The following short story is another venture into a different genre for this Blogger. This is the first installment of three chapters to be published each Tuesday and will culminate on 10/31/06. With Halloween fast approaching, I give you this tale of trick-or-treating gone horribly wrong.
Joan shivered as she tore what had been September from the calendar. She backed away from the new page on her kitchen wall. The bold letters spelling out OCTOBER appeared almost three dimensional, growing larger with each step backward.
....She knew it was only a matter of time before her nightmares would return. Soon she would be slipping into a state of psychosis, just as she had for the last twenty years. Overcome with attacks of anxiety and bouts of deep depression, images of that Halloween night so long ago would be dominating her mind's eye.
....She sat down at the table and began stirring a teaspoon of sugar into the steaming cup of tea. She stared, a blank paleness coming over her countenance, at the swirls of cream left in the spoon's wake.
...."What's become of them?" She pondered aloud. "Do they have nightmares too?" She closed her eyes. A kaleidoscope of colors appeared, coalesced and began to take the shape of things past.
October 31, 1980:
Joan was only twelve years old. It was Halloween. This Halloween was special. It was the first time that her parents had allowed her to go trick-or-treating without them in tow. She had fought with them over that issue during the days leading up to that night. She had proclaimed herself to be too old to be ushered through the neighborhood by her parents.
...."What good is a costume?" she had argued, "As soon as they see my parents on the sidewalk, they know who I am!"
....Her argument had been convincing enough that her parents had conceded. Her victory, however, had not been without sanctions. If it wasn't bad enough that they had restricted her to the immediate neighborhood of four square blocks, but they threw in the crushing caveat that she would have to wear the costume they'd already purchased. She took consolation in the fact that her parents had for once let go of the leash. After bearing the gauntlet of taboos like avoiding groups of older kids, accepting unwrapped candy, and visiting houses they didn't know, she set off cheerfully into the night.
....She silently vowed to herself that for next Halloween she would choose her own costume. At twelve years old, Snow White was hardly a fitting outfit for that night of all nights. Halloween was supposed to be filled with witches, ghosts, hobgoblins and monsters. As far as he was concerned, cutesy cartoon characters had no right to be out walking around with mummies and werewolves.
....It was that night that they had all gotten together for the first time. It was that night that they had formed their secret alliance that they would later call The Eerie Eight. Joan had not been the only one who was experiencing his or her first solo night of trick or treating. She was not the only one trapped in a juvenile costume. It was only natural they would have gravitated to one another.
....It must have been a curious sight to passersby who happened to chance upon the group that night, and they heard the jokes and laughs at their expense. Of course, it was the kids in the good costumes who gave them the most grief. So it was, that Snow White formed a bond with a cast of characters comprised of Cinderella, Raggedy Ann and Andy, G.I. Joe, L'il Orphan Annie, Prince Charming and a rather plump Mickey Mouse.
Joan glanced at her watch as she snapped out of her reverie into that distant past of twenty-six years before. As she made her way to the bathroom she couldn't help but smile thinking about that fateful Halloween meeting, and how the eight of them had managed to keep the pact they'd made for the next six years.
....Stepping under the hot stream of water, her tensed muscles began to relax. She closed her eyes and let the cascade of water caress her.
....It was Raggedy Andy who had suggested that they should get together in that same spot in that same park on the following Halloween. Joan herself, had come up with the idea that they should keep their faces covered and never reveal their identities to each other.
...."Then how will we know each other?" asked G.I. Joe.
...."Yeah," interjected Raggedy Andy, "If you think I'm wearing this thing again, you're crazy!"
....L'il Orphan Annie exclaimed, "I know! Let's use code names. No matter what costume we wear next year, we'll know each other by our secret code names."
....Joan shook her bag of treats and announced, "I'll be .. Candy!"
...."I might as well be Andy ... just as a reminder of this stupid Raggedy Andy get up."
....It was strange, Joan thought, just how vivid her memory was of that night. She was forever misplacing her keys, and yet she could remember a discussion among eight kids so long ago. She could remember pointing at Prince Charming and dubbing him Jim Dandy. She could almost hear Raggedy Ann noting that the first few names had rhymed, and as such choosing Brandy for herself. The other names taken included Mandy, Randy and Sandy.
....She stood before the full length mirror and gazed at her reflection. For a woman of thirty-eight years, she didn't didn't look half bad she thought to herself. She pirouetted to admire her still youthful figure.
....Then she remembered the last member of their group - Mickey Mouse. He had been forcing a One-Hundred Grand candy bar into his mouth when Jim Dandy had said, "...And friends, meet ... Grandy."
....In hindsight Joan realized that perhaps that was a cruel name for that chunky little guy, but he hadn't seemed to mind. He was was probably happy just to be included in a group of friends, any group of friends. She reminded herself that all eight of them had thought of themselves as outcasts that night. They had all shared the same embarrassment, namely those costumes that were meant for much younger kids. That was why they had pledged their dedication to secrecy by each of them placing a hand upon a plastic treat bucket shaped like a human skull.
....Although they had only come in contact once a year, they had in a sense, grown up together. Through it all they had maintained their vows. They had never seen each others faces. They had only know their friends by those secret code names. She wondered how long the traditional Halloween meetings would have continued had it not been for those two horrid tragedies.
....Naked, she strode shamelessly into the bedroom. After raising the window about an inch to allow the autumn breeze to seep inside, she lay spread eagle on her back atop the sheets. Bathed in the glow of the morning sun shining through the mini-blinds, she closed her eyes. She wished nothing more than to remember the happiest times of two decades ago.
....She moaned, imagining that it was his hands and fingers playing upon her bare body. Soon she was writhing at the electricity that only his touch could generate deep within her. The release was sudden, too sudden, wracking her entire body with sensations that she hadn't felt ... hadn't felt since that one particular night. She rolled onto her side and fell asleep.
....It was a fitful sleep. Fragmented memories drifted from the subconscious graveyard of her mind where she had buried them. There were the chains wrapped around the neck of a gorilla dangling from the swing set. There were the flames dancing from the dying bodies of an elderly woman and a Ninja warrior.
The figure crouched before the window for a few minutes longer. She hadn't sensed that she was being watched. She couldn't know that her simple act of cracking the window had afforded someone an unobstructed view of her and of her activities in that bed. She couldn't have known that her actions had led to another's climax.
....Still panting from the sexual intensity of the last few minutes, the figure arose and slipped around the house keeping behind the large laurel plants. There was a sudden movement ahead. Someone was approaching the house and walking up to the front door. Still hidden in the shrubs, the figure watched as a gloved hand slid a small envelope through the mail slot. As an after thought, the hand hovered a moment at the doorbell before finally pressing a finger upon it. The caller abruptly turned and hurried away.
....After a frantic but stealthy retreat, the figure once again knelt before the narrow crack of the bedroom window. She had stirred and was swinging her lithe legs to the floor. Momentarily dazed, her eyes fell upon the window. As she approached the window, the figure was about to duck out of view, only to be rewarded with a closeup of the woman's charms. The figure's eyes widened at the features that formed a panorama from the woman's smooth abdomen to the apex of her thighs.
....Joan grabbed her robe and quickly closed the garment over her nude frame and rushed to the door. The voyeur let loose a gasp at the thought of nearly being caught, before finally slipping unnoticed away from the house.
....Barely audible, the figure muttered, "This is only the beginning, Candy. Soon enough, I'll have that body. Then when you are begging for more, I'll wrap my hands around that lovely neck of yours ... and I'll squeeze ... and I'll squeeze."
To be continued...
Click here for Part 2