It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Studly Doright and I left Doright Manor early Friday morning to enjoy a night at Universal Studios in Orlando. But, after months of waiting for our Halloween Horror Nights adventure it appeared that we might have to contend with a few little inconveniences such as thunderstorms and tornadoes.

The skies in Tallahassee were a dreary gray, and we hadn’t driven five miles before the clouds opened up and made driving hazardous. I’d been checking my Weather Channel app for the past week, and thought that our weather would clear up as we turned south. Nope. If anything it had gotten worse.

Surprisingly the drive down went smoothly. Most drivers on the busy interstate were mindful of the rain slicked roads, and we made it to our hotel way before check in time. When we’d booked this trip I told Studly I wanted to stay on property at Universal, so we could stay out a little later, take a shuttle bus back to our hotel, and not have to worry about driving to an off property hotel in case we’d indulged in a drink or two. Or in my case, three.

I picked the newest Universal hotel, the Aventura. Picture a scene from the Jetsons and you’ll have a good idea of the Aventura’s accoutrements.

The following are their websites’s photos, but our room looked exactly like the one pictured below. Studly wanted to know why the woman pictured wasn’t part of the deal:

All afternoon we watched the storms fume around us. At least twice we received warnings on our phones to take immediate shelter. And there we were in a huge building of chrome and glass, sitting ducks for a tornado. When we left to take the shuttle to the theme park, the palm trees were swaying deliriously and rain was blowing sideways. It was not an auspicious start to the evening.

We had plans to meet a couple I hadn’t seen in years for dinner at Cowfish in the City Walk section of Universal, so we dashed through the rain, taking shelter under any canopies we could find. I’d brought along my rain coat and Studly had on a hooded sweatshirt, so neither of us was terribly drenched when we reached the restaurant.

Dinner was terrific, and we enjoyed playing catch up with Paul and Amy over good wine and burgers. That, however, was not the night’s focus, and soon we were ready to explore as many of the ten haunted houses as we could jam into seven hours. Now if only the weather would cooperate.

Miracle of miracles, the rain tapered off, and I never needed my rain jacket after dinner. There were some sprinkles every now and then, but the night was about as pleasant as anyone could ask for. I’ll shut up now and share a few photos that I took with my trusty iPhone. We only made it to seven of the houses, but I screamed myself hoarse after the third one. And today, oh, do my knees and hips hurt! I’d go again tonight, though, given the chance. Studly, not so much.

Below, Paul, Amy, me, and Studly:

During HHN, Mel’s Drive-In from American Graffiti becomes Mel’s Die-In.

Around every corner there’s something to frighten or delight the unwary visitor.

Before we left the park we stopped for a snack at Voodoo Donuts. I was tempted to buy the t-shirt, but really, does a woman my age really need a shirt that says, “VOODOO DONUTS, The Magic is in the Hole?” I don’t think so. Still, I was tempted.

Above and below are photos of the donut carousel. It’s a rotating 3-D menu of sorts that had me jonesing for a sweet when I had no idea I really even wanted one. Clever.

Now to recover!

Peace, people!

Nary a Trick-or-Treater

This is either our fifth or sixth Halloween at Doright Manor. Every year I buy candy. Every year I leave the porch lights and walk way lights on. Still not a single trick-or-treater has graced our door in all the time we’ve lived here. I can’t imagine why.

Nice home:

Friendly neighbors:

Upscale neighborhood:


And me:

What’s not to love? C’mon over. It’ll be our pleasure to entrail-tain you.

Pieces, people.

Dancing with Monsters

I awakened to the sound of music with a heavy back beat: Thump, drag, thump, drag, thumpety-thump, drag.

Four behemoths surrounded me, circling closer at every turn.

Three were unholy physical specimens, long of tooth and claw. Fearsome in their intent.

The fourth was lame, addlepated, carefully moving one stumpy appendage in front of the other.

Snatching at the box of sanity I kept on my nightstand, I watched and waited for an opening.

When the crippled beast stumbled, as we all knew he would, I dashed between his grasping arms.

Stinging pain sang through my neck, a lucky blow rained down.

I screamed, a tuneless melody of injured flesh, and the beasts paused.

“Yes! Yes!” they all cried out. “Now the dance can begin.”


Three Doors, One Choice

Today’s prompt from The Daily Post: You’re having a nightmare, and must choose between three doors. Pick one and tell what you find on the other side.


In darkness I navigate the narrow maze.
Behind me I hear the labored breathing
Of an unknown predator. I cannot stop.

Two left turns, hands pressed flat against
Rough walls of stone. Abruptly stumbling
I find myself facing three towering doors.

Slim candles in sconces flicker, offering
Little clue as to which door provides for
My salvation from the rampaging beast.

Door one is painted red. The deep, hue
Of blood. Orange flames shoot across a
Wooden lintel, daring me to cross below.

Angels grace the second door accented
Against an aerial array of cumulonimbus
Clouds in a sky of heavenly aquamarine.

As the beast draws near I observe the third
Door. Ancient and carved with Celtic runes
Beckoning me to throw caution to the gods.

The choice seems simple: Forsake doors one
And three. Door two seemed a haven, but then
Out of darkness roared an unearthly demon.

With some hesitation I step inside the door
Most mysteriously carved. Fevered drumming
Was my reward. The third door held strong.

Otherworldly chanting to the steady beat of a
Bodhran reverberates within my chest, pulls me
Onward relentlessly toward the echoing sound.

An ethereal luminescence illuminates my steps
Into a forest populated entirely by wee folks
Who gently guide me into a circle enchanted.

A faerie dressed in finest silks alights beside me
And gracefully bids me sit within the mystical
Ring. A guest of honor for their celebratory meal.

“What brings you here?” Faerie asks. I feel certain
She reigns as deva within this forest primeval.
“A beast chased me into your realm,” I explain.

“Three doors you had from which to choose: One
Hell, another Heaven, yet you selected the third.
It isn’t often that mortals wager their lives on us.”

“I had little time to decide my fate with a monster
Close behind. Hell I rejected. Heaven seemed too
Safe. I could not resist the call of the unknown.”

Then we danced and drank far into the night. The
Faerie folk sang songs that resonated in the very
Depths of my soul. My heart expanded with love.

I awakened with tears on my cheeks and a smile
Teasing the corners of my lips. A lovely dream
Born from a nightmare. Beauty from the beast.