Candy

The dolorous ringing of the doorbell woke Stacey from a heavy sleep. He rolled over and tumbled to the floor, only then remembering that he had fallen asleep on the couch watching The Mummy, like he did every Halloween.

“Trick-or-treat!” a thin voice sounded through the doors.

He must have left the porch light on even after kids had stopped coming by. But what time was it? Bleary eyed, he looked for a clock, but couldn’t see the hands on the clock above the sink. He couldn’t find his glasses. Then he remembered to check his phone, which read 00:00. Midnight? It seemed too late.

“Trick-or-treat!” the voice called again.

He staggered toward the door where the mostly empty bowl of candy sat on a stool. For some reason, he felt like he ought to be in costume. With no better options, he grabbed the blanket he had been sleeping under and threw it over his head before answering the door.

Standing on the other side was a small figure, similarly shrouded. “Trick-or-treat!” they said once more holding out a small pumpkin-shaped bucket. Stacey dumped a full sized Snickers into the bucket. “Sweet,” they said. And then the figure disappeared.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Procession

All through town doors are shut and lights extinguished. The pale procession is coming. Everyone can see them, but you only hear the song if they’ve claimed you. If they have, it’s already too late.

I’ve been waiting for this night with dread, with curiosity, wondering what I would hear.

White shadows. Empty eyes. Silent steps. They move toward the river, writhing in slow motion. Tattered dresses eddy and pool in the moonlight. Mouths open to sing. And oh god, I already know the song.

Barefoot, bareheaded, I walk out into the night. None of the ghosts look at me, but I find an opening in the line for me. I walk. My lips part. The song wells up, spills out, erupts. I wonder if the people watching through their shudders can hear my cries of anguish. I wonder if anyone cares.

I follow the women to the river, to the bridge, where the pale procession always ends. From that vantage, I can see his house, the house where it happened. I wonder if he is watching. The song swells behind me, sorrowful, angry, and desperate.

But I refuse to let him win.

I walk on, and my sisters follow.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Photo by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash