31 Lists of Horror: Madeline Ashby’s Halloween Wish List

I admit it, I dras­ti­cal­ly over­es­ti­mat­ed the amount of lists I could drum up. But as I refuse to edit all past blog posts, 31 Lists of Hor­ror is shall remain. So today, on Day 26 of Near-31 Lists of Hor­ror, we take a look at the ulti­mate Hal­loween wish list.
Today’s special guest lister: Madeline Ashby

Made­line Ash­by is a sci­ence fic­tion writer, futur­ist, speak­er, and immi­grant liv­ing in Toronto.Her essays have appeared at Boing­Bo­ing, io9, World­Chang­ing, Cre­ators Project, Arcfin­i­ty, MISC Mag­a­zine, and FutureNow. She is the author of the Machine Dynasty nov­els. Her wide­ly-acclaimed, award-win­ning nov­el Com­pa­ny Town was a final­ist on Cana­da Reads.

October 26, 2017

Things I Wished Would Happen To Me On Halloween

A Partial Memoir By Madeline Ashby

The Great PumpkinApril is the cru­elest month, but for me Octo­ber is the time of deep­est yearn­ing. Hal­loween casts a long shad­ow over the blaz­ing weeks of Octo­ber, and when I was younger I spent the whole month wait­ing for some­thing, any­thing to hap­pen. It seemed like Hal­loween was a night in which any­thing was pos­si­ble: Great Pump­kins could appear, trans­for­ma­tions could be made, trea­sures could be dis­cov­ered, curs­es could be lift­ed. Hal­loween was the night when you could be some­one else. (And being some­one else is one of the best parts of the job.)

On Hal­loween you might be a Mage, or an adven­tur­er, or some­thing not entire­ly human, some­thing dan­ger­ous and won­der­ful. I spent most of my Hal­loweens trudg­ing from house to house in the Pacif­ic North­west rain, explain­ing my increas­ing­ly-obscure cos­tumes to dubi­ous adults, or else cling­ing to the side­lines of par­ties, or watch­ing, bewil­dered, at the abil­i­ty of my fel­low rev­ellers to sim­ply let go and have fun.

This is a list of all the things I wished would hap­pen on Hal­loween, instead.

Secret Passageway

What is it with book­shelves and secret pas­sage­ways any­way?

1) An all-night trek through forests, fields, aban­doned build­ings, or Vic­to­ri­an man­sions with secret pas­sage­ways. It would start out as par­ty-hop­ping, or pos­si­bly inves­ti­gat­ing a strange noise, and then become a jour­ney into the heart of night that was also an obvi­ous com­men­tary on grow­ing up in Amer­i­ca under late cap­i­tal­ism.

1a) Dis­cov­er­ing a secret pas­sage­way to…anywhere else.

2) Cast­ing a mag­ic spell that worked.

3) Unmask­ing Old Mis­ter Whomev­er as the archi­tect behind this whole scheme.


Let’s see who you real­ly are!

3a) Hav­ing a whole team of friends who helped me unmask Old Mis­ter Whomev­er as the archi­tect behind this whole scheme.

4) See­ing a ghost.

4a) I always imag­ined this as the cor­ner-of-the-eye glimpse of some dis­tant, shim­mer­ing spec­tre, a hint of human­i­ty veiled in grave­yard fog. Then I stayed in a haunt­ed rental one time and it was gen­uine­ly awful. The next time you see a list­ing that looks too good to be true? It’s too good to be true.

5) Being admit­ted to a fan­cy cos­tume par­ty that led to induc­tion in an immor­tal vam­pire fam­i­ly. Pos­si­bly a vam­pire fam­i­ly of muse­um cura­tors, or librar­i­ans. Those seem like good jobs, for vam­pires. And also for nerds like me.

6) Being dared to spend a night in a haunt­ed house.

The Evil Dead

As haunt­ed cab­ins go, this one is killer.

6a) Spend­ing the night in a cab­in in the woods, prefer­ably haunt­ed woods with a leg­end attached.

6b) Los­ing my vir­gin­i­ty in a cab­in in the woods, prefer­ably haunt­ed woods with a leg­end attached.

7) Wear­ing the One Mag­i­cal Cos­tume that I might actu­al­ly look attrac­tive in, or at least attrac­tive enough so that peo­ple would notice. I don’t mean one of those “Sexy ____” cos­tumes that come in plas­tic pack­ag­ing. I just mean a cos­tume that tru­ly made me feel like some­thing I wasn’t.

8) Find­ing a lost black cat and bring­ing them home to stay.

9) Going to one of those club night Hal­loween par­ties with themed drinks and it not being ter­ri­ble, loud, and unsat­is­fy­ing.

10) Host­ing the actu­al­ly per­fect Hal­loween par­ty, com­plete with home­made can­dy and a ful­ly dec­o­rat­ed space and pos­si­bly a locked-room mur­der mys­tery game, or the com­ple­tion of a rit­u­al, either way, it can be both.

10a) Hav­ing the space to host my friends.

10b) Hav­ing the patience and skill to make all the props.

10c) Hav­ing the ener­gy to host it.

11) Dec­o­rat­ing a porch for Hal­loween in a way that makes kids feel brave just for ring­ing the bell, and scan­dal­izes back­ward-think­ing neigh­bours.

11a) Hav­ing a house with a porch.

11b) Liv­ing in a city with­out a cut­throat real estate mar­ket that makes see­ing a ghost more like­ly than find­ing an afford­able home.

11c) Feel­ing like I actu­al­ly want­ed a house year-round, instead of just dur­ing the fall sea­son when I could dec­o­rate for Hal­loween in a way that scan­dal­izes back­ward-think­ing neigh­bours.

12) Spend­ing Hal­loween abroad.

Tower of London

Made­line Ashby’s Euro­pean Hal­loween Expe­ri­ence

12a) Spend­ing Hal­loween abroad and hav­ing the guts to go into one of those haunt­ed attrac­tions by myself. (I’m look­ing at you, Tow­er of Lon­don.)

13) Dying on Hal­loween. Prefer­ably in a remote coun­try man­sion with many secret pas­sages, after a long and wast­ing but fun­da­men­tal­ly Roman­tic ill­ness, sur­round­ed by black cats.

13a) Being found by some­one before said cats begin to dehy­drate.

13b) Hav­ing a thor­ough and iron­clad will that pro­vides for said cats.

14) Haunt­ing my ene­mies. (You know what you did.)

15) Forg­ing a long-last­ing and mutu­al­ly-ben­e­fi­cial rela­tion­ship with the fam­i­ly that inevitably takes over the place where I died.

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