Authors: Richard Roberts
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Dark Fantasy, #Mythology & Folk Tales, #Fairy Tales, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy
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© 2014 Richard Roberts
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ISBN 978-1-62007-210-3 (ebook)
ISBN 978-1-62007-211-0 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-62007-212-7 (hardcover)
ary, close the door. You are not going to the party.”
I have no idea how my Mom knew about it. I couldn’t figure out how
mother would know about it, much less mine. “Yeah, Mom, I’m going to the party,” I answered, in a monotone loud enough to carry into the bedroom.
“No, you’re not,” she barked back angrily, “Mary Stuart, I forbid you to take even a step out that door.”
I stepped over the threshold so fast my foot might have moved itself. What was she going to do? Threaten to lock me in my room? Like this time would be different?
She must have heard the door squeak. “Mary, it’s not safe,” she called after me. Her voice was suddenly pained, urgent. “I’m only thinking about you.”
She was going to try that? Seriously? I yanked the door shut behind me and kicked one of the empty cans off the porch. I thought maybe she yelled, “Mary Stuart!” again from the other side, but I couldn’t hear it clearly. Wasn’t someone supposed to come and tell you off if you name your child after a British queen?
The cold October air was refreshing, although my short skirt—not really that short—and stockings were drafty. I wasn’t going trick-or-treating, but at least I could dress up a little. Trick-or-treating would have been more fun than this not-so-secret rave, but I hadn’t been invited, so I was going. And despite my mother’s so-convincing claim of being worried about me, I’d be safe. If I were two years older, maybe not. If I were even an early bloomer, maybe not. Right now, I had nothing even the most desperate jerk of a boy wanted.
That would help. I had a long walk in the dark through increasingly empty neighborhoods. I was headed right out of town and it would be a few miles. The walk didn’t scare me. I liked the cold air and I’d walked across most of the city when I had to. It would be downright boring.
At that thought, I reached up to pull my headphones—
“Damn it!” I yelled out loud. A mother and her little kid in a bumblebee costume gave me a nervous look. I stomped on.
I’d left my music player at home. It would have been useless and stupid looking at the party, but who cared? It would have made the walk much less boring. A night like this begged for Les Miserables. Music with a story and real emotion would be better than whatever latest hot number they’d be playing at the party. I predicted the current hit would be as shallow as a paper plate and either be bragging or whining about how much sex the singer was getting.
Well, you’re not going back to get it, Mary.
I’d just have to enjoy the view. A residential neighborhood wasn’t exciting, but I could see a trick-or-treating group up ahead and another down a side street. Some of the older kids in the more elaborately silly costumes might be my classmates.
The four in front of me each had a flashlight in a plastic pumpkin bucket, but had no adult with them. Who let them out like that? Right on cue, a high school boy walked past them from the other side, grabbed one girl’s trick or treating bucket and yanked it out of her hands. She shrieked, and he laughed and ran.
There was the adult, somebody’s mother, stepping out of an open door and shouting, “What’s going on?” She was too late to do anything.
Jerk high schooler didn’t even want the candy. All he wanted was to hear a helpless little girl cry. Like the arrogant bully he was, he ran right past me like I didn’t matter.
I stuck out a foot and tripped him. He hit the sidewalk hard. The basket and the candy went flying.
He weighed twice what I do and was a boy besides. He started to push himself back up to his feet, and a growling, “Little bitch!” didn’t sound encouraging, so I kicked him hard between the legs. Now he yelped like a little girl himself, curling up tight. He looked up, and I stared right back. I’d happily kick him in the balls again, and he was in too much pain to dodge.
He knew it, and like the cowardly bully he was, he scrambled awkwardly up and ran away.
I turned around, and the mother and kids were a lot closer. They’d stopped. They all looked stunned. The girl in the unicorn costume really was my classmate, Chelsea. No surprise, since I was still in my neighborhood. The boy with the bird wings was Patrick Flint, in third grade. I didn’t know the other two.
Bending down, I picked up the bucket and threw it over to Chelsea. “You’re out of luck on the candy,” I almost apologized.
“Thanks,” she answered.
“Should you really be out trick-or-treating by yourself, hon? Wouldn’t you rather join us?” her mother asked, sounding nervous.
“I’ve got a party to go to,” I replied, and started walking. That was one reason.
The other was the relieved look on their faces as I passed them.
My hands twitched for the headphones I hadn’t brought with me. This would have been a fine night for ‘On My Own.’ I knew just how Eponine felt, except I wasn’t in love with anybody to smooth it over. I kept walking. It would be a long, dull walk to the party.
I had to leave all the residential neighborhoods behind, and keep walking right out past the freeway that makes the edge of town. That was one of the reasons I was determined to go. For a secret Halloween party, they’d pulled out the very last stop. It was being held in the Old Moonshiner’s Estate. The house nobody wanted to buy, nobody’d been able to declare a historical treasure, and nobody’d gotten around to tearing down. Oh, and nobody wanted to set foot inside. You know, the house everybody says they tell monster stories about but nobody actually does. I’d never gone in, I guess because no one ever actually did tell me one of those stories.
As a haunted house, it was pretty great. Straight out of the Addams Family. Dead trees, a hill, boards fallen off the windows. Normally they were dark and spooky, but rainbow lights peeked out of every hole tonight, and the building was mostly holes. One of those holes had a front door blocking it the last time I’d looked. Now it had Felicia Innsmouth blocking it. Eesh.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” she groused as I stomped up the stairs, “I’m not letting The Littlest Bitch into my party. What are you, nine? Go away, Mary.”
“Screw you, Felicia. On second thought, the line’s too long,” I snapped back. There, the social amenities had been observed.
She still reached her leg across and blocked the doorway. “You’re not getting in, Mary,” she repeated sourly.
So I glared at her, stomped back down the stairs, walked down the side of the building, and climbed in heavily through the empty hole that used to be a window. While Felicia watched, I might add. I was inside now. What was she going to do, make a scene and ruin her own party?
That girl had more money than god. She’d almost made this collapsing hulk of a building livable. The rugs alone must have cost a fortune, and while there weren’t many lights, every one was a different color. The stereos all played different music too, and this room thumped manically with dubstep. I started to grin. A high school boy glanced down at me and wandered off, uninterested. I grinned a lot more.
There was a big room in the middle of the first floor. That was the dance pit now, and a couple of dozen middle and high schoolers were trying to pretend they had rhythm. A lot of them were drunk, so I followed the smell to a table draped in orange and black and crowded with booze. Right next to it was a table draped in orange and black and crowded with candy. I thought that was pretty funny. As far as I’m concerned, candy and alcohol are the same thing. At a certain age, people went from one to the other.