Halloween Panic (flash fiction)

Here’s a piece of horror flash fiction about grief and the scariest night of the year. It’s about 820 words and has an estimated reading time of 3 and a half minutes. Let me know what you think!

Halloween was always a difficult holiday for me. When I was seven years old, my beloved sister, Katie, died in a hit-and-run accident on Halloween.

I’m twenty-seven now, but some wounds never seem to completely heal. Grief is a funny thing like that – you carry it with you throughout your life, and it gets lighter, but the pangs and despair still hit you in the stomach at any given moment. Especially on anniversaries and holidays.

The sky was tinged with orange around dusk on Halloween night and dried leaves swept through the streets of my neighborhood. Usually, I turn the lights off and go to bed every year. But my therapist and I decided it would be good for me to work through it this year and participate in the holiday.

I stocked up on cheap candy at the ShopRite – a variety pack of Milky Ways, Reese’s Pieces, peanut butter cups, and more. I knew it then, but Katie’s favorite candy bar – Snickers – was part of the variety pack. My knees weakened when I realized this at the store, but I bought it anyway.

“Hey there, Sadie,” my neighbor, Spike, said. He greeted me as I sat on the stoop with my bowl of candy and waited for the trick-or-treaters. “Don’t usually see you out on Halloween. What changed?”

“Oh, just wanted to have some fun,” I said. Spike didn’t know about my sister and the tragic link I had with the holiday. We weren’t that close.

“Well, good to see you. We have a busy neighborhood every year.”

Spike and I chatted as the kids and parents collected candy, talking about the usual things: work, the weather, even a little politics. It was nice, and it helped me forget the pain I was feeling. I was even beginning to enjoy myself.

The kids’ costumes were funny, and they brought back good memories. A boy with a Frankenstein mask, a few girls dressed as Kamala Harris, and a teenage boy who dared to wear a Trump mask.

Everything was going fine until around 8:30. It was dark by then, and most of the trick-or-treaters had left. The street became a bit lonely; Spike had gone back inside, as had most of my neighbors.

My candy bowl was almost empty, and I lit a cigarette. I guess I got lost in thought, thinking about that fateful Halloween night so many years ago.

That’s when, from the corner of my eye, I saw her: a young, blond-haired girl walking by herself, dressed as Cinderella. I did a double-take and didn’t believe it at first, and then I was hit by a wave of panic.

Katie, my sister, wore the same Cinderella costume the night she died. And of course, Katie was also a blond.

The child appeared lost, and she wandered toward my stoop. The closer she got, the more it freaked me out: she was like a doppelgänger for Katie. The same honey-blond hair, pouty lips, and even the same sparkling light blue slippers.

She appeared before me and held out her bag, a white pillowcase.

“Trick or treat!” she yelled.

I stared at her, stunned into silence. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t – I was paralyzed with fear and shock.

“Are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” she said.

I put out my cigarette and rubbed my eyes. What I was seeing was real.

“I’m … fine,” I stammered. “You just, you look like someone I used to know.”

“Who’s that?”

I wanted her to leave, to run away and never come back. A part of me almost wanted to hurt her, like she was some creature and not a real child.

“It, it doesn’t matter.” I took a few deep breaths. “I don’t have much left. Here, take your pick.” I held out the bowl, which only had a few pieces of candy left. She peered inside and pulled out a Snickers.

“Yum!” she exclaimed. “Snickers are my favorite!”

Snickers – the same favorite candy as my dead sister.

I could hold out no longer. I jumped up from the stoop; I was shaking.

“Get away from me,” I whispered to her.

“Why? What did I do?” the child asked.

“Get away! Leave!”

The doppelgänger smiled mischievously, and it sent a chill down my spine. Then she turned and skipped down the block. A light mist had developed by this time, and she disappeared into it as she went away.

I staggered into my living room and collapsed onto my couch; I began sobbing violently. What just happened? I asked myself. How could it be possible?

It’s been three weeks since that Halloween night, and I’ve barely left the house since then. My therapist said the incident likely had a PTSD reaction in me, and I needed to give myself time to recover.

One thing’s for sure: I will never, ever, participate in Halloween again.

The End

(Photo by Taylor Foss on Unsplash)

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