HALLOWEEN SPECIAL EDITION CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION
The bitterly cold wind whips around you as you walk up the empty driveway. You shudder and glance back at your house. Maybe you should have worn a coat as your mom suggested? You shake your head—a coat would ruin your costume. Plus, you’ll soon be too drunk to notice the cold anyway.
Will Jordan be at the party? You hope so. What will you say? Is it hot in here, or is it just you? You shake your head. No, that’s lame. You glance up at the star-sprinkled navy blue sky and search your mind for a better chat-up line. Nothing comes to you. Not even the gods can help you with this.
Looking back down, you catch sight of Mrs Norris’s house. Hmm, what’s the miserable bitch doing now? you wonder—she’s probably practising witchcraft. You laugh to yourself, but stop as a figure walks into the view of the top floor window. The light glows behind the figure, illuminating the withered Jack O’ Lantern mask. It’s Halloween; everyone dresses up for Halloween. It can’t be the Jack O’ Lantern Killer. Why would the Killer want to kill a frail elderly woman like Mrs Norris? Yes, she’s a grumpy old woman, who glares at you if you loiter outside of her house and always comments on what people wear, especially if you’re a girl, but she is still a harmless old lady.
The figure raises its arm, bringing a sharp knife into view.
You gasp and look away. You can’t believe it. The Jack O’ Lantern Killer is in Mrs Norris’s house. What are you going to do?
The latest murders in Sandwell have filled both the local and the national news, offline and online, ever since they began on the 1st of October. It is reported a 6-foot man, wearing a withered Jack O’ Lantern mask and dressed all in black, is breaking into his victims’ homes and carving up their faces as if they were pumpkins he was preparing for Halloween.
You check the window. The Killer’s back faces you. Maybe you imagined seeing a knife? It’s easy enough to do at night. You close your eyes and fight to block out your fears, but your mind soon returns to the Jack O’ Lantern Killer.
To date, only one of his victims managed to escape. A 25-year-old woman returned home and found the intruder carving up her best friend and flatmate. Only sheer luck enabled her to escape.
And now this figure stands inside Mrs Norris’s house. You open your eyes and glance around. You need help, but your parents have gone out, and no lights are on in any of the neighbouring houses. They, unlike you, must be out enjoying Halloween. Oh, why did you have to stop here?
You return your attention to the window and gasp. Where has the Killer gone? You don’t have time to get help now. You need to warn Mrs Norris, even though she is a miserable old bitch, she doesn’t deserve to be brutally murdered.
You dart down the path beside Mrs Norris’s front garden, your heart beating in time with your footfalls. You reach the front door, gasping for breath; you should have joined the gym after all. You knock on the door. Come on, come on, you think. No one comes to the door. You hammer the door with your fists. Still, no one comes.
You step away from the front door and move across to the kitchen window. Well, you assume it is the kitchen window—all these ex-council houses tend to be laid out the same. You spot a light on in the distance, and you know the light is on upstairs. So, why isn’t Mrs Norris answering the door? She’s dead! You shake away the thought. No, it can’t be too late.
You run back to the front door and push open the letterbox flap. ‘Mrs Norris, are you there?’ you shout. Oh no, what if you’re too late?
A light appears in the hallway, and padded footsteps approach the door. ‘Who is it? And what’s with all the banging?’ says Mrs Norris.
You shout your name and inform Mrs Norris that you live next door. ‘Please open the door. It’s urgent,’ you say.
Keys rattle in the door. The door slowly opens, and Mrs Norris peeks her head around the door, only allowing her head to be visible. ‘Well, what is it? What do you want? I don’t have anything for trick-or-treaters. And aren’t you too old to be bothering people with this Halloween nonsense?’
‘I’m not a trick-or-treater. It’s important. You need to come with me.’
‘Such nonsense.’ Mrs Norris pulls her head back and pushes the door forward. You can’t allow Mrs Norris to close the door. You could never live with yourself if you allow the Killer to butcher Mrs Norris, leaving her grinning like a demented Cheshire Cat. You shove your foot between the door and the door frame, preventing Mrs Norris from fully closing the door. ‘What are you doing, child?’ She moves back, and the door opens wider.
Now is your chance. You reach inside the house and grab Mrs Norris’s arm. ‘We have to go now,’ you whisper.
Mrs Norris yanks her arm away, pulling you further into the house and unbalancing you. She is stronger than she looks. You quickly regain your balance and scan the area. Where is the Killer?
‘Don’t be silly, such nonsense.’
‘We don’t have time for this. The Jack O’ Lantern Killer is in your house.’ You reach out for Mrs Norris’s arm, but Mrs Norris pulls her arm away from you and moves around you to the open front door.
Mrs Norris glances outside and rubs her chin. ‘Are you alone? Is there any more of you annoying trick-or-treaters?’
‘Yes, I’m alone. And I’m not a trick-or-treater, okay? Please listen to me. We have to go now—’
You grip your fists tight. What was that sound?
It’s coming from the stairs.
You should turn round, but you can’t move. You don’t want to move. You glance at Mrs Norris. She’s staring at something—or someone—behind you. You can’t avoid it any longer. You have to look. You don’t want to look, but you have to. You slowly turn your head.
The Jack O’ Lantern Killer stands on the stairs, three steps up from the ground floor. It’s too late.
You attempt to scream, but only a whimper leaves your lips.
The door slams shut. You face the front door. ‘What are you doing? We need to get out of here before he kills us,’ you shout to Mrs Norris.
Mrs Norris laughs. ‘You are so silly, such nonsense. I’m in no danger. Look.’ She points towards the Killer.
You slowly face the stairs. The Killer still stands on the third step from the ground floor. What is his game? Surely Killers don’t wait to give you a chance to flee?
The Killer removes the mask, and blonde loosely curled hair tumbles down. The Killer smiles sweetly at you, revealing discoloured but straight teeth.
‘This is my granddaughter Annabel. She would never hurt me.’
You slap your head. How could you be so stupid? ‘I’m so sorry. I just saw the mask and freaked out.’ You eye Annabel. Wow, she is tall. She could be a model if only her nose wasn’t so big and her skin so acne-ridden. ‘Right, I better go. I have a party I should be at instead of making myself look like an idiot. Sorry for disturbing you.’ You turn back to Mrs Norris. She locks the front door and pops the key into her apron pocket. ‘What are you doing? I need to leave?’
‘Oh, I’m afraid you won’t be going anywhere. While I’m safe, I can’t say the same for you.’
Nicole J. Simms is a Horror, Fantasy and Crime Writer. More information about her and her writing can be found at http://www.nicole-j-simms.co.uk/