Poppy Day

Was that a nut?

Bradley spit the half chewed breakfast cookie into the remains of his lukewarm coffee. That had to be a nut. Incompetent fools were going to kill him with stupidity! There’s a reason he ordered the cookie with NO NUTS.

He didn’t feel his throat closing up and he didn’t feel itchy, so that was good. Must not have been a tree nut. Calming a little, he scanned the cluttered desktop and found an old envelope to wipe his mouth with. Picking it up, his eyes widened and his spine straightened as he saw what lay under it.

How in the hell did that stupid flower get there?

He thought back to the old hag on the sidewalk this morning. She had jumped right in front of him with a red paper flower. He’d been checking his phone on his way from the bus stop to the office and almost ran her over. He half wished he had. She was muttering something about money for dead people, but he wasn’t really interested.

“Dead people don’t need money.” He had brushed past, laughing at her stupid scam.

Now Bradley’s gag reflex sprung into action as his tongue discovered a tooth sized hole. It wasn’t a nut after all. The next tooth was loose, too. He’d have to call a dentist.

He picked up the ugly flower and tossed it in the wastebasket, only to realize that it was stuck to his finger.

A movie real of images flooded his mind:

Dashing young man in uniform.

Crying little girl at graveside.

Teen playing with a Ouija board.

Pentagram around an old woman.

Bradley’s teeth began to loosen and fall faster than he could spit them out. The hag! She had cursed him!

Maybe dead people really do need money.

Haunted

Marty knew they were testing him. He was the new kid. He’d lived in town his whole life, but he had gone to Mountain Heights Elementary while most of the other kids had attended Lincoln Elementary. Now they were all together at Montgomery Middle School.

Brian and Nate had let Marty hang out with them at lunch right from the beginning, but the relationship was still new and he didn’t want to jeopardize it over something so stupid.

When Nate and Brian started talking about the haunted house, Marty was silent.

“You’re not scared of a haunted house, are you Marty?” taunted Brian.

“No, guys. We’re just a little too old for ghost stories. It’s just an old house.” His reserved tone told them otherwise.

“Just an old haunted house,” Nate added.

“It’s not haunted.” Marty didn’t sound like he believed it.

“No?” said Brian, ”I dare you to go in there.”

Marty knew he was screwed.

That’s how they ended up in front of the house at sundown on the Tuesday before Halloween. They stood on the corner of 13th and Switch and proclaimed it creepy as ever. Ancient trees loomed over the derelict structure, set back from the road just enough to leave most of it to the imagination.

“You guys coming?” Marty asked, heading for the front door.

Brian and Nate exchanged a look of surprise, then followed Marty as he strode up the porch steps and pushed open the door.

Nate and Brian hesitated at the threshold, watching Marty fade into the darkness of the living room. Their bladders shrunk when a specter glided toward Marty and a wavering voice called out, “Mmmaaaaarrrty.”

The last thing both boys heard as they ran screaming from the porch was Marty’s cheerful voice.

“Hi, Grandma. I brought some friends.”

“But, mom”

“I’m eleven now,” Buffy reasoned, “I’m old enough to go by myself. It isn’t even really dark out yet.”

“Fine. You can go as far as the fire station, but that’s it. And I want you back in an hour.”

“Thanks mom!”

“Have fun, sweetie. But be careful!”

Her warning was lost as the door slammed shut behind Buffy.

She decided to head out first and collect candy on the way back. Buffy was well past the fire station when she noticed it was full dark. She wasn’t familiar with this neighborhood, but they were sure to give better candy than hers did.

She picked out a house, but only took a few steps before she saw a trio of vampires coming down the walk. Buffy’s skin crawled and she stepped behind a nearby hedge. She didn’t understand why she was so scared.

They passed in front of her, talking among themselves. She hoped she was hidden well enough despite her sparkly princess dress. Bloody mouths and dark eyes made those boys look super creepy.

After they passed, she waited for her pulse to return to normal. She took one more deep breath, then doubt crept in.

What if they did see me and are just hiding around the corner? No, that’s silly. Plus, mom will start worrying soon. I’ll just do one house, then head home.

She emerged from the bushes and headed up the walk.

“Trick or treat!” followed by, “Thank you!”

She breathed a sigh of relief as she reached the sidewalk again and turned to go home.

Then she saw the vampires and finally realized what was wrong with them. Their feet weren’t touching the ground. In a flash, they were upon her.

This Halloween she was a princess, next Halloween she’d be a vampire.

College Girls

Disembodied voices carried through the dense fog. The campus was deserted.

“This seems really risky,” said Tammy, “I could lose my scholarship if we’re caught.”

“We won’t be caught,” Amber assured her. “Besides, college life is more than just studying and that’s all we’ve been doing. Tonight I want to feel alive.”

When Bryce had approached Amber and asked if she wanted to bring a little something to a private party, her heart went into overdrive. A chance at Bryce would be a dream come true. His family name was on the botany lab where she spent her days.

Their forms gradually materialized as the fog thinned near the old maintenance shack. Tammy reached for the door handle.

Just then, a deep voice called, “STOP! Consider this your warning.”

Muffled laughter seeped through the thin door.

“Bryce, don’t be a dick,” said Colin, opening the door.

“Come on in, Ladies. Have a seat. Could I interest you in a fine beverage?” he asked, detaching the last two cans from a six pack as they entered.

Tammy accepted for both of them while Amber rummaged in her bag.

Amber lit the first joint and passed it to Bryce.

“I knew you’d come though. Is this your special blend?” He asked, taking a hit.

“You know it,” said Amber, before lighting another and passing it to Tammy. “Time to get this party started.”

As Colin took the joint from Bryce, the young men lustily appraised their guests, imagining the pleasures to come.

Amber met Tammy’s eyes, seeing nervous anticipation reflected back. Nobody knew they were here.

Bryce fell heavily onto the rotting floorboards, followed immediately by Colin. The fear in their eyes was apparent, despite the paralysis.

Setting down their barely touched beers, Tammy and Amber approached their victims. Then they feasted.

The Accident

Light filtering through her eyelids appeared red to Darcy. She couldn’t make sense of it. She could feel her arms and legs, but she couldn’t make them move. She could feel motion, though. And there was noise. She slowly moved her head from left to right and back again, plastic pillow crinkling underneath.

Darcy’s eyes fluttered open as the fog began to lift. She watched ceiling tiles scroll slowly above her as the noise separated into voices. One sounded very close.

“It looks like she’s waking up. Darcy? You’re in the hospital now. You’re okay.”

Hospital? Something must have happened. Was she in an accident? Why couldn’t she move? She closed her eyes again and sifted through her hazy memories. A collection of silent snapshots floated up to her awareness.

Three friends perched on barstools, laughing, drinking. A rare ladies night out.

Cab ride home, late, she’d get her car tomorrow.

Master bathroom, toothbrush, Ambien, did she take it already? Better be safe.

Dark bedroom, one sleeping body, hers. David comes home tomorrow. Her gun rests, unseen, in the nightstand.

The voice intrudes on her reverie. “Here we are, Darcy. Exam room two. You can rest on the gurney for now, just until the doctor sees you.”

Thick cobwebs stretched between her tongue and the roof of her mouth as she forced the words out, “I can’t move.”

“It’s for your own safety. Just rest now and the doctor will see you soon.” The door failed to latch as he exited.

Voices drifted through the opening as she closed her eyes and tried to remember.

“Poor bastard caught an earlier flight and surprised her. When the cops got there she was incoherent from the meds and booze. It was too late.”

Another snapshot appeared. Shadowy intruder, gunshot, screams.

Darcy screamed.

Author’s Note:
I wrote this for a contest using the prompt: light, noise, fog.
Since it’s October now, I’m trying out a few creepier ideas. If that’s your thing, stay tuned for more.