Back in 2008 I wrote a story as a prompt to a Halloween contest. My friend, S. Copperstone, created an interesting character for another story in the same contest. I was aggravated with myself. Why didn’t I come up with that name? I didn’t know—I still don’t—but I do know I liked it. She and I talked about this character, a Mr. Cade Aver, and I eventually asked her if I could write a story using the name. She was cool with it.
When I was finished, I sent her a copy of it and asked for permission to submit it somewhere. It got picked up by Estronomicon for Halloween of that year.
Today I present you with a rewritten version of Treats at the Aver Residence. Again, I contacted my friend, S. Copperstone, for permission to put this up. What, you ask? Why ask when it was my story? Why ask when she granted permission before? It’s simple: out of respect for my friend and the character name. I could simply change the name, but I don’t want to do that. I want Cade Aver and my friend to get the credit they deserve, because, honestly, if not for her, I would have never written the story.
So, please, enjoy, Treats at the Aver Residence, and if you wouldn’t mind, leave a comment. I would appreciate it.
Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.
“They’re going to love this year’s treat,” Cade said, giddily. He moved around the large steel table with a carving knife in hand. His milky eyes dazzled in the yellow glow of the overhead lights. He began to sing a tune, changing the lyrics slightly. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The children are sneaking, and candy they’re seeking with great cheer. Oh yes it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
On the table lay the body covered by a sheet up to its head. The man squirmed, arms and legs pulling on the restraints that held him down. His eyes were wide orbs, glassy and full with fear.
“All those years of being a surgeon come in handy at this time of year, don’t you think, Mr. Mason.”
Cade looked down into Mason’s green eyes, red veins prominent on their whites. The man blinked, and a stray tear fell down the side of his face. He let out a groan, not one of pain, but fear. Cade was certain if the white cloth shoved into his mouth wasn’t there, Mason would scream for all he was worth—and at that moment, he was worth quite a lot to Cade.
“Don’t worry—you will only feel a moderate amount of pain, and that for only a few seconds, maybe a minute, and then you’ll pass out.” He stroked Mason’s sweaty cheek. “Then you won’t feel anything at all. At least until the children arrive.”
Mason shook his head, his eyes filling with tears.
“Oh yes,” Cade almost sung, and then patted Mason’s face. “It’s going to be a wonderful Halloween.”
In their homes, the children sang and danced as their mothers painted their off colored skin whatever shade of pale, brown or black that they chose. Halloween shows—It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy were their favorites—played on the television and those who were finished with their dinners sat and watched until the sun began to set.
The anticipation made some of them bounce in their seats. Toes tapped. Fingers drummed. Teeth even chattered. Betsy Wallabanger’s teeth fell out twice, and each time she put them back in, she had to adjust her lipstick. Excitement hung in the air.
“Would you like a smiley face or a frown? Or maybe a really scary face?”
Mason shook his head and moaned again.
“Hmm . . . none of those, huh? I have templates this year—got them cheap at the WalGreens in town. They practically gave them to me.” Cade rubbed the blade of his knife against the side of his head. A flap of skin peeled back and a few strands of dirty brittle hair flaked to the floor. “Wow, that’s sharp—I guess I should be careful where I put that.”
Cade pulled the sheet away like a magician putting on a show, and looked at Mason’s body. A pair of red underwear covered his privates but other than that Mason was nude. His belly was plump, the signs of a man who likes to eat, and eat well at that.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I shaved your body while you were asleep. You had a lot of hair and you know how kids are—most of them just don’t like hair on their treats. But I didn’t shave your head. Some of them like to keep scalps for souvenirs these days.”
Mason shook his head hard and let out a yell that was muffled by the cloth. He chewed on the rag as if trying to eat it so he could cry for help.
“Well, I’m sorry, but you needed the shave. What’s done is done—you just have to get over that now.”
Cade set the knife on a counter behind him and rifled through the templates. “Frankenstein? Oh, how about Shrek—he’s popular with the kiddies.” After going through all of the patterns, he set them down, and picked up a black marker. “None of those will do. Not for you, Mr. Mason. I’ll just have to come up with something on my own.”
He stood over Mason’s ample belly and drew an odd looking oval just below the ribs. He drew a second oval and then a triangle around Mason’s belly button. Cade tapped his temple with the marker and looked up at the ceiling. Many images ran through his head until the right one came to mind. A smile creased his face.
“Oh, you are going to love this.”
He drew the large squiggly line below the triangle and then brought it down close to his underwear line. Cade picked up the knife and looked at Mason. “Are you ready for this?”
Mason’s screams were muffled as Cade plunged the knife into his stomach.
“Come on, let’s get changed into your costumes.”
The children squealed with joy when the mothers beckoned them to get ready for the festivities. They hurried to their rooms and donned their different outfits. They were vampires and werewolves, neither of which sparkled or walked around shirtless. They were witches with warts on their noses and brooms by their sides. They were zombies—oh so many of them were zombies. Betsy Wallabanger dressed up as a corpse bride, her hair jutting this way and that way, her outfit a natural dirty shade, complete with stains across the front. Her mother had worn that very costume when she was Betsy’s age. There were no princesses or Batmans or video game stars. There were no cute little lions, tigers or bears, oh my. There was an Alice and she carried a bucket shaped like the tardy rabbit’s head. Every few steps it dripped blood—not too much, just enough to make it appear real.
They practiced the chants they learned from Halloweens past. Their voices rang up to the ceilings and none were off key.
“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.”
Some of the kids added extra verses, having learned them from the older kids. “If you don’t I won’t cry. I’ll slit your throat and then you’ll die.”
Mothers gave approving looks and fathers ruffled the enthusiastic heads of the extra verse singers.
There were few idle threats of ‘behave or else.’ Those were reserved for parents in towns where Halloween was more of a burden than a rite of passage. Besides, the kids in Dreads Hollow knew the parents would never stick to their threats of no haunting the neighborhood—it was just as much fun for the adults as it was for the children. Then there was always the one house at the end of Corpse Avenue that did something different each year. If anything, the parents wanted to see how Mr. Aver had decorated. If there were no haunts for the kids, there was no visiting the Aver residence for the adults.
Cade pulled part of the flesh of Mason’s stomach away. He bit down on a piece of it, chewed and nodded. “Very tasty.”
He looked inside Mason’s stomach. He had deadened the nerves and cauterized the flesh around where he had carved away the precious meat. Blood still flowed from the chest cavity and Mason still breathed, though shallow as it was.
The carved face appeared gruesome but Cade wasn’t finished. He had left a long slit by the reamed out mouth. A mesh was in place, holding Mason’s intestines in.
Cade carefully moved Mason’s body onto a gurney he had procured from one of the medical catalogues he still received, though he hadn’t been a practicing surgeon in well over twenty years. Mason moaned and opened his eyes. A few seconds later, his eyes closed again and he was unconscious to the world around him. Cade pushed the gurney through the house and onto the front porch.
Out in the fresh autumn air, Cade took a deep breath. The coolness filled his throat, but burned his ancient lungs. “Ah, I love this time of year.” He worked like a cautious burglar, careful not to set any alarms off and give himself away. In Cade’s case, careful not to jar Mason’s body and have his efforts ruined by an act of clumsiness. He slid his arms under Mason’s legs and back and carried him down the steps. Cade sat him on a sturdy lawn chair, not bothering to brush off the leaves that had fallen on it or the spider web that hung between one armrest and the seat. Back inside, Cade grabbed the accessories, chip wrappers and empty beer cans. He littered the area around Mason with the garbage and placed one of the cans in the man’s hand.
Cade looked at his creation. The backdrop of his old house with its creaky steps, shuttered windows and flaking paint would give anyone from outside of Dreads Hollow the creeps. He smiled and shook with something akin to lust.
They walked the streets of the neighborhood, clothed in their homemade outfits and masks. Each child’s eyes beamed with excitement as they went from door to door. The welcome lights shone brightly at each house, luring the kids to knock and speak their chants. Neighbors opened doors, smiled and played along. They oohhed and ahhed at the costumes; they told the children how scary and terrifying and even how sickening they were; they gave them treats of lady fingers and animal eyes, of hair necklaces and cooked tongues.
“I got a rock,” one kid said when he left each house. The other children laughed the first couple of times, but eventually grew tired of it and begged him to stop.
Tunes of Trick or Treat rang throughout the night until they reached the Aver residence. It sat at the end of Corpse Avenue, the front yard lit by a dim bulb that cast shadows that looked like pointy fingers stretching across the ground. Cade stood on the porch, his face covered by a mask made of Mason’s skin.
Several of the children approached the house. Their bodies hummed with anticipation and their eyes darted about the yard. Mason sat in the shadows near the porch, one hand wrapped around the beer can. He moaned and the children stopped. Some of the parents leaned into get a better look.
“I call this Drunk Man,” Cade said and flipped a switch that lit up the yard.
A loud gasps echoed through the night as parents and children alike took in Cade’s work. Mason’s stomach had been carved out into a normal pumpkin face, the lining burned black. A trickle of blood still washed down into the man’s briefs. Mason’s eyes had been stapled open and crusted blood clung to his face. His intestines, which had been held in by the mesh, now dangled on Mason’s lap. It appeared as if they had been vomited out of the wide mouth in his belly. The cloth in his mouth from earlier was gone and his bottom lip trembled.
Betsy Wallabanger—six past a hundred years of age—approached the creation, cautiously. “He’s still alive,” she said and looked up at Cade.
“Go ahead. It’s okay, he can’t move,” Cade said with a grisly smile.
Betsy set her pillowcase bag on the ground and leaned down. She sunk her teeth into one of Mason’s thighs. He screamed as she worked her jaw from side to side. She ripped off a piece of muscle, her teeth coming out slightly. She shoved them back in place and chewed. After she swallowed, she smiled. “Delicious.”
“Come, little ones,” Cade waved. “Enjoy this year’s treat from the Aver residence.”
Children squealed as they lit in on Mason. His screams filled the night, much to Cade’s satisfaction. The parents looked on—and some of them even joined them—with a happiness that is reserved for their ilk as they watched them partake of the fresh treat Cade had provided.
“You really outdid yourself this year, Aver,” one of the fathers said before he walked away with his little boy. The front of the boy’s costume was soaked red and he licked his fingers clean of the blood that had been on them.
Cade sat on the porch in an ancient rocker that squealed like a wounded rat as it went back and forth. The sounds of singing, happy children had long since faded. What remained of Mason lay scattered on the lawn. There were bones here and there, a clump of hair by the sidewalk—the scalp had not been taken this year. One of the kids had bit off his privates. Or was it one of the moms? Cade didn’t know.
On his lap sat a skull. Part of it was still pink from blood and meat. He pulled a piece of flesh off of the cheekbone and plopped it in his mouth. He chewed, swallowed and then sang his favorite tune as he rocked back and forth.
“Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year…”