Friday, October 5, 2012

Beggars Night

Written for #FridayFrights on Dark Media City.
 
 
Beggars Night
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
 
“Trick or Treat!”
 
Hugh stared into six pairs of eyes, each peering out from behind a mask. His stomach gurgled, loudly, reminding him he hadn’t eaten yet this evening. A ballerina in a pink tutu held an orange and black bag out, a smile on her face.  She waited expectantly with all the other children. Hugh stood there a moment, debating whether it would be wise or not to eat one of the vagabonds or if he should instead dine elsewhere.
 
“Well,” a tall boy wearing a vampire outfit, shoved his bucket forward, shaking it at the irritated vampire.
 
Shutting the door, Hugh walked away, the sound of eggs breaking against his house, following him.  Then silence. He wondered if they had moved on, or were performing some other inane ritual. Last Beggars Night they had covered his home in toilet paper. 
 
“You know, you could just play along, give them some candy.”
 
“So I can be responsible for their teeth rotting out?” Hugh glared at his teenage neighbor.  He hated how she always floated into his house uninvited. It was his opinion that Ghosts had no sense of boundaries and personal space.
 
“It’s not their teeth you’re worried about, you just don’t want them to grow up with sugar in their blood.”
 
“It does make the flavor too sweet,” Hugh said. Next door he could hear their childish little voices saying Trick or Treat, followed by the ground shaking and then screams.
 
“Come back, I’ve got candy treats. Here… some jellied eyeballs!” Frank Stein’s voice could be heard calling after the children, who by now were running down the road, frightened off by the lumbering monster.
 
“See,” Anastasia said, “Frank gets into the spirit of the holiday.”
 
“Go home,” Hugh said, shrugging on a coat and heading towards the door.
 
“I don’t know why you’re so grumpy. Halloween only comes once a year and it’s a great time for the paranormal world and the living world to come together. Learn a little about each other.”
 
“What do I need to learn? I used to be alive, I know what the living are capable of. For that matter, so were you. Didn’t your boyfriend murder you?”
 
“Yeah, but it was just a misunderstanding. I straightened it out.”
 
“How?”
 
“I haunted him. He’s in an insane asylum now and I go see him every day. I love how he screams my name.” Anastasia floated to the top of the room, giggling.
 
“Sounds like you have a perfect relationship,” Hugh said, opening the front door, “now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find dinner.”  Closing the door behind him, Hugh turned, nearly falling over a small witch and a trio of ghosts.
 
Not about to let him get away, Anastasia floated through the closed barrier. “At least I have a relationship. You bite every girl you meet… no girl is going to go out with you, if she has to worry about you sucking her blood. Oh, hello,” Anastasia said, noticing the trick or treaters.
 
Screaming, the three ghosts and witch ran down the street, leaving a trail of candy behind.
 
“Now that’s odd,” Anastasia said, “they left their treats behind.”
 
Sighing, Hugh continued on his way, stepping past George, who was walking down the street, his arms held straight out in front of him and moaning loudly. The vampire stared at him, shaking his head. “Not you too, George.”
 
“Not me, what?” The zombie asked, stopping and dropping his arms to the side.
 
“Tell me you are not celebrating Beggars Night.”
 
“Of course I’m celebrating. Missy’s out with her friends and I promised to give them a real good fright when they get over this way.”
 
“Hugh doesn’t like Halloween,” Anastasia said.
 
“Not like Halloween?” George looked appalled, nearly dropping his jaw on the ground. Catching it, he pushed his chin back into place. “How can you not like Halloween? Every respectable monster celebrates this holiday.”
 
“I don’t,” Hugh said, continuing on his way. Passing the cemetery where a group of ghouls were playing a game of hide and seek, he shook his head, grumbling that they had all gone insane.
 
Deep in thought about the dreaded night and the vagabond beggars, Hugh walked through the Asian neighborhood, unaware of his surroundings. Passing  one of his favorite dishes without even a glance, the young woman stared after him, wondering why the brooding man looked so familiar. Rubbing her neck, she shrugged her shoulders and continued on her way.
A group of costumed children ran past Hugh, jostling each other, they ran up some steps and rang the doorbell. Cringing at the sound of their putrid sing song voices, he turned to cross the street and bumped into a smaller version of the other children.
 
The boy was small and slower than his friends, who couldn’t be bothered to wait for the younger child. It was obvious his costume was home-made, not store bought like the others and from the wear and tear on the outfit, probably a hand me down. The Frankenstein mask was twisted sideways, revealing one eye staring out and the other eerily empty.
 
“Wait for me,” he called out, stepping around Hugh with a nervous glance.
 
“Hurry up, baby, you’re holding us up. All the best candy will be gone.”
 
“Why’d we have to bring him?”
 
“My mother made me.”
 
“Can’t we just ditch him?”
 
Then the kids ran up the street while the boy tried to catch up.  Hugh stared after him, memories of another small child that didn’t quite fit in, rushing out of his hidden memories, the rug he’d swept them under shifting, revealing dark basement stairs.
 
“Hugh, you’re such a baby,” his sister taunted him from the gloomy depths.
 
“Hey Hugh, your costume is the most pathetic thing I have ever seen,” Billy Thompson mocked, his sneering face rising out of the crypt.
 
“Hugh, are you alright?” Anastasia floated up behind him, worry in her eyes.
 
“I’m fine. Do you want to help me with something?”
 
“Sure,” the teen ghost said, smiling mischievously. “What do you have in mind?”
***
Anastasia giggled, watching the trick or treaters come down the street. A smaller boy raced behind them, trying to catch up, but they refused to slow down.
 
“Bullies,” Anastasia grumbled, her eyes darkening. When the kids neared her hiding place, she floated out of the shadows, hovering in front of them.
 
“Hello boys’.”
 
“G-g-g-ghost!” The tallest of the group turned to run and found, to his horror, a vampire standing behind him.
 
“I vant to suck your blood,” Hugh said, giving his best Hollywood Vampire impression.
 
“Vampire!” Dropping his bag of candy, the kid nearly slipped in a puddle of his own pee, in his haste to get away.  His friends followed him down the street, chocolate treats falling out of their own buckets.
 
“You’re right,” Hugh said, laughing at the retreating figures, “Halloween is fun. Now let’s go get a bite.”
 
“You can eat,” Anastasia giggled, “everything I swallow goes straight through me.”
 
Laughing, the two headed down the street. Behind them a small boy in a Frankenstein masked scratched his head, wondering what he had just witnessed. Then he collected the candy laying on the ground and ran back home to count his loot.

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