this is my first draft rough holiday story i just concocted. i am sure there’s plenty to fix but, you can get a feel for my thought process here AND a holiday tale just in time for Halloween. Enjoy! And if you dig it, pop over to the Haunted Bookstore and check out one of my books!
Trunk or Treat
Rose and Charles smiled as the O’Henry’s walked by with their daughter Claire, all dressed up like a princess. They nodded as the Damers ran by howling, the five of them draped in different colored sheets. They even gave a little wave at the Kenter family who had the adopted boy from THAT country.
They were perfectly pleasant in fact because that’s what Jesus would be.
Just below the surface though they hated this charade and this night of evil.
Hated it with all that there was in them.
They had been taught that Halloween was a night of evil and sin, a night where the devil and his kind took to the streets and sang their merry song to make the children of the damned dance.
There was nothing holy about Halloween and some days it seemed as if Charles and Rose were the only ones that knew that.
Satanic music filled the airwaves.
Deviltry filled the televisions.
The movie house became a whore house this time of year.
Everywhere they looked it was as if their land of the free had come to courting the dark lord of sin.
Then there was this abomination.
This Trunk or Treat, which was just a suburban way to say Welcome Prince of Lies.
It was Pastor Ingersoll that suggested the Trunk or Treat.
It was HIM that said how FUN it would be to have all of the children of the congregation get made up as their favorite heroes and heroines from the Bible to then parade around the parking lot like beggars, begging for treats.
It was Jacob Nosfer that offered that perhaps it’d be a good outreach opportunity to open it up to the public. A good chance for the church to wrap its arms around the community and to welcome them and show them that faith was nothing to fear.
The congregation started talking wildly amongst themselves then, excited by the prospect of showing how welcoming and loving the church was. How open to the community.
Before the end of the night people were signing up for what they would bring for the Trunk or Treat and how we should give tours of the church and have a fire and sing songs and maybe even a few Halloween songs to draw people near.
Oh, yes, and apples, we should have a pinata for the kiddies.
It was Rose that spoke up and said she and Charles would be bring carmel apples.
Everyone clapped and laughed and it was a gay old time as the service ended and the congregation talked excitedly about what they would be dressing up as for the big night.
Charles and Rose walked the three blocks home that cool Wednesday, the world already cloaked in the dark with the wildlings of the neighborhood whooping and hollering and giving thanks to their dark gods as the music they walked home to. They smiled at their neighbors. They nodded at the children. They put on the happiest of faces because that’s what Christ would do. Even as he raged against the money lenders and false prophets Jesus smiled.
Always smile, even into the grave, smile.
Because the bastards are watching.
And they were.
They always were.
When they were finally home and the door was shut and locked the let their masks fall.
“What, what sort of NONSENSE is this Rose? What sort of Satanic mishamash is this? Christ in Heaven, I just can’t imagine it. I can’t.” Charles threw his house keys across the living room and they dug themselves into the far cream wall and stuck.
“Charles, your blood pressure! You’re right though, this, well this is a travesty. A, well a darn affront to Jesus!”
“And you volunteered us to make TREATS? Rose, I just, I don’t know who this woman before me is but she is not the woman I gave my purity to on our wedding night. YOU ARE SOMEONE ELSE!” Charles’ face was red and sweat beaded along his forehead just below his thick brown hair.
“CHARLES! Stop that, you stop that talk right now. You know darn well that I’m me and you’d know that my feet are as webbed as a ducks and like how I know you get gassy if you drink too much water. I did volunteer to bring the dearies carmel apples but I have a plan.”
“And what, Rosie O Rose is that plan?” Charles asked, leaning against his worn easy chair as he caught his breath. Charles was sixty pounds overweight and while he had the face he wore at twenty, his body was well past the forty-five years that the speedometer read.
“I hate it when you call me that, Charlie-Bar. I thought that this Trunk thing the congregation wants to do might be a perfect time to remind people of God’s Holy Wrath. I felt like it was a perfect time to show people what can happen if you embrace the King of Snakes and turn away from the Prince of Peace.”
“Not sure I am following Rose, what are you getting at?”
“I am saying that the Lord, our Savior, has put us in a position to serve as His hand. As His vengeful right hand. Yes, we will participate in their stupid celebration of evil but we will do it as emissaries of Christ. We shall do it as wrath.”
“So you want to…kill these people, Rose?” Charles pushed himself off of the chair and looked at his wife in her Christmas sweater and he felt a smile touching the sides of his face. She had never looked more beautiful. It had taken hairspray, makeup, and the light of the Lord, but she had been more stunning in her life.
“Goodness, no. That’s the work of God and the angels, not for us, Charles. No, we will not kill anyone. But we will hurt them. We will make them suffer. We will remind them what the Left Hand Path leads to and who it leads to.”
“Yes, my love, YES!” Charles rushed to his wife and embraced her.
“I have a special recipe I want to try out, Charles. Something I learned from my granny, something with a filthy name for filthy people. She called it Shitters Delight.” Rose smiled at her husband and he noticed that her yellow teeth were now pink from her lipstick.
“Praise Jesus!” Charles shouted.
“Praise God!” Rose responded.
The evening was spent with the two of them bowed together in planning and prayer, the sounds of their evening game shows creating their soundtrack. Halloween was two days away and they had a lot of work to do. Charles took the next two days off of work and Rose put off her prayers and housework so they could both work on things. Charles was the only one of them that drove so he went to get apples from the orchards – three hundred apples from four different places – and she worked on the special topping. She had caramel from the candied Moses treats she’d made the previous Christmas but she needed something else. She pulled two boxes of laxative powder from under the sink and smiled. She had gotten the powder on the sly during a shopping trip with a woman from church and had hidden it so Charles wouldn’t find it. Charles had been a gift from Jesus and she loved him because of that but there were times, well, there were times when Charles just liked to think he was second in line to the Good Lord Himself and on those days she liked to remind him what throne he really belonged on and she’d slip a pinch of the powder into his food or his milk and knock down a few pegs. One time she’d put in three heaping spoonfuls and, well, neither one of them came away clean that day. Figuratively and literally. For their little trick on the treaters she thought that she’d use up the powder and just replace it and if some of those little monsters had accidents then, well, shit happens, as dear old dad would say. It’d teach them a good lesson. She just hoped that the Pastor’s assistant had done her job and had stocked the bathrooms with toilet paper.
They’d need a lot of it.
Praise JESUS it was going to be a good night for spreading the Word on the 31st.
Charles sat in the parking lot behind the liquor store with a vague grin on his face and his eyes half closed as the Buick grumbled around him. On his way around gathering apples Charles had stopped off at the downtown liquor store to get himself some chocolate. He hated having to do it this way, treating himself like a pervert and his love of chocolate as a sin, but if Nosy Rosie got wind that he’d been ‘nibbling’ again he’d never hear the last of it. Hell, she’d probably try to give him that shittin’ powder again. Which is why he threw the junk away and put the critter poison in its place, so he could pretend to die on her and shame her for how she treated him. THAT’d make her do what he wanted. Maybe even in the bedroom. Maybe. He’d have to remember he’d put it down there though and keep an eye on her. Rose was a nice enough woman, even if she only got easier on the eyes the more layers of makeup she wore, but she was as easy to read as a see-through wall. He knew when she was going to give him the stuff because she always had to make sure he ate every bite and drank every drop of his milk. He hated getting the squirts but if it meant he could hole up in the bathroom and look at sports scores and swimsuit photos on his phone he was all in. Everything had its price. Just like this chocolate. It was amazing now but in an hour or two his sugar was going to be out the roof and he’d be promising himself he’d be swearing to himself that he’d go on that diet next week. Sure, next week. That was it.
For now though, sweet chocolate, and then home to Rosie and her plan.
Halloween was gonna be fun for a change.
The night was eventful for Rose and Charles as they began the long process of dipping the apples and setting them out to dry overnight. They were working at it until well after ten at night, long past their bedtime, but when they had finished they were happy. They were doing the Lord’s work. Jesus was smiling down on them. They ate TV dinners and Rose let him touch her in her baby place and they went to bed happy.
Friday was a day they stayed inside.
A night of mischief and evil and one which only spoke to the damned.
Let the devils have their night.
The angels would soon have theirs.
Friday they spent in prayer, and in preparation, loading the apples into tubs to transport to the church. If Charles had had his way they’d have just dumped all of the apples in a bag and carried them off that way but Rose was particular. She took pride in her work for the Lord and wanted the apples to be as beautiful when they arrived as they were now. Rose made sure that each layer of apples was safe and sound and divided from the others and ready for transport. By the time they were through she was happy and had only had to smack Charles’ hand twice when he tried to sneak an apple. Now, now, now, those are for the kiddies, she said, and smiled.
Yeah, sure, sure, he replied, even though he was a little bound up and could use her magic powder.
So be it.
While the rest of the world prepared for their wickedness Charles and Rose prepared for glory. This day would be great, O Christ, by whatever means it took them to raise his banner above the fire and the beasts. They sat and drank tea and had silent meditation as they played records that reverberated with faith and joy. As the daylight started to fade though and the sounds of children got louder the two of them smiled to one another, pulled on their coats, and headed over to the church, the apples already loaded into the trunk of the Buick.
Trunk or Treating wasn’t set to start until six in the evening, a devilish time if there was one, and it was only four-thirty but the church parking lot was already awash in sin and evil. Trucks, cars, and campers filled the large parking lot. People were grilling food, laughing, playing Halloween music, and having a gay old time right on the Lord’s lawn. Charles was shocked at how many of his fellow parishioners had dressed for the night, not in Biblical attire, as some children had, but as famous people, as politicians, and as run of the mill demons. Rose gasped when the couple pulled into the parking lot and into a spot. By the time she was able to calm herself she was still shaking and felt sick looking at people she had once thought of as friends in Christ. As soon as they got out of the car the heads of the sinners came together in whisper before they each raised their hands in greeting. Rose pulled a smile on her face like the most awful mask ever seen, a smile that was all teeth and no joy. Charles wore his own smile, one that made his eyes sparkle and pulled sweat from his brow.
“Well Happ Hallo…” Began a tall man in a demon mask.
“Yes, Praise Jesus indeed Roger Fenster. Yes, indeed.” Rose finished as she went to the back of the car to start pulling out the table they had brought and the apples.
“Boy, quite a load you have there Charlie, you folks sure went to a lot of work for a holiday you don’t like. You sure you aren’t…” Began a woman dressed as a nun.
“It’s all about the kiddies, Barb, them and Jesus, that’s all we care about.” Charlie smiled as he pulled first one set then the other set of legs out of the table and set it up in back of the Buick. As soon as he was done Rose had a large white table cover on it and then Charles was unloading the totes full of apples. One by one they pulled the layers out and put them onto the table. As they did it their fellow parishioners gathered in a loose circle to watch their precision. Rose smiled, proud of the work they were doing but more importantly the work she had done.
Plenty for the kiddies.
And plenty for their friends.
Their good, good friends.
“Praise Jesus, everyone!” Rose shouted.
No one responded.
“Praise Jesus!” She said again, getting a few praises in return.
The pastor had appeared now and began to speak.
“My heaven aren’t we all a sign of the power and the glory, amen! Yes, yes. So much power here, in all of you, and in the Lord, amen. Let’s have ourselves some…”
“Thank you pastor. Now then any of you that would like to try one of our carmel apples please line up and let’s get you something for your tummies before the hooligans, rather the little darlings start arriving.” Rose said, her smile tearing the corners of her mouth so that blood mixed with the pink lipstick she wore.
The pastor raised his arms and tried to speak but people were already pushing past him to get their treats. Charles and Rose took up spots behind the table and handed out the apples, special batches they had made just for the congregation, batches made with her special powder and hot sauce and chili powder. If they wanted to give glory to Hell then they would learn to love the heat.
They smiled as people took the apples and wandered off, barely thanking them. Once the last person had taken their apple and returned to their vehicles it was just the pastor that was left.
“One last apple pastor, won’t you take it?” Charles asked, holding it out to the young man.
“I believe I’ll abstain, but thank you.” The pastor gave a weak smile as he looked over his shoulder at the loud exclamations from the parishioners who were just biting into the apples.
“But pastor, you wouldn’t want to hurt our feelings would you? That wouldn’t be very Christian of you.” Rose batted her eyes and smiled even wider, causing more blood to trickle out.
“I am diabetic, you see, so I just can’t. Thank you though. Truly…” The pastor turned away again and saw now that his congregation members were fanning their tongues and rushing to get water.
“But pastor, what would Jesus do?” Charles asked.
The pastor turned around, annoyed, and grabbed the apple from Charles.
“Here, fine, fine. Christ Almighty!” He exclaimed and took a big bite. He chewed and swallowed and turned back to the flock.
“Wonderful, pastor, wonderful. You truly are doing the Lord’s work.”
The pastor grimaced.
“This really is awful.” He declared before throwing it to the ground and rushing off to check on the rest of the congregation.
“Hallelujah!” Charles said.
“Praise God!” Rose responded.
Dozens of apples, partially eaten, littered the parking lot as the first of the trunk or treaters appeared and before anyone could come up to Rose and Charles and ask them what they put into the carmel apples there were lines all through the lot. Once he saw that the neighborhood children were coming Charles started putting the rest of the apples onto the table and immediately people came to them to grab an apple. People were used to religious tracts or dental floss from the church but not genuine food. Tray after tray of apples disappeared and family after family commended Rose and Charles on how friendly they were, how good the apples were, and how much they embodied the spirit of the holiday. Through it all the two of them smiled and smiled and smiled. It reached a point where Rose wasn’t sure she could ever stop smiling. Her mouth and jaw were in agony. The world became one of screaming children, laughing adults, and face, faces faces.
This was Hell.
They were both certain of that.
Unseen by Rose and Charles was that the apples were working in a way they hadn’t anticipated. Several families, so moved by the generosity and kindness of the couple, especially compared to the dollar store sweets and treats handed out by the other parishioners, went into the church to learn more about what they offered. The pastor, starting to feel a little sick to his stomach, was shocked and thrilled to tell people all about the offerings and the gentle love of Christ.
The pastor wasn’t the only one feeling ill though.
As the night went on members of the congregation began coughing, began vomiting, and some began fainting. People didn’t pay notice at first but as the vomiting got more violent and became bloody an alarm was raised and screaming of a different kind filled the night.
“Jesus Christ! The pastor, the pastor is foaming blood out of his mouth!” A man dressed as a monster screamed at Rose and Charles.
Rose looked at Charles and he looked at her, bewildered.
“Oh my god, my boy, my boy, he’s vomiting blood. Oh God, he’s vomiting blood!”
Charles opened his mouth and then closed it.
Rose did the same.
“Honey what, uh, what did you use for the carmel apples? You used your special powder, right? The kind that makes you poo? Yes?”
“Of course, Charles. What else would I use?”
“Well, it’s just, there’s a lot of people sick here, and…”
“You don’t think we made them sick, do you? We’d never do that. That’s not Christ-like. Honey, I just used my special powder from under the sink and…hey, how do you know about my special powder, Charles?” Rose put her hands on her hips as twin girls writhed on the asphalt before the couple.
“Wh…where did you get it from, Rose? Where?”
“I asked you a question, Charles. How did you know about my special powder?” Rose’s brow furrowed.
“You dumb bitch don’t you even read goddamned labels? Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ!” Charles was frantic as he looked away from his wife to the writing people. At fifty people were on the ground screaming and writhing and that was just in the parking lot, further out in the street and neighboring yards were more families. Many of them weren’t writhing at all.
“SACRILEGE! Oh, sweet Jesus, how could you shame us that way, by saying such things? How, Charles, how?”
“ROSE! These people are DYING. We, we have to get out of here. We have to go. We have…”
“Excuse me, might I have your last apple, please? I do have a fondness for apples.”
The couple turned and Charles saw a beautiful young woman standing before him and Rose a distinguished older man dressed in tophat and tails.
“Uh, well, uh, you really shouldn’t…” Charles stammered, having trouble getting his eyes off of the woman’s abundant chest.
“Well, I am so hungry though and an apple would really hit the spot. Is there a reason I shouldn’t eat it?” The man asked Rose, smiling at her and giving her a wink.
“Well sir, it’s just…” She started.
“Come now, what could ever be wrong with an apple.” The woman said to Charles and took a big bite out of it, making sure to pull the apple away so that the carmel clung to it and to her lips as she licked it off.
Charles’ heart was racing and he felt faint.
“Who, who are you?” He asked in a whisper as his hand went to his chest.
“Oh, me? Gosh, I’m surprised you don’t know me. You have been following my career so closely these days. I know I have been following the both of you very, very closely. Ever since you got that girl drunk in the eleventh grade Charles and ever since you slipped some special tea to your auntie when you were nine Rose. Oh yes, I have. You’re two of my favorites.” The woman and man smiled at Rose and Charles.
“Oh, well, you know me, I work in mysterious ways too. I don’t usually visit on Halloween, it’s just, well, so cliche, and we get a lot of requests this time of year, I mean, it’s really our version of Christmas, isn’t it? HA! Honestly though, most of those requests are prank calls and we ignore most of them or send some of the on-duty people to take care of it. Me, I prefer to pick and choose where I appear. I knew I couldn’t miss this though and I was right. Boy howdy did you two make a mess!”
The woman opened her arms and gestured to all of the bodies and the dapper man winked again while he turned towards the dead.
“This is going to be a heck of a job for someone to clean up. Why, I think it’s safe to say that you two are going to be legends, even in Hell!” The woman’s smile widened and she shimmered and became something else. Charles coughed and fell to his knees. Rose screamed as the dapper man unfurled long black wings.
“I know, I know. It’s showy. It’s a bit much. I hate it, to be honest. Did you know I was once called the most beautiful angel of them all? Really, it’s true. I still am but, well, we all have jobs and appearances must be kept up. Heck, did you know JC and I still golf? It’s true. Above and Below are essentially just two floors of the same building. It’s you folks that make it weird, and I really do mean you folks here. Saying you’re serving one while worshipping the other. You cheeky monkeys. Well then, shall we?”
Charles had collapsed.
“Now, now, now. This is no way to be. It’s a happy day, you’re coming home. Parades of the dead. Cakes made of puppies. A dead baby pinata. Oh, it’s going to be fun, I promise. But we do have to go. It is Halloween after all and I still do have a few parties to make.” The devil gently took Rose’s hand and she screamed again and he smiled at her with a mouth of sharp teeth.
“And don’t worry, Charles is already there, probably eating all the chocolate he can see. That guy.”
Rose screamed again but it was cut off as she and the devil disappeared and all that was left behind were the bodies and the dying embers of the night.