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Jack

by Em Starrrrr 2 months ago in Short Story / Horror · updated about a month ago
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A Halloween Story

Artwork by author

Jack’s grandmother warned him about Harvest Lane.

Each October, when the moon loomed high and the candles burned low, she’d whisper of the monsters that lived there. Beasts that lurked behind mock-orange hedges and cobweb drapes, armed with candy-corns and snickerdoodles and all the tricks and treats a beast might use to lure a young one to their demise.

“Stay away from Harvest this Halloween, hear?” she’d say, eyes hollow in the dying flame. “Those monsters will get yer. They got Billy Kent in seventy-one. Judy May and Lavinia Stone in seventy-two, seventy-three...took their heads clean off. Course, they were told not to go near Harvest Lane. We were all told not to go near Harvest Lane.”

She said that last part the same every time, her message clear. Don’t go near Harvest.

All Jack heard was candy.

“If we put these on, the monsters won’t see us,” he told his best buddy, Will. It was All Hallow’s Eve and he’d spent the afternoon fashioning eye-holes into bedsheets, snatching them from the clothesline before Granny could miss them.

“What are we supposed to be? Ghosts or something?” asked Will.

“Do I look like a ghost?”

“Kinda.”

“Well...I guess we’re ghosts then.”

They took a forbidden left at Vine Street and started the long walk to Harvest Lane, imagining the treats that lay ahead.

“Do you really think they got all that candy?” asked Will, his eyes peering through uneven cotton-slits.

“All the candy you could dream of. Granny says they got peanut butter cups and skittles and Hot Tamales and Tootsie Pops–”

“What’s a Tootsie Pop?”

“Your face is a Tootsie Pop.” Jack tagged him and loped ahead.

He was taller than Will and his legs were longer, faster, so he was the first to reach Harvest. It looked like green grass fondant and sugar-flowers, and as he breathed in the smell of gingerbread houses he wondered what the big deal was.

He waved Will over. “Hurry up!”

Will arrived, panting and pulling at his bedlinen. “It’s hot in here.”

“Shhhh. Try and blend in.”

They stepped into Harvest Lane, filtering through the witches and vampires and zombies that zigzagged between picket fences. A pigtailed skeleton walked right by them, her bony fingers feeding fistfuls of candy corn into the mouth-hole of her skull. She watched them as she passed and her hollowed eyes reminded Jack of Granny’s candlelit cautions.

Stay away from Harvest, hear?

And then she was gone, skipping into the next yard to claim her sweets. She knocked right on the front door, fearless.

Jack held his breath as the first of the monsters revealed themselves. A gnarled, white-haired beast with a fake-toothed smile and a basket laden with goodies. She cooed at the skeleton-girl, all saccharine and sweetness as she clawed a bag of skittles from the loot.

“There you go, sweetheart–don’t you eat them all at once now.”

Then her gaze came to rest upon the two ghosts with the crooked eyes at her gate, and suddenly that gaping grin was directed their way.

“And how about you? Hmmm? Would you like a treat too?”

The skeleton-girl turned to stare at them, expectant. Jack nudged Will and they shuffled, cautious, towards the front porch.

“Don’t forget to say Trick or Treat or it’ll know,” Jack whispered.

They stepped towards the creature, real slow-like, treat bags outstretched like some sort of All Hallow’s peace offering.

One step...

"Trick"

Two steps...

"or"

Three steps...

“RUN!”

Jack suddenly yanked Will backwards, dragging him out of the yard to the safety of the elms that lined the street. The monster watched with gleaming peepers, mouth twitching, smile faltering. She waited, waited, waited for them to emerge. Then she closed the door, taking the sweets with her.

The skeleton-girl moved onto the next monster-house, unscathed.

“What are you doing?" hissed Will. "It had candy!"

Jack hushed him. "Look in the window.”

Will peeked from behind the tree-trunk, fixing his sheet to better follow Jack’s wavering finger–past the picket palings, through the autumn garden, beyond the cobweb curtains of the monster's house.

“What...is...that?” he breathed.

There, flickering in the frosted glass, was a head.

A head that stared right back at them. Grinning, grinning, eye-sockets gouged into empty caverns, its grimace hacked and frozen into jagged lines. A candle burned against the mushy pulp of its innards, and they could see it had been scooped out and stripped of its vitals.

They got Billy Kent in seventy-one. Judy May and Lavinia Stone in seventy-two, seventy-three...took their heads clean off.

“This was a mistake,” Jack said. “We need to go.”

Will stayed silent.

Jack grabbed at him. “Will, we need to go now!”

Gfffffwooooooooar.” Will’s reply was muffled and foreign.

He'd adjusted his costume again to make sense of what he was seeing, and had torn it wide open in the process. His orange head flashed bright against the the dead leaves. Exposed. He looked at Jack, perplexed and frightened, a knife buried deep into cap of his skull.

The skeleton girl stood over him, grinning, grinning.

“Jack-o-lantern!” she cried as she drove that knife further into Will’s head. “Mum, I found a pumpkin! Can we carve him up?”

She didn’t see Jack, still hidden under Granny’s bedsheet. Didn't even hear him scream as she carried Will’s head away, spilling flesh and seed all the way down the elm-lined street.

***

Jack warned his grandchildren about Harvest Lane.

Each October, when the moon loomed high and the candles burned low, he would whisper of the monsters that lived there. Beasts that lurked behind mock-orange hedges and cobweb drapes, with Twinkies and Tootsie Pops and all the tricks and treats a beast might use to lure a young one to their demise.

“Stay away from Harvest this Halloween, little pumpkin-heads,” he’d say, eyes hollow in the dying flame. “Those monsters will get you. They got Billy Kent in seventy-one. Judy May and Lavinia Stone in seventy-two, seventy-three and Will O’Whisp in twenty-two...took their heads clean off. Course, they were told not to go near Harvest Lane. We were all told not to go near Harvest Lane.”

He said that last part the same every time, his message clear. Don’t go near Harvest.

All they heard was candy.

Short StoryHorror

About the author

Em Starrrrr

she/her

writer of twisted tales and messy poems

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  4. Expert insights and opinions

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  5. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (26)

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  • Rodney Roberts2 months ago

    I hate pumpkin but I love this! Brilliant!

  • Rick Pension2 months ago

    Fun story! I liked the moral of the story too.

  • Joan Gershman2 months ago

    Loved it!

  • Matras Dohrmann2 months ago

    👏👏👏

  • Joe Young2 months ago

    Very atmospheric - I loved it.

  • Beusqm Thomvo2 months ago

    Great

  • srinivasan2 months ago

    Your article is very nice and I wish you to continue writing like this.Please feel free to read my articles and share your comments. I kindly request you to follow me. https://vocal.media/poets/don-t-knock-the-word-mother-and-father

  • keshawn kody2 months ago

    Interesting story, please continue

  • Sinha Ceni2 months ago

    Beautiful release, like

  • test2 months ago

    Interesting story, please continue

  • test2 months ago

    Looking forward to the next update, the fun Halloween brings a different kind of excitement with surprises and scares

  • Kendall Defoe2 months ago

    Yikes! I suddenly don't want any candy...

  • Annelise Lords2 months ago

    It scared the hell out of me, but I lllooovvveee it!

  • Carol Townend2 months ago

    I enjoyed reading this light-hearted story. It has light humour and it gave me goose-bumps!

  • Jessica Noel2 months ago

    Loved this! What a great Halloween tale. You had some really beautiful phrases - I really liked “the moon loomed high and the candle burned low” - and I loved the overall tone of the story. Thanks for sharing!

  • Peshjakova2 months ago

    🌹🌹

  • Matras Dohrmann2 months ago

    Great writing

  • Alar2 months ago

    🌹🌹

  • Bo Ellis2 months ago

    I like it!!

  • Apostolakis2 months ago

    I like it!!

  • Mcgrotha Brinker2 months ago

    Not bad

  • Tambo Lini2 months ago

    I like it!! The nature of oration through the generations! Very cool!

  • Cuse Rapp2 months ago

    👏

  • I like it!! The nature of oration through the generations! Very cool!

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