This year, I'm kicking off the October Frights Blog Hop with a Halloween story.
by Carmilla Voiez
Mandy screwed the lid onto her mascara wand and threw it into her make-up bag. ‘I won’t forget, Mum. Have fun.’
The front door snapped shut and heels clinked towards the car where Philip, Mandy’s stepfather, waited impatiently, engine running.
‘I’m sorry,’ Mandy heard her mother say. ‘It’s just…’
Philip cut her short. ‘They’ll be fine, and we’ll be late.’
‘Hey!’ Mandy shouted as she opened the kitchen door. ‘They’re for trick or treaters, not you. Put them by the front door.’
Beneath doe-like eyes, Jamie’s sticky lips grinned. Her brother might be a brat, but he was adorable.
‘Can I help carve the pumpkins?’ he asked, bouncing up and down.
‘Too dangerous, kiddo. Sort out your costume.’
Mandy drew a heavy knife from a drawer and stared at the three bloated pumpkins.
Jamie darted across the kitchen, skidding to a halt in the doorway. ‘Mum said, don’t forget…’
‘Yeah, yeah. I know. Take my meds. I won’t forget.’
The first face Mandy carved looked like the love child of Jack Skellington and Minnie Mouse. She’d seen worse but resolved to make the next one scarier. She opened the cupboard above the sink, pushing aside boxes of pills to reach the tea lights behind.
On the front step, complete with flickering candle, it looked much better. One down, two to go. Three children – ghost, vampire and werewolf –glided towards her, carrying plastic cauldrons.
‘Trick or Treat.’
She held out the bowl and smiled as tiny hands dug beneath the surface like archaeologists searching for elusive treasure.
‘Was that Trick or Treat?’ Jamie asked, poking his orange face over the banister. ‘I wanted to open the door.’
‘You can get it next time.’
Mandy returned to the kitchen and picked up the knife. The bloated pumpkins squatted on the kitchen counter. A vague thought that three was too many flitted through her mind. She shrugged, assuming she miscounted earlier.
Mandy rotated the second pumpkin. She was definitely getting better at this. The carved eyes suggested malevolence rather than cuteness. Another tea light, and it was laid to rest beside its brother on the front step.
The next face seemed disturbingly human. Mandy shuddered as she stared into the wide-set eye sockets, gaping nostrils and lopsided sneer. Her skin crawled as pumpkin seeds became beetles, burying into her flesh – revenge for the destruction she had wrought on their host. Not real, take meds. Scratching her skin, she headed to the cupboard.
‘Cool.’ Jamie’s shrill voice sliced through her brain. ‘It looks like me.’
‘Mind the knife, Jamie. It’s very sharp.’
His fingers hovered above the blade as if drawn to it despite her warning. Mandy hurried over, grabbed his shoulders, and pulled him away.
A knock at the front door distracted him, and he skipped down the hallway.
Mandy stared at the open cupboard door and the pumpkin, trying to remember what she had been doing. Candle, of course.
Mandy scowled at the bloated pumpkins on the kitchen counter. A thought flitted through her head, but it darted away before she could examine it
Three more pumpkins.
The first was warm and her fingers sank into soft, silky fur. It made an angry mewling noise and leapt to the floor when she poked it. Mandy accepted the weirdness. Life had a habit of confusing her.
She checked the second pumpkin. It resisted the knife, so she pushed harder. The blade slipped and bit into the palm of her left hand. She dropped the knife and stuck her hand under the cold tap. Eventually the throbbing eased, then she couldn’t feel her hand at all. It was there, dangling at the end of her arm, but there was no pain.
‘Are you okay?’ the third pumpkin asked.
She nodded, reassured by the presence of the knife between her and the talking pumpkin.
She heard knocking and felt relieved when the pumpkin left the kitchen. Voices wafted from the front door. The pumpkin seemed to be asking a small pirate for help. When the door closed and the pumpkin returned, Mandy was ready. She plunged the blade into strangely pliant orange rind. Once she added a candle and moved it to the front step, her work would be complete. Just a few minutes rest, she thought as she sank to the sticky floor. A few minutes, that was all she needed, then she’d finish.
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