This is a blast from the past originally posted on November 10, 2014. It was something that fell into the Indies Unlimited flash fiction challenge stories, but it ended up being too long.
Though it’s a day late, it does fit the mood of the season. Cthulhumas is upon us and we need to embrace the horrors to come.
I dare say this has a happyish ending. Sort of… Kinda… Okay, so maybe no one dies, this time…
No Costume Needed
Willy watched with wonder as the ceaseless parade of little ghoulies went from door-to-door, receiving treats.
It stirred a dull memory in his mind of something pleasant – something from before.
Looking down at the necrotic flesh of his hands, he wondered if he might join the revelers without being noticed, without being hunted…
Willy threw caution to the wind. Sure it was a quick decision but he couldn’t remember the last time he had stepped into the night air unencumbered with disguise and guile. Tonight was the one night a year he could walk amongst them without fear.
He checked his face in the bathroom, the slight rip under his eye had opened a touch more than earlier. Tomorrow, he thought, tomorrow he could readjust it and make himself look whole again. But the circles under his eyes, those were a problem. For a brief moment he worried that he might be coming down with crypt fever, a disease of the recently dead. Pish posh, that was a disease of the young and he was well into his middle years. 250 years dead did not make him a spring chicken (chuckles).
He wrapped his black and orange scarf around his neck, so festive, and stepped out into the cold October night. The sun had dropped below the horizon some time ago. Children reveled in the dark night as the ghosts and ghoulies they pretended to be. Oh the joy of the living, had it been so long he no longer could quite remember it anymore.
Willy swayed up and down his street, lost amidst the scampering youth. Well fed and entertained, he absorbed the energy of the children as they frolicked. Invigorated with their boundless spirits he ventured farther into the neighborhood. How could he not? A night like this, a full moon in the sky, his affliction open to the chill night air, the siren call of the night kept him going.
Predators have a sense, a warning if you will, that tells them when prey is about. Sure his senses should have been assaulted from all directions with all the children. But this was something different. Call it a primal instinct, that sense that finds the weak and sick of the herd, the easy prey that can be picked off without a fight. He smelled it in the air, felt it in his bones.
Deep in the housing development, away from the main roads, there was an area still in development. He had wandered over to it as he walked around the neighborhood. His new found freedom blinded him to how far away from his home he had traveled. Willy’s lips cracked in a strained smile. If he was still alive, he might feel fear and apprehension here, alone, with little but the moon to light his path.
The smell of prey pulled him along a dirt path, closer to a half finished house. Framework with only a couple walls on a concrete foundation greeted him at the end of the path. The smell of fresh blood greeted him as the night breeze kicked up the leaves around him.
He found the body broken, bleeding on floorboards dangled precariously over the abyss of the basement. Though his stomach rumbled he didn’t not rush to the meat hung so carelessly. Instead Willy entered the house’s framework from where the front door would be and approached the body from the floor itself. His senses told him it still lived, though barely.
It would be so easy to snatch the mewling thing and hoard it in his cellar. The child, yes it was young, was fat and juicy, but he stocked enough food that it was unnecessary. Willy made a decision, contrary to the monsters that left it here to die. He pulled it up and took it carefully in his arms.
He rushed, few might know this but the dead can be much faster than they appear, he rushed back towards the lights of the settled neighborhood. The first house he could find with the lights still on, Willy set the child on the doorstep and then rang the bell. His undead speed worked so well for this, as he rushed off behind the neighbor’s bushes and watched as the living answered their door.
He heard the sirens rushing to the scene as he shambled his way home. A strange night to be sure but one that would stay with him as he whiled away another century or two.
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