Monday 31 October 2011

Trick or Treat

The kids giggled as they jostled against each other, crowded into the gateway of the house at the end of the road. The dark house, the one they hurried past on those dark winter mornings. Just beyond the main sodium corona of the streetlights, the house brooded, strangled by cruel ivy and silent in its death-throes. Tonight, Hallowe'en, a solitary candle added flickering menace to its usual deathly presence.

The shuffling stopped and the giggling died to hysterical whispers as the trick-or-treaters, costumed denizens of an imagined necropolis, chose a sacrificial victim. "Go on..." they urged each other, "...go on. Ring it!" More playful, nervous crowdplay, pushing forward, pulling back, then inside the perimeter a solitary hero emerged. A young Frankenstein in clumping boots, the scar his mother gave him blazing on his brow, flickering in the guttering candlelight.

Regular breathing stopped, only the occasional gasp betraying the need for oxygen as the silent throng willed the juvenile monster forward. Step by step he paced the garden path until, reaching the darkness of the porch, he was hidden from sight. He reached up and in the dark silence rang the doorbell. Deep in the house a faint and incongruous 'ding-dong' sounded. For a while nothing happened, then the candle-flame briefly flared, as if breathed upon by a ghostly presence and... silence again.

Frankie stepped out of the shadows and raised his arms in a shrug to the crowd of young zombies outside. "Nobody there!" The crowd drew back in horror as, within the darkness of the stoop, a greater darkness appeared. A black hole from which a vaguely human shape emerged. The spectral figure towered above and behind the young daredevil, arms reaching out and forward as if to encloak him. A girl in the crowd yelped in fear and the costumed throng thrashed and dispersed in sheer terror, panicked, high-pitched screams banshee-ing through the night.

Silence returned. In the window the candle flickered and 'Frankie' turned to face his nemesis, golden specks of candlelight illuminating his hopeful cheeks. "Trick or treat?" He asked.

"Where are your friends?" asked the dark wraith.

"Scared." said Frankie. "Ran away."

The dark figure sniffed. "It's cold outside," he opined, "come inside,where it's warm."

Frankie looked back to the street, from where his friends had abandoned him. They would never know his fate. "I like the candle." he offered, "Nice touch, uncle Bryan."

"Power cut." said Bryan, "Come in and have some toffee."

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