One thing was for sure, they were not going to get fucked out of a proper Halloween. The night was middle-aged, but there was still time to do what was their God given right.
“Aren’t you a little too old for trick or treating?”
Mr. Benson, he of the horrid comb-over, man boobs and disturbingly bulbous earlobes, clutched his bowl of candy to his gut, refusing to dole out any of the mini chocolates. His house smelled like onions and old man farts.
“I didn’t know there was an age limit,” Jon said, holding out the plastic shopping bag.
“And where are your costumes?”
Jon and his buddies Ray and Chelsea stood on Benson’s small porch dressed in regular clothes. Chelsea was a little goth, so her thick black eyeliner, pale skin and all black outfit should have counted for something.
“We forgot them. So how about just one candy each?” Ray said, grinning like a wide-eyed lunatic.
“Grow up and get a job!” Mr. Benson shouted, slamming the door.
Jon laughed. “Well, looks like it’s all tricks for bitch tits.” He grabbed the cardboard skeleton on the door and tore it down. Chelsea stomped on it for good measure while Ray filled the mailbox with shaving cream.
The trio of sixteen-year-olds ran across the street, swallowed up by the blackness under a busted streetlight. It was the first real chilly night of the fall and the streets were emptying out of monsters and superheroes, firemen and fairies. By the light of the half moon, Jon could see the heavy vapor of their breath.
“How much you got?” Chelsea asked, ruffling the candy in her bag.
“Not much,” Ray said. “Couple of chocolates, some old lady candy and actual freaking pennies. Who the hell gives out pennies?”
Jon dumped his pennies on the sidewalk. “I think it was that old Irish lady. She mixed them up with those lemon balls. I bet she’s had those balls since the 70s.”
Ray laughed, slapping Jon’s arm. “I bet she had a lot of balls in the 70s!”
“You guys are gross,” Chelsea said, rolling her eyes. “She’s older than our grandmothers.”
“And just as cheap,” Jon added. “You guys wanna go around the block, see if anyone’s still answering?”
Ray checked his other bag. This one was filled with cans of shaving cream, a few remaining eggs and two rolls of toilet paper. “Yeah, I got enough for at least one more block.”
This was the year they swore to have their cake – or candy – and eat it, too. Tricking and treating! Next year, it would probably just be running around on mischief night. This was their last hurrah, even if they didn’t bother to dress up.
“This time, we let Chels ring the bell. They’ll think she’s like someone from the Addams Family and we’ll just sneak our bags in,” Jon said, leading them up to a lighted porch.
They’d tried the I’m just getting candy for my sick little brother act but got very little action. The adults were being awful stingy this year. Jon knew it didn’t help that he had the makings of a sweet beard and mustache and Ray was six feet tall.
“You guys are hysterical tonight,” Chelsea said, ringing the bell. “I should have gone to Trish’s party.”
Ray flicked her ears. “You know that wasn’t even a possibility. The three amigos and Halloween are like PB&J. You’d be miserable without us.”
She swatted his hand away. “Yeah, well, someone has to babysit you two.” Jon saw the flash of a smile in her reflection in the door’s windowpane.
A curtain pulled aside. A woman shook her head when she saw them, refusing to open the door.
Jon shrugged his shoulders. “Should have answered the door.”
There was a painted pumpkin on the porch railing. It had the face of a witch, warty nose and all. He tucked the pumpkin under his arm and walked to the middle of the street. “Care to do the honors?” he asked Chelsea.
“Why, thank you,” she said. Rearing her leg back, she kicked a hole in the witch’s face. Seeds and guts splattered her black leather boots. “Now that’s nasty.”
Ray and Jon played a little soccer with the wounded pumpkin before kicking it down the street where it settled over a sewer grate.
“One down, like twenty more to go,” Jon said, eyeing the long row of houses ahead of them.
They were the only ones on the block still trick or treating. Some people said they were out of candy, but most didn’t even bother answering the door. In return, Jon, Ray and Chelsea TP’d one tree, emptied three cans of shaving cream and egged two cars sitting in a driveway.
“We better move to another street,” Ray announced when all of the eggs were gone, their impact setting off a car alarm.
They jogged for two blocks, the cold night air stinging their lungs. They stopped outside a small apartment building, fishing out candy from their bags, dropping wrappers on the ground. “Think there are any razors?” Chelsea asked, munching on a peanut butter cup.
“That’s such bullshit,” Jon said. “All those stories are made up to stop little kids from eating all their candy.”
“Do you guys wanna try some more houses or call it a night?” Chelsea said. “I’m cold.”
All of the porch lights on this stretch were out. Halloween had come to an official close.
Then Jon spotted something that made the hairs on his arms and upper lip stand on end. “Check that out!”
Three houses down was a long walkway lined with carved pumpkins. There had to be at least twenty. A few still had guttering candles glowing inside. There was no way they could walk away.
“You got your shit kickers on?” he said, lips curled up in a devilish grin.
“Oh yeah!” Ray said, running to the house.
Chelsea clutched her stomach. “Oh, that doesn’t feel so good.”
“That’s what happens when you eat like ten peanut butter cups. Come on. You can squeeze them out like Willy Wonka later.”
Ray waited patiently by the first pumpkin, triangle eyes and an inverted triangular nose with a jagged, gap-toothed smile. It was a classic jack-o-lantern, just asking to be bashed.
“Time to sign off with a twenty pumpkin salute,” Jon said. They each picked a pumpkin, eyed one another, pulled their legs back and kicked as hard as they could.
Ray was the first to scream. “Ow ow ow ow! It’s got my foot!”
Jon was about to tell him to stop screaming like a girl when something clamped down like a bear trap on his ankle. He heard the bone snap, felt fire run up his leg to his balls. The pumpkin’s mouth had slammed shut on him. Its eyes narrowed as it chewed on his foot.
“Oh my God, it hurts!” Chelsea wailed. She was on the ground, a pumpkin munching on her foot, two others gnawing on her hands.
Ray lost his balance, falling beside her. Three pumpkins rolled from their perches, mouths opening wide, tearing into him. The largest of them engulfed Ray’s head, cutting his agonized lament short.
“What the hell?” Jon tried to hop away, but the pumpkin on his foot was suddenly as heavy as an anchor. His other ankle rolled. He face planted on the hard concrete. His front teeth shattered like porcelain. More and more pumpkins spun toward him, their carved teeth impossibly sharp.
The pumpkins soundlessly masticated the three amigos, gobbling them like Halloween candy.
~ Hunter Shea
© Copyright 2015 Hunter Shea. All Rights Reserved
They say the apocalypse is coming. In five years, they estimate, a meteor will strike the earth and wipe it clean of life. Five years is not a long time, but it is long enough. It is long enough for weddings and funerals for those who cannot wait, for that walk down the beach, where he first holidayed with his family at St. Bees. It is long enough for work, long enough that the world still turns, for now at least. So he finds himself on a train platform each morning, stepping onto a carriage, staring through dirt-smeared windows as the world passes him by.
Sometimes he thinks he could sit there forever, watching the countryside slip past. Trees blur into fields, which seem to stretch, longer than any field should, until there are no boundaries, no roads, no thicket hedgerows, only a palette of greens and browns beneath blue shining skies. The carriage rocks beneath him, lulling him slowly in his seat, while far above cerulean clouds blossom with wind and rain. He has only eyes for their phosphorescence, their purple twilight tinge, and for the twenty minutes it takes him to reach the next station he is lost in their depths, rolling with them through the sky; a fish caught in their awesome ocean pull.
Then the train shudders, stops, expels its load, and he is back inside his business suit. His mouth sighs. His shoulders sag. The Underground drinks deeply of his soul.
People swarm up escalators, spilling out of the station into the road. Traffic screams after them; a chorus of sirens and sudden brakes. Women wobble past him on heels too high while men with faces shaven clean march briskly in their wake, and in between their legs dogs gambol, vagrants dance another day with life. He wonders when it began; when things first showed signs of ending up this way, then remembers he need not wonder about anything anymore, ever again, for more than the minute it takes to type as much online.
His offices are tall, grey things overlooking a grey Thames. His room is on the fifth floor, next to administration. At eight-fifty he takes the lift, in the foyer beside the stairwell. His shirt is hot and wet beneath his arms. Inside his office, he closes the door, sits at his chair, which sinks beneath his weight, and stares at the face reflected in the blank computer screen. Drawing a deep breath, he begins to type.
He does not know why administration is called administration, why it is singled out when they are all administrators; every man in his pin-stripe business skin, every woman with her pay-check pulse, record-keeping, number crunching, so that the world will keep on turning. He thinks about love, and what it might feel like. He thinks about death, and when it was that they all died. Sometimes he turns in his chair and stares at the plant in the corner with its plastic fronds, its sterile soil, its bright, synthetic stem, until it is all he can do not to close his eyes, ball his fists and scream at the top of his voice.
He does not remember weeks in terms of days. He does not remember working weeks at all. There is only one day repeated, in which he wakes up, travels by train, pushes through crowds, through streets made black with rainwater to stinking, sweaty offices built of old brick the colour of dried blood, peopled by corporate puppets in black suits with empty eyes and long thin fingers twitching by their sides.
They say the apocalypse is coming. In five years, they estimate, a meteor will strike the earth and wipe it clean of life. He wonders if it has not come already. Not by fire and smoke but a commuter contagion; this, the human condition, made better for a few minutes each morning by the birds in the sky, the distant glimpse of a dream in the clouds.
~ Thomas Brown
© Copyright 2015 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved
He is weak, the large gash in his stomach slowly killing him, yet he crawls onward. Gripping dirt, the dying man pulls himself closer. His eyes rest upon the stone carvings; upon the angel. There he hopes to feel his lord’s embrace; to feel salvation. Fingertips reach out, touching it, feeling nothing. A groan escapes his lips, morphing into a scream. Pain engulfs his body, growing cold, announcing the arrival of the beast. Any hope of salvation fades as the foul one laughs. It’s just empty stone. Another false idol. Grinning, the foul one tears out the dying man’s throat.
Of god and guise
Joseph A. Pinto
What fear say you?
To which I reply possess no fear, nor cowardice, for that matter. I am of an esoteric order, keeper of the indulger of dust and decay. To my god I owe nothing but respect. I, its dutiful tasker of divine immolation.
Ssh. Agonize not. To your knees. In newfound supplication, your chin now lift. See my god. Know my god. Relish its kiss as to stone I press your cheek.
Let my god eat through grit until grit turns to bone. To flesh. And through your flesh, baptized newly my god once more.
Welcome, my master…
With a final shriek it was expelled, I tried to kicked it away. The nurse scooped it up, oblivious to my panic. Tears streamed as I squeezed my eyes shut but I heard it’s first gurgled cry and my resolve melted. Sobbing I turned to face the babe. It was held aloft in gloved hands; a strange, blue wrinkled thing. We both fell silent as our gaze met. Then it began and I watched helplessly as it spread. Fine hairline fractures became deep cracks, it’s wriggling limbs froze. The nurse screamed as my baby crumbled and shattered in her hands.
by Tyr Kieran
They teach rules with which to govern yourself—defining factors handed down from our creator looking to reward those that act accordingly. Then there’s societal laws, rules made by man and enforced by the same. They pound them into your head from birth. But, they neglect to tell you, it’s a flawed system! Following these rules only leaves you or your loved ones vulnerable to those living of their own accord. One such “rogue” killed my son. Now, I say fuck the system! I’m making my own rules from here on out. Revenge won’t be sweet enough, but it’s mandatory!
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The past haunts us like ragged ghosts, like the remembered scent of an old flame. I prayed to Him. For three years I knelt, palm to palm, seeking forgiveness.
“Father, can you hear me?”
It was the thirteenth when He answered. Three years, of tears, upset, not knowing where I fit in. I woke, crusty-eyed, cold. 3am. Moon fat in the sky.
For the longest time, silence. I was used to this. I began to drift off. Then bedsprings, sudden weight, a whisper in my ear. The Lord smelled a lot to me like wet dog.
“I hear you.”
The eyes stare out, seeing what they don’t see. He’s been here long enough to see the forest grow up around this place . . . a place meant to elicit oohs and aahs. Apparent youth beams a message of happiness and innocence. Yet not is all as it appears.
Strength lies within the arm of the child, the ruddy bas-relief almost giving it a hairy appearance. The arm of the beast. That’s what the legends say. Stay away at all costs.
Not everyone heeds the words of the wise ones. Self-sacrifice. Unwilling. Final.
The smile spreads wider. The child has been nourished.
Stone statues and distant memories are all that remain of children. Gone are the days of playgrounds filled with joy and laughter, replaced instead by the tears and sorrow of those who cannot let go the thought of holding a child, their bodies unable to produce what they long for. We allowed the world around us to decay into a cesspool of man’s worst traits, ignorant to the consequences of our actions and even more damning was our inaction. Some waited for a violent apocalypse to descend from above. Instead, we received this silent wrath. Soon we’ll all be gone.
Every Other Weekend
Christopher A. Liccardi
“Why do the eyes follow us, Mommy?” The boy asked, rubbing snot from his nose with his sleeve.
“Because someone needs to watch over you. Mommy can’t always keep an eye out. “She knew their time together was short; no longer than a walk to the other end of the cemetery.
“Is this where Daddy lives now?” he asked.
“Yes, it is sweetheart.”
They reached the entrance to the lonely grey slab building. It smelled of new decay and dried flowers.
“Mommy?” he questioned in a nasely voice.
“In ya go, kiddo. Daddy’s waiting.”
She closed the door behind him.
Rough, with hints of moisture from the morning dew – each sensation punctuated by the never-ending cold. Careful to touch only the surface where the memory was etched, and not the deeper rock that offers no sentiment, he outlines the gravestone with ghostly fingers.
The dead feel more than the living ever could. Cumbersome flesh is like a thick glove, hiding most sensory input. His spirit’s fine matter misses nothing. The sole visitor stopped only to admire the exquisite art, oblivious of the weeping apparition.
“If they will not visit me, then I will bring the bitterness of the afterlife to them.”
Rings of Death
She comes always – even on the coldest of days. She comes and weeps fained devastation. My father watches silently; a man broken by his pain. The carriage stands vigil; the horses fuss, hair shimmering in the sunlight. The stable hands often complained of the muck after our adventures; but their silence already bought. The animals pristine by the time father broke from his study; our supposed jaunts to the park never fell suspect. Mother and I traveled to wooden houses, each bore a mark upon the door; a mark the same hue as the flowers now spilling from my pockets.
Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.
As Mathew entered the storefront, he hung its key from the tooth of a snarling dog. The statue of the hound had been on that table since his childhood and time had seen fit to leave it. His hate for the place flared in each muscle the second he entered the building, but it was a strangely enticing feeling. The old room looked deliberately ramshackle, intended to add to the mystique, no doubt. ‘Shabby chic’ people called it; rundown he called it, but it was his business now.
He knew his father had been into some really terrible things, but he never stuck around long enough to take part in the ‘family business’. He’d left home at eighteen and never looked back. He’d tried to forget all of it and had managed to succeed until a letter arrived by courier last month; it was addressed to the proprietor of The Old West Wax Works. The woman who delivered it was attractive and left not only her number, but the lingering scent of her perfume on the delivery receipt along with his father’s will. They’d begun seeing each other almost every night since. She’d asked about The Old West Wax Works a few weeks into the new romance, but he never explained and she never pushed.
When he told her he needed to take care of family business down south, she hadn’t asked to be included which was a good thing; maybe she was ‘the one’ and his impending bad mood would seem unattractive. They talked about weekend plans and she mentioned heading down the shore to surprise him for a visit, but he barely listened; he’d been preoccupied with his father’s will. The tasks he needed to complete weren’t complicated, but they were going to be messy and time consuming.
Mathew spent that first day cleaning counters and getting rid of the old dust cloths and boxes, and something shifted.
The place didn’t need to be spotless, but it did need to be presentable when his first guest arrived. He felt the cold fingers of anxiety grab hold of him and fought them off. This place was in his blood and always had been. He saw that now and felt – proud.
He thought about the delivery woman, Claire, as he toiled about the place, and wondered if she would like it here. He genuinely liked her and hoped she would. He looked forward to seeing her again as soon as he could.
The bell over the door jangled its discordant tune.
“C’mon in, we’re open for business.” Mathew said.
Mathew caught the scent of a woman’s perfume; it was familiar to him by now. He hesitated, fought the urge to be like them, to turn into the monsters his predecessors had been. He smiled when he saw her, all doubt faded, then he stepped on the button that opened the trap door. The fight was over.
The sound of the heavy door slamming shut cut off the screams from below. He knew she had broken both legs and cracked several ribs when she fell, but that was all fixable. His father’s tools were already sharpened, ready for use after so many years of neglect in the storage boxes.
He liked the delivery woman, Claire. He hoped she liked it here, too.
~ Christopher A. Liccardi
© Copyright 2015 Christopher A. Liccardi. All Rights Reserved.