Scary Saturday Short Story – Door Bell

At least Covid 19 meant no children knocking at the door this year. My own ten year old had gone to her friends’ house to do Halloween and my husband was picking her up after his shift finished. We were still medium risk in our area and no one in Maya’s class had tested positive, but it might be the last time she could see friends if we were heading for a second lockdown. Anyway, I was going to leave the television and radio off and read my new book. I did not want to hear any Covid news.

Two pages in and I was startled by the door bell ringing frantically. How annoying, Maya and her friends must be playing a joke.

I opened the door to see a pale very solemn child standing there, peering from beneath a hood. Her costume and acting were rather good. I peered over her head; the street light by our front gate revealed no parent or older sibling looking out for her.

‘Are you out on your own?’

‘I’m always on my own.’

Her voice was faint. That’s all I needed on my evening off, some child from a dysfunctional family, probably one of those who needed food hand outs at half term. She looked like she needed feeding up, but I could hardly invite her in, I might be accused of kidnapping and anyway, I did not want to get involved.

‘Perhaps you had better run along now, I haven’t got any sweets, my daughter took them to her friends’ house.’

She remained silent.

‘How about a bag of crisps and a banana?’

She remained silent, so I turned to nip into the kitchen and see what we had in the fruit bowl. I grabbed a carrier bag and put in two bananas and a few satsumas; she probably never got any fruit at home. But before I could turn back to the kitchen door I sensed her behind me. There she was, standing in my kitchen, this was getting creepy.

‘Where do you live?’

‘Here.’

I didn’t like the way she looked through me, I felt a chill; despite her translucent pallor she looked familiar. Now we were in the light I noticed the ginger curls escaping from her hood were just like Maya’s bouncy hair and she was the same height.

‘Now don’t be silly, your parents will be worrying where you are.’

‘No they won’t, they don’t want me, why didn’t you want me? You love Maya, why didn’t you love me?’

I felt chilled to the core. I hadn’t mentioned Maya’s name and I was certain she wasn’t one of the neighbour’s children or in Maya’s class.

‘You have done your tricking and you have your treat. Now I want you to leave my house.’

‘Why can’t I live here?’

I felt sick, should I call the police… where had I left my mobile… I didn’t want to take my eyes off her, this could be a burglary attempt with a big brother waiting to slip in the front door… it was upstairs charging and the landline was in my husband’s office…

‘Why don’t you tell me your phone number and we could ring your home.’

‘This is my home Mummy, it took me a long time to find you.’

What kind of sick joke was this, could she really be… no that was ridiculous…

‘My daughter will be home soon and it’s time you left.’

‘She’s not coming home.’

‘Her Dad’s bringing her.’

‘Maya’s not coming home, so I can stay now.’

‘Of course you can’t.’

‘Why don’t you want me, you wanted Maya.’

I tried to think rationally, so why did I find myself trying to explain?

‘It wasn’t the right time, it wouldn’t have been fair to you.’

‘You should have given me a chance.’

Who or what was this strange child? What could she possibly know about… I tried not to let my imagination run wild, prayed that Maya and her Dad would be back soon… no, I prayed this frail creature would leave before they did return. I stepped back, nauseous as she held out her blue veined hand.

‘Please go’ my voice was shaking ‘I told you  my daughter will be back soon.’

I told you Mummy, she won’t be coming back.’

I closed my eyes for a second, trying to think. I heard a tread, felt the floor vibrate, they must be back. But when I opened my eyes a policeman was standing there.

‘Sorry Madam, the front door was wide open, didn’t you hear me calling?’

His voice was muffled behind his mask, but his eyes were darting around nervously.

‘Thanks for coming, were you looking for this lost child, will you call social services?’

He looked puzzled. I followed his gaze round the kitchen, the girl was not there.

‘Oh she must have crept upstairs, we better check.’

‘Madam, madam please, I need you to sit down. Is anyone else at home?’

‘No, my husband and daughter are out.’

‘I am very sorry, I have to tell you there has been a serious accident and we think…

For more dark stories why not dip into Dark and Milk. Only $1.29

Thursday Terror Tale – Breaking News

BBC News 24   10.40 pm   Wednesday 30th October ‘The Papers’

‘With me tonight discussing tomorrow morning’s papers are the financial editor of The Guardian and a journalist with the Huffington Post. Shall we start with the rather bizarre headline in several papers that scientists have discovered the devil actually exists, James?’

‘Well this is one story my paper has missed Satan Certainty says The Sun people really do hear voices and it’s The Devil talking to them. Obviously this is going to be used by the Tories as an excuse to reduce funding for mental health services.’

‘Sarah?’

‘Or as a crafty way of diverting attention away from the Brexit Fiasco.’

‘Precisely and if it was true it would be more scary than Putin or North Korea.’

‘This is a team of highly acclaimed physicists, can we be sure it is not true?’

23

BBC 1 Breakfast   7.23am   Thursday 31st October

‘…and the story breaking overnight is that a group of eminent scientists have proved that Satan is real, alive and watching us now. Joining us on the sofa we have an archbishop and a humanist. Let’s get straight to the point. Archbishop, hasn’t the church always claimed the Devil exists, so what’s new?’

‘Not as depicted in films. Evil exists, but not of course an actual devil; evil can’t be reduced to a person called Old Nick, anymore than we can perceive God Almighty as a person.’

‘Isn’t that what you claim Jesus was?’

‘Yes, yes of course, but…’

‘As a humanist I believe that people create both good and evil and these ridiculous ideas are going to harm a lot of vulnerable people…’

‘… let’s go over to the sports desk …’

39916239_661143220968659_1522282945396604928_n

BBC Radio 4   9.am   Thursday 31st October   ‘The Life Scientific’

‘And my guest this morning is the scientist who led the team that has recently discovered, or claimed to have proved, the devil exists. Angela, when you were a child did you ever imagine you would become one of the country’s leading experts in such a field?’

‘No, no my parents were both ardent atheists and I wasn’t even allowed to go to school assembly or be in the nativity play, then one day I found a stack of Dennis Wheatley novels hidden in my parents’ wardrobe…’

28

BBC 1 7pm   Thursday 31st October   ‘The One Show’

‘What do you make of today’s startling news that the devil has been discovered, or rather has at last been proved to be real. Our guest this evening claims to have met Satan. What did he actually look like?’

‘He can take many forms, that is why neither the police nor my GP believed me.’

‘So where did you meet him?’

‘On Facebook. Luckily one of my Twitter followers had also met him and Tweeted some advice, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today.’

‘I believe you had a narrow escape.’

‘Yes indeed, I nearly sold my soul to Satan…’

52775051_2395647170454725_7038943831793860608_n

BBC2 10.30pm   Thursday 31st October   ‘Newsnight’

‘It is barely twenty four hours since scientists revealed that The Devil actually exists and while some academics are already arguing whether we write his name with capital letters or even whether we can ascribe a gender, for most of the world’s population it has not yet sunk in. Our guests tonight are a representative of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a member of JW.Org who believes some people have actually sold their soul to The Devil.’

‘We’re not sure of the numbers, it could be in the thousands.’

‘But isn’t it a scandal that these people were not helped sooner, before it was too late…’

45146937_180630256179271_6119277315223453696_n

BBC News 24   11.40pm   Tuesday 31st October ‘The Papers’

‘Since last night’s breaking news, more and more people are coming forward to say they have met The Devil. To discuss tomorrow’s first editions we have a journalist from The Times and the cultural editor from The Sun.’

‘Our readers are saying why didn’t they come forward before, but the obvious answer is that nobody would have believed them.’

‘…and the sad fact is that they are still not fully believed, that they have sold their souls to Satan.’

‘Our editorial is taking this matter seriously, but we must realise there is a big difference between people in powerful positions, who have got there by selling their souls and vulnerable people who have been under Satanic influence.’

‘The Mirror has the most graphic front page with the headline

Satan to collect souls at midnight.’

‘Yes, midnight on Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve just before All Souls Day.’

‘…but that’s in ten minutes time…’

‘… er hmm… Stay with us here on News 24 with the headlines coming up at midnight.’

 

For tales of good and evil dip into Hallows and Heretics

 

The Dark Web

Today I have a guest who has just started blogging on the dark web. Because of his situation he prefers to remain annonymous, but is looking forward to posting about the problems faced by minority groups. As an appropriate introduction he describes a typical experience on his favourite night of the year.

Treat or Trick

Time for my annual visit home; weather’s taken a cold turn, that’s good, everyone’s wrapped up so I don’t look out of place. Busy down my road. Couple of new families moved in, children whizzing around on wheels of various sorts, new people at number 53 and here we are. Oh, new front door, hmm, doesn’t really suit the lovely old house. No car parked out the front, hope they are not all out. Big poster by the front door… NO TRICK OR TREATERS   That’s a bit mean, too stingy to buy a few sweets. I’ll take it down.

DSCN4881

There’s nobody at home anyway; everything locked up as if they had gone on holiday. Still, after the reception I got last year perhaps they have decided to avoid me.

Getting dark, shouldn’t be long till the Trick and Treaters come round, five groups last year. The final group were hardly children, all ghastly teenagers, reckon they were dared to come by their younger siblings. Hang on, I can hear the front door being unlocked, it’s Rory, must have decided not to go away with his parents and sisters.

‘Hi Rory, you’ve grown since last year.’

That’s strange, he’s rushed back out again. All on my own, well I’m used to that. At least I can watch what I like on television. All these channels they have now, you’d think there would be something on worth watching.

34670839_2115416058488173_7531615677732356096_n

There goes the doorbell, visitors at last, I’ll have a peek out the window. Little kids, rubbish costumes, anxious parent hovering on the pavement. Right, time to open the front door, slowly, keep them in suspense. They are very sweet, I’ll lower my hood gently.

‘Hello children, treat or TRICK… no don’t run away.’

That was fun, pity they didn’t stay, but hopefully the new families will be out and about. I can see a few strangely attired short people across the road. Here we go, they’re coming up the driveway. No need for them to ring the doorbell…

‘Good Evening, you gave me quite a fright, are you ghosts or ghouls… hey, come back, you’ve dropped your bucket with all the money.’

This is boring, no callers for half an hour … oh at last. Peep out of the window, let them see the curtain moving, their costumes are brilliant… they’re ringing the door bell again.

‘Hello Vampires, I’ve got some nice fresh blood for you… don’t go next door yet, you haven’t shown me your trick…’

26840667_1949855645044216_1780190976394605019_o

Blue lights flashing and sirens, must be something going on outside, might as well have a look. Police officer coming up the path, close the door pronto. Ringing and knocking.

Can you open the door please Sir?

Me a Sir, that’s a laugh.

‘I don’t open the door to strangers, especially at night.’

I’m a police officer, can I just have a word?

‘About what, haven’t you any criminals to arrest?’

We had a suspected on going burglary call from neighbours, concerned because the owners of the house are away. If you could open the door so we can confirm your identity.

Better open the door, perhaps he is a Trick or Treater.

Can I have your name and date of birth Sir… umm perhaps it would be easier to talk if you uncovered your face.

‘I have a medical condition, I need to keep covered up.’

We’ll need a doctor to confirm that at the station, we’ll need proper ID.

He’s whispering into his radio now, calling for back up, possible terrorist situation!

Now, if I could have your name, address and date of birth.

‘Certainly, Anthony John Worsley, 29th February, 1873. Now constable, it really is time I was leaving, I need to go and get a good year’s sleep.’

 

Tuesday Tiny Tale 500 – The Unkindest Cut

‘Have you self harmed before Mr. Andrews?’

‘What? … ow!’

‘Local anaesthetic, please keep still while I do the sutures. Would you like to talk to someone?’

‘Talk to who? I just need to be sewn up and get home’ I pleaded.

Shock was beginning to set in and I couldn’t take in what the young woman doctor was saying. I looked at the clock on the wall.

‘I think I left the gas on.’

She frowned. ‘Gas as well and yet at the last moment you didn’t go through with it, that’s good, but you need to speak with one of our counsellors.’

‘Look, embarrassing as it is, I’m a doctor too…’

‘No need to be ashamed, statistically doctors are more likely to attempt suicide and more likely to succeed.’

I sat up straight, knocking the tray of equipment.

‘No, no, this was an accident. I’ve done that course, Thinking About Mental Health… I work in this department, you must be new?’

‘Four weeks.’

‘In four months time the only mental health you’ll be thinking about is your own, thanks you for your concern but…’

‘I am concerned there could be nerve damage Doctor Andrews, we need to refer you for further treatment.’

‘The only damage to my nerves will be my wife’s reaction when I get home, how can I explain this was all the pumpkin’s fault?’

DSCN1347

It all started last week when the children were pestering us. They ‘needed’ Halloween costumes and rubber spiders etc. The advantage of being older parents? We have enough sense not to be sucked into blatant commercialism. No trick or treat, no ghost masks. My wife suggested the All Hallows’ Eve Festival of Light at the local church, being held to counter commercial exploitation of children, or was it to pray for deliverance from evil? Either way I did not want to spend my precious day off going to church, so I promised a surprise and tasty supper on their return.

dscn5268.jpg

Late this afternoon pumpkins were being sold off cheap at the greengrocers and I had it all planned. A circle of happy pumpkin faces dangling from the trees in the front garden, pumpkin soup recipe off the internet.

The first two orange heads were impressive, the third a bit tough, but the soup smelt nice. The fourth pumpkin was impenetrable, sharper knife and more force needed.

Purlicue… thena web… that piece of loose skin betwixt thumb and forefinger. I didn’t feel any pain as the knife sliced straight through… my energetic attack on the pumpkin meant the force carried the blade straight on down my palm and left wrist before my right hand thought to drop the knife. Blood spurted everywhere as I tried to tie a makeshift bandage with one hand and my teeth.

Now I looked again at the clock in the cubicle. My family were about to arrive home to a burnt out saucepan, a vivid trail of blood and no sign of me.

Friday Flash Fiction 666 words – The Off White Witch

I thought the whole point of the Halloween Party was to scare the children, but when Becky the librarian introduced me I realised her head was filled with half baked ‘New Age’ rubbish. It was five pm, hardly the witching hour, but the clocks had gone back, my favourite time of year and it was dark.

‘Now children,’ twittered Becky ‘I’d like to introduce you to Amelia the Witch.’

‘She’s not a witch,’ interrupted the largest child, who was taking up too much space at the front of the carpet ‘she’s not wearing black.’

Becky touched my flowing white sleeve with over familiarity.

‘That’s because she’s a white witch, a good witch.’

I suppressed a snigger.

‘Amelia loves nature, trees and flowers, she is in tune with Gaia.’

The children looked up at Becky with incomprehension.

‘Would you like to ask Amelia any questions?’

A mealy mouthed little girl shot her hand up. ‘What are you favourite flowers Miss?’

‘Oh… Belladonna, a pretty little purple flower and Foxglove, a flower of the woods.’

‘Yes, but do you do magic?’ sneered the large boy.

‘Of course, but I’m not allowed to do it on library premises because of health and safety.’

‘People used to think it was magic in the olden days,’ simpered Becky ‘but the wise women just made cures with herbs and woodland plants.’

‘Are you a fairy godmother?’ asked a child of indeterminate sex dressed as a fluffy pumpkin.

‘I think you’re getting confused,’ interrupted Becky ‘that’s a fairy tale.’

The child was undeterred ‘But Miss, can you turn mice into horses and men?’

‘I can do better than that,’ I smiled ‘I can turn naughty boys into mice.’

The children giggled nervously, but the large boy just pulled on a rubber ghost mask and booed in the face of the girl next to him, who asked when her Mummy was coming to fetch her.

‘Do you mean wild mice or pet white mice?’ asked a solemn boy child.

‘Depends how naughty the boy is; a pet mouse would be pampered and kept in a nice, safe warm cage, but a wild mouse might get gobbled up by a cat.’

‘How could you do that if you haven’t got a wand?’ said the large boy, his voice muffled by the mask. ‘I bet your magic isn’t as strong as Harry Potter’s.’

A sprig of yew will do,

to make my spell come true.

‘Amelia’s a poet as well,’ said Becky ‘shall we all go to the writing corner and make up some magic poems?’

‘No, we want to see some magic.’ A tall girl at the back of the carpet stood up.

I couldn’t resist whipping out a piece of evergreen from my gown pocket, I only intended to show them; usually I need complete quiet and concentration to perform a spell. I must have focussed for too long on the large boy.

31059609_2059150424114737_5415312156566487040_n

The green smoke was very impressive, strong enough to set the fire alarms off and in the confusion that followed nobody noticed that the boy had disappeared. Further panic ensued when a girl screamed.

‘A big mouse ran over my foot!’

Becky and her assistants handled the evacuation very efficiently and we were soon gathered in the car park. The initial head count revealed one child was missing and it was the other children who were first to notice the absence of the large boy.

‘Did you really turn that horrid boy into a mouse?’ The solemn boy’s face lit up.

‘Of course not’ said Becky, looking worried ‘but if she did, I’m sure Amelia could turn him back into a boy.’

‘But the mouse ran away’ piped up another child.

‘Oh dear,’ I smiled at the children ‘I can’t perform the reversal spell if I can’t see the mouse.’

My words were drowned out by the sound of sirens. If the mouse was still in the library, he would soon be scared off by firemen’s boots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frost and Fireworks

It’s that time of year when writers look forward to getting more writing done. Northern Hemisphere days grow shorter, helped by the man made device of putting the clocks back to Greenwich Mean Time. My Australian relatives are now eight instead of seven hours ahead, making that very modern tradition, Skyping, more complicated. All our traditions at this time of year go back further than we imagine; from Diwali to Bonfire night it is light we cling to. Imagine our ancestors in the long nights; when they looked out of their huts or caves they would see nothing but impenetrable darkness – no Kurling up with a Kindle for them.

Halloween, Monday October 31st, the day after the clocks went back, was a day  of brilliant sunshine, winter had never felt further away. Enjoying an outing to Kingston Lacy, a National Trust owned house and grounds, the sun was blissfully warm on my face, the autumn colours beautiful. On Friday we had a journey to make from south coast to east coast; it rained heavily all day long, it was hard to tell when dark day turned into early evening, but the car lights shining in the teeming rain had a certain beauty of their own. Saturday found our family gathering freezing in the garden for fireworks. Anyone too cold used the excuse of going back in the kitchen to comfort scared dogs or children. Sunday brought bitter but exhilarating winds on the beach.

Back home, Monday night brought the first frost in our area.The weather had changed so much in one week, but this was not a surprise; accurate satellite weather forecasts are broadcast endlessly and even before you get out of bed you can look at you smart phone. If mine  says ‘Bournemouth Rain’ I know it will be a good writing day, even if it clears up later there will not be time to get out in the garden to plant spring bulbs before it gets dark again.