Haunting Stories of 2020
The Candy Madam
Jenny place the mortar and pestle back into the medicine cabinet. Her clueless, costumed guests arrived at the house with drinks and snacks in hand. Loud music pulsated, shook the walls. Her new visitors sang, screamed, and laughed louder than the bass.
She straightened her dress and crossed her fingers.
Jenny shoved through the door with a bowl full of homemade candy. She set the bowl among other snacks on a table in the center of the house. “Ready!”
Jenny surveyed the busy room. She knew nobody traveled up the broken stairs, they all resided here. She weaved through the handful of people and stopped in a darkened corner of the room. Her heart hit against her chest with anticipation. She rubbed her trembling hands together and focused on the candy bowl.
The Superhero placed a piece of candy into their mouth first. The Superhero gave one to his sidekick, the Anime school girl. They danced off and a wicked witch grabbed two pieces from the bowl. Ghostface shifted to the bowl with a rock-star on his elbow. They laughed when they ate the candy.
The party just got started. Jenny smiled.
Minutes passed without a word to her. Sweat formed on her brow and she glanced at her watch. She mumbled to herself, “Is it good? Nobody is…”
A cough brought her attention back to the guests.
The Superhero gripped his chest when he fell to his knees. His sidekick’s screech shocked everyone into a standstill. They circled around the Superhero while he gasped for air.
“Is he okay?”
“I’m a doctor, move out of the way. Give us some space.” Said ghostface.
Jenny’s heart pounded harder with excitement. Next, she concentrated on the Anime school girl. The wicked witch screamed and ran to the locked door. She thrashed her palms against the wood. “Somethings wrong! Get me out of here!”
Rock-star hurried to the witch and placed his hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay. Calm down.”
“She’s hysterical,” said the Anime school girl.
Jenny bit her lip. Her eyes narrowed on the Anime School girl.
Ghostface’s groan drew the spotlight on him. He wrapped one arm around his chest. His hand struggled with a phone while he tried to thumb-type. “I have no service. Need. Help.”
Another scream from the witch echoed over the bass. She fell, yanking sidekick to the floor. Her body convulsed.
Jenny frowned and refocused on the Anime school girl. She was certain the girl had eaten a piece of candy before the witch. Doubt formed like a monster in her mind. How could it be that the school girl wasn’t affected?
“I’ve got service. I’ll call for help,” the Anime school girl yelled.
“Alexa, stop the music,” said sidekick from the floor. He wiped sweat from his brow while he coughed and held his limp torso up with his forearms. “That’s better. The quiet.”
“You!” The Anime school girl pointed at Jenny. “Come over here.”
Jenny’s eyebrows raised inquisitively. “Are you okay?”
“I need your help with my boyfriend.” The Anime school girl placed a hand on Superhero’s shoulder. “He’s to big. I can’t lift him by myself.”
“Why try to lift him?” Jenny remained in the corner.
“I want to get him…off the floor.” The Anime school girl coughed. Streams of sweat made rivers in the powder on her face. “Me?”
When the Anime school girl collapsed onto the floor, the rest of the room settled. Jenny inched out of her corner, squatted beside to the Anime school girl, and said, “I’ll add a pinch of salt.”
Candy at the door lured in the teenagers with a sign. It pointed inside and promised more. Katie and her friends were out for fun. This was their last year to trick or treat. Nothing to lose, they entered the Hotel Shisagain. In the lobby, a tall Halloween tree stood proud with pumpkins, candles, and candy draped in its branches. They approached the Halloween tree smiling, laughing, and joking with each other.
The lobby was deserted. Dust covered everything; the couch, table, and counter on the other side of the room. A fireplace was on the left side of them. Katie’s friend Bob shifted other there. He examined the white bricks on the mantel.
“I wonder who set this up?” Katie asked.
“It’s strange. There’s nobody. The dust is like new fallen snow. It even shows our footprints.” Bob said.
Nobody touched the candy on the tree. It hung like ice off the branches.
“I’m going to keep you here forever!” a little girl’s voice echoed in the room. The light flickered and the door slammed shut. A gust of cool air made Katie’s group visibly shivered. Blood seeped through the walls.
How I Met Your Father
Later I understood why, but when it happened, he was a stranger. I enjoyed my coffee that morning without a a clue. I hoped my luck ran long today. The sun shined and the breeze cooled my skin as I strolled along the sand. Water crashed on the land creating white caps that reminded me of the creamy oat milk in my cappuccino.
The water slammed into my feet. Salt clung to my lips and cheeks. I tried to ignore the man hovering behind me. He wore shoes and I was barefoot in the water. The free waves tickled my toes, cooled my skin, and reflected the beautiful sunlight from above.
The man approached. I ignored him. Only two of us on this beach and he wanted to crowd me?
Something bumped against my ankle.
When the waves retreated, there was a bottle rolling along the smooth sand. I picked it up, lifted it to the light, and twisted it until I noticed something inside. I uncorked the bottle. A paper came out with a tap to the bottom of the bottle.
I used the tips of my forefinger and thumb to open the scroll. A note was written on a dry, small piece of paper. I read it out loud, “Sorry to have done this to you.”
I blinked and glanced back at the man. His body shimmered with the light like a mirage in the desert.
The paper heated and melted between my fingers. I turned my attention back to my palm. Blood pooled in my hand. My mouth fell open.
One more look back at the man, he was gone.
I shook off the puzzlement of his spontaneous disappearance and reached out to clean my palm in the water. Once I touched the cool sea, a crimson river formed within the tide on it’s way out to the ocean.
Compelled by the river of red, I inched with into the depths.
When I glanced back, the sand from where I stood changed from brown to red. Something brushed against my knee. I struggled. I gasped. I battled with the forces of nature until I saw him under the surface.
His red eyes glowing in the murkiness. His hand held me under while he kissed the soul out of my body and I drowned to make a life.
The sun had set and the clouds darkened with an incoming storm. Lisa wrapped herself in her mother’s blanket. Basement windows rattled from gusts of wind. Lisa headed down the steps to her brother’s room, making sure he had closed the windows. Mother hated water damage and Lisa didn’t need another reason for her mother’s loathing.
At the base step, she flicked on the lights but they didn’t work. Lisa exhaled her frustration. She hated their location in the woods where power lines were above ground. The trees wreaked havoc on them all year. The internet constantly crashed leaving them without connection to the city for days and raking the leaves every month sucked.
Rattle Rattle Crash
Lisa hurried through the basement lounge and into the bedroom. She rolled her eyes at the flailing curtains. She couldn’t contain the mumble, “Close your window. How many times does mother have to tell you.”
She fussed with the drape, her hand on the window, she slid it. The window caught. Her hand slipped from the glass and she cut herself on something sharp. Lisa swore. She stepped closer to the windowsill. There was a small spike. Curiosity jumped forward in her mind. She glanced outside. The small spike came from somewhere else. They didn’t have metal shards in their yard.
“Maybe the wind,” she mumbled.
Taking care, she pick the spike out and placed it in her pocket. She closed the window. Moonlight seeped through the window and she used it for a flashlight. Hands free of the curtains, she considered the blood flow on her fingertip from the prick.
Her blood crawled along her hand. She narrowed her eyes on it. It took on a life of its own. Part of the stream jutted backwards. It shifted, drew a symbol on the back of her hand that she couldn’t make out.
“What tha…” she whispered and shook her head. “I’m seeing things. It’s the moonlight. It’s got to be.”
Lisa discarded the phenomena while she headed up the stairs. Her foot numbed. She fell to her knees. Her hand took the brunt of her fall. Her blood covered palm glided along the hardwoods and she smacked her chin. Pain jolted through her chin to her chest.
After a moment, she caught her breath.
Rattle Rattle Crash
Lisa pressed off the floor and glanced around. All the windows were closed but that crash puzzled her. Maybe a broken window upstairs?
She shifted her weight to her knee. Pins and needles shocked through her leg from her foot. On a moan, she settled on the floor to wait out the numbness.
A shadow drew her attention to the right side of the room. It was a ghostly figure. Dark, smoky, and wispy in the moonlight between the blinds from their sliding glass doors.
“Hello?” Lisa’s voice cracked in shock. The shadow crept towards her without a word. Something within the cloud sparkled like lightening. The windows rattled behind the shape with a gust from outside. It shifted seemingly connected to the storm. Lisa glanced to the doors for the source of the shadow master.
She didn’t believe in spooky spirits. This was a prank. It had to be her brother. Lisa said, “This isn’t funny. I came down to close the window. You know how mother feels about the rain getting into the house.”
The shape twisted and turned in front of her. Lisa scooted on the floor towards the sliding glass doors. She inched back the blinds, glanced outside, and watched the weeping willow sway in the wind. Rain fell in sheets. It wasn’t often she saw the rain fall straight to the ground with strong winds. She narrowed her eyes with the puzzle.
“Nobody outside,” she mumbled, “Maybe the willows branches in the moonlight?”
Lisa let the blinds go and searched for the shadow in the room. It seemed stationary in the corner beside her brother’s bedroom door. She attempted some weight on her foot but grunted and yielded to the shots of pain through her leg. She crawled to the corner, not allowing her brother’s easy escape. “I’ll get you!”
At the corner, she frowned. The shape disappeared but an disgusting odor remained in its place. She groaned. “Wash your socks. Ew!”
Lisa closed the door she had opened earlier, checking behind it for her brother. She continued, “If you’re trying to make me think mom is here, you’re in for a shock. I know they checked her into the hospital yesterday. She finally confessed to spooking us.”
Their mother had episodes where she hated them, her children, for being born.
Lisa tried standing again and got back onto her feet. Part of her trembled at the idea of their mother out of the hospital early. It wouldn’t be the first time. The other part of her, the rational side, knew mother couldn’t escape from the hospital and they would call Lisa if she were released.
“Howie?” Lisa called. “Come out, now!”
Something pricked her thigh from her pocket. She reached inside and carefully studied the pin. It wasn’t a random piece of metal like she thought. It was an earring, her mother’s earring. Why would mother poison her own earring? How did it get on the windowsill just now?
Rattle Rattle Crash
Lisa’s mouth dried. She glanced around the room again. More shapes and shadows glowed in the moonlight. Her breath hitched. She needed out of the basement. Her mind played tricks.
She limped to the stairs. Her attention darted everywhere while she hurried. Up three of the stairs, Howie jumped out at her with his house keys in the air between his fingers. His violent stop on the floor drowned out his yell. Startled, she couldn’t make out the words as she fell back, down the stairs, and cracked her neck.
The silence mixed with the storm. Howie fold his arms over his chest. He said, “I thought it would feel better living alone, but I just feel the same.”
The streamer smiled at a package in their mailbox. They knew it was coming and had looked forward to it. They took care while they traveled up the stairs to their apartment. Something sharp on the door cut into their arm. They cried, considered the blood flowing from the minor cut, and continued to their home. Once inside, they hurried to the kitchen for their first aid kit. They set the package next to the kit then used the scissors to open the package before attending to their cut.
The streamer smiled at an antique bell in the open box. They whispered, “This will be great for my next cast.”
Thankful, the streamer eased back the hammer and let it ring. A beautiful sound resinated around her, shook her to the core. Her cut throbbed drawing her attention. She considered the gash and something crawled in her flesh. Maybe the gold from the bell reflected off of a light in the room.
She fished out butterfly tape from her kit, patched the cut, and cleaned up the mess of blood on the table. Accidentally hitting the bell from cleaning, it rang out. Her arm throbbed with the tone. Her next breath hitched in her chest. She glanced in a mirror on the distant wall and terror overtook her expression. An eerie glow of red reflected in her pupils. She said to a figment of the sender in her mind, “You sent me a haunted bell?”
Rosa stood in her cabin while the Mary Quinta cruised along for another three days. She was on this cruise with a special assignment by Captain Setback. It advertised a haunting during Halloween week and she was the spook. This was going to be fun!
The conductor opened his Halloween album and smiled. Every year, at this time, he owed the wicked a sacrifice. How would it happen this time? Would he stop along the way or would he continue on the path without stopping at all. The adds went out a few months ago for the haunted train ride, like every year, they sold out. Nobody questioned that all the riders didn’t return to the initial stop.
She stood on the train dock with her ticket in hand. Each year she had contemplated the cost for this ride. The train was said to be haunted and the price of the ticket was a full year’s salary. There were other people on the dock with her. Most of them were dressed in costume. None of the other train tracks had running trains along this stop. There was a small, unmarked town outside of the station.
She had stayed overnight in the required hotel and had attended the dinner where she signed a waver. She knew, from research, some of the people didn’t return to the dock after the twenty four hour ride.
However, it was said the train had wonderfully elegant cars. She was particularly interested in the dining car. She read about the chef and how he had won many prizes for his cuisine. She wondered how the chef prepared eccentric meals on a train with limited space.
She wanted to become a chef. Not any type of chef. A smile diner chef where the cuisine was exclusive to high paying consumers. She wasn’t into mass market production.
Her ticket marked her special request to meet the chef. She wouldn’t know if she had won the lotto until dinner this evening.
“It’s late. You would think the price of these tickets, it would be on time.” Said a man dressed in an Indiana Jones costume. This wasn’t really a costume party but the trains spooky spirit lured them into costume.
“I see smoke in the distance.” Said another man dressed in old western garb with a fake gun at his side.
She shifted to the edge of the dock and noticed a black train powering towards them on the track. When she blinked, the train jumped forward and she stumbled back from the dock’s edge. It slowed, stopped, and a man in a uniform stepped off the stairway into a lounge car.
Everyone on the dock lined up with their ticket in hand. Some of them mumbled that it was time for the train to show. She tapped down the excitement boiling in her stomach. It took her three years to get here.
She handed her ticket to the conductor and he smiled. “Ms. Bliss?”
“Bloodstone,” she corrected him.
“Welcome.” He punched her ticket with a device and gestured for her to enter the train. “Enjoy your ride.”
“Thank you.” She stepped up the black stairs with her backpack on her shoulders. The air changed from crisp to comfortably warm when she entered the car. The walls were golden, the floor had red carpet. Windows lined the walls and crystal garland draped from one window to the other. The stripped wallpaper glowed with a silk-like shine. She whispered, “Beautiful.”
“I know, right?” A woman said from her left side. She held a drink in one hand and wore a glove on the other. She seemed dressed for a 1950’s throwback party with a lavender pillbox hat. She glanced to her left and smiled at the man dressed as a cowboy. “Jim? Is that you?”
He pivoted from his group and gave the woman a hug. “Ginger? I’m glad you made it.”
“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.”
The man directed his attention at Ms. Bloodstone. “You must be the one who snuck in and bought the last ticket.”
“I arranged for a Halloween party on this train and bought it out.”
Her eyebrows raised with the information. “Oh, that’s interesting.”
“I’m Jimmy Jargason.” He held out a open palm. When they shook, he then added, “This is Shirley Brownstenish. We work together.”
“Millie Bloodstone,” she said as she shook hands.
“That’s a nice witch costume you’re wearing.” The man dressed like Indiana Jones joined their group. “I’m Jack.”
Millie nodded. “Witch costume?”
“When does this party get started?” Jack asked.
Jimmy said, “It started last night.”
“I got in late,” Jack winked at Jimmy.
A whistle blew in the distance. Something rattled the car and Millie swayed when the train shifted into motion. After a few moments of people milling around and mumbling to themselves. The Conductor stood next to Millie. He said, “This will be fun.”
Just then, a few of the guests doubled over, groaning in pain. Their shoulders contorted and claws grew into tars on the end of long legs. Blood splattered everywhere. Guests screamed in fear except Millie.
She turned to the Conductor and said, “Does this mean I get to meet the chef?”
“Did you eat the horderves from dinner last night?”
“No, from the looks of it, that was a wise choice.” She glanced around the room again at more guests contorting physically. “Did they not do the research?”
“Most don’t.” The Conductor confirmed and folded his arms while he watched the mischief.