Going Postal, IX

Continued from “Going Postal, I,” “Going Postal, II,” “Going Postal, III,” “Going Postal, IV,” “Going Postal, V,” “Going Postal, VI,” “Going Postal, VII,” and “Going Postal, VIII.”

“I know you’re thinking, Ron. Out with it now.”

He didn’t look at her right off, just rocked back and forth on those big, capable feet in their big, capable shoes. His hands clasped from one hold to another behind his back.

“Ronald Richardson! Don’ you keep your back to me!” She used her I-love-you-but-you’d-better-answer-me tone, sure he could feel her scowl through his flannel shirt.

Rock. Rock. Stop. Ron’s shaggy head of white bent to stare at his toes then turned to cough in his hand. “Dunno, Carol.” He looked back at her and his smile didn’t reach his eyes. “You sure he needs to come here?”

Carol tried to stand up straighter. Standing straight hadn’t been easy since her surgery, but she managed. Still, she sighed. “Yes, Hon’. That’s what he said. That’s what we ‘greed.”

He faced the door again. “Just a few months?”

“Yes.”

“He knows?”

Yes, Ron.”

A nod.

Then, they both heard it: a car engine outside. Wheels stopping. Engine stopping. Doors opened and shut. Feet walked up the sidewalk and Carol pictured her prized daffodils and pansies to either side of the coming feet.

*Knock* *Knock*

Ron paused to cough again; he’d been at it for weeks now. Breathing out, he shuffled to the door and opened it up. There, on her clean front porch, stood a man in a suit and mask and gloves and …a hooligan. The hooligan smiled. “Uncle Ron!”

When he spoke, Carol saw that this was her sister’s daughter’s boy -why her sister hadn’t intervened when her daughter turned up with that biker years ago, Carol had never known, and now look at where it’d led…

For his part, Ron stepped forward with a hand out. “Hiya, Marty.” She heard the friendly smile in Ron’s voice. “Hey, Marty’s …

“State-assigned escort,” the man in the mask said.

*Hm-hmm* “Hello, Marty’s escort. Come on in.”

And, just like that, The Suit and The Hooligan walked into her front room. She tried a smile; tried a friendly way of greeting without shaking. Marty -little Martin who snitched an extra cookie and stuck his tongue out at her; little Martin who’d dug up her flowers and thrown them at the mailman; Martin who became Marty and whose mom had called Carol’s sister in tears so many times it was no wonder they both passed on before Carol- that Marty smiled right back at her and walked forward with his arms wide out.

“Aunt Carol! How are ya?”

She let him hug her and patted at him in return, grateful she wasn’t wearing any valuable jewelry.

Continue to “Going Postal, X.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Going Postal, VI

Continued from “Going Postal, I,” “Going Postal, II,” “Going Postal, III,” “Going Postal, IV,” and “Going Postal, V.”

*Tick* *tick* *tick*

The kitchen clock pecked at Carol’s attention from its wall perch, a room away. She frowned and tried to focus on her TV show and her loop count. Once the clock hands touched eight and three; she’d sighed, put Ron’s supper in the fridge, and shuffled to the sitting room.

“I Love Lucy” was meant to block the ticking. The waiting.

The Corner to Corner crochet was meant to block the cold. The chills.

Maybe winter still hung around. Maybe she’d picked up a little something from her job at the airport.

Carol took a shaky breath. She’d been finding breathing harder than usual. No matter; a little eucalyptus and lavender could cure that right up. She’d be sure to mix some into the humidifier before turning in.

*Tick* *CLICK* *tick*

Nine o’clock. Where was that man? Carol had half a mind to suggest Ron go back to machining, maybe even try retirement. They could do it, now that they’d both been working a good long while and had almost paid her cancer bills. She’d been in remission for two whole years. His itchy nature could be satisfied with projects ’round the house, surely. She’d bring it up again, once he’d eaten some supper and settled down in his recliner.

A noise scramble-scritched at the door; his key in the lock. The front door opened with a screech and Ron stood against the dark spring night.

He coughed. “‘Mornin’, Care-all,” he said, smiling. He always smiled when he made that joke.

Carol looked cross, her usual response. “Now, Ron. You know it ain’t mornin’ and I ain’t yer Care-all.”

Closing the door behind him and locking it, he smiled the smile she’d loved since the day they’d met. He cleared his throat. “Reckon I picked up a cold somewhere,” he said. “Gotta get a drink.”

“All righty, Ron.” She looked down at her stitches as he walked past her to the kitchen. “Yer supper’s in there, too!”

She heard his big footsteps all over her just-mopped floor and hoped he hadn’t trailed in any mud. Once, he’d trailed in dog poop and she’d made him wipe it all up. She sighed; just another part of his job she’d rather do without.

Lucy and Ethel were stuffing chocolates in their mouths on the TV. Carol laughed to herself; good old Lucy.

Carol started a new row.

Lucy stuffed chocolates into her uniform.

Carol finished the row and started a new one.

“Had to report to the city today,” Ron said, coming from behind with his food. He coughed again, against his shoulder. She watched him settle into his old recliner, both creaking and moaning.

“Oh?” Credits ran down the screen and her finger held the loop.

He selected a carrot, whirled it in mashed potatoes and topped it with some hearty roast beef. “‘Said I needed to not deliver to wrong houses.” In went his fork.

She made a noise like their furnace when it didn’t want to spark. Ron caught her eye; he had such nice eyes. He nodded, swallowed, and smiled his sideways smile. “Well! Don’ that beat all!” she exclaimed.

“Ye-ep.”

“Well! …Well!”

He helped himself to the rest of his supper.

“Watcha gonna do, Ron?” Some warning about staying inside flashed on the TV. Holding her stitch with one hand, she switched the screen off with the remote.

He shrugged. “‘Could always work with Marty.”

Carol dropped her stitch. She faked a laugh. “Right.”

“I might be serious.”

She looked at her hands, pretending on finding her yarn again. “Well …it’s a good thing he’s not outta prison, then.”

Now he laughed, but it wasn’t his happy one. “Right.”

Continued with “Going Postal, VII.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard since last week’s contest. No -I’m certain I laughed even more this morning. My four-year-old kept looking up from whatever-he’s-getting-into-so-I-can-write and asked if I was all right. Repeatedly.

I’m in favor of calling everyone a winner. Buuuuut… two poems had the same level of my definition of terrible poetry; so, in a first-ever gesture, I am assigning two winners:

Awake in a Manger

by Molly Stevens

Awake in a manger
His bed lined with straw
The little Lord Jesus
Looked up at his maw.

With a moo moo here and a moo moo there
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo.

The mother and father
Looked down where he lay

With a neigh neigh here and and a neigh neigh there
Here a neigh, there a neigh, everywhere a neigh neigh.

The little Lord Jesus
Let out a great bray.

Hush little baby don’t say a word
Mama’s given birth in an animal herd.
If that animal herd don’t sleep
Mama’s gonna fall apart and weep.

I love thee Lord Jesus, but I beg thee and pray,
Give me relief, some sign of your presence.
Hark! The herald angels looked down on the fray,
And sent down a helper – an angel named Clarence.

Now every time there’s a crying King
An angel gets at least one wing.
E-I-E-I-O.

—–AND—–

Christmas Cheers

by Gerard LaDamus

Christmas time is here,
Christmas time is near,
Let’s have a Christmas beer,
For the New Year

Good times we will have,
With Santa and the elfes,
A true Christmas blessing,
Having Zen on our shelves

Let the bubbly flow,
Soon we’ll be kissing under the mistletoe,
Toss the figgy pudding,
Nobody likes that crap, who are we kidding

Christmas presents wrapped with care,
Let’s hope jolly ol’ Saint Nick soon appears,
Maybe I’ll get a rabbit or a hare,
It’s better than a box of Bartlett pears

Baby it’s cold outside,
Get close by my side,
Let’s make an Christmas elf,
We can name him Relph

Christmas time is here,
Christmas time is near,
Let’s have a Christmas beer
For the New Year

—–

Congratulations, Molly and Gerard! You are the Most Terrible Poets of the week. Share the crown, I suppose. Sing to all of your terrible prose!

Molly had me cringing as I chuckled, at her insertions of mismatched chorus in her traditional carol. I started laughing aloud at the baby braying and could only feel admiration as my poetic sensibilities were twisted uncomfortably for the remainder of the poem.

Gerard, a first-time contestant (welcome!), dashed away with those same sensibilities at his terrible meter, timing, spelling, and subject matter. I mean –what is this song about? Admittedly, the element that bumped him to first was ‘elfes’ and ‘Relph.’ Argh.

Do yourself a solid, and read (sing?) the rest of these. If I could find music for all of them, I’d offer to release a Christmas album for you all:

Yuletide balls

by Bruce Goodman

We’re hanging our balls on the tree
pa rum pum pum pum
We got them at various shopping malls
pa rum pum pum pum
They come in all shapes and colors
pa rum pum pum pum
And some of the balls are our mother’s
pa rum pum pum pum

Chorus:
Balls! Balls! Wonderful yuletide balls!
We’re hanging them on the tree
There’s nothing to match them
I warn you – don’t scratch them
Everyone who sees them is filled with admiration
If the tree and balls catch on fire there’ll be a conflagration.

Everyone who sees them shine bright
pa rum pum pum pum
Says see how they catch the light all through the silent night
pa rum pum pum pum
After we’ve finished hanging our balls
pa rum pum pum pum
We’re going to start making the hors (hors should rhyme with balls if you’re reading it our aloud)
d’oeuvre
pa rum pum pum pum
For Christmas dinner
pa rum pum pum pum

Chorus:
Balls! Balls! Wonderful yuletide balls!
We’re hanging them on the tree.
There’s nothing to match them.
Be careful not to scratch them.
Everyone who sees them is filled with admiration
If the tree and balls catch on fire there’ll be a conflagration.
Alleluia!

—–

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, by Death Metal Grunge

by Death Metal Grunge (AKA Bladud Fleas)

ChrissmaaassChrissmaaasChrissmaaas
CHRISSSSMAAAAAASSSS
ChrissmaaassChrissmaaasChrissmaaas
CHRISSSSMAAAAAASSSS
EEEUGHHHHCHRISSMAAAAAAS

Gotta dead tree an painted all the chrissmas lights blaaack
Got yooza present, here’s the receipt, so you can take it baaaaack
To Waaaal-maaaart. Yeah, shame they don’t do death head tattooooos
Cos that is what I wooda bought for yooz. Yeah.

ChrissmaaassChrissmaaasChrissmaaas
CHRISSSSMAAAAAASSSS
ChrissmaaassChrissmaaasChrissmaaas
CHRISSSSMAAAAAASSSS
EEEUGHHHHCHRISSMAAAAAAS

Decorated the room and nailed my sock above the FIRE
If I said it didn’t hurt a bit I’d be a LIAR
It’d learn me to take my foot outta it BEFORE
But the blood splatter goes with the gizzards and the GORE

YEEAAH Santa’s gonna puke.
ChrissmaaassChrissmaaasChrissmaaas
CHRISSSSMAAAAAASSSS
ChrissmaaassChrissmaaasChrissmaaas
CHRISSSSMAAAAAASSSS
EEEUGHHHHCHRISSMAAAAAAS

(ad lib & fade)

—–

Reindeer’s Fly at Night

by Anneberly

Sung to the tune of “Christmas Don’t be Late”

Reindeer’s, reindeer’s in the sun
Sleep for hours and have no fun
They can’t cook, nor can they bake
Lazy reindeer’s, need to wake
Santa’s sleigh is packed with toys
For all the lil’ girls and boys
Sun has set, the moon is bright
These reindeer’s fly at night

Santa’s sleigh is packed with toys
For all the lil’ girls and boys
Sun has set, the moon is bright
These reindeer’s fly at night

Sun has set, the moon is bright
These reindeer’s fly at night

—–

Untitled piece

by D. Wallace Peach

Sung to the tune of We Three Kings

We three drunks of the neighborhood bar
Pounding shots we daren’t drive the car
Bloody Mary, beer and brandy
Oh my gosh, I’m seeing stars

Bourbon, I love you, high as a kite
Bar with a mirror lit up so bright
To the gutter leading, hope I’m not bleeding
Guide us to thy Michelob Light

Chicken wings, my mouth is on fire
Give me a pint to douse the hot pyre
Drunks forever, barfing never
Karaoke carols join the choir

Oh-ohhhh, bar of wonder, bar of blight
Bar of cocktails, blurry-eyed sight
Olives and cherries, I’m feeling merry
Cheers to a tipsy Christmas night!

—–

Candy Canes

by Ruth Scribbles

Sung to the tune of “Deck the Halls”

Line the streets with sugary treats

La fa la fa la, fa la fa la

‘Tis, time to sleep and not make merry

La fa la fa la, fa la fa la

Merry is as merry does

La fa la fa la, fa la fa la

Does the candy go buzz buzz?

La fa la fa la, fa la fa la

*

Merry Jane is insane

La fa la fa la, fa la fa la

She puffs a pipe and always gripes

La fa la fa la, fa la fa la

If you give her some advice

La fa la fa la fa la fa la

She will turn you into ice

La fa la fa la fa la fa la

—–

Mingle Smells

by Peregrine Arc

Sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells”

Mingle smells, mingle smells
I have tooth decay
Oh what fun, it is to say
You smell like puke today.

Dashing through the roads
In a stolen minivan
Past the cops we go
Laughing all the way
Ha ha hah!

Cops on phones do ring
Making handcuffs tight
Oh what fun it is to run
From committing crimes tonight!

Oh! Mingle smells, mingle smells
I have tooth decay
Oh what fun, it is to say
You smell like puke today.

Oh! Mingle smells, mingle smells
I have tooth decay
Oh what fun, it is to say
You smell like puke today…

—–

All I Want for Christmas

by Natalie K.

All I Want for Christmas

All I want for a Christmas is a kid who eats,
A kid who eats,
A kid who eats.

Oh, all I want for Christmas is a kid who eats,
Then I could have a Merry Christmas.

It seems so long since I’ve not said,
“You didn’t eat your dinner, so no snacks in bed”.
It seems so long since I was glad,
Not sitting at the table and getting mad.

All I want for Christmas is a kid who eats,
A kid who eats,
Oh, a kid who eats.

Gee, if I could only have a kid who eats,
Then I could have a merry Christmas!

—–

Christmas Chaos

by Brad (Writing to Freedom)

Technically this was written for last week’s theme, but we’ll go with it!

Twas the night before Christmas and chaos filled the house

Elves were chasing Santa’s mouse

Mrs. Claus was posing with a potted Dancer

Vixen was determined to ride Prancer

cups were flowing with spiked nog

creating a bit of a toy backlog

yuletide traditions were put aside

preparing for a naughty sleigh ride

with visions of mischief and merriment

Santa long past the age of retirement

this tale has gone awry

on Comet, on Cupid, it’s time to fly

You were all wonderfully awful! Come back the Saturday after Christmas to enter again!

john-christian-fjellestad-477604-unsplash

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

WELCOME to another Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest! This is #6, but I’m just asking for work to keep numbering them.

I recommend reading about how to write terrible poetry. Read these rules, then enter:

  1. The topic is Horrible Christmas Song Lyrics. Yep -we’re going there.
    I intend to not do a contest after this, because of Christmas, so this is the last time you’ll have to hear 🎵 “Sir, I want buy these shoes…” 🎶
  2. Keep the song short enough that you can write it and still spend time with family; also so that we don’t all want to wring your neck.
  3. It’s gotta rhyme. Dude, it’s a song.
  4. Remember: make it terrible. My seven-year-old will want to sing it over and over and over and over and -you get the idea. -Not that I want it to feature underpants. Please.
  5. Keep it PG-Rated. Like I said: my kid will be singing it.

Think you can do it? You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (December 21, 2018) to submit.

Post your poem or the specific link to it in the comments.

john-christian-fjellestad-477604-unsplash.jpg

Hallowe’en Serial: Final Night

Continued from #6.

*Bhrmmmm* *Bhrmmmm* buzzed the phone. Carol kept glancing at its screen to see if Miss Ziegenbusch had picked up yet.

She even knew where the woman lived, as Carol also did the job of Payroll Clerk and Human Resources Department. She did everything except attend pointless meetings, glad-hand clients, and look pretty at the front desk.

Hiring the current secretary, the woman she was now trying to reach, had not actually been Carol’s decision. Nor had retaining her.

“Hello?” said the phone. Carol’s car wobbled in its lane as she fumbled to answer.

“Hello?” –What was her name again?– “Um, Shelly?”

“It’s Cindy. Who’s this?”

“Cindy.” Right. “This is Carol Carter. Um, from work.”

…. “Oh.” …. “Uh, this isn’t the best time right now, Carol-”

For some reason, Carol felt she needed to be completely honest. “I’m being chased by something!”

She heard a gasp, then, “You are? Wait -is it that werewolf thing?”

Carol took a turn gasping. “How did you know?”

“Out of curiosity,” Cindy asked, “Has your radio also been playing songs based on what’s happening?”

Carol felt she was seeing herself from far away. Someone else was driving her car at dangerous speeds down the highway. Someone else was holding a cell phone with a grip like a vise. Someone else, surely, was doing all of these things at …she checked the clock on the dash…

At midnight. It was now Halloween.

“Carol?” Cindy’s voice called from the phone.

“I- I’m here,” Carol answered, pressing her phone closer to her ear.

Cindy sighed. “I thought so. Hey, I’m sorry for any bad feelings between us; but I really need to tell you something -something big.”

Carol wasn’t sure what Cindy could define as ‘big’ after her other revelations. “O…kay?”

“Um,” Cindy began. “You know that werewolf thing?”

As if on cue, Carol heard the tell-tale, Owooooooooo! She realized it had come through the phone, from Cindy’s end. “Cindy?!” she asked, in a panic.

“Oh shit.” Cindy said. “Um, sorry for swearing. I gotta go. …Basement…”

“Cindy?!”

“Yeah…?” Her breathing was more rapid. Carol could hear a door slam and hard steps on echoing stairs.

“What was the ‘big’ thing about the werewolf?”

Cindy paused. A cupboard from her end creaked, then Carol heard the unmistakable sound of a large gun being cocked. “Carol,” Cindy said, “That werewolf is Carl C. Carter. Your husband. I gotta go.”

And Carol was left alone, with the dead sound of a disconnected phone.

Hallowe’en Serial, 6th Night

Continued from #5.

Carol’s sharp, hasty turn brought her inches from a semi-truck approaching in the opposite lane. Its blaring-horn *Mruuuuuwwwmph!* trailed off behind her as she continued down the road at breakneck speed.

*Oh the werewolf, oh the werewolf / Comes a-stepping along* ♪

Her eyes flitted to the radio; back to the road. Werewolf? she thought. And, How in the heck does the radio know?

♫ *…Once I saw him in the moonlight, when the bats were a flying….* ♪

She chanced another look in the rearview mirror, yet could not see anything. The road was dark and ill-populated. She’d chosen to head East, away from the storm and towards the highway. She hoped to outrun the werewolf -or whatever it was- or at least discourage its following her.

The song stopped and “Thriller” began playing. “I’ve already heard that one,” she muttered, and switched to a new station.

“We’re here with Sergeant Riding to get the latest on this breaking story…” a businesslike female voice said. Carol’s hand, which had been hovering over the controls, slowly drifted back.

“Well,” a gruff male voice began, “We can’t say for sure what’s going on. We’ve had a lot of different reports. What we can say is that everyone ought to stay inside until we have a lead on this case.”

“Sergeant,” the female voice again. “Are you saying we’re on lockdown?”

The man laughed a short, humorless snort. “Now, we’re not trying to scare anybody. It’s more the advice that, if you want to stay safe, you’ll stay inside right now. Oh, and get your pets in real quick, too.”

“We-e-e-ell, I’m sure that’s all we have time for now.” The female reporter sounded worried to Carol. “Be sure to tune in next time for -Eeeeeeeaaaahhhh!”

*Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

Carol sat in shock. She was hurtling down a city road at 50 mph, but still felt numb. Slowly, she reached up and pushed Power Off on the dead radio station. She didn’t know where to go or who to contact; it sounded like the whole world was going crazy.

Slowing enough to multi-task, she pulled her phone to within visual range.

She had never, ever in her life used her phone while driving, a minor point of contention between her and her missing husband. But she was already finding herself breaking all sorts of personal and written laws in the face of potential death and dismemberment.

Scrolling carefully down her Contacts list, she tried to think of who she could call on a night like this. Anyone she was close to would not be awake to answer, nor would believe such a ridiculous story as she would tell if he or she answered.

“Gardener, Lawrence, Schwartz, Warner… Ziegenbusch.” At literally the end of her list, she paused over the last last name. Was she really desperate enough to try her nemesis, the front desk secretary?

Taking a deep breath, she pressed her finger on the Call icon. And waited.

Continued and ended at #7.

Hallowe’en Serial, 5th Night

Continued from #4.

Like any sane woman with a few self-defense classes under her belt, Carol panicked. “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” she screamed and flailed around helplessly. Fortunately for her, her left elbow bumped the Door Lock button mid-flail.

She heard the lock engage in the driver’s door just as the owner of the glowing eyes suddenly threw itself at her window. “Eeeeeeeeeeaaaaaahg!” she screamed again, and fell over the middle console to get away. Teeth, tongue, dark fur, manic red eyes, and long, long claws scrabbled at the window. The claws were the worst; each *Screeeee!* leaving a line behind and surely weakening the surface.

Carol looked around her small car, wishing for anything that might help her. The most lethal object she saw was a pen. She didn’t keep so much as a snow scraper handy in the front seat, believing all tools belonged in the trunk.

*Critch* went the window-glass, just as she spotted the garage door opener. A hasty getaway was her only chance, storm or no. She stretched up and pressed it, a brief relief touching her panic as the door to outside lifted.

Her attacker paused, distracted. She was surprised to notice he appeared to have remains of clothing on his …person. Carol squinted and could make out a few torn, striped strips, buttons, a cuff; maybe what once was a pair of khakis. The feral animal turned back to look at her; its brow lowered into a scowl. Carol could hear it growling as she saw its lip curl up in a malicious grin.

The creature squatted, then leapt. She heard a *thump* above her and watched its back legs and bushy tail thrashing through the driver’s side window a half-second before she realized what it was doing. “Eeek!” she squeaked out as the horrific face appeared in the passenger side, upside-down. She watched the whole of its body fall across the window, then was treated to the same desperate scrabbling on the starboard side. The attacks were more forced, more rapid this time. The car rocked on its suspensions; the glass creaked and cracked.

Before she had time to talk herself out of it, Carol slid back into the driver’s seat and started the engine. ♪ *…they don’t know -When / its coming,  / oh when / but its coming* ♫… crooned the radio. She put the car into Reverse and gunned it as she never had in her entire life.

♫ *Keep the car running* ♫

The poor sedan lurched and whined, hopping down the driveway in short, lame bursts. She smelt burning. The car was old, but hadn’t shown any signs of failure recently. She looked up and saw the hairy creature rising from where it had fallen in her hasty escape. Why couldn’t she go?! And then she saw the parking brake.

Without hesitation, she released it with a *Clunk*. The car shot backwards and collided into and up the opposite curb before she eased off the accelerator. Switching to Drive, she tore away down the street. She dared not look back, even to see if the garage door was still open.

♪ *And they don’t know / When it’s coming, oh when is it coming? / Keep the car running / Keep the car running / Keep the car running* ♫

The storm was closer; lightning illuminated the houses just a block away from her street and rain and wind buffeted her battered car. Just as she thought to slow down for the approaching stop sign, she heard a long, loud, Owooooooooooo!

Her eyes found the rearview mirror against her will. A flash of lightning showed a dark shape running down the street after her; hunger glinting in its red eyes and white fangs.

Traffic laws would have to wait. Quickly checking for oncoming cars as she drove, she ignored the stop and squealed a turn out onto the main road. Her sole thought was to get as far away from the man-creature as possible. She hoped no police were out, and not because she worried for her spotless driving record.

Continued at #6.

Hallowe’en Serial, 4th Night

Continued from #3.

Memories of uneasy feelings, eerie desk décor, and an empty car were amplified in the yawning, open, Carl-less garage. Carol put her car into Park and pushed the Door Lock button, too worried to even enter.

Any other day, she would have gone into the house alone. She would have eaten leftovers, watched some television, taken a shower, cleaned her teeth, climbed into her twin-sized bed in her own bedroom, and slept with the contentment of an overworked, underhappy 50-year-old woman.

Today was not any other day. Tonight had not been another other night. The radio station began playing Thriller.

At the opening wolf howl -Owooooooooo! ♪-, the moon released itself from graying cloud cover and shone a beam or two within Carol’s car. One reflected a glowing outline round a small, plastic-cased device resting on the passenger seat: her cell phone. She picked it up and checked for updates. Surely Carl had texted her, or left a voice mail; perhaps something was scheduled and he’d not put it on her calendar.

But, like with the orderly garage, there was nothing. “Carl C. Carter,” she said, “Of all the times to be gone….”

The night once again shrouded itself in dark mystery as the glowing moon moved aside for rapidly-approaching storm clouds. One minute Carol was sitting in her driveway contemplating her husband’s absence; and the next, bright lightning streaks and thunderous sky shouts seemed to come from just half a mile away. Surely her immature fears were not worth driving somewhere else in torrential rain, nor walking in it if she refused to park inside the garage.

What was so bad about her house, anyway? She and Carl had lived there for fifteen of the twenty-two years they’d been married. She knew the rooms, the light switches, the location of her mace. She’d be fine.

Where was Carl, though? She’d text him first, and see how late he expected to be.

*Hi, Honey. Just checking when you’ll be home. Let me know.

She stared at the cheerful message and thought to add a smiling face from her Extras menu. Thinking on Carl’s usual preferences of succinctness, she refrained. If she included one, he was also liable to suspect her phone had been hacked. She sent it off as-was, adding a silent wish for a quick response.

After ten minutes of nothing but Halloween songs to interrupt the silence, she conceded defeat. Though not a religious woman, she bowed her head and uttered a quick and direct prayer: “Whoever might be listening, tell Carl to call me; and keep me safe tonight.”

Finally, she pulled forward. Automatic lights warmed the empty space. She turned off the engine and pushed the remote to close the garage door.

Just before opening the driver’s door to exit, however, she caught an image in her rearview mirror. For the fourth time that day, her heart leapt and her breath grew rapid. No excuse like ‘too short a driver, surely,’ or ‘must have been seeing things’ could explain what she saw this time.

From just inside the recently-closed garage door, a pair of glowing, hungry eyes stared right into her own.

Continued at #5.

Hallowe’en Serial: 3rd Night

Continued from #2.

Carol noticed nothing, the image of a few bent window blinds storing itself cozily into her subconscious as she listened to her new favorite radio station.

♫ “You hate your boss at your job…” 

She sang along, though she didn’t hate her boss. Her boss was her husband. They were happily married, and had been for twenty-two years this November. No kids, of course. Carl hadn’t -well, maybe it really was Carol’s fault as he had suggested.

Miss Tight Skirts was expecting, probably from some discount store clerk. That’s where she got the ugly decorations from. Ugly decorations that could move…

No. Carol pushed the thought from her mind. Ceramics didn’t move, desks didn’t move, blinds didn’t -a black sedan pulled out into her lane and she had to jerk the steering wheel sharply to avoid impact. They honked at her and sped away into the night.

Her breathing almost matched her rapid heartbeat. This was the second time in one day she’d been scared enough to worry for her health. She tried to drive straight as she slowed her panicked breaths. Now, what had she been thinking about? Things looking at her?

♪ “Well, if you hear somebody knocking on your door / If you see something crawling across the floor / Baby, it’ll be me and I’ll be looking for you” ♪

Carol hadn’t heard the song; it sounded old, but still good. Catchy. Jerry Lee Lewis, perhaps… Her mother had kept a record.

Just then, a bright pair of headlights entered the road at her left side and she swerved to avoid yet another collision. “What is with the maniacs tonight?” she wondered aloud. She glanced over to at least glare at the driver. She couldn’t see anyone, so faced forward instead. Her mind did a double-take and she looked back.

No one.

It’s probably just a really short man or his seat’s set back really far, she told herself. The night was cloudy, too. The road was dark. She was tired. The driverless car drove off.

Carol slowed and turned onto her own suburban street, noting the tacky inflatable jack o’lanterns and grim reapers and Charlie Browns on her neighbors’ lawns. She’d forgotten Halloween was coming -in just one night, she realized. She’d have to pick up some candy and watch all the children. All the sweet children she’d never had to dress for Halloween nor take trick-or-treating.

Sighing, she drove up to their house. It was dark. Carl often forgot to leave the lights on for her, but he was never to bed this early. She opened the garage door and stopped in the driveway, engine idling.

Carl’s car was not there. The garage was as empty as a tomb.

Continued at #4.

Hallowe’en Serial: 2nd Night

Continued from yesterday:

“Ah, Carol!” a familiar voice said at her elbow.

She jerked; breathed a quick, short, loud intake; and clutched at her heart.

“I was just going to –what in the world d’ya do to your desk?” Ever slow on the obvious, Carl C. Carter stood next to his wife at the doorway and surveyed the disarray inside with confusion. Then he noticed Carol. “Oh, hey -did I give you a fright? Sorry. —

“I was just going to head over to that business meeting I told you about. If anyone calls you’ll be sure to tell them I’m up to my eyeballs in work, won’t you?” He touched Carol’s shoulder, smiled a quick, grandfatherly smile, straightened his striped dress shirt, and turned to whistle down the hall.

Carol hadn’t moved; her left hand still on her chest, her right on the door handle. She breathed out. She tested her feelings like a mentalist dipping a toe into physic waters but only felt annoyance. Carl and his design team held meetings according to his whim, and left her to reschedule the pieces.

“That’s what Miss Dollar Store is supposed to be for,” she mumbled, as she bent to begin cleanup. “But, she’s always ‘taking notes’ in your ‘meetings.'”

———-

Hours and phone calls and legal contracts later, Carol walked back out to the lobby. All was dark and silent; she was the last to leave. Her shadow from the outside lights ran over the hideous ceramics perched on the secretary’s desk as she walked past. From her peripheral vision, she thought she saw movement and turned. Were they always staring right at her -no, that was silly- right at the door? Carol could have sworn Miss Bad Taste had arranged them facing each other.

If she hadn’t been the only person in the office, she’d have examined them more closely. She swallowed, and backed toward the outside door. The little, scowling cats and their neighboring scarecrow and crows remained stationary.

Carol exited and locked the door, glanced at the blinds to be certain they were closed, and walked to her car. *Clack* *Clat* *Clunk* echoed from her cheap shoes as they trod across the vacant lot. Her mind wholly on the ride home and the work that awaited her there, she did not think to look back.

She started the car, and shifted into reverse. The radio was playing garbage again; she set it to scan. Her headlights swept a glare across the windowed office front as she pulled out of the narrow parking space.

The swirling numbers of the radio dial settled on the station she’d found that morning, just as the blinds closed back together in the dark office window, and just as Carol pulled out onto the street.

Continued at #3.