A Miskatonic University Halloween
I. Halloween Night
There were five of us, who volunteered to take part in Professor Clinton Demspey’s postgraduate experiment. All of us were aware that the Professor scheduled the experiment on Halloween and that we were there for an experiment in “Disgust.”
Fall leaves covered fake gravestones and skeletons, in Arkham, especially on the campus of Miskatonic University and whether we were curious or just needed the extra sixty dollars all of us showed up that evening.
Bill Newark arrived in a limousine, supposedly connected to old Massachusetts money, and joined our group in front of the Psychology Building.
“Who shows up to a post graduate experiment in a limo?” Karen DiMao pushed to the front of the group.
“Is the door locked it is cold? What does that waiver by door say?” Keith Bryhan said from behind everyone as he blew on his hands to keep them warm. “Besides you should just read it aloud no use all of us reading.”
“I agree, listen to Keith.” Conrad Usry stood still with his hands in his worn felt pockets.
“Whatever we do can we do it before my hands freeze.” I pushed my way to the door and looked over Karen’s shoulder.
III. Professor Dempsey
“Excuse me, students, I have the key and we should go in and warm up. Seems pointless to sign waivers in the cold.” Professor Dempsey moved Keith politely out of the way as Conrad stood to the side. “Good to see you Karen and I hope you are well Henry.”
He led the students into a small classroom with five desks, a lab table, and a podium.
“Please have a seat I will hand out the waivers and we can begin.” He gave the waivers to Karen to pass around while everyone took a seat.
“Why does this waiver say ‘the University is not responsible for any physical harm’?” Keith asked from his desk in the back. “What does this whole waiver mean?”
“Undergraduates, who read? Things are changing for the better. Thank you, Keith. Just legal formalities used for all on-campus experiments.” Professor Dempsey, or the one they called the King of Tweed, moved up front to his podium. He had grey, more of a pure white, hair and worry lines that dug deep into his brow.
IV. A Lecture on Disgust
“Welcome, this Halloween night, to what we in the Psychology Department call an experiment in Othering. A new term to most of you and I will offer a definition shortly. First, let’s talk about disgust. Disgust is the mind’s reaction to rotten food or contaminated substances. It is very powerful in its ability to help us identify parasites and poisons.
Disgust operates, in many animal species, from the Insular Cortex portion of the brain. So powerful in fact one only needs to experience disgust once to form a permanent aversion, usually to food. This is formed without our awareness and is called Disgust Induced Avoidance. Oddly enough the sense of touch triggers the strongest disgust.
There is a difference in humans, compared to other animals, that can cause trouble. Humans can have Disgust Induced Avoidance towards moral issues and even other humans. People cannot tell the difference between visceral disgust and moral disgust. The strength of the visceral disgust is proportional to the strength of the moral disgust.”
Professor Dempsey walked to the lab table located by the podium. On the table stood three boxes with black fabric draped over and holes located on the top. Each hole could fit a hand inside.
V. The Experiment
“What’s in the box?” Keith broke a momentary silence.
“Thank you for asking Keith. This is an experiment on the power of Disgust Induced Avoidance. There is chocolate in all these boxes next to substances with certain textures. Simply come up front and put your hand in the box then grab the chocolate and eat it.”
“That’s all! We gave up our Halloween for something so lame.” Karen popped some gum between her teeth.
“Actually Karen you will be our first subject. Come on up here but do not begin. I am leaving the room.”
“Why are you leaving the room?” Conrad asked.
“I am going to be behind this mirror right here with a microphone so you can all hear me loud and clear.” Professor Dempsey walked around the room and locked all the doors then left the room and slammed the door with a click behind him.
“Can you all hear me ok?” He said from behind the mirror.
“Yes,” Said Bill. “We can hear you.”
“I can you also. Now, are we ready to begin.” Professor Dempsey’s voice filled the room. “Karen, which box do you choose?”
Karen looked at all three boxes and put her hand over each hole. Just thinking about the possibility of feeling something disgusting filled her with dread. Finally, she placed her hand in the middle box and quickly removed a chocolate.
A bright, almost fluorescent, slime clung to the candy as she held it out in front of her and made a face.
“There is no way I am going to eat this.” Karen dropped the chocolate on the table.
“I have no shame.” Said Keith as he took the slimy chocolate and threw it in his mouth.
VI. The Othering
“Brilliant!” Professor Dempsey’s voice filled the room as Karen washed her hands and Keith chewed on Chocolate. “Othering is the term used to describe changes in our behavior that occur due to Disgust Induced Avoidance. Let us say we used to like Ham but due to eating bad pork once we can no longer eat Ham or maybe meat at all. Sometimes we can feel this feeling towards other people. The sight of Aunt Jane may fill you with deep disgust and you do not know why. She could have been connected with a disgusting event.”
Karen finished washing her hands and sat down on the lab table by Keith who finished the chocolate.
“You are disgusting.” She said to Keith.
“My interest in disgust started when I woke up once face to face with my recently deceased wife.
She smelled horrible and I had to touch her when she tried to kill me. Her cold cracked flesh felt like nothing I have ever felt before. I escaped and ran from my house to campus where a colleague by the name of Dr. Herbert West brought hell’s fury to earth.
The Dean ordered us to never speak about Dr. West or that Halloween night.”
“What are you talking about Professor?” I rudely interrupted.
VII. A Halloween to Remember
“Henry, I think Dr. West is one of your relatives, an Uncle perhaps? Now listen carefully the fun is about to begin. I survived along with a small amount of Dr. West’s Re-Animator serum. I have been able to make more and found out that it can be absorbed through the skin or digested and still be effective.
It takes a little while longer than injection but gets the job done. First, you will die then you will awake to immortality.”
As Professor Dempsey’s voice trailed off Keith turned very pale and fell to the ground along with Karen.
“What the Hell!” Conrad ran up to Keith and then Karen. “They are real sick we need a paramedic!” Bill, do you have a cell phone on you?”
Keith started to make a gurgling sound and Karen started to convulse both belched out a horrible smelling belch as Bill fumbled through his pockets for his cell phone.
The cell phone fell from his hands as Karen lunged forward towards Conrad and caught his neck between her teeth. She closed her jaw and blood splatter flew into my face as I noticed a vein hanging between her teeth.
Bill ran to all the doors in the room but they were locked. Keith sat up his eyes were red and crazed. Two of us remained out of the five.
“Now this is going to be disgusting.” Professor Dempsey declared into his microphone.
Halloween poems by Jamie Lee Hamann:
Poems for Halloween by John Hansen:
Poems for Halloween by R.J. Schwartz:
Halloween Treats by Rasma Raisters:
And Some Spooky Stories by Phyllis Doyle Burns: