Welcome, mortals, to another edition of Tales from the Brian’s Den. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations on surviving the horrors of All Hallow’s Eve. Unfortunately, your long night is far from over. I present thirteen bone-chilling stories and real-life accounts of terrifying events sure to curdle the blood. Can you brave the terror? If so, you have more of a spine than Baker Mayfield. But be warned, discretion is often the better part of valor. Proceed at your own risk. And allow me to be the last to wish you a Happy Halloween (if you’re the NFL, how can you allow Halloween to be a game day and not have the Ravens play a home game at night wearing all black? SMH).
Houston Texans (-2) vs Jacksonville Jaguars
You knew the jokes going in. “Moving to England to be a dentist, at least you’ve already got the British taste for irony.” And you wouldn’t lie to yourself, it had been hard. Day after day, another impossible plea for oral salvation. But the pay was good and there was a generous amount of vacation days, which you were happily using now. A trip to the southern countryside to see a friend in Salisbury. You had spent the first few days enjoying the quaint town, but you have to go out and stretch your legs. You drive to the fields between Salisbury and Amesbury, park, and explore the mystical world around you. Stonehenge got all the attention, and deservedly so, but there were countless other menhirs and stone circles in the area. You find a secluded one free from tourists and try to feel the Earth’s energy flow through you. You hear flapping in the wind, and look up to the hill in front of you. A man in a hooded cloak is standing silently, his cape flowing and snapping with the wind. He raises a hand and twirls his fingers. A spectral cat appears, almost as tall as the man.
“Is that a jaguar?” you ask, seeing the distinctive spots.
“In England, it’s pronounced JAG-u-ar,” the man said. “And the circle demands a sacrifice.”
The cat pounced.
Pick: Jags +2.5
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-5)
Mitchell’s had a long day at work. His boss yelled at him, he lost a sale, his lunch got stolen, he parked directly on top of a nail, his boss yelled at him again, and the office printer stopped working. All he wanted to do was go home, crack open a cold locally brewed IPA, and reminisce about his youth and wonder why anyone would ever allow their life to become this. As he finally walked up his driveway and put his key in the door, his phone rang. His boss. Again. Against his better judgment, he answered.
“Mitchell, you’re fired. Peace.”
He hung up. Awesome.
An hour later, his doorbell rang. Mitchell was buzzed, and he needed a distraction. It was a tall ginger, smiling earnestly.
“Do you have a moment to talk about the teachings of Jesus Christ?”
There was an axe by the door, neglected after a camping trip months ago. Mitchell grabbed it and buried it into the ginger’s skull. He liked the feeling. Maybe he should do it again.
Pick: Eagles -5
Indianapolis Colts (-1.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
“You sure you want the Death Sandwich?” the pimply teenager behind the counter asked.
“Hell yeah, bro,” you say. You’ve seen a million ads for the sandwich that was impossible to eat, it was time to prove your manhood. Besides, you heard the owner, Mr. Sandwich himself, presented the sandwich to you when you ordered. A bizarre claim, considering how many locations the chain had.
“One Death Sandwich!” the kid called to the kitchen, ringing the large bell beside him. “That’ll be $15.87.”
A little steep, but a small price to pay for immortality.
“Have a seat, sir,” the kid said.
After a few minute wait, an old man approaches your table, barely able to keep the tray he was carrying stable.
“One Death Sandwich,” he said frailly. It was a massive sandwich- pastrami, provolone, coleslaw, tomatoes, and, of course, a mountain of fries. But impossible? Please. To impress Mr. Sandwich, you take a huge bite.
Something was wrong. Your hands were shaking, and it looked like they were getting older. Your skin was looser and wrinkled. Hair was falling out. You look to Mr. Sandwich, who’s growing younger by the second.
“Thank you for choosing the Death Sandwich,” he said, laughing. “Have fun in hell.”
Pick: Steelers +1.5
Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills (-9.5)
Luckily this game is horrifying enough as it is because I think this story would likely end in some kind of litigation.
Pick: Bills -9.5
Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)
It was an old, creaky house, but it was especially old and creaky when you have a guilty conscience.
Marcus was buried in the backyard. You killed him in a fit of rage, yet another fight about your mustache. You liked it, he didn’t. It was your face, dammit. But no, Marcus always had to get the last word in. Luckily, you were so much bigger and stronger than him. Strangling him was no issue. But days later, Marcus’s voice is stuck in your head.
Every night, you could hear the footsteps in the walls. The running had kept you up for the last three nights. It was just so fast, faster than a QB should be.
Tonight, a new sound was added to the house’s maddening symphony: the faint strumming of a ukelele. How could this be? Was it the pipes?
You hear a whisper, “he wasn’t turning the ball over this year.” You try to ignore it.
“Just run the option with him and Henry.”
“The defense is good enough to carry the offense as-is.”
“Try out a new offensive coordinator.”
“RYAN’S ABOUT TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP!” you scream into the aether. The house quiets down around you.
A knock at the door. It was so late, who could be calling. You practically spill your ice-cold Keystone Light all over your lap as you jerk up in your seat. You walk over to the door, imagining movement in your peripheral vision. You slowly open the door and come face to face with a pale figure with drooping shoulders. There’s a decaying lei around his neck.
“Hey, coach,” Marcus said. “Remember me?”
Pick: Titans +3.5
New York Jets (-3) at Miami Dolphins
“I don’t want to summon him, you summon him.”
“I don’t want to summon him, you summon him.”
Little Sammy had stumbled in on some of the older kids in the bathroom huddled around an old and thick book. One of them noticed him and dragged him over.
“You say it, kid,” he said.
“Say what?” Sammy asked.
“The summoning spell,” the older boy said. “Just go to the third stall, knock three times, and say ‘backbreaking fourth-quarter interception’ three times. Fitz should appear.”
“I don’t like ghosts,” Sammy said.
“He’s not a ghost, dumbass,” one of the other boys said. “He’s an undead baron of despair.”
“I don’t want to,” Sammy said.
“Just do it, kid,” one of them said. “It’ll make you cool.”
“Yeah, don’t be a baby.”
Hesitantly, Sammy gave in. He crept over to the third stall and raised his fist to knock once, twice, and… three times.
“Backbreaking fourth-quarter interception.”
“Backbreaking fourth-quarter interception.”
The lights flickered and the trees rustled in the wind.\
“…backbreaking fourth-quarter interception.”
Nothing happened. Sammy exhaled and turned to the older boys.
They were all dead, a bearded man standing over him. His skin was green and his tattered clothes were barely hanging on his body.
“Harvard,” the creature said, slowly advancing. “Harvard.”
Pick: Jets -3
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
It was just a dream, Andy told himself as he got out of bed in a cold sweat. Just a dream. Still, though, it couldn’t hurt to check.
He walked downstairs, keeping his eyes peeling for anything untoward. So far nothing, but the kitchen was what he was concerned about.
He took a deep breath and opened the pantry door. He felt his soul leave his body. He scrambled over to the fridge and yanked it open. Every cabinet door flew open before he collapsed onto the floor. They were all empty. All of his food was gone.
Pick: Chiefs +2.5
Tampa Bay Bucs at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5)
It was a full moon tonight, but the cloud cover was just heavy enough. Russell knew better, but he had been caught outside after sundown. Stupid bible study meeting ran long and he couldn’t leave early.
He was almost home, though, and the clouds were thinning out. If he could just get inside, disaster could be averted…
Someone ran into the road in front of his car. He slammed on the breaks just in time. The man motioned for him to get out of the car. Russell didn’t have time for this, but he got out, anyway.
“What’s the deal?” Russell asked.
“Hey, I’m sorry, sir,” the man said. “But I’m lost and I’m hoping you could help me out. I need to get to the pier.”
“Just go that way. Don’t you have a phone or something? Or couldn’t you, you know, ask someone else?”
“I’m really sorry,” the man said. “I just kind of panicked. My name’s Jameis, by the way.”
“Well, nice to meet you, but I have to get going.”
“Oh, just one more thing,” Jameis said. Russell felt the moon hit the back of his neck. He turned around- the clouds were gone. He gripped the car door tightly. “I’m looking for a decent place to eat. Got any suggestions?”
“Just use Google, man,” Russell said through gritted teeth. The window was starting to crack and crunch as the claws came out. He could feel his mouth elongating and the hair sprouting all over his body.
“Well, that’s not very helpful,” Jameis said. “I’m just looking for some neighborly advice, is all. Just making conversation.”
This man had annoyed him so much Russell no longer cared about keeping the beast at bay. He let go and allowed himself to transform. He had brought this on himself.
Pick: Seahawks -5.5
Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders (-2)
The trader laughed as the flaxen-haired boy named Chucky took the beans home. He had warned the child not to plant them, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to resist. How could he? At that age, disobeying adults was reason enough to do just about anything. Once those beans hit the soil, it was only a matter of time before the beanstalk grew, bridging the gap between this world and the trader’s master’s. Then the plan he had been developing for centuries would finally come to fruition.
Pick: Lions +2
Green Bay Packers (-4) at Los Angeles Rams
Feels kind of messed up to put a story in L.A. with the fires going, so let me ask this #BurningQuestion: Who was the first person with a name? I assume once one person had a name everyone decided they wanted one, too, but what about that period of time where literally one person had a name and no one else did? How did names spread? Why does everyone in the world have names, and how did everyone in the world know to give people names? No, I haven’t eaten anything strange lately, why do you ask?
Pick: Packers -4
Cleveland Browns (-4) at Denver Broncos
The demon looked down on the two in disgust. From his vantage point, he could see the entirety of the labyrinth he had built, right down to the last death trap. He had selected Freddie and Vic and random, but assumed they would be adequate representations of the average human’s resourcefulness. It had been two years, and they had yet to make it passed the door to the maze. It wasn’t even a puzzle, they just couldn’t figure out how to open it. Swallowing his loss, he descended on the maze and killed them, ready to find a new pair to test out his masterpiece.
Pick: Broncos +4
New England Patriots (-3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Lamar was regretting the decision already. He had let himself get goaded into visiting the castle alone. At night. In a storm. On Halloween. But all he had to do was spend one night here, right?
An hour of sitting in the foyer soon became unbearably boring. He wandered room to room, looking for… he wasn’t quite sure. But all he found were ghostly shapes illuminated by the lightning and an increased heart rate. He went back to the foyer, at least there was a fireplace he could pretend to use.
A huge bolt of lightning flashed and his eyes darted to the great staircase. Someone stood at the top. Lamar yelp and ran towards the door, bet be damned. Another crash of lightning and the figure appeared in front of him.
“Hello, Lamar,” he said. “Welcome to Castle Brady. Are you enjoying your stay?”
Lamar turned and took off down the hallway, but the figure appeared before him once again.
“Running won’t be much use,” he said. “There is no escape.”
Lamar screamed, but no one outside the castle could hear it.
Pick: Patriots -3.5
Dallas Cowboys (-7) at New York Giants
Welcome to the other side, friends. You’ve made it out of the cruel den of horrors and can now settle in at home, as you watch the Cowboys and Giants play on primetime. For all eternity! Mwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! There is no escape!
Pick: Cowboys -7