Where there is horror, there is MacArthur! She pens bizarro, freaky, imaginative, and downright profound stories and poems, seemingly with ease. She’s been published in a plethora of ezines and print anthologies (her latest, Tainted Lady in Side Show 2: Tales of the Big Top and Bizarre), and she’s not stopping there – a novella and a novel nestle under her dark wings, and will soon shadow our eyes with wicked delight. It is an honor to introduce my next guest and good friend, Jodi MacArthur and her super, creepy tale, Halloween Games.
By Jodi MacArthur
Stringy. Sticky. It clung to the roof of her mouth. “I give up.”
Neil lifted the blindfold from her eyes. In the black light, Jackie saw a spoonful of goop hanging from the spoon. “Eww!” She slapped it. “What is that?”
Neil opened his mouth in a grimace, teeth shining a sinuous white. His face was a blend of bruises. A giant red nose sat between his cheeks like a tomato. Jackie shivered. “Tell me what it is.”
They’d only dated a couple weeks. Neil hadn’t been one to speak often, but he was generous, full of quiet humor. She had appreciated that, until tonight. His gentleness was now cruelty.
“Calm down, kitty kitty. You know what killed the cat.”
“Neil, that isn’t funny. This was supposed to be fun. I told you what I put in your mouth.”
“It’s not my fault my mystery food is more mysterious than yours,” he whispered.
Jackie looked around. They both sat on the floor. Her back was against the couch and he was sitting on his knees across from her. His painted lips held no smile. She glanced at her cell charger on the kitchen table. She wished she hadn’t left her phone in her room. Not that she’d need it. It was only Neil. And it was Halloween after all.
“Jackie? Is it the costume? I told you I was going to be a clown.” He honked his nose once.
She startled at the sound of it. “I don’t know.” She shrugged, avoiding his eyes. “I guess. Just tell me what it is. I gave you peeled grapes, you know that.”
“Tell you what. Close your eyes again, and I’ll put your hand in what I gave you.”
She looked up and pulled the kitty ears off her head. “What do you mean put my hand in it?”
“Close your eyes and I’ll show you.”
Their eyes met.
Her heart raced. Why was she so afraid? It was just Neil. There was nothing to be afraid of. But the substance in her mouth tasted wrong. It had been something dark colored, but in the black light she couldn’t tell what it was. And then it occurred to her, a pumpkin. Just a pumpkin. The gooey innards. Raw. Gross, but not harmful. She decided she had over reacted.
Neil unclasped her hands in her lap and held them. He felt over the sharp tips of the claws she’d glued on. “Trust me, okay?”
She nodded. “Okay.”
“Close your eyes,” he whispered, and turned to something behind him.
She squeezed her eyes, and allowed him to take her right hand. She felt something soft, furry. “What?”
And then he lifted her fingertips, slipped them inside something warm and wet. She said, “That doesn’t feel like a pumpkin.”
“It’s not a pumpkin.”
She opened her eyes and her heart stopped. Her fingers were inside a small black head, fuzzy ears laid flat. Its little tongue lolled out between the kitten’s teeth. She opened her mouth, but couldn’t find her voice to scream.
“Here kitty, kitty…” He produced a long, curved bowie knife.
“Neil!” she gasped.
“Hollow you out and light you up like a pumpkin. I want my kitty to be a jack o lantern.” He swung the bowie at her, slicing the top of her wrist.
Pain snapped her out her spell. She slapped back at him, her pinkie jabbing into his eye.
She jumped away as he slashed at her again, one eye bloody and closed. She stepped on the remote control as he chased her to the kitchen where she grabbed a knife of her own.
“They did the mash! They did the monster mash!” blared from the TV.
“Don’t screw me with me, Neil.”
It was then he smiled for the first time. He backed her into the cupboard. Jackie held the butcher knife in front of her, and reached inside the drawer behind her.
Their shadows danced in the black light.
“What did one clown say to the other after they ate the little kitty cat?”
She felt inside the drawer and found what she was looking for. “Don’t do this.”
“Does this taste funny to you?” Neil jabbed at her.
Jackie dodged and sprayed him full on with pepper spray.
“Bad kitty!” he screamed, and flailed the bowie at her.
Jackie held out her butcher knife, both blades collided. She sprayed him again. Neil dropped his bowie, bent over, and grabbed his face. “My eyes, dammit!”
Jackie dropped the can, stepped aside him to run, when Neil grabbed her knees. They both sprawled to the ground. He climbed on top of her and bit her shoulder, his nose honking. She screamed, and hacked the butcher knife into his neck.
And then she realized he was no longer moving. Jackie let go of the knife and grabbed at Neil’s hair to lift him off her. His head lifted from his body. She had hacked all the way through.
“They did the mash! It was a graveyard smash!”
The doorbell rang. She jumped up, his body rolling off her. Jackie ran to the door and threw it open.
“Trick or Treat!” Two ghouls and a witch stood on the porch. Parents stood behind them, smiles brightening their faces. They quickly turned to frowns.
The witch said, “Mommy? That’s not very funny.” A parent screamed long and shrill, “Call 911!” The children wailed as parents grabbed them, and they all ran.
Jackie lifted her arms to them. “Wait! Don’t leave me!”
It was then that she realized she still held Neil’s head. She dropped it, and it rolled down the doorsteps, honking all the way to the sidewalk.
2010 © Jodi MacArthur
Autumn is Jodi MacArthur’s favorite time of year. She avoids the Grim Reaper by hiding in her closet, dressing up as a clown, and carving little kittens… on pumpkins (of course!). Seek the macabre at http://www.jodimacarthur.blogspot.com