Friday, January 16, 2015

Cookie Time (a short story)

UPDATE: I got sixth place out of 20.  *sigh*

I wrote this for a contest on The requirements was a flash piece between 200-700 words with a horror edge that was about the whole 'wolf in sheep's clothing' concept. Enjoy.

I woke up in a sheen of cold sweat, blankets in disarray around my legs. “No,” I whispered into the darkness. “That’s not my life anymore!”

I scanned the room, despite my proclamation, visually touching the markers I’d left every night since that terrible meeting. Teddy bear against the closet door, check. Belly dancers jingly belt across the main door, check. Lit hurricane lamp in the…well, shit.

I swung my legs over the side of the bed.

The lamp was there, yes, but the wick held no reassuring flame. My fingers trembled around the matchbox. A lighter would’ve been faster, perhaps, but the last time I’d tried, the bed had caught on fire. That never seemed to happen with matches. And don’t even ask about electricity.

I closed my eyes tight, counted to ten and slid the inner box out of the sleeve. Fingers in, I opened my eyes, counted the remaining sticks -- six, enough to get me through till morning --  and then I grabbed a match and struck it.

A faint sulfur smell. Demon. I blinked again, shook my head and relit the lamp. Bright light filled the room in a globe of comforting warmth.

Jingle, jingle.

I froze.

You should’ve bought the cookies…

“Well, had they actually been cookies,” I murmured into the nothingness. “Too bad you were collecting something other than money…”

The doorbell had rung, and my curiosity had gotten the better of me. No one came to see me. I’d looked through the peep hole to see an angelic girl with crimson ringlets framing bright blue eyes. She’d worn a uniform, her hand clenched a wagon filled with cookie boxes.

“Where’s your mommy?” I’d opened the door the length of the security chain.

She’d giggled. “Oh, she’s waiting for me at the end of the street. Would you like to buy some cookies?”

Instincts had screamed she was lying, but there had been no way to see the end of the street from the safety of my position. So I’d dropped the chain and opened the door all the way.

She’d stepped forward, and the movement had made me want to back up and close the door. But the responsible adult voice in my head had screamed that we didn’t leave kids alone outside.

“Where?” I’d surveyed the length of my rather short street. No cars to be seen, and no ‘mother’ waiting either. A haunting echo from my past bristled inside my head.

“Do you want to buy some cookies?”

“No…” I’d stammered. “No, thank you. You should probably try someone else.” I’d stepped back and started to close the door, when her small foot stamped atop the threshold.

“You want to buy some cookies.”

The sweetness in her voice had given way to a deeper, gravelly tone, nothing a young child should’ve been able to do. She’d blinked, and something inky and dark slid over those azure circles.

Are you fuckin’ kidding me? A demon? Here? I’d inhaled and plastered a smile on my face. “No, no, thank you. I can’t.”

Her smile had widened. Dammit, she knows what I am. She’d cricked her neck, like we were about to tussle, and snaked one hand around the door, long fingernails protruding from tiny fingers. “You should’ve just bought the damn cookies, hunter.”

I’d slammed the door as hard as I could, and an inhuman scream had issued from the other side. I’d leaned against it and slid down to the floor.

“You’re dead!” she screamed, pounding against the wood. “Couldn’t just eat the damn cookies like the rest of the nasty little insects. No, you had to be different, difficult, and I don’t have time for this bullshit. I will kill you and eat your soul, you useless meat bag!”

She’d found a way in. I exhaled slowly and grabbed the large hunting knife off the window sill. The warm light glinted off the ancient glyphs engraved on the blade.

“You should’ve just bought the cookies,” she hissed, the door closing behind her and the belt of bells crashing to the ground. “Then we wouldn’t have to do this.”

“Oh, no,” I smiled. “You should’ve chosen a different house.”

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