Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Trick or Treat

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TRICK or TREAT   (891 words)

Andrea had fussed too long over her costume and make-up, but it had to be the best. She was the prettiest, richest, and most sought after among her film-school pals and had to maintain that reputation. Typically, she arrived fashionably late, but tonight she'd misjudged the traffic and now she was irresponsibly late. Night had fallen full before she arrived at the secluded address scrawled on the back of a tarot card. It was just trite enough that it had to be Annie's idea. It was like her to throw a last-minute party, and to add to the spirit of the season by a pseudo-anonymous invitation. 

After parking her pink Porsche, Andrea resettled her witch costume and made sure her breasts mounded above the bustier just right, then added her pointy hat and scanned the many vehicles lining the road. She recognized George's BMW, Annie's Lincoln, and Jimmy's jacked-up truck. No one was in them, of course. The party started almost an hour ago. She'd have to walk-in alone. But that was fine; she knew how to make an entrance. She'd just have to make up an excuse, like her agent had called to say he'd lined up a new audition.

Ahead, a bright orange arrow pointed across into the woods.

The beat of music thumped from the barn atop the distant hill. The illumination from within seemed minimal, as only a dull hint of light pierced through the filthy windows. But they had a good playlist on. She assumed Jimmy was in charge of the music. 

After a baleful look at her high-heel shoes and thinking up a good passive-aggressive scolding for whoever didn't advise her to at least wear wedges, she left the street and stepped onto the path through thick underbrush. When it suddenly ended, hundreds of costumed people stood lining the way. She halted with a gasp. Immobile and silent, each held a carved pumpkin lit within.

"Did you all wait for me?" Her cheeks flushed.

No one answered.

"What are you doing here? Hasn't it started up at the barn?" 

Still, no one answered.

"Stop being creepy!" She marched as best she could to the closest, and pulled at the silly plastic face mask. "Is that you, George?"

It wasn't her boyfriend. It was a mannequin. So was the next and the next.

Andrea felt ashamed for having been fooled, but no one was here to see her get fooled. Besides, who had hundreds of mannequins, let alone costumes? And who had time to carve hundreds of pumpkins? This had to be George's idea. He was going to be a great director some day soon.

Each unique orange face bore a wicked grin, and was positioned to leer as she passed. The flickering candles added an ominous ambiance. 

It was wildly spooky - perfect for a Halloween Dance party. That was the thought she kept foremost as she walked to the barn. It took her fifteen minutes to arrive. This grassy terrain was murder in her heels. 

When she stepped up to the door, she reached for the handle, then realized she heard no voices.

The hair on her neck stood on end, so instead of opening the door, she peered through the crack, shifting left to right to see the broadest bit of the room.

She saw no one, but they’d gone all out for the décor. Red streamers, bloody-looking sheets and plastic screening. Annie’s father worked at MGMs prop department. She’d obviously had him call in some favors. And, there had to be hundreds of candles burning in there, and red petals dotted the floor.

Oh! George is going to propose a la the Horror films he loves so much. Yes! Finally. And I’m late! They’ve seen me coming and are waiting for the big entrance.

She resituated her hat, squared her shoulders and threw open the door.

Still seeing no one, she stepped in. Were they hiding? “George?” she moved deeper into the barn…and realized the streamers looked like entrails. It wasn't petals on the floor either, but splattering of sticky red...blood? They really went all out for this. She touched one of the 'streamers' and her hand came away covered in red goo. “Ick.” 

She’d have to wipe this off. Scanning around for the food table where there would have to be napkins, she saw the rustic stairs leading to the upper floor. The upper steps were lost to darkness but the lower steps each had severed heads sitting upon them. Some had eyes open, some were shut. She gasped. That’s going too far.

Completing her scan, she saw no food table. What kind of party doesn’t offer some kind of drink and snack?

Something creaked. She spun back to the stairs as a boot slid into view. Someone was coming down. 

She watched the dirty boots descend, unable to see the person wearing them for the dark. But her eyes caught again on the heads. They were placed two-to-each-side, yet the bottom step was different. It had two on the left, they looked like Jimmy and Annie…and on the right…George.

There was room for one more.

Understanding and dozens of thoughts collided in her brain as air rushed through her nostrils and she emitted a shrieking scream that echoed across the hillside.

From within the stairwell, a deep voice said, "Cut." 

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