”
“Supplies for Old Lady Gammell.” He answers.
Jennifer looks confused “What’re you going to do, make her a cocktail?”
“Here it is!” Ben pulls out his brass knuckles bottle opener and tucks it in his back pocket. He picks up a Hawthorne strainer from his 4 piece shaker kit and tucks it in the front of his pants, “Just in case”.
Jennifer rolls her eyes as she fishes through his supplies; she spots a maroon double lever corkscrew and tucks it in her front pocket.
Suddenly a beam of light from a flashlight breaks through the dark trees and someone calls to them, “Are you ok down there?”
“Yeah we’re fine! We’re coming out!” Ben closes his trunk and walks back up to the road as Jennifer follows.
As they emerge onto the street they see a cop car pulled over to the side of the road with his lights flashing, the person with the flashlight is Sheriff Wahler. He looks towards Ben's totaled car then at Jennifer’s tank top that says “Jim’s Bar” disapprovingly.
“Had a little too much to drink tonight?”
“No officer!” they respond.
“Well then what happened, where were you speeding off to in such a rush?”
“We were heading to-“
Before they can finish Sheriff Wahler gets a call on his car radio, he holds up his finger to silence them and walks back to his car to answer the call. Ben and Jennifer stand there nervously, unable to make out to the radio conversation. Sheriff Wahler approaches them eyeing them suspiciously.
“I think I know what’s going on here” he says as he walks behind Ben and places cuffs around his wrist. Ben and Jennifer look confused “No, you don’t understand” they try to explain.
“Just got the call that a guy and a young lady matching your description just egged Mrs. Gammell’s house” says the Sheriff as he leads Ben to the back of the police car. “Vandalism is a serious crime.”
That wasn’t us!” Jennifer tries to interject.
“Well then let’s all take a ride up to Mrs. Gammell’s house and see what she has to say then!”
Ben and Jennifer sit silently in the back seat of Sheriff Wahler’s car as he rides up the long driveway leading towards Old Lady Gammell’s decrepit house.
“What in the world is that?” the Sheriff says confused as he sees the green smoke rising from her chimney.
He parks his car in front of the house, “She must be burning some sage or something” he says dismissively as he opens his car door. Sheriff Wahler climbs out and opens the back door, “C’mon now, it’s time to face the music, I want both of you to apologize to Mrs. Gammell.” Jennifer and Ben climb out of the car and walk slowly behind the sheriff up the steps towards the front door.
The sheriff reaches out and knocks loudly and deliberately on the large door. The front door opens slowly and a foul stench escapes. Suddenly the pumpkin monster appears from around the door. “What the-“, Before Sheriff Wahler can finish his sentence the pumpkin man reaches out and grabs the sheriff’s head. The pumpkin monster’s bone like fingers easily rips into the sheriff’s face as if it was a rotten piece of fruit. The sheriff’s body falls on the spot, the soft exposed tissue and flesh that was under his face begins to leak blood.
Ben and Jennifer are frozen in fear when they each feel a pinch in their side; they turn and see Old Lady Gammell injecting them each with a syringe. Before Jennifer can move she feels a paralysis overtake her body. No matter how hard she tries to fight it she feels herself going under. As she falls to the floor the last thing she sees is the out of focus face of Old Lady Gammell cackling with glee.
Jennifer struggles to open her eyes, hazy shapes and figures start to come into clearer focus. She tries to lift her hand to rub her eyes but she can’t. She looks down and sees that her wrists and ankles are strapped securely to a table. A sickly sweet voice rings out "I see you've finally decided to join us". Jennifer sees Old Lady Gammell's face leering over her.
Jennifer tries to struggle against her restraints and feels a sharp pain in her swollen cheek, she immediately winches in pain. Gammell chuckles, “I wouldn’t do too much moving around if I were you, you might upset them!” Jennifer’s eyes widen in fear and confusion at the old lady’s words. “I took the liberty of sewing up your cut; we didn’t want it to get an infection now did we? Well one or two things might have slipped in while I was in there” she giggles mischievously.
Jennifer feels a twitch in her cheek and struggles not to pass out from fear. “Why are you doing this to us?” Jennifer asks desperately.
Gammell looks pleased by the question, “I thought you’d never ask! I plan on opening the gates to the underworld on this wretched little town that has mistreated me year after year. Tonight is Halloween, my only chance, and I needed two sacrifices to ensure that everything goes as planned.”
She lifts up a bottle containing a bright red substance. “This is a potion I mixed together containing the blood of both of you.” Gammell goes to the window and looks at the moon, she hands the potion to the pumpkin man who has been standing silently in the corner. “Here, it’s almost time, take this to the cemetery and start getting everything set up”. He nods slowly and then turns and exits the room.
Gammell turns back towards Jennifer, “With the curse I put on that blood potion as long as you and him are sacrificed before sunrise, this town will turn into hell on earth!” She giggles excitedly. Jennifer looks over and sees Ben tied to a chair on the other side of the room. Jennifer whimpers as she feels a twitch in her cheek. “Ben, what did she put in me?” Ben quietly responds, “You don’t want to know”.
Gammell starts slowly walking over towards the closet behind Ben, “I’ve already fixed up lil missy, now it’s your turn” she says to Ben. He tries to look tough and defiant but the fear is evident upon his face. Jennifer stretches her hand as far as she can and is able to just barely reach in her pocket; she starts to pull out the maroon double lever bottle opener. She looks over but the old lady is preoccupied as she approaches Ben holding a heavy metal bucket with a latched lid. There is a lot of noise and movement coming from the bucket, Ben looks terrified.
Jennifer uses the foil cutter from the wine opener to try and cut herself loose. As Gammell puts the bucket down, the contents inside begin to make aggressive snarling noises. Gammell grabs a large object from off of the floor that resembles a large neutering cone and fastens it around Ben’s neck. It’s white and slightly translucent but the bottom of the cone is caked with dried blood.
Jennifer starts trying to cut quicker as Gammell lifts up the bucket. As she unlatches the bucket and removes the lid a dirty rat crawls out and falls on the floor. Before he can get away he is crush by the foot of Old Lady Gammell, “So impatient” she says annoyed. Jennifer’s strap around her wrist gives away. Gammell lifts the bucket up and turns it upside down over Ben’s head, a sea of brown pours out, Ben immediately starts screaming. Jennifer reaches over and quickly unties her other wrist as Mrs. Gammell watches over the side of the cone eagerly, “They’re hungry!” she says excitedly as she tosses the empty bucket behind her. Ben’s screams become muffled as though there’s something in his mouth.
Jennifer’s hands shake with fear as she sits up and starts untying her ankles, she keeps looking over at Gammell nervously. “This is the best part!” says Gammell enthusiastically, her eyes glued on Ben's face.
Jennifer hops down from the table and quietly approaches behind Gammell and grabs the discarded rat bucket. Ben starts screeching desperately as Gammell turns and looks toward the table Jennifer should be on, she sees her standing there holding the bucket and frowns, “Hey!” Jennifer hits Old Lady Gammell in the face with the bucket and she falls to the floor.
Jennifer hurries over and unclips the cone from Ben's neck, rats go scattering everywhere. One crawls up Jennifer’s arm, she shakes it off, feeling razor sharp teeth sink into her ankle, she kicks out hard. Free up rats, she looks up at Ben’s face and gasps. His face is covered in blood and there are chunks of skin missing from his face, pieces from his lips, his nose, his eyelids, leaving exposed flesh freely leaking blood. There is a bloody hole in the side of his cheek; Jennifer can see a chuck missing from Ben’s tongue.
Her gasps make her face tight and her face throbs in pain as she feels something move under her cheek, she tries to push it out of her mind. Ben is quietly whimpering as his face oozes more blood. Jennifer hurries over and quickly helps him to his feet, supporting most of his weight as they hobble towards the door.
"You'll never stop it in time!" cackles Old Lady Gammell, still lying on the floor as dozens of rats feast on her arms and legs. “It’s too late, he won’t last long, and neither will you once...” She starts laughing hysterically, showcasing all of her black teeth as a rat takes a chunk out of her cheek. Jennifer and Ben turn and exit out of the room, Old Lady Gammell’s laughter still following them.
Jennifer and Ben hobble down the stairs of Old Lady Gammell’s house, Jennifer supporting most of Ben’s weight as he continues to bleed profusely. They exit the front door and carefully step over Sheriff Wahler’s faceless body as they rush towards his car still parked out front. Jennifer helps Ben into the passenger seat before running over and hopping in the driver’s seat.
“We have to hurry up and get to the cemetery before sunrise” Jennifer exclaims as she looks at the car’s clock that displays 5:22 am. “As long as we survive until 6 and somehow destroy that blood potion the pumpkin monster has then we should be able to stop her curse” says Jennifer as she starts the car. Before she can put the car in reverse she feels a sharp pain and tingling sensation from her swollen cheek. She flips down the visor and looks intently at her cheek in the mirror; it looks swollen and filled with pus.
She sees a bunch short tiny black strands that resemble frayed stitches coming from the incision on her cheek. “What kind of stitches did she use?” says Jennifer inquisitively as she slowly touches one. Immediately they retreat back into her cheek, Jennifer’s face drains of color as she realizes that those weren’t stitches but were instead whatever is stuck inside of her cheek. Jennifer flips up the visor, throws the car into drive and says “I can’t wait for this night to be over” then speeds away from Old Lady Gammell’s house.
As Jennifer pulls into the cemetery she looks at the clock on the dashboard of Sheriff Whaler’s car that reads 5:46. She looks over at Ben as he’s sitting there silently holding his abdomen. “What’s wrong with your stomach?” says Jennifer as she reaches over and lifts up his shirt. Across Ben’s stomach is a large purple bruise, “Oh my goodness, what happened? “Asks Jennifer alarmed. Ben shakes his head then slowly climbs out of the car.
Hunched over and quiet, they slowly creep through the cemetery past headstones, looking for the pumpkin killer. Jennifer feels a tap on her shoulder; Ben is pointing about 50 yards in front of them. Dead flowers and sticks on the ground are positioned in the shape of the pentagram, the blood potion sitting in the middle. Ben and Jennifer look around, but the pumpkin head man is nowhere to be found.
“Listen, you stay here and keep watch, I’ll run and grab the potion and then we can head to the hospital and forget this night ever happened” Jennifer whispers. Ben shakes his head slowly; he takes his knuckle buster bottle open from his pocket and puts it on his hand then points to himself then in the direction of the potion. “No Ben your-“, Jennifer pauses, as a warm stinging sensation in her cheek travels throughout her head making her dizzy. “Actually, maybe you better go” Jennifer says as a feeling of nausea washes over her.
Ben starts to quietly make his way across the cemetery as Jennifer sits there trying to remain quiet as waves of pain wash over her face. As Ben passes by a tree the pumpkin man emerges from behind it unbeknownst to Ben.
As Jennifer takes a sharp intake of breathe her cheek splits open and thousands of baby spiders come pouring out. She looks down at her hands and she’s covered, as she feels them scurry across her face she screams and feels hundreds disappear quickly down the back of her throat. Jennifer feels small pinches all over her body and knows she’s being repeatedly bitten.
She looks up and sees not far from the pentagram the pumpkin man with his hand wrapped around Ben’s throat. Jennifer tries to run to Ben’s aid but crumples to her knees several feet away as the pumpkin lifts Ben in the air by his neck.
All of a sudden, Ben opens his mouth and about ten bloodied rats run out and scurry across the pumpkin man’s arms and torso before disappearing into his empty eye sockets. The pumpkin killer drops Ben who falls to ground where he remains unmoving, his unblinking eyes staring at Jennifer.
As Jennifer desperately army crawls towards the pentagram, she feels the venom travelling throughout her body. The pumpkin man thrashes about behind her, trying to rid himself of the hungry rats eating his rotten skull from the inside out. A few feet away from the blood potion, Jennifer turns and looks up at the orange and pink sky relieved realizing that sunrise was only a few moments away and she is still alive.
As she reaches her spider covered hand out towards the potion a familiar voice rings out from over her “Oh you didn’t really think it was going to be that easy did you?” Old Lady Gammell pulls back Jennifer’s head slides a dagger across her throat, drenching all of the baby spiders in her warm blood.