Friday, September 19, 2014

NOSFERATU (Revised Version)

Genre: Horror

By Daniel Skye

            October 31st, 2009.
            Dorchester, Long Island.
            Ten year old Jason Briggs had drawn a map of the entire neighborhood.

            Jason was a bright eyed boy with light blond hair. His belly was always bloated from too much soda, but he was an otherwise happy and healthy child. Very sharp for his age. So when he drew out the map, he noted all the areas of town that tend to have heavy traffic and made sure his routes circumvented those roads.
            The map was riddled with X’s that had been crudely scribbled on with a red marker. This was to mark the houses Jason wished to avoid trick-or-treating at.
            He made sure to mark Mrs. Tremont’s house, as she always gave out apples to the children on Halloween. And the Belton family usually handed out breath mints and mini toothbrushes because the father was an orthodontist, so he made sure to mark their property as well.
            But Mr. Jeffries house was on the list. He had a tradition of giving out full-size Snickers and Butterfingers to all the neighborhood children on Halloween.
            Allison Briggs, Jason’s mother, made it a priority to take off from work every Halloween. It was imperative that she make herself available to take Jason trick-or-treating after school.
            For years, it had been Kevin Briggs who participated in this tradition. He’d request a day off from work on every Halloween to take his son door-to-door.
            Kevin Briggs was a pilot who lost his wings over the Atlantic and plummeted to the sea below after an engine malfunction. Most of the passengers’ bodies were never recovered.
            So Allison stepped up and took his place, keeping the yearly ritual alive. It had been four years since Kevin’s passing. And for four years, Allison carried the torch for him.
            Except instead of carrying a torch, she was lugging Jason’s pillowcase full of candy from house to house.
            That year, Jason was swept up in the whole superhero craze that all the other kids has age had experienced. He knew exactly who he wanted to be.
            He had watched The Dark Knight at least ten times since its release and his mind was made up.
            No, he wasn’t going dressed as Batman. Like so many others, Jason had found himself enamored with Heath Ledger’s dark portrayal of The Joker.
            So Allison had taken him down to the mall and found him a purple suit and rubber mask modeled after the character. But the mask wasn’t to Jason’s satisfaction, so Allison improvised.
            She purchased some black and white oil paints, and on the big day, painted Jason’s face white as he sat in front of a mirror. For the eyes, she drew dark circles with her eyeliner and filled them in with black paint. For the scars, she used red lip gloss to mark his cheeks. It didn’t look as professional as Heath Ledger’s makeup, but it did the job and Jason was content.
            Allison, sans costume, marched alongside her fearless little Joker, never letting him out of her sight. She was considerate enough to give him his space as he approached each door with other costumed children begging for candy, so as not to embarrass or smother Jason. But she still kept a watchful eye on her boy.
            Allison knew that a night like Halloween brings out all the lunatics and troublemakers. So when nine o’clock rolled around and the streetlamps were the only thing keeping the darkness at bay, Allison insisted on returning home.
            But Jason, though his pillowcase was ready to burst it was stuffed with so much candy, still wanted more.
            His sweet tooth had turned into a greedy tooth, and he knew the neighborhood well enough to know there were more houses on his map.
            “Just a few more houses,” he pleaded. “Please, mom. Please.” She was prepared to put up a fight, but when he started in with that sad look and the puppy dog eyes, she caved.
            “Okay, but just a few more” she smiled and planted a warm peck on his cheek which made him go, “Yuck!”
            “Who’s next on the list?” Allison inquired.
            “Mr. Wingard,” Jason said. “He always gives out bags of Skittles.”
            “Oh, honey…Mr. Wingard moved away six months ago. Someone else is living there now.”
            “I bet they still have candy. Can we go, mom? Please, please, please.”
            “Okay,” she said patiently, grasping his tiny hand as they walked towards the old Wingard house.
            She stood several feet from the grey cement porch as Jason knocked gently and held out his overflowing sack of candy.
            “Trick or treat!” he exclaimed as the door creaked open. The new homeowner stood empty-handed in the doorway. It was impossible to verify his age. He had the wrinkles of an octogenarian, but he also had thick, lustrous black hair and the vitality of a man under fifty.
            The man stood motionless in the doorway with the posture of a soldier. His back straight, legs pressed firmly together like he was getting ready to salute his general. He was a broad shouldered man with chalky skin, a stout neck, and thin, pointy ears that arched back.
            A black cape with crimson red lining was tied around his neck and extended to the floor. Plastic fangs dripped with a red liquid that Jason assumed was corn syrup and dye. At least that’s what he had hoped.
            “Who are you supposed to be?” the man asked.
            “I’m The Joker,” Jason replied. “I’m Batman’s greatest foe.”
            “The Joker, huh?” the old man growled. His pose shifted as he leaned forward so that Jason could feel his icy breath on his face. Jason was alarmed to notice his supposedly plastic fangs didn’t resemble plastic molding up close. “Joke’s on you, kiddo. I’m fresh out of candy.”
            Jason gulped and lowered his bag. “That’s okay,” he assured the man. “No big deal." Then he added, "Nice Dracula costume, by the way.” But his voice was trembling as he said it.
            “Who said it was a costume, kiddo?”
            “Alright you’ve scared him enough,” Allison said as she ascended the cement porch. “You’ve had your fun. Now back off, creep.”
            The caped man snatched Allison by the nape of her neck and he drew her closer, his fangs piercing her throat.
            Lifeless, her body sank to the porch as he released her, and the caped man wiped away the red from his lips. “Oh, I just love this time of year,” he said smoothly. “Now get over here, kiddo. Let’s see if The Joker is a match for Dracula.”

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