by BJ Wingate
Enjoy this never before published Halloween mystery short story! This is the second of several Halloween mystery short stories that will be going up this month! For more Halloween fun check out the latest podcast episodes of Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, both perfect for your Halloween listening-Mr. Borden Does Not Quite Remem… written by Ana Brazil and The Mystery of the Jade Cats written by Sharon K Garner.
She stepped off the bus at the usual place, waving to the driver as he took off. Then she turned in the opposite direction and started walking. It was later then her usual time and, since it was fall, it was darker than normal. She could smell the freshness of the breeze as it whipped by her, lifting the bottom of one flap of her coat and trying to toss it about. She pushed it back down and continued along the sidewalk.
She knew the trees would be assorted colors now, though she couldn’t see them in the dusk. She still had a few blocks to go. Dry leaves crackled and popped under her feet. The breeze suddenly turned a bit cooler and she hugged her coat closer. She wished, as she did often at this time of year, that she had thought to wear pants rather than a dress to work today. Oh well, that couldn’t be helped now.
She turned a corner and paused a minute to turn her head slightly with a frown. Was that a sound behind her? She wasn’t sure and she stared back at the ever-darkening street for a few seconds, then moved on down the sidewalk again. The street lamps were turning on as she walked, the leaves still crunching; she thought she could hear an answering crunch behind her. She stopped in the circle of a street lamp and looked back again, staring, trying to pierce the darkness. She couldn’t see anything but the darkness, so she turned and moved on, heading home.
It’s only my imagination, she thought and then smiled at her own silliness. Then a stick—or something—snapped off to her right, just across the street from her. She jumped and looked in that direction, but didn’t see anything there. She moved a bit faster, her steps making the dry leaves sound somehow ominous. She felt in her purse without stopping, wondering if she had something that could be used as a weapon. Then a shape ran across the sidewalk directly in front of her and she gasped, jumping a good two inches. A soft meow came out of the darkness and she laughed a bit shakily.
“You scared me there kitty. Not a good night to be out and about you know.” The black cat turned and looked at her, then looked behind her and ran off. She watched it for a minute before moving on again. Had the cat seen something she hadn’t?
Finally, she was on her own street and almost to her house. It wasn’t far away, yet it seemed to be miles away as she kept walking. Then she heard again the sound of the leaves crunching, almost an echo of her own steps. She sped up. So did the echo. She was gasping for breath as she moved. Her hand in her purse found her keys and she yanked them out, searching frantically for the right one as she almost trotted down the street. Somewhere in the night she heard a high-pitched scream and almost screamed herself. She ran then, down the rest of the street, up her front steps, jammed the key in the lock, turned it, raced inside and slammed the door behind her, locking it as she did.
Leaning back against the door, one hand over her heart, she slowed her breathing; her heartbeat eased, and finally she laughed. She was never so glad to be home as now. She pushed away from the door and dropped her purse and keys on the small table, then slipped off her coat and hung it on a peg. She bent down, picked up her mail and walked to another table a short distance down the front hall where she kept her letter opener. She sorted through the mail and found one that looked interesting. She picked up the opener, which resembled a short dagger, and inserted it in the flap of the letter.
A sudden rap, rap, rap sounded on her front door and she froze, listening. She didn’t hear anything else at the door but she waited. Then as she was about to finish with the letter…
She sliced open the letter and the point of the opener nicked one finger. She jumped, and put her finger to her mouth as she turned to look at the door. Who would be here at this time of the evening? Everyone she knew would be at dinner or just after by now. Again, she hesitated.
The sound was incessant, demanding to be recognized. Slowly she set the letter opener down.
It wasn’t a long hallway, so she wasn’t far. She walked slowly to the door, placed her hand on the knob…
RAP! RAP! RAP!
She jumped back, then shook her head. “Really now,” she told herself, “get a grip. If someone (something?) were out to harm me, would they actually knock?” She laughed, took hold of the doorknob once more and unlocked the door. Swinging it open she jumped back, her hand going to her throat. There were monsters at her door! Horrible ugly monsters! She gasped as they all said in one voice…
“TRICK OR TREAT!”
It was Halloween.
Check out more Halloween short stories in our Terrific Tales section.