Hello, readers! I would like to introduce you to the stars of our story, Ghost Town Grover and Cactus Clem. Grover was a miner during his life and he now runs the Virtual General Store here at the Grover Hotel. His best friend, Cactus Clem, is a mutant Cactus Man who loves life out here on the Lone Prairie. If you would like to read more of their backstory before or after delving into today's story, please click here.
This story is meant to be light-hearted. It will eventually have illustrations. I appreciate general constructive advice regarding formatting, clarity, or any typos that Grover or Cactus Clem might have missed.
I do not appreciate nit-picking, being told that ghostly miners, mutant cactus men, or historical hotels in ghost towns are stupid or that you don't usually read ridiculous Halloween stories with ridiculous characters. Since you have been warned that this is a ridiculous Halloween story with ridiculous characters, I assume that you will not continue reading if that sort of thing really is not your bag, Baby.
With the obligatory officiousness out of the way, let us proceed with our tale!
(AKA The Ornery Old Lady)
Howdy, Folks! My name’s Grover, and I’m a ghost who haunts the ole hotel in the little tiny ghost town of Grover, Colorado. I was born on the fourth of July 1840 in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail, and I guess y’all could say that I’m about as American as apple pie. During my lifetime, I was a miner, and I traveled from California to Colorado seekin’ my fortune.
In 1909 when I was purty well retired from mining, I ended up in this little town that had the same name as me, and they’d just built a brand-new hotel. I lived in the hotel until 1910, which was the year I started haunting the hotel.
You see, it was my birthday and I’d decided that maybe I’d like to give mining one more crack before I laid the ole pick-axe down fer good. Now, I mighta had a sip or two of White Lightnin’ while I was walkin’ along pondering my future, and just as I was crossin’ the ole railroad track, I seen the strangest thing.
Folks, something came down out of the sky, and I near to fainted on the spot. I had been readin’ a scary book about monsters from Mars, an’ I was afeared that story was coming true right in front of my eyes! But then the ship took off, and I seen this feller standing there in the shadows. He walked up to me and he said in plain ole English:
“Say, Pardner, I’m awful thirsty. Would you happen to have anything fer a feller to drink?”
Well, when I got a load of that feller’s face in the light of the train comin’ down the track, y’all coulda knocked me over with a feather, ‘cause I was lookin’ right at a walkin’, talkin’ cactus man. Then everything went dark. A minute later, I was on one side of the track and my body was on the other side. That ole train done mowed me right down whilst I was standin’ there starin’ at the cactus man, who was swiggin’ down the last of my White Lightnin’.
“Say, this here is purty good!” the cactus man said. “Do y’all got any more?”
So, Folks, that’s how I met Cactus Clem and ended up haunting the Grover Hotel. Cactus Clem was an experiment made by a mad scientist who was traveling with them space men, but he was just so dang mild-mannered that they couldn’t use him for no invasion plan or nothin’ and they done dropped him off in the nearest open field. Grover’s got a lot of open fields, ‘cause it’s right out in the middle of the Lone Prairie, so if I was a space man who needed to drop off a mutant cactus man, I reckon I’d pick Grover too.
Anyways, me and Clem became the best of friends, and we had a lot of adventures together over the years. There was people who came and went in the ole hotel, and it got turned into a lot of different things. Me and Clem had it to ourselves for a long time, except for other ghosts who came by to visit and play poker.
Then one day this ornery ole lady and her son showed up. I tried to scare ‘em off, but they wasn’t scared of no ghost nor cactus man. The son liked to make woodcarvings, and the ole lady was a writer and a book reviewer, and sometimes she’d read to me and Clem. That was purty nice, except for ole Clem gets scared easy, and then his imagination grows about ten sizes too big, an’ all kinds of crazy things can happen.
One night near to Halloween, the Ornery Ole Lady read us the famous story about Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman, and you could just see ole Clem’s eyes getting bigger and bigger. The next day there was a meeting of the Ghosts of Grover at the ole town hall, so Clem went out on the Lone Prairie by himself. Just as I was heading back to the hotel, Clem came running down the street like he’d been zapped by lightning.
Clem ran into the hotel and drank up all the beer that the Ornery Old Lady’s son had brewed.
“Clem, I think that Sonny was saving that beer for his game night with his friends,” I said.
“I’m sorry, Grover, but I just seen the most awful thing!” Clem gasped.
“Well, what did you see?”
“It was terrible, Grover! It was a horrible harvest!”
“Clem, what do y’all mean by a horrible harvest?” I demanded.
“Well, I went by this big field out on the Lone Prairie, and I seen them out there harvestin’ heads!”
“Clem, ain’t nobody harvesting heads!” I told the big lug. “Maybe they was harvesting cabbages.”
“Grover, they wasn’t harvesting cabbages nor lettuces nor kales neither,” Clem insisted. “They was harvesting heads! Say, do you reckon maybe that farm is owned by the Headless Horseman?”
“Clem, you can’t grow heads,” I said. “It simply ain’t possible. Come on, you take me to this farm and I’ll show you.”
“I ain’t going anywhere near that place! What if they harvest my head?”
“Well, look, we’ll just be real quiet so they don’t see us. I’m gonna prove it to you that ain’t nobody harvesting heads.”
Folks, we went over to the farm, and for a minute, I thought maybe Clem was right. There were big round orange things all over the fields. Just then, we saw the Ornery Old Lady and her son talking to a tall, skinny farmer.
“Sonny, I hear your woodcarving skills are the best,” the farmer said. “So that’s why I want to hire you to carve the best jack-o-lantern from my prize pumpkin. Whatever you want to carve, I leave that up to you.”
“Clem, them things ain’t heads, they’re pumpkins!” I said. “Sometimes you’re the silliest feller, but I’m glad we’re pals.”
Yer ole pal,
Ghost Town Grover
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