The wallpaper blackens and curls down toward me. The floorboards rot beneath my bare feet as I sprint down the hallway. My eyes catch a glimpse of my room, my safe haven. The lavender bed sheets call to me, inviting me to forget what I’ve seen and wake up from this nightmare. The stench of sulphur banishes the fantasy from my mind.
My feet go straight through the first step and I fall to my shoulders, caught dangling in the space beneath the stairs. The jagged wood slices into my armpits.
I hear a snicker and see him above me, his beady red eyes staring straight into mine. Greasy grey hair hangs down in front of his sunken face. A crooked grin cuts across his otherwise pitch black face.
I twist and swing and kick my legs to no avail. I’m stuck– I’m at his mercy.
He descends towards me slowly, gliding through the air light as a piece of paper. The stench of rotting meat mixed with cheap alcohol assaults my nose, crawling down my throat, choking me.
His feet land an inch away from my face. His shoes no longer resemble those of my father’s business suit; they are too charred and mangled. The leather, once a smooth, soft brown, always well polished, had wrinkled and morphed to coat his gnarled feet. The black trousers cling to his legs like a second skin, melting into his body.
I had seen him put those on this morning, lacing the expensive shoes as my mother stood behind him– always exactly two feet away with her hands clasped in front of her.
He had stood a few seconds after I had descended the last step. His large, scalding hand reached for me, fingers outstretched. His sharp nails looked ready to gouge out my eyes.
“I shall see you tonight, Pumpkin. Have fun trick-or-treating with your friends.” he spoke in a loud, booming voice tinged with a hint of laughter. His mouth had smiled but his eyes remained cold as blue ice ready to shatter and plunge me straight into the gelid water below.
His hand withdrew as he turned away, picking up his briefcase before heading out the open door. My mother had moved towards the window, pushing her hair into her face to hide her fresh black eye. She’d pulled me to her and waved, smiling the same fake smile she wore every morning while pretending to be a doting wife.
A loud creak stabs my eardrums and the floor splits in half, sending me tumbling to the ground. My head smashes against the oak floor below, disturbing the thick layers of dust my mother had never been able to reach with the ancient vacuum cleaner. The particles float down around me like snow.
Pain shoots up from the base of my neck, engulfing my head and spine, but I ignore it. A metallic taste coats my mouth as blood spurts from my bit tongue.
His red eyes had never once left mine. His grin never faltered.
It’s a grin I recognize as the false one he portrays whenever we have guests– similar to the one my mom had used to hide her fear. The image of her shaking hands and wide eyes as she stands before him, protecting me from his wrath, sends a shiver of guilt down my spine.
I scramble away from him, my fingernails clawing at the floorboards in a desperate attempt to get a grip. I push myself into a standing position, stumbling backwards into the kitchen.
He floats down to the ground. His shadow descends behind him, scraping across the wall like fingernails on a chalkboard. His feet don’t make a sound as they land on the oak boards.
My fingers find the counter, searching the drawer beneath it.
He moves through the door, the white frame crumbling around him. The walls rot away and the brand new refrigerator twists and writhes into an unrecognizable hunk of metal.
My fingers wrap around the cool blade of the stainless steel chef’s knife.
He moves closer.
I hold it out in front of me, backing towards the door leading outside. My hand shakes and he knows as well as I do that the knife is a bluff. He knows I can’t stab him, no matter how much I want to, because his face still resembles that of my father.
I still see the happy man who used to push me on the swings. The one who would laugh with my mother as they watched game shows on TV with me seated between them. The one who taught me how to ride a bike. The one who was my favorite person in the whole world– before alcohol came into the family.
His head tilts sideways, the grin never faltering. Straight bleached teeth shimmer in the flickering fluorescent light.
My free hand finds the doorknob. It jiggles.
He’s only a foot away. I can hear his raspy breaths escape from the hole in his throat. It sounds like the hissing of a rattlesnake, approaching me with the tail flicking back and forth excitedly.
I fiddle with the lock, somehow managing to undo it. The door opens and I fall backwards, rolling down the concrete steps onto the sidewalk. My body folds in half and my skull makes a loud cracking noise as it hits the edge of the stair. Pain spreads from the base of my neck like veiny fingers wrapping around my body, trapping me. The knife clatters to the ground, landing beside my pounding head. The silver blade shimmers in the midnight moonlight.
My vision swims as I open my eyes. He still stands above me. I can almost hear him laugh.
I stand and, leaving the knife behind, turn away and desert my home, abandoning my mother’s corpse with it.
The image of her decapitated, burned body remains imprinted in my mind. The blackened corpse leaves a heavy sense of guilt as a lump in my throat. The silence that had accompanied me into the house still lingers in my ears.
I’d walked into the house at a quarter past eleven, waving goodnight to Melanie and her parents as their car pulled down the driveway. A small twinge of jealousy arose in my heart as I saw her mother and father smiling from inside the car. Those were genuine smiles. They didn’t exist in this house.
The first thing I had noticed was the lack of music as I’d dropped my pillowcase filled with candy on the floor beside the door. My mother was always listening to music when I came home– she believed it made the house more “welcoming” and invited “positive energy” to come in.
The silence was deafening. Each of my footsteps had sounded like the stomping of a giant from the fairy tales I’d loved as a kid. My breaths had sounded like the thunderous roar of an ogre.
I’d checked the living room first, then the kitchen, and finally the dining room– empty. My feet had carried me up the stairs, my fingers tracing the floral wallpaper.
The stench of burning meat mixed with sulfur greeted me at the threshold. I’d stopped, frozen as I saw the inside of her bedroom. A dark figure stood with its back to the door, hunched over something.
“Mom?” my voice had whispered. The rapid hammering of my heart would have covered up any response. I’d coughed at the smoke emanating from the open doorway, swatting it away from my face. “Mom?” I croaked again, a little louder. “Are you–”
I;d caught a glimpse of her– or, what was left of her– as the figure turned towards me, red eyes glaring.
Those red eyes follow me from the back porch, watching me as I run. I feel them boring into the back of my head, drilling holes into my aching skull.
Trees lean out towards me but I dodge them, staggering down the driveway and onto the road. I have no breath with which to scream. My heart pounds too fast, deafening my ears. Pure adrenaline courses through my veins. Sharp rocks stab the soles of my feet but I hardly feel them for my body has gone numb. My mind can no longer function. Thoughts have forsaken me.
I dare not turn around to see if he is still behind me. My shaking legs propel me forward towards my neighbor’s home as I resist the urge to puke.
I wish my mother was here with me, running away like we should have all those years ago. I wish her warm hand clasped mine as it had every night when I sat in bed, crying after watching my father hit her. I wish her reassuring presence was climbing these rickety wooden steps with me.
Their red door looms directly in front of my face. When did it get there? How did I get here?
My closed fist knocks against it, weakly. The fake spider webs and caution tape criss-crossed across the wood cushion the impact. It hardly makes a noise.
I try to utter a cry, to ask the door for help, but the words get caught in my throat.
I hear a loud cackle behind me and know he is approaching. I can almost smell his rotting flesh.
I stumble off the porch and into the tall, dewy grass. The ground tilts away from me as I try to stand, sending me back to my knees.
My hands and feet sink into the mud. The thick substance wraps around my legs and crawls up my arms. I try to break free but it glues me to the ground. It begins to harden, encasing me in a cement-like layer.
Small tendrils of mud crawl up my face, cooling my burning skin with their icy touch. They snake up my nose and down my throat. The thick substance suffocates me.
His feet appear before me, still wearing the remnants of my father’s work shoes. They seem to crackle on the grass. Small embers spark from the laces, becoming fire as they climb up his pants.
The mud is too thick. I can’t breathe. My stomach heaves but nothing comes out. I try to cough but there’s too much mud in my throat.
I can feel his red eyes on me as I lose myself in the flames, letting them consume me as my vision begins to fade. His laughter accompanies me into the darkness of death.
Author’s Note: Happy Halloween everyone! 😀 Thank you for reading the Halloween Week Finale story and I hope you enjoyed it! Let me know which of my stories you liked best and which kinds of stories you would like to see from me in the future in the comments! Have a spooky and fun Halloween and I’ll see you guys with a regular story in November.