Every year I do a fun, creepy, scary story for October. This year is no different. I’ll be telling the chilling tale of how I once turned into Bernie, the purple T-rex. Of course – this is fiction….or is it?
Enjoy this year’s story!
December 22nd, 1993.
A group of ten or so of us decide to rent a cabin at the coast before the Christmas madness hits a few days later. It’s morning and I’m asleep, or so my bunkmates think. I decide to have a little fun and pretend I’m dreaming.
“I love you…..you love me,” I sing, supposedly sleeping.
“Look – Aaron’s dreaming….” I hear someone say.
About a half hour later, I saunder down to breakfast. Everyone else is sitting, waiting for me. I decide to expand my joke to the whole group.
“I had a dream I was Bernie the Purple T-Rex,” I proclaim…
Big mistake – everyone laughs. I hear someone say “Is that what you want to be when you grow up?” “It’s a prophetic dream!” Someone else screams.
Of course, the group mocks me for several months after. “How’s the Bernie business?” “When do you paint your skin purple?” My little joke on my friends backfires. I am now the joke….and not the joker.
June 18th, 1994
We’re all in a van – going across the border from Tijuana, back into the United States. There must be a thousand cars, all trying to get into California from Mexico. Of course the local entrepreneurs see an opportunity. American tourists with money will buy anything! One guy shoves a magazine through an open window on our bus, and into our interpreter’s face. She haggles a price, and finally he buys the magazine. A woman shoves a doll into someone else’s face. They refuse. And then….a stout man shoves a twelve inch, ceramic Bernie statue in my face.
“You buy! You buy!” he demands.
“No thank you,” I politely say.
Still – everyone sees this. Someone yells – “It’s a sign! you really are Bernie!”
I roll my eyes -I thought the joke was dead – but this incident will surely give it new life. I silently accept my fate, and shove my face into a book.
July 23rd, 1994
My friends and I are at the county fair. We’re browsing the booths, when we stumble upon the kid’s corner. There’s a guy who claims to have written many of the scripts for Bernie’s television show. My friends, of course, shove me up to the guy.
“This guy’s going to be the next Bernie! Tell them the dream!”
I recall the fake dream, and then the incident at the border. The guy looks at me with horror in his face….
“You’re – You’re going to have a really bad time!”
He darts from the booth – like he had seen a ghost. I feel confused….but also a little frightened. What does he mean by this? Why would he say I’m going to have a hard time? I just had a fake dream…
August 12th, 1994
I wake up late – the alarm forgets to wake me once again. No matter – I have nothing planned. Besides….I feel a little off…a little weird. I feel warm – as though wrapped in a huge blanket. Maybe I’ll take it easy today.
I walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror – and let out a shriek for all I’m worth! The face I stare at, it isn’t mine! It… it can’t be! I’m looking at the face of Bernie the Purple T-Rex! I have become an anamorphic children’s TV wannabe muppet! What do I do?
My first reaction – call someone. I reach for the phone and dial my mom.
“Hello?” she answers the phone.
“Mom – mom….I’m in some kind of trouble! I’m not sure what to…”
“Who is this?” She asks
“It’s me – your son!”
“Listen – I’m tired of prank calls! Goodbye!”
She slams the phone down as she hangs up. My voice must sound like Bernie’s. Great….just great. This has got to be a dream. Ok, maybe I’ll go back to sleep.
Later in the afternoon, I wake up. I hope to God that this was all a weird dream. Maybe that burrito I ate last night, or maybe the pasta the other night. Even if it isn’t a dream – I hope it’s done – over. I sheepishly look in the mirror once more. Yeah – I’m still Bernie.
I best go to the hospital. Should I call 911? Or will they just think I’m a prank caller. I mean – what do I say? Hey….I’ve turned into a big purple T-rex, I need an ambulance. No – they’ll laugh. I guess I’ll just take a bus. I can be at the ER in 20 minutes at least.
A few minutes later I get on the bus and instantly the driver sarcasms, “It’s a little early for Halloween.”
I laugh – and claim I’m going to a costume party….at least that’s what I tried to say. What actually came out of my big, stupid purple mouth…
“Ooopaloppala do! Skiddy me skiddy you!”
That was Bernie’s signature line! But I didn’t say it! Yet – I still said it….I don’t know how…but the words that came out of my mouth, his mouth, were not my own words. I wonder – I was so panicked earlier – is that what my mom heard? Maybe that’s why she hung up so quickly. I take my seat, and hope no one bothers me.
Of course someone bothers me….a kid sitting nearby with his mom.
“Are you really Bernie?” He excitedly asks.
“No – I’m not – this is just a costume…” I attempt to say, but the words of my mouth / his mouth come out as “Yes, I am…Skiddy me Skiddy you!”
I feel so frightened – I would break into a cold sweat – but I don’t think I have sweat glands. Just a giant, big, stupid purple head. I want to cry, I want to scream….but all that comes out is laughter.
The boy hugs me, and goes back to his seat. I get off the bus a few minutes later and run to the ER. I must look like quite the spectacle. People are talking. Look at the dofus dressed as Bernie! I hear someone yell.
I walk into the ER and up to the nurses station. I hope I can communicate with her…maybe if I write something down. Maybe I can tell her the story in writing.
Of course her first words are “you’re going to have to remove that costume sir – or madam?”
I signal for a pad of paper….she seems to notice what I’m saying and gives me a pad. Still – she insists that I remove the mask at least.
I attempt to write – “I’m trapped….I’ve become Bernie the Purple T-rex. Help me!” What I actually write – “I love you, you love me, we’re as close as we can be…” The damned theme song? really? Ugg….this is impossible! I rip the paper up…I’m unsure what to do.
She blurts out,”sir, if you don’t take off the mask I’m calling security.”
In my head I yell, “Yes! Please call security, that might actually be what helps me.”
I go sit down, and wait for security. Maybe they can help me…or at least assess me enough to know that I need a doctor.
A few minutes later security comes and says “sir, remove your costume at once.”
I put my hands up to signal that I’ll go peacefully…instead I find myself doing jumping jacks. Also…I hear Bernie’s mouth singing “Head, shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes.”
Security of course tackles me….surprisingly, I don’t feel pain as I hit the ground. Maybe I no longer have a nervous system. Makes sense I guess. I wonder if I have any internal organs, fluids, and the like.
Security answers that question a few seconds later….as they attempt to rip off my head. Blood sprays everywhere….all over the patients awaiting care in the ER. All over the nurse at the check in counter. All over the security guards. So much blood – and it’s everywhere! Children are screaming. A homeless guy throws up everywhere. A guy with a bandage wrapped around his head faints. Doctors run out with tourniquets and tranquilizers….unsure of what to do. Someone helps me to my feet and leads me to the back, while pressing a towel to my still gushing neck. The blood is all over me….but so weird. The blood is hot pink, no – lime green. Wait, now it’s baby blue. Hmmm….the blood seems to be changing colors. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a couple suited men, with sunglasses and earpieces. I feel a sharp pain! Whoa, I do have a nervous system….I….
August 13th, 1994
I must have passed out. I wake up in a dark room, on a bed. I’m strapped down, so I can’t move.
“Mr. Edwards….can you hear me?” A man in a white lab coat leans over and waves his hand in my face.
I wonder how he recognizes me…have I turned back? Am I ok now?
“Mr Edwards….blink if you can hear me.”
I blink….and I breathe heavily.
“Mr Edwards, you’ve got a condition. You’ll be ok, but you’re going to be in this condition for a two or three years. We like to call it – TV anamorphism. Basically, you’ve turned into a child’s TV star. You’re far from the first person who’s suffered from this condition – in fact – most of the overgrown, plush characters you see on TV suffer this very condition.” They live in this very facility in fact.
“We can get you work as Bernie. If you’re good enough, you’ll be on the TV show. If not, you’ll go around to children’s parties. Unfortunately, these are the only outside activities you’ll be allowed to have, as we can’t have you running around in public like this.”
The doctor rattles on and on about the condition – but I zone out. Apparently, my fate, at least for a couple of years, is sealed. I can either just be locked away and bored, until this goes away, or I can make a little money and get out of this building. The choice is clear. And hey – maybe I’ll look back on all of this and laugh.
September 14th, 1994 – October 29th, 1996
I’m going to be on television – as the real Bernie. The big, stupid, purple dinosaur which I mocked just a few months back was me, and I was him. People my age will be writing songs about how they want to put a bullet through my big stupid purple head. How exciting!
I tape a few episodes every month for a couple years. As there’s not much to buy, I’m saving most of the money I earn. I do have to pay for my room and board, but that equals to about a fifth of my income. If I could communicate my wishes, I’d put my money in the stock market. I hear the dot com boom is making a lot of people rich.
Of course, when I think about this – I think about my loneliness. I can’t communicate. I miss my friends – they probably have no idea where I am. My parents stop by from time to time – but I can’t really say anything, as Bernie has control of any vocal chords. Even when my parents do come – my dad looks on with disbelief while my mom just sighs.
For whatever reason – I’m not allowed to hug my parents. I can touch them – but only for two seconds. I’m wonder how they’re doing – they do tell me what’s going on at home. I wonder if the government – or whoever runs this facility – made them sign something saying they can’t divulge who or where I am. I wonder if there’s anything they’re not telling me.
The days I’m not taping a show- I’m free to wander around the facility. There’s a communal dining hall and a TV lounge that a lot of us like to congregate at. I think I’m friends with Harry the Monster from Poppyseed Place. There’s also an HR Poofanpuff that hangs around us. We really can’t communicate too much asides from our catchphrases, but we seem to get along anyways. I wanted to get Big Yellow Bird to join our group, but interestingly enough, he’s an actual human in a costume! Go figure.
Aside from the loneliness – life is ok in the facility. Not the best, but things could be a lot more horrible. At least I’m not a science experiment.
Every so often I think back to the fair and the Bernie writer. He probably knows the secret of us “stuffed ones” as they call us informally – but we’re harmless. Why did the Bernie writer I met run away from me?
October 30th, 1996
Halloween, a couple days away, is our favorite day of the year in the facility. We get to run around the city – as long as we have a handler with us. I guess they figure people will think we’re just dressed up in a costume. But today -we got the news- no Halloween outings this year. We were not told why – just that it was for the protection of ourselves and others. We couldn’t even go tape our shows or do birthday parties. Weird. Still – there’s a lot of things they don’t tell us. They just bark out orders. We do as we’re told. Still – no Halloween….that sucks.
October 31st, 1996
Everyone walking the halls of the facility seems depressed. Some don’t even leave their rooms, some refuse to eat. I myself just sit in front of the TV the entire day. As I flip channels, I see a familiar face. It’s the guy who ran from me! He’s ranting on cable access about monsters, and how there’s going to be a reckoning tonight! All of a sudden the screen turns to color bars. A message appears “we now join the following program already in progress.” A church service pops up on the screen – complete with grainy video and crackled audio. I switch the channel, and forget about the incident.
At about 10 PM – an alarm screeches. BLARRRRGGGAAA. The humans demand we all stay in our rooms for our own safety. I’m scared, is something happening that we should be aware of?
All of a sudden, I hear gun fire in the hallways! I hear explosives on the streets. There’s sirens outside and panicking, yelling people all over the building. I see my friend Harry the Monster run by….and then he drops to the ground. I run out to see if I can help him – but he’s dead. A knife in his back. Rainbow blood flowing freely from the wound. I realize shit’s going down. I realize I am not safe. And then I hear a familiar voice….
“Bernie! Hey Bernie! You’re going to pay for what you’ve done Bernie!
It’s the guy – the one on TV that afternoon – the one that ran from me a few years ago! I try to react – but all I can do is that stupid laugh and “Skiddy Me, Skiddy You!”
The man lunges at me with a sword! An actual freaking sword! I run as fast as my stuffed legs can take me, but I trip over the body of my fallen friend.
“I loathe you….you loathe me….time for a sword in your belly”, the man sings as he hovers over me – ready to shove his weapon into my gut.”
BANG BANG BANG! I hear gunfire. The man’s eyes dilate, and he slumps to the ground. Blood flowing from wounds on his torso. I hear more shots fired from other parts of the facility. Screams everywhere – and then an announcement over the loudspeaker.
“The danger is over. The attackers are all either dead or detained. Please return to your quarters and stay there until we give the all clear. You’ll all be briefed in the morning. I suggest you all get some sleep if you can.”
April 2nd, 1997
I woke up screaming. The Halloween massacre, as I called it in my head, took the lives of 21 of our fellow stuffed ones, as well as 15 of the facility staff. We had a ceremony for the the fallen – but that didn’t go over well. We all wanted to cry, but of course our damned laughs and catchphrases took over every audible display. Counseling wasn’t easy either. We all had PTSD, but we couldn’t really work through things. Instead – we all had nightmares. At least I assumed we all had nightmares…I’d hate to meet the person or stuffed one who didn’t have nightmares after that.
I get up and start my morning routine. I feel cold. Something I hadn’t felt in years. I look in the mirror, expecting to see the terrifying, yet now familiar big stupid purple head, instead, I see me! I see my actual face! I look at my hands….no puppet hands. And I have to pee! Like really pee….like I haven’t peed in two and a half years….and in truth I hadn’t.
As soon as I’m done with my business, I throw on some clothes – oversized clothes – but it’s all I have. I run to the first human I see and yell “I’m me again! I’m me again!”
A few minutes later I find myself in the the head administrator’s office. I have clothes that fit and every word that I try to speak comes out as intended. I am so very happy. The administrator, however, does not look too joyful.
A nurse walks in the room with a clipboard.
“What’s the damage?” the administrator asks the nurse.
“Fifteen kids hospitalized….three dead.”
“What – what happened?” I ask? “Was it a school shooting? A bomb? What the hell happened?
The administrator sighs, “You happened. There’s a reason we keep you guys locked away. You don’t know your own strength, and you crush children when they hug you.”
“Let me start from the beginning. This isn’t a disease. It’s actually a curse. Network executives got into some dark magic and created a race of – well – real life TV characters. All in the name of TV ratings. The only reason why we let you guys out on Halloween is because that’s the one day of the year your strength is diminished. Besides – kids don’t seem to notice you as everyone else is dressed up as well. Those kids that do try to hug you are intercepted by your handler.”
“Why that day? Why is our strength diminished on Halloween?”
“They renew the curse once a year – on that day. It weakens your strength for a 24 hour period. We’re really not sure of the particulars – it is magic after all. Not science.”
“Why do you even let us do shows though? Why let us out at all?”
“You probably think we’re some government agency men in black thing, don’t you? Well – truth be told – the government doesn’t know much about what goes on. We’re funded by the networks. If it wasn’t for their money, you’d be walking around, hugging kids and killing them all day long. It isn’t a good compromise, but it’s one we have to keep. One of these days we hope the networks will forget about this whole bloody thing – but for now – we live like this. For now – we do what we can to keep as many kids safe as possible”
“Why can’t our handlers keep the kids away from us on set?
The administrator slams his desk….”we wish we could. The networks won’t let us. They want to keep up appearances. They want the kids you work with to hug you on camera. Look – I know you have a million questions, but for now, it’s time to rest. You need to go home – hug your parents – and maybe get a psychiatrist. We have a list of them that know of our little secret. As for your knowledge, you will have to sign a waiver saying you will not reveal anything of this to anyone – even friends, spouses, children…No one.”
“What if I refuse?”
“Then you get pinned for the murder of three kids…you don’t want that, do you? Look – you’ve got plenty of money, go live your life kid. For the record – I’m sorry you’ve been part of this.”
I walk out the door of the administrator’s office – broken – disturbed. I’m lead to the front exit where a car is waiting for me. As I walk out the door – I hear a faint but familiar voice singing. I look behind me, and there’s another Bernie being admitted. I wonder if he’s the one to take my place, or would he just be a birthday party staple.
“Good luck, kid.” I turn and say to my probable replacement.
The purple T-rex turns to me, and in a voice that used to be mine says “Skiddy me, skiddy you!”
Did you enjoy The Curse of Purple T-rex?
I hope you enjoyed this year’s edition of my scary October stories. Did you miss my stories in previous years? Well, here they are: 2017: Brain Damage Related to Time Travel. 2016: Deadroll. 2015: Larry the Happy, Homicidal Squirrel. 2014: American (Voting) Horror Story. 2013: The Cave. By the way – if you’re looking for some spooky, eerie fun music, I put together a halloween playlist on my music blog (audioperfecta.com). Enjoy, and Happy Halloween – and if you see a purple T-rex – don’t hug it.