by Shane Migliavacca
Ray had a bad feeling in his gut. Bud had a sinister look in his eye tonight. It was Bud’s idea they go out. There was an unreasonably cold chill to this October night. Most likely the reason the trick or treaters were starting to thin out. Bud wanted to do some trick or treating of his own. Ray knew Bud long enough to know that meant some kind of crime would be perpetrated by them tonight.
Bud swung a beat up paper sack back and forth as they walked. When Ray had asked Bud told him only that it was a “surprise.” Ray didn’t like his friend’s surprises all that much. But without him, Ray would never have made it this far in life. His mother was an out of work nurse. His dad a foremen at the chemical plant. Stuck home with a kid and a husband that was never around, she took her frustration out on Ray. Smacking him around. His dad, too busy and too tired from long shifts, failed to notice or care. When he was fifteen Ray ran away from home. Those first few years had been harder then hell. He’d resorted to things he’d never thought he was capable of. Then he met Bud. A former runaway himself. They were kindred spirits. Bud knew his way around the streets. Ray owed him. No matter what the man did, he wouldn’t desert him. Not to mention he was more then a little afraid of him.
A kid in a skeleton costume bounded down the sidewalk towards them. Happily clutching a full bag of candy in his arms. As he passed by, Bud stuck out his leg, sending the kid crashing to the sidewalk. His bag of candy landing next to him. Some of the candy spilling onto the sidewalk and lawn. The kid started blubbering as he rubbed his knee.
Bud knelt down and looked at the kid. “Did you have a nice trip kid?”
The kid shook his head back and forth. “You tripped me.”
“Maybe your just clumsy kid.” Bud laughed. He snatched up the kid’s bag of candy.
“Hey! That’s mine!” The kid hollered. “Give it back!”
There was a flash of steel. Bud held out the switchblade he carried. “Shhh.” He whispered.
Ray felt his heart quicken. What was Bud gonna do to this kid? He’d never seen him hurt a kid, could he go that far? Kill a kid?
“Listen kid.” Bud said. “This is my candy now. Mine. You tell anybody about it, your parents, a cop, anybody…And I’ll make you watch as I kill ‘em. ‘cause I’m the Boogeyman. And I know where you live. Got it?”
The kid near tears and more then likely pissing his pants nodded.
“Good. Now run the fuck along. And don’t talk to fucking strangers.”
The kid hightailed it as Bud laughed. Sniffing the air he looked at Ray. “I think that kid shit his pants. Or was it you?”
“Fuck.” Ray manged. “Fuck man.”
This made Bud laugh louder, handing the bag of ill gotten candy to Ray. “Have some.”
Shaking his head, Ray reached into the bag. Grabbing a small bag of Sour Patch Kids.
“What are we doing out here tonight man?” He popped a red Sour Patch into his mouth. “Besides mugging little kids.”
“Well my man, I want to do something more adult then trick or treating.”
Bud motioned to the house up and down the street. “Pick one. Pick a good one and we’ll have ourselves some fun.”
Ray let his eyes wander over the houses. Nice upper middle-class homes. Some decorated to the hilt for Halloween. Others bore nothing at all. One house in particular. A large Grim Reaper stood on lawn. His eyes glowing. A witch stood next to him, cackling at a passersby. Purple, orange and green lights decorated the house’s exterior. A large glowing ghost hung on the front door. Loudly wailing at little kids as the walked up to the front door.
“That one.” Ray pointed.
Bud nodded in approval. A pretty brunette answered the door. Handing out candy to the little kids waiting there.
Amanda followed the outline on the construction paper. A detailed drawing of a skeleton grinning at her. She’d always been pretty good at drawing. Cutting things with scissors was another thing.
Next to her, Amanda’s little brother Kyle coughed as he coloured in a pumpkin she’d draw earlier. They sat at the kitchen table. Surround by snacks and colored paper.
What a drag. Stuck home on Halloween night looking after her sick kid brother. Her parents were off to have diner and then a movie. She was missing Stevie Lee’s big Halloween party at the Mill Creek farms. She’d just got her driver’s license and barely got to use it. Why couldn’t her parents cancel? Why’d it have to be her?
She looked at her brother. It sucked for him too. He’d really been looking forward to trick or treating tonight. Instead they were stuck home together. Both of them had gotten bored watching horror movies on TV. She’d decided maybe making something would lift their spirits.
“The Horrorthon will be back with Night of The Killer Lobsters after a word from our ghoulish sponsors.” The television played to an empty living room.
The ghost hanging on the front door wailed. Breaking Amanda’s thoughts. The scissors slipped, causing her to poke her thumb.
“Oh shit!” She hollered.
“You okay?” Kyle asked.
“Yeah. You didn’t hear me swear, right?”
He gave her a thumbs up.
There was a loud knock at the front door.
“Want me to get it?” Her brother asked.
Amanda stood. Holding the scissors in one hand. “I’ll get it.”
There was another loud knock.
“Coming!” Amanda shouted over the ghost’s howling. “Hold your fucking horses.” She said under her breath.
“Look!” A man warned on the television. “There’s one now!” As a lobster was superimposed over the side of a car. Menacing some kids in Lover’s Lane.
Walking past a upright piano set against one wall. Setting the scissors on the coffee table, Amanda picked up her mom’s large ceramic bowl. According to her it was some family heirloom.
A red drop hit the beige carpet.
“Shit.” Amanda growled. Looking at the trail of blood drops on the carpet behind her. She hadn’t though the scissors had broke the skin of her thumb. Now she’d have to get blood stains out of the carpet before mom and dad got home. What next?
There was another furious knock.
“Yeah. Yeah.” She said. This time not even trying to hide her annoyance. The pile up of the night’s events getting to her. So much so Amanda forgot to look through the window to see who was out there first. Something she always did.
Unlocking the door, she yanked it open. Two men in plastic clown masks stood waiting.
Amanda stood, hesitating. “Trick or-”
The rest of it was cut off as the closer of the two men drove a fist into her stomach. Knocking the air out of her lungs and doubling her over. Mom’s precious heirloom hitting the floor, shattering. Sending candy spilling over the floor.
Before she could recover, strong hands shoved her back into the living room. The two men rushing in after her. The second man closes the door, locking it and turning off the lights.
Amanda tries to stand. Earning another punch to the stomach from the first man.
“We good?” He asks.
The second peeks out through the curtains.
“Golden.” He answered. Keeping watch through the drawn curtains.
Amanda staggered hunched over. Barely able to gasp for air much less form words. She wanted to warn her brother. Scream out for help. Anything.
The first man grabbed her by the hair, yanking her head up, so they were face to face.
His gloved hand touched her cheek. In his other he held a switchblade. “You alone girly?”
“Yea-Yeah.” She gasped.
“What’s a looker like you doing all alone on Halloween night?”
“I-I was grounded.” She manged. Tears burning her eyes.
“That so? Wouldn’t be lying would you? Don’t have a boyfriend stashed somewhere? Maybe a girlfriend? You know what they say. ‘When the cats away. The mice will play.’ You playing pretty mouse?”
Amanda coughed. “No.”
“Too bad.” He lamented. “Gonna behave?”
“Yes. Please. Take whatever and go.” She pleaded.
The first man picked up the family portrait sitting on the mantle. God, she hoped Kyle had heard everything and had run and hid. Or maybe he’d run out the kitchen door. Heading to one of the neighbors for help. He was a smart kid, it was possible.
“Who says we want to take anything?” He answered. “Where’s junior here?” He said tapping on the picture.
“He went with my parents. Trick or treating.” Amanda answered.
“Did he now?”
Her watery eyes wandered the room. Not too far away sat the scissors on the coffee table. So far all she’d seen was the guy’s knife. No guns. If she could reach the scissors.
The man chuckled loudly.
She met his eyes. He’d seen her looking at the scissors. Amanda lunged. Leaping towards the scissors.
“Don’t think so!” The first man said. Cutting her off with another punch.
Amanda staggered and fell to her knees. The world fading in and out of blackness as the carpet came rushing up to meet her as she fell.
Ray saw the girl go down in a flash. Turning away from the window when he heard the commotion. She hit the carpeted floor and went limp.
Bud knelt down, checking the girl. “Out like a light.” He stood. Motioning Ray over.
“I’ll stay here with the princess. I want you to check the place out. They gotta have something valuable stashed here. Mommy might have some jewelry. Or daddy might have some cash squirreled away. Check the bedrooms first.”
“Okay man, then we can get out of here.” Ray said. “Her parents could be back anytime.”
“Go, find something good.” Bud said. “And if you see somebody, a boyfriend or the brat…” He drew a finger across his throat. “I’ll entertain myself while I wait.” He smiled.
Ray nodded before leaving. God He’d be happy when they were out of here. When he could take off the crummy mask. He was sweating like crazy. Besides the mask, Ray was scared. Bud was really on a rip tonight. He knew what Bud was gonna do with the girl and he wanted no part of that. The fear in his bones, of what Bud might do to even him, stopped Ray from helping the girl. Best he could do was find some shit so they could get the hell out of here.
Heading up stairs, Ray searched as quick as he could. A bathroom, the boy’s bedroom then the girl’s. Nothing. At least there was no boyfriend waiting up here, no little brother playing in his room either.
That left the parent’s bedroom. Fuck he hoped there was something valuable there. He feared what Bud’s reaction would be if he came back empty handed. He dumped the dresser drawers. Clothes, A dildo and some papers. Bills mostly. Zip for anything worth a shit.
Looked like the closet was it.
“Come on fucks.” He said to himself. “Your killing me here.”
Opening the sliding closet door. Lots of clothes, mostly the mother’s. The shelf was crammed full of stuff. But there was one thing that stood out. A metal lock box.
He reached up, pulling it down. A box of pictures fell, spilling on the floor. Holding the heavy box in his arms, Ray saw something that made his heart stop. A little kid hiding in the corner of the closet. Huddled behind some of the clothes. The kid’s eyes widened when he met Ray’s gaze.
Ray put a finger to his lips. “Not a word kid.” He whispered.
He knelt, setting the box on the floor. Staring at the kid. What the fuck was he gonna do? If he brought the kid downstairs. Bud would kill him for sure. Ray had a fairly good idea of what Bud was probably up to now with the girl. Even if Bud let the brat live, there was no reason to subject him to seeing that.
Reaching into his back pocket, Ray pulled out his own knife. Looking into the kid’s terrified eyes, Ray recognized what he saw there. How many times had he looked up with those same eyes as his mom beat the piss out of him.
No, he couldn’t kill the kid.
“I want you to stay here.” He whispered. “Me and my buddy are going soon. Don’t come out of here till somebody comes and gets you, okay?”
The kid nodded.
“Good.” Ray said. He clapped a hand over the kids mouth. “One more thing. Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna hurt you. It’ll just sting a little.”
Ray drew the blade down the kid’s cheek. Opening up a small cut. The kid squirmed, wanting to holler in pain. Ray’s hand suppressing the cry. Done, Ray dabbed some of the blood from the cut on his blade. He wasn’t taking any chances. If Bud thought he’d killed the kid, that should keep him from wanting to look for the kid.
Picking up one of the father’s T-shirts from the floor, Ray wadded it up and handed it to the kid. Telling him to press it to his cheek.
Closing the closet again, Ray picked up the metal box, setting it on the bed. Using a solid metal ashtray, he smashed off the flimsy padlock. Inside the box it was like Christmas morning had come early. Jewelry and a couple envelopes of cash.
Picking up his prize, Ray headed downstairs.
Amanda heard gentle music playing over the screams of terror coming from the television. She felt the softness of the rug against her back. Her body ached and she wasn’t sure why. Her eyes focused on the man playing the piano. Amanda saw the clown mask and reality came crashing back.
The last things she remembered was trying to grab the scissors and then nothing, Save for scatter-shot images, the man over her, the sounds of fabric tearing.
She rolled over onto her belly. The other man came rushing in, excited and holding the metal box from her parent’s closet. The first man opened it, letting out a jubilant hoot. She couldn’t hear their words over the frenzy of the TV. Words or no words, Amanda knew what the blood on the other man’s knife meant as he showed it to the first.
Ray bounded down the stairs. Eager to show Bud the loot. Somebody was playing music, a piano or something. In the living room Bud sat at the small piano. Playing without a care in the world. The girl lay on the carpet. Her clothes shredded.
He knew what Bud had in mind for the girl, he could have…No. Best not dwell on it. There was nothing he could have done. They were almost out of here anyway.
He showed him the contents of the box and then the knife.
“Good work.” Bud said. Looking at Ray’s bloody knife. “You’re a man now.” He motioned towards the girl. “Want some?”
“Can we just get out of here?” Ray asked.
“Fine. Fine. I’m getting restless anyway.” Bud stood, tickling the piano keys.
A wail of anguish and rage rose up over the piano. Over the screams on the television.
The men turned to see a bloodied, beaten banshee standing before them. The scissors in her hand. The girl’s expression was filled with so much hate, Ray felt shivers run up and down his spine.
Ray felt the hot spray hit his face. Blood, not his though. He looked over to see the scissors pulling away from Bud’s neck. A large, bloody hole left in their wake.
Bud tumbled over the piano bench, gurgling up blood as he desperately tried to stop it from jetting out of his neck. Fastening his hands over the wound. Blood flowing out between the fingers.
Standing there petrified, Ray couldn’t help but watch his friend squirm about on the carpeted floor. The girl jamming Bud repeatedly in the groin with the scissors.
The knife slipped from his fingers. The girl turned from the now dead Bud. Her eyes bloodshot. She howled in anger.
“Please.” Ray begged. His body finally responding, he ran towards the door. Slipping on the spilled candy inches from his goal. He grabbed a large jagged shard of the broken candy bowl. Slicing into his gloved hand. Swinging at the crazed girl, cutting her arm.
The pain didn’t faze her as she plunged the scissors into Ray’s right eye socket with sickening crunch. Frenzied Ray pushed her away. Fumbling for the door lock. The only thought in his dying brain was to get away. But his fingers couldn’t seem to manage the lock. Ray heard the girl breathing behind him. Pulling the scissors from his eye socket, he blindly sliced the air with them. The crazed girl crouched, watching him. Till finally his body gave out and he collapsed against the door.
It was hard to believe the girl, her face covered by a blank white mask was his sister. Kyle visited her from time to time at the sanitarium. He was sixteen now. The same age she’d been when it had happened. He touched the scar on his cheek. A constant reminder of that night.
Amanda sat there in the day room. Staring out the window. Never moving, her head never turning. Doctor Chandler said she was near catatonic. The mask he said, she’d started wearing to hide her shame.
After that man found him in the closet, Kyle had stayed hidden. Staying there till his parents had found him. Amanda had believed the man had killed him. Perhaps she still did. The doctors were afraid to let him talk to her, the first time had been a disaster.
He blamed himself for what happened to her, even though his parents, the cops and his shrink told him there was nothing he could have done. He only been a scared little boy.
Sometimes he dreamed about her. Not of that night, no. He dreamed of her escaping here. Finding her standing over his bed. A pair of bloody scissors in her hand.
He watched her for awhile, she was so unnaturally patient. Gazing out that window. Staring into the distance.
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