Circle Street, in Westbend, Indiana, is just as the name suggests: a street that goes in the circle. You can get there by turning right off of Mallard Rd., not that you’d really want to. There are only two inhabited houses on in the junk-filled, wasteland of a sub-division. One houses Marie Strumble, or, as the kids know her as, “Can’t See Marie.” Fittingly, she is totally blind.
The other house, located at the very outer most bend of the street, is the home of a man who is out of his mind. The town-folk know him by the name Spot, and for being the static figure of the grocery store at the beginning of each month; he can be found standing outside of Grocery Plus, offering to buy your groceries with his EBT card, just as long as you pay him back most of what the cost. It’s a deal, however, and everyone loves a deal, so the man has a place.
When Jonas McCarthy saw him for the first time, Spot was picking cans from the side of the road. His mother and father were in the front seats of the car, complaining about the roadwork that had them stuck in the late June heat. He couldn’t believe they were totally missing the man the tall, frail man, walking beside them, sticking cans with a long, sharp stick. The stick looked like it’d be carved, or whittled to a point with a knife, made into a spear. To Jonas, the sun baked man looked like an African warrior from one of the National Geographic magazines his grandmother read, except that he was white, and, somehow, though he imagined those warriors leading hungry, unsatisfying lives, dirtier. He looked like a garbage can had exploded in front of him, or that he lost a tussle with a giant dust bunny.
He watched the man push his stick into the roadside ground and pull up another catch; a shiny, red Coke can. The man didn’t notice the young boy watching him from the backseat of the Toyota. He was dutiful in his can stabbing. His bag looked more than halfway full, as far as Jonas could see, and he wished he had a can in the backseat to throw out to the ragged man.
“Here, let me help you,” Matt said.
Jonas turned so that his big brother could tie the strap on his mask into a knot. The white rubber band that had held it so tight to his face last night had snapped just before seven, when Westbend officially begins trick r’ treating.
“A little looser, please?”
His brother pulled his strand outward, along with a wad of hair. It hurt like heck, but Jonas did his best not to whine.
“How’s that?” Matt asked.
Before he could reply, Jonas felt his brother looping the stretchy string into another knot. It’s nice to have a brother, he thought. A lot of his friends complained about their siblings, young and old, but not Jonas. Even the day when he’d walked absentmindedly into the bathroom and saw Matt staring down at his privates, where a small patch of hair was growing. His brother didn’t get embarrassed, or angry; he only laughed, telling him that it was something called “puberty,” something he’d been waiting for. Jonas spent the rest of the week telling his friends about what they could look forward to.
“Perfect!” Jonas said, and swiveled as fast as he could to face his brother. “Ahhrr,” he growled, raising his hands up like claws.
“Down, Cujo,” Matt said through a laugh. He stretched his palms out in front of him, back peddling in a mock gesture of fear.
Jonas pulled his mask down to his chin. “I’m a werewolf.”
“Cujo is a dog. I’m a werewolf, like Michael Fox.”
Matt laughed again and ruffled his brother’s hair. “It’s a scary costume Jonas,” he said.
He kneeled face to face with his little brother. Jonas was smaller than all of his friends, making him easy to pick on, and he was too stubborn to let his big brother know about it when it did happen. He knew, through—all boys were once young boys. You either pick on someone or get picked on by someone. It’s a class system determined, usually, by how tall or round you are.
He was still staring at Jonas, and his cheapo mask and blue jean jacket, which their mother had sewn patches of brown fur into it—giving it the effect of a monster bursting from the seams—when a gust of wind blew through their yard. It was strong enough to make both of them teeter on their feet. Matt grabbed Jonas’ shoulder to steady himself. They both looked up to see a tuft of leaves swirling towards them from the big elm. They did an All Hallows dance, swaying back and forth in the cool air. It felt like a gift, like magic.
“Halloween,” Jonas said.
“Halloween,” said Matt.
Only a few minutes after they had witnessed the air dance of the poplar leaves that they heard the gang arriving. The whirr of bike wheels rotating against baseball cards was a sound both of them relished. To Jonas it meant that his friends were near. Soon he would be on his own bike, rushing around at fifteen miles per hour, making that beautiful whirring sound—almost like a real motor. The sound reminded Matt of his days with the Green Monster, a bike his parents had bought him on the same say they announced to him that Jonas would soon be arriving. It was a bribe, but a good one. It wasn’t a Schwinn, and neither was Jonas’ for that matter, but that bike could really go. Some of his best memories were made sitting on the horrible uncomfortable seat of that bike. He still smell the summer morning he spent on it. He could get on the Green Monster and take off like some lumbering beast, gaining speed out of the front yard, until he hit the sidewalk, where his wheels would catch the dry concrete like melted rubber and propel him to speeds not seen since.
“Join us,” one of the boys called from the street.
They were coming down the slight hill in front of the McCarthy house in a straight line, like ants. They, eventually, reached the front yard, arranging themselves in the same position as before, as if they were assigned spots. Roger (skull mask) was in front. He was a grungy boy who had somehow assumed the position of leader. It was a position the other boys seemed to respect; they followed his every command. Behind him was the Preston brothers (Eddie Munster and a jack o’ lantern), a set of beefy twins with military haircuts, and, bringing up the rear, was Colton Fremont, (The Hulk). He was the only black kid in school, and the only kid who caught more shit than Jonas.
“What’s up boys?” Roger said, hopelessly trying to engage the older brother, whom Jonas had recently bragged, would be getting his license soon; a trophy that all of them would reap the rewards for.
Jonas pulled his mask down past his face and trotted to the kid sporting an almost mullet. He raised his hand and the fearless leader grabbed it, pulled him forward, and patted him on the back.
“Ready to get some candy?” Jonas asked. When his friends replied with laughter, the boy looked back to his brother as if there was a joke he’d missed. Matt had already turned away, though, and was headed towards the front door of the house. Probably to turn the porch light on, Jonas though, that’s how you know who is handing out candy.
Matt closed the door behind him, then turned to the long, thin window running next to the door. He watched through distorted glass as his brother and his band of merry eleven year olds struggled up the same turnabout he used to struggle up. Jonas was in the back, having the hardest time, or maybe that was just his position in the lineup. A starry sky sat at the top of the hill, teasing through the twilight. It looked as if the boys were riding straight into infinite darkness, leaving the sane world for the night. In a way they were.
“Awooo,” Jonas screamed, reacting to the rush of wind in his hair and the methodically turning pedals under his feet. Keeping up with the boys going up the hill was a hard job but, as he topped the hill and began to descend, all of the straining seemed worth it. He was with his friends, without parents (who had decided they would spend Halloween with their own friends), and going fast. He realized that Halloween night isn’t about candy, even for kids; it’s about that feeling. Finding it impossible to describe, even in his thoughts, Jonas decided to make up his own word for that feeling: spedifrent. It means special and different, duh.
As Lamont Street leveled out, the boys reached their first row of houses, all of them with glowing porch lights. Roger abruptly turned his wheel to the right, pulling his bike to the curb. The others followed accordingly. Yes, candy, Jonas thought. Okay, so some of Halloween is about the candy.
“Alright boys,” Roger said, doing his best impression of a military captain leading his group of men out of the shit—a phrase Matt had taught him while playing army men. “Let’s get to it. Hurry your asses up, though. We’ve got bigger plans tonight.”
Both of the Preston brothers laughed, hinting at a secret. Jonas and Colton shared a look, then. Somewhere in the great plains of Africa an injured antelope was mirroring them, feeling the tiger in the bush. And then Jonas was off his bike, walking side by side with his friend. The other three were led them to the door. Roger rang the doorbell and a nice older man opened it and stuck out a witch’s cauldron full of fun-sized candy bars. All of the boys grabbed a handful, except for Roger, who daintily stuck his hand in the bowl, pulling out three pieces. Although he was the same age as the others, he was ridiculously close to being too old for this stuff.
The boys went through the same with all four houses on the row. At the end of the street they each opened their bags, admiring their loot. The chubby Preston’s were already tearing at miniature candy bars, dropping silvery wrappers on the sidewalk.
Jonas looked into his bag and found a bag of skittles. He tore a strip at the top of the packaging and tipped it up, dropping four juicy candies into his mouth. They were the sour kind, his favorite. He folded the top of the plastic and tucked the rest into the pocket of his jacket.
“If we hit—”, Jonas began to say, until he saw his leader holding a palm towards him in the halt position. Roger had his mouth full of chocolate, chewing furiously in a race to the first word.
“Sorry numb nuts,” he said, after he was finally able to force the candy down his throat. “We’re done trick r’ treating.”
One of the fat boys chortled again. Roger smiled. Colton started to say something, peering cautiously at Jonas as he did so, as if the boy’s just blown a cover, but Roger cut him off as well.
“Hey, you’re eleven years old. Cut the shit. You ain’t babies anymore. Do you think I got to finger Silvia because I acted like a child? No. So, listen up, it’s Halloween, Devil’s Night (Jonas almost made the mistake of correcting him here). It’s time we celebrate this holiday right, like the Pagans used to.”
All three of the deviants laughed at this one. Jonas and Colton shared another terrified look.
“Okay, what do you have in mind?” Jonas asked, he felt like he was stepping up to bat during the World Series. If he didn’t rise to the occasion the crowd, or his friends, would never let him forget it.
“We’re going to Spot’s,” Roger said.
He unzipped a ragged brown backpack he’s been toting around (Jonas had thought their leader had brought it to carry their candy bags and was disappointed to see otherwise). Out of it he pulled two white egg cartons.
“Horseshit,” said Colton.
Roger walked to him and slid his entire bag of candy onto the handlebar of Colton’s bicycle. “Can it, were going. You and your little butt buddy can have my share if you pull your weight.” He said.
“Pull out weight?” Jonas asked.
“Miles has been missing. Dad says someone took him. You remember him, right?”
All of them shook their head yes. Indeed, Roger had brought a puppy along when he met Jonas to work on math homework. The others had met it to. During a group project Roger, Jonas, and Colton had had to build a molecular cell, and Jonas and Colton had done a pretty good job at it too. The puppy was there, though—it even shit on Jonas’ bedroom floor.
“Well,” began one of the twin, but Roger’s voice overpowered him.
“We’re going to get revenge. For Miles.” He said.
Jonas felt like he needed to say something, as did Colton, but the conversation was over. The other boys were already turning their bikes to face to path to Circle Street. Their fearless leader had declared war on a poor old man. So, with shaky arms, and fear bubbling at his gut, Jonas pedaled along behind them. The gang turned right off Lamont, onto Mallard. Circle was only a mile away.
“So, how do you know he took him?” Jonas screamed. The leader of the pack didn’t seem to hear him, which wasn’t a surprise; he was three kids back. It was a miracle that the gang were going slowly enough for him to even keep up. He had spent most of the summer trailing far behind his friends, pedaling with all of his might to local swim spots and the roller rink. He was always showing up minutes after the others had stopped, panting, out of breath.
Circle Street waited ahead. Its green sign tilted sideways. Beyond it was the Westbend version of a wasteland. The land running against both sides of the street was filled with high, copper colored dead grass. An abandoned tricycle laid on its side in the weeds.
Even for Roger, the resident poor kid, the place was desolate. It made his skin crawl. He stopped just before the ground behind the street sign. In the distance, the sun was dipping behind a large, two story farm house, which looked out of place in Indiana, but wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary in some ragged Texas town, like the one he’d seen in that cannibal movie last year.
By the time the rest of the group got stopped Roger was already off his bike, peering down the sidewalk, towards the homes. Jonas thought he was scheming. Roger was the type of kid to plan a rock fight just for the hell of it. He took this chance to get his question in.
“How do you know Spot took your dog?”
“How do I know? I know because my dad told me so. Everyone knows the old fucker takes dogs. He’s been doing it for years, probably humping them.”
At this, maybe at the absurdity of the statement, all the boys joined him for a laugh. It was a hearty, weight lifting laugh. After it had teetered out, a gust of wind blew, scattering toasted leaves across the concrete, pushing them through the spokes of their bike tires.
“Is that his house?” The slightly pudgier Preston, named Alias, asked.
“No,” all of the other kids said in unison.
“That’s Can’t See Marie’s place,” Colton said. “I watched a mail man deliver her paper once. He left it right on her porch, not in her mail box. Wouldn’t do that for a seeing person.”
Jonas could feel his throat tightening. Unlike Spot, he had never seen the old blind woman. He did have a dream about her once. In it, she was waiting, standing still as a statue, just outside of his open bedroom door, in the darkness. He knew that if he called out for his parents that she would hear him, run to his bedside, and take his eyes.
“We should do this before it gets too dark,” He said, and immediately regretted letting it slip out of his mouth.
“Well, look who’s ready to raise some hell,” he said. “Let’s go tyke. You lead the way.”
Jonas led them. He pedaled along with what felt like lead cooling in his stomach. Marie’ house loomed over them like a titan, and, as they passed through, the great shadow cooled the air around them to a point in which, with each breath, they could see faint whispers of winter vapor puffing out in front of them. It wasn’t until they were a good ways past the house when Jonas could feel the dwindling sun on the nape of his neck again. He almost felt relieved, and would have, had it not been for that cold, heavy filling that still rested in his belly.
The group passed by three mobile homes; just as abandoned as the trike they saw at the beginning of the road. Not a single one of them had a window or door. Their attention wasn’t turned to these empty tin houses, though, but to a small one they were riding towards, the one sitting at the very mid-section of Circle Street. It should have been no surprise to them that Spot would hear them coming—the baseball cards rubbing furiously against their wheels make them sound like giant, buzzing bees.
Jonas pushed his pedal toward the ground, steadying his bike. He’d stopped at the edge of the small white house. Green mold seemed to be crawling up its walls, slowly claiming it. He heard a skidding sound as his friends came to a stop behind him.
“Okay guys,” Jonas said, expecting someone else to add something, or to take the reins, but when he looked to his friends he could see that their faces were ashen, in awe of the place.
They stared at the little house as if it were a swinging pendulum, commanding their attention, luring them to sleep. Himself, he thought the place was the least intimidating out of all the ones they’d passed thus far. At least it had a door and windows. Plus, Spot was just an old man. A terribly misunderstood old man, at that.
“You’re first Jonas,” Roger said.
The image of a poor, confused old man fell like a brick from Jonas’ fantasy; replaced by the image of a sneaky old man with black teeth. He had morphed into a dog snatching, kid hurting, maniac.
Jonas was still etching his ideal picture of a nightmare when he felt something cool and oval slip into his hand. He squeezed it softly, let his fingers feel for its fragility, and it slipped. He snapped forward and caught the egg before it could crash to the concrete. The movement was enough to jar the yolk inside. He could almost hear it swashing from one side to the other. Gross, he thought. He then felt slime running between his fingers. Without hesitation, he threw the egg.
He hadn’t been aiming, but the egg sailed towards the house anyway. It was fast. In a flash, although enough time passed for Jonas to remind himself to try out for baseball next spring, the egg sailed to the right of the front door, exploding against the corner of an awning window. Maybe it was the cold weather—with night settling in the temperature was dropping quickly—or maybe it was just cheap glass, but when the egg struck, the kids heard something all young boys are familiar with: the sound of glass fracturing. Yellow ooze dripped into the house, welcoming it to the Circle Street Club of Broken Windows.
All of his energy drained from him. He could feel it from his head to his toes. It was guilt, of course. When another flew by his head, exploding onto the front door, he wanted to put a stop to it. It was too late, however. The boys were firing like good little soldiers. By the time it was all over the house looked like it had rolled over a hen’s coop, face first.
“Stop it,” Jonas said, finally, and too late. All the eggs had been thrown.
The boys around him were laughing, and sure, they had something to laugh about. They had thrown eggs, of course, but they hadn’t broken anything. Roger was running his mouth again. It wasn’t until the other boys had fell quiet that he could hear what Bully Number One was saying. He wasn’t Bully Number One anymore, though, was he? No, that would be the pipsqueak who broke the window.
“He ain’t even home,” Roger said, “I bet if we look around we’ll find Miles.”
“Or his doggy bones,” Colton said. Jonas shot him a look of disapproval but his friend only shrugged his shoulders. They would be accepted now. It was the cost of having friends.
With Roger leading them, the group stepped into the yard. Jonas watched them disappear, one by one, behind the greenish panels of the home. The last thing he heard was a snigger from one of the boys, probably a Preston, before another strong gust of wind, the third of the night, blew around him. Leaved skittered around his ankles. Cold air pulled at his mask, cooling his face. It was only a few seconds after, thankfully, that a streetlight flickered to light above him.
Jonas stood on the circle of light, watching his shadow stand in front of him. He did so for as long as he could stand it, which was a decent amount of time. The boys should have been back a long time ago. He looked to his right, to the row of perfectly lined bicycles, just to make sure they hadn’t pulled a magicians trick and snuck home without him. The bikes were still there, he saw, and realized that he was part of a practical joke. The boys were probably laughing at him right now, peeking out from behind a bush. He didn’t want to ride home alone, especially in the dark, and especially past Can’t See Marie’s house, but he would do so if he had too. First, he wanted to do something nice for Spot. He trekked back a few steps, to his bike, and pulled his bag of candy from its handlebar. It was the least he could after destroying the window.
He strolled through the front yard. He climbed two wooden steps and bent, resting his bag of candy in front of the door. From the corner of his eye he saw a bit of movement, just before a set of claws dug into his neck. There was a flash of sharp pain as he was dragged into the house. He didn’t have time to scream for help, and couldn’t anyways, those claws in his neck felt like they were ripping through his skin. He’s soon not have a head to scream from.
The next few moments were a blur. The creature that had grabbed him flung him to the floor. Jonas watched as the sliver of light from the streetlamp disappeared. The creature had shut the door. His first instinct wasn’t to rush towards the exited light, or to run the other way and look for another way out, it was to grab his neck and assess the damage. It hurt to the touch. He rubbed the skin with his fingers and felt warm blood. He turned his attention back to the assailant just as a boot was headed towards his ribs. It was fast and hard enough to scoot the boy across the wooden floor.
“No,” he screamed. It was the only word he could think of.
Before he could find something else to scream, or to plead, the boot returned, kicking him once more; this time in the gut. A shot of pain raced from the attack point up his stomach, finally resting in his forehead.
He wasn’t sure he could breathe until he began to cry. As he did, he heard a high voiced laughter in front of him.
“Whatchu doin’ boy? You ain’t s’posed to be here,” the old man said.
Jonas couldn’t find his voice to respond. His eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the room, however, and he could get a good look at his captor. It was Spot alright, the same man from the roadside, the same man he’d heard his father and brother making fun of. “Spot get us something good to eat?” Matt would joke. His father would laugh, and sometimes his mother, but Jonas never did. He wished he had, now—that’d be something to hold over the madman.
Spot inched closer, slowly; as if the boy were a rattlesnake. From the floor he looked as tall as any man he’d ever seen. He was gangly body hadn’t changed since Jonas had last seen him, in the ditch stabbing can. He thought of that stabber (he must still have it) and cringed. The old man moved for him. He did his best to shrink back but went nowhere. His back had struck the leg of a couch.
He was cornered, and so Spot moved closer. Jonas could see that the old man was wearing a costume as well; he was dressed in a short pink dress. White flowers ran all over it like vines. Jonas could see a long, skinny cock hanging just out of the bottom of the short number.
The sight of the dangling member put his body into motion, leaving his consciousness stuck in place to watching the lunatic approach. He was crawling as fast as he could, banging his knees on the wooden floor, when he heard some familiar shouting from behind him. It was Roger. His loud, southern twanged voice was calling his name. It was the sound of angels singing. He could get up and run, dodge the old man, and, if it was locked, knock on the door for his friends to hear.
It was his only chance and he took it. He brought a knee to the floor and pushed up, exploding into a sprint, and then he saw two double doors slam in front of him. He heard a lock snap just before he crashed into them.
It hurt, but not enough to keep him from grabbing the door’s handles and giving them his best shake. He screamed for help. If his friends had heard him, they’d go for help, but that could be a while. The bike ride to the main road wasn’t very long, but maybe too long for him. Mallard was a busy road, mostly traffic, but if they could wave someone down, get them to pull over, he could have a chance. Jonas briefly fantasized about a burly police officer kicking the door in and over the old man, crushing him beneath. Fantasies are just that though, he needed to act quickly.
He looked around the room. It was a small dining room dressed in mint green wallpaper, which, at the top, curled away from the walls. A large wooden table sat in the middle, sans a single hair. There were no windows in the room, but there was another door. He was glad to not have to find a hiding place in the dining room, because there weren’t any.
He ran to the other door and turned its knob. When he pushed it open he was for the third time, this time not by a woman’s boot, but by a smell. It was rancid, rotten smell that rushed to your brain, laid nasty eggs in your pores. He imagined it was what the sewer smelled like.
Jonas gagged, took a few steps into the room, really giving it his all, and threw up. Chunks of yellow splattered onto dirty tile. Jonas looked up, surveying the room as he wiped his mouth. It was easy to see that this was the kitchen. A dingy light hung from a wire in the center. Under it was the biggest kitchen island he’d ever seen. Brown and green piles of shit decorated the tile from the island all the way to the wall on one side, where an old fridge sat, and to the sink and cabinets on the other side.
A grunt came from the room behind him. He tensed.
“Doggone it boy, you done walked in the wrong room,” Spot said. He cackled. “That dog ain’t eat in three days.”
It wasn’t long after the old man had finished laughing before Jonas heard shuffling sounds on the other side of the chef’s table. Whatever it was didn’t sound like a dog. It wasn’t the sound of tiny nails clacking against tile that his mother’s toy poodle Danger made. This was the sound of something big, full of meat, lumbering towards him. The sound of hammers hitting thick steak gained a rhythm. It felt like the whole room was shaking.
The thing came into sight. It looked like a human—a large, naked human—as it bent around the island. It locked eyes with him, he thought, until he focused. He then saw that its eyes were the shade of a bright summer sky. Its plump tits hung to the floor; nipples dirty with slime green human waste.
“Marie,” he said. It was a manic realization.
The monster charged. As it rumbled towards him a pan shook loose from one of the running cabinets to the right. It clanged to the floor and his teeth did an erratic jive. She was on all fours. Jonas could see that her fingers were all bent backwards, wired into the back of her hand, giving her strange, makeshift paws.
He got moving and rounded the table. The dog woman turned faster than he thought and lunged towards him, pawing at his leg. It was enough to knock him off balance. He fell backwards, missing the edge of the countertop by a hair. A heap of plastic softened his fall. The monster was on him fast. Its jaws opened wide, clamping down into his calf. A ripple of pain slithered up his leg and he cried out in pain. Laughter erupted from the other room. The dog woman turned her head.
It was enough time for Jonas to take aim. He raised his right foot and leveled it into her woman’s jaw. He heard teeth clatter against teeth as the woman fell to the floor, growling. A large scar stretched across her throat in the shape of a child’s chicken scratch drawing, as if it had been dug at without care or precision. He grabbed the overhanging wood of the island above him and used it to pull himself to his feet.
He ran for the other door, looking back to see the thing that used to be Can’t See Marie getting to her knees again. The same kind of chicken scratch scarring was dug into her heels. She tore past the pile of empty dog food bag that’d softened his fall. He tried the knob. It didn’t move. There was another laugh from behind him, but he was pretty sure this one was from his own conscious. It’s too late, sorry kid.
He gave the knob one more try before turning back to face the she-dog. She was on him again, moving with the force of hunger driving her like an eighteen wheeler with two jet engines under the hood. She was charging hard and fast, but he was small, even for his age. He sidestepped the large creature. She barreled into the wooden door, shaking another pan from the cabinets.
Without much thought to it, Jonas climbed onto the large island. More laughter came from the outside. Spot was enjoying this all. Soon enough the dog woman would get him, the old man must have thought. This was taking time, though, Jonas thought. He just had to wait it out.
The thing on the floor was dazed. It walked in circles now, trying desperately to turn its bloodied nose to the air and smell him out. The greatest police dogs in the world couldn’t smell through that amount of human waste, though.
He started to cry. The woman turned her head like a curious pup and Spot laughed from the other room. The woman started at him with hungry, emotionless eyes. Spot continued to laugh, deliriously, forcing it out. He wiped away tears and, for the first time, noticed that his mask was gone. It must have come at the front door, when he was grabbed. Roger would have seen that, right? Jonas remembered something else. He dug his hand into his jacket pocket, praying they hadn’t fallen out, and felt paper. The boy who was once the Wolf Man pulled a rolled packet of skittles from his pocket.
What the hell, Jonas thought, and flicked a lime flavored candy to the floor. Marie wasted no time. She raced to it and pushed her face into the floor, licking it up. A warm grumble escaped from her throat as he tossed an orange piece to the tile. It narrowly bounced past a lump of crap. He followed the orange with a strawberry.
“What the hell is goin’ on?” Spot yelled, throwing open the door.
Although he wasn’t prepared for this to happen, Jonas acted quickly by snapping the half full bag towards the old son of a bitch. A rain of yellow, red, green, and purple fell to his feet. The dog woman lunged towards the scattered candies. She slammed into the old man’s shins. The force bowled him over onto his back. The rear of his skull smacked the hardwood of the adjacent room.
Jonas felt a satisfactory crunch under his heel as he stepped over the loosely dispersed candy and past the two tangled bodies on the floor. He reached the double doors, gripped one of their knobs, and turned. It moved as easily as a stream on a mountainside. He then slammed the door shut behind him and darted for the front door. It was locked, of course.
He turned his head frantically, looking for a way, or at least a weapon, and saw it. There, against the window, looking like a rising sun, was the splattered egg. In the very middle of the ooze was the broken window. A little help and the old glass would shatter completely. Jonas looked for something to smash it with. It didn’t take long to find. Right below the window sat a solid metal dog food bowl. He picked it up and smacked the flat side against the glass. A large portion fell out. He swung again, taking out most of the jagged edges at the bottom and, from behind him, he could hear the door swing open.
He dared a look back and saw something that turned the heavy led into his stomach into a collection of heavy bowling balls. Spot was holding his spear in a warrior’s position. How easily it stabbed through aluminum. Flesh would be no trouble.
Spot took off in a shambling run. His weapon extended out from him. He meant to ram it into the little boy’s back. The dog woman followed at his heels, her pale fat moving around her as fiercely waters of the Potomac. The cool air from outside hit Jonas’ face, bringing him back to attention, and causing him to smack the glass for a third time. The longest of the protruding knives of glass fell out and he dived headfirst through the square window.
He landed on freshly dewed grass and rolled. He rubbed his hands over his body, searching for cuts, on his way to the street. His friend’s bikes were gone, but his silver racer was there, leaning on its kickstand under the street light. Jonas looked back. Spot, still dressed in his disturbing pink dress, was standing in the open doorway. He eyes were big silver dollars in the night.
“S’get em!” Spot yelled.
The old man stepped aside and the dog woman appeared in the door way. She growled and took a step towards him, then stopped. Her attention turned to her left. She was examining something he couldn’t quite see.
“S’get em you bitch!” The man yelled and kicked her in the side.
It was of little use, though; she was already attacking whatever it was that had grabbed her attention. Jonas took the chance to climb on his bike. He was off, moving his feet as fast as he could. Night air whizzed past him, as did the mobile homes. A leaf smacked him on the forehead but he didn’t waver. He got the bike going speeds it had never seen before. He passed by the former home of Can’t See Marie. How long had Spot had her in his house, living like a dog?
He was past the truly empty house when he saw a set of headlights pulling down the road. He raised a hand. Breaks squealed.
“Come on,” Matt yelled from the driver’s seat.
“Come on, buddy,” A voice yelled from the back. It was the familiar hillbilly accent of Roger.
“Let’s go,” The other boys beside him.
Jonas climbed into the passenger seat and turned to see his friends in the back. They looked scared and bewildered, as if they were looking at a ghost. On the way home all of them, including Matt, asked him question after question. He answered them all.
When they got home his brother called the police and told them everything. The cop said they’d check out the old house and said that the place had been condemned since last June. They also said they’d be over to help the boys file a police report. The boys never heard from them.
After all of his friends had been picked up by their parents, Matt asked Jonas if he wanted to watch a scary movie and Jonas said sure, even though he could already feel that cold drip of fear in his stomach. The longer he watched the less heavy that feeling became. By the time Matt brought back from the kitchen a bowl of popcorn and a bag of snacks the feeling had dissipated.
“Candy? Matt asked, holding a bag of miniature candy bars up to him.
“Candy,” Jonas said.
The look on his brother’s face worried Matt. He dropped the bag.
“What’s wrong Jonas? Say something.”
“She found my candy,” he said, “That’s how I got away.
“Maybe I should ask for a trade,” Matt said, and the two of them laughed.
On the television a living dead creature was using a rock to smash the headlights out of a truck.