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Funny Horror Kids

Content warning: Depictions of animal suffering. Might put you off your next meal.

***********

It was pitch black when Greedy Gary shuffled out of his house at 6 am one freezing January morning. Everyone knew him as Greedy Gary because he loved his grub and ate massive portions of meat for every meal. Whether it was bacon butties, burgers, fried chicken, or his personal favourite, lamb doner kebab no salad — Greedy Gary lived for meat. Gary didn’t love his nickname, but he’d grown tired of telling people off for using it. And deep down, Gary knew he was a bit greedy compared to others, but he wasn’t doing anybody any harm.

He set the engine running, then started de-icing the van. Gary was quite unfit so was soon puffing hard from the effort. Despite only wearing t-shirt and shorts in the freezing temperatures, he was drenched in sweat as he heaved himself up into the cab.

Once on the road, Gary decided that, as he’d just done some exercise already, an early breakfast was in order. So he pulled into his favourite lay-by pit stop, shook an angry fist at the long line of lorries, and parked a few hundred yards from where he wanted to.

“Greedy Gazza mate! Usual is it?” said the burger van man. A puffed out Gary nodded in reply.

Five minutes later, Gary climbed back into his cab and placed the white tea with three in the cupholder, and a dinner plate-sized ‘Triple Belly Buster’ sausage & bacon bap on the dashboard. Gary slurped the grease off his fingers, took the polystyrene cup in one hand and licked his lips as a juicy meaty aroma filled the cab.

“Wouldn’t eat that if I were you,” said a strange, squealing voice. Gary screamed, jumped a foot in the air and launched hot tea over the windscreen. It took a moment to register what happened — someone else was in the van with him.

He took a tentative peek to his left. A see-through pig was sat there, grinning.

“Fright number 3042, snort!” said the pig. “Hello Greedy Gary. So sorry, not sorry to scare you!”

Gary’s chins trembled. “What the… Who the… What the… who are you?”

“I’m Kevin, snort!” said Kevin the pig.

“Kevin?”

“Yes, Kevin Bacon. Nice to meet you.”

Gary burst out laughing, and the whole van shook. “Oh nice one, nice one! This is one of them TV prank shows, innit? Kevin blooming Bacon!”

Kevin turned his head to one side, observing this curious reaction. “This isn’t a TV show, Gary.”

“Yeah, yeah it is, you’re one of them, them… what’cha ma call it… virtual thingys, right?”

“You mean virtual reality?”

Gary beamed at how smart he was. “Yeah, yeah, that’s the one! Nice one. Proper got me!”

Kevin shook his head at how thick humans can be. “I’m not a virtual reality pig from a TV show. I am the Ghost of Breakfasts Past, snort!”

Gary stopped laughing, raised an eyebrow, then quivered. “Ghost?” Gary didn’t care much for ghosts.

“Yes, I’m dead — butchered many moons ago,” said Kevin, who flew out through the windscreen and back again to show that he really was a ghost.

Gary’s face turned as white as the empty foam cup in his hand. “A g-ghost, pig, that talks?”

“Yes, and as I was saying, I am the Ghost of Breakfasts Past, snort! And I’m here to show you the error of your ways.”

Kevin narrowed his eyes, in that way that talking dead pigs do when they need to be serious. “Gary, five minutes ago, you became the official ‘Biggest Meat Eater in the World.”

Gary unclenched his butt cheeks, just a little, as curiosity got the better of him. “Really? How come?”

“The previous holder of that dubious title died, about five minutes ago,” said Kevin with a solemn shake of his head. “Heart attack got him, was only 36. Mexican fella — Chilli Chico, they called him. Ate nothing for 20 years but beef & pork chilli.”

Gary pumped his fist in the air. “Yes, I’m a world record holder, wahoo!”

Kevin once again cocked his head and observed Gary’s misplaced joy at benefiting from a young man’s untimely demise. Gary had missed the message that Chilli Chico was only two years older that him. Chico was a gentle soul, who tried to listen to Kevin, but just couldn’t change his ways in time. But this obnoxious Greedy Gary was something else, perhaps Kevin’s hardest case yet.

It was time for something less subtle. So Kevin clicked his trotters and transported them both back to a vision of Gary’s recent past. They were in the local hospital. Gary’s eyes grew wider than his breakfast bap, as he saw himself sprawled out on a bed, with his loving wife Stacey crying by his side. Multiple cables connected his body to multiple machines. Gary remembered why he was there, how he had clutched his chest and collapsed at the café. How he never got to finish his third Full English breakfast.

“You’re lucky this time,” said the doctor to patient Gary from the past. “Take this as a warning shot. You must change your high-fat diet, eat less meat and more fresh fruit and vegetables. I’m referring you to a specialist dietician.”

The painful memory faded away, and Gary found himself back in his van, still accompanied by a talking see-through pig.

“You never saw the dietician, did you, Gary?” said Kevin. “You did not heed the warning, snort!”

Gary huffed. He was tired of being lectured. “Right, I’ve had enough of your guilt tripping, Mr Kevin Blooming Bacon. So leave me alone, Mr Ghost of Breakfasts Past, ‘cos the only breakfast I care about is the one in front of my nose. So why don’t you trot off and let me eat in peace!”

Gary scooped up the Triple Belly Buster, brought it to his saliva-glistened lips and opened his mouth as wide as London Tower Bridge.

“Gary, no!” cried Kevin. “Do you even know what that sausage is made of? Piggy guts and lips and bumholes. Guts and lips and bumholes, snort!

“I know,” said Gary, as he munched down on the many greasy layers of processed pig. “Delicious!” A single ghostly tear rolled down Kevin’s pinkish cheek, and then he vanished.

Gary shrugged, chucked the plastic cup out of the window onto the grass verge, then drove onto work.

*****************

Finally, it was lunchtime, and Greedy Gary was ravenous. At tea break earlier, when he’d opened up his snack box, he found that kind, sweet Stacey had packed three of his favourite sausage rolls. What a treat. But he couldn’t bring himself to take a single bite. He hadn’t really enjoyed all of his Triple Belly Buster earlier, after the whole Ghost of Breakfasts Past shenanigans. It didn’t sit right, and not just in his stomach. And Gary worried that Kevin was angry with him.

But that was ages ago and now Greedy Gary could eat a horse! So he hustled over to the on-site portacabin canteen.

“Greedy Gary! Usual me love?” asked the woman behind the counter. Gary nodded and rubbed his hands in glee. Some work mates called him to come and sit with them, but then Gary remembered Kevin. What if he comes back, in front of everyone?

So Gary took his ‘Mega Cheese Power Tower' burger that was as big at his thick head, stacked with eight regular burgers and as many gooey slices of processed cheese, back to his digger to eat in peace. He opened his ginormous cakehole and…

“Wouldn’t eat that if I were you,” said a deep, slow voice. Gary froze — not again! He lowered the basketball-sized burger and his jaw dropped. The huge head of a see-through cow grinned at him.

“Ahhh!” screamed Gary. He launched his burger like a grenade at the spooky intruder, but the greasy missile just sailed straight through and splattered cheesy beef all over the windscreen.

“Well, that’s no way to greet a lady,” said the cow. “I’m Patty, moo!”

Gary’s face went red with rage. “Well Patty Moo, why don’t you patty do one? I’m getting sick of this!”

“You’re getting sick of this?” said Patty. “You’re getting sick of this?! How dare you, moo! I died to give you that burger, and then you literally throw it back in my face.”

Gary recoiled and squinted his eyes. “What did you say?”

“I said, I died to give you that burger. You were about to eat my mashed up rump. I am the Ghost of Lunches Present, moo! And I’m here to show you the error of your ways.”

Gary didn’t know what to say. His brain whirled with all the possibilities he could think of, all two of them. This new ghost could well be pulling his leg. The whole thing could be a massive wind up, or a TV prank show! But if not, if not…

“Nothing personal,” said Gary. “A man’s gotta eat.” Then his chins started trembling again. “You’re not going to eat me, are you?”

Patty burst into deafening laughter. “Oh nice one Gary, nice one. No, you don’t look much like a tasty grass meadow. I think you’re safe on that front, moo!”

Then Patty lowered her long eyelashes, in that way that talking dead cows do when they need to be serious. “Do you ever think about where your food really comes from?”

Gary screwed up his face at the stupid question. “It comes from whoever cooks it.”

Patty rolled her beautiful big eyes. “But what about before that? For example, where do you think I came from?”

“Some field, I suppose,” said Gary.

“A cramped and dusty feed pen actually,” said Patty, “I never got to eat grass, though I could see it growing just across the yard. To make your Mega Cheese Power Tower' burger Gary, I was fattened up on corn, soy and growth hormone drugs, moo!”

Gary just shrugged. “Taste’s good though, don’t it?”

Patty tilted her head to one side and thought about what to do with this particularly obnoxious and uncaring human. This was Patty’s first assignment as the Ghost of Lunches Present, and Kevin warned her she’d been thrown in the deep end with Gary. Patty was a cow who hadn’t spent any time with humans yet, so she didn’t really know what the pig meant, but she got the gist.

It was time for something less subtle. So Patty clicked her hooves and transported them both to the Amazon rainforest, at least where much of it used to be. Dawn was just breaking in this part of the world, but instead of the sunlight beaming through the cracks of a lush, dense canopy, it rose in plain sight from the east horizon and lit up a barren, brown wasteland. There was nothing but bare earth as far as the eye could see. The land had been ploughed into long columns that stretched onward into the distance. But nothing grew here, yet. This land was dead.

Gary’s chins quivered like jelly. “W-where are we? Is this, the afterlife?”

“In a way, yes,” said Patty. “We’re in Brazil, present day. But just one year ago, on this very spot, ancient towering trees would have blocked the sky out. And all manner of creatures, now either fled or dead, called this unspoilt wilderness home, from mighty jaguars to endangered tree frogs and countless species of insects.”

Gary looked around again and imagined the scene that Patty described. He and Stacey enjoyed the odd nature documentary during their TV dinners. A strange sense of loss came over him. “What happened here?”

“Humans, moo! Humans came, with diggers five times bigger than your one, and flattened the rainforest. Soon they will plant soy here, endless miles upon miles of soybeans, to fatten up cattle around the world like me for cheap beef.”

The tragic scene faded away, and Gary found himself back in his digger, still accompanied by a talking see-through cow.

Patty’s big searching eyes looked deep into Gary’s own, as if they were a window into his soul. “So Gary, now you know the cost of your extreme diet, will you change it?”

Gary hung his head. It’s not every day that you meet the cow you’re about to eat. And he was genuinely moved by experiencing the devastation of the rainforest. He thought that cows just roamed lush green fields in the English countryside. He had no idea of the global impact of his massive meat-munching habit.

But then something caught his attention, a smell, a most delicious smell, and his stomach rumbled. He caught sight of the Mega Cheese Power Tower mess on the dashboard. Without thinking, as if on auto-pilot, he shoved a huge fistful of greasy burger into his greedy gob.

“Gary, no!” cried Patty. But Gary just kept on chewing and chewing, lost in this moment of taste satisfaction, like some oblivious, carnivorous beast.

A single ghostly tear rolled down Patty’s nose, and then she vanished.

Gary gasped at what he had done. “Patty, wait, I’m sorry!” And some passing scaffolders gave him very weird looks indeed.

*****************

After work, Greedy Gary felt very glum driving home in the pitch black, and more than a little worried about future visits from Kevin or Patty. A stream of befuddling questions raced through his mind: Can ghosts take revenge? Can they hurt or even kill someone? What will happen if I eat pork or beef again? His head felt fit to burst from all this thinking and conflicting feelings. And his heart ached with guilt and shame. He wasn’t proud to be the ‘Biggest Meat Eater in the World’ any more. He wanted to be ‘Greedy Gary’ no longer. He just wanted to be Gary, and to live and eat normally, without causing all this pain and destruction.

And then his stomach rumbled again, as if on cue to test his resolve, just as he passed his favourite fried chicken shop. “Perfect, no red meat!” said Gary as he parked up outside.

“Greedy Gary, my very best customer!” called out the chicken shop man. “Usual is it?” Gary considered the menu carefully. “Just one Super Size Bone Lickin' Bucket today please. I’m on a diet.”

“Good for you, my friend, and great choice — chicken is so healthy!”

Gary climbed back into his van and placed the twenty bits of battered bird on the passenger seat. Pulling back onto the road, he reached across with a greedy hand.

“Wouldn’t do that if I were you, squawk!” said a screechy voice beside him. Gary’s heart sunk and his chins trembled faster than ever. Stood atop that mountain of deep fried food was a rather angry-looking see-through hen.

Gary couldn’t speak, so the chicken did. “I’m prisoner one million and five, the Ghost of Dinners Yet to Come, squawk! And I’m here the show you the error of your ways.”

This bird had read Kevin and Patty’s reports on Gary. The time for being nice was over, so she clicked her beak and transported him to the hell she knew all too well.

Gary screamed, or rather squawked. Countless chickens and their poo surrounded him. The awful din and stench was overwhelming. He seemed rather small as well — or these hens were human-sized! His vision was weird and intense bright colours flooded his mind from every angle. The great mass of birds crushed and pecked him, each fighting for space and air. He looked down at his own spindly chicken feet, and let out the most terrifying squawk!

He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t breathe. Then one big old bird bundled him over and another fell full onto his leg. Crack! Gary the chicken squawked in agony and knew this was the end for him. This was the animal ghosts’ payback.

Then the frightful vision faded away and Greedy Gary was back in his digger, and human once more. He felt his sweating face and leg — no beak, no break. It was just a dream, a vision.

“W-where was that?” he said to the fierce-looking Ghost of Dinners Yet to Come.

“A nearby intensive chicken meat factory, one year from now. After you and your workmates have finished building it.”

The colour from Gary’s face drained, and he wept giant tears of shame. “Please, oh gracious Ghost of Dinners Yet to Come, please give me another chance. I’ll stop working there, I’ll make them all stop, I will! And, and…”

“And…?” said the ghostly hen.

“I’ll stop eating meat, I promise. I swear it on my life!”

The Ghost of Dinners Yet to Come smiled, just a little. “You had better keep those promises, Gary. We will be watching, squawk!” And then she vanished.

Gary threw the Super Size Bone Lickin' Bucket in the nearest bin and drove home as quickly as he could.

*****************

Greedy Gary breathed an enormous sigh of relief as he opened his front door. He couldn’t wait for a big hug from his lovely wife.

“Oh hello love,” called Stacey. “I’ve got your favourite for dinner — four lamb doner kebabs no salad!”

Gary screamed and ran away as fast as he could. He hadn’t sprinted since he was a young boy, but the fear propelled him on. His heart pounded, his legs throbbed, but on he ran down his street, all the way to the corner shop.

And there, in that moment, Gary did something he'd never done before in his whole life — he brought some vegetables. Well, a tin of baked beans. But we’ve all got to start somewhere.

October 27, 2023 17:29

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16 comments

Dayton Idoni
15:40 Nov 07, 2023

Hi MA Grace, thanks for using the critique circle. It looks like with both took inspiration from Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol for this prompt. Just like Dickens, your story addresses important present social, environmental and political issues. You do this wonderfully considering your intended demographic. I enjoyed the offset of humour too, and can see how children would relish in the comedy within the story. An illustrator would have a whale of a time doodling Gary and all his chins. In particular, Mr Bacon’s (no spoilers) name made ...

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M.A. Grace
23:11 Nov 09, 2023

Hi, thank you for reading, I'm glad it made you laugh and you appreciated the message behind the silliness.

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Danie Holland
11:19 Nov 03, 2023

M. A. - this has to be one of my all time favorite stories. You take such a heavy topic and tell it in such a light way, while still highlighting all the important environmental aspects. On the surface, it's a fun ride but much deeper and you truly hit the heart of things. This story is so well done! I have spent so much of the past two years having anxiety attacks in every grocery store because of our food (In America). The way the animals are treated is half of it (how they are bred, what they are fed) and then the other half is trying t...

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M.A. Grace
14:32 Nov 03, 2023

Hi Danie, Wow, thank for your amazing comments. I'm honoured that you love this story so much. I'm so sorry that you have anxiety over food shopping. You're not alone. Its so confusing to really know what our food is made of and where it comes from. But you're doing the right thing by giving a shit. My newish rule - which I don't always stick to - is to not eat or cook with anything with more than two ingredients on the packet during the week and eat whole foods. But it's really hard! Thanks again for reading this story and sharing your...

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Malcolm Twigg
08:57 Nov 01, 2023

Too British for the American market but just the kind of whimsy I enjoy. A refreshing retake on A Christmas Carol with a serious environmental message to boot.

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M.A. Grace
16:31 Nov 01, 2023

Thanks for taking the time to read and share you thoughts. Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, our friends across the pond might not be familiar with baked beans and butties :-)

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Rebecca Miles
07:28 Nov 01, 2023

No nerdiness at all crept into this ( I read your bio!). I thought it spot on for the target readership with a great balance of humour and moral message. The redeploying of the three ghosts was a clever one which delivered humour then pathos. Well done!

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M.A. Grace
07:55 Nov 01, 2023

Ha, yeah I write this for my kids, so a fun departure from the sci-fi norm for me. Thank you for taking the time to read it and your kind thoughts.

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Shirley Medhurst
08:07 Oct 31, 2023

Really enjoyed this; a fabulous piece of writing which, first of all, had me giggling,. Then of course, as in every great kid”s story, comes the moral…. Very well put across, The vocabulary you use and playful tone is perfect for your audience. The use of ghosts past, present and future then fit perfectly to your not so light- hearted message. 👏

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M.A. Grace
10:39 Oct 31, 2023

Thank you for taking the time to both read the story and write such a wonderful review. I'm glad it gave you a giggle and the moral comes across well for you.

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Michał Przywara
20:45 Oct 29, 2023

Heh :) Very fun. A Carnivorous Carol. The tone is suited to a kids story, and the prose is playful and fun to read. The topics it touches on are much less playful, of course. I think the story does hit on a key point, especially with Gary's willingness to change. Most people just don't think about where their meat comes from. We've become so adept at commoditizing it, it really does feel like just any other off-the-shelf product. But the support infrastructure is huge, and very disruptive, isn't it? "Kevin narrowed his eyes, in that way ...

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M.A. Grace
05:51 Oct 30, 2023

Thank you so much for reading and your considered review Michal. Glad you found the story both fun and thought provoking. A Carnivorous Carol - love it! Yes, it's the hyper industrialisation of our meat industries that had led to shocking animal welfare standards and is a key driver of global warming. But many people don't want to hear it.

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Karen Corr
13:40 Oct 28, 2023

😂 Very funny M.A.! Kevin Bacon and all! Loved it!

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M.A. Grace
14:20 Oct 28, 2023

Thanks for reading Karen, glad it gave you a giggle. My most mature work yet...

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08:19 Oct 28, 2023

A cautionary...meal! Very inventive and fun. But also gross! No sausages for breakfast here today! The dialogue is very natural and real for this whimsical tale with an important message. The chicken scene is rightfully horrifying.

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M.A. Grace
14:19 Oct 28, 2023

Hi Derrick, thank you for bearing with the gross bits - I wrote it for my 8-yr old son, hence the high-brow humour. Glad you picked up on those aspects and I hope you had something nice for breakfast!

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