In honor of Halloween I thought I’d write another short(ish… ok not really too short) story. Um…I kind of thought I knew where I was going with this, and then I lost it. Sooo…it probably will mostly just seem like weird ramblings having some vague connection to Halloween while trying to have a message too and failing at both. But hey, I can’t just work out the kinks and post it another day…so this is as good as it gets. Here it is!
My pumpkin I carved this year.
Fred looked cautiously out the dark window into the foggy night. He was so sick of this. Always feeling the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. Always looking behind him. Always wondering if something was going to jump out of the shadows and turn on him. For days now he’d hardly slept.
He caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror, jumped at the very sight, trembled momentarily before trying to steady his already racing heart. Darkened shadows permanently affixed beneath his eyes greeted his sight. He looked at his greasy unkempt hair, his sunken cheeks. If he had once been handsome he didn’t remember when. The anxiety building within him was beginning to utterly overwhelm him. If this was his enemy’s goal then the man was succeeding.
Or perhaps man was too kind of a word.
Fred curled in on himself slightly on the couch, wondering when things had gotten so bad. His thoughts raced in frantic circles while he tried to steady himself, pull it back together.
Man, no. That was not the right definition. Though in his crazed state perhaps these things were better left unconsidered. He shuddered at the mere thought of his stalker, the fanged and furred menace that had only recently made him start questioning his grip on reality. Monster, yes.
The teenager wondered again briefly what might happen if he told someone. His parents perhaps. Would they send him to the madhouse he so deserved? Perhaps. He wished for the seventh time that night that they hadn’t gone to the party. Maybe they could have protected him. Maybe he wouldn’t feel so alone and defenseless on this lonely Halloween night. Especially since some terrible beast was after him.
He’d been walking home probably two weeks ago when it had happened. A strange man with fangs and fur and claws had approached him, growled his name, chased after him when he fled. Fred could still picture those glowing feral eyes, the horns perched on curly hair. The little abnormalities that made this devil all too frightening to behold.
A knock suddenly echoed through the empty house, interrupting his memories. Fred froze in fright for a moment, before reassuring himself it was probably just trick-or-treaters out looking for candy and not really caring that the porch light was off. Idiots. He could be a child-molester, for all they knew.
Fred rose carefully from the sofa and ventured towards the door, carefully trying to avoid any line of sight from the windows, tiptoeing close. Another grave knock rang out in the house. Fred paused for just a moment before venturing a tad bit closer, peering carefully out the little window and hoping he wouldn’t be seen back. He sighed in relief at the sight before him, undid both locks and opened the door.
The girl standing there brightened at the sight of him, dark pretty eyes sparkling, lashes batting in amusement. Fred felt his heart lift slightly, pounding now for a different reason entirely as he took in the short ruffled skirt, fishnets, and low cut bodice. The pink did fine things for her coloring, brought out her fair skins hues, made her dark hair seem more lustrous.
“Princess?” Fred guessed.
She giggled and did a little curtsy that did nothing to lengthen the already ridiculously revealing skirt. “Yep. And what are you… a zombie?”
Fred gave a weak smile and glanced around, suddenly remembering what had caused his appearance to so rapidly decline. ‘Um…you’d better come in.”
He locked the door behind her, though she seemed utterly oblivious to the clicking of the bolts. She examined the house around her with careful attention to the details before spinning to face him once more all smiles. Fred shifted from foot to foot, trying to figure out what Morgana, the prettiest girl in his high school was doing on his doorstep on a chilly October night. Nonetheless he tried to put aside his confusion and fix a dashing presence to himself, asking her to have a seat and offering her something to drink.
Morgana let those long lashes flutter against her pale cheek, and smiled again, though this time with teeth. Had Fred not been exhausted he might have noticed right away, but it took him a minute. Fangs. There were two white glittering fangs situated amongst her other perfect teeth. And not the plastic kind either. They were too real for that. Fred took a step back, gulping. Beauty had never seemed so false.
“What’s wrong, Fred? Weren’t you offering me a drink?” she purred.
Fred shook his head and stepped back once again, back bumping awkwardly against a chair blocking his path. He tried to lubricate his throat enough to allow sound to escape, but his mouth hung open as dry as the cold fall air. Nothing came to him. His already sleep-deprived brain struggled to come up with something to say. Words failed him utterly.
“I think I’ll take that drink,” she whispered. “I think I’ll take it now in fact.”
In a childhood move, he closed his eyes as though hoping this might banish the terror before him. If you couldn’t see it, it couldn’t get you. Wasn’t that how it worked? He recalled years and years of pulling bedsheets over his head, hoping maybe this would keep the monsters away. But the monsters were here. And they were very real. And very much not deterred by him closing his eyes.
A soft breath fell on his bare neck causing more shudders to course through him in repulsion at the very thought of her so near him. What once would have had him shivering for different reasons now was utter disgust in his eyes. Soft lips descended and brushed against his collar, a mockery of something he might once have desired. Fred might have once desired to flee, but in his weariness there was nothing. Only the desire for it all to be over. The desire for sleep, dreams, and of course death. He presented his neck just as he might with an executioners axe, readying himself for the inevitable.
It never came.
A crash echoed in the little room. His eyes popped open gasping, looking at the girl before him who had been all too ready to sink her teeth into his throat, confirming what he had indeed imagined and feared. But his gaze was drawn back to the front window where his horned-assailant stood growling and snarling as his body tangled with the blinds he’d crashed into after breaking through the glass. The cool autumn air rushed to fill the room, replacing all heat with its biting chill. Fred breathed deeply trying again to steady his racing heart. The smell of rotting leaves filled his nostrils as wind rushed into the room.
“You Monster,” Morgana hissed. “Stay back, he’s mine.”
The creature still wrestling with the blinds snarled at her, eyes lighting in the darkness with something so utterly inhuman that Fred couldn’t even place it on the spectrum of emotion. He suddenly snapped to motion himself, pushing the chair to topple behind him and then backing further away from the beautiful girl so intent on sucking the very life out of him. Literally.
There was a moment of calm, and then everything happened at once. Morgana lunged at Fred causing him to topple backwards, just as the creature untangled himself and rose on shaky legs. He let out a growl and moved forward at a pace unknown to man. His clawed hands found Morgana’s body and grabbed for it, picking her up as though she was a Barbie doll. Fred again let his eyes close in a defensive reflex. He curled slightly in on himself once more, listened to the growls and screams before there was silence.
The rustle of the leaves on outside greeted his ears, but otherwise there was nothing. After a long moment he slowly looked up again, finding Morgana’s body strewn across the ground, the creature standing panting over it. Yellowed eyes found Fred and seemed to deem him unhurt.
“Why?” Fred managed to whisper, still not willing to rise from his place on the floor.
“Not all is as it appears,” the creature hissed, voice still a deep guttural groan that normally would have frightened the wits out of the boy. But he was already feeling crazed enough he didn’t flinch away. Merely looked at this strange beast that had guarded him, protected him, killed for him.
“No,” Fred whispered, pulling himself up to hands and knees and then slowly moving to stand. The creature growled and swooped forward, clawed hand catching the boy before he could tumble over. Fred’s eyes were drawn down to the sharp nails now resting lightly on his bare arm. There was such gentleness in the way he was held up, in spite of the deadliness that had caused Morgana to be killed.
“You must rest,” the creature said. “You need sleep.”
The boy didn’t protest, lost for any sense of energy or thought in the moment. This creature that had so driven him to this point, was now the one leading him back towards healing. How could that be? The girl he’d thought was beautiful was evil and mad. This creature he thought malignant had in fact disproved his trepidation by being his rescuer, and now his caretaker.
“What’s your name?” Fred asked gently.
If such a ferocious mouth could manage a grin this was it, the twisting of the corners, a little drool falling down a fanged tooth. “Costin. You are kind, asking such, Fred.”
The boy nodded, too wearied to get anything else out. “Was…was this why you approached me on the street?”
There was the briefest nod that Fred almost feared his addled brain had imagined it. The beast spoke once more. ” Seek to know no more,” he whispered.
His eyelids felt heavy. Had those parting words been a spell? Into the darkness his mind slowly crept, disallowing him from rejoining reality, whatever that might be.
Monday morning. Fred’s gaze could not be drawn away from Morgan Elliot’s form as she giggled and flounced across the checkered cafeteria floor. He remembered his dream so clearly, the strangeness of whatever had happened Halloween night still lingering in his mind. Morgana… No, Morgan, was busy giggling away with her friends, looking at him occasionally while batting those long lashes. He was trying to separate the dream Morgana from the real Morgan, but it was difficult.
On Saturday he’d gone downstairs to find no signs that his Halloween night had been a reality. There was no body, or broken glass. The room was put to rights and his parents asked after him with no sign that they’d sensed anything the least bit wrong. And Fred had been left to constant pondering about the strange enigma of that Friday October night.
He was drawn from his thoughts by Morgan’s shrieks.
“Monster, get away!” she hissed, baring her teeth in a disgusted grimace, dark eyes fixed on the boy who’d tried to sit at her table.
Fred looked up at that. Monster. It seemed too familiar. He fixed his gaze on Gus, the boy who had shuffled to his feet and was edging away. Fred’s heart clenched as he watched the boy’s uncertain gait move towards the nearest empty table.
After just the briefest moment pondering it over, Fred rose and marched past Morgan. She giggled and simpered at him, trying to reach out and grab his arm. He withdrew his hand as though burned, glared at her, and resumed his resolute walk to the previously empty table, slamming his backpack onto the bench and sitting down across from the rejected boy.
Gus glanced up, golden hazely eyes meeting Fred’s blue. He smiled a bit uncertainly, the grin lopsided as always on his somewhat disfigured face. Fred hesitated but smiled back at the boy, not knowing how he’d never seen it before. He’d never really looked at this other boy in earnest, never tried much to see beneath the scars of untold abuse and hurt, knowing so little beyond that this boy bore a face only plastic surgery could probably ever cure.
“Hi, can I sit here?” he asked.
Gus nodded, though there was just a moment of hesitance. “You’re Fred,” he whispered, voice hoarse as though not used to being taken up in speech.
Fred smiled. “Yes, I’m Fred. And you’re Gus.”
The boy’s eyes lit with something akin to happiness, though Fred probably would have gone so far as to call it joy. The deformed mouth stretched a bit more to try to accommodate his crooked teeth into a blinding smile. Fred let his own smirk rise to the occasion. Never had insane dreams had so sweet of consequences.
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.“
-William Shakespeare Macbeth
Partially inspired by this prompt: http://themeasureofabook.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/writing-prompt-32/