#MenageMonday Week 03×05 : A Halloween Story

James sat at the bus stop, wishing its glaring lights were off, as they hurt his eyes. “Besides. They perfectly illuminate everyone here, making us perfect targets for some idiot with a gun. Target practice. And we’d be the targets. Never see them, ‘cause they’re in the dark.”

Worse, he was alone, the only person at the stop. Sophie’s Halloween Party had ended, right at 11:00 that night. James wound up having to catch the bus. Everyone else had cars to drive, or ride in. Not James. No one even offered.

Sophie shooed him out, and locked the door behind him. All he could do was catch the midnight bus home. The last bus. If he missed that, he got to walk, or sleep on the bench at the bus stop. That didn’t work for him. The walk was 12 miles. He wouldn’t get home until damn near dawn. Staying at the bus stop all night wouldn’t work either. He’d be awake the entire time, and watch the sun come up.

James wasn’t scared of the dark, really. He was scared of what was in the dark. The things, the people, he couldn’t see. They could be there, just outside the reach of the bus stop lights, watching him already. Waiting for him to drop his guard so he’d be easy pickings. Maybe someone would sneak up behind him, and bash him over the head. Or perhaps a couple of giant rats would come out of the dark, teeth gnashing, and chew him up.

“Sometimes, I swear,” he stood up, and walked around the bench a few times. “It’s like my brain cells laugh at me.”

He imagined his brain cells, pointing out an endless of possible disasters that could happen, doing their best to make him anxious, cause him to panic. He could almost hear their evil laughter as they brought up endless ideas and thoughts on how he could end up dead, waiting for the bus.

In desperation, he pulled out his phone, and checked the time. 12:31 AM, and the bus still hadn’t arrived. Perhaps it had broken down somewhere. Or been hijacked by some dude with a gun. Maybe the driver had a heart attack, and was dead, inside the bus, somewhere down the road, and would never arrive.

“Fricking brain cells.” James shook his head. “Shut up!”

He sat down on the bench, and waited, as his brain cells declared he should find a sheet of paper, draw a target on it, and stick it on his chest.

When the sun came up, James was still there. Waiting. He woke up when someone poked him, “Dude! Let the lady sit down!”

The lady had winked at him, and giggled, “Somebody had a long night.”

“The bus. It never came.”

The lady laughed. It was almost like that evil laughter his brain keep repeating that night. “The bus doesn’t run after dark on Halloween, silly.”

486 Words

It’s week 03×05 of Cara Michaels‘s #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge. You can read about #MenageMonday here. Please, go read all the short tales from this week. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.


#MonsterMash 2019 : We’ve Got To Hide All Of The Sharp Objects

Doctor Franklin called the office administrative team to his office, “In twenty minutes, Melvin will be here.” Each of them nodded. “We’ve got to hide all of the sharp objects.”

The team searched the office, looking for staplers, pencils, pens, thumbtacks, paperclips, paper knives, envelope openers. Any device with a point on the end, or a sharp edge. They knew how Melvin was in October.

After a thorough sweep of the office, Doctor Franklin looked at the box of items his office manager carried, “Thank you, Mary.” He nodded to everyone on the team. “Thank you.” They smiled, and quickly left.

It was five minutes until Melvin arrived. Doctor Franklin steeled himself, and marched to the check in desk, to wait for him. “Start his session immediately.” That was the best way to deal with Melvin in October. Don’t let him sit in the waiting room. Don’t let him have the chance to watch other people. Get him back, into his session, quickly.

It’s not that Melvin was dangerous. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. Wouldn’t stab anyone, or anything. Wouldn’t cut anything, or anyone. It was Melvin’s gift that was the problem. Even Melvin knew it. That’s why Melvin visited Doctor Franklin each week. To get help in living with his gift. To learn to use his gift for positive things.

When Melvin arrived, he got escorted straight to the office. He calmly sat on the sofa, and stared out the window. Doctor Franklin started with the safest words he knew. “How are you today, Melvin?”

Normally, the doctor used a pencil, or a pen, to write notes during sessions with clients. But, in October, with Melvin, he didn’t take notes at all. Even crayons were a problem. “Any concerning thoughts this week?”

“Just the usual Halloween thoughts, Doc.”

“It is that time of year.” He struggled with ways to say words that calmed Melvin’s inner chaos. “Like what?”

Melvin slowly let out a deep breath. “A guy at the store had an accident this week.”


“He was cutting open a shrink wrapped flash drive, with a knife he uses all the time.” Melvin stared at his hands, and Doctor Franklin knew what Melvin was seeing, what he remembered. “It’s just…” Doctor Franklin knew what was coming. “I had this thought, Doc. Just one thought.”

“Tell me about it, Melvin. Please. So we can learn from it. And understand it.”

“Doc, he cut the first customer that insulted him. Pulled out his knife, and cut them. They needed 38 stitches, Doc.” Melvin was shaking his head back and forth, “I didn’t want that to happen. It was just a thought, Doc. Just a thought.”

“I know, Melvin.” Doctor Franklin rested his hands on his lap, to hide any shudders, or shaking. “But, we’ve been through this before.”

Melvin nodded. “Every October.”

Doctor Franklin nodded too, and he wondered, “How do you teach a telepath it’s OK to have such seasonal thoughts, so long as you don’t inject them into the minds around you?” Then, he settled in for a long session with Melvin. “Everyone has these thoughts in October. It’s that season, you know.”

It was going to be a long session, and Doctor Franklin knew it.

537 Words

Wrote this one for the 2019 #MonsterMash blog hop. Please, go read all the stories in the blog hop. Enjoy your Halloween.

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#ThursThreads Week 384 : I See She Didn’t Overstate The Issue

I have a job that’s a 10 minute walk from our house. It’s perfect. No traffic to fight. No car to keep running. I get up, get dressed, put on my walking shoes, and walk to work. At night, I call her when I’m ready to walk home, so she will know I’m on the way.

Halloween is not a holiday. No one I know has that day off. Everyone goes to work. Schools have normal hours. It’s another day. Like any other day, I walked to work. At quitting time, I called her like I always did.

“I have to warn you, dear. There’s been a pumpkin massacre in the neighborhood. Be careful on your walk.”

I changed to my walking shoes, and tried to imagine a pumpkin massacre, “Teenagers, kids. Bashing Jack-o-lanterns. Bits of pumpkin here and there. Some on the sidewalk.” A normal thing for Halloween. Who hasn’t seen pumpkin bits in the road on that night?

I started home. After a couple of minutes, I smelled pumpkin. “Someone’s cooking?” But it didn’t smell like cooking. Five minutes in to my walk, I turned a corner, into our neighborhood. The sidewalk was orange. So was the road. And the curb had vanished. It was all under an ocean of pumpkin. Not smashed. Pureed.

“Well. I see she didn’t overstate the issue.” I had to walk home through the goo. “I’ll have to ask what happened when I get home.”

241 Words

It’s Week 384 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Given it’s October, I decided to try something Halloween. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up weekly.

#IADMM2015 : In The Dark, They Sing

“Damn, Tommy.”

It was one AM, October 31st, and I was at the botanical garden on a dare, fuming at how stupid I was, and remembering what happened.

“Chicken!” Tommy stuck out his elbows and flapped his arms like stubby wings, “Buck-awk!”

“Am not!” I indignantly denied.

“Prove it!”

Everyone circled us, watching, waiting to see what happened, chanting “Prove it! Prove it!

Tommy had that grin people have when you walk into their trap, “Halloween’s this week, right?” Heads nodded all around. “And you, flower boy, always take pictures of the roses at the botanical garden, right?”

Everybody joined in, “Yeah, flower boy.”

Tommy issued his challenge, “So, take pictures of the stupid roses, but take them before the sun comes up on Halloween.”

“But, they’re closed after dark!”

“So, you scared, flower boy?”

“OK!” I paused, took a deep breath. “I’ll take the pictures!”

“And you show them to us on Halloween.”

So on the 30th, I did my homework, watched my TV shows, and went to bed like I always did. I set an alarm for midnight, after I knew Mom and Dad would be asleep. Then, I snuck out and walked the few blocks to the botanical garden. It was easy to get in. They ran chains along the entrance gate, it stopped cars, but was easy to crawl under. “Just to show Tommy,” I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the gate, from the inside.

There were no street lights. “I should have brought a flashlight.” I’d thought about doing that, but figured someone would see it’s beam, and call the police, so I walked in the dark

Everything looked different after dark, the trees beside the road looked black, leaves and all. And they looked bigger than they did in the daytime. All limbs and branches, like arms and fingers. “Happy Halloween,” I mumbled as I walked.

The rose garden was easy to find. I walked to its center. In the dark, I couldn’t see the roses. No colors, no pretty roses, just black rows of amorphous blobs on the ground.

In the middle of the roses I wondered, “How do I get picture in the dark?” That’s when I heard rustling noises. There was no wind, not even a breeze, but I heard rustling. I walked the length of the row of roses, trying to figure out what was making the sound. I couldn’t find a cause. And the rustling noises grew stronger, more frequent.

It sounded like someone was walking through the rose bushes. I stopped, and the rustling grew louder. I held up my phone, and tried to take a panoramic picture. “They’ll all be black.” That wouldn’t prove anything. I had to get pictures of the roses. I held the phone close to a rose bush, and shined the screen on it. I got a hint of color, so I took a picture.

I checked the picture to make sure it was OK. It was a red rose, almost black in the dark. But it wasn’t shaped like any rose I’d ever seen. The tips of the petals formed the outline of an eye. I stared at the picture. Then took pictures of other roses. They all looked like eyes.

I heard laughter, and a voice whispered, “Fresh meat, fresh blood. And I swear, the roses started moving.

I ran down the row I was on, looking for the opening to the next row, so I could get the hell out of there. But there wasn’t an opening, just endless rose bushes. So, I ran back the way I’d come, but the roses blocked my way.

I was trapped.

And I heard the roses whispering, “Fresh meat, fresh blood.” I backed away from them. They got closer, and whispered, “Fresh meat, fresh blood.”

I had to escape them, so I ran through them. Through the bushes filled with thorns. I felt their branches reach for me. Their thorns tore at my clothes, my arms, my legs. “Fresh meat, fresh blood!” I fought my way through the roses.

The botanical garden workers found me unconscious in the parking lot. I was a bloody mess, with scrapes and cuts everywhere. They called 911.

When I got out of the hospital, Mom and Dad never let me look at the pictures of the roses from that night. But one night I heard Mom ask Dad, “Why did he arrange the petals to make them look like eyes?”

747 Words

I wrote this for Ink After Dark’s Monster Mash 2015. Go read the other Monster Mash stories. You can find them here (dark tales) and here (light tales). Happy Halloween.

#MWBB 37 : The Ghost Of Stephen Foster

Shawn and April were daredevils. They loved exploring mountain trails, big, empty warehouses, office buildings, corner stores, neighborhood markets, city parks. You name it. They loved to explore it.

In October, 2013, they decided to take a new adventure, and spend each Friday night in October in a different haunted house.

For Halloween night, they found an old, abandoned hotel outside Wachapreague, in the middle of the woods, off an old road none of us had ever heard of. It was the Hotel Paradise. The locals all said, “It’s haunted,” and told countless stories of howling coming from the hotel at night. Sometimes it was an evil laugh. Sometimes it was crying, or screams. And people who stayed there never were the same.

On Halloween day, they met after work, piled into his truck, and drove across the Bay Bridge Tunnel. They ate a fast food dinner at a diner they’d never heard of somewhere near Kiptopeak, then drove to the Hotel Paradise.

Shawn grabbed the two sleeping bags, and April grabbed the bag full of munchies and beer, and they broke in. It was long abandoned, so no one cared. Inside, they picked out a room, and threw the sleeping bags on the floor.

The hotel was really just a two-story house, with extra bedrooms, and each bedroom could be locked. The bathrooms and showers were common, shared by all the rooms. It was a little hotel. The interior was dusty, and dirty. The floors were wooden, and footprints from previous adventurers were everywhere.

They took pictures with their phones, posting them on the Internet. Sharing their adventure with their friends. They found an old guest book, and had fun reading the names of hotel guests in it. Noting the last guest had visited in 1933.

Around midnight, April drug Shawn into the room they’d picked out. They’d both stripped, and had fun collecting memories of sexual adventures in an old, haunted hotel. Spent, they’d stretched out in their sleeping bags, and passed out.

Shawn woke up at 3 AM. “April!” he shook her awake. “April! Did you hear that?”

April shook her head, “Let me sleep,” she groaned, and she rolled over, and pulled her sleeping bag snug around herself.

Shawn sat up, and listened. He heard people. Talking. But he couldn’t tell what they were saying. He pulled on his pants, and followed the sounds out of the room, down the hall to the common shower.

The shower room door creaked as he pushed it open, and slipped inside. “Do you think he’s ready?” a voice whispered.

“Shut up, ya idiot. You’ll scare the rats!”

Two people stood next to him, at the room door. They were watching something. Shawn turned to see what they were looking at. It was a woman. Naked, bound, and gagged, on the room floor.

“The show starts soon.” One of the men declared, as he poked the other in the ribs.

“This’ll be good.”

There were scratching noises. Then the grate over the vent along the wall opened up. Rats started pouring through it. Dozens of them. Shawn watched, fascinated, as the rats formed a circle around the woman. Then, he screamed in terror as the rats leaped on the naked woman, and started eating her alive.

The woman thrashed, and twisted, and tried to scream. But she couldn’t. She was bound, and gagged. And helpless to defend herself, or escape. The two men watched. “Oh, she’s a tasty one, isn’t she?”

Shawn ran from the room, down the hall, to get April.

April wasn’t there. He called for her, and heard her scream for help. He raced down the hallway and stairs to the hotel’s main room where he found April, naked, tied to a chair. Rats were climbing up her legs.

Shawn grabbed her and the rats and ropes all faded away. April screamed as she raced out the front door of the hotel, and hit in the truck. They spent the rest of the night in his truck. The next week, they broke up. And neither of them was ever the same again.

682 words

This is my entry for week 37 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.