3rd Runner Up in the 2013 Crimson Skull Contest: Pumpkin Pits by Joseph J. Patchen

Pumpkin-HeadThis pumpkin is a plump one: looks to weigh between twenty five and thirty pounds, give or take an ounce or two; wonderfully symmetrical in a vibrant bright orange with sleek, yet sturdy
bulging ribs and a thick, expertly curved stem.

This is surely the one.

Yes, this is the one to adorn my porch tonight on All Hallows’ Eve. All I need do is carve an interesting and horrifying design and plant a nice fat candle inside. Oh yes, it will marvel not only the little children as they come up my walk but their parents and escorts who are shivering by the curb.

“Sir, sir how much is this pumpkin?” What an odd roadside stand. I travel this road the same time every morning to the torture that is my job for the last six years, and this is the first time I have ever seen this stand. All this man has to sell is a handful of cucumbers, three tomatoes, two green beans, four cartons of eggs and this one ample pumpkin. And it is only seven in the morning.

“Sir, how much is this pumpkin?” I am the only person standing here. Vehicles are whizzing by on the highway right behind us without ever slowing, let alone stopping. It’s funny: the human condition is to be curious. After all, we rubberneck at accidents, and we hit our breaks for a glimpse of exotic animals lurking on the side of the road, not to mention the guys peeing without benefit of a tree.

I wonder if he can hear me above the traffic. He is an elderly man: shoots of white hair stick out like straw from underneath his beat up and filthy feed store cap.

“Two hundred dollars.” He never looks up once. His voice belies his looks. His tone is
evocative, but of what I’m not sure. His face is permanently sun scorched and trenched like a topography map. “I take cash only, no checks, no debit cards and no credit cards.”

I’m floored. “Wait, did you say two hundred dollars? My God. Two hundred dollars! I have never paid two hundred for anything – not for a pair of shoes, or a suit, or a microwave. A h—. Okay, I did that once, but I was very young and very, well, you know. My good man, did you say two hundred dollars?”

“It’s a special pumpkin.”

I knew he was going to say that. His voice had a kind of lilt to it at the end. ‘A special pumpkin.’ “So what is a special pumpkin?”

“It’s unlike any other pumpkin. It’s a magical pumpkin.”

“Magical? What do you mean magical? Do I get three wishes magical, like a genie magical? Or is the pumpkin itself magical, like you can pull a rabbit out of it magical?

He doesn’t even look up from his paper, answering my query in the most bored and relaxed matter of fact manner. “It’s just magical. I don’t know how it works. It’s just magical, that’s all.”

I am my own worst enemy. I should walk. I should tell this guy he is full of it and blow this pumpkin stand. “Well, can it ward off evil magical? Do magical card tricks? I mean, what exactly would I be buying here? After all, I am a consumer with rights and you are a merchant with disclosure obligations.”

He clears his throat and adjusts his cap, stands and adjusts his shorts and pants. If looks could kill, I would be bludgeoned repeatedly with a two by four. “It’s a magical pumpkin. That is all I can say without jinxing the magic.”

“Jinxing the magic? What the Hell does that mean?”

He waddles over to me. Up close, he is a full two feet taller and three feet broader than I. “Just how serious are you about purchasing this piece of fruit?” He places his hands on his hips.

I should have had a stroke by now, out of frustration, but my mini meltdown of legalese gibberish allowed the pressure to somewhat leave my skull. I take the bait. I gladly take the bait. Deep down I know I’m being hustled, but I like it; I like the bait and the bait tastes good. He’s reeled me in flopping and salivating and digging through my wallet and pockets for cash.

He leans into me with a penetrating look. With sharp eyes and tilted brow, he mumbles a harsh and crisp whisper, leaving no breath or space for me to answer. “I mean it. This is more important than you know. Just how serious are you? I see you fumbling around, fishing around in your pockets and all – you serious, or just a pervert? Are you just jerking my chain, looking to pump me for information while pumping yourself? You want to know just how special this pumpkin is? You really want to know?”

I find more composure than coin, or at least enough to stop ransacking my person. “Yeah, I’d like to know before I spend that kind of cash, once I find it.” The words spill out of my mouth and between the gaps in my teeth spraying the counter better than a misty rain.

This guy isn’t fazed. “Put your cash on the counter.” He thumps his left hand on the same spot three times.

I can talk a good game, always could. But I’ve always been a benchwarmer. “All I have is one hundred dollars.” I didn’t even know I had that.

“Then no deal.” I think I hear thunder. I know I heard a crack of lightning.

As I walk back to my car, across the highway, slowly dodging cars across the two lanes, I feel an actual heartbreak. I’m becoming preoccupied with an actual hole in my gut over the loss of that
pumpkin. Yes, for the loss of that particular pumpkin. The last time I felt this bad was when my brother died in a car accident eight years ago.

This is crazy. I’m crazy! But I can’t shake this feeling. I’m letting my imagination and envy spin various scenarios where some jerk taunts me as he carves a wicked face lit by a taper. I wish I had more money. I wish I were carrying that pumpkin to my car to bring home.

What I really need to do, is stop wishing and find a shrink.

As I step back onto the gravel and reach for my door handle, I spy out of the corner of my eye a slender, flapping piece of paper. It’s partially under the front tire but mostly visible. Of course it’s a one hundred dollar bill, a new and crisp one hundred dollar bill.

I guess I do know what kind of magic the pumpkin possesses. I wished for more money and I found it as easily as the breeze now teasing my back as I carry that very same pumpkin to my car.

I always take half a vacation day on Halloween. I always close my business, pay my employees for a full day and wish them and their children well for the trick or treat. I make sure I haven’t missed a single thing: my decorations are in their proper places, both inside and out; my candy is fresh and arranged in a large bowl. And this afternoon, I salivate at the potential design my perfectly plump pumpkin shall express to my guests.

I own no less than forty two books on pumpkin carving. I bet you never knew there were so many. I pour over design after design, but I have to admit I’m getting a little tired: the driving, the haggling, the excitement of finding such a perfect specimen, and now the anticipation of what’s in store for tonight, my favorite holiday of the year.

After perusing book number sixteen, I have to admit, I almost hate to cut it. I almost hate to gut this splendid pumpkin, to indelibly grave it with a scowl or wry, evil grin. Maybe my wish should be for a renewable pumpkin, a self-carving pumpkin that will heal itself by morning and wait patiently for another year. Yes, a reusable, self-carving pumpkin that lies dormant: that would be splendid. A short nap on the couch should alleviate my angst and tamp down my frenzied imagination. I’ll carve later …

My blood scalds and sizzles, streaming down into my eyes. I’m in a fog, light headed and nauseous. A headless man hunches over me, sawing at the top of my skull. Hands I see but cannot feel, turn my throbbing head in the direction of the table where I left the pumpkin before I laid down. My pumpkin, bathing in blood and carved to perfection, happily congratulates me on my wish coming true.

By Joseph J. Patchen

2nd Runner up in the 2013 Crimson Skull Contest: A Savior for the World by Nathaniel Tower

rats ratsTony G stood atop the cliff wondering how the fuck this had all happened. The bloody throat of his pet duck Maurice was draped around his neck like some giant albatross, dripping blood onto the pants that could barely contain his inexplicably erect penis.
The rats had driven him to this brink. They were the ones who’d told him to kill all those people, starting of course with that bitch Mandy, the whore with the audacity to talk bad about his brilliance. All he’d done was try to help her, to make her a better person for the world to see. The rats had prophesied that Halloween would be the perfect time for the carnage. Everything would be aligned, they had said.
Mandy wasn’t the only one of course. One death wouldn’t have left him up here, his life dangling on the edge of that dramatic cliff. There were dozens. Too many for Tony G to even count. He couldn’t remember all their names or faces if he tried. Some names he’d never known. And some faces he’d never seen. He hadn’t even wanted to kill them all.
It was all because of the rats. Those filthy, diseased dirt fluffs. And now they were right behind him, a swarm of filth, thousands, maybe millions, ready to nibble off every inch of his body, starting with his face and ending with his giant penis. It hadn’t always been giant, of course, just like Mandy hadn’t always been a bitch and his duck hadn’t always been dead and draped bleeding around his neck. He blamed this all on the rats as well. No, it wasn’t blame. It was the truth. The rats had taken over his life. He was just their marionette.
He first met the rats in the subway station. Of course that’s where he met the rats. Most people saw their first rat on the subway. Why would Tony G be any exception? He was certainly no extraordinary man. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Tony G was on his way to work, to the office where that bitch Mandy would come in and betray him once and for all. He was about to step on the train when he felt something tugging at his pant leg. Not one for disruptions to his daily routine, he tried to shake it off, gyrating his leg a few times before continuing his step. But the tugging continued, this time harder. He looked down, right into the beady eyes of the rat.
He didn’t want to call the eyes beady. That was so cliché. But there was no other way to describe those two little brown beads of eyes.
As Tony G looked at the rat, the subway doors closed and the train drifted away. Tony G didn’t worry about the fact that he would be late for work. This rat obviously had something to say, and Tony G was going to listen.
“What is it little fella?” he heard himself ask before he had consciously decided what to say to a rat in the middle of the subway. No one bothered looking at him. People were used to crazies talking to rats on the subway. To everyone else around, Tony G was just another crazy. It didn’t matter that he wore nice clothes or carried a real leather briefcase. Those things didn’t make you any less crazy.
Tony G didn’t really expect the rat to answer. At least not the way that it did. It didn’t start speaking English right there in front of anything. The damn thing stood up on its hind legs and gestured for Tony G to follow it. Tony G shrugged, looked around to see if anyone else saw the miracle. After confirming that he was the sole witness, he nodded his head and followed the rat away from the tracks and toward what he suspected was some secret rat lair where all the rats scurried around and planned the ways they would terrorize the human race.
Sure enough, the rat led Tony G through a tunnel that became smaller and smaller until it suddenly became huge, a space big enough for all the rats in the world to congregate. And there they all were, some sitting in rocking chairs, some drawing on chalk boards, some pouring bubbling substances in and out of beakers. It was almost exactly what Tony G expected, which made sense because he’d always had a creative mind.
The room was organized into sections, or so it seemed. There was a science wing, a math wing, a child development wing. But most impressive was the torture wing near the center of the great room. There the rats stuck pins in voodoo dolls, drew diagrams of decapitated humans, and performed other acts Tony G didn’t want to imagine or ever mention to anyone. Human fingers and toes and ears and other appendages were scattered around the area, forming a big almost circle that divide the torture section from the rest of this hellish rat chamber.
The rats didn’t stop their work when he entered. It was as if they were expecting him and were under orders to pretend not to notice him. Tony G wondered if the rat leading him through the room was the head rat or just a messenger.
As Tony G followed the rat through the room, around the torture chamber, past the rat scientists, he tried to be an amicable guest, waving at various rats and even saying “Hello, how are you?” on occasion. None of the rats responded in any way, except for one of the torturists who slid him a beady wink and a sly smile. Tony G smiled back in return, but he didn’t return the wink. He’d never been able to wink, which he always thought was his biggest flaw as a human.
The rat led Tony G in a circuital fashion throughout the room, passing some of the wings three or four times before finally stopping in front of a massive wooden door. The handle was five feet high, obviously well out of a rat’s reach. The little rat on the floor stood up on his hind legs again. Tony G half-expected it to suddenly stretch up and push the handle down. Instead, the rat gestured for Tony G to open the door himself. With just the slightest hesitation, Tony G reached his arm up and wrapped his slightly trembling hand around the know. He gave it a little turn and pushed the door open.
A rat the size of a soccer ball sat in the middle of the room, a garland of trash upon his head. In his left hand was a scepter, which was actually a broken cane, and he pounded the scepter on the ground three times before waving the little rat away.
“Welcome,” the rat said in a squeaky voice, making Tony G wondering if maybe this was a female rat. Then he spotted the rat’s little pink penis poking out of his dirty brown crotch fur, and he knew the voice was just a typical rat feature.
“Thank you for having me,” Tony G said with a bow. Although he was scared out of his mind, he wanted to look grateful for whatever opportunity he was being given here.
“No thanks necessary. And please do not bow to me,” the rat said before rising to his hind legs. He stood only for a minute before the massive weight of his corpulent body forced him back down.
“Sorry,” Tony G said.
“No apologies either,” the rat king said. “This is not a place for manners. We are rats. We are the scum of the earth. But we know things that you humans do not. We know the world is on the brink of destruction, and only you can stop it from ending.”
“Why me?” Tony G asked, his hands touching his chest in modest shock.
“Because you are the savior of the world,” the rat declared with three pounds of the cane. He then removed the garland of trash and proffered it to Tony G. The tiny ring would barely serve as a bracelet, but he placed it atop his balding head anyway.
“But I’m just a humble office worker,” Tony G said, hoping his modesty would impress the rat.
“That is just a façade. You are a savior. You can save everyone. But only if you are up to the challenge. It won’t be easy. The things we will ask you to do may go against what your human nature falsely suggests. But you must listen. If you do not, all humans and all rats will be wiped out. The machines will take over. The subway that he loathe so much will become the next great race.”
Tony G shook his head firmly to show he was up to the challenge. “I will do it. Whatever you ask, I will do.”
“You must kill everyone who crosses you in any way. Anyone who steps in front of you in line. Anyone who tells you how to do your job. Anyone who talks back to you. Anyone who breaks your heart or the heart of anyone else when you’re around. Basically, anyone you see do anything that is even remotely hurtful or despicable must die.”
Tony G couldn’t help but feel a sense of irony. The rat had not concerned himself at all with manners, but now he was telling him to kill any human who cut in line.
“And how long must this go on?” Tony G asked after studying the rat’s demeanor for several seconds. He tried to make steady eye contact, but the giant beads of the rat’s eyes overwhelmed Tony G and forced him to look away.
“Until the threat is over.”
“And how will I know?”
“A messenger will be sent. It will be a hallowed time.”
“And how do I kill them?”
“In the most brutal ways you can. And your vengeance must be immediate. No drawn-out psychological mind games. Just swift and violent death.”
“Okay,” Tony G said, accepting the mission that was contrary to his views of human nature.
“My messenger will see you out now.”
Tony G turned and saw the little rat standing on his hind legs. He wondered if maybe the rat had been there the whole time or if it had uncanny powers of prediction.
“Very well. Don’t worry, sir, I will see this mission through.”
“I know you will,” the rat king said. “That’s why we chose you.”
Tony G marched back through the rat lair, wearing the garland of trash proudly atop his head. This time the rats did not ignore him. Instead they stood and applauded by slapping their slinky tails together with neighboring rats. They hissed their cheers of joy and offered encouraging glances with their beady eyes. For the first time in his life, Tony G felt important.
The messenger rat led Tony G back into the narrow tunnel that gradually broadened until it dumped him back in the subway station. Tony G looked around. No one had seen him emerge from the tunnel. Nor had they seen him associate with the rat. He turned to face the tunnel entrance one final time before marching to his train, but the entrance was suddenly blocked by a set of sloppily layered bricks. Tony G shrugged, wondering if this was all maybe a dream, and hopped on the train that was conveniently stopped and waiting for him.
A strange thing happened to Tony G on his way to work that day. Everyone was polite. They all said excuse me if the slightest contact was made. They offered seats to each other in an endless pattern of getting up and sitting down. They spoke with soft voices. No one uttered profanity or judged anyone else. No one blared music. No one read drivel from dirty romance novels or tabloids. Everyone was perfect. Perhaps Tony G’s mere presence could save humanity from the destruction the rat had foretold.
But it wasn’t that easy, of course. The moment he stepped into his office, before he could even admire the picture of his pet duck sitting on the desk, Mandy approached him with fire in her eyes and sluttiness in her hips. She sashayed right into his office, her massive breasts half-exposed by the half-unbuttoned plaid shirt she tried to play off as a Halloween custom. Tony G wondered what the hell she was supposed to be. A cross between a sexy farm girl and a grunge whore? Tony G had always wanted to screw her brains out on his desk, but today he knew that such a feat could not be performed. That would be contrary to the mission he was sent to carry out.
“How may I help you, Mandy?” he asked, trying his best to be polite and not lustful.
“You can help me by not being such a fuck-up,” Mandy roared, her finger pointing in accusation.
Tony G began to scan the office for an implement of destruction. He spotted a fire extinguisher that would serve her well.
“And how am I a f-up?” Tony G said, opting not to repeat her profane remark.
“You changed the numbers on my report,” she accused.
“Yes, I did,” Tony G said. “I changed them to the correct figures.”
“No. You fucked them all up. You now have simple math errors. You have the average of 3 and 3 and 3 as 4 and a half! How is that correct? How does that even make remote sense? Are you trying to get me fired? Are you trying to make this company go down in flames?”
“No, no. Those are certainly not my intentions.” Tony G said, stalling as he stood and walked to the fire extinguisher. “You are mistaken with your figures. If you look more closely at the report, you will see that I have improved everything. Nothing has been made in error.” He picked up the fire extinguisher. “But I’ll tell you what. If you want to, you can take your name off the report. I’ll take all the credit for it. And if it gets praised, I’ll say you helped tremendously to get it prepared. Deal?”
“No!” Mandy said, throwing her arms up in the air so that her boobs bounced like basketballs on a trampoline.
“Very well,” Tony G said. “Then I have no choice but to do this.” He swung the fire extinguisher high over his head and launched it down straight between the mountains of her chest. The solid metal object punctured right through her torso, sending her crashing to the floor like crumbling mountains.
“You bastard!” Mandy panted, struggling to find her breath with the weight of the extinguisher bearing down on her. “You’ll pay for this.”
“No. You’ll pay,” Tony G said. “I’m saving the world.” He bent down to pick up the fire extinguisher, squeezing her dented breasts in the process. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time,” he said with a smile before raising the extinguisher over his head and slamming it down on her chest again. He repeated this action until she was fully deflated, like a crying child’s worn-out birthday balloon. Then he forced open the mouth, stuck the nozzle of the extinguisher inside, and triggered the gassy liquid into her. It bubbled out of her nose and eyes as her body convulsed. A puff of smoke even ascended from her crotch.
As Tony G tossed the extinguisher on the ground, he found himself strangely aroused. He stared at her body for a moment, imagining the things he could to do her before he realized that he needed to get the hell out of there. He grabbed his leather briefcase and suit jacket and burst out of the office. A coworker dressed as Dracula stopped him forcefully in the hallway.
“Where ya goin’?” the coworker asked, his hands on Tony G’s shoulders.
“Big mistake, asshole,” Tony G cried. He reached for a stapler on the nearest desk and began pounding staples into the coworker’s face. “I’ll teach you for being rude,” Tony G yelled as the staples penetrated the coworker’s face. Blood began trickling down, and the coworker soon dropped to the ground. “Suck your own blood, bitch,” Tony G said before spitting on the nearly dead Dracula.
“Hey, what the hell are you doing?” a voice yelled from behind. Tony G chucked the stapler at the dying coworker’s head and turned to face his new foe. It was his boss. If ever someone needed to be killed.
“I’m taking care of the trash,” Tony G said, hoping he didn’t sound too cliché. He eyed the objects between himself and the boss, looking for the most brutal instrument around. He settled for the water cooler, which appeared to have been recently filled. Tony G sprinted to the water cooler and pulled out the massive bucket of water. The boss began running, so Tony G threw the bucket of water with all his might. The thing must’ve weighed fifty pounds, but the fire in Tony G’s soul gave him the strength to launch it a sufficient distance. The thing came down directly on the bosses head. Tony G watched with flee as the bucket of water and the boss’s head shattered simultaneously, creating a waterfall of water and brain and bits of bone. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
But Tony G didn’t have long to behold it. Other coworkers were emerging from their offices to find out what all the commotion was. Tony G killed them all. He used trashcans, computers, paper cutters, box knives, and anything else he could find that would mutilate or destroy the evil people before him.
When he was certain all his coworkers were dead, he bolted from the office. At the building’s exit, the messenger rat stopped him. It stood on its hind legs and tried to speak with its eyes. Tony G didn’t understand what it was saying. The rat started using sign language. Tony G still didn’t get it.
At last, the obviously frustrated rat used his squeaky voice. “What the fuck are you doing?” the rat cried. “This isn’t what you’re supposed to do. You’re causing the world to end!”
Tony G looked around. Planes were descending from the sky. Rivers and lakes were swelling onto the city streets. A volcano that couldn’t possibly have existed in the city began erupting. A giant hole in the sky ripped open and a giant arm reached down and began squishing people.
“I thought this is what I was supposed to do,” Tony G cried desperately.
“You thought wrong. How could you be so stupid? I knew we shouldn’t’ve trusted a human with such an important mission.”
The rat returned to its four legs and then leapt on Tony G’s pant leg, gnawing at the flesh of the pants. Tony G kicked with all his might. When the rat wouldn’t let go, Tony G picked it up and bit its head off.
“That’ll teach you to fuck with me,” Tony G said. Suddenly he was convinced that he had to kill more to reverse this ending of the world. He started killing everyone he saw on the streets. He was about to slice someone’s face off with a broken bottle when he saw the swarm of rats pouring into the street, led by the fat rat king who couldn’t manage to stand earlier.
“Kill, kill, kill!” their beady eyes yelled as they chased Tony G down the street and out of the city until they had him cornered on top of the cliff.
“You’ve ruined everything!” the rat king said.
The rat king threw Tony G’s pet duck’s throat at him.
“Maurice!” Tony G cried.
“Wear this as your sash of shame!” the rat cried.
Tony G put it on and watched as the blood dripped down onto the pants that barely covered his inexplicably erect penis.
“Now hang yourself with it,” the rat ordered.
“Never,” Tony G cried.
“Then be gnawed to death.” The swarm of rats was upon him in an instant, gnawing every inch of his body, starting with bits of his face and working their way down to his erect penis. They left the eyes intact so Tony G could see everything they did to him.
“Stop! Please!” Tony G begged, but the rats would not relent.
Hours later, the last of the rats left Tony G’s body. For a moment, he felt nothing. He could still see, could see the opened sky and the hand reaching down to squish things. Then a voice spoke from the bottom of the cliff.
“Rise, Tony G,” the voice said.
Tony G rose.
“Now understand your place in all this. You have caused this. And because of that, you will be the only survivor. You will roam the streets in your horribly disfigured state forever. Mirrors will be placed all around so you can never escape what you have become.”
Mirrors suddenly rose everywhere around. Tony G cowered at the sight of his horribly disfigured body, especially at the sight of his tiny demolished nub of a penis.
“Is there anything I can to do repent?” Tony G screamed to the heavens.
The mirrors laughed in unison, and Tony G tried to shut his eyes, but he found they had somehow been welded open forever.

By Nathaniel Tower

1st Runner Up in the 2013 Crimson Skull Contest: Waiting for Halloween by Daniel Gonzales

Olivia waited every year for Halloween to arrive so she could show her true face.
Her parents told her to hide it all year long.
“People just wouldn’t understand,” her mother said, “They don’t believe in monsters. At least not the kind you are anyway.”devil mask on girl
Her father was more severe, “If you show people what you really are, they will hurt you, they will kill you.”
Olivia was only twelve but she knew that she was a monster.
Every day at school, the other girls made fun of her, they pushed her in the mud, they pinched her arms until she felt the tears well up in her eyes but she did not tell. She knew she deserved it, she was evil.
On Halloween I can be myself, she thought. I don’t have to be afraid.
She put the devil mask over her face and went out trick or treating. Her parents decided that she was old enough to go out on her own as long as she took her little brother with her. Toby was seven and annoying as fuck. He was perfect from his blonde hair to his dimpled cheeks, he wasn’t a monster like her. The curse had skipped him.
“My sister was like you,” her mother said, “She was twisted and deformed inside and had to hide her true face. She killed herself when she was twenty two. My mother was glad to be rid of her.”
She knew that her parents talked sometimes about getting rid of her. Just putting her out of her misery but instead they let her live on.
She had the knife in her pillowcase just in case and waited for the hour to grow late.
“Olivia, when we go get candies?” her brother said in his candy corn costume.
“Soon,” she said, “I have to do something first.”
She spotted the girls around fifth avenue shortly after seven p.m.
It was the same bitches who tormented her at school every day. She told her brother to wait behind the tree in the park and she went after them. Slowly she approached them in her devil mask and heard them chatting.
“I can’t believe she wore that!” Tiffany said, dressed as some slutty witch. She looked like a whore. She knew they were talking about her, making fun of her, thinking of new ways to torment her.
“She is so pathetic, she should just kill herself already,” Amber said.
“Oh my god, did you see how hot Greg was?” Lily said.
“I would totally suck his dick,” Tiffany said, she was thirteen, a year older than the other two girls.
“Have you done that?” Amber whispered, “You know…sucked a dick?”
“Of course! I used to practice on my cousin all the time. He’s seventeen. He has a huge one.”
The other two girls said nothing.
Olivia pulled off her mask and ran behind Tiffany, jamming the knife into her back.
“OH MY GOD!” Amber screamed.
“You crazy bitch!” Lily said.
How did they recognize me? Olivia wondered, she knew she was showing her true face. Couldn’t they see the demon? The lizard skin? The horrible scars?
Amber was starting to attract attention with her screams so Olivia jammed the knife in her neck and watched the blood spurt out. She laughed, it was like a red river. It poured across the cement and dead leaves like a painting.
Lily started to run. She was dressed in some generic cat Walmart costume that looked like it came from the sales rack.
“I can smell your sin,” Olivia said and stabbed her in the back.
“Please,” Lily begged, as she fell over the blood soaked into her blonde hair.
“Now you know how it feels,” Olivia said, “But you just kept pinching me. Pinch, pinch, pinch.”
She stabbed the girl again and again then twisted the knife up in her gut and felt her open up like ripe fruit, the smell was horrendous but her intestines fascinated her. They were like strands of fleshy silly string. She could have played with them for hours but heard shouts in the distance. They had heard the screams. People were coming. She ran away.

Toby was waiting patiently for her in the park.
He was starting to grow bored and was picking pieces of bark off the tree. He had one in his mouth when she found him.
“Don’t eat that!” she said and slapped him in the back of the head. He spit it out.
Tears started to well up in his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “Just wait, we are gonna go get candy now.”
For the next hour and a half they went door to door getting candy as the sound of ambulances and police cars went by.
Parents were starting to talk, taking their kids home early.
A massacre, they were saying.
An elderly woman handing out Snickers bars warned her, “You two should head on home now, it’s not safe out there, there was a murder tonight. Three young girls.”
Olivia smiled. The fear was spreading.
Her mother had told her to punish the sinners.

Olivia took Toby back home and saw her mother sitting at the kitchen table talking to God again. She was gesturing wildly and speaking in tongues, her eyes rolling back in her head.
“I have to go out, Mom and take care of one more sinner. I will be back later.”
Her mother made garbled noises and drooled leaked down her chin.
Olivia put the devil mask back on and went back out onto the streets.
It was 9PM.

The house of Miss Edna Fisher was one of the largest in the neighborhood, she had a family fortune in accumulated wealth and wasn’t afraid to rub it in other people’s faces whenever she could.
She was also Olivia’s seventh grade teacher.
She was a horror. Always calling on her, humiliating her when she didn’t know an answer, she would snicker when she saw the other girls picking on her. Once when she had been flung in the mud by Tiffany, she saw Miss Fisher looking at her but instead of going to help, she had walked away.
Edna was a spinster, a mid-fifties old maid who didn’t have any children of her own so she disciplined children that weren’t hers.
For some reason, Miss Fisher had always hated her but she didn’t know why.
Did she sense my demon? Olivia thought. Does she know what I really am?
Olivia walked right up to her door and knocked.
It took several moments but Miss Fisher finally came to the door.
She had done everything to make it look as if she weren’t at home, the gate was shut, the lights were turned low but Olivia knew the truth.
“What are you—Olivia?” Miss Fisher said, surprised.
She answered the door in a long flowing white silk nightgown with a thick bathrobe over it and fuzzy slippers.
“What are you doing here, young lady?” she said, “Haven’t you heard there was a murder?! Your schoolmates were killed. Tiffany Miller. Lily Tomkins. Amber Marrow. It is all over the news. Don’t your parents have the common sense to tell you to stay home?”
“I know about the murders,” Olivia said, “Their blood smelled like fresh flowers.”
Miss Fisher’s mouth gaped in shock and Olivia pulled the large kitchen knife out of her bag, still covered in the girl’s blood. Then she charged towards the door.
Edna fell backwards onto the wooden floors and started to crawl away in a panic. Olivia stabbed her in the ankle. She screamed and kicked at her.
Limping, she ran towards the living room and the telephone.
Olivia was fast like a snake.
She threw her devil mask on the floor and then started to feel her face transform.
I am a monster. I am a demon. I am pure evil, she thought and imagined the horns and the scaly skin.
When she looked in the mirror, that was what she saw. Just like her parents told her she looked.
“Get away from me, you little freak!” Miss Fisher screamed, “What the hell is wrong with you? I knew you were a monster!”
Olivia moved quick and pulled the phone out of the wall.
She saw the bowl of candy sitting next to the sofa, Miss Fisher had been snacking on chocolates when she knocked, the empty candy wrappers laid there. She grabbed the bowl and smashed it against Miss Fisher’s head.
Miss Fisher screamed as blood poured down her forehead then she ran past Olivia and up the stairs screaming the whole way. Her ankle was still bleeding and she left a blood trail behind her.
Olivia laughed, “Trick or treat, Miss Fisher. I want to cut out your eyes and eat them. That’s my Halloween treat.”
Olivia followed her upstairs.

Edna had locked herself in her bedroom and scrambled to find her cell phone.
She dialed 911.
“Yes, police? Please help me, there is a young girl in my house and she is trying to kill me, she has a knife and I think she killed those other girls tonight. Her name is—“
Olivia burst through the bedroom door, slamming against it.
Miss Fisher dropped the phone in fright.
“Get away from me, you freak!” Miss Fisher said.
“You never liked me,” Olivia said, “I saw you turn away when they pushed me in the mud. You turned away.”
Miss Fisher got a wild hateful look in her eyes then, “Yes, I hate you! I always hated you! You are weak! You deserve to die! You filthy little bitch!”
Olivia swung the knife towards her face and sliced into her cheek.
Blood dribbled down her chin.
“Stop!” Miss Fisher said in a panicked voice, “I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry!”
“Why did you become a teacher?” Olivia asked her, serious suddenly, “Was it cause you couldn’t make babies?”
Miss Fisher said nothing.
“You obviously don’t like kids.”
“Please,” Edna said, looking her in the eyes.
“Are you scared of my demon face?” Olivia said, “Doesn’t it frighten you?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t pretend you can’t see it. This is my real face. I am a monster.”
Miss Fisher looked at the girl strangely then and almost with pity.
“Who told you that?” she asked.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“You don’t have a demon face. Look in the mirror, Olivia. You are an innocent girl. Now stop this before it’s too late. We can get you help.”
Olivia looked across the room at the mirror above the headboard of the bed.
She saw her own face starting back at her.
No demon.
It was a trick. This bitch was trying to trick her.
“No,” Olivia said, “I know what I am. Mommy told me. Now let’s see where babies are made.”
She stuck the blade into Miss Fisher’s stomach and gutted her.
The smell was more putrid than Tiffany’s intestines.
Yet they fascinated her still, she watched them ooze out and put her hands through them. She played with the liver, then pulled out the kidneys. She kept cutting and broke the ribcage until she found the heart. She put it in her candy sack and left through the window before the police came.

“Did you have fun?” Olivia’s father asked when she came in the door.
“Yes, Daddy, I punished some sinners.”
“Good girl,” he said, “Maybe if you keep doing God’s work, he will heal you and make you human again.”
In the kitchen her mother was unconscious on the floor and twitching. She was having one of her angelic seizures.
“Your brother is already in bed. You have school tomorrow, young lady. You better get to the basement.”
He pulled the key from his pocket and opened the door to the basement steps.
“Off you go,” he said, “Goodnight.”
He kissed her on the cheek.
Olivia walked down the steps into the dark and fumbled around until her eyes adjusted and she saw the sleeping bag. She crawled inside and hid.
She heard the sounds of police sirens and an ambulance driving by.
Her mother’s body thumping above on the kitchen floor.
Until next Halloween, she thought and closed her eyes. Then I can be myself again.

By Daniel Gonzales
editor, Surreal Grotesque