Photo Story No. 15

My clothes stifled. I couldn’t seem to breathe. I pulled them from my body, found myself on all fours, head sagged, heaving, gasping. Sips of air came in. My skin was on fire. The breeze chilled, enticed goosebumps. My lungs stung, like the needles one feels as a sleeping limb wakes, but needles that surged with electricity. Then I couldn’t breathe at all.

Panic. I don’t understand. I was only trying to help the baby.

I gurgled trying to swallow, coughed bright blood on the green grass. My vision darkened, then faded. When I came to, it wasn’t the Savior nor Devil who came, but Death himself. He held me upright, cradled my fallen head. In the midst of disbelief, I realized the irony in the comfort of his grasp. His eyes didn’t frighten, they lured. I let slip the memory of blind pain moments before, I was already forgetting the bullet my neighbor shot into my chest; the knowledge of my own passing produced no emotion. The baby whom I had been so worried about, whom I’d called the doctor for, became but a blip on my radar, a blip I knew would grow and fade in her own time.

“I have you.”

There was no face to be seen. His voice rumbled with the authority of a barreling train. He held me still, then had his way, dragging his boned fingers up my side, squeezing the tips of my dead nipples. I saw not the part that pressed inside, but it filled me – he led me through sways and rocks. We hung in the air, he licked the neck of my soul. There was never an option nor a desire to resist – I was his moment and he, mine. Seconds, minutes, hours, breaths, swallows, gasps – how do you measure time when time stands still?

To see the photo that originally inspired this story, please visit the Instagram link below.

Photo Story No. 15

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

Photo Story No. 15

Home Garden

Two things happened to (X) in the spring of last year that seemed less significant than they turned out to be. She started sleep walking at the same time that circular patches of disturbed dirt starting appearing in her backyard. Just one at first, but a new one appeared every night that followed.

Since (X) lived alone, she was able to discern her new sleepwalking habit via the grime trapped under her nails when she awoke, amongst other indications she’d been in dirt. It seemed she was digging holes, then returning the displaced earth before returning to her room. As any rational independent adult would do, (X) visited a doctor, who prescribed less stimulation before bed along with a little round pill that “may or may not prevent the episodes.” The little pill didn’t stop the episodes. Neither did avoiding television or books before bed.

Attempting a more psychological approach, (X) researched gardening. She thought maybe she was repressing some desire to dig or grow her own food. The holes she dug in her sleep continued parallel and close to the back line of her fence. To avoid disturbing her vegetable garden during an episode, she started a raised bed close to the house.

Little green sprouts presented in her garden, stalks thickened, the promise of home grown vegetables and fruit excited (X) more than she expected. The sleep excavations continued regardless.

When she reached the end of the fence line during the night digs, another horizontal row started. She was surprised at the symmetry of the appearing holes, each measuring eighteen inches in diameter and spaced six inches apart – exactly six inches. Nothing sprouted from these night dig sights; never did the idea come to her to dig one up while she was awake. Nothing was missing from the house; her car keys were never disturbed. There seemed nothing she could have been “planting.” (X) got used to the idea and accepted it as part of herself for a while. Maybe when I’ve dug the entire backyard, it’ll stop.

*

Six weeks later, (X) was picking the first ripened pods from her green bean bush when she heard a muffled voice yell. It was early morning, the sky still dim; the sun prepared to peak over the horizon. (X) stopped all movement, quieted her breath and listened with her arm hairs vertical. She heard it again. Turning to look towards the origin, she saw nothing aside from the dig sights now covering almost the entirety of her yard. (X) held her sheers as a weapon and approached the back fence.

The muffled yelling continued, as if a man was having a one-sided angry conversation with a sock in his mouth . Panic set in as she neared the sound. It came not from behind her property, but from beneath her feet. Standing at the edge of the first night hole, she could almost discern annunciation – she could feel the vibration being carried through the ground. Shaking, she fell to her knees and clawed at the dirt, throwing handfuls in all directions. Her nail scratched flesh, the voice cried out in pain, then began cursing at the mishap.

(X) panicked. Her first thought had been that someone was buried alive down there, and she needed to get them out. Never did she consider herself responsible. She kept checking over her shoulder for a villain of some kind to descend upon them. She continued digging, more carefully, until she could completely palpate a human head. Grasping both sides of the head, she stood and pulled so hard she questioned her own arms staying in place; the voice yelled with angry pain.

Slowly, hair crowned the earth, then a brow, then a clenched pair of eyes. (X) lost her breath. Again, she checked for an oppressor. She was alone save her buried friend. Then the pull changed, the struggle got easier, the dirt felt to be giving way. She pulled harder, the screaming volume multiplied, then subsequently she heard rips and pops, like when you pull a large, well-rooted weed from the ground, the screaming ceased, and she found herself flat on her back with the wind knocked out of her.

The world was blurry. Her head ached from the impact with the ground. She still held the uprooted thing in her hands, only now her grip was wet. Warm liquid fell to her chest and abdomen. (X) sat up, trying to breathe. When again she opened her eyes to focus, she looked at the hole and saw red fluid filling the void. Water stained with clay? She was dazed still. That’s when she saw the decapitated head in her hands.

She screamed and threw it. The head bounced off the back fence and rolled before stopping with its face in her direction. The expression was twisted with pain. No way do I have the strength to pull a head off.

Again, not thinking logically, (X) threw her hands in the pooled hole, throwing out cupped handfuls of the red liquid she could now see was blood, looking for the rest of the body. How would she convince an officer she was trying to help, not murder this guy? But she would have to call the cops. She dug for shoulders. What she found instead was a tendon and vein root system.

There was an intricate twisting of them for several inches below the tearing points. (X) sat with blood and mud equally caked on her hands, turning the organic mass over and over. Her eyes were wide and glazed. Her lips hung parted. She was only half-way conscious, unbelieving of what she saw. She guiltily dropped the mass of veins and white connective tissues when she heard another voice nearby. The second hole was now yelling at her.

Her trembling hands pulled away the dirt, carefully, slow. Once she felt her fingertips brush the scalp, she began to move the dirt in a more direct motion, as to expose the face and mouth. Again, she saw emerge a head of hair, a brow, blinking eyes…the yelling stopped when he seemed to realize she was excavating him with the caution of an archaeologist uncovering her first find. She swallowed and held her breath, then exposed his mouth.

“It’s about damn time.”

(X) said nothing. She couldn’t speak.

The head scoffed, rolled his eyes, then clicked his tongue. “I suppose I should say thank you, but you are late. I’ve been calling for you.”

(X) still said nothing. She looked to her hands, then to the severed head only feet away.

“Is he here?”

“Is who here?” (X) looked around the yard again, now feeling something looming over her shoulder.

Him. The one who brought us to you.”

“The one that brought you to…” she trailed off. She was dumbfounded, overwhelmed, overstimulated. She didn’t think. (X) stood and grabbed both sides of the head as she had before, telling herself this time she’d pull a full human from the ground. The head screamed and cursed. She shoved dirt in his mouth. She pulled until the tension gave way, and she once again found herself holding an uprooted human head.

Now frantic, she clawed at the third hole. (X) knew what she would find, though disbelief tingled in her knuckles when she actually found skin. This one was sleeping. This one was a woman.

(X) slapped her. The sound reminded her of the noise fresh dough makes when its plopped onto a cold counter. No response. She slapped her three more times before she woke.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“You tell me what the fuck is going on. Why are human heads growing in my yard?”

“Are you serious? Why didn’t you ask him?”

“Him who?”

“The one who brought us here.”

“I don’t know who you’re talking about. I’ve just plucked two heads from my yard like weeds, and I’m assuming there’s fifty more of you here.”

“You picked two of the heads? He’s going to be mad. You can only expose our tops once we become lucid. We still have months of development.”

(X) found herself with a lack of words again.

“We were all dead. He came to our graves, asked if we would join his army, said he was taking control of things on earth. You are the gardener. You were given the privilege to cultivate our growth.”

“To cultivate…” (X) stared at the woman, looked to the holes still covered. Her brow creased. “Is he the devil?”

“To be honest I don’t know. I didn’t ask. But I think we all assumed that was the case.”

(X) stared at her for seconds longer before jumping to her feet and once again pulling to free the head from its roots. The woman yelled horrendous curses until the snap and pop came, then she was quiet.

Neighbors would have heard the commotion. Cops had probably been called. (X) moved quick, grabbing the pickaxe from its rusted wall mount. She stood in front of the fourth hole, raised her arms high overhead, then brought the axe down with as much momentum as she could produce. The axe struck something solid, a muffled yell came quick, once, then blood began to seep from the opening. She repeated the process around the yard. Blood stopped presenting around the thirtieth hole. She heard distant sirens when on the last two. Once she finished, she made a mad dash for her car keys, fish-hooked her purse with the nook of her arm on the way out, and drove north.

The authorities couldn’t make much out of it. They were finally able to solve the mystery of who had been stealing heads from graves all over the southern region of the U.S. The lack of pattern, and the sheer distance between occurrences left them baffled. They still couldn’t sort out how she was reaching such distances on a nightly basis. Her car wasn’t on any video surveillance to or from the grave locations; her bank account showed no indication of recent flights.

When they saw the blood, the fresh heads, at first the police thought they caught her in the act of burying recently murdered victims. Upon further investigation, they found the humanesque root systems, the lack of bodies to which the heads belonged…someone put together that the “recently decapitated” victims had all died at least twelve months prior. Dental records and DNA were compared, the bodies excavated from their graves. The heads presented no sign of decay while the bodies were decomposing on schedule.

Even harder to explain were the rest of the heads that remained buried. All had been hammered with a pick axe; all seemed to be in a different phase of re-growing skin and other soft tissues.

The incident was reported officially as nothing more than a woman stealing dead heads from cemeteries before burying them in her backyard. They later caught her trying to set sail on a beach of the Atlantic Ocean. She was in a tugboat with both pockets full of rocks, claiming the devil chased her and wanted her help to build his army. She escaped before any full evaluation could be made, and, less dramatically, she hung herself from the first bridge she came across.

After her service, after she was buried, after agents and doctors who knew the truth spent hours staring at the ground packed atop her casket with a curious thirst they knew could never be satiated, on an easy morning with the spring sun waking the cool sky, a groundskeeper came out to find her grave disturbed, the dirt dug, and her head gone. Most thought it to be a revenge move executed by a disgruntled family member of one of the heads she’d stolen. The ones who were there, though, the first responders, or those like me, who dissected the roots and autopsied the heads, we let our minds and imaginations wander.

Our charted pattern showed the heads regaining cognitive function at six weeks. The furthest along, his roots had signs of developing systems that typically lead to the heart, lungs, and upper appendages. Our research was forwarded to a classified party, one I always assumed to be a branch of the government. If it was possible to bring humans back to life, and we somehow stumbled on said evidence, the military would want their hands on it.

I swallowed a dry piece of doughnut and found myself musing on the woman’s claims when I clocked into work. Someone was still out there stealing dead heads, but the collection rate and radius expanded. If she had been telling the truth, for the evidence had no support in either science or logic, the death of a garden or gardener would not divert his course. I pondered in whose backyard she was planted.

Copyright W.B. Welch – All Rights Reserved

Home Garden

Flowers for Breakfast

I knew she was strange when I saw her eating flowers for breakfast. They were lined in rows on the table in front of her. As I walked into the room, a rose bloom disappeared into Justene’s open mouth. I’ve seen stranger diets. I proceeded to fetch my bowl of cereal and pretended like the roses and daises going down her gullet wasn’t new for me.

Clue number two stopped me dead in my tracks. When I came home from work, she was sitting criss-cross applesauce, naked in my den…mind you, she is only paying me monthly for a room. We aren’t roommates, and her name isn’t on the lease. I don’t know what she was doing. There weren’t any symbols drawn on the floor, and she wasn’t chanting; I just found myself staring at a lot of skin when I came in through the garage door. Thank god the neighbors couldn’t see. I reacted, she apologized, kind of, and floated to her room.

After I came home to her force-feeding herself crickets, I should have made her leave. Hindsight is twenty/twenty. I just told myself she must have had one tough childhood, or at least a strange one. I asked her to please keep her meals in her room if they weren’t normal groceries.

I didn’t see her much after that. I’d catch a glimpse of her as she moved from the bathroom to the bedroom, or when she’d emerge for a chilled bottle of water.

A couple of weeks later, I started finding green tiles of some sort around the house, they seemed to be anyway. They were round and slightly convex but tough as nails. I knocked one from the counter, and after it bounce instead of shattering, I actually tried to break one of them, but with no success. I left them in a pile on the bar for Justene to pick up. After they sat there over a week, I took them to her room. I was not prepared. I should have left when she didn’t respond to my knocking.

When I opened her door, there was a six-foot iguana on her floor – six feet without the tail. I screamed so loud my throat locked. The animal’s attention was on me before I even had time to process things. I fell back when it ran at me – I’ve never handled stress well – and by the time I felt the hot pain in my arm, it had gone back in her room and slammed the door.

It had bitten me. The damned lizard had bitten me. There was a clear “no pets” policy in the lease, and when I had calmed myself, I would begin eviction procedures.

“I’m going to sue you if that godforsaken thing infected me with something!”

My arm ached a lot. I sat up trying to collect myself and finally looked to evaluate the damage. When I saw the blood on the floor, the nub of torn flesh just above where my elbow had been, heat flushed my face. I instantly felt sick.

“What in the hell have you done to me? How did you sneak that monster in here?”

I was freaking out. I heaved my good arm over and stumbled from a seated to a tripod position, and then to a waving stance. After stumbling to my room and managing to lash a belt around my upper arm, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and dialed 9-1-1.

“I’ve already called them. The ambulance is on the way,” Justene said from my doorway. I started and dropped my phone. When I turned to her, I saw the blood around her lips.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“I asked you never to come in without knocking.”

“I knocked…you didn’t answer.” I was feeling very woozy. I gripped the bleeding stump with my bare hand to try and slow the bleeding. Warm blood dripped through my fingers and pooled in my palm. Pain shot up my arm and behind my shoulder blade, deep into my back.

“I can’t talk when I’m the lizard. You should have just left.”

“When you’re…” I remembered thinking then I must have been losing blood fast. I seemed to be hallucinating already. “When you’re the lizard?” I huffed, laughing.

“Yes. I’ll be leaving now. I’m sorry I ate your arm. I hope they fix you.”

“Ha! You hope they fix me? They’ll fix you when they’re throwing you in jail.” I fell back, hard against the wall, then slid to the floor with my legs stiff in front of me.

“No, sorry. And you better not tell them your tenant turned into a giant lizard and ate your arm either.”

“Is that a threat?” I said to her back as she walked away.

“No, it’s a warning. They’ll throw you in the looney bin.”

I didn’t listen of course. What else was I supposed to tell the police? How else could my arm have ended up missing? They had no choice but to have me evaluated. Of course there was no evidence of foul play, no signed lease in the house from a “Justene Marbrow”, and no “giant lizard tracks” (they jested at me). After a stent in the hospital and an even longer stent in the mental ward, they had me transferred to a facility where I could be watched and my mental state could be “properly evaluated”.

Did you know a straitjacket is still effective on an amputee?

To see the photo that originally inspired this story, please visit the Instagram link below.

Flowers for Breakfast

Copyright W.B. Welch – All Rights Reserved

 

Flowers for Breakfast

A huge THANK YOU to you all

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you… thank you to the people who have been following me for some time, and thank you to all of the new subscribers who joined in the last couple of days. A blog is a hard thing to gain momentum on (when you’re this late in the game and competing with social media), but it’s also an important platform and it matters when the agent search begins. It means the world to me that you all support what I’m doing, and I can’t thank you enough.

That being said, this is the most traffic you should ever receive from me, as I will be posting a short story shortly (tee-hee), and my normal posting rate is two times a month (or that’s the goal rather). If you’re new to the blog, WELCOME! If you’re reading this and you haven’t subscribed, please do. It’s quick and easy and helps me out a ton.

Thank you again. I hope you all enjoy the new story, “Flowers for Breakfast”.

A huge THANK YOU to you all

Photo Story No. 14

I found her in Vegas, and that’s where I left her. When we first met, she was in a wig, a waist-length, platinum wig with bangs that curtained open between her dark brown bangs. Her eyes were a rotted-wood brown. Her legs curtained open too just like the velvet red drapes at the burlesque show, but that’s not the point of the story. I wanted to tell you about her talent…not that she dances with fire, not that she can swallow swords (and dicks like grape Kool-Aid), but her other talent.

I met her outside of The Charlatan, a fancy new hotel just across from the casino I had apparently disappeared in for over seven hours. When I came out for air, there she was, across the street, standing in black heels and a silver dress, like I said, in her platinum wig. I crossed traffic not worrying much about the cars. Her eyes were locked with mine – while I looked like a lost pup, she looked like she was ready to devour me. I had always been called handsome, but never had I ever fetched the attention of someone I deemed so attractive, someone so magnetic. Hours later, after her show, after I was dazzled by her peacock fans and crystal doused, wire-rimmed stage costume, after the drinks and gambling, we went back to my room and the wig came off. Her hair was as black as tar. Contrasted to her pale skin, she was a vixen. I wondered then why she ever wore the wig in the first place…maybe to protect her identity…maybe because it made her feel like someone else and made it easier to look in the mirror. I couldn’t care less either way. I never lied to myself and thought to try and save her – I just wanted her for the night.

She led me to believe I could have her.

As she came to me, dropping her clothes on the floor, unstrapping her shoes between steps, wiping the bright red lipstick from her face, I felt myself growing uncomfortably hard beneath my jeans. I didn’t want to adjust and distract from the situation, so I just watched…and ached. Call it masochism. I may have enjoyed it. When she shoved her hand down the front of my pants, she ended it. My head fell back, my chest filled with air…she squeezed just enough, and I lost my breath. When her free hand connected with my chest and I flew across the room, well, I was fully awake then and left trying to figure things out in my daze.

I felt pain, hot burning in my chest. I looked down to see a gaping hole…I looked up to see my heart in her hand. She pushed her tongue from her mouth and licked my still beating heart, then buried her teeth in the tissue and took a bite. I waited for death, knew it would take me quick…and when I was still awake to see her swallow, then take another bite, and another, I pulled a few deep, intentional breaths into my lungs and looked down again. Maybe she didn’t have my heart, maybe I was on some killer pills, but sure enough, the hole was still there pumping blood in spurts onto the floor. She came to me again, pushed my heart in my face and told me to take a bite.

I obeyed. Why? I couldn’t tell you. I want to say, “I’ve seen stranger things,” because that’s what you say in strange situations, but I would be lying…this definitely took the cake. What did it taste like? Well, I’ve never had a raw chicken liver, but if I had to pick, I think I would compare it to taking a bite from an oversized raw chicken liver. I chewed, twice, then swallowed. She called me a good boy then stuck the damned thing back in my chest. She told me then that I was one of “them” now and would have to find my own meals from here on out.

“One a week – no more, no less, or lest you’ll find yourself six-feet deep.”

I didn’t speak, couldn’t find any words in my mouth. I sat there like a layman watching her dress and leave. On her way out of my door, “The strip is my turf. I’d steer clear of New York and the entire west coast too. They don’t take to the new ones. Stay south your first few months.” Then the hotel door latched behind her. I didn’t move, didn’t try to. My cell was in my pocket. Instead I texted my parents to tell them I loved them, my friend to say I must have been on some killer LSD, and then I surfed Facebook and Twitter until I fell asleep propped on the drywall.

When I woke, the hole in my chest was gone, but I could still taste the iron on my tongue. There was a small scar over my heart and blood trailed across the room. I resisted at first, tried normal meals, tried ignoring the pangs. Ten days after my “death” I succumbed to my first feeding. I don’t want to admit, but it was a homeless man, the first who seemed eligible when I felt like I was dying, and I do believe I was dying. My skin was tightening, my bones seemed to be cracking – it felt like I was about to crinkle into a ball of skin and broken bones, then spread into a powdery dust. I didn’t even speak to him, I just pushed my hand between his ribs and took it, then left running.

Two years later, I saw her again on the strip, just outside The Charlatan. She gave me a glare – I raised my hands in defense and mouthed, “I’m only on vacation.” This time she crossed the street for me, eyes locked, my gaze as confident as hers. That night I had her…we fucked until the sun came up. As I watched her leave again, I wondered what her heart would taste like. I told myself next time we met, I would find out.

To see the photo that originally inspired this story, please visit the Instagram link below.

Photo Story No. 14

Copyright W.B. Welch – All Rights Reserved

Photo Story No. 14

Halloween Treat

Halloween is here. Reed knew it because the cold air stung his nose and made his eyes water. Every year he would hear his parents whine with other adults about the Texas heat that sticks, even in autumn. “When’s it going to get cold? When are we finally going to be able to wear our sweaters?”

A few chill days would pass in between, hinting at what’s to come once the luke-warm autumn air finally broke. Every year Reed would be deceived and plan his Halloween costume based on the way the fall night air felt…and every year, once Halloween dawned, he would find himself shivering in his costume boots.

Today though, Reed was pretty okay with the cold. He was thirteen, turned thirteen as of this morning, matter of fact. He was too old for trick-or-treating, so he was walking to school in his normal attire: jeans, a graphic tee, and his hoodie.

Yes, Reed was a Halloween baby, and though he’d always thought it was cool his birthday fell on All Hallows Eve, he found himself slightly spooked after his friend, Tommy, pointed out his thirteenth birthday was on a Friday, and thirty-one backwards was thirteen. Reed was aware this was a stretch, but it spooked him all the same. He thought he might should watch out for black cats and ladders just to avoid any extra bad luck coming his way.

Buses passed full of elementary kids donned in shrouds, robes, wings, and wigs; Mallory and Mike ran by dressed like Raggedy Ann and Andy; when Reed glanced over his shoulder, he saw Benjamin dragging his toes along the cement with each step, scarring the black leather of his shoes. Benjie was wearing a shirt that read ‘This is my costume’ and his hair was spray can painted orange. Reed waited for his classmate to catch up.

“What’s up with you?”

“Not a damn thing,” Benjie shot back.

“My bad for asking. Just surprised to see you kicking dirt with such a cool costume on.”

“Eat shit and die.”

“Tits to you too.”

They walked beside each other, but Reed forfeited the small talk. Benjie continued to drag his shoes along the pavement – Reed was sure now he was trying to wear holes in his shoes.

“I’m too old for a damn costume. I told my parents I didn’t want to do the Halloween thing this year, and my mom came in this morning with this shit and said, ‘It’ll be fun!’” (Benjie emulated his mom’s high pitched voice.) “She wouldn’t let me out of the house without it…I’m just praying they send me home for dress code violation.”

Reed fought back a laugh. “I’m not going out this year eith…” Benjie yanked on the hood of Reed’s jacket so hard he fell flat on his back and knocked his head on the pavement. Reed thought to jump up and beat his ass, only he couldn’t see straight, and he felt sort of like he might vomit. A car horn blared as it passed by. He swallowed a couple of times and held both hands on the back of his throbbing head.

“That car almost creamed you, dumbass.”

With clenched eyes and clenched fists, Reed thanked Benjie for saving his ass but said next time he should find a better way to do so.

The rest of the walk was quiet. Reed kept palpating the lump on his head, wincing when he brushed across it. He expected at first to pull his fingers back and see them stained with blood, though he never did – the impact hadn’t broken the skin. He thought if it had, he might have gotten the day off school. Once they made it through the ID check, they went their separate ways.

“See you in third period,” said Reed. He turned and immediately heard someone giving Benjie hell over his “shit orange” hair, which left Reed wondering who had seen orange shit before.

*

The day went by as most do, boring class after boring class. Reed fought nodding off in first and second period, then again after lunch in fifth and sixth. He’d stayed up late playing games the night before and was praying all day for a pep rally or at least a movie in one of his classes. The only exception to the day had been the worse than normal clumsiness that left Reed pissed off and ready to go home.

He stumped his toe hard enough to bruise it through the shoe, knocked his funny bone twice, and jammed his finger in gym. To top it all off, he dropped his pencil in the bathroom before his last period, then knocked his already tender head on the underside of the porcelain sink. He actually collapsed after that, stayed in the fetal position on the dirty floor for a while trying not to cry.

Once Reed was finally home, he thought about the plans he made with Tommy and Benjie. He considered calling and backing out. After everything, he didn’t feel like going, he told himself, and he was obviously experiencing one hell of a streak of bad luck. His best bet was to stay home with store bought candy and movie binge. He didn’t want to ditch Tommy, though, and he even more didn’t want to make Tommy go alone with Benjie. Benjie can be a bit of a dick, and he knows he can wear Tommy down to agree with pretty much anything – it’s why they were now going trick-or-treating.

Reed plopped down on the sofa with an icepack on the back of his head and mentally shifted through the rubber masks still stacked in his closet. He had a clown, a monkey, an old granny mask, and a grim reaper shroud that blacked out his whole face. Clowns were played out and he was sure the reaper get up would be too small. He wondered if he could talk his mom into grabbing him a last minute mask before her and dad had to leave for the party – ya, fat chance at that. He settled on the granny mask and thought to grab a mumu from his grandmother’s house down the street.

He napped on the couch for a while, woke up to pee and eat, then passed out in his room for an hour longer before Tommy called and said he was walking over.

“Oh, you’re going out?” asked his mother. She was putting the final touches on her ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ makeup in the mirror by the front door.

“Tommy talked me into it. We’re going down to Granny’s before we meet up with Benjie.”

“Okay, well, be home by…”

“Ten, I know.” Reed saw green painted hands emerging from the hallway behind his mother before he closed the front door behind him.

*

“Dude, that still trips me out.” Tommy was laughing while he recorded Reed dancing and mouthing the words to a song playing from his phone. They were screwing around – Benjie was late.

“Do you want to just go? We’re going to miss all the good stuff.” Reed felt a hard push on his back, almost sending him to the ground.

“You gonna start without me, shit face?” Benjie was still in his ‘costume’ from school, but had added a large link chain around his neck and wore a rubber skull mask.

“We were supposed to meet half an hour ago. I thought maybe you were washing your shit orange hair.” Tommy was rolling by then, but zipped up when Benjie shot him a mean glance with a fist aimed his direction. “Come on, let’s go guys.”

The first three houses they passed all had dark porches. The next five were lit though. Reed felt ridiculous, three tall boys with deepening voices holding out pillow cases to ask for candy. He had money – he could have bought candy. As the night went on though, he cared less about his pride as his bag grew in weight. They stopped long enough to each cram a few pieces of cholate down, then turned the corner and started on the next row.

The three zig-zagged across the narrow neighborhood street, hitting all the lit houses without having to double down the other side. His mom would have scorned him for eating candy that hadn’t been checked and for crossing the street every thirty seconds, but hey, she wasn’t there – she was probably drunk wherever she was. Two of the houses on this street were handing out full-size candy bars, five of the homes were answered by women with huge ta-tas, and they passed a trio of girls they planned to track down again soon. It seemed Reed’s shit luck from earlier had taken the night off.

After failing to find the girls again and practically running down three more streets, they decided to turn it in for the night. It was after ten anyway, and though his parents probably wouldn’t be home until midnight, he thought with his luck he better not push it. The three walked together much slower than when they had started. Benjie picked at his candy non-stop, throwing the empty wrappers back in his bag, while Tommy mouthed a caramel apple sucker. Reed carried his heavy bag over his shoulder, suddenly realizing how dark it was around them.

They had walked several blocks, and all the houses were running out of candy, so dark porches dominated every street.

“If I were a burglar,” said Reed, “this would be one hell of a night to score. A lot of neighborhoods don’t have street lights. It gets pitch black once all the porch lights go out.” Both his companions looked around then, Benjie’s eyes returning to Reed’s with a mischievous look in them.

“You aren’t wrong, shit breath.”

“Are we going to do this all night.”

“All year,” Benjie replied. Reed rolled his eyes and kept walking, now with a tighter grip on his bag. He pulled his phone out to check the time and thought of switching on his flashlight. He would have, except Benjie would give him hell for it. “Hey, let’s hit this last one. I bet they have big bars. Look at the size of it.”

Reed looked up to a tall dark house he didn’t remember seeing before…in fact he could have sworn this property was an open plot. He ran through a thousand ‘maybes’, like maybe they sold the property, but that didn’t make sense because the house looked old, but people could move houses now right, so maybe they sold the lot then moved an old rickety house way the hell to nowhere Texas.

“No man, I’ve got enough. I need to get home.”

“Chicken shit. Are you afraid of your parents or the dark more?”

“It’s just one more house man,” chimed Tommy.

Reed rolled his eyes and started up the sidewalk with the dynamic duo, agitated at Tommy taking Benjie’s side over his. He looked up to the house, tall and fragile looking with dark windows and open shutters. The house wasn’t completely falling apart, but it looked like a good summer storm could take most of it down. Gas lamps hung on either side of the door, both burning with a purple flame.

“Maybe they don’t even have anything. It’s too late, all the good stuff is gone. I bet they didn’t turn out the lights because they’re gas. We are going to wake someone, and they are going to be pissed.”

“Chicken shit,” was all Benjie said without slowing his stride. Reed wanted to leave, wanted to at least duck behind the bushes. He kept waiting for his mom to call him too, but found himself suddenly thankful at his parents’ party habits. When Benjie finally rang the doorbell, Reed felt his knees ready to run.

A silhouette moved behind the glass in the door. Reed squinted through the glass and took a step back.

“Don’t be a chicken shit.”

“Dude, enough,” said Tommy, who stepped back too.

The silhouette moved inside again, this time closer to the door itself. Reed realized he was holding his breath. He looked to Tommy who was actually shaking.

“Come on, let’s go,” Reed started when he heard the metal clack of a lock opening. “We’re sorry if we woke you, your lights…”

“Nonsense,” said a sweet voice from the dark opening. The silhouette stepped onto the porch where the purple light danced around her. Reed felt his heart quicken. The homeowner was a young adult female with long, wavy, chestnut hair and eyes as big as her breasts. “You boys are out late. Most of the candy hunters have wandered home by now.”

“Well we don’t have a curfew since we are teenagers,” Benjie started while Reed thought to smack him, “and your lights were still on, so we figured you must have had something worth giving out.” The woman laughed with a hand raised over her mouth – Reed thought she even seemed to blush a little.

“Well of course I do. Isn’t that what Halloween is all about?” She reached behind her, her soft hand returning with a large bowl filled with mini versions of pretty much every popular candy on the market. “No one seemed to want to stop by my house tonight, so I’ve got the works. Have your fill.”

Benjie’s hand was in the bowl in an instant, raking three handfuls into his bag before he plucked two small chocolate bars from the bowl and ate them on the spot. Tommy looked hesitant, but he took three handfuls of his own then pulled a new caramel apple sucker from her bowl to replace the one he’d just finished. Reed felt weird, didn’t like anything that was happening, but to avoid teasing or trouble, he grabbed a handful and dropped it in his bag.

“Is that all you want, sweetheart?”

“We already have a ton,” he said as he held up a fistful of heavy pillowcase.

“Surely there has to be something else your little heart could want.”

There was something alright, but he kept it to himself. He hadn’t been brave enough to even hit on a girl his own age. On top of that, his initial thought wasn’t an innocent pick-up line. He thought he’d love to lose it to a girl like that. The woman was holding eye contact with him still, and now lowered her gaze as if she heard his thoughts. She pushed her leg forward from the slit in her skirt. It wasn’t until then that Reed realized she was dressed as a witch – he hadn’t looked much further than her face and tits.

“Do you have any alcohol?” asked Benjie. Reed thought for the third time that day he’d sure like to whop that kid a good one. Benjie looked to the guys and shrugged with a shit eating grin on his face. They all three watched the woman for her response.

She leaned over forward with a wide grin on her face. She held eyes with Benjie now as she lowered to meet his brow. She jested at Benjie with wet words but Reed missed the gist of it – he couldn’t look away from the velvet line cutting into her high breasts. He had a feeling Tommy was locked in too, because he was equally silent.

The woman, still talking, raised her hands to rest on her chest. She laced her fingers together and rested her hands on the soft white skin. Reed saw then her eyes cut his way, and he immediately looked to the floor. He had been caught staring, and worse, he felt himself growing – his pants getting tighter in the crotch. He tried to think of anything but her hands and what they were touching. Benjie would never let him hear the end of it if he saw.

Reed forgot his boner when he heard a loud snap. It reminded him of the time he broke his collarbone skating. He looked up to see the woman’s fingers, all of them, stuck inside her own sternum. Blood was running from the opening. It was bright red against her light skin. The boys started to back step, but unable to look away, they watched her grip either side of her rib cage and pull out.

The front of her split open like a chicken on Christmas, but she did not collapse or bleed out like he knew they were all expecting her to do. Instead of organs and intestines spilling from her belly, what looked like one hundred snakes doused thick in her blood fell to the ground and began slithering their way. Tommy and Reed dashed the second the saw the serpents, but Benjie hesitated. When the boys reached the edge of her yard, they heard Benjie scream.

Benjie’s loud cry was quickly muffled. In sync, the two running looked over their shoulders just in time to see a snake slither inside Benjie’s mouth. They ran hard, some of Reed’s strides not even feeling like they connected with the pavement. The both of them jumped the stack of stairs at the end of Reed’s porch, and he turned every lock after he slammed the door in its frame.

Copyright W.B. Welch – All Rights Reserved

Halloween Treat