Halloween Short Story: When A Prank Goes Bad

Oct 22, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrific Tales

by John R. Clark

I keep the lights on all night now. You would too if your last Halloween was like mine. Instead of trick-or-treating that night, I went around collecting signatures for a fictitious petition as a prank. The wording was simple: “Do you agree to limit the number of Mollycoddles in town?”trick or treater

I’d filled out the first sheet and was a quarter way through the second, when I realized I didn’t recognize where I was. Nothing looked familiar. The sidewalk was a dark purple, the streetlights were dim green triangles, and the trees emitted a menacing vibe while looking ready to pounce. The nearest house sat well back from the road, with flickering lights moving around behind curtains that looked like giant cats had used them to sharpen their claws.

I was trying figure out how to get home when something even more unsettling happened. A mouth grew until it stretched all the way across the purple sidewalk. It began grinning as it moved closer. When it emitted a high-pitched giggle, that was all it took for me to drop my petition and run toward the house with the flickering lights, undeterred by shadows moving behind the tattered draperies. When I reached the porch, I paused to look back and realized the mouth was hovering above the driveway and moving in my direction.

After pinching my arm unsuccessfully in hopes the pain would wake me from a nightmare, I banged on the dirty white door so hard that paint chips fluttered down, turning a bloody red when they hit my shoes. I could hear whispering inside, but it ceased as soon as I hit the flaking panel a second time. Another look over my shoulder told me the mouth had sprouted a double row of needle-like teeth. When it gnashed them together, long green strands of jiggly slime began dripping toward the ground. As the first one landed, it acquired a life of its own, swelling until it started to look like a demented gnome made from lime Jell-O with stubby legs and bulging eyes.

Why didn’t I stay home and pass out candy like a normal person, I wondered, but there was no time left for recrimination. It was either try the doorknob or take my chances with the two horrors approaching me from behind. I twisted the handle, praying it wasn’t locked and uttered a “Thank you Jesus!” when it turned and I fell into the house.

I hit the floor which was covered with the most disgusting carpeting I’d ever encountered. It smelled like a mix of cigarette butts, spoiled meat, and cat pee. Fighting the urge to vomit, I grabbed the door handle and hauled myself upright, only to feel my knees go weak when I saw the occupants. The four creatures standing by the opposite wall sure as hell weren’t human. It was impossible to tell what they were. The only source of illumination, guttering black skull-shaped candles on various surfaces, didn’t help with identifying the quartet, or with figuring out where to hide.

When the Jell-O creature poked its head through the open door, I let instinct take over and bolted across the room and into a hallway on the right. I could make out two doors on my left and another on my right, with a stairway going up at the end. Shuffling noises, accompanied by whispers and sinister laughter from behind me, set my feet in motion. I gulped and opened the first door on my left. It was a bathroom with a claw foot tub. It didn’t take long to realize the claw feet were real. No sooner had that realization hit me than the tub started waddling in my direction.

stairsI slammed the door, moving to the single one on the right just in time to see the first monster from the living room enter the hall. Behind this door, stairs led down to darkness. I’d seen too many horror films to go that route. The last door was locked, leaving the stairway to the second floor as my only remaining option.

I wasted no time ascending them, hoping to find someplace to barricade myself. The layout was similar to the first floor, but two of the three doors were locked and the hallway dead ended, leaving me one option. I opened the remaining door and entered, slamming it behind me, turning the deadbolt, giving me a bit of protection.

When I turned around, my heart stopped. Sitting in a chair by the window, was the last person I ever wanted to see. When I divorced Wilma, one of the biggest reasons for the split was her domineering and super judgmental mother, Melanie. Here she was, all three hundred scowling pounds of her, the woman I’d strangled in a fit of desperate rage just before the divorce. She cackled as she rose to her full height of five feet four inches. “Did you miss me little worm?” She shambled toward me as I tried to unlock the door and take my chances with whatever was in the hallway, but I was too late.

Melanie, smelling even worse than the carpet, lifted me in an obscene hug, dragging me over to the bed where she pushed me down before falling on top of me.

“I’ll be with you for eternity,” she gurgled in my ear as I blacked out.

When I came to, I was in my own bed, alive, but smelling like cat pee and corpses. Ever since, sleep has been elusive, but I’ll take exhaustion over a return visit from my monster-in-law any day.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories including more Halloween short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode perfect for Halloween listening went up this week.

John Clark is a retired Maine librarian who writes short stories and young adult novels. His new book, Hardscrabble Kids: Semi-Magical Tales of Maine is available in print and E-book on Amazon.com.



  1. Weekend Update: October 22-23, 2022 | Maine Crime Writers - […] John Clark has a ghost story in the latest issue of King’s River Life. https://kingsriverlife.com/10/22/halloween-short-story-when-a-prank-goes-bad/ […]

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