Welcome to the special Halloween Full Reads for Excerpt Monday. This month, in addition to our typical excerpt week, we're having a week of full stories written by several fabulous EM writers.
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Please enjoy: Trick or Treat, Slap a Creep - my Hallowe'en young adult short about a date gone wrong.
Trick or Treat, Slap a Creep
By Kendal Ashby
Another scream pierced the night air, followed by the loud screech of a chainsaw. I wrapped my arms around my waist, trying to force my body to stop shaking. I hated scary stuff and that included scary movies and going to Horror Houses.
“He’s cute, huh?” Beside me, my friend pinched my arm, pulling my attention from the looming two-storey mansion in front of us.
My eyes drifted from the Horror House, over toward my date standing in the ticket line ahead of us with Amber’s boyfriend Keith. I shrugged my shoulders and rubbed the red welt from Amber’s pinch. Sure he was cute, I mean, hello, I’ve always been a sucker for the jock type. And Carl did the super cool basketball star better than Zac Efron. He didn’t go to our school, but I’d put money on the fact he played on a sports team at Trinity Prep. I couldn’t deny that my heart skipped a beat when he turned his charming smile on me. I mean come on, the boy had dimples and I’d always been a sucker for them.
“I don’t get his costume though,” Amber whispered.
I did a once over of Carl’s profile, taking in the loose fitting dress pants, crisp white collared shirt and oversize gift tag hanging from his neck; “To Women, from God.” I snorted, but covered it with a giggle. “He’s God’s gift to women.”
Amber’s mouth fell open and a glint of horror flashed in her eyes before a smile cracked her lips. “He’s either very witty or extremely arrogant.”
“The jury’s still out on that one.” I glanced down at my own costume wondering if anyone understood the Astroturf wrapped around my shoes and body, my green dress and the pink flamingo pinned to my shoulder. Amber thought dressing up like a lawn was lame, but I liked it so too freaking bad.
A chill slid over my skin, goosebumps raising the small hairs on the back of my neck as someone’s scream echoed deep in the belly of the house. It was as though an ice cube had melted down my back. A masculine laugh vibrated next to me and my eyes snapped up to Carl standing beside me. “You look scared to death, Jaclyn, and we aren’t even inside yet. Chickening out, babe?”
“No.” I wanted to say yes. Would I come off like a complete wimp? I gritted my teeth together and forced a smile. “I’m in.”
“If you’d rather skip it, I’m sure we could find something else to amuse ourselves with until Keith and Alice are done.”
“Amber.” I corrected him, not really sure I liked the suggestive tone of “something else”.
He grinned down at me and squinted one eye shut in what I guessed was a wink. He swung an arm over my shoulder and pulled me close to his side. I strained to not cough as a strong whiff of cologne penetrated my nostrils.
Our foursome moved forward in line, inching our way closer to the ticket booth. I gave the booth a fleeting look and my eyes locked with the guy sitting on a stool collecting money. His brown eyes almost glowed in the setting sunlight, glinting with a hint of gold. The tight line of his lips betrayed the humour I thought I saw reflecting in his eyes. His coffee brown hair brushed the collar of his black long sleeve hoodie, giving him a shaggy dog look. One eyebrow arched high in question, almost in a challenge. Heat flushed up my neck and my cheeks tingled. I quickly turned away from Shaggy.
The arm draped over my shoulder slid low around my waist, hovering inches about my Astroturf ass. My spine snapped rim-rod straight and I glanced at Amber for help, but her tongue was currently shoved down Keith’s throat. I almost choked, feeling panic claw at my throat when Carl’s hand moved lower to rest on my butt cheek.
Amber and Keith stopped their groping and turned to Shaggy. “Four tickets please.”
Shaggy took Keith’s money, but his attention kept drifting to me. Creepy Carl’s hand gripped a bit of my turf and I jumped, moving a few inches forward and away from his touch.
A hyper bundle of black hopped into the ticket booth behind Shaggy. “Time to switch, Dude.”
I kept my eyes cast down at the hard ground, but watched as Shaggy traded places with his co-worker through my thick eyelashes. He looked back at me, hesitating for a moment before pulling open a side door and disappearing.
“This is going to be great,” Keith said, pulling Amber close to him. “I hear over a thousand people chickened out last year.”
Given half a chance I’d gladly be on that list this year. I looked wearily at the house. The blacked out windows stared at me, sending a violent shiver of dread shooting through my body.
The fast, hard rap of my heart against my ribs seemed to be a message of warning.
“Just stick close to me and you’ll be fine.” Carl whispered in my ear, his hot breath blanketing me and did nothing to calm the wave of horror flooding my body.
Keith handed out the tickets and gestured for us to move up onto the porch and wait at the front door. The wooden steps groaned under our weight and a voice boomed over a hidden speaker. “Welcome to Cardin’s Haunted house of Nightmares. Once you pass through this door you’re mine, so if you’re going to chicken out, do it now. Otherwise prepare to experience fright like never before.” An evil throaty laugh crackled, and the floorboards vibrated under my feet. I jumped and clung to the nearest person to me -- Creepy Carl. His arms circled around my waist and held me close. He snickered and I resisted the urge to hit him. I gave a pleading look at Amber, but she seemed to be enjoying Keith’s attention.
The front door scraped open and a long bony finger reached out and crooked back, gesturing us to enter. To hell with it. If I was going to be on edge it might as well be from the horror house and not my date. I pushed past Carl and entered the dark foyer. A cracked mirror hung on the wall with tacky blood red velvet wallpaper. The mirror fogged up, distorting my image and like a ghost was writing in the fog, the words “Get Out” appeared. The sinister fun house trick did its job in freaking me out, but I refused to cling to Carl no matter what twisted and sick things this house contained.
I narrowed my eyes and looked behind me at Amber. She shrugged her shoulders and gave me a thumbs up sign. This date sucked. Carl lingered too close for comfort, making my skin crawl like a thousand ticks were latching onto me. When his hand rested at the small of my back, I moved forward, following the arrow leading to the winding staircase. Cobwebs clung to the walls and fake plastic spiders the size of my fist were weaved in the sticky webs. Something scurried across a step and I bit back a scream. Amber sobbed and grabbed Keith, wailing how frightened she was.
I tried hard to ignore the jerks behind me, especially the one groping my backside, and kept my attention focused on the doorway looming at the top of the staircase. Blood pounded in my ears so loudly it almost blocked out the eerie sounds filtering through the rest of the house. Somewhere below me a chainsaw ripped to life and screams filtered through the entire building.
I struggled to mentally draw a floor plan, remembering we where we’d been and where that chainsaw might be. I swallowed pass the lump of fear lodged in my throat and looked at the darkened doorway in front of me. Sweat prickled at the edge of my hairline, but I refused to wipe it away.
“Which way do we go now?” Amber asked eyeing the four doors leading off the hallway.
“You guys go in that one and we’ll go here. See you at the end...if you make it out alive.”
Keith’s attempt at a disturbing laugh was spine-chilling as he tugged Amber down the hallway and disappeared into one of the open doors. I couldn’t stop the shudder as I stared into the void of blackness in front of me.
“Frightened?” Humour laced Carl’s voice as he whispered the question in my ear. “Remember, I’m here to protect you.” His hands circled around my waist and he pulled me back against his body.
I tried to step away but he didn’t get the hint and stepped forward with me. I sighed and said, “I’m good.”
“Are you sure, babe?” His suggestive purr and wandering hands were starting to really piss me off.
“Look jerk, back off,” I hissed the words between clenched teeth and pulled away creating a barrier with my raised palms. A look of shock followed quickly by disgust flashed across his face and I didn’t give a flying fuck if God’s gift to women didn’t want a second date.
“Fine. Good luck getting out of here by yourself.” Anger blazed in his clear blue eyes like flames from a gas burner. He turned and stomped away from me, disappearing into one of the doorways. A mixture of relief and panic collided together in a cold sweat within me.
A menacing howl followed by shrieks came through the walls and I twisted on one foot, looking behind me. My heart hammered inside my chest, beating so fast it was painful against my ribcage. I stepped into the room, letting the dark swallow me. My eyes strained to adjust until I could finally make the outline of two bodies sitting on a parlour couch. As my vision got accustomed to the dim light, I could see the bloody scene laid out before me. Mannequins. Blood stained the walls, looking like something out of a T.V. crime scene show. I never miss an episode of Dexter and I bet he would have a freaking hay day with the blood splatter patterns in this room.
If I had half a brain cell I’d turn around, go back down the stairs, exit the front door, text Amber goodbye and call mom to come pick me up. But something burned in my gut, making me take another step into the gruesome room. I hated to be challenged, and Creepy Carl had basically called me a coward.
I studied the scene of blood and guts meticulously set up. The fake blood glistened in the dim light, giving the illusion of being fresh. The woman’s head rested at a broken angle, her glassy dead eyes staring at me. I fought the shiver that rippled through my body, and managed to suppress it. I moved through the room to the door behind the repugnant scene. It’s all fake, I repeated over and over in my head, just some lame horror house tricks meant to freak idiots like me who paid for cheap thrills.
The door creaked open and a rumble of maniacal laughter erupted. I paused, my feet not wanting to move forward. Sucking in air between clenched teeth, my eyes darted left and right, straining to see into the dim corners. Black curtains draped along the wall, rippling with movement. I had to walk by. I stopped and stared at them, but my oversaturated brain was so hopped up on adrenaline that I was pretty sure I’d imagined the movement. My jaw ached from grinding my teeth together, so I tried to relax and calm my racing pulse. Nothing in here would hurt me.
A bat swooped down and brushed the top of my hair. My lungs burned from the loud scream that ripped from my throat. I ducked and covered my head, cowering on the floor. My eyes darted wildly around the room searching for that rabid infested flying rat.
The “bat” hung loosely on a string, swaying back and forth. I stood up and flicked the rubber toy away, making a mental note to kill Amber later.
I couldn’t help but giggle a little, and it came out as a nervous hiccup, verging on a snort. I walked a few more feet into the room, eyeing the exit on the opposite side. Time to pick up the pace and get out of this fun house for freaks.
A second bat swung down inches from my face, but I ignored it. Fool me once...
A hand reached out and grabbed my shoulder. Everything rushed together at once. My scream was covered by a chainsaw’s wailing on the floor below me. I pivoted and landed a knee in the jackass’ groin. Creepy Carl fell to the ground clutching his damaged privates and I couldn’t help but smile. This jerk needed to learn to keep his hands to himself.
“I told you to leave me alone, you jerk.”
He grunted and raised a hand in protest. Maybe he thought I was going to hit him again. I smiled at the thought. But something wasn’t right. Carl wasn’t wearing a black shirt. I leaned closer and saw the dark shaggy hair now. Oh. My. God.
“Are you okay?” I crouched on the ground beside Shaggy from the ticket booth. “I’m so sorry!”
He wheezed a ragged breath and tried to smile up at me, but it came out more like a crooked grin of pain. “Job hazard. I’ve been punched out by a three hundred pound guy before for touching his arm.” He sucked in air and struggled to his feet.
“Sorry, I thought you were my date.” Part of me felt guilty -- a small part -- the guy still tried to grab me. But I guess he was only doing his job.
His dark eyes glimmered with humour. “Is this the way you treat all your dates?”
I smiled, “Only the ones that try to grope me without permission.”
He nodded and a small smile tugged his lips upward. The stairs squeaked from the hallway behind us and a guy and girl argued loudly. Apparently someone else wasn’t impressed with a haunted house as a great date night. “Hide here. Looks like my next victims are coming.”
Shaggy pushed me behind the black curtain and pulled two strings taunt against his chest. We stood with our backs to the wall and our shoulder brushing each other. “I’ll get you out of here as soon as these guys pass through, okay? But stay quiet while I do my thing.”
“Your thing?” I covered my mouth to muffle a giggle. He winked at me, before pressing a finger to his lip signalling for me to remain quiet. He adjusted his tight grip on the strings and we waited.
Our “victims” tiptoed into the room, the floorboard sighing under the new weight.
“You go first.” A female voice whispered. Someone exhaled noisily as the two crept further into the room.
Shaggy let go of one of the strings and a blood curdling screams echoed in the room.
“What?” The guy’s voice pitched high with fear.
“Something flew by me!”
The guy laughed and I had to wrap my arms around my waist to stop from erupting in a fit of laughter. Shaggy leaned over and put a hand over my mouth. He whispered an inch from my ear, “Wait here, but don’t laugh and ruin it.”
I nodded and he removed his hand at the same time he released the second string.
Curse words broke the silence as the guy frantically swiped away the flying toy that buzzed his head. Shaggy reached out from our hiding place and a girlish shriek pierced my ear drums.
I shook, trying to not to make a sound, but the second the guy and girl bolted from the room I collapsed behind the curtain in a fit of hysterical laughter.
“Pretty cool, huh?” Shaggy’s smile was so wide it showed his pearly white molars.
“Only if you aren’t on the receiving end,” I muttered as I managed to catch my breath and looked around the room. It really wasn’t all that scary. My attention drifted back to Shaggy when I felt his eyes on me.
A dim light filtered through the curtain and I saw his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed. He hesitated before saying, “Come on, I’ll show you out.”
I nodded and I felt a flush of disappointment. We stood up and he pushed opened a panel behind the black curtain I hadn’t noticed before. A set of stairs lead down to the main floor, and even though the stairs were narrow, they were well lit. Shaggy paused on the landing to the main floor. “Do you want to see something?”
“Sure.” I shrugged, not really eager to end our time together yet. Something about the way his chocolate brown eyes watched me, made me melt a bit.
He flicked a light switch and the staircase plunged into darkness. I instinctively reached out to grab the handrail but found his arm instead. He gently guided me toward him and my heart pounded like a steel drum in my ears. He placed me in front of him, facing me toward the wall.
“Remember to be quiet.”
His whispered warning sent a chill of anxiety through my entire body, but it wasn’t the same kind of on-guard warning bells Creepy Carl evoked in me. Shaggy leaned forward and touched the wall. A panel slide silently to the side and I got a view of a small parlor furnished in old Victorian style.
“Do you see that rat on the ground near the door?” His breath blanketed my neck.
I slowly bobbed my head, my ear brushing his hair as it fell forward while he leaned over me. I wasn’t sure I could speak with his body so close to mine.
“Next person to walk through the door, press this button.” His hand covered mine and guided it to a switch on the wall beside us. He left his warm hand placed over mine, and butterflies tickled the inside of my stomach.
We waited in silence, knowing our next victim would be along any second. I tried to focus on the room but couldn’t stop thinking about the cute guy leaning only inches away from me. Or about his long fingers that rested on top of mine, or how when he shifted he brushed against my Astroturf. Oh God, maybe being a lawn was lame.
“Here they come,” he whispered.
And by “they” he meant him. Creepy Carl sauntered into the room, bitter disgust distorting the face I once thought handsome. He started to cross the room and I felt Shaggy’s hand guide my fingers to flick the switch. The rat moved forward and almost tripped Carl. He jumped back and gasped, but never really lost his composure as the rat disappeared under the couch across the walkway. Disappointment flooded through me.
“Try this one when I say to.”
I nodded, letting his hand move mine down to a button mounted below the switch. We watched in silence, only our shallow breathing in the darkened stairwell making a sound. Carl neared a closed door and I took fleeting pleasure when his hand paused for a second on the door.
He twisted the doorknob and slowly pulled it open.
I slammed my palm into the button and a chainsaw ripped to life, its metal teeth grinding loudly. Carl jumped six feet back and screamed louder than any teenage girl I’d ever heard. The chainsaw revved its motor when I smashed the button again. Curse words flowed out, mixed with sobs of panic and he bolted from the room.
I fell back against Shaggy, my knees weakened with uncontrollable laughing. Shaggy laughed behind me, and his closeness vibrated through his chest and into my body. Tears pooled at the corner of my eyes, and I swiped them away.
“He...he ran...like...” I could hardly breathe, let alone speak. I gulped in massive amounts of air, trying to gain control, but when I turned to look at Shaggy, his expression sent me off on another bout of giggles.
“If you ever need a job, I think we can arrange something.” Shaggy said, a playful grin lifting the corners of his lips.
“I’d settle for a date.” I wanted to smack my head against the wall the second I realized what I’d said. Holy mother of God! Heat flooded across my face and I was sure I was turning five shades of embarrassed. “I, uhm, should go.”
I pushed away from the wall needing to escape, but Shaggy caught my arm. I stopped and his fingers lingered, sending little ripples of excitement through me, mixing with my burning humiliation.
“Are you free tomorrow night?”
My mouth dropped open and I forced it to close as I bobbed my head up and down. He pulled out his cell phone and we exchanged information. Vince. Yeah, he reminded me of a Vince.
“I have to get back to work but I’ll pick you up tomorrow at seven. We can go see the new Halloween movie if you want.” He said as we emerged from the hidden staircase to the outside. Fresh, crisp air tingled against my hot skin. “But I hear it’s really scary. If you would rather pass, we could do something else.”
I knew I was grinning like a fool, but I couldn’t contain the smile forcing itself on my lips. “Nope, I love scary things.”
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