The Last House. Part 4
Despite his fears, the water seemed calm. Maybe she wasn’t moving anymore. Max tried to tell himself that it was just their imaginations. That their fear was making them go crazy. Maybe this is all just a dream, and I’ll wake up. No more trick or treating for me. Now way. The sadistic grin on the old man’s face, and the cruel gleam in his eyes, said otherwise.
A hand reached up from the water. Its bloated skin shifted as the fingers gripped the rim of the tub. Small streams of water dripped down from her spongy hand. Water dyed red with the blood of her first victim.
The children tried to scream, but no sound came from their dropped jaws. They stood there with eyes peeled back like golf balls, screaming into a vacuum.
Another hand reached up through the red stained water as that hideous metal box breached the surface. The woman’s body, motivated by some black magic or twisted science, slithered down the side of the tub with an inhuman fluidity. She balanced on all fours, her water logged skin hung down from her ancient skeleton. She reached forward with one hand as she began crawling towards them.
It was like someone had let the air back into the room all at once. It echoed with a piercing shriek magnified by the number of terrified children screaming in unison like they were part of some gruesome parody of a choir. Still, they could not move.
She reached out with one hand, and grabbed a little girl by her bare leg. The wet skin clung to her leg no matter how much she wiggled or squirmed. With one powerful tug, the girl’s leg was pulled from under her, and she was whipped backwards to the floor. Her candy fell to the ground like a hailstorm as she screamed.
The collective paralysis broke. Max and the rest of the kids turned back towards the door and scrambled towards it. They bottlenecked at the doorway. Fear was taking hold as they pushed and shoved and clawed their way through it like a stampede.
Screaming and crying, the children ran out of the house and back onto their safe neighborhood street. They were surprised to find none of their parents waiting for them. Max looked back towards the house, and saw the door suddenly slam shut. The Jack O’lanterns that had once lit up every room went out at once, as though someone had blown out all of their candles in a single breath. He looked at Ben and saw the lifeless expression on his friend’s face. Ben dropped his candy, and started shuffling in the direction of his home. Soon, the other kids did the same. Each dropped their candy, and started lifelessly walking away from that spot. Max too dropped his candy and started towards his home. He untied the vampire cape from his neck, and the gentle October breeze carry it away. He spat out his glow-in-the-dark fangs and just wanted to go home.
When he reached home, his parents were immediately concerned. He had no candy, his costume was gone, and he barely said a word to them. He put up no fight when he was told to take a bath. He did not argue when he was told to go to bed; he usually argued that he should be able to stay up watching monster movies until at least ten on a day like Halloween. He simply did what he was told before hugging his parents and going to bed. He walked into his bedroom, and made his way over to his cherry red racecar bed. He did not want to be alone that night, and debated on leaving the light on. He knew he would be told to turn it off, and decided not to have an argument about it after what he had been through.
He turned off the light, and lay down on his bed under his cartoon character decorated sheets. As soon as he closed his eyes, he heard the creaking of his bedroom door, the shuffling of feet in the carpet, and the gentle pattering of water droplets hitting the soft floor. Max’s hyperventilated as he shut his eyelids tighter. Max heard voice of Tommy whisper, “Wake up, Maxy. You shouldn’t have left me there. But it’s okay, I brought her here to meet you too.”
Max’s eyes opened wide. As he looked towards his doorway, he saw the silhouetted shape of that metallic box on the headless woman’s body as she leaned in closer. As he tried to scream, he heard cackling coming from the smaller, child-sized silhouette.
“Trick or treat,” laughed Tommy.
Christopher Hall is an author at the beginning of his career. His background is primarily in history, and historic writing. He attended Wesley College for his undergraduate work, and Washington College to complete his MA in history. He currently works for the Delaware State Museums creating history and historical-fiction programs. He lives in Dover Delaware.