The Greatest Escape: Halloween Short Story

Sep 27, 2017 | 2017 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrific Tales

by Gail Farrelly

This is the first of several stories we will be publishing over the next month that tie in to Halloween! This story was previously published story in the Yonkers Tribune, October 13, 2016.

I’m baaaaaaaaack. Not much to brag about though.

Here I am lying on the train tracks in a dark, dreary NYC subway tunnel under Grand Central Station. Just hit by a speeding train, my body is bloody and battered. Ouch!

I’m a magician, so I’ll just have to work some magic to pull myself together and get out of here. I’ve been dead since October 31, 1926 (I died of peritonitis), but I’m not gonna let that stop me. grave stone

Want the skinny? Well, here’s the thing. In life I DID promise to communicate with you folks on earth after my death to let you know what it was like on the other side. Let me tell you, it sucks. Same old, same old–just about every day. Very, very boring.

Eternal life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Of course it’s nice and peaceful. Billowy clouds, quiet all the time, harp music, no political campaigns. But you can only take so much of that. Nice to visit with some relatives and friends who have passed on, but even that gets tedious after decades of it. As for meeting the deceased relatives and friends you could do without? Puh-lease. Don’t get me started. clouds

That’s why I decided to petition St. Peter for a short-term earthpass. He granted my request, but then had me just dumped on these tracks. I’ve never been one of St. Pete’s favorites. Guess he doesn’t appreciate the many magic tricks I played on him over the years. I enjoyed them; obviously he didn’t. Saints don’t always have a sense of humor.

Anyway, before I could even get accustomed to the darkness of the tunnel I had been dumped in, along came a train—and SPLAT! The rest, as they say, is history.

“Harry,” I tell myself. “Get with the program. You can work yourself out of this mess.” Soon I’m crawling into some shadows on the side of the tracks, where I can patch myself up.

I’ve squeezed myself out of straitjackets, ropes, and chains. By comparison, this should be a piece of cake. rope

I know, I know. You want me to reveal HOW I’m getting myself together. No can do. You see, magicians, alive or dead, just don’t share the secrets behind their acts. Sorry, no exceptions.

Three hours later and I’m slowly limping my way across 42nd street. Have to buy myself some new threads and a pair of shoes. The old ones are not only bloody and dirty, they’re kinda dated, being from the 1920s and all.

My only regret in this whole thing is about the poor transit worker who saw me in my injured state on the tracks and went into shock. Apparently it took him a while to be able to report his find to the supervisor. According to gossip I just heard, by the time “help” arrived I had gotten my act together and was so outta there, leaving no evidence (with some help from Mr. Clean) of my presence. Not my fault that the poor transit worker, thought to have imagined the scene he described, was carted off to Bellevue. Just collateral damage. He’ll get over it. Eventually. All in a good cause.

I’m excited to be back from the dead. And in New York City, of all places. And y’ know what? I may decide to extend my one-month earthpass. I kinda like being among the living again. St. Pete isn’t the brightest bulb in the hereafter. He may not be successful at finding me on Earth and dragging me back upstairs. Really—for now, I’m left to my own devices. And they are considerable, especially given that I am an illusionist and a magician.

After my shopping expedition, I’ll be off to attempt one of the most difficult stunts of my career, scoring a ticket to the wildly successful Broadway show Hamilton. Wish me luck. I know I can do it.

I am, after all, the late, great Houdini.

But you can just call me Harry.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.

Gail Farrelly (Twitter: @gailfarrelly) writes mystery novels and short stories. She publishes satire at The Spoof. Her short stories are sold at Untreed Reads, on the Kindle, at iBooks, etc. Gail is working on more mysteries and a book of spoofs.


  1. Enjoyed this, Gail. As a boy, I saw Tony Curtis’s movie about Harry Houdini and read everything I could find about him. It was good to revisit him. 😉

  2. If Harry ever shows up in a cozy mystery series let me know, I would love to follow him. Also good to know we don’t lose our sense of humor in the ever-after!

  3. A fun story, Gail. I’m a big fan of Houdini’s, so I enjoyed it very much.

  4. Larry, Lorraine, and Earl,

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting. So very nice of you.

    Lorraine, if you haven’t done so already, you may want to take a look at the Harry Houdini mystery books written by Daniel Stashower. I think there are at least three of them.

  5. Gail,

    Cute story! And getting tickets to Hamilton does seem to be quite a magic trick.


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