fiction

Better Than Candy: Bite-size Halloween Stories

My friend Cyndi gave me the idea to showcase some of the Halloween stories I received from the flash contest. Enjoy these bite-sized stories from Ethan Zabka, Anna Marsick, and Cynthia Hilston.

The Last Halloween 

By Ethan Zabka

“This is going to be awesome!” My friend Jeremy exclaimed. ” It’s going to be the greatest Halloween ever!”

“I agree; let’s make it the best,” I replied. After I donned my Dr. Frankenstein costume, we left.

It was a warm evening. Kids were everywhere, shouting and observing their prizes. The sunset was beautiful, an explosion of pink and yellow in the sky.

The first 5 houses we visited were generous, giving us Hershey bars and King-Sized Reese’s. As we were strolling, we came across a hideous creature, who fell in step with us after Jeremy remarked how he completed my Frankenstein apparel. The monster’s makeup was almost perfect, and his yellow eyes glimmered in the dusk. He wasn’t talkative, just keeping in step with me and munching on chocolate.

Soon, the moon came out, often hidden by dark clouds scudding across the sky. A chilly wind started to blow, and rain sprinkled down. Jeremy departed for home, tired. The monster and I kept on, gathering candy.

I left the monster when I realized the time. I would have to take the shortcut through the woods to make it home before midnight.

I was nearly home when I bumped into something large.

It wasn’t a tree.

The monster-man.

A lightning flash divulged a ragged rip in his cloak, revealing a mottled chest, metal pieces poking from green flesh. The sight paralyzed me with fear.

He was real.

Thunder boomed like artillery fire. I screamed as he seized me and hissed, “Curse you, Frankenstein! You have come back from the grave to cause me anguish!”

“But Frankenstein-”

“All who bear the name Frankenstein deserve to die, to have no happiness here!” His eyes blazed with rage as the thunder crackled. “I end this once and for all!”

I felt his fingers close around my neck.

Love Wins

By Anna Marsick

*Ping* goes my phone. I lay on my bed, pillow sodden with tears. I flip over, refusing to acknowledge that deplorable dimwit who sources my rueful feelings. One minute I’m in love, the next I’m drowning in my tears. I still can’t believe he didn’t take me to homecoming because he had to work out. I hate relationships.

*Ping* I roll my eyes, ignoring it and muttering, “Not accepting apologies today, buddy. Go flirt with your dumbbells. They’re probably smarter than me anyway.”  Suddenly, I hear a *thunk, thunk, THUD* at my window. Spooked, I spring off my bed.

“Oww!” I scream-whisper, creeping to the window, seizing a pink slipper that will protect me from the predator who’s summoned me. Heart pounding, I cautiously peer out of my window into the gloomy night and am greeted by a rock hitting my forehead. “Stand down!” I yelp, “I have a weapon, and I’m not afraid to strike!”

“Hi, Baby! Come out here!” replies the hooligan. “What in the? Myles? What are you… never mind. Go away.” I begin to shut my window as he bellows, “Wait! I’m sorry. I’m a bad boyfriend. Let me make it up to you. Please. Come out here, dance with me under the stars. I made a playlist and brought a dress for you… I love and care about you.”

“That’s cute. Bye,” I say, shaking my head and preparing to retreat. I steal one last glance at his face. Aw man. The pleading gaze in his eyes causes me to cave in. I gingerly climb out of my window, into his arms. Expeditiously, I slip into the dress, and we become one under the stars… united in rhythm. As we sway to the music, he murmurs, “I love you.” I love relationships.

Credit: Jean-Philippe Delberghe

Halloween Date Night 

By Cynthia Hilston

The elusive they say opposites attract. Herman didn’t know who they were.
He looked over his phantom face in the mirror. The stitches holding his smile broke. Rotten teeth were a turn-off for most women.
“What sort of zombie puts a profile on a dating site?”
It was done on a dare. Who says the undead can’t have a life? Ed, ever a charmer and a drunk in this half-afterlife, told Herman he would be happier if he went out more. Halloween was coming. She would think Herman was a brilliant costume.
This she was as elusive as the they who made ridiculous claims like opposites attract.
Herman pulled up to her house in his 1966 Chevy on Halloween. She glowed with the setting sun as she stepped outside like an angel meant to take him to Heaven.
Heaven isn’t for zombies who eat brains, even reformed zombies, thought Herman. If he had a beating heart, it would have thumped out of his tattered chest beneath his new clothes.
“The clothes,” said Ed, “were important. You can’t go around looking completely dead.”
His already rigid body stiffened as he remembered his manners, exited the car, and opened the passenger door.
The light of Heaven shone down with her smile. “Happy Halloween…Herman.”
“Hello, Brenda.” He shouldn’t have gorged on a stray cat’s brains before coming here, a chunk of grey matter lodged in his throat. “Where to?”
“You look like a vintage kinda guy. There’s a malt shop in town. You know it?”
He nodded.
A little while later, they shared a table and a strawberry shake. She leaned into him and took his hand. He twitched, trying to pull away.
Yet she was as cold as him.
She giggled. “Don’t worry, Herman. It’s Halloween. This is all a costume.”

 

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Personal Journey

Frankenstein’s Teenager

Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein, is really an allegory. It’s the parenting memoir she couldn’t write. Parents of pubescents… follow me.

Victor builds what he hopes will be a beautiful, incredible masterpiece. He works tirelessly on his legacy. So intent on accomplishing his ends, Frankenstein doesn’t ask, “Should I?”

Sounds like many parents I know who should’ve stuck with cats. But really, is anybody ready?

Said creation doesn’t turn out the way Victor imagined. In fact, when his creation hits puberty and lumbers around to the sounds of creepy Psycho chords, Victor realizes to his horror: I meant it to be beautiful, but I made… a monster. Too late. What’s done is done. All he can do is damage control. And the monster– it might want love and affection, but it’s hard to say for sure, so irrational and unaware it is. But it wants a girlfriend, of that, it’s certain.

So Victor, for the whole rest of the story is basically wrecked over this creature for which he’d had such high hopes. All he can do is follow it around trying to make sure it doesn’t hurt people. He fails. Parents do. But we keep going to the ends of the earth, like Victor Frankenstein. His monster runs away– of course it does, thinking the grass is greener somewhere else, everywhere else in fact. People get hurt. Ugly words are exchanged. The monster roams and the maker frets.

Frankenstein ends in death. Victor, his wife, his creation. All perish. As for the memoir: the reality of adolescence is that a death occurs there too. Adolescence itself dies and out of the seed springs something entirely new– a rational and beautiful adult. And the grey-souled parents, dead but only half-dead like a bony tree, breathe a sigh of relief.

 

Personal Journey

P is for Perfectiosis

PPerfectiosis. A disease that afflicts writers. Symptoms include but are not limited to the following: generalized anxiety, sweats, permanent worry lines on the forehead, permanent duck lips, muscle aches and pains, blurred vision, hair loss (self-inflicted), and ultimately death by defenestration, an option more appealing than hitting publish after spending an eternity on a piece of writing that no longer recognizes itself but blunders along like Frankenstein’s monster. As you read it you want yell curses and runfrankenstein from it just as Victor Frankenstein did, but the pragmatist in you regrets the hours of life you can’t capture back, and really, you’re hoping it’s not all that bad. Surely someone will love it; like it’s one of those ugly dogs so off-the-charts ugly that it’s (sort of) cute. Please think this essay is ugly-dog cute, you think. That’s what a writer suffering from perfectiosis clings to on revision #994.

A painter can hang his pictures, but a writer can only hang himself. – Edward Dalberg

Eddie and I would be best buds if he wasn’t a hundred years dead. Eddie also said writing is humiliation. He didn’t even specify that it had to be bad writing. Or for that matter, who gets humiliated. In my post about Luke I confessed that Luke hates when I blog about him, so it could very well shake down that he’s the one humiliated by some really awesome writing.

Perfectiosis and Eddie’s comment on art and suicide are what conspires to keep a writer’s work safely in the file, never published. As of today I have a short story. Haha!… short…. that I’ve pored over for at least a full work week and still don’t love enough to zap it with lightning and let it loose upon the world. My perfectiosis won’t allow it.

What’s the cure for perfectiosis? Why, publishing a post a day based on the letters of the alphabet. If you do that, one of two things will happen: 1. You’ll publish little scarred and warty monsters; or 2. You’ll go completely insane and get a week’s stay at the funny farm where I happen to know they have deli trays and gourmet cookies. (How do I know that? You’ll have to read my upcoming Q post/warty monster to find out.) Publishing scarred and warty monsters and noting that life goes on, that people still love you and the sun still sends down its warming rays… will cure the perfectiosis.

I have half a mind to publish a post with flamboyant grammar mistakes and misplaced modifiers just to prove my point…