Our Live Beer Review this week is Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale by Black Sheep Brewery and in honor of that, Rick has created a Monty Python and The Holy Grail quiz. Unfortunately, Cheri fails the quiz epically. Perhaps you will do much better. Rick and Cheri debate the most perfect album ever created and it turns out to be not much of a debate as they both agree on the same album (Cheri says Fluid Ounces’ In The New Old Fashioned Way and Rick agrees, although he admits he is currently leaning toward Big Note For Easy Piano). Rick prepares everyone for the holidays by listing his exclusive “Top 15 Holiday Tartans.” Stay festive, friends!
We’re seriously into November now and experiencing the joys of fall such as colorful leaves, cooler temperatures and things crawling on you at night. Wait, what?? Apparently Cheri had a unwanted late night guest and had to take matters into her own hands. Rick reads some feedback about the new plans for the Life In A Kilt Podcast and we let the voice of the people dictate our future! Mostly. Even though one listener is pretty clear that Rick shouldn’t be moving to remote Alaska. Rick and Cheri both had some poor customer service experience this week with food delivery and Rick gets in additional trouble with a company that tells him to stop selling a particular tartan! Our Live Beer Review features a refreshing porter from Black Abbey Brewing Company called The Forty Four.
We’re back! After a bit of a vacation filled with special episodes, including the Kilt Of Horrors 2017, Rick and Cheri return to the microphones for a brand new show! In this, episode 62, we announce the winner of our Kilt Of Horrors story contest and tell a little bit of information about what happened during recording the stories. Rick purchased a new fall kilt from UT Kilts and is pretty excited about it. Cheri wants to know what music artists can give you physical chills with their performance. Cheri and Rick announce the launch of their second podcast, “This Epic Disaster” which will debut in January 2018. Our Live Beer Review is fit for a king. And not just any king! It’s Elvis Juice by Brewdog. Thankyaverrmuch!
I don’t think it will spoil my story one bit if I tell you up front that I’m dead. It isn’t the fact that I’m dead that makes my tale most interesting, but the how I ended up dead. This is that story.
I started long-haul truck driving the year I was discharged from the Marines. October of ‘78 I was driving a load of “toothpicks” to the east coast. It was late Halloween night approaching 2AM so the trick or treat goblins had long gone to bed. I had just reached the other side of Whitefish, Montana when the bed of logs I was carrying, not to mention my eyelids, started feeling a couple tons heavier than they had the hour before. I was making pretty good time on my haul so I figured it was a good opportunity to pull over at the next truck stop for a cup of coffee and a cheeseburger.
After miles of driving through pitch black, I could finally see light up ahead. A small greasy spoon, no bigger than a mobile home, sat just off the road, bathed completely in red neon light. The sign out front said “The Scarlet Kilt.” It could have been “The Purple Panties” for all I cared. I was hungry and needed some caffeine. I pulled over.
When you’ve been driving a rig for as long as I’d been, you’ve seen pretty much every type of truck stop, restaurant, diner, dive, pub and piss hole out there. They’re all mostly the same with the same heartburn-causing food, same tired, bored employees. I’d never been to The Scarlet Kilt before, but I’d seen it over a thousand times in every state in the lower 48. I walked in, lit a Marlboro and took a seat at a small, wood table in the darkest corner.
I propped a menu in front of my face and pretended to read while my eyes scanned my surroundings. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with a late night appetite. An old cowboy-guy with filthy clothes was sucking down a brew, while a leather-faced woman, old enough to be his mom, chewed on his disgusting ear. A white-bearded biker with a huge gut stood up and fished around in his pants for his wallet. The cook, a hulking Elliot Gould look-a-like, flipped greasy beef patties and chomped on a two-inch stogie. The biker dropped a ten on the counter, walked over to the juke box and punched in Jim Stafford’s “Spiders and Snakes.” Then he turned and walked out the door. Certainly no shortage of freaks in this place.
A piercing, cackle of a laugh sliced through the smoke and grease in the room. A short, middle-aged waitress skittered up to the counter, whipping a rag around like a propeller.
“Arnie, sugar, if your burgers get any blacker I swear we’re going to have to give these customers a coal shovel to eat ‘em with!”
Arnie, the cook, continued frying and flipping without even acknowledging the waitress. She’d obviously spent a lot of time giving him shit and he seemed perfectly immune to it. She glanced my way, picked up a glass and pitcher of water, then strutted like a queen over to my table.
“Don’t let that scare you none, doll. I wouldn’t say it to his face but Arnie makes a fantastic cheeseburger. I just love busting his balls. It’s a nightly ritual I’ve been doing for 25 years. Between you and me, he doesn’t hear too well so I’m not even sure he knows I’m doing it.”
She let loose anther cackle laugh and poured some ice water.
“Welcome to the Scarlet Kilt, handsome. I’m owner, CEO, and your waitress tonight. My name’s Evanora, what can I get for you?”
The waitress propped herself on one arm directly in front of me and stared into my eyes. The front of her low-cut blouse dropped another few inches, exposing her flawless, freckled cleavage. A sassy, sideways smile pushed up cute round apple cheeks on her cherub face.
“Well, ma’am, I think I’m going to have your cheeseburger and coffee special this evening.”
I held out my hand.
“I’m your customer tonight. My name is Tom. What can I get for you?”
The waitress’s smile turned into a sparkly giggle and she shook my hand.
“Oh, honey, I think I have just about everything I need in this world right now but thanks for asking. Now, let’s see, I’ve got this dump, my little upstairs apartment directly behind the diner, and a non-stop steady stream of good-looking men dropping by ordering cheeseburgers and coffee on a regular basis. A girl never gets tired of that kind of eye candy, even when it’s not Halloween. And you, Mr. Tom… well, you’re the type of candy that would make a girl glad she has an extra-large Trick or Treat sack.”
She reached across the table and put her hand on my forearm.
“Tell me, what are you doing out this way so late, sweetie? Don’t you know that only maniacs and murderers are out this time of night?”
“You see that big rig out there stacked full of wood? That’s mine. Driving it down to West Virginia where I guess they’re going to turn it into furniture or baseball bats or somethin’ interesting. I never know what they do with that stuff after I drop it off. None of my business, I guess.”
The waitress’s hand went from my forearm to tugging at her necklace.
“That sure is a lot of wood you’ve got there, Tom. Wait. Don’t tell me. Your name isn’t something ironic like “Tom Woods,” is it? Or “Tom Plank?” Oh my god, you’re not the famous porn star Tom Logg are you??”
“Corbett. Tom Corbett is my name. And your last name would be…?”
“Oh, sugar, there have been so many last names I’ve lost track. Don’t worry yourself about all that. Just call me Evanora.”
I took a gulp of ice cold water.
“Evanora. Let me guess… you really, really love peaches.”
“Your peach pit necklace there. A necklace made of peach pits is rather unique, I’d say. I figure you either really love peaches or you have a kid who excelled in crafts at church camp.”
“Hmmm, let’s just say… I’m a girl from Georgia. You know, “Georgia peach” and all? I haven’t lived there since I was young but this helps me stay in touch with my roots.”
“A southern belle? I’d never have guessed.”
“It’s been a long time. I didn’t fit in down there and so I got out as quick as I could. I consider myself a Montana girl at heart. Listen, honey, I’m going to put your order in and check on Monty. He’s the one over there wearing the cowboy hat and the whore. I’ll be back with some hot coffee for you in a couple minutes.”
Evanora scooted off to the counter. Her delightfully well-shaped ass waved goodbye to me and I felt a little tingle down below. She was the cutest thing I’d seen in quite awhile and she was obviously doing some serious flirting. So what if she was a year or two older than me. She was more than a fine-looking woman. Maybe a little loopy but that was okay. A crazy woman is a refreshing distraction from the monotony of the road. I’d been driving for three days and been longer than that without the company of a woman. The conversation and attention from Evanora was a welcomed occasion.
The cowboy-guy and his date paid their tab and staggered out the door.
“There ya go, Arnie, your cooking has run off another customer!”
Evanora giggled, looked over at me and winked.
“Let’s hope you don’t kill off this good-looking guy in the corner. Maybe he’ll hang around for awhile and I’ll get lucky tonight.”
She gave me another wink. This was starting to look good.
The cheeseburger and coffee arrived and both were better than your average truck stop fare. That Arnie might be quiet but he sure knows what he’s doing. At this point, though, my cravings had shifted from burger to brunette as I watched Evanora work the room. Two other customers had come in and Evanora made them feel at home but she still visited my table regularly for a shoulder squeeze or neck rub. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make a move with her but I knew I had to. And soon.
I took my last swallow of coffee. Immediately Evanora skipped over, pulled out the table and sat right on my lap.
“Look, sugar, my shift is over and I’m going home but I don’t think I want to go home… without you. You look like you could use a warm shower and a soft pillow and I have plenty of both at my place. How about you walk with me to my apartment and consider staying the night? No strings attached. I don’t need to know your address or your situation. Tomorrow, bright and early, you hit the road and you don’t even have to turn around for one last glance if you don’t want to.”
She combed her fingers through my hair.
“The offer is on the table, doll, if you want to reach over and pick it up.”
I put my hand on the small of her back and pulled her in closer.
“Absolutely. And if you don’t mind me saying so, you seem to me to be a woman worthy of at least a couple of ‘last glances.'”
“Listen, honey, you need to do me a favor. I have this rule around the diner that says no dating or personal mingling with the customers and, you know, I have to set an example. I can’t be seen taking some strange trucker off to my apartment. So, wait 5 or 10 minutes after I leave and then go out that front door and around to the back of the diner. You’ll see a wood staircase that goes up to my apartment. I’ll leave the door unlocked.”
“Got it. One question.”
“Do I still have to leave a tip here?”
“You better believe it!”
She kissed my cheek and darted off.
I waited a few minutes then paid my bill. I left a hefty tip and walked out the door and into the red neon light. Making my way around the back of the diner, I climbed the wood staircase as I was told. The apartment looked rather dark inside but I turned the doorknob. It was unlocked as promised.
The entrance went directly into the kitchen. There were a couple of lit candles on a table and on the stove, a tea pot of water not yet boiling. Dried herbs hung from hooks all around the kitchen. I walked into the living room which was cozy warm from a small fireplace. A framed photo of a smiling couple was on the mantle. It appeared to be a young Evanora sitting on the lap of a red-bearded man. Over the fireplace was a large painting of a naked man with a goat head. Creepy. A dozen or so lit candles placed around the room gave the air a waxy smell. A few stuffed birds and animals stood guard throughout the space. Lots of Native American and ancient Celtic trinkets, wall hangings, crystals and amulets made it look something like a museum. An ash tray with a fat stalk of burnt… something sat at the center of the coffee table.
“I hope you’re up for a cup of tea, sugar. I make it myself. China Black, raspberry leaves, chamomile, rose hips, some other stuff. It’s very relaxing. Will help you sleep.”
Evanora came into the living room tying a red satin robe around her waist. She was wearing no shoes, no bra and her peach pit necklace. She was simply stunning. I couldn’t figure out what it was about this woman that had me under a spell but I was captivated. It isn’t often a woman can make me feel off-balance but there was something about Evanora that left me ruffled.
“Tea… would be great. And if you’ll point me toward the shower, I’ll freshen up and be right back.”
“Right through that door, sweetie. Be careful, the water gets very hot. There’s a robe hanging on the door if you want it.”
The hot shower felt good and invigorating. I felt revived and more focused. I put on the robe and went to the living room. Evanora was on her over-stuffed couch. The red neon light bleeding through the window illuminated her red robe and made her glow like a firehouse lantern.
“Here’s your tea, hon. Come over here and sit next to me. Let me show you something…”
She reached into an old cabinet drawer next to the couch and pulled out a small carved box. She opened the lid and produced a hand-rolled cigarette.
“I hope you don’t mind, but this helps me to relax. I always smoke a little when I have my tea.”
“Not at all.”
She lit the joint, closed her eyes and sucked in the smoke. She offered the cigarette to me, I took it and inhaled deeply. The sweet, earthy smoke instantly melted the tension in my muscles.
“My ex, Rory, introduced me to weed. He was my first husband. The best one. He was a wild man from Scotland. The name of the diner, ‘The Scarlet Kilt,’ came from him. He had this red kilt he believed contained the spirits of all his ancestors and when he put it on, their spiritual essence would enter his body and make him invincible. We used to get high and naked and dance all night on the rocks by the lake. He was into paganism, nature worship, magick, rituals, all that stuff. He taught me the craft. He was the first to open me up.”
The ‘craft?’ What does that mean… you’re…
“A witch? It’s okay darlin’, you can say it. I was 19 when he introduced me to witchcraft. It isn’t what everyone thinks it is, of course. We don’t eat babies or mutilate black cats. There are spells and rituals but it’s mostly about becoming purified and perfected through nature. We each have our own gifts. ‘Super powers,’ if you will. My gift is energy manipulation and transference. I know, other-worldly, right? People say ‘witch’ but there’s no such thing as one type of witch. We’re all free to be and do our own thing.”
The weed was starting to deceive my mind and I was beginning to think maybe there was something a little stronger than just tea in my cup. I looked into Evanora’s eyes and saw what looked like a flash of misty red flame. The witchy talk was making me see strange visions, I thought. I felt a surge of desire in me and I leaned in to her. I wasn’t sure how I felt about making love to a witch but I was about to find out.
“I have that same philosophy. Free to do my own thing. But right now, I’d rather do yours.”
I moved in and kissed her lips. She tasted like rose hips and smelled like vanilla and herbs. Her tongue traced my mouth and I reached down and loosened the tie on her robe while she freed me of mine. Our hands explored each other as we slowly fell back into the couch.
We made love for an hour and a half, the details of which won’t be shared but it was sex unlike any I’d had before. I’d hope to continue but Evanora stood up and started slowly dancing around the living room. Her nude, middle-aged body still looked youthful and toned and she closed her eyes and slithered to her own inner music. I was thoroughly enjoying the show when she came over to me and held out her arms.
“Dance with me, baby.”
I’ve never been a shy or overly modest person but I admit I felt somewhat self-conscious here. I’d never danced naked with a witch before and I wasn’t sure I would be a perfect partner. Still, I stood up with her and gave it a try. I started by mimicking her moves. She seemed to be hearing a musical soundtrack I wasn’t, so I had no problem letting her be the lead in this dance. She lifted her arms above her head and skipped around like some sort of wood sprite. I did my best to follow along. She rubbed her hands over her body and writhed like she was making love to an invisible partner. After what seemed like 15 or 20 minutes, I began hearing the music too. I don’t know where it came from but I didn’t question it. We seemed to have connected through the dance on a deep level and I felt like I was absorbing her presence. I felt sweat breaking all over my body and my heart was pounding faster from the workout. The music and dance accelerated and we held each other’s hands and spun around the coffee table. Suddenly Evanora stopped moving. She lifted her head and arms high and whispered something in a language I couldn’t understand.
“Naestra, finna, toldor enna candorom! Shallae umstra lammacrom!”
She took the herb stalk from the coffee table and held it to the fire in the small fireplace. It lit immediately and she placed it on the coffee table where the fire extinguished but the stalk continued to smolder. She quickly ran off to a closet and brought back what looked to me like a red kilt.
“Please. Put this on. Don’t ask. Just do it.”
I was completely under her power now and didn’t question her instruction. I’d never put on a kilt before and didn’t know what the hell to do with all the cloth and buckles but Evanora took it from my hands and wrapped it around me while she swayed and whipped her hair side to side. She pulled the buckles until they were secure and then picked up the smoldering herb stalk and danced around me, waving smoke and embers in the air until a veil of fog surrounded me. The faster she danced, the more it seemed the scarlet kilt glowed from the red neon light.
I looked out the window and discovered the diner’s red neon Scarlet Kilt sign was no longer illuminated. The glow of red light that saturated the entire room was originating from the scarlet kilt I was wearing. My head felt cloudy and confused and I wasn’t sure if everything I was seeing and experiencing was reality or a dream. Evanora began whispering the strange language once again and the scarlet kilt glowed brighter. I decided I’d had enough of the spooky shit. I wanted out of the kilt and I reached down to release the buckles. The metal was hot and the buckles seemed to be fused closed. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get out of the kilt.
I felt the waist of the kilt tighten and constrict around my body. The rest of the kilt which was at one time open and flowing began closing upon me like a hand making a fist. I fought to pull the cloth away but I couldn’t grip it and didn’t have the strength to move it away. It felt like the thing was eating me alive. The kilt glowed even brighter, to the point I wasn’t able to look directly at it. It closed tight around my scrotum and a sensation I can only describe as a “fire orgasm” consumed me. All the energy drained from my body. I began seeing visions of ancient, Celtic pagan priests and warriors. I began melting into them. I could feel their feelings and think their thoughts. I no longer could feel my own body and became light as air and ghostly. The sights, sounds and smells that were surrounding me before had dissipated and were replaced with a vast nothingness. I had passed from the earthly plane to one of pure spirit. From the human standpoint, I was dead.
The spirit world does not accommodate regret, only awareness. One does not evaluate one’s present or past actions in this existence. One only sees actions as they are and as they were. I now know why Evanora prompted me to wear the scarlet kilt but I do not have the power to wish I had not. I did not share the ancestry of Evanora’s ex-husband, Rory, so I had no right or privilege to wear that kilt. While blood keeps an ancestry alive, in this case the ancestors could only live by stealing my own essence. Rory and his ancestors, remained alive in the weave of the scarlet kilt as long as they could either take life from others or find an ancestor to wear the kilt and contribute to the collective ancestral pool of life. Had I been an ancestor, my life would have been spared, refined and magnified. As one of strange blood, I became nothing more than life food and another two charms on a Montana witch’s necklace.
— © 2017 Life In A Kilt Podcast
From “Kilt Of Horrors” 2017
Kilt Of Horrors 2017
Cory was unnerved by the garment. It seemed as cold and empty as the extinguished hearth above which it hung. Though his family insisted that nothing had changed since his previous visits to the manor, he couldn’t shrug off the eerie serenity that the old, faded kilt brought to the hall.
He had visited the family manor – a castle compared to his modest condo back in the States – about a dozen times, and always in a warmer season. The kilt was always the first thing to meet his gaze as he entered the small fortress’s front doors, but there was no joy in seeing it this time: the greyish, pleated garment looked downright melancholic, especially in combination with the heirloom short swords that flanked it above the stoic stone fireplace.
Perhaps it was the weather, but the same could be said of the whole estate: while not drab, the property certainly wasn’t a festive one. A thick, wild wood covered the majority of it, and the manor itself seemed more fitting for Dracula than King Arthur. During Cory’s childhood visits, this grim atmosphere was accentuated by the ghost stories from his second cousin, Kieran. More often than not, Cory would end up trying to go to sleep with visions of dead warriors rising from their barrows.
“Our family has lived on this land for ages,” Kieran would explain, a note of pride in her twelve-year-old voice, “long before the English took our lands and built our house.”
“The English built your house?” a younger Cory, half her age, would ask innocently. “But if they made you leave, why did they build you a house?”
“They didn’t build it for us – we took it back!” Kieran jumped up from her seat in front of the fireplace, mimicking a sword with a log-poker as she continued the story.
“All the men of our Clan rose up against the invaders, chased them down, and chopped them to bits in this very hall!” She stabbed at the shadows, ending with a look of wild exclamation on her face. Cory looked like he might cry.
“But before that,” Kieran added, softening her voice, “they say the menfolk went into the woods and made a bargain with the faeries.” She glanced cautiously around the room. “By their own blood, they would ensure the prosperity of their daughters. So they died along with the English who had taken their lands, leaving the women, this fortress, and that—” she pointed the poker toward the kilt hanging above the fireplace: “The colors of Clan Craelich.”
Cory’s mother would insist that Kieran got those funny stories from her own crazy mum, no doubt passed down from Cory’s great-great grandfather, Alasdair Craelich, whose lonely voyage to the States would establish the Krelock family. In any case, the tales had established the kilt as a sort of anchor for his trips, a testament to the family’s blood and promises of times past, but mostly it was a nostalgic icon of his own visits here.
But again, this time was different. After greeting his relatives, he stared in confusion at the kilt, hanging as unassumingly as ever above the hearth. Something was definitely off. It was dingy, muted – sinister, even.
“Did you guys replace the lighting in here?” he asked his distant cousins.
“We’ve certainly tried to keep up with the times,” Kieran interjected. Cory hadn’t seen her yet, and her sudden appearance took him by surprise. “We’ve got indoor plumbing and central air, too,” she joked. “It’s not just a big, scary castle anymore.” She gave a sarcastic smirk, and it broke his attention long enough for proper reintroductions. Still, as the family led him to his usual quarters, he glanced again at the kilt from the corner of his eye.
Maybe it’s just the light of October, he thought.
Cory had only come to visit in autumn once before. In his adolescence, the Krelocks usually came during summer vacation. It wasn’t every year, but hiking through fields of gorse and heather in the Scottish highlands beneath a temperate summer sun was cathartic.
Just under ten years ago, though, Cory made an unexpected trip for an unexpected occasion: when his father, Nate, left their Dallas home for family business in Scotland, the man never came back. After a flight to Glasgow in early November, Cory and his mother drove up to Inverness for legal discussions and to attend the funeral service. Virtually everything was overseen and paid for by the Craelichs, for which Cory remained grateful.
Cory didn’t visit the manor that time, as he had to return home promptly for a conference. Thereafter, he found himself accepting fewer offers to visit the old country, though once in a blue moon he would be sent for work, and he’d feel obligated to visit his family. He didn’t necessarily enjoy the prospect any less than he used to; now there was just an odd sense of unease about that manor and its cold, stone walls.
Perhaps, subconsciously, he had returned this time to honor his father in the cool of autumn nearing the tenth anniversary of Nate’s death. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but Cory found little comfort in the gray weather, nor in the usual hospitality of the Craelich clan. He was certainly no better off trying to figure out why the kilt had unsettled him so. Sheltered from the cold evening in his guest bedroom, he reclined on a divan, mulling over conversations he had with his kinfolk earlier in the day.
They talked about the usual – how work was going, the political climate. But eventually they came around to remembering Nate, retelling how he’d managed to fall on his own knife after tripping in the woods of the estate. The Craelichs had often expressed how they felt responsible for the tragedy, wondering how differently things might’ve turned out if Alan and Mairi, the Craelich siblings nearest to Nate’s age, had followed more closely during their hike.
Cory tried to assure them, as he had many times before, that his father would’ve gone ahead by himself no matter how they tried to keep up:
“Dad always said he had Alasdair’s sense of adventure. He liked to set out on his own. There’s no one to blame but circumstance. Besides,” he eyed Kieran, “you guys have done more than enough to help out my side of the family.”
Kieran returned his smile: “We look after our own. You might be removed a few generations, but you’re still blood.”
Sitting in the guest room, Cory lost his gaze in the flame of the antique lamp on the bedside table. He came back to that statement. You’re still blood. The flame wavered slightly.
That was it! He shot up from the divan as he realized why the kilt had him on edge: there was – or should have been – a vibrant, crimson stripe repeated in the tartan’s pattern. It was so obvious, he didn’t know how he had missed it, but this time that blood red stripe was almost pink. The threads had simply faded – like the memory of his father over the years.
Cory’s look of achievement was replaced again with bewilderment as he stood in the hall, dim moonlight streaming in through a window. He couldn’t recall a single time during his visits when the kilt did not appear over the fireplace: none of the Craelichs had ever mentioned cleaning or care; there had never been any talk of redecorating. And yet the space lay bare.
If the faded threads bothered him before, he was surely more perturbed now at the kilt’s complete absence. The one object that he always knew would await him in the family hall had disappeared – just like his father some ten years ago.
That’s absurd, he thought. Why am I making such a big deal of this?
He was sure that the Craelichs had a plausible reason to take down the garment. He would wait until morning and inquire at breakfast. His worries somewhat allayed, he made his way to the window to look out over the property. But once again, instead of relief, he saw in the moonlight a scene that unnerved him: a figure in dark, flowing robes was shuffling hastily away from the manor toward the wood. The figure carried a bundle in its arms, though Cory couldn’t make out the details.
Why Cory pursued was beyond him, but he soon found himself in the cold October air, his house shoes plodding along in the damp grass. By the time he made it to the lawn, he saw the figure disappear onto a path in the woods. Had he stopped to think why on earth he would enter the same woods in which his father died unattended, he might’ve said it was for family, but he focused instead on wrapping his night robes tightly about him and headed into the trees.
He couldn’t be sure how long he walked. The path, while overgrown, was fairly easy to discern in the moonlight, and the figure covered its tracks poorly. Eventually Cory caught a glimpse of the figure rounding a thicket and vanishing into a cleared space beyond. Cory tried to quiet his steps as he approached, and soon found himself at the edge of a small, circular clearing in the woods.
At the center was a mound with about half a dozen large, ancient stones leaning one against another. A cairn? he asked himself. He kept to the edge of the trees, carefully surveying the area, before he noticed something out of place: a garment laid over a single, oblong stone before the structure.
After a cautious look around, he slowly made his way forward. His silent approach revealed the faded kilt draped upon the stone, ominous beneath the moonlight.
“Looking for ghosts?” The sudden clearness of Kieran’s voice made Cory’s heart jump into his throat as he spun around.
“Jesus!” he spat out, “Was that you? What are you doing out here?” Then he thought, What am I doing out here?
She paused before responding: “This place brings me calm. Much like our ancestors who are buried here.” She gestured toward the structure, exposing one hand from her dark robes, and Cory understood that he’d guessed correctly: this mound served as a barrow.
“That’s all well and good,” Cory replied, regaining his composure, “But this seems like an odd hour for visitation. And the kilt – did you bring it here?” He circled back to his original intention.
“Aye, I did.” She moved closer to him. “You remember the tale? Warriors going out into the night?” She extended the same hand toward the garment. “Their pact still holds. By Craelich blood, our ancestors ensure the prosperity of their daughters.”
At the mention of blood, he tried to return the conversation to the stripe. “I was thinking earlier, about how the kilt looked different, and—”
She cut him off: “Did you know that the bones of your own father lay here?” She pointed toward the barrow’s open entrance with the same hand. This took him off guard, and he turned toward the entrance as Kieran slipped quietly behind him. More softly, she added: “So must yours.”
Earlier, had Cory not been so preoccupied with the kilt’s absence above the hearth, he would’ve noticed that one of the short swords was also missing from the display. Only now did he recognize its shape emerging from his chest, cold steel growing warm with his blood as it shone in the moonlight.
Cory wasn’t sure what had happened. The sword faded from his focus. As his own life seeped from him, the kilt came into view: the faded stripe that had monopolized his thoughts grew gradually deeper, bolder, redder. An eerie serenity came over him, and he understood.
— © 2017 Adam Henson
From Life In A Kilt Podcast‘s “Kilt of Horrors” 2017
Kilt Of Horrors 2017
A loud and sharp Knock Knock KNOCK, is the sound that woke Rick up this particular morning. Thinking it must be important and not wanting the knocking to wake up his wife before 5am, he rushed out of bed. She had a big day after all, she was flying out to visit family for a few days. Stumbling as fast as his tired legs would take him, he grumbled to himself about the rude awakening. In his freshly awoken state, Rick didn’t notice that there weren’t any following knocks since the first before he reached the door, which he swung open only to find.. nobody… Only a box, wrapped in plain brown paper, placed neatly on his doorstep.
Back inside the house, Rick looked the box over one more time before opening it, hoping to find some clue as to who sent it. He tore off the paper finding a plain brown cardboard box and a note. A note that only says:
“Another package will be arriving like the first, in 15 minutes. Be sure to carefully read and follow the instructions.”
And that’s it, no other instructions. Curiosity peaked, Rick cut past the tape and opened the box and gasped. A Kilt! Someone sent him a kilt, but not just any kilt, this is HIS kilt! Well, HIS tartan anyways. The Tartan that he and Cheri designed for their podcast! Exactly their tartan! It was perfect! He had been wanting to have someone make him a kilt with their tartan but hadn’t found anyone for the job yet. Questions raced in his mind as he basked in the purple perfection that laid before him. Who?? How?? His wife? No, she couldn’t have kept that secret. Cheri? No, she was still really annoyed with him about all that Alaska stuff he’d been teasing her about. It didn’t matter, it was perfect, as if he had commissioned it himself. But, there was no way that the size and length could be right too. He had to find out. Hurriedly he put the kilt on, and was shocked at how well it fit. Whoever sent this even got his length right! It was all so unbelievable.
It was at that time that there came another, Knock Knock KNOCK, at his front door. This time Rick ran to the front door and threw it open just as the last knock ended, but again, nobody was there. Just another, slightly smaller package, wrapped in the same brown paper. He picked up the package and looked around again, “Who is leaving these? Oh who cares, I wonder what’s in this box?”, Rick thought to himself before rushing back inside. Tearing the paper off this one, he almost forgot to look for the “important instructions” talked about in the last note, but there it was, just like the last. But this time, with more information.
The kilt you have received is magical
Inside this box you’ll find its match
A sporran with magic of its own
Together, a greater power they will Hatch
The perfection you see will multiply
Your stresses will become light
All your endeavours will be blessed
But upset this balance and feel the Bite
For these two magics are from the gods
And work together in harmony
Introduce a third magic to reveal the curse
Which will have forever left its dormancy
Rick chuckles at the absurdity of the “instructions” unnecessarily presented in a poorly written poem and tossed it in the trash. Excitedly, he opened the box but is quickly disappointed in just how plain this “magical” sporran is. It was made with plain black leather, without any toolings, or adornments. In fact, the only thing that made this sporran stand out at all was the sides of it were not leather like the rest, but instead were made with the same purple tartan as the kilt, which was kind of a cool feature. It certainly made it obvious that these two were indeed a match. Even though Rick had sporrans that he liked much more than this one, he figured it was only right to wear this one, at least for now.
Putting it on, Rick was shocked at how he immediately felt different.. no … not different… he felt… better! All the aches and pains he had accumulated throughout the years seemed to melt away! Maybe there was some magic to these afterall.
Before he could think about that further, his wife came around the corner and gasped. Thinking that she was upset that he bought Another kilt, Rick scrambled to try to explain that this one was an unsolicited gift that showed up quite mysteriously. But he didn’t need to, because apparently “Kiltagra” is a real thing, and his wife immediately seemed to find him… irresistible.
Two hours later, Rick gave her a kiss goodbye and she drove away to the airport.
The rest of the day was, for a lack of a better word, amazing. It was a cool October day, perfect weather for a kilt and a sweater. The remodelers working on the downstairs of his house made a lot of progress, getting way ahead of schedule, and were able to save a ton on the costs when an old friend of Rick’s called out of the blue wanting to offer some left over building materials he had laying around. He even had two new clients call him, begging him to do murals for them, and were quite generous in their offered payments.
After leaving the house, the day only got better. Somehow he managed to avoid all traffic and everywhere he went, people wanted to know about his purple kilt and all swore they would subscribe to his podcast right away. Three women even tried to give him their phone numbers, which Rick politely refused of course. And after having the best meal of his life at a local restaurant, he discovered that someone had already paid his bill for him. After all this, he had just enough time left to grab some beer, at a new liquor store that he’d been wanting to visit, on his way home to meet Cheri for their weekly podcast recording.
Rick had been home about 15 minutes when Cheri walked in. It was well after dark now and she had a long day at the office and was tired and really just wanted to go home, curl up in bed with a comforter, an over abundance of pillows, a bottle of scotch and watch Captain Reynolds outsmart the Alliance for the billionth time. Needless to say, she was really hoping they could record this episode quickly.
However, all of those concerns vanished when she walked upstairs and found Rick wearing THEIR tartan! Stunned, with her mouth agape, Cheri silently asked, “HOW?? WHEN?? WHERE??” As if reading her mind, Rick began to answer and tell the story about how someone had just sent it to him, omitting all the strange and mysterious parts as well as anything to do with magic and curses. It wasn’t that he didn’t think she would believe him, just that after having such a wonderful day, Rick completely forgot.
Hardly believing the luck Rick seemed to have sometime, and being a bit jealous as well, Cheri went back to business and they sat down and started recording.
“Hey there, Welcome to the Life in a Kilt Podcast! It’s time to kilt up and grab a beer.” Rick began. “I’m Rick”
“And I’m Cheri. ‘Kilt up and grab a beer’, I like that new tag line, did you just come up with that?” Cheri responded
“Actually the first part of that is what I said at the beginning of our very first episode. We put all that effort into coming up with a great tagline and I didn’t even realize we already had the perfect one – until a loyal listener pointed it out recently and added, ‘and grab a beer’ would be a good addition to it”
After the rest of the normal introductions Cheri was eager to get things going, ”So Rick, you got the beer this week, what are we drinking?”
“Well, it’s a new one that was recently delivered to that new liquor store down the street. It’s called ‘Scotty’s Kilt Lifter’ and its logo is what really caught my eye.”
“Oh my god, is that?!” Cheri gasped.
“It’s not, but it sure does look an awful lot like Scotty Wallace doesn’t it? I examined the crap out of it with the guy that runs the store.”
They poured their beer and gave it a taste, and immediately they both knew that this beer would be the first to surpass their rating scale and earn a 6 Kilt Pins. Almost as good as a Kilted Quartet.
“Where did you get this beer again?” Cheri asked.
“It actually has a really interesting name that I wanted to share. It’s named after the owner that sold me this beer. Let’s see, what was it?”
Suddenly annoyed again, “Would it be printed on the receipt?” Cheri suggested.
“Ah yes, here it is. Jubal Early’s Spirits! Really nice guy too”
After nearly choking on her recently swallowed beer and giggling, Cheri asked, “Jubal Early?”
“That’s what it says”
“Was he a lion?” she giggles again while Rick looks on confused. “Did he have a ‘Mighty Roar’?” she continues between giggles.
“Umm.. he has a very deep voice.. “, Rick offers still confused but enjoying seeing Cheri so tickled.
After a bit more laughter, they are finally able to continue on with the podcast. Rick talked all about his special gift, thanking whoever it was that sent it, and all about his good fortune throughout the day. It went on and on and on, and Cheri was starting to get annoyed again.
“I think we have some listener love questions don’t we?” Cheri asked, trying to get things moving again, “I remembered to bring the Ancient Magic Love Bone”
“Oh you found it, excellent! I’ve been wanting to.. ” Rick started, but Cheri didn’t hear him at all, because as soon as she removed the bone from her purse, she could have sworn that out of the corner of her eye, she saw Rick’s kilt shimmer for just a split second. She was about to say something, but instead checked the alcohol content of the beer and after reading “12%”, and seeing that Rick didn’t seem to notice the shimmer at all, she shrugged it off and went on with the show.
“You ready with that Love Bone Magic? “, Rick asked.
“Oh, umm, yeah. Let’s hear it.” Cheri responded, still a little flustered.
“Ok, well this question comes from Jason in Washington State. Jason writes, ‘I was in a relationship recently and I really thought things were going somewhere but she broke it off when her mom had some major medical issues come up. Her mom is doing better now and I was wondering if I should try to pick things up with her again or move on?’ Good question Jason, lets see what the Love Bone has to say.”
The bone began it’s familiar hum and glow and Cheri closed her eyes and was about to speak the wisdom imparted to her from it when she heard a sharp cry of pain come from Rick. She popped open her eyes and beyond the glowing from the bone she could see Rick holding his side, right along the waistline of his kilt, and had a pained and very confused look on his face. Cheri was about to ask him what was wrong when he cried out again, this time grabbing with his other hand across his stomach. Now Cheri was really getting concerned. She went to shut off the recorder and call 911, but before she could hit the button, Rick cried out even louder, nearly knocking their table over as he fell out of his chair. Rick was now doubled over in pain, reaching desperately at different spots around him, all along the waistline of his kilt. Cheri was now yelling at Rick, pleading with him to tell her whats going on. Rick didn’t hear a word though. His mind was solely focused on this horrific, stabbing pain. It felt as if four inch needles were being stuck into him all around his waist. Ten, twenty, then hundreds, maybe thousands of needles shooting into him one by one, burning as they took root inside him.
Cheri, seeing that the pain was focused around the kilt, frantically tried to undo the buckles to get it off of him, but the buckles were.. Gone! She tried getting a grip along the waistline to pull it off somehow, but there was no separation between the kilt and Rick. It was as if they had somehow blended together! And the shimmer that she thought she saw before was back. No, not a shimmer, she realized, the very surface of the kilt was… Moving! “What the fuck is going on?!” she screamed.
This time, Rick was able to hear her, to hear her question. “What the fuck was going on?!” He echoed inside his head. His mind began to race as the burning pain was now spreading throughout his body. “The CURSE!!” his memory screamed inside his head. Then he screamed aloud, “The CURSE! THE CURSE!” over and over. Barely keeping his feet, he looked up pleadingly at Cheri and could see the horror he was feeling reflected in her face. Although, now she wasn’t screaming…
Cheri saw something more. And it paralyzed her. It wasn’t just the unbelievable pain wracking every part of her best friend’s body that horrified her now. It wasn’t just that his skin was darkening and the pitch of his screaming began to lower. It wasn’t just that the kilt was falling apart as the millions of tiny purple and black spiders that made up the tartan began to crawl away.. It wasn’t even that the once plain black sporran had sprouted fangs and eight hideous eyes along the opening, as well as eight purple and black legs from the “tartan spiders” along its side and was now steadily crawling up Rick’s body, making its way to his face. No, the worst part was seeing Rick’s body contort in ways that shouldn’t be possible. His arms and legs elongated, twice their normal length. She watched helplessly as Rick’s hands began to split, starting between his middle and ring fingers. Through his hands at first, then through his forearms, all the way up to his shoulders. And the same was happening to his legs. Suddenly, Rick now had eight limbs, not four. The sporran spider had made its way to Rick’s face and had latched on, engulfing his entire head. Rick’s screams turned into muffled groans, then finally into a sort of chattering hiss sound. Like one that you would expect from a bug, only much much louder.
Cheri wanted to run now, more than she had ever wanted to run before. She screamed inside her mind, commanding her body to react. It was no good. She realized that she was not just unable to move, but that she had forgotten how. Forgot how to blink, how to breathe. Memories of childhood hallucinations flashed briefly in her mind, but this was no hallucination this time.
A single tear rolled down her cheek as she watched in perfect horror, this massive spider that was once her best friend, a man she used to love, creeped closer.
The next day, when the remodelers showed up to Rick’s house to begin the day’s work, they found the front door laying in the yard. They found streaks of bloody hand prints through the house, coming from upstairs. Which is also where they found hundreds of strange looking tiny spiders.
By the time the cops arrived, there was no sign of the spiders anymore, but they did find drag marks leading from the house, to a large tree about 250 feet away. And up in that tree is where they found the body of a blue haired woman, shriveled up and devoid of blood, suspended by a massive amount of spider webbing.
Rick was never seen or heard from again, but reports of an enormous arachnid dotted the country, steadily making its way northwest, to the forests of Alaska.
— © 2017 Grizzly
From Life In A Kilt Podcast‘s “Kilt Of Horrors 2017”
Kilt Of Horrors 2017
Senior year here I come! My high school years were coming to an end. It had been a bit of a roller coaster these past 3 years. Tons of homework, changes to my body and my mind, and just trying to fit in. It is a lot to deal with at 17 years old!
Who am I you ask? My name is Andrew. I am a senior at Valley High. At times, I didn’t think I would make it this far. I thought I would be dead by now. I had a tough childhood and was often bullied by my classmates. They made my life a living hell for at least the first 2 years of high school. Then things seemed to calm down, after the fools got kicked out and their bad deeds caught up with them.
I took up weight lifting in my junior year and lo and behold my skinny frame started to fill in. My Dad stopped trying to make me into his clone and my Mom trusted me to do the right thing whenever I was out with friends.
On the recommendation of my childhood friend Shelley, I even took up track and field. I didn’t know how competitive I was! I always liked board games, but this was totally new to me! I won my first meet last January, and here I was now the captain of the relay team going into my senior year.
To the casual outsider, it looked like everything was going right for me. Except for one thing — I was gay. Would my family and friends still love me if they knew? Would I get taunted again, because of who I was during matches?
I told myself I was going to be OK. I just had to take that first step. I was to give a speech to the entire student body during Thanksgiving week. This would be my time — to own who and what I was. I even decided I needed a special outfit for the occasion. I looked online at my family history, and found out that I had some Scottish ancestry. I decided that I would order myself a kilt to wear for the occasion. It looked a bit rock and roll. It was what they call a hybrid, part Utility kilt and part tartan kilt. This was going to be part of my coming out day outfit.
The package arrived and it looked great with my boots and designer shirt. I finished writing up my speech and the weeks flew by, as I was busy with classes and after-school activities. Finally, the day arrived. It was time to give the speech. I dressed in my normal kakhis and school polo in the morning, and changed before I came out to give the speech. As I approached the microphone, there were a few gasps from the crowd, like huh? What is that guy wearing?
Dear fellow students,
It is a great time to be alive! Our teachers have been recognized for their outstanding leadership and our coaches are all come off of past winning seasons. We have given back to the community around us via feeding the homeless and cleaning up neighborhood playgrounds. Senior year has been a time of reflection for me and most of my classmates. I have been struggling with something my whole life. Despite looking to most like I got it made, I really don’t. I have been hiding a part of me, and it is time for me to break free and set the record straight. I am gay! (Again, a few gasps and laughs from the crowd.) But I am not going to hide who I am anymore. It is time for all of us, to be proud of who we are. I am proud to be a golden eagle! I am proud to be a student at Valley High!
The crowd erupted in rapturous applause! The haters were drowned out. I was free. Afterwards, my classmates kept coming up to me and congratulated me on how awesome and inspiring my speech was. The outpouring of love and support was amazing! I even got interviewed by the new editor of the school newspaper — Julio. He was a sexy latin guy who had just transferred from Colorado.
Before you know it Julio and I were dating. He had always loved men in kilts and here I was in the same class with him! It was wild that I could finally live my truth. What I didn’t know was that things were about to get weird for all of us at Valley High.
It all started at the first movie night of the AV Club. They were doing a salute to Leonardo Decaprio and the first movie up was “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Julio and I wanted to be there, but I was running late from work (did I mention I worked part time at a book store?). But from what heard, the lights went down in the auditorium, and a fire broke out in the control room.
People started screaming and running from the exits. Someone said they saw someone in a kilt running out the back door.
Luckily everyone got out in time, and there was only minimal damage to the school before the fire department showed up.
The next day rumors started circulating that I had tried to burn the school down. I told them I wasn’t even there as my boss pulled inventory on me that night, and I had to stay at work until 10 PM.
Now Julio had an interesting relationship with his parents. His Dad seemed cool and was a former athlete himself. His Mom, or should I say step-Mom, was another thing. She was always hard on Julio and seemed disappointed/sad when she found out that Julio and I started going out. She came from a strict religious background from what I was told, and that her Dad had died of AIDS.
Months flew by and why wouldn’t they… what with school, work and the track team. Before you know it was time for the big Spring Fling dance. I was able to talk Julio into getting a kilt to match mine for the occasion. The dance went off without a hitch thanks to the efforts of the School Spirit Committee. There were lights, lasers and a fantastic DJ who played all my favorite songs. Too bad the event had to end at 10 PM because it was on school grounds.
So when it was over there was a big group of us just shooting the shit in the parking lot after the event. Lots of seflies and funny pictures; talk of what we were going to do with the rest of the weekend; what was playing at the movies or streaming online.
Next thing we know this car come barreling at us out of nowhere! And the person who was behind the wheel was none other than my ex-girlfriend, Kristin. Did I forget to mention that I dated girls in the past?
I guess she is not taking to the new me like the rest of my classmates. Kirstin seemed cool after we broke it off last summer. She was busy with the cheerleading squad in addition to the School Spirit Committee.
Photos of me and Julio along with a patch of tartan cloth were found burning in a trash can near where Kirstin had parked her car. I reached out to her via text, but she didn’t respond.
Next week at school, I was assigned a big project in history class. I had to write a paper about the Renaissance. My history teacher was Mr. Thomas. I always suspected that he was a closet case. And I wasn’t the only one. He was very attentive to the guys in the class.
Between work, school and track team, there wasn’t much time for me and Julio. But he was busy too, and I knew we would find quality time together soon — There was a 3-day weekend coming up for us. Another day to unwind and let loose.
We were going to go to the Lady GaGa concert in the next town over. Unfortunately, our car broke down, and we had to crash at a cousin’s house that night instead of coming back to town.
We got back to town in the morning, after the car got fixed. What we didn’t expect was that the town was reeling from a brutal murder the night before. Fr. Magnus O’Flannery had been murdered in the confessional of the church. Fr. O’Flannery was one of those colorful characters who always had a story to tell. I remember him showing up at the local Scottish festival in his family tartan.
Back at school, Mr. Thomas was acting weirder than usual. In fact, he disappeared later that week. Someone said they saw him on a travel website buying a ticket to Bermuda.
Things sure had gotten weird the past couple of months. And why did it all seem to start happening after I started wearing kilts? So far I had avoided a school fire and being run-over. Who could have murdered Fr. O’Flannery? and was it connected in any way to Mr. Thomas running off?
Things quieted down for a few weeks. The police still had no clues in the murder. Mr. Thomas had been tracked down in Bermuda with one of the locals there. Seems he had made a love connection online and he went to be with them.
Graduation was right around the corner. I was almost done with high school. My parents were going to rent a limo for me that day, and Julio and some other friends were going to go with us in it. When we went to Julio’s house, his Mom said he wasn’t ready yet, and that we would have to go on without him.
WTF? How could he be late for his own graduation? We had coordinating kilts picked out for the occasion. And he usually texted me “good morning handsome” every day too. But today, I just got a text saying he didn’t sleep well. Something just didn’t seem right.
On the way to the graduation, Detective Sanders called and wanted to talk. He said he was closing in on the murderer, but had a few questions for me. Seriously, could I have any more drama in one day? I told the detective I had a few minutes to talk just before the ceremony (but he would have to make it quick).
Well, the time came for the ceremony to start and still no Julio. Things were definitely not right. The names started being called and I was still hoping he would show up. But then, I saw someone that shouldn’t have been there. It was Julio’s Mom! Why was she here? And where was Julio?
I texted my parents to find her in the crowd. She moved around the room, trying to avoid being seen. But I knew what I saw — she was here somewhere. The principal was getting close to my name … Andrew Taylor. I walked up on the platform, and and waved to my parents. As I was shaking the Dean’s hand, a shot rang out, and a bullet grazed my shoulder.
Could the day get any worse? Now I was in a school shooting. Everyone scrambled to get out of the building. And we were happy that there were no more bullets flying. It seems like someone had it out for me. The cops had the idea to check the school cameras and see if they could find any clues.
So far, we had a fire (and someone in a kilt) who ran away. Fr. O’Flannery? No, no way, he wasn’t up to running for a man his age. Then we had my ex almost run us over because she was jealous. And don’t forget the closest case, Mr. Thomas, who ran off to be with his internet boyfriend in Bermuda. His departure was still too close to Fr. O’Flannery’s murder for my taste.
Thank God the school had installed those cameras last year. The shooting itself was not on camera. But they did show who arrived last and who ran out first: Mrs. Lopez, Julio’s Mom. She had just moved to suspect #1.
Paramedics were called and took me to emergency. Meanwhile, my parents followed the cops to confront Mrs. Lopez. Mr. Lopez was out of town on business that weekend. She answered the door and did her best to get rid of the cops. But her story still didn’t add up. Why was she there on her own? Where was Julio? The cops started to look around the property. And in the backyard trash bin was a burned up kilt. And then they heard muffled screams coming from the back bedroom.
The cops busted the door down, and quickly were able to take Mrs. Lopez down. They got to the back bedroom to find Julio tied up to a chair. They got the gag off of him — “I always knew my step-Mom was nuts!” is all he had to say.
Pretty soon, my phone was blowing up with texts from Julio. Are you OK? I really missed being there with you at the graduation.
Mrs. Lopez was the missing puzzle piece. Seems she couldn’t stand her son being gay, what with what her father did to her. She dressed in drag to set the fire at school. And then she murdered the priest, cause he told her that she should move on and accept her son as is. She was there to kill me, as a way of showing her son that being gay is not a happy life. And that it always ends tragically.
Boy, was she wrong! My life was not tragic. I was full of life, excited for the future. And I was going to go about it being the real me. Armed with optimism, talent and a few kilts, I was ready to face my future. Now let’s hope college is not so dramatic!
— © 2017 Daniel LaVenture
From Life In A Kilt Podcast‘s “Kilt Of Horrors 2017”
Kilt Of Horrors 2017
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” purred the voluptuous blonde woman standing just outside the doorway of a modest, secluded home.
Stuart couldn’t believe his luck. He had just stopped by a local bar to have one drink and he somehow caught the eye of the most beautiful woman that he had seen in years. After hours of talking, laughing and drinking, this bombshell wanted to come back to his house.
“Come on Stu”, came the incredibly sexy voice. “I don’t want to come in unless I’m invited.”
“M’Lady, please enter and be welcome in my home”, Stuart replied as he playfully adopted a courtly medieval tone.
Those words were immediately cut off by the sound of barking and growling as a black Lab came barreling down the hallway straight towards the woman in the doorway.
“I don’t know what has gotten into him”, Stuart complained as he grabbed his dog by the collar. “Midnight is a really friendly dog most of the time. Give me a second and I’ll put him in the basement.”
After about ten minutes, Stuart returned to find his lovely new friend looking at pictures in his living room. “Sorry about the barking. I hope that it didn’t break the mood. Where were we?” Stuart said as he held open his arms for a hug.
“We were nowhere, you stupid git”, came the deep, Scottish-accented voice of a man out of the mouth of the petite young woman.
“Gillian…. How did you do that?”
“I’m not Gillian, you blasted moron.” Came the laughing reply. “I’m Ewan MacKenzie and now your home is MY home.”
Stuart watched in horror as the soft, sexy woman that he was kissing just a little while earlier began to grow and change. Her summer dress was cast aside as the five foot tall woman morphed into a hulking man with a big, bushy beard. That man, now naked, quickly grabbed a plaid throw blanket off of the couch and wrapped it around his waist.
“It’s not a proper kilt”, said the huge man, “but it’ll do. What have you got to eat? I’m starving.”
Ewan pushed past Stuart and began rummaging around in the kitchen.
“This is impossible”, Stuart stammered. “Who are you? WHAT are you?”
“I already told you who I am. As for what, pick a name that you like. Skin switcher. Shape changer. Doppelgänger. It’s all the same thing. By the way, you need more meat.”
Ewan cobbled together a sandwich out of a pile of cold cuts and a bulky roll and began devouring it.
Stuart mustered up some courage. “Get the hell out of my house RIGHT NOW”, he demanded.
“You invited me in and now I get to stay. That’s how it works.” Ewan replied. “I’m not even planning on killing you. I need you around to fetch me things.”
Bravery turned to foolishness as Stuart lunged for a kitchen knife. He was casually knocked aside by the kilted near-giant and easily wrestled to the floor.
“THAT was a mistake”, said the menacing Scot. “Now I’ve got to take care of you.”
There was no dodging the fist that connected with his face. Stuart saw a bright flash of light and then darkness.
When Stuart came to, he could barely make out the fact that he was in his own basement. He was crammed, fetal position, into his dog’s crate. There was no sign of his canine companion. Stuart’s hands and feet were bound by a great amount of duct tape. The door of the crate was lashed with rope. It was a sturdy crate and Stuart wasn’t going anywhere.
The lights to the basement flared to life at the same time the stairs groaned under Ewan’s weight. MacKenzie was so hairy that he was almost bear-like…especially when he hunched over a little to avoid hitting the basement beams.
“I thought that you might like something to eat”, Ewan chuckled as he held forth a tray piled with sizzling meat. “Here you go. I’m sure that you can manage to eat even tied up.”
“Where did you get all of this food?”, Stuart asked, fearing the worst.
“Your damned poochie didn’t like me. Well I didn’t like him either. Now he’s my supper. OUR supper.” Came the taunting reply.
“Damn you to HELL!!!”, Stuart shouted. “I’ll KILL you for this!”
“Ye tried that already and look where it got you. I’d have been just as happy to let you shop for me. But you made me fend for myself and this is what happened.”
“Well, I can tell that you aren’t interested”, Ewan continued. “Makes no difference to me. You can starve or you can eat what I give you.”
Without saying another word, the giant man lumbered back upstairs, leaving poor Stuart to deal with his fury and grief.
Stuart was awakened by the banging of metal. Cracking his eyes open he saw himself thumping the cage. Not from the inside. As if looking in some perverse mirror, the middle-aged man saw that the creature had assumed his own likeness and was banging on the bars to wake him up.
“Guess who’s coming over?” Stuart’s double asked. “Your mama’s worried about you. Hasn’t heard from you in a few days. She called just now. I told her that you were sick and I begged her to come over and bring some food. She said that she’d be over bright and early in the morning.”
Stuart moaned. This was a nightmare. First his dog and now… his mother was going to be next. What was this maniac going to do to her? Stuart couldn’t even imagine.
“Anyways, I’m not going to stay. Just wanted to give you something to think about.” Ewan’s twisted version of Stuart mocked. “Oh, and your boss called wanting to know why you missed work. I told him to sod off.” With that final joke, Ewan left Stuart alone once again.
This time, there was no slumping in defeat for Stuart. He had to save his mother. With frantic intensity Stuart worked on cutting through the tape with the only thing he had. His teeth. Minutes rolled into hours, but finally Stuart managed to free his hands. Stuart then worked at the knotted rope holding the dog’s crate door closed. The knots were incredibly tight and he was running out of time.
Stuart couldn’t untie the knots. He had to think of something else. Scanning the room quickly, he noticed a lot of things that would do him no good, except for one item that gave him an idea.
Ewan must have been back in his Scottish form, because Stuart could hear his snoring. That was good though. He could easily tell that the creature was asleep. Stuart took his opportunity to throw his weight against one side of the cage. With a clang it rolled over ninety degrees. Stuart waited to make sure that the snoring continued and repeated the maneuver. On the third time he rolled the crate, a simple broom slipped from the place where it was propped against the wall and landed up against the bars.
Using all of the control he could muster, Stuart guided the broom, bristle-end first into the bottom of the nearby hot water heater. He shoved it in as far as he could and waited. After a minute, Stuart could smell burning as the water heater’s pilot light ignited the broom. Stuart drew the broom back as carefully as he could to keep it lit. After what seemed like an eternity, the smoking broom head was close enough to him to breathe life into the tiny tongue of flame. Once it was burning well enough, Stuart held the fire underneath the rope, allowing it to slowly burn through. Even that short five minute wait was agonizing. The sky was getting lighter and morning was around the corner.
Once the rope burned through, Stuart flipped up the latch and opened the door of the cage. His legs and arms were almost useless due to his two days as a prisoner, but that didn’t prevent Stuart from shuffling across the basement, reaching up to the fire alarm and yanking out its battery. It was a miracle that the beast had not already heard the sounds and smells of Stuart’s escape.
The middle-aged man, stopped for a second to get his bearings and to work more life into his arms and legs. Snoring could still be heard from upstairs and the smell of smoke lingered all around him. Stuart wasn’t a brave man. There was no way that he could risk taking on the shape changer by himself. This time, Stuart knew that he would be killed and his mother would be next. Getting help wasn’t an option either. Stuart didn’t have his phone or wallet. Even if he did walk over to visit his distant neighbors, would they ever believe him if he told the truth? As for the cops, there’s no doubt that Mackenzie would assume his own form if cops showed up and since his phone and wallet were in the hands of the monster, there’s no way he could prove that he was the real Stuart.
He needed to drive the creature out of his home, but not face to face. It was going to take something more extreme than that. Stuart crept up the basement stairs as quietly as he could. Luckily, the still-sleeping MacKenzie on the second floor. This gave Stuart the opportunity that he needed. He carefully grabbed a lighter and proceeded to light all of the curtains on the main floor on fire. When the rooms were fully ablaze, Stuart raced outside, got behind the wheel of his car, maneuvered it to a spot right in front of his front door and waited.
As soon as the front door opened, Stuart floored the gas petal. His SUV lept forward, catching the bearded monster right as he was coming out. The force of the impact knocked MacKenzie back into the house.
“You son of a bitch!”, MacKenzie roared. “I’m going ta MURDER you!”
But the huge SUV affectively blocked the front door and the creature was trapped in a burning house. There was no easy way for him to get out, much less murder anyone. Stuart wasn’t taking any chances though. He jumped out of his car and hid in a line of trees next door where he could watch his home burn to the ground.
Just before the fire was at its peak, Stuart heard a huge crash of glass accompanied by an inhuman howl of rage. Was it possible that MacKenzie got away? It was still just barely dawn, but Stuart swore that he saw a limping figure disappear into the fading darkness.
Maggie Collins heard a knock on her door as she was getting her kids ready for school. He had just heard sirens going down the street though, so she figured she’d better answer the door, even though it was early, in case it was the police.
The door opened revealing an elderly woman, wrapped in a singed plaid blanket.
“I’m sorry to bother you”, the old woman said in a frail voice. “My name is Martha. I was visiting my son down the street and his house caught fire. It was horrible. Could I please come in out of the cold until Stuart arrives to pick me up?” The elderly woman broke down in tears and began to cry.
“Yes, of course you can.”, Maggie replied. “Please come in and I’ll get you some tea.”
“Thank you so much for the invitation.” The old woman said as she entered with a voice that progressed from old and female to male and baritone. “You have a beautiful home and Oh! You have children. How lovely…”
— © 2017 Patrick Wilcox
From Life In A Kilt Podcast‘s “Kilt Of Horrors 2017”
Kilt Of Horrors 2017
Ian looked at the party he had just dropped his latest ride at, and it looked to be a wild one. Costumed party goers here at the university showed much more skin than the few first and second cousins he had grown up with. The girls here hadn’t dressed as characters so much as caricatures. Most just went along with one of the sorority’s themes, or settled for something related to their major: slutty nurse, librarian, etc. The boys weren’t any better. He’d seen more than enough soldiering to dress up that way. He just wanted to settle down.
A bit older than his peers, he reflected on what had brought him here. He’d hardly known his grandmother. He was the only grandson of the family and she had given him special attention. She only called him “McLeod,” the family name. He never could put his finger on exactly why he felt so much pressure, but it was as if the hopes and dreams of all his family depended on him alone. Her actions his senior year sealed his decision to leave. Calling him over to her house that last week in May, she handed him a bundle of wool. Looking deeply into his eyes, too deeply, she delivered the ultimatum. “It now depends on you young McLeod and your time is coming soon. Don’t shame us the way all these cowards have!”
He gave no more thought to returning to that small mountain community after completing his military service, than to why his ancestors had left the old country in the 1600s.
She looked across the campus intently, knowing everything depended on this night. Men with the required quality had disappeared from the Celtic Isles. The sisterhood was forced to look much further afield. Finally, they lost all contact with the prized bloodline required to maintain their power. Grandmother had used the last of her energy and saw one faint spark somewhere here in this small university town on the new continent. 100 years ago it would have been impossible for her to survive the passage on a ship surrounded by iron but modern aluminum aircraft had made the crossing both pleasant and swift.
She walked around the campus not so much seeking, as just following her nose and watching with great interest. Her appearance on this night was the first time in 236 years that an authentic virgin priestess was on the prowl. Continuation of the ancient line all depended on her.
When Ian had returned from the military he learned with great sadness of his grandmother’s passing. It had been a scant 6 months after he’d left; but the fault was his own since he’d not kept in touch. There was no future in staying there but after enrolling in classes he dug out that wool bundle and looked at it carefully. A plaid of primarily blue and green, it seemed to be quite old yet he could pick out traces of red and yellow crisscrossing through it. He had not known why, but he decided this Halloween to wear that kilt for the first time ever while driving on this night, a guaranteed money maker.
Reflecting again on those drunk passengers who’d certainly tipped well, he knew none had drawn his personal interest. Had his time in the military really changed him so much that their behavior seemed so shallow?
Maria came to a stop outside of building teaming with activity, her eyes focused on the car which came to a halt in front of her. Peering, out through the passenger window the young man asked “Selena?” Everyone’s accent was different here, but for some reason she knew that this was the one foretold who would ask for her by name without knowing the purpose.
Ian looked at the young lady when arriving to pick up his latest passenger and verified hers was the name on his phone. He was done for the night and as she said she had no fixed destination he logged out of the app and they drove briefly through town. Behind them a girl wiped her mouth and wondered out from behind a bush wondering when her ride would arrive.
The raven haired beauty was clearly a transfer student from Ireland. Captivated by her red hair and hazel eyes, he suggested they walk on the cool night air while he showed off his new home town. Strangely most of her questions were about himself and his family.
He would never recall the rest of that night and the magic it wove around him, but the next morning he woke up in his own bed stiff in every muscle and with a blue silk ribbon tied around his little soldier. Perhaps he would take his GI Bill and study abroad?
— © 2017 David Bevers
From Life In A Kilt Podcast‘s “Kilt of Horrors” 2017
Kilt Of Horrors 2017
It’s our second annual Halloween story episode, “The Kilt Of Horrors 2017!” These stories have been submitted by our listeners and narrated by the Life In A Kilt Podcast cohosts. We even wrote a story ourselves! We hope you enjoy them and that they bring additional scares to your Halloween celebration. (Please note, some stories feature language not appropriate for children or the childlike.)
This year’s stories and their time location in the episode:
“The Highlander and The Witch, Renewed” by David Bevers – 2:25
“The Invitation” by Patrick Wilcox – 8:20
“Valley High Horror” by Daniel LaVenture – 21:00
“Life In A Kilt Podcast: The Lost Episode” by Grizzly – 34:00
“The Red Thread” by Adam Henson – 50:00
“The Scarlet Kilt” by Rick & Cheri – 60:04
Thanks to all of this year’s contributors and supporters. Please share the stories with your friends and listen to us each week on the Life In A Kilt Podcast.