It’s October, your favorite month! [UPDATE: No, it’s not. I’ll update this eventually.] To get you into the Halloween spirit, not that you need it, here’s a nasty little story from my first collection, Gleefully Macabre Tales.
WARNING: Contains salty language.
WARNING: Contains outdated Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson references, which I suppose I could have updated but I didn’t want to compromise the integrity of my original creative vision.
“The Bad Candy House”
by Jeff Strand
I don’t get how the whole “razor blades in apples” thing is supposed to work. I think it’s an urban legend. How could you get a razor blade in there without leaving a big gash in the side of the apple? I mean, yeah, kids are morons, but they’re going to notice an inch-long cut in the side of their apple. I guess you could come in from the bottom, but using that technique I don’t see how you could wedge the blade in far enough that somebody would actually bite into it.
And there’s really no set biting pattern for an apple, so unless you lucked into a direct hit the best you could hope for is a little nick on the lips–barely even worth the trouble. Most importantly, kids are going to remember the cheap bastards who handed out apples instead of candy (granted, an apple costs more than a Fun-Size candy bar, but that’s not the way they see it) and they’ll bring the police right to your front door.
It just wouldn’t work.
That’s why I used arsenic, injected with a hypodermic needle into name-brand chocolates. Even if parents checked the candy, they were unlikely to notice the holes, and the little cretins were sure to just pop those things into their greedy mouths whole. Dead kids. A Halloween present to myself.
I wasn’t ignorant; I knew I wouldn’t kill all of them. As soon as the first one croaked, there’d be mass hysteria all over town and parents would be yanking the bags of candy away from their screaming brats. But I figured I’d probably knock off a few of them before people started freaking out, and in a worst case scenario where I only killed one–well, hell, at least I’d be responsible for everybody else’s candy being taken away. Heh heh.
Obviously, the candy would eventually be traced back to me. But that was fine. My Mildred had died two months ago, and I really didn’t have anything to live for. I would’ve blown my brains out the same night the stroke took her, except that it occurred to me that if I didn’t have to worry about any consequences to my actions, I could have one hell of an enjoyable Halloween.
I was downright giddy. I even carved a jack-o-lantern for the first time in thirty years. A jack-o-lantern was actually the source of my very first journal entry about the holiday:
October 31, 1975. Those little bastards smashed my jack-o-lantern. I hope they choke on their taffy.
I had something for pretty much every year after that. Some samples included:
October 31, 1985. Those little shits toilet-papered my entire front yard. I saw them running away and laughing, and I went for my shotgun, but Mildred talked some sense into me. I sort of wish she hadn’t.
October 31, 1995. Those little fuckers put a burning bag of dog crap on my porch. I’m not an idiot and I wasn’t going to just stomp on the thing, so I turned the water hose on it and put out the fire. It left burn marks on the wood that those little fuckers are going to pay for, believe me. Then when I picked it up to throw it away, the wet bag broke and spilled shit all over. I went for my shotgun, but Mildred had hidden the bullets. I saw the kids watching from across the street, and I gave them a verbal beating that they won’t soon forget. I hate kids.
October 31, 2005. Those little satanists egged the whole goddamn front of my house. Where the hell did they get all those eggs? One of them threw a fuckin’ ham and cheese omelet at my window. Can you believe that? A ham and cheese omelet! I swear to God, if Mildred hadn’t pawned my shotgun, I’d just sit down on my porch and start picking those little demons off one by one. Boom! Splat! Boom! Splat! Boom! Splat! I hate Halloween.
But I didn’t hate Halloween this year. I couldn’t wait to see what they tried. Eggs, toilet paper, burning bags of crap…bring it on! This might be the last Halloween our sleepy little shithole town ever enjoyed.
At 6:44, the doorbell rang. Trick-or-treating was supposed to officially start at 7:00, but those greedy bastards didn’t care.
I opened the door. Two kids were standing there, holding their candy bags out in front of them expectantly. One was in vampire makeup and the other wore a Spider-Man mask.
I stared at them. They just stood there, too lazy to even say “trick or treat!” Why don’t kids say “trick or treat” anymore? Was the process of securing Halloween candy so difficult that they had to figure out a way to cut down on the manual labor? These rotten kids today have such a feeling of entitlement that they can’t even be bothered to say those three words to get their damn candy bar.
They didn’t even say “Hi.” They just looked at me, slack-jawed, as if they didn’t have two brain cells to rub together. (To be fair, I couldn’t see the kid’s face under his Spider-Man mask, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that he looked like his vampire buddy.)
“Yeah?” I asked.
“Trick or treat,” said the bloodsucker, as if annoyed that I was making him fulfill his part of the bargain.
I picked two chocolates from the bowl next to the door and dropped one into each of their bags. “Enjoy,” I said, wanting to add “your upcoming death” but wisely withstanding the temptation.
The vampire muttered “thank you” under his breath and they left. I smiled, which was not something I did often. I wondered if they’d realize that the chocolate tasted funny, or if they’d gobble it down too fast to even notice.
“Oooooh, Mommy, I don’t feel so good.”
“You’ve just had too much Halloween candy, sweetie-dumplings. Let me tuck you under the covers and give you a kiss and you’ll be just fine in the morning.”
“But my tummy hurts.”
“Maybe you’ve learned a little lesson for next year. You shouldn’t eat so much candy. It’s not good for you.”
“Oh my God! You’re vomiting blood! You’re vomiting blood! Mike, come quick!”
“[Various frothing at the mouth noises.]”
“Good Lord, Tracy, what did he eat? What did you let him eat?”
“It wasn’t my fault, you son of a bitch! If you’d helped teach our children some respect, this wouldn’t be happening! I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate–AAAAIIIEEEEE, his tongue just fell out! His tongue just fell right out of his mouth!”
“Speak to me! Speak to me, little vampire! He’s dead! He died a horrible and agonizing death! Noooooooooo!!!”
Hee hee hee.
Nine minutes later, the doorbell rang again. Two teenage girls were there. They looked way too old to be trick-or-treating, and were probably just collecting candy to sell for drug money. Not only did they not say “trick or treat,” but the spoiled debutantes weren’t even wearing costumes.
I shook my head. “You can’t have candy without a costume.” Yes, it was poisoned candy, so their lack of proper attire shouldn’t have been a concern for me, but this was just ridiculous.
“We are in costume,” said the blonde on the left.
“What are you supposed to be? Teenage girls scamming candy?”
“I’m Paris Hilton,” said the blonde on the right. “She’s Jessica Simpson.”
“Paris Hilton? Shouldn’t you be having sex in Night-Vision?” The computer and Internet connection had been Mildred’s thing, not mine, but after she died I’d discovered the convenience of internet porn.
“You are such a pervo,” said the one who was supposed to be Jessica Simpson.
“I’m not the one dressing up in slut gear,” I said.
“Well, thank God for that,” said Paris.
“I’m going to tell my parents about you,” Jessica threatened. “They lock away creeps like you.”
“All right, all right, here’s your candy,” I said, giving them two pieces each. “Great costumes. You look just like them. Now go away.”
The girls exchanged a disgusted look and then left. I chuckled. I probably shouldn’t have harassed them–if their parents did come over and cause problems I might not get to distribute enough of the chocolates–but it was fun.
The flood of kids started a few minutes after that. I smiled politely, complimented their costumes, and enjoyed merry thoughts about their deaths. I fantasized about horrified parents having to walk around the bodies littering the streets, unable to cross the street without accidentally stepping on a youthful corpse. I knew it wouldn’t happen like that, but it was fun to pretend.
A mother showed up, holding a baby in her arms. The baby had kitten whiskers drawn on its face and wore a pair of fake feline ears. It was too young to even hold the plastic pumpkin by itself–the mother held it instead. Did she think a baby could appreciate the holiday? I dropped a poisoned chocolate into the pumpkin. A mother stupid enough to give chocolate to a baby deserved whatever happened.
I’d given out about half of the bowl when three kids showed up at my door. They were all tall enough to be teenagers, although their identical skeleton masks hid their faces.
“Gimme candy, old man!” they said in unison.
“Oh, that’s real clever. You make that up yourselves?”
“You gonna give us the candy or what?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna give you the candy,” I said, dropping one in each of their bags. “Happy Halloween.”
Suddenly, all three of them pulled out squirt guns. Before I could react, they squirted me in the face.
I slammed the door and cursed loudly. I cursed even louder as the smell made it abundantly clear that the squirt guns weren’t filled with water.
“Damnfuckin’bastardhellspawnmonsters!” I shouted as I rushed to the kitchen sink and turned on the faucet. If I weren’t planning to kill myself tonight, I would’ve gone to the police station first thing in the morning and demanded DNA testing on the urine.
This was exactly why they all needed to die. You couldn’t shoot a man in the face with bodily fluids and expect to live through the night.
Rotten bastards. Rotten twerps. Rotten brats. I hated them all. I wished that I could just walk through their homes, spraying piss-scented arsenic into their wide-open mouths.
Maybe I wouldn’t kill myself tonight. I’d stay alive long enough to enjoy their fatal reaction to my treats. Hell, maybe I’d go on the run for a few days, but return to laugh and point during their funerals. Walk up to their dead bodies in the open casket and squirt them in the face.
I ignored the next couple of doorbell rings while I thoroughly washed my face with soap. My left eye stung a bit, and a drop or two seemed to have gone up one of my nostrils, but at least none had made it into my mouth.
Nice and clean, I returned to my door-answering duties. The next kid actually said the magic words and politely thanked me for his chocolate, so I hoped that he’d hear about the other deaths before he ate the piece I’d given him. I gave out chocolate to Elvira, Freddy Krueger, another vampire, a toddler clown, a Mexican wrestler, some Star Wars character (I think), and two separate kids dressed as M&Ms, which I wouldn’t have expected to be a popular costume choice.
I was almost out of candy and ready to shut down for the night when somebody rang the doorbell over and over, getting in about fifteen rings before I could answer. Officially, trick-or-treating was supposed to end at nine o’clock, and it was nine o’three, so I felt that I’d be justified in punching this little shit in the face.
I opened the door and saw a kid in a skeleton mask. The same mask those other three kids had been wearing. I wasn’t sure if he’d been part of that group, but I hated him anyway.
“Trick or treat!” he said in a monotone.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I muttered, watching his hands carefully to make sure he didn’t whip out a squirt gun. I dropped one of the last pieces of candy into his bag. “Happy Halloween.”
The kid nodded but didn’t move.
“Something you want?” I asked.
The kid just stood there, staring silently at me. I don’t mind admitting that it was more than a little creepy.
“You’ve got your candy,” I told him. “Go on, get back home, it’s late.”
More silence. More staring.
I put my hand on the edge of the door so I could slam it in his face. “Do you know who I am?” he asked.
“No. Who are you?”
“I am the one under the mask. I am the one who sees all. I know your secrets, Raymond.”
“Get the hell off my porch.”
“You cannot escape what you have done.”
“I haven’t done shit.”
“Do you wish to gaze under my mask, or do you fear the visage that hides beneath?”
“Go away, you little freak.”
He shook his head, slowly and deliberately. “You must confront what you have done, Raymond. Remove my mask. Look upon that behind the disguise.”
What the hell is going on here? Something about this kid (it was a kid, right?) made me extremely uncomfortable. I didn’t want to touch his mask, I just wanted him to leave, and yet I felt myself reaching out and touching the cool plastic.
I started to lift the mask.
And then a warm stream of piss got me right on the fucking lips. I stumbled backwards, sputtering in surprise and fury, as the son of a bitch squirted me again.
“Sucker!” he shouted.
I’m an old man, but unspeakable rage does a lot for one’s ability to move fast. I rushed forward, ignoring the third squirt that got in my hair, and grabbed the kid by the collar. I dragged him inside, threw him to the living room floor, and slammed the front door.
“It was just a joke!” the kid insisted.
“A joke, huh?” I asked, wiping my mouth off on my sleeve. “Then shouldn’t at least one of us be laughing? Isn’t that part of what makes a joke a joke?”
“I–I don’t know!”
“What if I made you squirt yourself in the mouth? Would that be funny? Would you be slapping your knee over that little joke?”
“Are you sure? I think it would be hilarious! I’d bust a fuckin’ gut! Give me the squirt gun.”
The kid quickly tossed me the squirt gun. I pointed it at him and pulled the trigger, but it was almost empty and only a few drops trickled out, landing on my shoes and carpet. This did not improve my mood.
“I bet you helped egg my house last year, didn’t you?” I asked.
The kid shook his head.
“Take off the mask!”
He quickly pulled off the skeleton mask and threw it aside. He was one terrified looking kid. I approved of that. He looked about sixteen and was making a valiant but ineffective attempt to grow a mustache.
“Did you egg my house last year?”
The kid started to get back up, but I pounced upon him. I was pleased with my own strength as I grabbed him by the ears and slammed his head against the floor, over and over, until he stopped moving.
I checked his pulse. Not dead.
I hurried into the kitchen, opened the drawer where I kept random junk, and got a roll of duct tape. Quickly, before he could regain consciousness, I taped his wrists together and his feet together. The doorbell rang during this process, but I ignored it.
I woke him up with a slap to the face.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Gary, why did you make the decision to squirt me in the face with urine? Did you think that was a nice thing to do?”
“It wasn’t my idea!”
“Was it your urine?”
“Okay. I’m sure you wouldn’t lie about such a thing. I’ll be right back.”
I returned to the kitchen and got a carton of eggs out of the refrigerator. Then I walked back into the living room, set the carton on the coffee table, opened the lid, and held up one of the eggs to show Gary.
“For true revenge, this thing should be rotten. But I don’t want to keep you in my house long enough for these to go bad.”
I threw the egg at him, as hard as I could. It splattered on his chest. I’d been aiming for his face, but that was okay. I pelted the rest of the eggs, feeling a rush of adrenaline with each throw. He lay there, covered with yolk and egg shells, and it was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever witnessed.
Next, I grabbed some spare rolls of toilet paper out of the closet. I wrapped him up like a mummy, kicking him a few times when he struggled too much. I held the last roll under running water for a minute, then smushed it against his face.
I didn’t have any dog crap handy. In theory, there was no rule saying that a dog had to be involved, and I briefly considered another option, but then I decided that I had too much dignity. Besides, I figured that the kid himself was nothing more than a piece of crap, so why not treat him that way?
Oh, he screamed good when I lit him on fire.
Even though it was Halloween and people were used to kids screaming, I knew he’d attract unwanted attention before too long. As he flailed around on the ground, burning and shrieking, I noticed that his head bore a striking resemblance to one of my old jack-o-lanterns that kids had smashed.
A few blows with a baseball bat and he resembled it even more.
I sat down on the couch to relax, and got so caught up in staring at his body that the arrival of the police took me by surprise. They carted me away and put me under twenty-four hour surveillance, so my whole plan to kill myself was botched.
Sadly, I hadn’t planned for police intervention this soon, and so I hadn’t really covered my tracks. They discovered the syringe and arsenic, and quickly went door-to-door telling people not to eat any Halloween candy. The only casualty was the baby in the kitten costume.
I have to admit, knowing that I’ll spend the rest of my life in prison is nowhere near as appealing as suicide. I keep trying to get rope or a knife or something, but the guards are watching me good. I guess I won’t be seeing Mildred anytime soon.
The worst part is that, as a prank, the guards keep toilet-papering my cell. They’ve also hung up Halloween decorations, and the worst of them, Steve, just loves to knock on the bars and say “Trick or treat, asshole!”
That said, I’d do it all over again if I could. It was still the best Halloween of my life.
If you did not enjoy this story, you will have an equal lack of enthusiasm for my new book An Apocalypse of Our Own, which is now available from an Amazon near you.
Russian fan art for this story done by Akkharu!