So settle down, grab a toffee apple, and prepare to discover the terrifying secret of Doc Mortis’ Musical Taste!
If you’ve read the fourth, fifth or sixth book in the series you’ll be aware that the villain of book four - Doc Mortis - is obsessed with the song “The Teddy Bears Picnic”, and the track haunts Kyle and the other characters in the series, acting as a signal that Doc is near. Doc also sings it himself sometimes, usually when getting ready to torture his victims as seen here…
Somewhere, off to my left, another drawer gave a metal squeak as it was heaved open. I tried to look in the direction of the sound, but my eyes couldn’t swivel far enough. I could hear the man singing, tunelessly, below his breath.
‘If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise,’ he sang, dragging out every word. ‘If you go down in the woods today, you’d better go in disguise.’
‘Wh-who are you?’ I asked, my voice shaking. ‘What do you want?’
‘For every bear that ever there was, will gather there for certain because…’
His feet scuffed on the floor right beside me. I pulled hard against the straps, but the leather only dug deeper into my flesh until I couldn’t take the pain any longer.
‘Untie me! Let me go!’
He appeared above me again, his wide face little more than a silhouette against the overhead light. The smell of soap and disinfectant filled my head as he leaned in close. The last line of the song was a slow, scratchy whisper in my ear.
‘Today’s the day the teddy bears have their piiiicnic.’
So why is a deranged imaginary friend who loves to operate on people while they’re awake so hooked on that particular song? For that, we must travel back in a swooshy, wiggly line sort of way to 2009 when, on a dark January night, I was putting my then six-year-old son to bed.
I had just finished tucking him in when music started to play out from under his bed. And not just any music. It was this track right here…
Can you imagine the effect that had in the otherwise silent darkened room? My natural instinct was to run and slam the door, hoping that by sacrificing my son I could buy a few moments to escape. It’s what he would want me to do. Probably.
Clearly I haven’t watched enough horror films, though, because instead of running away from the creepy noise, I decided to investigate and reached a hand slowly into the shadowy space beneath the bed. By rights I should have been pulled under and murdered by some monstrous entity there, but as luck would have it I wasn’t. Instead, my hand found this.
Looks harmless enough, right? Just a cuddly soft toy that doubles as a functioning radio. Nothing to worry about, right?
I’d agree completely, if it weren’t for the fact that A) the radio switched itself on entirely of its own accord, B) it came to life just as the first note of the above song began to play, and C) IT HADN’T WORKED IN OVER A YEAR PRIOR TO THAT MOMENT!
It may sound silly to those who weren’t there to experience it for themselves, but it was a genuinely terrifying moment and by the time my heart had started beating again several minutes later, I knew I had to use it in the Invisible Fiends series. As soon as I started writing Doc Mortis I knew I’d found a perfect fit for what is without question the creepiest version of an already pretty creepy children’s song.
So, when you read Doc Mortis in future, the version in the video above is the one I want you to hear in your head. I think you’ll find the book is all the creepier for it…