Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rest in Peace, Becca (Please Read)

I recently lost a good friend named Rebecca Tighe. Rebecca was an amazing person who treated all of her friends like gold. She was the kind of person who went out of her way to make you feel loved and accepted. She was the kind of person who would go and sit down with someone who was eating by themselves and talk to them. She'd also pay their bill. That's just the kind of person she was. When her friend went into labor, Becca left her job early and gave four people a ride home that night (she wasn't going to let them drive themselves because they had been drinking) before she went to the hospital to be by her friends side.

Becca loved zombies, horror movies, tattoos, the music of Tom Waits, trips to Coney Island. Night of the Living Dead was one of her favorite movies. She loved the classics.

Becca was allegedly assaulted at her job by a drunken patron on November 17th, 2016. This assault is what indirectly led to her untimely death. She was only 26 years old. I'm urging everyone who reads this to please visit the link below and sign the petition. The petition is to get the bar that Becca worked at closed down, as the owner allegedly observed the incident, but did not intervene or come to the aid of his employee. We are also trying to find the man who allegedly assaulted her that fateful night. If anyone in the Long Island, New York area has any information, please come forward. You can do so anonymously. And please sign and share this petition. Thank you.

The Link: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/justice-for-rebecca-tighe

Friday, November 11, 2016


Genre: Horror

By Daniel Skye

            Ms. Godfrey glared out her living room window. Katie Fuller, a cigarette pursed between her lips, was standing on the corner of the block, holding Faith by his leash. Faith was a blue nose Pitbull who was ten times friendlier than he looked. Katie loved trotting down the block with Faith at her side. Nobody ever dared to look at her cross eyed. Nobody except Ms. Godfrey.

            Katie caught her staring, and Godfrey couldn’t even fake a smile out of courtesy. Esther Godfrey rarely smiled, and the fact that Katie lived a few houses down wasn’t going to change that.

            Godfrey wouldn’t even open the door for the trick-or-treaters who rang the bell. She just gave them that death stare of hers until they took the hint and left.

            As Katie wandered past Esther Godfrey’s disapproving gaze, she flicked her cigarette into a storm drain and dug into her purse. Wrapping Faith’s leash tightly around her left arm, she squirted sanitizer into her hands and rubbed it into her skin.

            Maggie Fuller had no clue that her daughter smoked. Katie did her best to hide it from her. She never smoked upstairs in her room, never smoked in the backyard. She’d sneak cigarettes before and after class. And whenever Faith had to go for a walk, Katie was the first to volunteer.

            She kept chewing gum, hand sanitizer, and perfume in her bag at all times for when she needed to mask the smell. Katie tried to be considerate, tried to make life easier for her mother. She knew she wasn’t the easiest seventeen-year-old to deal with. And she knew being a single parent of two teenage girls was no walk in the park.

            Ever since her husband walked out on them, Maggie worked fulltime as a nurse to provide for her daughters. All Jeffrey left behind were his clothes, his record collection (which Maggie promptly sold to help pay the bills), and a .35 automatic Smith and Wesson.

            Maggie always kept the front door locked. Ravensville was a relatively safe community. But she still took precautions. You can’t be too careful, especially on Halloween.

Katie didn’t bother knocking, she had her own key. Inside, she unhooked Faith’s leash and watcher him scamper off into the kitchen. Then she kicked off her shoes, took her jacket off, made herself comfortable.

Megan was on the couch with a bowl of popcorn resting in her lap. It wasn’t even dark yet, but she was already in her pajamas.

Katie and Megan were twins, but not the identical kind. Megan had tan skin and shoulder-length platinum blonde hair. She was slim and athletic. Katie had dark hair and a light complexion. She was also a bit of a tomboy. She wore baggy pants and long sleeve shirts to conceal her figure. She wasn’t going to give any creeps the opportunity to gawk at her.

Not even their personalities were identical. Megan was a pacifist. She opposed violence, while Katie solved most of her problems with violence. She had been suspended twice from school. Once for cursing out her math teacher. And once for breaking another girl’s nose.

The girl was a known bully, and Katie hadn’t started the fight. She just finished it. Multiple students saw the events transpire and spoke out on Katie’s behalf, saying she acted in self-defense. It’s the only reason she hadn’t been expelled.

Katie helped herself to a handful of Megan’s popcorn and sat down next to her. Megan was watching the Halloween marathon of AMC, and kept squirming or covering her eyes during the gory parts.

Megan’s phone buzzed and she checked it, then put it aside on the table.

“Who’s that?” Katie inquired.

“Stephen Doyle. He’s stuck babysitting his little brother. He keeps texting me, asking me to come over and watch Netflix with him.”

“He’s such a pervert. Don’t go anywhere near that creeper.”

            “Who are you talking about?” Maggie Fuller asked, poking her head in the door.

            Katie giggled. “It’s Stephen Doyle. He keeps texting Megan to come over for some Netflix and chill.”

            Maggie shrugged. “Is that what you kids are calling it nowadays? Back in my day, we didn’t sugarcoat it. We just called it sex.”

            The doorbell rang and Maggie said, “Don’t get up. I’ve got it.”

            She opened the door to a cowboy, a princess, and Spiderman. “Trick or treat!” they shouted as Maggie dropped Kit Kat bars into their bags and wished them a happy Halloween.

            “Those kids were so adorable,” Maggie remarked. “I remember when you girls used to dress up. Megan, you were a princess three years in a row. Katie, you always wanted to go as horror movie characters…”

            “I remember that,” Katie smirked at the recollection. “Remember when I went as Carrie and I wore that homemade prom dress covered in fake blood? Ms. Godfrey loved that one.”

            The doorbell rang again and Maggie made an exaggerated groan. “Well, I’m certainly getting my exercise tonight.”

            She walked back to the door and found a zombie standing on her porch. It was a tall, stocky man with a very convincing makeup job. His skin looked pallid and lacked any natural color. The side of his neck appeared to be ripped open, a flap of skin hanging from the side by a virtual thread. His white cotton shirt was splattered with blood. But Maggie assumed she was staring at latex and corn syrup, cheap Hollywood movie tricks.

            “Aren’t you a little too old to be trick-or-treating?” Maggie quipped.

            A low-pitched growl emanated from his body.

            “Method actor, huh? Hey girls, come take a look at this.”

            Megan was the first to get up. Katie followed behind her. “Whoa, sweet makeup job,” Megan said, snapping a picture with her phone.

            “That doesn’t look like makeup to me,” Katie whispered, slowly backing away from the door.

            “You have a name, buddy?” Maggie asked. “I normally don’t give out candy to adults. Just the kids.”

            The man lunged at her, sinking his teeth into her left wrist. Maggie yelped. Megan called for Faith, but Maggie had fed him and put him out back so he wouldn’t scare the trick-or-treaters.

            The man–if he was still a man–was forcing his way into the house, pushing Maggie down to the floor. She screamed and thrashed and kicked under his weight, but couldn’t free herself.

            Megan approached with caution, but the man lifted his head and snarled in her direction. Megan ran to the couch, grabbed her phone, looked around the room for Katie. But Katie was nowhere in sight.

            “Katie!” her sister cried, frantically fumbling with her phone, trying to dial 911. “Help!” Katie returned seconds later, practically flying down the staircase her dad’s .35 Smith and Wesson in hand.

            Maggie saw the gun, saw Katie’s finger wrapped around the trigger. She didn’t even have time to react. The bullet propelled from the barrel and tore through the man’s chest. He fell off of Maggie, landing on his side, clutching at the wound.

            “Oh my God!” Maggie screamed. “What have you done!?”

            “I saved our lives,” Katie said. “That thing bit you, it was attacking you.”

“It was just a prank! This is Bob, my co-worker! Oh my God, what did you do!?”

The gun slipped from Katie’s hands as she stood aghast, unable to speak. Megan had dropped her phone, cracking the screen in the process. She had rushed to her mother’s aid, helping her to her feet. Maggie’s big brown eyes were welling up with tears.

Megan inspected the “bite” on her mother’s wrist and saw the man hadn’t even left a mark. It was all part of the joke. Just a harmless prank that had ended in senseless tragedy.

“Bob, can you hear me?” Maggie asked, her voice quivering as she tried to hold back the tears.

Bob tried to speak, but he was bleeding internally. The words were dull, muted, inaudible.

            The shot had echoed through the neighborhood. Ms. Godfrey heard it down the block and didn’t waste any time calling the police. The sirens emanated in the distance, rapidly approaching.

            “It was an accident,” Katie said, her voice failing to rise above a whisper.

            “How are we going to explain this to the police?” Megan asked, her eyes red and watery. Katie wasn’t just her sister. Katie was her best friend. Her rock. She supported and protected her. And without Jeffrey, this family needed Katie now more than ever.

            “Bob,” Maggie called, dropping down to one knee. “Bob, can you hear me?” She checked his pulse, but couldn’t get a beat. His pupils were fixed and dilated.

            “Is he…” Katie started, but trailed off.

            “He’s dead,” her mother said with no uncertainty.

            “Mom, how many people knew about this?” Megan asked.

            “Just Bob and I. I only wanted to give you girls a little scare. That’s all. I never meant for anyone to get hurt.”

            “But someone did get hurt, mom. And now we need to deal with it. And Bob’s not around to tell his side of the story. That leaves us. As far as I’m concerned, this man attacked you. And Katie did the only thing she could think of to protect you.”

            “I work with this man,” Maggie screamed.

           “Can you even tell who he is with all that makeup and fake blood on him? When the cops find out you work together, they’ll probably think he’s some obsessed co-worker, a crazy stalker who took things too far.”

This was a totally different side of Megan. A side her mother had never seen before. A side that frightened her. It frightened Katie, too. Megan; the sweet and gentle pacifist. The girl who couldn’t even watch a horror film without covering her eyes.

She wasn’t think rationally. All her brain could process was that the truth meant Katie going to prison for possibly the rest of her life. And the lie meant that Katie would probably get off with a slap on the wrist. And Maggie, through her own guilt and sorrow, could see her daughter was right.

The front door was wide open and Katie could see the flashing red and blue lights outside their house. The cops didn’t wait for an invitation. Two officers came in, their hands posed on their holsters, ready for anything.

“Everybody okay?” one officer shouted. “One of the neighbors reported gunshots.”

“Oh, thank God you’re here, officers,” Maggie cried. The officers saw Bob on the floor, saw the .35 Smith and Wesson at Katie’s feet. “This man attacked me,” Maggie continued. “He came to the front door. I thought he was a trick-or-treater. He forced his way in and threw me down and pinned me to the floor. I don’t know what he was planning to do to me. Katie, my daughter, she ran upstairs and got my husband’s gun. She…she shot him. She was scared and she was just trying to protect me.”

One of the officers looked over at Katie. “Is this what happened?” the officer asked.

“Yes,” Katie exhaled. “That’s exactly what happened.”

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Genre: Horror

By Daniel Skye

            Jimmy Doyle wasn’t allowed to watch horror movies. Ever.

            One night, he caught the end of Nightmare on Elm Street, and he couldn’t sleep for days. The concept of someone actually killing him in his dreams was terrifying. Every time he closed his eyes, he imagined Freddy Krueger was just waiting for him in his dreams.

            Then Jimmy had walked in on his parents watching The Shining, during the scene where Jack Nicholson stalks Shelley Duvall with an axe. He didn’t sleep a wink that night. And the next day, when he saw his dad chopping firewood in the backyard, he said a prayer because he thought their days were numbered.

          He went to his mother, crying hysterically, babbling on about how his dad was going to chop them all into coleslaw. She had to calm him down, explain that it was just a movie, and basically convince him that his father wasn’t an axe murderer. A perfectly normal conversation to have with a nine-year-old.

And that’s when his parents reached their decision. No more horror movies for little Jimmy Doyle. And on Halloween night, his mother forbade him from even turning on the television. And 2016 was no exception.

He was still allowed to go trick-or-treating, but Jimmy was timid, shy, and didn’t have too many friends his own age. He preferred to stay home every Halloween and hand out candy to the other children, just to get a glimpse of their cool costumes and feel like he was a part of the festivities.

His parents had been invited to a Halloween party that evening, but someone had to stay home and keep an eye on Jimmy. So of course this made his brother, Stephen, the unfortunate volunteer.

Stephen was furious about missing out on all the Halloween shenanigans. He had invitations to three different parties that put his parent’s gathering to shame. He assumed all adult Halloween parties were the same; a bunch of grown-ups stumbling around drunk, listening to outdated music, wearing half-finished costumes they threw together at the last second.

And while his parents were out getting plastered, Stephen was stuck at home, making sure his brother didn’t turn on the TV and accidentally see Jason Voorhees hacking someone up with a machete.

Stephen was sitting at the green Formica table in the kitchen, texting Megan Fuller. He was trying to persuade Megan to ditch her sister and come hang out with him, but so far he was striking out like a rookie at home plate.

Stephen, a soul-patched hipster who smoked electronic cigarettes and would only drink craft beer, didn’t have much luck with the ladies. But that didn’t stop him from trying. And that didn’t stop them from rejecting him.

After a while, Megan stopped responding to his “Netflix and chill” requests. But his phone was still blowing up with texts from his friends.

Mark: Dude, they’re showing The Exorcist on channel 6. It’s uncut!

Jason: Bro this party is off the hook. Where the fuck are you?

            Chris: You coming to Pete’s house? He scored two kegs from his job.

            Saul: Yo come to Craig’s house. Lots of single girls here.

            Eventually, he turned off his phone because he couldn’t bear to read them. It was like being under house arrest. He couldn’t go anywhere. If he left Jimmy home alone, his parents would take away his car, his phone, his laptop, even his E-Cig.

           He wanted to blame his little brother, but Jimmy was an innocent victim in all this. And it wasn’t like he had to take Jimmy door-to-door to get candy. He just had to babysit him for a few hours.

And Jimmy wasn’t much of a bother. All he really wanted to do was carve a pumpkin. He’d saved up his allowance for two weeks and bought the biggest one he could find after school that day.

Stephen got up to get a glass of milk when Jimmy came in. “Can we make a jack-o’-lantern?” Jimmy asked, his eyes gleaming with excitement. “Please. Please, please, please!”

Stephen sighed. I could be pounding beers or making out with a girl dressed up as a Playboy bunny right now.

“It’s Halloween, Jimbo,” he told his brother. “Kind of pointless now, isn’t it? If you wanted to make a jack-o’-lantern, you should’ve asked dad weeks ago. We don’t even have a pumpkin.”

“I bought one after school with my allowance. Dad said he’d help me carve it.”

“Well, that’s dad for you. He’s a weatherman for channel 14. Weathermen are notoriously unreliable. Tough break, Jimbo.”

Jimmy hated when Stephen called him Jimbo. It irritated him to no end. And once he made it clear that it irked him, Stephen never let up.

 “Come on,” Jimmy said, practically begging. “I’ll give you the rest of my allowance.”

“I don’t want your piggybank change,” he scoffed. Stephen turned his phone back on to see if Megan Fuller ever responded to his last text. She had not.

He turned his attention away from his phone and saw the disappointment in his brother’s eyes. Stephen sighed again. “Alright, we can carve a jack-o’-lantern. Just give me half an hour. I need to call Megan and make sure everything is alright. I have a strange feeling something happened.”

“Can I read my comics while I wait?” Stephen hadn’t even noticed until then that Jimmy had brought a handful of comic books down from his room.

“You know that mom hates you reading those.”

“I know. That’s why I want to read them while she’s not home.”

Stephen grabbed the comics from Jimmy and started flipping through the covers. “Careful with those,” Jimmy moaned. “Some of them are worth money.”

“Laser man. Devil Man. Nuclear Man.” He stopped for a moment and looked at his brother disapprovingly. “Vampire Chicks from Hell,” he said, reading another title. “Seriously? You don’t understand why mom hates you reading this silly crap?”

“It’s not crap. It’s art.”

“You want art? Go to a museum. This is not art. These are children’s fantasies.” He handed the comics back to Jimmy. “But go ahead and read them, Jimbo. Whatever makes you happy.”

“And then we’ll carve the jack-o’-lantern?”

“Yes,” he said, exasperated. That’s when the light popped on in his head. I know how I can get him off my back, Stephen thought. “You know what? You want a story? I’ll give you a real story. I’ll tell you the story of The Carver.”

“Is he a superhero?” Jimmy said eagerly.

“Not exactly,” Stephen smirked. “The Carver was actually an escaped mental patient. Nobody knows his real name. Not even the doctors that treated him.”

“How is that possible?” Jimmy asked, already looking for flaws in his story. “Somebody had to know his real name? What about his job, his house?”

“He lived in an apartment, gave the landlord a fake name. He had a fake ID, fake social security number, fake birth certificate. And he seared off his fingertips so the police could never fingerprint him.”

“Seared?” Jimmy asked.

“He burned them off.”

“Ouch,” Jimmy said, wincing at the thought of the pain.

“Can I tell the damn story now?”

“Sorry, go ahead.”

“They say The Carver only comes out on Halloween. It’s his favorite holiday. He especially loves jack-o’-lanterns. He loves them so much that on Halloween night, he pays a visit to any house that has a jack-o’-lantern on their doorstep, so that he can add to the collection. The Carver makes his own…He carves them out of human heads.”

Stephen stopped there, let his last words sink in. For a moment, Jimmy found himself so terrified that he forgot to breathe. It was like someone had sucked all the air out of the room.

Stephen chuckled to break the silence. “Relax, Jimbo. It’s just an old campfire story.”

“But you said it was a real story,” Jimmy said, tripping over his own words.

“I was just yanking your chain, bud. Now go read your comics. We’ll carve the jack-o’-lantern in a little while. I promise. I’m going to go outside real quick and make a phone call. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”

Jimmy walked to his room, comics in hand. Stephen's plan was effective, as Jimmy suddenly had no desire to make a jack-o'-lantern. Unable to shake Stephen’s story, he dismissed the comics and went straight to his computer desk. On his laptop, he did a quick Google search for The Carver. There was nothing on the first few pages except advertisements for low-budget horror movies bearing the same name. He also found carving knives for sale, and instructional videos on how to carve a Thanksgiving turkey.

But he found no evidence to support his brother’s bone-chilling story. He typed the name through every search engine he knew of: Google, Yahoo, Ask, Bing. And there wasn’t a single article to back up Stephen’s tale.

Then he tried Reddit. He found several interesting threads that were all started by the same person. The user claimed to be from Pittsburgh, not too far from Ravensville, where the Doyle family resided.

The threads yielded some disturbing results, as the user had included screenshots of newspaper articles that dated back to the nineties. And each article played out like Stephen’s twisted fantasy. Decapitated bodies, heads carved up to look like jack-o’-lanterns. It was all covered in the articles.

In most cases, the heads were left on the victims’ doorsteps, prominently displayed for their neighbors to see. Only one the articles had referred to the perpetrator as The Carver, and the killer had never been apprehended. They never even found a suspect in any of the cases.

Jimmy gasped at the sudden realization. That means The Carver’s still out there.

The rush of fear propelled Jimmy from his room to the kitchen in seconds, where he nearly slipped on the floor. He looked down and saw the blood, followed the trail with his wide, unblinking eyes. It ended where Stephen’s headless body was splayed out on the linoleum.

His head was placed at the center of the Formica table; his eyes scooped out, the sockets carved into triangles. A candle illuminated his hollow skull. His mouth was orange and glowing.

Jimmy covered his own mouth when he saw all of Stephen’s teeth were missing, and his lips had been carved into a jagged, zigzag-like pattern. Jimmy didn’t know whether to run, cry, faint, or void his bowels.

He wanted a jack-o’-lantern, and The Carver had granted his wish.

A chill filled the room, and Jimmy trembled when someone whispered in his ear, their breath so cold it stung the back of his neck.

“Happy Halloween,” The Carver whispered.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Genre: Horror

By Daniel Skye

            Candy wrappers were scattered all across the kitchen floor. There were enough miniature Twix and Kit Kat wrappers to form a crude rug over the ceramic tiles. When the children shuffled through the kitchen, it sounded like they were walking on dry leaves.

There were chocolate smears on the wallpaper, and chocolate smears on the corners of their mouths, too. The doorbell had been ringing sporadically for three hours, but the children had nothing to share with the trick-or-treaters. They had devoured every piece of Halloween candy they could get their tiny hands on.

The boy sauntered past the dining table, ignoring the gutted pumpkin. He’d carved the eyes and started on the mouth, but gave up halfway through because the knives were too dull. It had taken him an hour just to get the eyes perfect.

“Do you think mommy and daddy will be mad at us?” the girl asked. “For eating all the candy?”

“Nah, they won’t mind,” the boy said, using a stepstool to retrieve a glass from the cupboard. The boy was ten, but still short for his age.

He examined the glass and saw the circle of dust that had formed around the rim. He wiped it clean with the tail of his ill-fitting G.I. Joe T-shirt. Then he jumped down from the stool, candy wrappers crunching underfoot, and he filled the glass with Coca-Cola. There wasn’t much left, so he finished off the bottle.

“What if I want some?” the girl asked.

“We’ll share,” the boy said, taking a small sip.

“No way!” the girl exclaimed. “I don’t want your cooties!”

“How many times do I have to explain to you there’s no such thing as cooties?”

“Then what are germs?”

“It’s not the same thing. Germs are real, they can make you sick. Cooties is just a made-up word.”

“Germs sound like cooties to me.”

“Fine, suit yourself,” the boy said, taking another sip and covering his mouth as he belched. “More for me. Besides, you were the one who ate all the Reese’s and the cookies.”

“Hey, I didn’t finish those cookies off by myself,” the girl said. “I had help.”

“I vaguely recall eating a few of them,” the boy said.

“A few, my ass,” the girl said. She was two years younger than her brother, but she knew every word in the book; though her brother did not condone her swearing. Despite their nontraditional upbringing, the boy still had some principles, strange as they seemed to his sister. He didn’t curse in front of her. He didn’t curse at all. The boy found it to be sophomoric and immature. That, and he didn’t need the use of four letter words to illustrate his point.

The girl, who was quite self-conscious for her age, admired herself in the magnetic mirror on the side of the fridge. The girl was as skinny as a rake. But it was by circumstance, not by choice. The boy seemed to have more weight on him, but only because his belly was perpetually bloated from drinking too much soda.

She adjusted the charming and costly gold necklace around her collar. Then she held up her right hand to see the diamond ring sparkle in the mirror. The ring was so big, she had to wear it on her index finger. Her pink T-shirt had sparkling, glittery text that said PRINCESS in all capital letters. The shirt was baggy and loose like her brother’s shirt. But the majority of their clothes were donations.

The boy brushed his long, shaggy hair out of his eyes, finished his drink, and said, “Aren’t you supposed to be watching the windows? The Bad Man could be back at any minute.”

“Relax, I’m on it,” the girl said, shuffling from the kitchen to the living room, dragging Reese’s and Nestles Crunch wrappers under her shoes. The boy remained in the kitchen, rummaging through the bottom drawers for any candy or treats they might’ve overlooked. He heard a few faint, muffled noises from the living room, but he paid no attention to them.

He didn’t find any treats, but he did find a book of matches, and two long white candles for the candelabra on the dining table. It was getting dark, so he lit the candles and repositioned the candelabra so it was nowhere near the windows.

The boy had turned off all the lights, closed all the shades and blinds to ward off the Bad Man. The boy didn’t want anyone to know they were home.

The Bad Man had been gone for two days. But he was due for another visit any day.

We can’t have that, the boy thought. Who knows what the Bad Man will do to us if he finds us in here?

There were kitchen knives at his disposal, tools in the basement. But the boy was clinging to a five-iron that belonged to his dad. Well, his new dad.

“Hey!” the girl shouted from the living room. “We’ve got company.”

“Is it him?” the boy said, feeling a tight knot form in the pit of his bloated belly.

“Yes,” the girl said, whispering now. “It’s him…it’s the Bad Man.”

The boy tiptoed to the living room and slipped past the front door. He stood on the other side of the door, his back pressed to the wall, clutching the five-iron with both hands now.

A key jingled and twisted in the door. The boy watched as the knob slowly turned.

“Mom, dad?” the voice of a young man called out. “Are you home? Why is it so dark in here?”

The boy let waited for him to close the door and take a few steps into the house. As soon as he reached out for the light switch, the boy struck him in the back of the knee. There was a loud shriek, followed by the sound of a thud as the young man dropped to his knees.

“Please!” the young man cried. “I’ll give you anything you want! Just don’t hurt me!”

The boy stepped in front of him. Now that he had him at a disadvantage, he wanted the man to see his face.

“Fore!” the boy shouted, swinging the club with such fury that it cracked the man’s skull. He flopped to the ground, twitching like a fish out of water. Blood rained like a faucet from the deep gash above his left temple.

“I always wanted to say that,” the boy added as he tossed the bloody club aside.

The man was still alive, still twitching involuntarily. The heels of his shoes scraped against the ceramic floor tiles as his arms flailed around at his sides. He turned his head slightly, though this movement appeared to be voluntary, as his eyes drifted above the fireplace, to the picture frame on the mantle.

But the boy and girl were absent from this photograph. What the picture showed was the supposed Bad Man posing with a married couple in their early-fifties.

“Mom…dad…” he whispered before he drifted off to everlasting sleep.

Muffled sounds emanated from the corner of the living room. The girl ran her hand across the wall, found the switch, and living room lit up like Yankee Stadium.

An older man and woman were sprawled out on the floor behind the couch; bloodied, battered, and terrified. The boy had used zip-ties to bind their wrists and extension cords from the basement to tie their legs. Black electrical tape had been wrapped several times around their heads to stifle their cries for help.

“Don’t worry,” the girl said, leaning down to pat the woman’s silver hair. “We took care of the Bad Man for you. Now you’re all ours. You’re our new mommy and daddy.”

“Some mom and dad,” the boy scoffed. “It’s Halloween and we’re already out of treats. What are we supposed to do now?”

The glare of the headlights cut through the slits of the venetian blinds. The girl, standing on her tippy-toes, peeked out and saw a green minivan backing into the driveway across the street. A family of five exited the vehicle; the mother and father carrying bags of groceries.

The girl watched as a handful of trick-or-treaters approached the house. Even at night, the girl could spot their bright, colorful costumes from down the block. The three kids waved to the trick-or-treaters and followed their dad inside. The mother set her groceries down and came back with a bowl of candy, handing out full-size Hershey bars to all the trick-or-treaters and sending them home happy.

The girl’s eyes lit up like tiny jack-o’-lanterns. “Problem solved,” she told her brother.