Surviving Halloween – Short Fiction

Three days ago, I killed a man. Before you judge me, understand why I did it.

* * * * * * * * *

On Halloween night, I dressed up to take my younger siblings Trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Charlie is 5, Carin is 9, Craig is 11 and I’m 16. Craig wasn’t thrilled to have to hang out with the younger two, but Mom didn’t give him any choice. So we headed up the street to the houses with outside lights on.

Charlie was dressed as a frog – he called himself Kermit even though the only thing he had in common with the Muppet was the green color. Carin was a princess, complete with tiara and scepter. Craig put some shortening in his hair and combed it into a pompadour. With jeans and a T-shirt, he fancied himself James Dean. I told Mom not to let him watch the “Rebel Without a Cause” DVD!

Me, I dressed in one of Mom’s old formals and made some opera glasses out of wire and pretended to be a rich witch going out to the opera. Yeah, I had been watching the Marx Brothers.

Anyway, we went down one side of the street for three blocks and had just started back down the other when Craig saw some of his friends. He dumped us like a quart of sour milk and took off with them. I didn’t know what I’d say to Mom, but maybe he’d be back before we got home.

The next house was one that had sold recently, so I didn’t know who lived there. The porch light was on so we rang the bell. The door opened, and Charlie stepped in before I could stop him. Naturally, Carin had to follow right behind him, so I had to go in, too. Creepy! I couldn’t see anyone who could have opened the door.

The kids were picking up wrapped candies from the floor as they went deeper into the house. I looked around the entry but no one was there. The door slammed closed behind me! I ran to it and tried to open it, but somehow it was locked and I couldn’t get it to budge.

Charlie and Carin had disappeared through an interior doorway. I abandoned the front door to try to find them, but they weren’t there when I rounded the wall. I started yelling their names, but I didn’t hear anything but my own voice.

Then I spotted their treat bags and Carin’s scepter; they were dumped in a corner as though they had been tossed there. Suddenly the voice I heard wasn’t yelling anymore, but screaming, until nothing else came out of my mouth.

The room I was in led to a corridor with several doors. I tried them, one by one. Each of them was locked and no light showed under any of them. Where were my brother and sister? What was happening?

Finally, one door knob turned when I tried it. I opened the door slowly, not completely sure that I wanted to see whatever was inside. I was worried for nothing. The room was empty, not even furniture. But a rectangle of light outlined a door on the other side of the room.

I opened the door, expecting to find a closet. Instead, the door opened to a stairwell heading down. The light came from a bare light bulb hanging overhead, and a string of them led down the steps.

I made my way down as quietly as I could. After 28 steps, the path made a 90-degree turn to the left. I tried to stay invisible as I peeked around the corner. I was in some sort of basement, but not like any basement I’d ever seen.

On one wall, there was something that looked like a giant pizza oven. It was a huge brick dome with a metal door in it. The door was open and I could see flames and glowing coals inside. Off to one side, I saw Charlie and Carin down on the floor. Their hands were tied and they seemed to be asleep.

A man stood over them, illuminated by the dancing flames. He wore a black robe with a hood and carried a big stick, like some sort of walking stick. He was prodding the kids with it. They didn’t move.

“Soon, little ones, very soon. The oven is almost ready and then I shall have my feast!” His voice was raspy and coarse.

“Who are you and what are you doing to my family?” I shouted, although it didn’t come out like a shout.

He whirled around and spotted me. I don’t think he had realized that there were three of us until that moment.

“What do you want?”

“I want my brother and sister and the key to the front door, that’s what!”

“Oh, I’m afraid that’s not possible,” he sighed. “These two are my dinner and I think that you will do nicely for tomorrow’s meal.” He held out a bowl of candy. “Wouldn’t you like a sweet treat? It will help you to understand.”

I slapped the bowl away. He must have drugged them with the candy. No way was I eating any of that garbage.

“I wish that you hadn’t done that, my dear. You’ll only make things harder. Come now, you know you want some.” He bent over and began collecting the scattered pieces. His grip on the stick loosened as he reached for more of the candy.

I yanked the stick out of his hand, and hit him with it as hard as I could on the back of his head. He slumped a little and I hit him again. He tried to stand up and I jabbed him in the stomach as hard as I could with the end of the stick. He staggered backwards and fell against the opening of the oven. I pushed him with the stick and forced him over into the flames. Quick as I could, I slammed the oven door and put the latch in place-that stick came in very handy.

Charlie and Carin were still out. I left their hands tied and used their bonds as loops to hook over the stick to drag them up the steps. I knew they would have some sore arms and legs the next day, but right then I didn’t care. I just wanted to get them out of this place. It wasn’t easy, but I got them upstairs and through the house.

When we got to the entryway, the door stood open. I dragged them outside and untied them. They began to revive after a while in the air. I got them to their feet, even though they were a little groggy and started guiding them toward home.

“Where’s my candy?” asked Charlie, slurring as though he had been drinking.

“You gave it away to a little kid that didn’t have any. That was very nice and I’m proud of you.” I know, lying is a sin, but I didn’t think the truth would be a good idea at this point.

“Oh, okay,” and he fell silent again.

We were nearly home when Craig jumped out of the bushes and nearly scared me into screaming again.

“Where have you guys been?” he demanded. “I’ve been waiting for you so we could go home together.”

“Don’t even ask, Craig. You wouldn’t believe me.”

* * * * * * * * * *

So that’s what happened. I killed him. I did it to save the three of us. I got lucky. He underestimated me. He seemed to have some weird “Hansel and Gretel” delusion about eating little kids. I gave him the appropriate treatment. I won’t be telling my mother, of course. She just thinks we are three very generous kids who gave away our loot to others. I’m not planning to set her straight.

Oh, by the way, that house is for sale again.

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