Recap #328: Jude’s Stone Cold Valentine ~ Strange Matter: Mogul Madness by Eric Schrenker

Title: Strange Matter – Mogul Madness, a.k.a. “The Slopes Have Mouthes”

Author: Eric Schrenker

Initial Thoughts

Let it be known I really wanted to make a Snowboard Kids joke nickname but since Eric specified his tale was about skiing, it didn’t seem right.

The next Strange Matter contest story to see the light of day after 20 years led me to learning something new. Eric Schrenker was an individual I attempted to get into contact with twice, through instagram and a personal website. Both times were met without any response, though I later found out it was indeed the Eric Schrenker I was looking for in both instances. Oops.

Well the third time ended up being the charm which went through. Email turned out to be the way to go, and I immediately received a response. Eric was super excited to help out with this when I explained I was trying to find the Strange Matter contest stories and their creators.

All of this time, I assumed “Mogul Madness” might be film or movie related because that’s the only time I’ve really heard the word “mogul” being used. Eric explained to me his story’s about a group of kids who get attacked by the moguls on a ski course coming to life. Apparently “mogul” also refers to those bumps on ski slopes. I was way off. [Wing: Since I hate the cold and snow and have never skied in my life, I have no idea why I know what moguls are, but I do, and I immediately assumed this was about skiing. Delightful.]

Here’s Eric’s thoughts about the contest and being a Strange Matter fan:

I’m a Strange Matter fan because it gave me a platform to write at a very young age. This contest was the first time in life I thought writing might be a talent I could pursue. What it really gave me was confidence. That’s more than most book series do for young readers.

[Wing: That is very cool! I want more things to support young readers to become writers if they want, and I love it.]

I figured why not post this for Valentine’s Day, because Vamlumtimes is serious times and I ain’t losing my Mindy cred!


Young Eric was having the time of his life skiing down the mountain, but he had to hurry in order to meet his younger cousins Denyse and Dana. But where was that laughter coming from? Eric thought he was alone on the slope, but someone was there with him. He looked to his left, he looked to his right. Nothing. Yet the laughter was getting louder. Nastier. [Wing: This is creepy as hell! I love a setup like this, the character alone, particularly in some sort of wilderness, hearing noises they can’t place.]

It was coming from… underneath Eric???


Eric didn’t see the moguls on the slope coming up and slammed right into them. Everything went black.

When Eric came to, he saw his mom standing over him asking if he was okay. Eric didn’t understand why there were moguls on a blue slope (for intermediate skiers). Mrs. Eric’s mom said the ski patrol found him on the black double diamond slope. Huh? Eric doesn’t know how that happened. He was on a blue slope, he swears. He wouldn’t go near an expert slope.

Well, anyway, the doctors at the lodge say Eric will be okay. But Eric’s mom thinks this is a good time for him to reconsider taking the mogul lessons. Denyse and Dana already signed up for one the following day.

Even despite his fall the previous day, Eric was willing and ready to take the mogul lesson. It’s too bad he got stuck with, ugh, his annoying younger cousins. At least Denyse was willing to ask how he felt.

“How’s your head? Knock any sense into you?” Denyse giggled.

[Wing: Sounds like an annoying younger cousin to me! She’s a cutie.]

Dana did not improve Eric’s mood when she told him about a weird dream she had the previous night about the mogul lesson.

“We had a teacher named Dr. Doom. When we were skiing, the moguls came to life. Dr. Doom said I should use his skis. But the skis had a mind of their own. I couldn’t control them at all. They went straight through the moguls. I was sure I would be snowballs. Then it got worse. A snow cat came grooming the slopes, and my skis took me right in its path. I looked up and saw that the driver was Dr. Doom. As the snow cat came rolling over me, I woke up. Some dream huh?”

Man, Victor Von Doom’s fallen on some hard times if he’s reduced to working as a ski instructor.

…unless the ski lodge is in Latveria and this is a weekend gig.

[Wing: Man, when even the supers have to have side hustles, you know something’s wrong.]

Eric and his cousins heard their lesson was about to begin. They were told their instructor is one of the best the lodge has. His name is “Dr. Doom.” Oh don’t worry kids, he really is great. And to skip formalities, you can just call him “D.D.”

D.D. brought Eric and the girls to a section of the mountain they’d never skied on before. As D.D. explained how to “attack” the slopes, he took out three sets of the most awesome looking skis the kids had ever seen. He saves them for his most “promising” students. They looked just like the skis in Dana’s dream, but Eric still wanted to try them on.

Not to worry, D.D. explained the little black ball on the end of each ski is just a weight.

Wow! Eric could not believe how effortlessly he was skiing. He dodged pretty much every mogul on the slope. Sometimes it felt like the skis were doing all the work.

Now it was time for D.D. to have them practice on a different slope. Something seemed wrong. Eric racked his brain trying to remember where he saw this specific slope before on the map, and realized too late his cousins were being led to a closed area.

Eric tried to ski after Denyse and Dana, only it proved to be much harder than before. As he turned and dodged, it seemed like the moguls were shifting underneath him. Growing bigger, or smaller. Pulsating, like a beating heart.

That’s when Eric heard a scream.

That’s when Eric heard TWO screams.

That’s when Eric saw the GIGANTIC MOGUL WITH A JACK-O’-LANTERN FACE looming up in front of him! Eric tried to turn but the skis led him straight in the laughing mouth of the giant mogul.


At the bottom of the slope, D.D. grinned. Looks like he’s not getting a tip today, but what can you do?

Final Thoughts

Why in God’s name would you even hire a man calling himself “Dr. Doom?” I’ll bet he’s not even a real doctor!

This was a cute story, and I love that Eric went with something a bit more unorthodox as a subject of horror. It makes me feel more comfortable with some of my own bizarre ideas for horror.

[Wing: This is so much fun! The beginning had some nice creepiness and the end had me laughing with delight.]