Write Club, the creative writing society, recently had their annual Halloween competition.
We had a great deal of entries and wanted to share with a wider audience the calibre of work we received.
If you fancy grabbing a cup of tea or coffee and settling down for a read, over the next couple of days, we will be sharing our winning entries.
– Cin McGuigan, Chair of Write Club
First Place – Caroline Geary
I’ve been dreading Halloween. I’m a nervous wreck whenever anyone knocks on the door and I know tonight it will be almost constant.
I live alone but on a busy road, full of young families.
Even though I am scared of the dark I have turned off all the lights and I don’t have the television on. I hope people will think no one is home and then they won’t knock on the door. Please don’t knock on the door.
I wring my hands and pace up and down. I look at my watch. 5pm. This is crazy. My mouth is dry and I feel jittery. I need to calm down, this is silly, I tell myself. All the doors are locked. All the windows are closed.
My mobile phone rings suddenly, making me jump. I look at it. A slight wave of relief. I exhale. it’s not him. It’s Sarah.
“Just checking up on you” she says, her voice bright and reassuring. I tell her I’m okay. I don’t tell her that I’m sitting here terrified like I do every night. Scared to fall asleep, looking over my shoulder whenever I do leave the house.
I tell her I’m worried about trick or treaters and that I’m sitting here in the dark, afraid. She sounds worried. “I’ll come over,” she says. I tell her there’s no need but she insists and I’m pathetically grateful. She tells me to turn on the lights and the kettle and just to ignore trick or treaters. she’ll text me when she’s outside.
I don’t turn on the light. But I do fill the kettle. I look out the window. It’s dark and shadowy, there is no one about. The family opposite have carved three ghoulish pumpkins and they are now illuminated by candles and grin at me through jagged teeth.
As I make myself a cup of tea, I think of “him”. He has been gone for a month. My physical bruises have faded but my mental ones are fresh and ripe. He isn’t really gone though. He is everywhere. Or at least I think he is. In the last four weeks I have had knocks at the door with no one there, phone calls in the dead of night with no one on the other end. I think I catch glimpses of him outside the house and then there is the barrage of gifts. The endless boxes of chocolates he sends me. I look at them now, all stacked up on the table. What will Sarah make of them? I should throw them away, but I’ve kept them in case I need evidence against him – to show the police his obsession with me.
I open one box and run a finger over one of the chocolates. They look divine. They must have cost a fortune. Delectable fondant balls sprinkled in sweet smelling powders with melted chocolate drizzled over them with exquisite artistry.
A spark of anger ignites in me and burns away at the edge of my fear. How dare he reduce me to this I ask myself. I discard the chocolates, push my shoulders back and walk to the front window.
Outside in the street I see a family with two small children in Halloween costumes. I recognise them but don’t know their names. The little girl has long blond ringlets and is dressed as a witch. She has a toy stuffed black cat under one arm and keeps screwing up her face and cackling, her hands raised up to her chin like claws. I can’t help but smile. Her younger brother is dressed as Frankenstein’s monster and is covered in green face paint. I step back behind the curtain as they walk down my drive.
Something stops me from hiding, although I’m not sure what. The embers of my earlier indignation maybe and I snap the lights on and swing the front door open before they can even knock.
“Trick or Treat!” They chorus and I open my mouth in mock horror.
“Ooo aren’t you scary! look at your costumes” I say. They growl at me in delight, the little Frankenstein jumps up and down his teeth unnaturally white against the green face paint.
“One moment” I say as I grab one of the boxes of chocolates and pass them to the little witch.
“Ooooo thank you!’ she says as she puts them in her little orange basket.
The mother looks surprised “Wow they look posh, thank you!” she exclaims. The children smile with delight as they skip off towards the next house. As they leave I take a moment to look around before closing the door. The air is cold and crisp and I can see the smoky haze of my breath in front of me. I look down the street. I think I see a shadowy figure partially obscured by a tree. My pulse quickens. I squint and look harder but decide no one is there and close the door quickly.
Feeling braver once back inside I look out the front window. There are lots of trick or treaters out now and I realise that in fact I feel safer knowing other people are around.
When I see a little ghost knock on the door I answer and give away another box of the chocolates ‘he’ gave me.
I find the giving away of the chocolates somewhat cathartic and I decide to give a box away to every child that knocks my door tonight. Each child thanks me and skips off with them and each time I feel a part of my resolve strengthen in my core.
Soon there is only one box left, but I shouldn’t have worried. It’s nearly 7 o clock now and there hasn’t been a knock at the door for ages. I look idly out the front window and gasp.
A figure stands there. A figure in black with a mask like a rotten horse’s head. The figure waves at me. And then is gone into the night. Could it be? No surely not, my imagination is running away with me I’m sure. It’s just a kid in a costume. Where is Sarah? I wonder, my confidence ebbing somewhat.
I pour a glass of wine and sit in the kitchen, at the back of the house to drink it.
After I’ve drained the glass I feel better. I pour another and finger the box of chocolates in front of me. The very last box of the ten that have been sent to me by ‘him’ over the last week.
I smile, thinking that the evidence has been eaten and I let out a small snort of amusement. The wine has given me bravado.
I pick up a chocolate…. It’s large and round, white chocolate with a dark chocolate heart on it. I pop it into my mouth in one go. It’s delicious, it’s rich and creamy and the chocolate centre melts in my mouth. I take another one and eat it whole too feeling the buzz of the sugar and cocoa.
They’re addictive and I’m compelled to eat the whole box. Some crackled with honeycomb, some teased my palate with light zesty citrus flavours and soon there was nothing left but an empty box.
Suddenly I’m aware my heart is beating unusually fast and I feel sweaty and disoriented. I shake my head. Something is happening to me.
My vision is blurry. I stumble to the sink to splash my face with cold water but I don’t make it there. I gasp for breath and without warning, pain sears across my abdomen and I vomit on the floor.
I can’t breathe and I can’t think clearly. I feel weak and shaky and there is a ringing in my ears.
What has happened to me? Where is Sarah?
I struggle to remain conscious and crawl painfully slowly across the floor to try and get to the table where the phone is. I need help and I need it now. I don’t understand what’s going on but I know I’m in trouble.
I vomit again and whimper in pain as I roll onto my back and I wheeze and gasp as I try to fill my burning lungs.
Lying on the floor at this angle I can see out of the kitchen window.
There is a face looking in at me. A rotten horse’s face. The horse raises a hand and waves. I fight for breath and I try to talk. But it’s useless. In the back of my mind I wonder where Sarah is. And then the horse takes its head off. And it’s ‘him’ and he is there smiling at me.
I plead with my eyes, I want him to help me. But I blink and he’s gone. And so am I. Gone.
More of Caroline’s work can he found here.