Welcome Home, Part Two

The Afflicted

I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo. Chuck’s challenge this week was the first chapter of your NaNoWriMo story. I decided to continue my story from Random Song Title. Part one is here. This one is 1,049 words:
***

I’m tired.

I couldn’t speak this aloud.

If they suspected I wouldn’t meet their demands…

My teeth chattered.

Damn it’s cold!

It didn’t matter. Out here was better than in my own home. The idea of them seeing the inside of my home frightened me. It was safer to be out here in the cold. I had to shift in my chair because my legs were getting numb. The grip of my Browning 1911 caught the edge of the armrest reminding me it was there. I hoped to not use it, but deep down I knew it was more than a possibility – it was a certainty.

“Trick or treat!”

I calmly and purposefully placed a handful of candy into a stained pillowcase. Inside it I saw all manner of grotesquery. Teeth, spiders, splayed frogs and the occasional piece of wrapped candy.

“Thank you!”

The words seemed sincere, but rotting flesh behind the mask did little to fill me with any manner of holiday cheer. I had been held up at work and simply forgot the scariest day was upon me. All Hallow’s Eve. We only had to placate the undead once a year like this. Princesses and super hero costumes tried to hide their true form. It couldn’t. Some were harder to spot than others. Usually the stench of decaying flesh gave them away.

“Trick or Treat!”

This one left a trail of blood in its wake. If the yellowed bed sheet with eyeholes weren’t covered in spattering of crusted blood, it may have been cute. The skeletal hand gripping a purple plastic pumpkin ruined any attempt to convince myself this was the innocent holiday of yesteryear.

“TRICK OR TREAT!”

My reverie was too long. I tried not to look into the eyeholes, but it stepped closer. One socket was devoid of anything. The other housed a jaundiced eye red around the iris. It blinked as I shoved enough candy into the opening as I could. I stared as it turned around and skipped away whistling.

I didn’t think those things could skip, let alone whistle… Don’t you need lips to whistle?

I peered into the sack to discover that encounter left me dangerously low on wrapped sweets. I worried anew that I would be short. I glanced at my wristwatch – seven forty five. I counted the remaining pieces – thirteen. I had only thirteen pieces of candy to last the remaining fifteen minutes. I was doubtful, but hopeful nonetheless.

A crisp wind blew and I zipped my jacket. It would hinder drawing my Browning, but getting sick could be my end as well.

My heart raced when I saw them. I could feel the adrenaline flowing through my veins. A large group was descending on my house. There had to be twenty or thirty of them. The second hand swept as they approached. Seven fifty six – I might just make it if I can slow them down.

“Trick or Treat!”

Four of them cried out in unison. Garbage bags at the ready. More seemed to come and I felt them press in on me. One of them reached into my sack and knocked it off the table. I reached for the bag, but shuffling feet kicked and stomped the remaining candy just out of my reach.

“Trick or Treat!”

The wristwatch on my outstretched hand was torn off as something dressed as a butterfly stepped on my arm.

“Trick or Treat!”

The face of my wristwatch was now cracked with a missing chunk.

“Trick or Treat!”

The minute hand bent at a weird angle. Seven fifty nine. I had almost made it out of this alive.

“Trick or Treat!”

The mass pressed in on me.

“Trick or Treat!”

I started to hyperventilate, but each breath was accompanied by orders most foul.

“Trick or Treat!”

I couldn’t take it any more. I had to act. If they weren’t satiated with candy, they might demand my flesh. I reached with my hand to yank down the zipper. My wrist throbbing from the pain of my wristwatch wretched from me. I had only gotten the zipper down half way before it jammed. The teeth stuck on the cotton from my undershirt.

“Trick or Treat!”

I fell to my knees groping my holster for my Browning. I managed to unholster it, but my jacket was still an issue. As I pulled it up, my jacket pressed against the magazine release. Despite the clamoring monsters, I remember distinctly hearing the soft click as the magazine, now freed, tumbled to the concrete.

“What happened next Mister Johnston?”

I sighed. “You know what happened.”

“I do, but it’s important for you to say it aloud.”

“Fine. The monsters fled when they saw the gun.”

“They didn’t try to eat you?”

“Obviously not.”

“Why do you think that was so?”

“Duh. It was after eight. The ritual had ended.”

“You mean Hallowe’en?”

“You make it sound so pedestrian.”

“You talk of monsters disguised as children; trails of blood and the stench of rotting flesh. These are all hallucinations. None of it was real.”

I stared at it. It looked human, but it seemed to forget I could see the worm hanging out of its ear. It stared intently at me – no doubt awaiting a response. I looked past it and saw my salvation: A rapier leaning against a table leg. The table contained plastic cups filled with blood next to a tray overflowing with garbage. The entire room reeked of iron and decay.

“Mister Johnston?”

I leaped from my chair at it. My forehead made a crack noise as it made contact with its chin. We tumbled to the floor, but I was prepared. I felt a small trickle of blood, but the rapier was only inches away.

“I need help in here!”

The shout for assistance would be in vain. I gripped the rapier but it was stuck to the table. I flipped the table and pried the rapier. It took a few attempts, but the monster was still sprawled on the floor gripping its chin.

It was on its feet now, but I had freed the rapier. I swung and my blade became embedded in its arm. I heard movement behind me. I realized this escape would fail. If I survived, I would try again.

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications and is currently attending Northern Arizona University. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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