Author's Note: Hi everyone, I'm back, just as promised. This story's a bit more horror than my last but I hope you all enjoy. Since it is a Halloween story, I'll try to get most of it up in October. I'd like to thank everyone who supported me in my previous stories and also all of you who are joining me now.
Chapter One: The Soft Glow of the Jack O'Lanterns
The bar was crowded, dimly lit and so loud that the patrons had to shout to be heard by those sitting right next to them. Which really wasn't what George Dayton had been hoping for. He had come here after a terrible day of work and wanted to enjoy a few beers with his friend while they unwound. And this particular bar was normally nice and quiet but he had failed to remember that there was a Halloween party scheduled for that evening. Why the hell they'd scheduled a Halloween party so early in October was beyond him, but it wasn't like he had any say in such things.
George had wanted to leave to go to a quieter bar right after they had arrived, but Mike had insisted that they stay. The two of them had been best friends since kindergarten but were wildly different in personality. George had gone to a university, gotten a degree in biochemistry, taken a well-paying job with a local company, married his girlfriend he'd met in college, bought a lovely house, and settled down to have three children. Mike had dropped out of high school, toured the country taking one crappy job after another (some of which weren't quite legal), come back to town and moved in with a bar waitress, gotten her pregnant and then married her two years after their son was born, and would probably still be unemployed if George hadn't gotten him a janitor position at the company he worked for. In all the ways that George was a success story, his friend was a loser.
"Man, this party is awesome!" Mike shouted.
"I just wanted a quiet beer." George called back.
"There's more to life than a few dozen quiet drinks, buddy. It's just a shame Sherrie's not working here tonight. She loves a good party! But we couldn't get a sitter for Timmy."
"You knew about this party and you brought us here anyway?"
"Yeah, you said you wanted a drink."
"You know I hate parties."
"Live a little!" Mike laughed.
At that moment George wanted nothing more than to wrap his hands around Mike's throat and strangle the life from him. Then they'd see who couldn't 'live a little'. He took another gulp of his beer and tried to control his anger towards his best friend. Besides, he wasn't drunk enough to believe he could take Mike down in a fight anyways. George was five foot-six and slightly overweight, while Mike was six foot-two and heavily muscled. The shorter man knew who he could beat and who to leave alone.
"Let's get out of here." George stood and started for the door, turning his head to see Mike stand as well and toss a few bills on the bar.
As they approached George's blue Mustang convertible, Mike snatched the keys from his hand and ran to the driver's side door.
"Hey, give those back, asshole!"
"You had a few too many to be behind the wheel. I'm driving."
George once more imagined killing the other man as he got into the car. It was a twenty-minute drive to his place and they spent the whole time in silence. Once the car was parked, George got out and reached his hand out for his keys. Mike threw them at him.
"Have a good night, Georgey-boy."
"Drop dead, jerk." George called back as he climbed the stairs to his front porch.
He let himself into his house and closed the door behind him. As George entered the kitchen, he saw leftovers from a casserole sitting in a glass dish on the counter. He knew it was very late and that his family was probably all in bed already. Ignoring the food, George started to walk into the living-room, intent on watching some television before bed, when Crystal came down the stairs to greet him.
"Hey honey, how was your day?"
"I'm getting home after eleven. How the hell do you think my day was?"
"Sorry to hear things didn't go well. Did you stop by the bar on your way home?" And there was that damned disapproving look she gave him way too often lately.
"Stop your nagging. If your job was as crappy as mine, you'd need to unwind too. But no, you get the easy job and get to come home early."
"Teaching math is not easy." Crystal's voice was so low that it was barely audible.
"You talking back to me now? After all I go through at work, I gotta come home and put up with your crap?"
"I didn't mean…"
"Never mind. Just put away those leftovers and go back to bed." George ordered as he stomped over to his favorite recliner.
Mike Norton walked the twelve blocks from George's house to his own apartment. Truth be told, his friend had become a huge jerk over the years but Mike was hoping that he'd come around. George had always had a terrible temper (Mike had nicknamed him The Hulk back in grade school) but he'd still been a pretty good guy. Until, of course, he'd turned twenty-one years old and became a slave to the bottle. Mike enjoyed a beer now and then, especially if there was a party involved, but was careful to never drink to the point where he was affected more than a slight buzz. But George liked to drink to get drunk and then became the world's biggest a-hole. And lately he no longer needed beer to claim that title.
Mike climbed the stairs to his third floor apartment and unlocked the door. He'd no sooner stepped into the living-room and closed the front door when someone grabbed his legs from behind.
"Daddy! You're home! I missed you!"
"Hey, sport! Daddy missed you too. But what are you doing up? It's too late for such a little guy to be up and about, isn't it?"
"No. Mommy said I could stay up."
"Mommy most certainly didn't." Sherrie corrected as she entered the room.
"Busted!" Mike exclaimed.
Timmy giggled. "Oops." He put on his most innocent expression. "I just wanted to see Daddy."
"And now you have." Sherrie told him. "So it's back to bed for you."
"Okay. Night, night." Timmy called as he ran down the hall to his room.
"He means well." Mike pointed out.
"Sure, take his side." Sherrie teased. Then she got serious. "You told me George wanted to go to the bar when you called earlier, but I was hoping you wouldn't be out this late."
"I know. I'm sorry. I would've been home sooner but I had to drive him home and then walk here. But it's better than the accident he would've caused had I not stolen his car keys."
"Well, the tacos I made for dinner got cold long ago but I can heat one up if you want."
"Thanks, that sounds great. But I'll reheat it and you go get some rest, okay?"
"Okay. Love you."
"Love you too." Mike smiled at her and then turned around to fix himself a bite to eat.
It was midnight when George heard something moving in the kitchen. Instantly sobered, he picked up his son's metal baseball bat from the floor where the brat must've dropped it when he came home from practice. Quietly he stepped into the kitchen and flipped on the lights. Nothing was there. He walked over to check the locks on the door when something caught his eye. There, on the table, was a pumpkin. No, not a pumpkin. A jack o'lantern.
"Damn morons!" George growled. The kids had begged him to let them carve the pumpkins they'd bought but he'd told them no. It was weeks before Halloween and if they carved them now, the pumpkins would rot long before the holiday. Oh, well. He wasn't going to waste more money to replace them so the kids would have to go without any when Halloween came.
Forgetting about what had brought him into the kitchen in the first place, George flicked the lights back off and was about to go on up to bed when he noticed a soft glow. Turning back around, he saw the jack o'lantern was now lit and the flames inside cast an eerie light throughout the room.
"What the hell?" George heard something move behind him but had no time to turn around.
Mike had just finished cleaning up from his very late dinner when he heard something in the living-room. He grabbed a large knife from the drawer and quietly walked into the other room. Reaching out, Mike turned on the floor lamp and raised the knife to attack whoever may have come to try and harm his family. But there was no one in the room. He heard something move again and spun around to see a gray cat run from the room and into the hall.
"Stupid pest." Mike chuckled at his own jumpiness.
Then he saw a pumpkin sitting next to the front door. He walked over to pick it up and put it back on the coffee table where it belonged when he realized that it had been carved. That struck him as odd since it was usually a tradition to carve the pumpkin the night before Halloween, but he figured that Timmy must've gotten impatient. And knowing Sherrie, she'd already promised the boy that she'd get him another.
Mike carefully place the decoration on the coffee table and turned to leave the room. He'd no sooner shut off the lamp when he noticed the room wasn't as dark as it should've been. The man spun around to see that the jack o'lantern was casting a soft glow from the flames that had somehow sprung to life inside of its hollowed out interior.
"What the hell?" Mike heard something move behind him but had no time to turn around.
The next morning, Timmy ran out into the living-room and saw a fully carved jack o'lantern sitting on the coffee table. He was about to go look at it when he noticed his father lying down on the floor.
"Daddy? Daddy, wake up." The boy shook his dad but it did no good. Scared, the child ran down the hall and into his parent's room. "Mommy! Daddy's sleeping on the floor and won't get up."
Timmy's mom got out of bed and rubbed her eyes. "What's wrong, baby?"
"I think Daddy's sick. He won't wake up."
His mom ran past him and into the living-room. Timmy followed and saw his mom trying to wake his dad. She couldn't do it either. The boy was really scared. His mom dialed the phone and spoke to someone on the other end.
"Yes, my husband collapsed on the floor at some point last night and I can't wake him… I don't know when. My son just found him… yes, he's breathing but it's very faint… yes… please hurry."
Timmy watched with tears in his eyes and prayed that his daddy would be okay.
That morning, Crystal woke to find the other side of her bed empty. That was not good. George wanted breakfast ready before he got up and obviously that wasn't going to happen. The woman quickly got out of bed and put her robe on over her nightgown. She was only five pounds away from her goal and looked pretty damned good but her husband always made snide comments about her being fat. So she hid her body under her robe and hurried down the stairs. The kids hadn't gotten up yet, but since it was Saturday they didn't have to worry about getting to school. She didn't see George in the living-room and wondered where he could be. Maybe he'd gotten tired of waiting and went to fix himself some coffee. That wouldn't go well for her, though. He hated to do anything around the house. She'd just stepped into the kitchen when she saw her husband. Then she let out a scream.
George lay on the kitchen floor, blood pooling around his body. His skin had been peeled off of his skull and there were deep gashes covering the rest of his mangled form. And, on the kitchen floor next to him, was the smashed remains of a pumpkin, its seeds and insides mixing with her husband's blood and guts.
Author's Note Part Two: Well, hope you liked the beginning. I apologize for the lack of Dean and Sam but I promise they'll be here next chapter. PLease, please, please, take just a moment to leave a review and let me know what you think. Thanks so much for your time.