The Kings and Queens of October

Every October I look at this thing and wonder why I haven’t done anything with it. It was originally written as a setting imprint for Jared’s Darkpages (there are still Darkpages bits mixed in with it) but it feels like more than that or that and more.  I talked to an artist buddy about doing a web comic but it never got done amidst my grad school work.  At some point soon, when my masters is done, it’ll come out to play.

Kings and Queens of October

by Judd Karlman

The weather ranges from the hottest and coldest days and nights you can remember from Mischief Night to Halloween drawing from the last warm breezes of summer to the first frosty breaths of winter. The entirety of the world spans what you could ride a bike across in a few hours of hard peddling, as such rusted unreliable bikes can be found in bushes and in front of old soda shops with boarded up windows. Some kids try to claim a bike as their own but it never lasts for long; there are other things to worry about that are more important. Candy is one of those things.

The town or world of October (none is quite sure which it is or if it is only a town, what is to be found in the outlying county) runs on candy. Bags of new stuff come in with new Trick-or-Treaters who wander in. No one eats it, it is a commodity that is hoarded and traded. The Candy is some kind of promise of sweetness or enjoyment from another place and time.

Just like any time or place when children gather, they gather into groups and cliques; they find something to fight about and fight with fury and passion. Children who grow up in this environment either see the fighting as a necessary part of life or a silly waste of time but either way, the Kings and Queens of October put their masks on or take their masks off, depending on their politics, pick up baseball bats, boards with rusty nails and bike chains and they fight, over Candy, love, or territory.

 

Sub-necro-burbia (6)

Abandoned (+0)

Magic Hill (+0)

Pumpkin Hill (+0)

The houses resemble tombstones, gray and empty with cobwebs and engravings to long dead folks few if any remember. Sometimes, a newly arrived kid will take off his mask and try to live as normally as possible in one of those tomb houses, pretending the mouldering bodies within are just mom and dad, sleeping fitfully. They live on corn from the edge of town along the railroad tracks and fish from the reservoir for as long as they can.

Other kids do their damnedest to become their costume, exploring as an astronaut, raising hell as a devil, rustling up neighborhood feral cats like cattle as a cowboy or skulking as a bed-sheet ghost. None are sure what these kids live on.

There are two hills in the Sub-necro-burbia and they are owned by the two biggest Trick-or-Treaters in town.

The Witch gathers all of the wayward witches who wander into town under her skirt. She teaches them to call a black cat as their familiar, to ride their broom along the rooftops and call down curses on their enemies.

Octavious A. Mephistoberg might be a living scarecrow and he also might be a lanky boy with a carved pumpkin on his head. He preserves this mystique by locking and barring his doors, hoarding candy like a miser and choosing his battles with great care. As such, he is a cross between the boogeyman and Tyler Durden. Some say he was the first kid to find his way here, others say he is a powerful warlock who made the place and other say he is the Devil himself. Octavious loves each rumor and works to keep all of them in October’s minds.

Octavious Autumnal Mephistoberg – Hermit

The Witch – The Magician

 

The Schoolyard (3)

Bullying (+0)

Education (+0)

Rebellion (+0)

It is a monument to what autumn represents outside of October’s borders, a gothic schoolhouse filled with old books without covers. Some children put down their masks and flock to its order, to what their parents wanted them to become. They put on the school uniform and learn mathematical tables and some jumbled history by day along with some sports that are blended together jambalaya of activities of what people can remember from their sports at home. Cricket is mixed with stickball and soccer mixed with rugby along with a type of hide and go seek that utilizes red rubber dodgeballs and cricket bats.

The Schoolyard is surrounded by sports fields with dying grass and hard packed dirt and a cyclopean tire gym where tire structures the size of skyscrapers are attached by swaying bridges made of wood, rubber and chain.

The Schoolmaster is a mysterious fellow. Is he a child who has grown older or a big kid with a schoolmaster’s costume on? Either due to his growing up in October or being a kid underneath it all, he is a bully of the highest order and from his office, has set up a place where other bullies can learn their trade. His hatred of masks and candy are palpable but he also has a real love of learning and order that make him hard to outright dismiss.

Outside the school are truant runaways from the Schoolmaster’s curriculum. They style themselves a gang with ritual scarring from heated coat-hangers and leather jacks. Lately, they call themselves the Pumpkin Smashers and when they gather enough numbers and steam, they venture into the Sub-necro-burbia and raise hell. Their helling mostly consists of beating up kids and taking their candy or on more daring nights, leaving burning bags of shit on Octavious or the Witch’s doorstep.

The Schoolmaster – The Sun

Pumpkin Smasher’s Leader – The Moon

 

The Cornfields (4)

Feral (+1)

The corn grows high in October and the fields where it grows are where those without a gang, without someone to look up to hide. Hidden shacks with rusty tools and old broken down cars with fins are out there in the corn, along with the devil only knows what else. The kids out here tend to become feral versions of their masks, unwashed and unkempt, as such, the Cornfields are said to be patrolled by monsters.

It might very well have monsters but many of them are kids with masks, prowling the corn. snarling with brown-bladed machetes in their hands and poop in their pants.

Murders of crows roam the Cornfields, mimicking newcomers in scratchy voiced taunts and twisting their words to new meanings. As with everything in October, there are rumors and legends about the crows, that they are children who stayed in town too long or who went too far feral for their own good. The crows are said to be ruled by a capricious king who can speak in full sentences when the mood suits him.

King of Crows – The Void

Feral Devil-child – The Wheel

 

The Highway (2)

Homesick (+0)

Speed (+0)

Gearhead (+0)

Gathered in the abandoned cars and buses, underpasses and sewage tunnels of he Highway are the kids who want out of October. The highway cuts through the town, dividing the Sub-necro-burbia and the Cornfield from the Schoolyard. Every once in a while a group of kids will get a car running and make a run for the border or run a scam in town that demands a fast getaway.

The Racer is wearing what looks like his parent or older sibling’s motorcycle helmet with a matching jump suit. He drives a go-kart that he cobbled together from shopping carts and lawn mower engines packed with useful car parts. It is well known that if you want a car running, eventually you will have to cut a deal with the Racer.

The Devil’s Curve is over a cliff, littered with the shells of broken cars and presumably, the bodies of the drivers within.

 

Inspirations:

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

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