I can never put my finger on it, but there is something about the month of October that has had me in it's spell as long as I can remember. It could be the cooler temps, which I wait all summer for. It could be the leaves on the trees first turning color, then falling to the ground with the wind. It could be the nights that get longer, the days that get shorter, and the sun that isn't so bright. It could even be the fact that I somehow give myself to indulge in horror movies, ghost stories, and the general creepiness that Halloween brings to the mix. I have a feeling it's a mixture of all that, plus a little something extra. When I figure out how to describe that extra little bit that makes October my favorite month, second only to December, I'll let you know.
What October means for Wordsmithonia, is the idea that I get to play a little more than usual. I'll be posting some extra posts during the month, featuring some of my favorite Halloweenish topics, plus my Favorite Fictional Character posts will be presenting some of my favorite characters this month makes me think about. Today's character, Mr. Hood was a villain I was introduced to in the first Clive Barker book I ever read, The Thief of Always.
The Mr. Hood you see in this picture, is not the Mr. Hood we are introduced to in the beginning. That Mr. Hood is the mysterious benefactor of the Holiday House, a retreat for kids to escape their boring lives at home. He is the invisible presence that runs the house and allows it's magics to work. I guess you could even call Mr. Hood a dream catcher. He hears the daydreams of kids who want nothing else but to escape the day by day routine of their lives. He sends out "recruiters" to introduce the idea of Holiday House to the kids, a place where all their dreams will come true. It's with the arrival of Harvey Swick to the Holiday House, that the action of the book begins.
Harvey is a bright lad, one that Mr. Hood takes a close interest in. Harvey, like the rest of the kids, quickly become enraptured in the house and all the delights it has to offer. Every day, brings all four seasons to the house. The mornings are taking up the spring. The afternoons are full of the laziness that summer brings. The early evenings bring the delights of fall, including Halloween every night. The nights are taken up by winter, and all the joys that Christmas can bring. Mr. Hood does everything he can to make sure the kids are happy every moment of day. The get every toy they could ever dream of for Christmas. They get to dress up, and sometimes turn into, any monster their fevered minds dream up for Halloween. They are given everything they could ask for, but have no clue the price they are paying.
You see, Mr. Hood isn't doing this out of the goodness of his heart. In actuality, those poor kids are having the lives sucked out of them to feed Mr. Hood. It's not physical hunger that Mr. Hood is sating, since he has no real body. It's time that this creature needs to feed upon, time stolen from the kids he lures to the house. You see everyday that goes by in Holiday House, is a year in the real world. Years are stolen from them before they even begin to realize something is wrong. Once they do, it's almost always too late. Before they know it, they are joining the others in the bottomless dark lake, no longer human.
If you hadn't notice, I threw in that almost always for a reason. You see, Harvey Swick is about to be Mr. Hood's downfall. What started off as a unlimited feast for Mr. Hood, is about to test him in a way he never thought possible. Harvey and friend, managed to escape from Holiday House, only to find out the horrible truth once they returned home. Their parents were old and, years ago, had given their sons up for dead. Harvey, the strong willed young man that he is, understands the only way to get back what was stolen, was to return to Holiday House and confront the man who stole it from them, Mr. Hood.
Mr. Hood, the greedy individual that he is, understands what he has in Harvey. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make Harvey stay at Holiday House, even tempting him with an apprenticeship of sorts. He wants to train that mind to be what he is, but Harvey had other plans. He overwhelms Mr. Hood with wishes, straining the powers that hold Mr. Hood and his house together. Once the pressure become to much, it shatters the house and leaves Mr. Hood an automaton made up of the remnants of his home. Let's just say that taking a body, wasnt' the best idea Mr. Hood had. It makes him easier to kill, which Harvey proceeds to do with only a limited amount of trouble.
I must admit that after reading this post, you may be wondering why I chose to focus on Mr. Hood and not Harvey. It's simple really, even though Harvey is the hero of the tale and wins the day in the end, Mr. Hood is the ultimate villain. He is the perfect predator that all parents should fear. He is the man who can lure our kids away with the promise of fun and excitement. Forget the stranger in the van offering a kid a piece of candy, this is the creature that can lure the kid away with the promise of their own unlimited supply of toys and candy. He is the individual that stalks our kids and uses their own dreams against them. Despite his defeat at the end, he causes untold damage and sucked the lives out of countless kids. He robbed them of their youth to feed his own cravings. He is the predator we will never see, the ultimate bogeyman. And for that, he deserves our respect and our fear.