I figured I'd join the trend and write something Halloween-y before it's over. It's short but oh well.
Rose glanced out of the window from her bedroom to assess how many trick-or-treaters there were. A big plastic bowl full with sweets sat waiting downstairs for anyone who might come knocking. The street was deserted though; it had been for the past hour. It was already nine o clock and she doubted very much that there would be anyone. She’d been home alone all night and her parents weren't due to be home until midnight so she decided the only thing for it was to lock the doors and settle down with a good movie and the bowl of sweets.
Rose remembered a time, not too long ago, when she had been one of the trick-or-treaters herself. There was her and her best friend Laura who used to wander Laura’s street dressed in a witch’s costume and a cat costume. Laura had always been the witch and Rose had always been the cat. It was almost like an unspoken rule. But then they had grown up and just stopped doing it. Last Halloween she had gone round a friend’s house for a party and had gotten too drunk and thrown up everywhere. She promised herself that was never going to happen again.
A knock on the door jerked her out of her reverie and back into the presence.
She flew down the stairs with startling enthusiasm and in one swooping motion, grabbed the sweets from the table and yanked the door open.
There was no one there.
Just the darkness, the wind and the rain. It sprayed across her bare skin and she shivered, closing the door immediately. Had she imagined the knock? Or were people playing pranks on her?
Either way she decided enough was enough. She locked the door and pulled the curtains shut, closing off the outside world.
Row after row of DVDs filled the bookcase at the bottom of the stairs and she studied them all, trying to pick a suitable one for the night. A good horror maybe? Or better yet, a comedy? Despite it being Halloween, Rose had never been a horror-lover. Her friends had forced her to watch a gory film a few years back and the vivid scenes were still etched into her brain, even after so long.
The rain hammered against the window and the wind howled outside. No wonder there were no trick-or-treaters; who would want to be outside in weather like this? Grabbing the blanket off the back of the sofa, Rose put the DVD on and settled down with the bowl tucked under her arm like a baby.
She had gotten no further than the opening credits when there was another knock at the door. It was as unusual knock though, if a knock could even be unusual. It was slow and dragged out; a few seconds passed between each knock.
The weather grew worse outside.
The opening credits ended.
Rose unwrapped the first sweet.
‘URGH!’ She groaned, irritated. Throwing the blanket off her she stomped over to the door, unlocked it, and pulled it open.
Again, there was no one there.
Poking her head out the door, she looked right then left at a completely deserted street. She figured the kids must be hiding behind a bush or something. ‘You can stop anytime soon!’ She called out sarcastically.
Childlike laughter rang out in the darkness.
It was coming from her garden.
Puzzled, she glanced at the gate which was swinging open. Had she left it unlocked?
Ice trickled along her spine and she hesitated. If there was someone in the garden, shouldn’t she call the police? She didn’t know how dangerous they might be, what if they were armed?
For God’s sake Rose, it’s a child. Get a grip.
She pulled her boots on and wrapped a coat round her body before heading outside. She kept the door open to provide some lighting and pushed the gate open further. It creaked loudly and she paused, mid-step. Her element of surprise was gone. Now it was just down to courage.
Another small laugh, definitely feminine, came from the darkness in her garden. A shadow moved in her peripheral vision and she froze, the blood in her body running cold.
‘Hello?’ she called out. ‘Is someone there?’
Someone whispered. It was quick and inaudible.
‘I’m not going to hurt you. Are you lost?’ Rose felt stupid; who knows who she was talking to?
‘If you go into the woods tonight, you won’t believe your eyes.’
They were singing. Rose still couldn’t see anyone, just a dark shadow in the corner of her garden, standing completely motionless. But it was definitely a child’s voice. The singing was clear, like bells and it frightened Rose beyond belief.
‘If you go into the woods tonight, you’re in for a big surprise.’
The shadow started moving, towards her. Rose could only stand, frozen and watch as the child came towards her. The child was limping; a jerking motion followed each step. Rose forced her legs to move and she began to back away. The light from her house came into view and for the first time she got a look at the child’s face.
And screamed at what she saw.
Black eyes, completely black, stared at her. The skin was deathly pale and was littered in cuts and bruises. One deep gash ran the length of the child’s cheekbone and beneath vivid red Rose could see the glistening white of bone. A roll of nausea swept through her stomach and she collapsed to her knees.
‘Why won’t you help me? I’m lost and I hurt.’
The child limped closer to Rose.
The skin of her lips pulled back to reveal rotted, darkened teeth. The child stopped, inches away from Rose and moved her arms in an almost automatic motion to the collar of her dress. Blood seeped through the fabric, flowing in torrents from the child’s throat.
‘My neck hurts. Everywhere hurts. Why will nobody help me?’
The child tore the collar away from her skin to reveal a long, deep slash that ran from ear to ear. Blood continued to flow, spilling over the child’s small fingers and pooling on the concrete below.
‘Happy Halloween Rose.’
The child lunged forwards and Rose screamed.