|Written by Paul Race for |
Introduction to Spook Hill ChroniclesTM - from HalloweenTrains.comTM
Technically, a "spook hill" is a section of road on which you seem to be going uphill when you are really going downhill. You stop your car at a place marked by a home-made sign or a spray-paint line, put it in neutral, take your foot off the brake, and gasp (or giggle nervously) when the car seems to start coasting uphill on its own. It's an optical illusion, of course, but one "spook hill" in Florida is so notorious that a real-world elementary school has been named after it.
I found this out, when Howard Lamey, a Florida-based friend who designs vintage-style cardboard Christmas ("putz") houses started making Halloween versions. He named his little community "Spook Hill," and I loved the idea. So I helped Howard publish instructions for building many "spooky" buildings and accessories, leading to the Internet's largest collection of Halloween craft house instructions - all of which also happen to be free.
But I'm a writer. I couldn't help wondering what it would be like to arrive in that town and try to find your way around that "off-kilter" community. Why would you even go there? Who would choose live there permanently and why? How long would you be there before you started to feel like this "living ghost town" was "normal" and the outside world was strange and maybe even dangerous?
If you'd like to explore this shadowy but delightful village with the rest of our "Halloween Trains" community, put yourself in the position of someone who has no choice but to take the train, and who doesn't realize just how strange the place is until she's committed her family to the move. Perhaps she's a young widow and mother who learns that her late husband had a huge gambling debt, and she sees an old deed to a house in a "ghost town" as a way to avoid threatening debt collectors. But our heroine learns that "there are spooks and there are spooks," and behind the cheesy monster makeup her new neighbors wear as a matter of habit, there are as many reasons to avoid the outside world as there are citizens in "Spook Hill."
Update for 2014 - Back in 2012, we planned to leave this up only until November, and then to go to a printed or downloadable Kindle version. But the printed version never materialized. And folks kept stumbling across it and reading it, at all times of year, so we left the story posted. We've recently been negotiating with an artist to help us create the graphics we need to take the story to the "next level." So we're going to leave the story up for one more Halloween season at least. If there's enough interest, we may post another story here, too . . .
Thanks again to Howard Lamey for the photographs and models we are using for our title pages. Where possible, each chapter will link to the instructions for making your own "Spook Hill" structure or accessory. Now THAT's interactive!
So send your friends this link, get out the face paint and fake fingernails, and settle down to a family-friendly, but decidely off-kilter story that you can really get your costume-store vampire teeth into.
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Spook HillTM is a trademark of Howard Lamey. All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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