In Fiction on October 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Autumn leafs


The boys shuffled through ankle-deep leaves on their way up the hill. The night was drawing on and their breath made ghosts in the frosty air.

“It’s not as good this year,” Lucas said wistfully. “What happened to all the king-sized stuff?”

“The economy, I guess,” Will replied, and Lucas grumbled his agreement. The grownups were always saying it, anyway.

“At least Mr. and Mrs. Crane always get the good stuff,” he said, and as he spoke the house at the top of the hill materialized through giant elms and magnolia trees, an enormous three-story Victorian with deep eaves and shadowed windows. The place was dark save for the sinister glow of jack-o-lanterns, their grins glimmering along the weedy walk.

“Mom says it’s just Mr. Crane, now,” Will whispered, suddenly hushed. “Do you think he even remembered Halloween? My dad’s terrible about that stuff.”

“Well, he remembered the decorations,” Lucas said. The boxwood hedges had been draped with fake cobwebs, and straw-stuffed scarecrows littered the lawn; one even swung lonely from the giant magnolia, a hangman’s noose around its neck.

The boys walked slowly up the brick way, the old house towering above them, white and tired as a tomb.

“How’d Mr. Crane get so rich, anyway?”

“Banking or something, I think. Maybe investing.”

“Well, whatever he does, I’m in,” Lucas said. “Look at this place. I bet he has all sorts of cool stuff.”

He rang the doorbell and the boys stood back. The wind gusted and the house creaked a sad reply, but nothing moved within.

“Knock,” Will said. “Maybe the bell’s broken.”

But the wind gusted again and the old magnolia tree groaned, and suddenly a great rending crack split the night as the scarecrow, the hangman’s noose, and the limb to which they had been tied came crashing down.

The boys looked, and saw, and ran – leaving their candy behind.

Pale as straw and dry as burlap, the scarecrow leaked thick blood on the brittle leaves.

This is my response to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge, which (keeping with the dark themes of the month) was sinister. As always, the rules are to write a 33 to 333-word story based on the third definition of the week’s word.

Here are some more stories to induce the spookies (a serious medical condition):

It’s Only a Story

The Black Fool

The Screamer

The Hatchery

I’d love to hear your comments and criticism, so let me know what you think below!

  1. Great descriptions… I can easily picture the boys trudging through the leaves to Mr. Crane’s house. It’s wonderfully creepy too.

  2. zomg O____O

    I literally cried out.

    This is SO GOOD!!!!

  3. Totally worked on the creepiness, Brian, but with a lovely feel of childhood fake scares, gradually turned into real ones. This is one of your best, imho. Favourite lines – the second sentence is gorgeous and the last one is perfectly tuned. I was suspicious of that hanging scarecrow right from the off!
    One little suggestion – there’s perhaps too much alliteration in “grins glimmering along the weedy walk”. It’s slightly hard to read, which took me momentarily out of the amazing rest of the story.

    • Thanks! I’ve had a similar idea kicking around in my brain for a while, so I thought I’d finally give it a try. I’m glad you liked it (and I definitely agree on the over-alliteration. It can be “grins glimmering” or “weedy walk” but not both, haha).

  4. Oh, YIKES! Creepy, creepy tale so perfect for a chilly October’s evening. I think I shall go and hide in my closet for a bit.

    I especially like how the boys are admiring what the guy has, and thinking how amazing that would be but really, no. Brilliant.

  5. Sinister indeed. The dialogue sounded spot on. And yeah, I’d leave the candy behind too…
    Nice job.

  6. Ah I KNEW it was Mr. C there. Nice and creepy. Nice set up. Terrific descriptions. Love the dialogue about the candy. I agree. What exactly is “fun” about “fun size”?

  7. Love the imagery. I felt I was there with the boys. Thanks for stopping by my blog Words are Timeless and your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you likes my words.

  8. You did a great job setting the scene here; I remember plenty of nights just like that, although thankfully with very different endings!

    • The spooky factor definitely made it more fun, which is why it makes me sad that some kids have to trick-or-treat during the day! Thanks for coming by to read

  9. love it! i felt like a kid on the candy hunt. you stayed true to a classic halloween tale. the end, though, eek! i was expecting the scarecrow to be alive, not the sad end for the old man :/
    i particularly liked your first two lines, especially the breath making ghosts. and kids talking economics because of candy haha, great write!

    • Thanks! I reworked those lines a few times so I’m glad they came out ok. When you’re a kid economics pretty much always comes back to candy, doesn’t it? ha

  10. Agree with all the comments. Great descriptive writing that brought me right there. And very creepy cool unexpected ending.

  11. Oh goodness. I didnt expect that ending. It made me love it even more.

  12. I loved how flippant and worldly the boys were only for a childhood nightmare to become real. Really nice writing.

  13. This is terrifying! Scarecrows are now on my ever-growing list of fears.

  14. I love that their breath made ghosts on the frosty air. That’s great. This is really well done, Brian. I was sufficiently scared by their advance. And the ending, wow, unexpected. Nice work.

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