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SLEEPY HOLLOW, NY — Legendary local resident the Headless Horseman, long believed to be retired, spoke to the media recently about his concerns that citizens’ heads have been exposed to COVID-19. Speaking with a heavy German accent, the Horseman explained, “2020 has been pretty rough, so I decided to cheer myself up by grabbing a few heads this Halloween. I was really creeped out, though, by all the people out there without face masks. It made me feel unsafe.”

Too close for comfort

The Horseman, who was interviewed over Zoom and spoke through a decaying jack-o-lantern, expressed his regret at not being able to secure a new head. “I rode out on Halloween night, thinking I would scare a few people, maybe snatch a head or two. I was looking for lonely, isolated travelers, which I thought would be easy due to the social distancing guidelines. But a whole bunch of people were hanging out in groups, hitting up the bars, or having crowded parties. I was scared to get close enough to decapitate anyone.”

The Headless Horseman has been unable to find a safe head to wear.

Citing increasingly high rates of COVID-19 transmission, the Horseman continued, “I like a Halloween bash as much as anyone, but have you seen the number of cases in New York state? Even the Van Tassels canceled their annual dance. Katrina loves to party, but she was smart enough to know better.”

Despite his desire for a new head, the Horseman was disgusted by local citizens’ lack of safety precautions. “If someone isn’t wearing a mask, there’s no way I’m taking that head,” he explained. “Who knows how many germs it was exposed to? That’s just nasty. People need to use common sense. I’ve been around for hundreds of years now by being responsible and using my head — well, you know what I mean.”

When asked about his future plans, the Horseman said that he planned to return to Hell for the time being, as he considers the current state of American life to be “too scary.”

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Kristin Cleaves writes horror and dark fiction. Her work has been published by Quill and Crow Publishing House, Ghost Orchid Press, Black Telephone Magazine, and more.

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Lighter than Dark

LTD: Library Rules

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Be sure to follow these simple library rules to ensure that you don’t end up victim to some Cthulhoid Lovecraftian nightmare. Because all of those books in one place can only mean one thing – certain doom!

Poster spelling out library rules, featuring extraplanar librarian.

Artwork description: A bloody female face with metallic crystalline eyes stares blankly at you from her strange ensemble of splattered fur trimmed weirdness. She leans against front of an overflowing bookshelf, guarding its contents.

Image text reads: Welcome to the library. Please follow these simple rules to ensure your safety and the well-being of those around you.

1.) Be quiet. the Eldritch horrors are sleeping. Do NOT awaken them. Ever.

2.) Do NOT open any portals to any interdimensional voids while here at the library. Please check out any such books and do so at home at your own risk.

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3.) Do NOT recite any spells, hexes, or incantations in any books found herein, even accidentally. Again, do so at home at your own risk if you must do so at all.

4.) Do NOT smile at the librarians under any circumstance. Doing so will invite terror beyond mortal comprehension.

5.) Do NOT burn or deface any of the books. This incites otherworldly wrath.

6.) The library will NOT be responsible should you awaken any Eldritch horrors, open any interdimensional portals, cast any spells, smile at the librarians, or burn or deface any of the books. Any attacks to your person, belongings, soul, or next of kin are solely your responsibility; you are NOT entitled to legal, medical, monetary, spiritual, or any other compensations on behalf of the library or any of its affiliates, either here, extraplanar, and/or beyond.

Close up portrait of librarian, so you can look deep into her creepy metallic crystalline eyes
Close up portrait of librarian

For more otherworldly Cthlulhoid horrors, consider making a Jell-O concoction or succumbing to the allure of the Red Lady

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Lighter than Dark

LTD Dream Subscription Service now available

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If the Metaverse isn’t all-encompassing enough for you (or if you simply don’t have the time to join in the fun there), you may want to look into the big new fad on the horizon: Dream Subscription Service. You simply sign up with some of the lesser demon angel types and you’re set. Visions will start coming in your sleep almost immediately.

There are different types of Dream Subscription to sign up for.

You have your surreal shit, the working through things dreams, prophesies, sexual fantasies, night terrors… You name it, they offer it.

There are some caveats, though.

Celebrity appearances are not included in base packages; cameos cost extra depending on demand. Upload speeds may vary depending on location and times spent resting. And Dream Subscription Service will not be held responsible for what you do in your waking hours in response to visions received. Oh, and there is a chance that you might be driven to madness. But just be sure to read all 197 pages of fine print to get all the details worked out for yourself.

How do I sign up?

If you are interested, just repeat the same chant three times before going to bed and a sales rep will visit you in your sleep.

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Sign me up now. Sign me up now. Sign me up now.

Registration Chant

There may be a waiting list, but they usually tend to get through the queue in a couple of nights. It can be easier signing on as a new Dream Subscription Service client if you sleep at odd hours though. Sometimes it also helps if you write Dream Subscription Service Sign Me Up Now in the steam on your bathroom mirror before going to bed. Or spin backwards in a circle three times while chanting.

Cannon the Candy Corn Squishmallow all tucked in and waiting for Dream Subscription Service
Cannon the Candy Corn Squishmallow all tucked in and waiting for Dream Subscription Service

Note: Do NOT use Dream Subscription Service if you are currently taking JeeperzCreeperz or have done so any time in the last century. That shit’ll fuck you up.

Also Note: Make sure you are signing up with the one and only original Dream Subscription Service and not one of those knockoff Cthulhu variants. Those are pretty much guaranteed to drive you insane (it’s even in their fine print in Eldritch Horror speak).

And if you really want to know more about a dream you’ve had, consider dream interpretation to get some ideas of possible symbolism. There are several Dream Dictionaries online including this one available through Psychologist World.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Lighter than Dark

LTD: Hookman Insurance Couple Encounters Ghost

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So you may remember the couple that won $10.2 million in the Hookman auto insurance settlement awhile back. Well, Haunted MTL’s Lighter Than Dark crossed paths with them again after they were being ghost-ed in their new apartment. And not the kind of ghost-ing where someone who was really into them just stopped engaging, more the kind where supernatural forces are at play. Here’s the scoop on that weirdness.

It appears that the couple had used some of the settlement money to move out and get their own place. They were really level-headed about the whole thing and were thinking about their future together, not just looking to shack up in a party palace.

“My mom was being such a drag after the whole Hookman thing, grounding me and all. She’d been totally cool with our relationship until she found out we were meeting out on Lover’s Lane and the car got all scraped and bloodied up, and then she just kind of flipped out. And then once we got money for the whole ordeal, she was all like wanting help with this or that, buying groceries and crap. So we got ourselves our own apartment,” one interviewee said. “It was great at first but then things got weird.”

The couple, then in their senior year of high school, wouldn’t admit to lying on the lease, but they did state that they weren’t supposed to have pets. Despite the no-pet policy, they brought their cat Cuddles. Cuddles was totally cool and even settled in nicely. But then things changed.

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“I think something tipped off our landlord,” the interviewee said. “Apparently the building was part of some estate from some old dead dude. Hell, we’d never even met the guy running it, but he kept things in order and we didn’t have any complaints. But one day Cuddles sneaked out into the hallway when we were bringing in groceries. There was this weird commotion, like some kind of muffled scream from some faraway room down the hall, and we were like the only unit on that floor. After the creepy distant yell, Cuddles darted back in like lightning; she just wasn’t the same.”

It seemed that Cuddles had seen a ghost, and it wasn’t going to leave her alone after the incident. She’d stare into space and get all poofy for no apparent reason at all. She’d cry and whine at all hours of the night. Or she’d leap away from her owner, hissing and acting all terrified. She refused to go into certain rooms and started peeing in different places outside of her litter box. She was totally freaked out.

“It’s like she was being ghost-ed. The poor kitty was never at peace. I’ve had Cuddles since she was a kitten, and this was totally unlike her.” The interviewee continued, “I felt terrible. Something obviously had it out for her and there was nothing we could do about it. We tried cat pheromones, sage, and geomancy; we even got a paranormal expert in to cleanse the place. Nothing helped.”

The interviewee went on, “One day, we were all laid back on the couch smoking some weed with a couple of friends and we just felt everything settle down. Cuddles came and sat on my lap like nothing had ever changed. The whole apartment seemed to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Everything was just… chill…”

According to the couple, it was like the ghost just needed to get high and “calm the f- down”. Perhaps it’s spirits were raised, or it and Cuddles worked something out. But it seems that everything has been all buddy-buddy since, and Cuddles is her happy purring furry-faced feline self again.

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Kitty freak out, or "top of the stairs" to you - picture of my cat Major Tom stretching across the corner of the stairwell landing while yawning
Kitty freak out, or “top of the stairs” to you

Note: this segment came about after I woke from one of the most legit terrifying dreams I’ve ever had, about my current cat Cinderella freaking the hell out in response to some unseen presence that came in on some object I brought home or something. It was totally messed up but fit into that it-could-totally-happen vibe that didn’t feel at all like a dream. This was one of the most twisted nightmare scenarios I’ve had in awhile, and I’m borderline narcoleptic so I’ve had some doozies. Dream experience rated 1 out of 10, would not recommend.

And further note: no cats were harmed or haunted in the making of this story. My cat Major Tom was not distressed in this photo, he was greeting me with a huge yawning stretch as I stumbled up the stairs. It was an impressively big movement at the time and I was glad I was able to capture it on film since Major Tom was always a little camera-shy (he hated the “light/hand-rectangle” because I tended to leave it lying around randomly in the morning when the alarm went off and he had to fetch me to make it stop).

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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