Halloween Writting Contest Entry
The following story was submitted as an entry in The Wanderer's fourth annual Halloween Writing Contest.
"Parallel to a Fly Buzzing" by Jayme Wood
The fog drifted slowly over the tombstones, and the air was filled with the screams of tortured souls. Darkness was still an hour from now, but it was beginning to take hold. Scanning the broad expanse of lawn, it was possible to make out pairs of hands slowly emerging from the ground, reaching and grasping at the chance to walk among the living even if it was for just one night. Best of all, the rain that had threatened all week never materialized. Instead this Halloween night would be dry and crisp, but not too cool. This is probably what Tom Watkins was thinking as he surveyed his handiwork.
Tom was a child at heart, but a fifty three year old in body. He was stocky with a thick head of wavy, gray hair. He looked like someone who enjoyed a drink, and he did. He'd never married and had no children. There was really no explanation for his elaborate decorations except that he enjoyed looking at them, and liked the attention it received from those around him. Tom loved Halloween, always had. It had been his favorite holiday ever since he was a small child. As far as he was concerned, it had everything; candy, fun, and people were almost encouraged to be mischievous. He could remember his grandfather telling him tall tales of eggs and pranks that still made him laugh a little to this day. As time went on his love for the holiday didn't diminish.
His home was known for its Halloween decorations throughout the town. There were decades of props and ghoulish scenery that made his house something of a landmark for both parents with small children and stoned teenagers. In a sense, it united the community with its corpses hanging from the trees and creepy sounds coming from speakers placed here and there along the property, which seemed almost designed for this type of display with its long walkway up the hill to the front door where trick or treaters would ring the doorbell with a slightly nervous finger. The decorations were really that good.
And this year was even better. The fog machines were churning out a thick cloud that hung close to the ground and the green lights were starting to take hold with the approaching darkness, but the best was yet to come. He'd just purchased a special light that made the front of the house appear to drip blood. He didn't know exactly what it would look like, but he assumed it would be great. The installation seemed simple enough, but he was still worried about getting it on in time.
He climbed the ladder quickly and attached everything. It took less time than he thought. He was pleased. Now there was plenty of time to get into his costume and have a few cocktails before the trick or treaters came. His thoughts were on everything except where his feet were stepping, and it cost him dearly as his feet slipped off the rung causing him to lose his balance, falling backwards at the hyper fast rate of speed bad incidents always seem to take.
After Tom hit the ground it took a minute for him to catch his breath. Then he checked to see if he could move his limbs, which he could. That was a relief. You got lucky, he thought to himself. He started to get up but was suddenly seized by an intense pain that hit him with lightning speed. He lay back on the ground and tried again to get up, but it was no good. He had done something to his back, and would need assistance getting up. He could clearly remember leaving his cell phone on his kitchen counter. He yelled for help but it just blended in with the screams playing over the speakers in his yard. The fog drifted around him and the darkness was closing in. He was stuck until someone discovered him.
The worst part of the whole thing was that the light he had just installed wasn't working because it wasn't plugged in. He lay there staring at the sky just starting to show its stars. The fog around him was turning a deep green from the lights, and he realized that the tombstone decorations around him would probably help to shield him from anyone walking by. Not that they would see him in all the darkness, and even if they could see him they probably couldn't distinguish him from the corpses skillfully placed here and there.
He was just laying there thinking about how bad his luck was, and thinking about how everything would be completely different if he had just used a little more care in placing his feet on the rungs of the ladder, when something furry ran across his chest. It didn't just startle him, it scared him. It was a light brown color, he was sure of that, but not sure if that was better than something that was a dark brown, or black color. Was it a rat or a mouse? He was fairly certain that it was too small to be a rat, and that made him feel a little better. The question was answered when the creature ran back to him and sat next to his head.
It was a chipmunk, and Tom was relieved. Like most people, Tom believed that rats and mice were evil rodents, and the rest were just an annoyance at most. He chuckled as the chipmunk watched him with unblinking eyes. Then it was gone. Tom forgot about it and returned to the problem of trying to get some help when the chipmunk returned and started circling him. It ran over his face and disappeared behind a gravestone, only to return and run across his chest.
The chipmunk's movements were very fast. He tried to bat it away with his hands, but couldn't even get close to the creature. Tom realized that the chipmunk was angry with him, and wanted him to go. "I can't move," Tom said to the creature before feeling foolish and remaining still and quiet. The chipmunk wouldn't have cared even if he could understand Tom.
Surely someone would notice that he was in trouble and would help him out. There would be loads of people coming through his yard, and one of them would notice that he wasn't a prop. He would just have to wait and be patient. That's what he kept telling himself. As Tom lay there being circled and trampled by the furry nuisance he was reminded of the poem where Emily was harassed by the fly on her deathbed. It's funny how the mind works, but not always comforting.