The three-headed monstrosity, with emerald green scales, wide bat-like wings, thick murderous whipping tail, and six pairs of black beady eyes, rose from its slumber. It shattered the still night – bursting through the glistening waters into the starry canvas above. Screeching in fury, it lowered its gaze at the sailing party that boldly awakened it.
“What do we do?”
“Cast the invisibility spell!”
“What? We didn’t summon it to hide.”
Beep, beep, beep.
“Use the lightning spell!”
Beep, beep, beep.
“Whose is that?” I asked.
Beep, beep, beep.
“It’s mine. Sorry guys, we have to end the game.”
“You gotta be kidding me.”
“I’m sorry. You know how my parents are like.”
I peered out the window of our wooden treehouse. The night was young – families still roamed the streets – with boisterous excitement in the air.
“The kids are still out. And your house is ten feet away,” I stated.
“It’s late. And I don’t want to die.”
“Your house is just there,” I repeated.
“I have to go.” He maneuvered past me – careful not to knock over our game pieces – toward the rope ladder. “I’ll see you guys at school, alright,” he added. And with that, he left.
“Buzzkill,” I murmured, rising to my feet.
The twins followed suit and we grudgingly descended, what we called, our ‘Adventure Fort’.
“See you guys on Monday,” I said, jogging to my bicycle.
“See you,” the twins replied in unison. “And don’t let the Jack-O-Lantern get you!” the twins added, cycling off in the opposite direction.
The murder had ruined a promising weekend. And honestly, I couldn’t understand the paranoia. People died all the time. Crazy people existed. To me, the commotion was exaggerated. Whether it was the Jack-O-Lantern or the Serial Santa, learning about another death by another killer was plain old news. I didn’t gasp, question, or cry. I was nonchalant – never a victim, but so was the majority. It baffled me that half the town wanted to cancel the weekend.
As I sped down the street, where parents ushered their children for their final ‘trick-or-treat’, I decided to ring a few doorbells. Knowing my parents didn’t mind if I stayed out late, I cycled into one, then two, and then three more driveways until my backpack brimmed with treats. After which, I headed home – it was almost midnight and my street had gone to bed.
That night, I expected nothing out of the ordinary. Strolling into my house, I shuffled straight to the dining room and emptied the contents of my backpack on the table. But it was then, I heard a noise. It was a series of thuds, alike a banging on the wall – muffled and periodic. It didn’t come from above, but below.
“Dad?” I called.
The thudding stopped. I shrugged it off and returned to separating my treats. The night was still for five minutes. Then, I heard another sound. This time, it didn’t come from below. As though something heavy was being dragged, my curiosity spurred my feet into action.
I strode to the back of the house. Arriving in the kitchen, I fumbled for the light switch. But just before I made the flip, I caught sight of a figure in my backyard through a window.
The figure donned a red check shirt beneath a blue denim jumper. With a large pumpkin head resting on its shoulders, it hovered over a lifeless creature. Inching closer for a better look, the dead creature’s form came into view. It wasn’t a large animal, as I’d previously assumed – it was a person.
I gasped – hands cupped over my mouth. I didn’t know what to do. Should I run, hide, or call the police? Was the dead person one of my parents? No, it was merely a trick – an elaborate trick my father occasionally played on me. But, I hesitated. I didn’t dare to face the figure outside.
Backing away from the darkness, the kitchen lights flicked on. I jumped startled and spun toward the doorway. My heart pounded in my chest, as I stared at the person before me.
“You’re home early,” my mother said.
“It’s… it’s midnight,” I replied. Then snapping my head toward the window, I said, “There was someone outside.” Gesturing at the now vacant backyard, I stuttered, “I-I-it-it looked like the Jack-O. It wasn’t you, was it?”
“No,” my mother replied.
“We need to call the police,” I said. But just as I headed for the phone, my father stepped into my path. “Dad! Someone’s outside. You have to call the police.”
“There’s no one outside,” my father said. “I just came from outside.”
“So it was you?” I asked. Then gazing at him from head to toe, I noticed his brown-stained shoes and sweat-covered shirt. “What… what were you dragging?”
“Happy Halloween!” my father replied, with a childish grin. “I got you, didn’t I?”
“That was a trick?” I frowned – it was a horrible trick with no pay off. “But-”
“It’s late,” my mother interrupted. “You should go to bed.”
Before I could respond, my mother led me to my room. She didn’t answer any of my questions. And it became obvious. As the clocked ticked into the night, I laid still and awake in my feathered bed. I couldn’t sleep – not with the haunting sound of dragging bodies below. How many were there? I didn’t want to know. All I hoped for was day to arrive – the end of this nightmare. That’s right, it was simply a nightmare – a figment of my imagination, just like my three-headed dragon.
Nightmare, lantern, and murder were words given by Kurotsuba. You might have noticed I drew inspiration from Stranger Things and the classic Goosebumps stories. As I didn’t have much time to work on this piece, I just went with the theme of the season. Hopefully, it isn’t too weak of a tale from being rushed.
Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. The real challenge is writing out of theme. I wish I had more time to do so, but perhaps you could give it a go.
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)