By Andy H. Sweet
Special to The Messenger
I closed the blinds to the dark. A coldness filled the house, October air sneaking in, I thought. In truth, I could have went on to bed, but it seemed a sin somehow to me, going to bed before ten. Perhaps my childhood made me feel that way. Bedtime at eight, nine on weekends. I treasured staying up, considered it a privilege not to be squandered just because my eyelids felt heavy.
The doorbell rang sending a buzz up my spine. Mine was a quiet neighborhood with tame residents none of which would dream of disturbing their neighbors.
A dread filled the pit of my stomach, and the goosebumps on my arm tingled. I walked to the door, looked through the peephole, but saw only black.
“Who’s there?” My voice carried a warning, though I could feel no confidence in it.
It was the voice of a child. I looked through the viewer again. Still only darkness. Of course, a child would be below the peephole’s scope.
I had an inexplicable case of the willies, but a rise of manly indignation rose in me, so I unlatched the door and opened it.
A masked princess stood before me, waving her wand. “Trick or…”
The mask formed teeth and the small girl attacked. Pain shrieked up my left leg, I heard flesh ripping from my calf. I reached to push her off, but she had encircled my limb with her arms and legs.
She spit out what I could only assume was a chunk of me, then the teeth sank again and she wrenched her head like a wolf would shake its prey. I screamed…“get off me…” and pried my hands between her torso and my leg. I couldn’t budge her. Another chunk spat out, and another bite transmitted another wave of agony, building more anguish. I fell back, then did the unthinkable.
I struck the child. Blow after blow, I pummeled the little princess until I could see the back of her head turn red.
Her chewing stopped, she went limp and rolled off my leg. I managed to move to my knees. I looked at her once and my sorrow almost overwhelmed the roaring pain. My leg was bloody and I could see the morsels of flesh she’d spit out on the floor in pools of my blood. Each move sent agony-filled rivers flowing up my spine, but I made it to my phone and dialed 911 as the sickening, whirling room took me.
A paramedic was staring at me. I saw a police officer beyond him. “Check the little girl.”
I saw the question in his eyes. The cop behind him stepped around him. “What little girl?”
I sat up and pointed toward the door. “There,” I said even though there was nothing at the spot I indicated. I looked at my leg which still throbbed. There was no blood, no torn jeans. I reached down and pulled my pants leg up. No lacerations, no missing meat. “She attacked me, chewed on my…”
The paramedic had stood up and was standing by his partner. There were two cops in the room. All four regarded me as one might observe a wild animal behind a cage, only there was no cage and they seemed keenly aware of that. One of the officers had his hand on his gun.
I started to cry. “She was trick or treating, dressed like a princess, then I saw the teeth — like a wolf’s; she bit into my leg. Lord, I had to beat her off of me.” The cop resting his hand on his gun cleared his throat. “Sir, it’s October twenty-ninth, not Halloween. You are not injured. Maybe you fell asleep, dreamed all of this? I mean look at the door. When did you hang that?”
On the door was a costumed princess. Beautiful, except for the teeth. I looked around the room at other decorations. “I didn’t hang that, I don’t celebrate holidays — any of them.”
The other officer spoke up. “How do you explain all of this?” He swept his arm across the room.
“I can’t, none of these are mine. Th—they weren’t here before…” My voice weakened and trailed off as it occurred to me just how this was being perceived. My suspicions were immediately confirmed.
“You do realize the seriousness of making a false police report.” It was the hand resting on his gun officer. “You called 911, said you were being attacked, yet we find you in some kind of stupor, no injuries. Would you take a Breathalyzer test?”
I felt such indignation and anger. How dare they treat me this way. I almost responded with that attitude, but my senses caught hold of me. They were right. From their point of view, I must be high, drunk, demented or all of the above.
“I suppose so. I haven’t been drinking.”
The other officer produced the apparatus, I blew into it. The officer scowled at the readout. “Negative.”
“Tell you what.” The hand resting on his gun, the cop finally moved his hand and pointed it at me. “This will go in our report. We’re going to let you make it this time, but we don’t want to hear from you again. Clear?”
“I said — clear?” His voice was raised, threatening.
“Yes sir,” I answered. The wind was out of my sail, my voice barely more than a whisper. I prayed he wouldn’t ask again. The entourage left closing the door hard behind them. I sat there alone, in disbelief — and fear.
Sunday night, the thirtieth, I sat at my kitchen table, all of my blinds closed, the doors locked. Darkness had fallen and again — the doorbell rang.
I didn’t answer.
A few seconds passed. It rang again.
I remained motionless.
The sing song voice of the little girl filtered in. “Trick or…”
I couldn’t stop the tremors in my legs. My arms also refused to remain still.
I considered the voice still child-like, yet I could easily picture it with those ghastly teeth. I took a breath, remained silent.
Door bell, muffled growling. “I can get in. Don’t make me come in there.”
The words emitted as someone gargling — raspy and ominous.
No harm had actually came to me. I should confront this. That was part of my mind speaking. The other side was terrified. The pain had been real, the blood thick and I remembered how it smelled.
The doorbell had changed. Two notes and an echo.
From the corner of my eye I saw her — in my house — standing merely three feet away. Those hideous teeth, now stained with blood, gaping — at me.
I made a weak effort to run to a room, but again she wrapped around my leg, the other one this time and as before began to chew. The hair on the back of her head was matted with dried blood. I grabbed the glass I’d been drinking from and dashed it against her skull. She ripped out muscle from my thigh, looked up at me, spat it out and smiled. I struck her again and again. Limp from my assault, she fell back to the floor. My hands trembled, but I managed to reach down and removed the mask. What I saw unnerved me. Not the visage of a monster. Just that of an innocent child with her forehead bludgeoned.
I picked her up and walked to my front door. The decorations I had removed were back. When I opened the door, the hanging princess was there, swinging to and fro. I placed the child on my porch bench (and) went back inside. At my feet a pool of blood grew and my head began to swarm.
October 31, Halloween morning, I woke up in bed, feverish, with incredible pain throbbing up both legs. I remembered the pain — and the blood. Quickly, I tossed back the blanket expecting to see my linens and mattress soaked.
Nothing, clean and I was wearing pajamas. When did I change into them? There was an iron weight in my abdomen — fear of a magnitude I’d never known. I can’t express how many levels of fright were layered upon me. I had to be losing my mind. Some kind of early onset dementia. Had to be — right?
I barely drank, I didn’t do drugs. What other explanation could there be?
“Crazy, absolutely freaking bonkers.”
I got out of bed, walked into my living room and of course there were no decorations. I closed my eyes and opened the door. When I opened them, I was staring at a plain door. It was a very nice door, painted, sculptured even, but plain as far as hideous hanging princesses.
“Shit!” I gasped, shutting the door. Leaning back against it kept me off the floor. Too much, way too much. I was a level headed dude, not overly nervous, and very practical. Sure, I owned my share of anxiety, but I considered it mild and inconsequential.
“Shit!” The word begged to be repeated. Normally cursing distressed me. I had been trying to lose the habit, though in truth I considered profanity (properly expressed) an art form. At times I considered myself possessing this skill, but lately, at work, several vulgar utterances had escaped my lips and fell on awkward ears.
Therefore my attempt at change. These last days were wrecking the shit out of that.
I was sure I would be unable to survive another attack. I searched my utility room and found it. My metal baseball bat and with it in hand moved a chair in front of the door. I was ready now. Tonight when the little devil returned, I’d be ready.
Darkness again, the doorbell rang.
I stood up, clutching the bat, raised it over my head and jerked open the door. The little princess was there and I started the down swing. The little beast would not get me again.
Beyond her I saw the car and the parent at the end of the walk.
© 2017 Andy H. Sweet, who also writes under the pen name Drew Adams