Ghoul of Halloween To Come
Sam opened his eyes to find himself face down on the road next to his car. Tears streamed down his face and roadside gravel clung to his cheeks. Sobbing he crawled to his car and placed his forehead on the door. A faint smell of road kill mixed with the taste of self-loathing made him gag.
How could it be? Marie was Scarlet? Had Eric found out? Had he known all along? Sam had met Marie in college. She’d been innocently beautiful, totally unaware of the effect she had on the opposite sex. He knew there’d been a secret in her childhood. She’d told him about years of therapy, but that just made her more precious to him. He’d only wanted to protect her.
But why had she hired a private detective? Had the desire to know her whole story driven her to find answers? Sam became frantic. He needed to get home. If what the ghoul had shown him was happening now he needed to be there when Marie walked in the door.
Sam jumped behind the wheel and buckled his seatbelt. The dashboard clock read 11:05. Five whole minutes that had changed his life forever. The car lunged onto the road and Sam gripped the wheel like a vise, hunching over the steering wheel as if possessed. Periodically he’d wipe fresh tears from his face. He considered calling Marie, but he knew that she wouldn’t answer if his name appeared on her cell phone.
At ten minutes to midnight he pulled into his side of the garage. Then, reconsidering he backed out and parked down the street. Marie wasn’t home yet and just maybe he would be able to catch her off guard if she didn’t see his car in the garage. He jogged back to the house and let himself in through the garage entry. The house was pitch black, but Sam didn’t want to risk a light in case Marie came home. Using his cell phone as a flashlight he went into the master bathroom and began washing up in the dark. Lowering his face to the sink Sam ran water over his weary head. What would he say to Marie? Whatever it took, he’d do it.
When he felt a touch on his shoulder he looked up, expecting to be face to face with his beautiful wife. Instead, there hovered the most gruesome ghoul of the night. Where the previous visitors had borne some semblance of humanity, this apparition looked like a poorly formed lump of clay. Its gaping mouth revealed two rows of stubby brown teeth. Its eyes were yellow blobs with irises of blood red. Arms and legs appeared at random, shifting with every movement of the hideous monster. And it stunk. Like death and decay, rotted flesh and burnt hair.
Sam put both hands up to push the monster away, but they dissolved into the ghoul. Sam screamed in terror as the ghoul pulled him in, completely entrapping him within the monster’s own body. For ten terrifying seconds Sam feared he would suffocate encapsulated as he was inside the creature. When he took a first shuddering breath he realized that as bad as the thing had smelled on the outside, it was multiplied a thousand times on the inside. Gagging and retching Sam futilely tried to claw his way out.
“What do you want?” Sam screamed. “Show me or end me!”
Pure silence answered Sam’s demand. For the first time Sam opened eyes he didn’t realize he’d shut. On the inside of the ghoul a silent movie played.
First, Sam saw the interior of an office. An elderly man sat crying at an ornate oak desk. As the camera moved behind the elderly man and panned the desk, Sam realized that it was his father sitting there, looking over his last will and testament. Sam watched as his father, with tears in his eyes took a pen and repeatedly slashed through his son’s name on the document.
The image changed. Two anonymous women sat at a pair of adjacent blonde desks in a non-descript office. Each stared intently at the screens of their twin computers, scrolling through dates and names and numbers. As Sam watched the camera moved to show an opened file on the desk of the first woman. He caught a name on the file “Headspins”–the name of the business he and Eric had jointly owned until a few weeks prior. Sam wanted a closer look, but the camera panned out to show the lettering on the office door: “IRS Dept. Of Fraud Investigation.”
Again the image shifted. Now Sam watched a group of solemn mourners at a funeral. He watched as the camera focused in on a recently erected tombstone, but all he could see was the death date: Nov. 1, 2014. Tomorrow, almost today. But, whose grave was it? He didn’t recognize any of the mourners assembled in the cemetery, but he saw the grief plainly etched into each face. Whoever lay there had been loved.
Again the film looped back to his father’s office, replaying the first vision like a record needle stuck in a groove. Sam began to panic. “Please God, let me out!” he screamed. The ghoul’s flesh shifted from opaque to transparent as a light was flipped on in the bathroom. Marie! Marie was home!
Sam moved toward his wife. Her terrified scream echoed through the room. Marie turned and ran and the ghoul with Sam inside followed her into the master bedroom. Marie frantically fumbled in her dresser drawer, turning to point her small pistol at the monster.
“Marie! It’s Sam! Don’t shoot me Marie!” The Sam/ghoul pled. Marie, who heard only a garbled growl, pulled the trigger. The bullet ricocheted off the monster and into the face of Marie. As Marie collapsed in a pool of blood, the ghoul evaporated leaving Sam a huddled mess in the middle of the room. He crawled to Marie, cradling her lifeless form in his arms.
“Oh no! No!” he sobbed. Taking her gun he pointed the barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger. A death-filled silence enveloped the room.
Then, as Sam’s blood soaked into the beige carpet, “Marie” rose from the floor. “Never trust a rat, Sam,” she said. “There were four, not three, ghouls tonight. Just call me the Ghoul of Halloween Lost. What a pity that the real Marie has to come home to this mess, but really, she deserved so much better.”
Happy Halloween, People!