Reads: 242  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I felt like there where enough straight horror stories around and not enough fun spooky tales that were dedicated to the spirit of the season and of the celebration of Halloween. I hope this gets you in the mood to Trick or Treat and takes you on a fun trip along with Nancy Treit as she journeys through a wonderland of spooks in order to find her lost son on Halloween Night.

Submitted: October 09, 2010

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 09, 2010



Alan Dale Dalby
Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen/
Voices whisper in the trees, "Tonight is Halloween!"
- Dexter Kozen

Their tiny footsteps crunched lightly as they marched along the sidewalk.The fallen leaves were dead beneath them and the pack of children showed no mercy to these victims of the season.Some toted their plastic buckets shaped like pumpkins with mad and anguished faces adorning them.Others carried pillowcases full of delicious treats as they moved from one house to the next.The smallest of the group trailed behind the others, dragging an overstuffed pillow sack of candy that was clutched tightly in his greedy fist.He wore the bunny costume and though he was playing the role of caboose, he was the conductor of this mischievous train.
One finger shot out from the pirate and rang the bell hanging next to the front door of the Treit family’s house.Nancy had raised her son Cody there on her own for many years since his father had suffered a rather sudden yet extremely belated case of cold feet and ran off with his much younger assistant.Nancy had since met Christopher Trich, a cold menacing man in Cody’s eyes but his mother did not seem to see it, or perhaps she simply ignored it.Christopher had moved in with the two of them and to Cody’s had managed to uproot their happy existence and send it spiraling into chaos and unhappiness.
The major joke of it to the other children was of course the battle between stepfather and son.Who would win in the strange case of Trich or Treit?
Even stranger still was that Christopher Trich was adamantly apposed to celebrating Halloween in any way.Thus he left the children to wait in the cold for a Treit that would not come out to play for he was not allowed to.
“Dead-eyed little freaks.”Christopher grumbled as he watched the pack of children take off at last and leave his doorstep to bother the next house.“Can’t they see the obvious signs that they aren’t welcome here tonight?Don’t parents teach their children the rules of Halloween anymore?”
“What rules might those be dear?”Nancy sat at the dining room table waiting for Christopher to make his next move in their not-so-festive game of Scrabble.
“You don’t go up to a darkened house that has no decorations out on this of all nights and beg for candy.”He stepped past a sad looking little boy named Cody without acknowledging him.Cody lifted his head slightly as his stepfather returned to the dining room in order to send him an unseen glare.“It’s just common safety sense, like having adults check your candy before you unwrap it and stuff it into your already chocolate- coated face.”This mental image made Christopher wince.
“It would be easy to light up this house a bit you know.”Nancy raised a thin black eyebrow at him.Cody’s eyes glanced up at his mother with a very brief moment of hope.
“You know how I feel about this ghastly holiday Nancy.”Christopher lowered himself slowly before finishing the last few inches of his descent into his chair with a thud.He looked over his letter tiles and the board to cook up his next move.He found it in the form of four letters and a triple word score to boot.“E-V-I-L.”He said aloud as he placed his tiles.
“What timing.”Nancy rolled her eyes at Cody who giggled.Christopher looked from one to the other with a severe lack of patience.
“Did I miss out on the joke?”As he asked this their smiles faded.The doorbell rang once more.Cody walked forward to peek out and see what costumes adorned the children in this bunch.He spotted only one child, a very small child.It was the same one from the last group, the one in the bunny costume.Christopher darted for the door as Nancy stood.
“Oh for heaven’s sake Chris, can’t we spare one Snickers or maybe a handful of Junior Mints?”
“No we can’t.”His words came slowly and not in the manor he usually delivered them in.He was different somehow and Nancy could sense the change immediately.She tried to put her finger on it but it took a few moments.Then she found the answer she sought; Christopher Trich was scared.Not just scared, the man was petrified.It was as contagious as a laugh, sinking to Nancy’s bones and causing a chill to rush through her.
“What is it Chris?”
“It’s nothing.”He lied.“Just ignore it and it will go away.”
“It?That isn’t a nice way to talk.”Nancy marched over to the front door and looked through the peephole at the little brown bunny waiting for his treat.“It is just a little boy Chris.”
“I’m going to lay down for a bit.”Christopher said as all of the color left his face.
“Are you sick?”Nancy’s concern grew.
“Just tired.”He faked a laugh and a grin.He kissed Nancy on the cheek and quickly retired to the bedroom.
“Mommy?”Cody said it all in that one word.
“Don’t worry sweetie.”She placed her palm on Cody’s head and messed up his soft hair lovingly.Cody smiled once more.“I think I know how to get our little rabbit hopping again.”
Nancy left Cody in the entry hall to search the kitchen for suitable treats.She was fresh out of carrots but thought she might have a bar or two of dark chocolate left over in her secret stash.As her search granted her one bar of chocolate and a packet of cookies a bizarre thing came into the house.The door had been opened but there was no breeze coming through the house, that same breeze that even then Nancy could hear tossing the porch swing about outside.There was no cold or warmth any longer and the sound had slipped from her reality and left her to stand in the midst of a blank nothingness.
“Cody?”The cookies and candy bar hit the floor as Nancy returned to the entry hall.The front door was wide open and her son was gone.Nancy darted out into the odd weatherless night and called out to him again and again but there was not one noise to be heard.
No noise save for the faint sound of mumbling that came from the railing of the neighbor’s porch.Thinking it to be her son in trouble Nancy rushed over to the sound but found herself alone still.The mumbling continued.Nancy knew she was losing her mind as she scooped up the tiny baby pumpkin from the railing and looked into the painted-on eyes.They were sad eyes, poorly drawn as if by a very small child.
When the eyebrows began to move Nancy was certain she was either dreaming or completely mad.The sad painted eyes tilted down and told her something as the little pumpkin continued to mumble.Nancy thought of several things.She asked if it knew where Cody had gone but it simply mumbled more.She asked it to nod, but it rolled its eyes at her since it had no body.She shouted Oil can? in extreme frustration before the light bulb finally popped up over her head.She grabbed up the little pumpkin and rushed it into her own kitchen through the still open front door.Nancy slammed the poor thing down.It squeaked upon hitting the counter.She tore through the junk drawers and tossed random objects onto the floor before producing a large black marker.
“Okay little pumpkin…time to speak to me.”She drew a large smile underneath the pumpkin’s sad eyes and stepped back from the counter.
“Wow.That was like pulling teeth wasn’t it?!”The pumpkin spat and shouted at her.
“Have you seen my little boy?Where did he go?”
“Look lady, I just this moment got a mouth.”He noticed it in the reflection of the microwave.“A smile?Now there is an interesting choice.”
“What’s wrong with a smile?”
“Well it’s a bit like wearing white after Labor Day isn’t it?”The pumpkin groaned as he looked into Nancy’s blank stare.“I’m a jack-o-lantern lady.We’re supposed to be scary.I look like I should be the mascot for a breakfast cereal with little pumpkin-shaped marshmallows and maybe a plastic toy that has no business being at the bottom of the box when you’ve got little kids cramming their gullets full of the sugary tripe and are just bound to choke to death…”
“Where is my son?!”Nancy cut the pumpkin off.
“How should I know?”
“Oh I don’t know…because you’re a talking pumpkin!”
“Jack-o-lantern, please.”
“So sorry.I know you have to maintain your dignity, um…”
“Call me Gordy.”Said the sad smiling pumpkin.
“Gordy, I just want to find my son Cody.He left here or was taken, I don’t know.”
“Did He come to your door tonight by any chance?”Gordy sounded apprehensive about this He.
“I don’t know who you are talking about.”Said a very panicked and flustered Nancy.
“The boy in the bunny costume.Did He come to your door tonight?”
“Yes.Yes!He did.”
“I figured that was the case.”Gordy stopped to think and wobbled a bit on the counter as if shaking his head (though that was all he was).“I’m afraid your son has been eaten then.Shall we watch some old movies?I love anything with jack-o-lanterns in it.”
“Or just pumpkins.As long as they aren’t being kicked or smashed.I abhor that sort of horrific and senseless violence.”
“What do you mean Cody has been eaten?!”
“Oh that…yes I am afraid that is what He does.”
“I told you already.The boy in the bunny costume.”Gordy rolled his eyes.
“Well you are going to take me to this boy so I can get my son back.”
“After he has been eaten?”Gordy tried to convey that he was shaking his head.“I don’t really see the good that would do.I was serious about the movie though.”
“Come on.”Nancy grabbed Gordy and carted him back outside.She stopped at the porch and looked around.There was nothing outside.It was like an empty street from a Hollywood set.“Where has everyone gone?”
“You sure do seem to lose a lot of people.That’s a nasty habit that I would try my best to break if I were you.”
“Shut up please.”Nancy walked to the sidewalk and stopped.“Which way did they go?”
“How should I know?”Gordy griped.
“Stop being so fussy and tell me which way bunny boy took my Cody.”
“I’m no good with directions.I have a hard time seeing anything that isn’t flat in front of my face you see.”
“Then how do we find them?”Nancy was crying now.
“Oh stop the blubbering already and ask one of the skeletons.”
“Skeletons?What skeletons?!”
“Any skeletons!”Gordy grunted as if to say that Nancy was an idiot.“Skeletons are extremely good with directions of course.”
“Of course.”Nancy shook her head.She spotted a pair of hanging skeletons across the street and ran over to them.
The vinyl bones were glowing in the darkness.One of the skeletons seemed to be smiling a horridly happy grin.The other was frowning somehow with its expressionless teeth.Nancy felt foolish once more as she stood in front of the lifeless decorations.
“Are you going to ask them or are we going to stand here all night long?”Gordy grumped.
“Who’s standing little man?”The smiling skeleton spoke.“I don’t see any legs on you but I know where you can buy a pair real cheap.”
“Don’t start again.”Said the frowning skeleton.
“Oh leave me be you grouch.It’s not like you’re using them at the moment now is it?”
“I still want to keep them.”Said the frowning skeleton.
“What for?Do you have a marathon run later on or something?”
“No but I’d look rather silly wouldn’t I?Up here with no legs to speak of…”
“I’m sorry to bother you but have you seen two little boys leaving my house tonight?”Nancy chimed in at last.She was staring at the pelvis of the smiling skeleton.
“Hey lady, my eyes are up here.”The smiling skeleton quipped.
“What eyes are you talking about now?”Said the frowning skeleton.
“Oh shut your jabber-jaw and let the lady speak.”
“Cody is my son and he has gone missing you see.”Nancy said.
“He was eaten.”Gordy said.“By Him.”The two skeletons gasped in unison.
“I am so sorry to hear that young lady.”Said the frowning skeleton.
“Maybe if you find Him you can get yourself a pair of legs from the boy, eh pumpkin?”The smiling skeleton rattled his teeth.
“Don’t tease the poor flesh-pile.”Said the frowning skeleton.
“I think it’s better that we be honest don’t you pumpkin?”Asked the smiling skeleton.
“I’m a jack-o-lantern.”
“Of course you are pumpkin.”
“Excuse me but can you just tell me which way my son went?”Nancy interrupted.
“Probably south.”Said the smiling skeleton.
“South?”Nancy looked to the south and spotted her own house.
“Yes.Down the gullet…”
“Knock that off I said!”The frowning skeleton barked.“They went down the street my dear.”
“Which direction?”Nancy asked.
“Down.”The frowning skeleton saw Nancy’s irritation and began to sway.It threw up its right arm then let it swing back to its side.“That way dear.”
“Thank you!”Nancy headed off down the street in the direction the frowning skeleton had pointed her in.
“Well that was very odd I must say.”Nancy whispered to Gordy.
“I know.”Gordy said.“You’d think a skeleton of all things would recognize the difference between a pumpkin and a jack-o-lantern.”
“Yes Gordy, that is exactly what I meant when I said that was very odd.”Nancy’s sarcasm was lost on the little pumpkin.Still cradling him like a puppy, or a stack of books…a very annoying and daft stack of books she thought…Nancy headed to the end of Oakwood Drive and was now off of her street.
“Where to now?”Gordy asked.
“I have no idea.”Nancy sniffled.She called out Cody’s name but he did not respond.Nobody responded to her cries save for a rowdy trio of carved and rather large pumpkins.They spotted her and Gordy from their place at the edge of a nearby yard and were laughing up a storm at poor Gordy’s expense.
“What do we have here gents?It looks like about enough of a squash to make a cup of soup out of.”Said the largest of the three jack-o-lanterns.
“Just ignore these guys.”Gordy said softly.
“And then what?”Nancy said.“No, we are going to ask them which way Cody and that little bunny brat went.”
“Yeah but these guys aren’t going to know anything.Their heads are full of mush.”
“What was that little pumpkin?”Asked the largest of the three jack-o-lanterns.“How is it that my head is full of mush?Me and my lads here have been scooped-out as you can see.We’re the genuine article, unlike some poor art projects that are currently in our presence.”
“Yeah and I hope whoever scooped you out is baking up your seeds as we speak!”Gordy snapped.
“How dare you!”The second largest jack-o-lantern spoke in a deep gravelly voice.“Those are my unborn children you are wishing such a horrid fate upon.”
“Okay, sorry.I admit that I was out of line now can we just move on with this?”
“Apology accepted little pumpkin.”Said the second largest.“After all, it is a comfort to know that they won’t uproot and get plucked early like you!”All three of the jack-o-lanterns laughed at Gordy.Nancy could feel him shaking in her arms.
“Okay Nancy set me down.I want a piece of these punks.”
“You already are just a piece of me you little squash!”Said the largest jack-o-lantern as the trio continued to laugh.Nancy noticed that the third was smallest but it might only have been due to the fact that he was soggy and sagging.
“Don’t stare at poor Gary love.”Said the second largest.“He’s old and not quite right in the stem if you catch my meaning.”
Gary howled and spat and laughed some more.
“What’s wrong with him?”Nancy afforded one non-Cody-finding question to send some politeness out into the conversation.
“I’d say he got carved too early.”Said Gordy.
“And I’d say shut your mouth but I think it was drawn in permanent ink.”The second largest rebutted.
“Just put me back in the patch so I can see the trains again.”Gary spoke in a dull voice that was hard to understand.
“The poor fellow is a complete mess as you can plainly see.”Said the second largest.
“Not even burning the candle at one end these days.”Said the largest.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”Nancy said.
“So you’ve lost your lad have you miss?”Asked the largest.
“He was eaten.”Gordy said.
“If you say that one more time Gordy I swear I will leave you here with your friends!”Nancy looked up at the larger pumpkins and smiled.“No offense intended.”
“None taken dear.”Said the second largest.
“I did see a young lad heading off down the street earlier.I thought it odd since he was dressed in, I can’t even describe the clothing…very unusual though.”Said the largest.
“Was it a blue shirt and brown pants?”Nancy asked.
“The colors match.”Said the largest jack-o-lantern.“Ah but he was off with that little troublemaker you see…”
“The boy in the bunny costume?”Nancy was actually hopeful to hear a yes.
“That’s the one.”Said the largest.Gordy wanted to say something that he had said before but Nancy held him at arm’s length and glared.He managed to keep his drawn-on mouth shut.“They headed down towards the old cornfield if I’m not mistaken.”
“Oh thank you so much!”Nancy said before rushing away from the trio of jack-o-lanterns and off toward the field at the edge of the neighborhood.
The cornfield was lit by the moon, unnaturally bright and overly eerie.Nancy could feel something as she slowly took her first step into the withering expanse.It wasn’t the crunching of the decaying stalks underneath her feet or the lingering scent of dead roughage surrounding her; it was Gordy.
“Are you shivering?”She asked softly.
“I most certainly am not.”He said in a voice that was slightly shaken.
“We probably should go back to those other jack-o-lanterns though.”Gordy said.“You wouldn’t want them to think me a coward would you?”
“Not at all Gordy.”Nancy said as she caught sight of a tall figure near the center of the field.“So you are going to prove that you are no such thing by staying with me.”
“Wonderful.”Gordy sounded displeased.Nancy made her way over to the tall figure, hearing a voice coming from it before she realized what it was.
The scarecrow was old and savagely weather-warn, not to mention extremely creepy.One button eye had been plucked out of its grinning face, and the stitches that gave it a mouth had been worked on by the same bandits.The hat it wore looked like a Fedora straight out of a classic gangster film.Nancy imagined it being captured on screen in brilliant silver tones, not the dull absent colors of the fall as it appeared to her now.
“We welcome you Nancy.What a Treit it is to have you here this evening.”There was an overly pleased smile in the high voice that spilled across the deserted field.Nancy took a deep breath and exhaled, speaking as she did directly into the scarred face of the scarecrow.
“I’m here to find my son.Kindly tell me where he is and I will be on my way.”
“What are you talking to him for?”The high voice squawked at her.A large black bird with patches of white turned its body around to face Nancy.It was perched on the narrow left shoulder of the scarecrow, moving its head from side to side to get a good look at her.Its eyes were glossy black pearls that reflected glints of moonlight.“I’m the one you should be speaking to.”
“My apologies.”Nancy turned her focus to the bird.
“Scarecrows ain’t got no brains to speak of Nancy.”Said the bird.“That should be obvious enough to you.”
“No brain is better than a birdbrain Magpie.”Gordy spoke up.
“How dare you speak to me that way!”The bird scolded.“Such a nasty little tongue you’ve got on you pumpkin.”
“I am a jack-o-lantern.”Gordy slowly spoke as if reading the words to a small child.
“Then you should be able to plainly see that I am a crow.I have dominated my tormentor at long last and you will not come to steal my victory away from me.”The magpie pecked at the face of the scarecrow, ripping more of the stitching that was its mouth.
“I’ve always hated scarecrows.”Nancy blurted out this truth before she realized what she was saying.
“Good for you young Nancy.”The magpie said.“My enemy’s friend is not my enemy you know.”The bird twitched and cawed.
“I think you need to rethink those words Magpie.”Gordy said.
“And I think you need a good scooping to get all of the mush out of your mind friend.”
“I’m not your friend Magpie.”
“And I’m not your magpie friend!”
“Please stop it!”Nancy broke up the squabble.“Mister, um, Crow is it?”
“Yes it is indeed; The Fearless Crow, conqueror of his tormentor and friend of his enemy’s friends.”The bird started to trail off and lost track of his thoughts as he went back to pecking at the face of the scarecrow.
“I admire your courage Crow, and I ask for your help in finding my son now.”
“He’s bonkers Nancy.Let’s go talk to one of the cornstalks instead.”Before Gordy could finish speaking, the bird was upon him.It slammed its angry beak into his crisp orange flesh over and over.Nancy panicked and dropped Gordy to the ground, falling backwards as he flew from her arms.The magpie who called himself Crow flew back up to his perch on the shoulder of the scarecrow.
“I have bested the pumpkin.Three cheers for The Fearless Crow!”
“Nancy!”Gordy sounded panicked as he cried out to her.His voice was slightly muffled as he had rolled to a halt face-down.“Nancy I need you!”
“I am sorry Nancy.That was rather rude of me but your little friend has no manners to speak of as you can plainly see.”
“So I have noticed.”Nancy said as she stood and brushed herself off.“Listen, my son’s name is Cody and I am very desperate to find him right now.Can you please help me brave and fearless one?”
“Is he the little green apple-headed fellow that floats?”Asked the magpie who called himself Crow.Nancy had no idea what he was speaking of but then, nothing that this bird said was ever quite on track it seemed.
“No.He is a little boy, like a shorter version of me that is wearing a blue shirt and brown pants.”
“That’s an awfully odd way to dress now isn’t it?”
“Nancy!”Gordy shouted once more.
“I suppose it is Crow.”Nancy said as she crossed her arms and bit her lower lip.“He was seen by some, um, other pumpkins just up the road walking with a little boy in a bunny costume.
“You mean He?”Asked the magpie who called himself Crow.
“Him!”Shouted Gordy in his muffled voice.
“Oh my dear Nancy I am afraid that your little apple-headed fellow has been eaten.”
“That’s what I keep telling her!”Gordy shouted.
“He does keep on saying that, but I think you are speaking of someone else Crow.Have you seen the bunny tonight?”
“Of course I have, what a silly question.”
“Was he alone or did he have a friend with him?”
“I can’t assume that he was a friend but yes, there was a fellow with him.”
“Wonderful Crow.Which way did they go?”
“Oh that is quite simple Nancy.I would simply show you the way but I cannot leave my bested tormentor you see…lest he return to life and get the better of me.”
“I understand Crow.Can you just tell me where they went?”
“Certainly.Just have a look.”Said the magpie who called himself Crow.
“I don’t, um…look where?!”
“Calm down Nancy.Just blink, place your backside in the spot where your frontside is now and open your eyes again.”
Nancy did as she was instructed to do.When she opened her eyes once more she saw something that had not been in the cornfield before.She turned back to face the magpie who called himself Crow and thanked him.She was tempted to leave Gordy behind but felt badly at this prospect.She grabbed him and carted him off with her toward the rather large stone structure now standing in the distance.
“Oh I don’t think this is where we want to go Nancy.”
“Hush Gordy or so help me I will toss you back into the cornfield.”
“Please don’t!”Gordy trembled more obviously this time.“All of those dead stalks…I can’t stand it.”
Nancy reached the back of the structure and moved around it until she found the front.The faded lettering adorning the mausoleum read Here Lies Him.Nancy took a deep breath and stepped up to the rusty locked gate.She placed a hand on it while shifting Gordy completely to one arm.She shook the gate, feeling the resistance as it slammed against the padlock.Nancy screamed as she dropped Gordy once more.He too screamed as he rolled along the crisp corpses of the dead cornstalks.Nancy grabbed the gate with both hands, the feel of grime in her hands as her palms slipped against the metal rods.
“This can’t be happening!”Nancy shouted.“Let me in!”
“Nancy help me!”Gordy yelled.Nancy dropped her head and saw a pool of tears spill to the stained stone step at her knees.She looked back up as she heard the jingling of keys and spotted a large loop of them floating freely behind the gate.Nancy reached out and tried to take the keys but they darted out of reach as if someone had pulled them away from her.
“It’s not polite to be so grabby with other peoples’ things you know.”Came a deep and utterly unidentifiable voice.Nancy watched the keys move on their own, one slid into the padlock and popped it open.The lock lifted and dropped.Nancy felt herself tumble back as the gate gave and swung open.She released her grip and reached out her hand.She felt something very cold wrap around her fingers.The phantom hand pulled her to her feet.
“Thank you.”Nancy sniffled.
“Don’t thank me just yet.”Said the voice.“I think you will want to come inside now, if you are still determined to find your son.”
“Yes.”Nancy did not hesitate to follow the voice after her hand was set free of the icy grip.Gordy was still screaming and begging for her to come pick him up.Nancy felt for his predicament but had her own problem to solve.The gate to the mausoleum closed behind her.She felt the light take its leave with the moon as the world begin to flip over onto its head.
“I hope you have a strong stomach.”Said the voice.Nancy simply nodded and waited for the ride to come to a complete stop.
“Are you Him?”She asked softly.
“No I am not.”The voice took offense to her question.“I am simply your literal spirit guide.Not a guide for your spirit see, but a spirit who is here to guide you.”
“I see.”Nancy said.“Thank you.”
“Just doing my job.”
The world became level once more and Nancy could see the light from the moon returning to her through the opening to the mausoleum.The gate opened once more and the voice guided her out into the cornfield.It was still the same as before but quite different somehow.The night was not as bright as it had been as she walked out into the field.It was now lit only by the moon.There were no houses in her sight but one.None of the other houses seemed to be there anymore.Her neighborhood was blank but for her own house.It was so obvious from the orange glow of the lights and decorations that adorned it.Very beautiful Nancy thought to herself.
She spotted the scarecrow and the magpie who called himself Crow.She saw Gordy laying on the ground and picked him up.He felt solid and cold.He did not speak to her.His face was frozen, stuck in the pose that had been drawn on by the neighbors and herself.She carried him with her anyway.It was comforting to have him back in her arms.The magpie squawked angrily at her as she passed by the scarecrow.There was no bravery or kindness in his voice.He pecked at the scarecrow from his perch, which was now on the right shoulder.
The three jack-o-lanterns sat where they had been, only in reverse order and without a yard or house to decorate.The entire lay of the land was soft soil outside of the cornfield.Nancy made her way to her house and placed Gordy down on the porch underneath two decorative skeletons.One smiled and the other frowned as she passed them and stepped onto the porch.The lights encasing her front door were brilliant.She had not felt so truly at home in many years.She tried to open the door but it was locked.She extended a thin finger and pressed it to the button that rang the bell.
The latch popped and the door slowly opened.
The little boy in the bunny costume stood there and stared at her.He was waiting for her to speak.She forgot her lines and let her mouth speak independently of her.
“Trick or Treat.”She said.The boy smiled and giggled.He ran into the house letting the door swing open in his wake.Nancy followed the boy inside and closed the door behind her.She admired the walls, and the handmade crafts that hung from them now.Repeat cuttings of little ghosts and black cats separated only by the folds in the construction paper between them caused Nancy to smile.She felt the warmth of the candles and of the fireplace as she came back into her home.The flames cleansed her of the chill in her bones.She had not noticed the return of the weather to the night until that moment.
In the kitchen where the Scrabble game had been on the tabletop sat two large pumpkins that had already been hollowed out.Nancy spotted the boy in the bunny costume taking his seat across from another boy wearing a shiny clown suit and a mask.It was Cody; she would recognize her son in any disguise.She rushed over to him and grabbed his shoulders.She placed her chin on his soft head and looked down at the pumpkin he was working on.Cody carefully drew the face on, a scary grinning face that seemed to be a proper face for a jack-o-lantern to have.
“I’ve been looking all over for you young man.”She finally said.
“We were just in here working on our pumpkins mommy.”
“I can see that.”She noticed the little boy in the bunny costume.He smiled at her and giggled.She smiled at Him.
“What is your friend’s name?”
“That’s Christopher.”Cody said as if she should have known this fact well.Nancy looked again at Him and saw what she had been missing about the boy’s face, the familiarity that had been there all along.It was indeed Christopher, Her Christopher, but he was a little boy and not the grown man who shared her bed.
“Hello.”Nancy said to Him.
“Hi.”Christopher said without taking his eyes off of his own pumpkin.Now there was a feeling once more of things being off, not quite right.Nancy no longer felt that she was truly at home.The usual feeling returned to her of the lonely house and the stranger that lived there with her and Cody.
“I think it’s time to go home now Cody.”Nancy said.She tugged at her son’s arm but he fought her.
“We are home mommy!”
“No Cody.Something is not right here.We need to leave now.”She lifted him out of his chair.He squealed and flailed his arms and kicked with full force, landing several harsh blows into her ribs.“Stop it Cody!”
“I’m not done with my pumpkin mommy!”He screamed.
“Let him go Nancy.”Christopher stood and glared at her.Nancy saw more of her own Christopher in the child’s eyes now.They were not as bright or innocent anymore.They were dark and hollow, and bitter.
“What happened to you?”She asked Him.Christopher stomped his little bunny foot and caused the entire house to shake.The floorboards cracked and split, jutting upwards as the house enveloped itself and spat the three of them into the empty world outside.
There in the cold darkness, a single light appeared.It bobbed up and down as the image of two young boys appeared.One of them was Christopher, still in his bunny costume.She looked for the other Him and found that he was still at her side near Cody.The three of them watched as the image of Christopher and another little boy approached an old stone well that had sprouted up from the soft ground.The other Christopher took the large metal flashlight from the other boy, the boy who was dressed in felt as a little green dragon.The other boy climbed up onto the rim of the well.The other Christopher held the flashlight to his face, lending to it terrifying shadows as he grinned and wiggled his little bunny nose.
The other boy froze and began to cry.Christopher, the other Christopher, dropped the sack of candy he had collected and rushed the boy in the dragon costume, roaring as he did.The boy lost his grip and fell down into the depths of the well.
Nancy covered Cody’s eyes as the grisly memory finished playing out.
The screams of the little boy in the dragon costume faded into nothing.The other Christopher dropped the flashlight and backed away with fear in his eyes.He took off in a mad run leaving his pillow sack behind at first, then grabbing it to make sure that he kept the evidence with him.Dark plotting for such a young boy thought Nancy.He took the flashlight and tossed it down the well.The light vanished as the image of the other Christopher ran off into the darkness.
Nancy turned her head to see that the Christopher standing near to her and Cody was no longer the little boy in the bunny costume, but now the grown man that shared her bed each night.The restlessness and thrashing, the night terrors, it all made sense to her now.
As did his opposition to any celebration of Halloween.
“Let’s go home now Cody.”Nancy picked her son up once more and cradled his weight close to her.Christopher stood and watched them leave, somehow managing to convey sadness and remorse with his dark empty eyes.Nancy found her way back to the mausoleum and rattled the old rusty gate.As the floating keys appeared once more she looked back into the distance where her house had once stood.There was now only a well, and a little boy in a bunny costume left standing near it, looking down into it for the lost friend that had vanished so many years before.
“A return trip is a rare thing you know.”The ghostly voice from the mausoleum said.“I suggest that you don’t dottle.”
Nancy took Cody into the mausoleum and waited as the ride began again.The world spun around onto its head and they landed in one piece back where they had started.Nancy stepped out of the tomb and thanked her spirit guide for his help.He in turn thanked her though she was not sure why.She watched as the old discolored structure sank back into the cornfield.As it left her world Nancy spotted the gothic lettering on the top.It had changed.
It now simply read Fare Well, a rather dark pun to say the least thought Nancy.
Cody yawned and rubbed his eyes as Nancy lowered him down to his feet.She smiled at his shiny clown costume, the mask now hanging over his back like a tiny plastic cape.
“Can we go home now mommy?”He asked sleepily.
Nancy just smiled and ruffled his hair.She took his hand an led him across the cornfield.She looked at the old scarecrow and noticed the magpie who called himself Crow was back on the left shoulder, but he did not speak to her.He went about his business, thwarting his defeated tormentor forevermore.Nancy chuckled at the thought.
They passed a trio of jack-o-lanterns near the edge of a neighbor’s lawn.Only one candle was still lit.It was Gary’s candle.His soggy sagging smile caught her eye.She smiled back and continued walking with Cody in tow.They returned to Oakwood Drive.
The two skeletons across the street danced in the autumn breeze.The one that frowned found its legs to be dancing magnificently as she and Cody walked up onto their own yard.Nancy made sure her son was not looking and waved at them.
On the front porch Cody spotted a tiny pumpkin with a painted-on face watching them as they returned home.He had sad eyes and an awkward smile.Cody took the one and only decoration and cradled it in his arms.He looked up at his mother as he petted the baby pumpkin’s smooth skin.
“Can I carve this one mommy?”Cody asked.
“You know I think that would be a great idea Cody.That little pumpkin deserves to be a proper jack-o-lantern.”
Once Cody had finished transforming Gordy into a proper jack-o-lantern, with a scary face and sharp grin, Nancy put the boy to bed and tucked him in as tightly as she could.In the now empty house she found no trace of Christopher.Nancy felt at home once again, truly at home.She found a candle of the size that would make a mighty large jack-o-lantern shine its brightest and placed it inside of Gordy.She took him outside and grabbed a long-stemmed fireplace lighter on her way.She stopped by the trio of jack-o-lanterns and placed Gordy by Gary’s side.She lit the little jack-o-lantern up and watched the flames dance as they brought his powerful grin and wicked eyes to full life.
“Thanks Gordy.”Nancy said before walking back home.
The foursome waited until they heard her lock the front door.
“Oh don’t look so smug little pumpkin!”Said the largest of the jack-o-lanterns in a friendly jest.
“Sticks and stones old man.”Gordy said proudly as he felt the mighty candle burning within his hollowed innards.
The four jack-o-lanterns continued to banter on into the night, annoying the dancing skeletons and distracting the fearless magpies that called themselves Crow.Gentle silence rocked young Cody Treit to sleep, his mind full of wonder and his dreams flooded with plans for what he would be on Halloween the next year, and the year after that…

© Copyright 2017 Alan Dale Dalby. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:




More Literary Fiction Short Stories