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Our Monday Monster today is Carrie White, the character created by Stephen King. Though not his first book, Carrie was Stephen King’s first published novel; written in an epistolary structure, incorporating newspaper and magazine articles, letters and excerpts regarding Carrie’s destruction.

Carrie White is a high school student who develops a telekinetic ability at a crucial time in her life. After a series of traumatic events, Carrie loses control of her ability and kills hundreds of people. A monstrous act, but it can be argued that circumstances led her down a dark path. A path which turned her into the monster.

That’s not to say I’m excusing her behaviour, but you have to wonder what would have happened if she’d developed her skills earlier, or if she’d had a nurturing upbringing. Of course that wouldn’t have made for the same novel – it certainly wouldn’t have been banned! In some ways, things were stacked against her from the start. Her own creator disliked her, though he came to understand and even pity her.

There is evidence throughout the novel that Carrie is a sweet-natured, somewhat naive girl. She suffers abuse at the hands of her mother, Margaret, a religious zealot, and is locked in a closet for hours. The persecution is relentless. Carrie is forced to pray for such sins as listening to inappropriate music, and made to wear clothes which only accentuate her awkward social position. When her mother learns of her abilities, she tells Carrie she is cursed and being punished by god.

At school she is mocked and bullied mercilessly. A familiar story, but this time with deadly results. One of the bullies (Sue) has what appears to be a crisis of conscience, and persuades her boyfriend to take Carrie to the prom. What Sue’s true motivations are is open to interpretation, but the olive branch leads to a catastrophic event.

One of Carrie’s classmates (the main instigator of the bullying) decides to play a cruel prank and drops a bucket of pig’s blood on Carrie during the prom. When the bucket falls and knocks out Carrie’s date, things go from bad to worse. Carrie snaps and goes on a murderous rampage, killing her classmates and leaving a path of destruction in her wake. Once home, her mother adds fuel to the fire. She accuses Carrie of being the devil, and stabs Carrie with a butcher’s knife – hitting a major artery. In retaliation she stops her mother’s heart. The story ends in Carrie’s death.

To my knowledge, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but besides the sequel in 1999 and a musical in the eighties, there have been three movie adaptations. A television movie in 2002, the infamous 1976 movie starring Sissy Spacek, and the ‘reimagining’ of the classic tale in 2013.

Do you have a favourite interpretation? What do you think about Carrie White? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

11

October at Part-Time Monster-logo

Diana settled onto the couch with a sigh. She had spent hours finalising her blogging projects and her eyes were making their discomfort known. Letting her lids fall, if only for a moment, she felt her muscles relax; one by one, until she was floating on a sea of tranquillity.

That was her first clue that something had changed. The second came when she opened her eyes again and found herself in an unfamiliar room. She wasn’t alone. Diana was surrounded by faces which were at once familiar and out of place. She studied their expressions; surprise, shock, confusion, doubt and fear – a sea of emotion she felt mirrored deep within.

It might have been a simple dream, but she knew differently, and so did the others. It was too real, they were all too aware of each other’s presence. Diana scanned the faces of those she knew but had never met; Hannah, Allison, Natacha, Urszula, Alex, Robin and Mel. Had her brother, Gene’O been present they would have had a complete set – her current contributors at Part Time Monster.

“As much as I wish I’d thought of this impromptu get together, something tells me someone else is pulling the strings,” Diana said, allowing her gaze to drift around the room.

Her friends began to speak at once, their voices tumbling over one another in a need to be heard.

“We saw her.”

“She’s gone after Gene’O”

“We’re stuck here.”

“This is about to get ugly.”

The information came at Diana like cold slaps of reality. As she listened, a part of her could feel the couch beneath her body, feel a heavy weight pressing against her chest – like she was stuck in a dreamlike state.

“One at a time,” she said, pressing her fingers to her temples. “If we’ve been drawn into a dream, how are we lucid?”

“It’s what she wants,” Urszula said. “She needs us to know what’s coming.”

“Who’s she?”

“We’ve been trying to narrow it down,” Robin admitted. “This particular monster has the ability to control dreams, so we’re betting she’s an Alp.”

Hannah stepped forward, knowledge alight in her eyes. For a moment it extinguished the fear. “The female version at least. The Mare, or Nightmare.”

“There are lots of names for her,” Mel said. “Urszula was just filling us in on the Scandinavian legend.” She nodded to Urszula.

“Basically, the Mare gives people bad dreams by sitting on them while they sleep.”

“But tell her about the Scandinavian words for Nightmare, meaning Mare-ride or Mare-dream,” Melissa cut in.

Urszula raised her eyebrows. “I think you just did!”

“Okay, let’s focus.” Natacha began to pace the small space. “She brought us here for a reason, and I think we need to be prepared for what happens next.”

Allison gulped, her eyes flickering between them. “Which means we’re about to be stuck in a nightmare and we have no idea why.”

As though to punctuate her words, the door swung open with a resounding thwack. All eyes turned to the figure silhouetted in the doorway – Kuchisake Onna, the Slit-Mouthed Woman.

“Oh crap,” Alex whispered, in equal part fascination and fear.

“You got that right.”

They all watched as the silhouette morphed into one monster after another, like a slideshow of Part Time Monster’s greatest hits; La Llorona, Rodzanice, Medusa, Ursula, Dola. The show ended when all the lights went out and they were plunged into darkness.

The noise came next; a terrible ripping sound, which seemed to represent the hold on Diana’s sanity. She felt a wave of nausea. The swell of tension pressed against her. It was a living, breathing thing; like the icy fingers of her fear.

Something hit her from behind and she fell to her knees. The ground was soft beneath her. It vibrated against her fingertips, travelled up her arms, making her teeth rattle. Diana tried to pinpoint the sounds now; hissing, scurrying, laughter. Underneath it all was a hum that was surely inside her head. She began to call for her friends; repeating their names over and over again. But her words were swallowed by a vacuum of noise she didn’t understand.

Her skin began to itch, the sensation building slowly until she felt it like a burn across her entire body. It centred in her chest, stole her breath so she couldn’t even beg for it to stop.

“Diana!”

Her eyes flew open, relief flooding her system and making her dizzy. She was with Gene’O, they were… her mouth dropped open when it registered. Gene’O was with her, but she was still asleep. She was looking down at herself; watching her brother try to rouse her from her slumber.

She thought of the others, wondered if a similar scene was taking place as loved ones tried to wake her sleeping friends.

The Mare gives people bad dreams by sitting on them while they sleep.   

Urszula’s voice echoed around Diana’s head. She began to swat the space above her chest, her fingers travelling through Gene’O’s shoulder. The thought of being trapped forever on the outside filled Diana with a sense of urgency, and she slammed a fist against her own heart. She felt it, the echo of it, like a bruise. But she didn’t care about that.

Diana could see it now. A small, goblin like creature, who had fallen onto the cushions of her coach and was scrabbling for what looked like a hat. Understanding struck, and Diana lunged for it. The moment her hand curled around the foreign object the monster screamed. This was the source of its power, a power that was now in her hands.

“Let go of us, you evil bitch or I’m going to burn this.” Diana waved the hat.

The scream intensified, until she had to cover her ears against the sound. The Mare exploded in a fit of rage, hitting Diana with a blast of light so strong she was blinded by it.

When she was able to focus again she could feel the couch beneath her, and her brothers fingers gripping her shoulders.

“Are you okay?” he asked, frowning at her.

She nodded, putting her hand to his to steady them both. “I am now. And I just had a really great idea for a post.”

9

halloween cupcakeI could have gone a number of different ways with the top ten list. I love Halloween and I was torn, because there are some terrific horror movies out there; films we drag out every year because we know they won’t fail. Whether that’s a Nightmare on Elm Street movie, one of the many great Dracula films, The Omen, or Hellraiser. Then there are the characters we find it impossible to forget; Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Jigsaw, Lecter, Leatherface or Normal Bates. Whoever puts the creep into creep night for you, they generally come alive at Halloween.

But, as Part-Time Monster is running a month long party this October, I thought I’d go with party games. Whether young or old, most of us enjoy to dress up – or at least have a party at Halloween. Here in the UK we don’t go the whole hog like the US, but we do enjoy to let loose and we definitely stock up on treats for the kids.

So, here’s my top ten party game list for a Halloween party. They’re not in order of significance, I chose some of my favourites, and I’ll let you decide on the order as you see fit.

top ten party games

  1. Bobbing For Apples – you can make this as fun or as scary as you want; cover the table in cobwebs, fake body parts or a plethora of scary insects. You can also decorate a bowl, make it look as authentic as you please, and fill it with milk and red food dye so the apples appear to be floating in a pool of blood!
  2. Halloween Treasure Hunt – if you enjoy to decorate the house and garden, you could create a creepy graveyard feel and provide a creepy treasure hunt for the kids. Depending on their age, you can leave scary surprises to add to the atmosphere and have fun with the game.
  3. Scary Story Time – again, depending on the age of the children at the party, you could have a story corner (with the lights turned low and candles burning to add mood). You could add a murder mystery element and get other people to play along.
  4. Pumpkin Carving Competition – although younger children will need to be supervised, this is a game for everyone. Hold a competition, providing challenging designs for your guests to carve out and enjoy the creativity.
  5. Halloween Bowling – this is great for younger children, who will be able to get involved in preparing the stage. You can decorate plastic pins (or even empty cans) with various designs and use pumpkins for the bowling balls.
  6. Mummy Maker! – you could split your party guests into teams, hand them a few rolls of toilet paper and start the clock. Whoever makes the most convincing mummy before the buzzer goes is the winner. There are variations of this game, unravelling the mummy, for example – you could even add your own special surprise (with a costume or a mask) for the added scare factor!
  7. Name that (Scary) Tune – this could be movie theme songs or television programmes, and again played in teams to see who is quickest off the mark.
  8. Bag of Tricks – this is a ‘guess who’ type game. You could pile a variety of disguises inside a bag and get people to guess the creature or character. You’ll need a blindfold while the person donning the disguise suits up!
  9. Scary Feel Box – fill a number of boxes with hidden surprises so guests have to dig in a feel what’s inside. You can have fun with this, either using food (like peeled grapes), or certain props that will make your guests squirm!
  10. The Association Game – create a table, with a number of grouped items (or you could use pictures around the house), which are clues to a scary film, television show or book. You can use props, or sounds, even hide clues – depending how far you want to take the game.

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So, what about you. Is there a game you play that’s not on the list? Any stories you’d like to share with us? What’s your favourite thing about Halloween? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

21

Today I’d like to talk about a monster most people would recognise, if only for the lively hair and killer looks – yes, that’s right, we’ll be discussing Medusa.

Medusa was a Gorgon, one of three sisters. Only two were immortal, and Medusa drew the short straw – she was not. Descriptions vary to a certain degree, but the Gorgon sisters are generally described as terrifying creatures with serpents for hair, eyes which could turn other beings into stone, claws, long, sharp teeth and, in some versions, wings. But Medusa has also been depicted as having boar’s tusks, a beard and a protruding tongue. In other legends, the Hindu goddess, Kali had a lolling tongue, which is not unlike that of the Gorgons.

Medusa by Ironshod Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2006-2015 Ironshod (Deviant Art).
Medusa by Ironshod
Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2006-2015 Ironshod (Deviant Art).

It won’t surprise you that the Gorgons have a complicated family history, though their grandmother is said to have been the Earth Mother herself – Gaia. You may know that Gaia was one of the original offspring of creation. She had numerous children; three of which she conceived without the aid of a man. One of these was Pontus, who she later mated with (incest is well known among the gods). The union produced five children. Ceto, one of the five, (said to be the deity of large marine beasts), married her brother, Phorcys. Together they had a number of offspring including the Gorgons.

In some myths, Medusa wasn’t always a hideous creature. It is said she was once extraordinarily beautiful, and this beauty captured Poseidon’s attention. The pair made love in Athena’s temple and, clearly, they weren’t thinking with their heads! Their behaviour angered the virgin goddess Athena and as a punishment she turned Medusa into a monster. It’s not stated whether Poseidon was punished for his actions, though as a powerful god in his own right Athena’s options were limited. That said, the blame seems to be somewhat one sided and it didn’t stop there. Athena later told Perseus how to kill Medusa.

Some of the stories which describe Perseus’ quest, also credit Hermes as one of his accomplices, along with the Graeae (who were sisters of the Gorgons), and nymphs who gave Perseus four items; a cap of invisibility (normally worn by Hades), a pair of winged sandals (which Perseus used to escape Medusa’s sisters), an adamantine sickle to remove Medusa’s head, and the bag to store it in. After various adventures, Perseus eventually presented the head to Athena, who put it on her aegis.

But let’s get back to Medusa, and another part of this myth. The fact that two sons sprang from the blood of Medusa’s severed head; Chrysaor and Pegasus. I’ve always liked Medusa, was fascinated with the myth as a child, and could understand her bitterness. But imagine carrying offspring around for goodness knows how long, I think we’d all be a little cranky after that!

Not much is known about Chrysaor, aside from the fact he was born with a golden sword and his name actually means ‘the man with the golden sword.’ He married Callirhoe, who was an Oceanid, and fathered two children; Geryon (who was a giant with three heads) and Echidna (a monster with the body of a beautiful woman and a serpent’s tail instead of legs, who later gave birth to several monstrous offspring).

I have to point out though, that some myths state that Echidna was not born of Chrysaor and Callirhoe at all, but Phorcys and Ceto (Medusa’s parents) or, in another myth – Gaia and Tartarus.

I’m sure you’re familiar with Pegasus, the winged horse who eventually became a constellation. There’s a certain poetic justice in that I think, a freedom he could allow his mother. Or at least that’s the way I see it, though I could be romanticizing!

There are stories of another child of Medusa, born to Cacus, whose father was Hephaestus. Cacus inherited the properties of his father and monstrosities of his mother. He was a fire-breathing monster, and in some versions, is described as a three-headed giant. He lived on human flesh and decorated his cave with the bones of his victims. Hercules killed Cacus in one of his most famous myths, which also included Geryon (Chrysaor’s son).

Those are the main stories describing Medusa in Greek mythology. So now it’s over to you. What do you think of Medusa and her history? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


References: The Everything Classical Mythology Book, by Lesley Bolton; The British Museum Pocket Dictionary of Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses, by Richard Wolf, and 30-Second Mythology, edited by Robert A. Segal.