This Is Halloween

‘Trick or Treat!!’

The sounds of children milling from door to door, plastic pumpkin sweet containers in hand swinging from side to side chalk full of chocolate and candies, stream out across the streets and cul-de-sacs as the darkness descends on Halloween night. Doors are strategically selected, research and information gathered from previous years used in order to determine which residents will or won’t answer their door. And which residents give out the best, or at the very least worthwhile, ‘prizes’.

Some children prepare songs, others prepare jokes, just incase the unthinkable should happen and the man or woman behind the door should ask for either a trick or treat. It throws most children, many of whom have never considered the words ‘Trick or Treat’ to be a question. Believing it to be a statement rather, a demand.

But beware one group of children.

All draped in black. Witches, devils, vampires. No parents accompany this group of revellers. Beware, I beseech you, this group. Answer your door and ask no questions. Expect no reply. Hand over the sweets, the candies, the goods. Quibble not over tricks nor treats. Care not for entertainment. They utter no request, they demand no recompense. All they do is stand. They stand, bags or bowls held out. Expecting.

Those that have asked for a trick or a treat from this group of children have not lived to see the next morn. Bludgeoned to death on their doorstep. It can’t have been them, people say. They’re children!? They couldn’t do that to a fully grown adult!? But coincidence can only travel so far. Those that have failed to answer their door to the group have also met a sinister end in the hours that followed.

So be sure to answer your door to all this Halloween night.

Your life might just depend on it…

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

 

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The Good Doctor: Part Four

The man ladled the thin, watery soup into the custom-carved wooden bowls. One for him. One for his daughter. Little droplets splashed his hand as he did so. It burned, piercing into his skin. He grimaced, desperate not to show any sign of weakness to his child. He turned towards the table.

‘Here you are darling.’ His words were soft, not much more than a whisper.

‘Thank you Father.’ The girl’s response was flat. Devoid of feeling or emotion.

‘Be careful with it now,’ continued the man, ‘it’s piping hot just now. Maybe wait for it to cool down a touch.’

‘Why ever would she do that? Soup’s always better when it’s hot, isn’t that right little girl?’ a tall gangly man, known to all who cast their eyes upon him, stepped silently out of the shadows. He was smiling. He removed the hat from his head and sat down at the empty seat at the table. He stared at the man, sinister menace dripping from his gaze. The latter recoiled in wide-eyed horror. The Good Doctor.

‘You…you…they…’ muttered the man, ‘they said you had left. They said…they said you had moved on. That you had finished.’

‘They were wrong’ the Good Doctor smiled amiably before sticking his fingers in the man’s bowl of soup. He licked the burning broth from his hand, squinting his head in appreciation. ‘Could do with some pepper perhaps but, very good sir.’

‘Why have you come back?’ gasped the man, ‘Why now? You won. It’s over. There’s nothing left.’

‘Things are never over. The world doesn’t work like that. There are no endings. Only moments in time.’ he picked a shard of vegetable out from the back of his teeth before spitting it on the table. He smiled at the little girl. ‘And now is the time of the harvest.’

 

The Back Road

You know the type of road I’m referring to. A ‘B’ road is what they’re referred to in this part of the world I believe. A road tucked away behind a myriad of trees and shrubbery. Weaving through farmland. Usually adjacent to a far larger, and understandably busier, motorway or dual carriageway. But in these parts, well, we call it the ‘Back Road’.

The road connecting one town to another a good five or six miles away. Careering past isolated houses and farm dwellings. Ducking, diving and swooping like a mammoth rollercoaster. The road best avoided unless you fancy adding a good half hour or so onto what should be a relatively quick journey thanks to a stuttering, barely-moving tractor and/or elderly driver in a minuscule Micra from the turn of the century.

In the summer it can be a pleasant drive. The wheat, the perfectly manicured farms, the exquisite views of the distant coastline; it can all add up to a very fine summer’s day driving experience.

At night, on the other hand? Especially in the latter parts of the year? That’s when things take a rather sinister turn.

The road is completely unlit you see. No lampposts or street lights appear to light your way out of the treacle-like glut of darkness you find yourself sinking into. And if you happen to have been dealt the unluckiest of hands in the game of shit-out-of-luck and you actually happen to break down? Well, let’s just say the facts speak for themselves. Seven abandoned, or broken down, cars in the last year alone on the back road. Driver or passengers disappeared without a trace. Vanished.

So yes, beware my friends, especially at this time of year, when out at night. The pitch black of darkness draped around your shoulders.

And whatever you do be sure to avoid the Back Road.

The Carny

Occasionally you can catch a glimpse of him in the hall of mirrors. Every now and then you can see a shadow drifting by the waltzers.

The headless carny.

Terrifying fairground revelers, his name, his myth, became known for miles around. Kids, adults, even animals sent screaming, yelping into the night. Fleeing from the fluorescent lights as fast as their legs could carry them.

But for him, the headless carny, there is no escape. No chance to flee, no salvation to run to, no darkness to disappear into.

Once a man. Just a man. Like any other. He was a fan of fairgrounds, of carnivals. The smells, the sounds, the joy. Especially this carnival . It had been a favourite all through his childhood years. Memories of days spent with his Mother and Father, days spent spewing forth unbridled happiness. So much so that he had returned every now and then as he approached adulthood. The crippling weight and the trials of adulthood seemed to fall away as he immersed himself within the candy-coated, shimmering atmosphere of the fairground. But, as hard as it was to accept, he knew that fairgrounds really weren’t for adults. Not adults on their own, at least. No matter how much it helped him remember his beloved parents, gone all those years, or how much joy it brought him in a world clouded by darkness, he had to accept the cruel truth for what it was. Most of the rides, for example, were constructed for children, not for fully grown men. A fact he realised to his cost when a shard of metal came loose on the roller-coaster one night and, whilst avoiding contact with the children on the ride, severed his own head clean off.

So now he wanders. Silently. Sadly. Around the fairground.

Unable to smile.

Unable to leave.

Feared.

Forever.

The headless carny.

No Escape

I can taste damp spots of soil on the edge of my lips.

Darkness envelopes me, strangles the light. My breathing is laboured, becoming heavier with each painful surge from my straining lungs. My throat is rasping. Inhibited, pinched, smothered. My tonsils hang lazily, flaring with heat, with anguish.

I try to move. And fail. My hands, my legs are bound. Dormant, redundant. Space is reduced. Prospects diminished. Escape impossible. The realisation dawns on me. My worst fears, my worst nightmares, come true…

I’ve been buried alive!

I panic. Scratching, scratching, scraping at the sides. The wood tears only slightly, sending splinters scything into my fingers. My nails are raw, screaming with fiery agony. The soil, the drops of dirt, becomes acrid on my lips, dripping down my chin. It sickens me, enough to send a bolt of bile through my stomach. My mouth clamps in defiance. My chest heaves, breaths shooting out my mouth in machine-gun bursts, stealing what little oxygen I have left. I try to hold my breath but the fear, the panic, the hopelessness of my situation, of my struggle, renders it impossible. A cold, slimy slither brushes against my exposed arms. I flail violently, knowing, nor wanting to know, what it is. I try to shake it from my arm but it continues to slither, to slide, to scuttle up my arm. An involuntary scream prepares itself in my throat before fading away, blocked by the pain asphyxiating my throat. My eyes close. The pain, the claustrophobia, the slither, the cold, slimy slither, the darkness, the panic, the fear, the death throes, the…

The duvet cover. The bed.

My bed.

A nightmare.

Safe.

But I turn. And see him. Lying there.

Pain flares.

I can still feel his hand marks on my neck. Feel the bruises on my arms. My legs.

The darkness.

No escape.

Working Nights

The monster, shrieked in terror, flames lapping ferociously at his feet, his arms, his face. He stomped unevenly through the burning windmill as the local villagers, pitchforks and flaming torches thrust skywards, stood cheering and jeering at the below of the sagging structure.

Credits rolled up the screen as the image of the burning windmill unsteadily faded to black.

Another yearly tradition complete, thought Jen as she grabbed the Frankenstein DVD box and leaned down to remove the disc from the player.

Only, it was slightly different this time around. She would always watch Frankenstein with him. With Henry. Every year. Without fail. From the very first year they met. But not this year. No, this year he was ‘working away’. Again. It was becoming a common theme. Night after night after night. Almost delving into the realms of film cliche. The long hours, the nights away. Anytime she opened the door she half expected to walk in on him with some other woman…

But no.

That just paranoia.

She was just annoyed. Annoyed at him for leaving her, for missing the tradition with her. Annoyed at him for letting her go through this alone. For leaving her there…

In the house…

Alone…

In the dead of night…

Fuck! She scolded herself, annoyed that she had allowed herself to talk herself into her usual spine-chilling hold of fear. The one where the couch becomes a prison. Where the shadows in the room become hiding places for lurking demons, ghouls, anything. Where the stairs to the supposed safety of bed become insurmountable. Where the…

The window rattled.

Clattered.

She yelped. Arrested by fear.

Fear squeezed at her throat, stifling the air from her windpipe.

Too afraid to move.

To speak.

To breathe…

As outside in the pitch dark of night Henry stood, smothering laughter, readying himself to surprise his beloved Jen…

Treehouse Of Horror

It began as a gift for the kids.

A brand new treehouse. At the bottom of our vast, sprawling garden. What child wouldn’t want their very own treehouse? That’s right, they all would. And my kids did too. Loved it. They absolutely loved it. It was like the one in The Simpsons, they joked. A little wooden oasis of tranquility, solitude, serenity only yards from the back door. They had parties, sleepovers, games nights. All summer long kids would climb up and down those wooden stairs nailed into the oak tree. Even in the winter, with snow falling, they’d climb up, layer upon layer covering their shivering bodies, and wile away the hours in their own dominion.

But the kids got older and inevitably the treehouse started feeling the odd touch of neglect. Parties, meetings, gatherings occurred only sporadically. Used more as a place to smother their secrets, keeping them safe from prying ears and prying eyes. And eventually as all kids do they grew up and left home. As the months, seasons and years passed it started to fall into disrepair. I could see the wood start to rot, to wither slightly. Wet leaves would attach themselves to the frame during storms and fail to let go for weeks on end. All but forgotten. A relic of an earlier time.

But one day I felt an uncontrollable urge to visit the treehouse. To climb the stairs and bathe in my own minute or so of solitude, to allow the memories of my kids to soak over me, replaying the summertime smiles.

But as I crept slowly up the stairs and clambered into the treehouse a hideous, sickening sight arrested my gaze. Horror held me, fear paralysed me. This thing, this dark disgusting, deranged thing, had me.

Has me.

In its thrall.

Under its spell.

And now, my task begins…