by Lin De Lazlo
Maggie loved Halloween. It was a special time for her.
Unexplained things happened around Maggie, then she was moved on to another home. To avoid paperwork. There had been concerns.
Blond hair, blue eyes, she was like any other six year old. Distant but polite. An old soul. Her social worker called her an odd sock.
The new foster mother gave Maggie a pitiful look as you would an abandoned puppy and shoved her into a room littered with broken toys and an old chest in the corner.
‘Choose something for tonight. You’re going with the neighbours kids. Hurry up’.
Left alone in favour of daytime tv, Maggie dug into the depths of the box discovering something that was just perfect.
The dress swamped her small frame. Musty and torn in several places, it felt like cobwebs and smelt of age. Maggie caressed the material, smiling broadly when she discovered a mouldy black hat, pulling it down over her curls.
This was fun.
A bucket of sweets sat by the front door. Halloween props lay on the floor ready to decorate the hall. She stared at a reel of wire, eyes glittering, watching it unravel and snake across the floor. She giggled and looked at the figure in the doorway.
‘Look. I’m a witch’.
The fosterer stood frozen, confused, mouth working soundlessly.
The wire wrapped itself around her neck tightly, dragging the frantic woman towards the stairs as if guided by invisible hands. It effortlessly lifted her mid-air as if she were a feather as she clawed uselessly at her neck. Eyes wide, she silently implored the girl to help her.
The wire continued to wrap itself decoratively around the banisters.
Maggie was looking forward to trick or treat.
by Sue Davnall
‘You’re a bit young, sweetie. The knife’s too sharp. Why don’t you help your sister? You could collect up all the bits and put them in the compost bin for her.’
‘Don’ wanna. Wan’ my own pumpkin!’
‘Next year, maybe.’
Full-length tantrum on the floor.
‘Benji’s being naughty, isn’t he, Mummy? I never behaved like that when I was little.’
Thanks, Olivia, for pouring fuel on the fire, as usual. Only a seven-year-old could evince such superiority over a five-year-old. Maddy sighed as she stepped over her wailing son to empty the tumble dryer.
‘Here, Benji, come and help Mummy sort the washing.’
But she knew he would. Sorting washing was something grown-ups did and it made him feel important. No-one told Maddy before she had kids that an advanced degree in psychology would have come in handy.
‘Mummy, Mummy! Benji’s broken my pumpkin!’
Oh for Christ’s sake… Maddy looked at her daughter’s tear-streaked face then at the assaulted pumpkin. Benji must have given it a hefty kick to have smashed it so comprehensively.
‘Benji! Come here!’
He was hiding behind the sofa in the front room. At least he looked contrite.
‘What do you say to your sister?’
Pouty face again, then ‘Sorry!’
‘Right, no Peppa Pig for you today. You can sit right there and watch while I help Olivia make a new one.’
As Maddy stirred the soup there was an ear-splitting scream from the garden. Imagining all sorts of horrendous swing-related injuries she rushed out to see Benji backed against the patio wall, pointing a finger at Olivia’s new pumpkin. Glowing red, it seemed to be leering horribly at the little boy. Which was odd, as Maddy hadn’t yet put the candle inside.
by Sue Davnall
I squinted through the windscreen, struggling to see the contours of the road through the dense fog. Could I have missed the turn-off? Three miles beyond the village, he’d said, can’t miss it, big wrought-iron gates with stone lions on the pillars. It felt like I’d been driving for ages. Thick hedges had lined the road for a while but now there was nothing.
Ah, there! The tyres squealed as I swung abruptly towards the imposing entrance. The gates stood open; they were expecting me.
The mist seemed thinner here. I could dimly make out the dark trunks of the trees lining the drive, their overhead branches dripping an irregular rhythm onto the car roof. There’d better be a hot toddy waiting for me! The autumn damp was cutting right through my light jacket.
A flash of movement to my right. A deer perhaps? Seemed about the right size. Whatever it was, it had gone. There it was again, on the other side this time, or… no, it was a second one, the one on the right had reappeared. Three of them now, then four, blurred forms moving swiftly through the trees.
The sound that followed was not made by any deer. The hairs bristled on the back of my neck, an atavistic response to an unknown threat. I put my foot down on the accelerator, swinging recklessly round each curve of the road until the manor emerged through the eddying mist.
My host was waiting on the front steps to welcome me. As I shook his hand I noticed that he was slightly out of breath, panting through his wolfish smile.
‘So glad you could make it, old boy. Let me introduce you. My brother and sister-in-law, my dear wife Accalia. Shall we go in to dinner?’
Can’t Beat The Reaper
by Mike Poyzer
‘This is the life, mate.’
‘Not half, mate. Sun, sea and stretched out on the beach. I thought I’d had enough sun and sand for a lifetime, this last six months in Iraq. Sneaking around dusty buildings with full battle dress and helmet, waiting to get shot any minute. Doesn’t quite have the same charm.’
‘I’m Jim by the way.’ Jim stuck out his hand.
‘I’m Jack. 3 Para. Pleased to meet you.’
‘Ever been to Thailand before?’
‘No, never. It beats your Mykonos and Ibiza into a cocked hat, though. All these cracking little Thai women. I’m going to get this fellah stuck into as many of them as I can, starting tonight.’
‘How long you been here.’
‘Only arrived yesterday, Lucky to get the leave and then managed to get a flight. Apparently nobody wants to fly Christmas day. The hop-over flight to Phucket was alarming’
‘You missed Christmas dinner in the hotel then. ‘
‘Afraid so. Went straight to bed. I’ve slept about twelve hours.’
‘Food was nothing special. Now, I was last here at Halloween. That was some party. Some of the girls were scarier underneath the outfits. I took one beautiful girls mask off and I was kissing her for ten minutes, then found her cock was as big as mine.’
They both laughed.
We can go out tonight if you want. I’ll show you the ropes. Lots of beautiful young Thai girls. You only have to slip the owner a few bahts, then straight back to her place. These girls know how to make a guy happy’
‘Sounds like my sort of place.’
‘What‘s going on down by the sea. They are all stood looking.’
‘I don’t know.’ Jack stood up. ‘FUCK… Look at the size of that wave.’
by Lin De Lazlo
From ‘I’m not wearing a stupid costume. What am I, five?’ to ‘Where’s my costume?’, the night before Halloween.
Stella could take no more. She had hoped that the attitude might have improved with age, but it was like living with a cactus. At least when her daughter Phoebe was younger, Stella had been able to pull down the blackout blinds, sing bedtime song as approved by supernanny, and shut the door. This approach did not work on a fifteen year old.
A frantic rush around the shops found nothing suitable. Tempted to suggest something along the lines of using a bed sheet and going as a ghost, would definitely have earned her ‘Unloving, Unsympathetic, Uncaring, Cruel, Mother of the Year Award’.
Four espressos later, to help her think, she had her lightbulb moment.
One whining, uncooperative teenager and a twenty four pack of toilet rolls later, sweet revenge was a pouting, outraged but passable mummy. Perfect.
‘Seriously?’, Phoebe was horrified and close to tears.
‘Well I think it’s ok’. Stella gulped her wine.
Phoebe needed a serious lesson in gratitude.
‘It’s a dry night, you’ll be fine’.
Her daughter glared, obviously plotting some sort of revenge for the future.
‘Come on, how many other mummies will there be?’
At the sound of the doorbell, Phoebe flounced out dramatically. Stella could hear the snorting laughter of her friends who owned the kind of parents who planned for nights like this. Phoebe was busy blaming her for everything, past, present and future.
The door slammed and Stella sighed. Thank god her weather app had promised a fine, dry, evening. What could possibly go wrong? She did a lone applause on behalf of her unbelievable creativity.
Peace at last.
Funny. Was that the sound of rain?
Obstruction of fate
by Mike Poyzer
James settled down into his seat, 32c. A nervous flyer at the best of times, he was tenser tonight, as it was Halloween and there was a typhoon raging outside. As the 747 began to pull away from the stand at Taipei, he checked his watch, 11.15 pm. He reflected on how much he was looking forward to seeing his wife in LA. This had been six months now, his longest stint.
He turned and smiled at the passenger next to him. The passenger, who was oriental, probably Chinese, turned and smiled back at him. Then, to James’s horror, the man’s face suddenly turned to a glowing white skull with red eyes, before dissolving into a flaming inferno, then back to the smiling face. James was spooked. He unbuckled his seat and jumped up. A stewardess stood up in front of him, so he turned and ran back, down the aisle, squealing hysterically as he went. As he approached the rear, two more stewardesses stood and stopped him. ‘I’ve got to get off’ he shrieked.’
‘Sorry, sir, doors are closed. Please calm down and sit here. We are taking off.’
James calmed a little and sat down on the back row. Perhaps I over-reacted. Did I imagine it?
The plane revved high for its take off run and pulled away . Seconds later, it collided with several construction vehicles, as it had mistakenly turned onto a closed runway.. The plane broke into two and a fireball tore through the front section. Rows 30 to 40 between the wing fuel tanks were incinerated. The rear fuselage broke away and, without exception, everyone in it survived, most, virtually uninjured. This was Singapore Airlines flight 006, Singapore to Los Angeles (via Taipei) October 31st 2000, 23.18 local time in Taipei.
by Sue Davnall
‘You’re imagining it.’
‘I swear I’m not. Listen…’
‘No. Not a thing. Look, they’ve got those nice biscuits. Let’s have a coffee before going for an explore.’
Jeffrey took the kettle through to the bathroom.
‘Not for me, love. I don’t like those silly milk things. Just pour me a glass of water. I’ll have a biscuit, though.’
Joyce kicked off her shoes and lay down on the bed.
‘OK. Shortbread or oatmeal crunch? Joyce?’
Jeffrey set the kettle down on its stand and glanced round at his wife.
‘What is it, love? What are you looking at?’
She raised a trembling finger towards the top corner of the four-poster bed.
‘There! Can’t you see it?’
‘See what? Ah, of course, Halloween joke. Haha!’
‘I swear, Jeff, I saw something, like a face or…I don’t know.’
‘Come on, forget the coffee, let’s get some fresh air. You’re probably a bit hazy from the drive. If you like, we can fit in a wander round the cathedral before dinner – we’ve got time.’
‘Alright, see you downstairs. I’ve just got to powder my nose.’
‘Don’t forget the room key.’
‘And what time was this, sir?’
‘I told you! About half past four. She was going to meet me downstairs.’
‘How long did you wait for her?’
‘About ten minutes. No longer, I’m sure.’
‘And you didn’t pass anyone as you came down?’
‘Alright sir, I know you’re distraught but try to be patient. It’s important to get the facts straight. What happened next?’
‘I went back up to the room. The door was open, and…’
Jeffrey couldn’t bring himself to describe again her bloodless body, mouth distorted in terror.
The police officer and the hotel receptionist exchanged a glance. Every year the same thing.