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A Short Halloween Story

posted Nov 27, 2017, 9:07 AM by Lauralee Richardson

By Grace Tsai

Thunder cracked in the night sky, its echo filling every forgotten crevice in the dilapidated house.  I bolt upright in a bed and stared at the alabaster walls enclosing me into a bedroom.  It was inexplicable, but never before had a storm felt so sinister.

I looked left at the alarm clock.  6 AM.  I studied an unfinished mural adorning the wall.  The pencil lines of the preliminary sketches were dark but smudged.  Broken pencil points were strewn along the corners of the wall.  

I squinted more closely.  The mural had eerie potential.  A girl laughing on a swing set, about to fly off.  Next to it, a grotesque, winged gargoyle clawing at a piano.  A camera shattered in two.  A house in a forest, isolated from the rest of the world.  Whose work was this?  

Then I realize -- I can’t remember who I am, where I am.  What am I doing here?  Why are there bars on my window?  The storm sends fear coursing through my veins, but I cannot fathom why.   My mind was blank. Nothing came to mind.  Nothing was there.  

Heart hammering against my chest, sweat forming against my palms, I listened to the storm.  I hate thunderstorms.  I flipped my lamp on, but the light that illuminated the walls did not reassure me.  Instead, it danced over the mural, frenetically flickering, as if a warning.  

Suddenly, there was a din of thunder, though abnormally prolonged.  The thud of a falling tree could be heard from a distance.  My feet were lead as I wobbled out of bed toward the door.  The cobwebs in the corners of the hall are getting unruly.  I should clean them.  

In the bathroom next door, I stumbled toward the rusted sink.  I tried to wash my hands.  As a trickle of water fell into the sink, the faucet made a thin, high-pitched protest.  I glanced in the mirror above the sink.  I look like a young teenage girl.  Wait, was that motion behind me?  The wooden door hung on its hinges, but I felt that it was slightly bent towards me.  I saw my shadow cast across the curtains of the shower.  I snapped out of my trance.  I turned to leave, but suddenly, the lights flickered and dimmed.  I spun around in a panic.  On the mirror, a red streak splattered across the glass for a second.  But as suddenly as it had appeared, it disappeared, like nothing had ever happened.

Then, a girl’s scream pierced the air.  Terror laced my veins like a drug, but so did relief.  There was another person!  I was not alone!  I grabbed the nearest object--a curling iron--and ran toward the source of the scream.  In the dark, I made my way down a rickety staircase, around the corner toward a lit room.  I hate the dark, too.  Against a wall in the atrium stood a petite girl, hyperventilating.  Had she felt the same unseen force?

Our eyes met across the room.  Her right eye shone a pale blue.  Her left eye was a bright shade of green.  Her hands were shaking, bringing my attention to her inhumanly long fingernails.   Were my fingernails that long?  No, thank goodness.  The girl also had short ragged hair, burnt umber.  She wore a tattered Beatles t-shirt with torn jeans.  Although she was of pixie height, she seemed older than I was.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the girl from the mural.

“What happened?  Who are you?” I asked her.

“A creature came up from behind me…I ran, then it disappeared…” she faltered.  She shook her head and smiled uneasily.  “I’m Lucy.”

How could she be this collected?  I have no idea what’s going on.

My questions poured from my lips.  “Do you live here?  Who else lives here?  Are we the only ones?”

Instead of answering, she asked me, “What is your name?”

I hesitated, but responded truthfully, “I don’t know.”

I expected surprise, but, instead, Lucy put her fingers on her chin, thinking.  “You look like an Amelia, but I’ll call you Amie for short.”

I shrugged, impatient. “Did you see what the creature looked like exactly?”  Maybe a gargoyle?  

Lucy shook her head.  “It was dark. I could only see the eyes of it.”

That didn’t help.  I needed to catch the creature before it caught me...or Lucy, too.

“I did hear it run this way when you came downstairs,” Lucy remembered.  Without another word, she sprinted off down another nearby staircase to the basement.  I followed.

I joined Lucy at the bottom of the stairs and stopped.  I looked around at the abandoned boxes.  A single lonely light bulb, thankfully lit, hung from the ceiling.  More cobwebs.   Some knick knacks, a couple books, an old Christmas wreath, a broken mini-piano.  “What are we looking at?”

“Me,” Lucy said, staring at me with…was that hunger on her face?  “Do you know why you’ve here?  How long?  Do you remember anything?” she asked.  My heart nearly stopped.  “Do you?” she persisted.

“I-I…”  I faltered.  I really didn’t know anything about my life.  I could feel myself start to tremble.  The basement door slammed shut.  I couldn’t move, but I still jumped out of my skin.

With a wicked grin, she laughed.  It was not a pleasant sound.  “You don’t, do you?  Good, your kind taste best without all of the memories twisting the tissues.  The marinating process is complete!”

Through my horror, I was slightly insulted.  “Am I part of a recipe?”  

The light flickered out and the darkness swallowed everything but Lucy, who had taken on a purple glow.  Wings sprouted from her back, and her face twisted downwards with a disgusting crack of her neck, and the hairs on her head started to wither away.  Her fingernails turned to claws.  Such a dramatic transformation could not been painless.  

Her pale blue eye gleamed into vibrant green.  Her mouth were filled with pearly daggers that evoked the teeth of a Venus fly trap.

Lucy was now on four legs.  

I was paralyzed with revulsion.  The drawing on the wall did not do justice to this abomination.  What are you?, I tried to ask, but my mouth was dry.  Suddenly, everything was purple, then black.  

If there had been anyone outside listening, they would have heard an ear-piercing scream.  But alas, there were only trees.  If there had been anyone outside watching, they would have seen an ominous shadow dripping blood fly from the chimney.  But alas, there were only the clouds and the rain and the moon.


Epilogue:


Every town has their own boogeyman stories.  In the town of Newbury, however, a small community with Puritan roots, the legends are especially vivid.  Little children are especially frightened of the story of the demon with four claws, green eyes, and a purple aura.  She’ll eat all of your memories, and then she’ll eat you!, warn parents.  All young students go through a phase where they fear that the girl sitting cross-legged next to them is her incarnation.  Some edgy adolescents like to dress as Lucy for Halloween.  And the parents pretend that a story is just a story, but every night, they still check around corners and ensure that their memories are intact.

And for the most part, their memories are.  But of course, Lucy thinks as she flies through the night, she has learned to be one step ahead.  She can pluck away memories like grapes on a vine or apples on a tree.  And she can pluck children too, out from pictures and papers and bedrooms.  Even their parents’ arms.

Amie had been sweet, both in life and in soup.  The girl had enjoyed drawing the fragments of memories that she had lost not long thereafter.  Lucy passes over Amie’s bedroom in Newbury, which had years ago been converted into an exercise room by parents who wanted to work out more.  

Lucy stops to rest in a tree in a nearby park, waiting patiently for the hunt to begin again.  Perhaps she will try crème brûlée this time.
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