Someone on my route to work put up their Halloween decorations this weekend — something to make me smile as I trudged through the rain to the bus stop at 7:30 on a Monday. I’ve always loved Halloween. A bit of it is the costumes, but a lot of it is the upending of our usual approach to death and monstrousness. It’s the goth in me, or possibly even further back, the morbid little weirdo who decided that being a vampire would be a great life aspiration. There’s something fascinating about all of our stories about how to make death less permanent.
For most of the year, those stories and those monsters are shoved off into a dark genre corner, where most people don’t pay attention to them. They’re a niche interest, for people who wear too much black and think skulls make cool drinking vessels and who probably ought to be avoided on the street. Then October comes, and ghoulishness is everywhere. “Ordinary” people hang paper skeletons in their windows and drape the trees in their front yards with tomb-thick cobwebs. Ghosts and ghouls peddle things in the supermarket. The morbid becomes a source of play, with mock graves for Abby Normal and L.B. Bach planted in neatly mown lawns. For a few short weeks, being fascinated with the dead-but-not-gone isn’t abnormal at all.
So it’s doubly delightful this year that I have a story coming out in October that takes advantage of the opportunity. “Resurrection Man,” my contribution to Bump in the Night, is a story about a man with no fear of the dead — no fear and in one case an absolute (undying?) devotion. There’s horror in Josef’s story, definitely, but there’s delight, too. He’s doing the thing that our Halloween rituals reach for — taming death, making its barrier permeable, besting its last word.
These shivers aren’t from horror. They’re from thrills.