The house looked like something from a fairytale with its bright colors and gingerbread trim. Gwen knew this one would be easy pickings and knocked.
An old woman opened the door. “Aren’t you an angel cake, I could just eat you up!”
Gwen tugged on her costume’s long sleeves to cover the unsightly hair that edged out of the cuffs. She smiled closed-lipped, aware that her large teeth disturbed some people.
She offered her bag, eying the bowl of candy the lady held. “Tricks ‘r Treats.”
“Ah, yes. Halloween. What a lovely holiday. All you delicious children out alone.”
The woman cackled, but stopped when she glanced over Gwen’s head. “Who’s that?”
Gwen turned. “Keith. My brother.”
“And where’s his dog?”
Gwen’s head snapped back around so fast it hurt. “Dog?”
“Yes. The one that fertilizes my lawn every morning.”
Gwen fidgeted. “Um, he’s at home.”
“Funny,” the old woman snapped. “I would have sworn it was a bitch.”
Gwen rustled her bag. The old lady glanced down.
“Oh, yes. Tricks or treats. I’m sure a delectable thing like you has no tricks, but I have a very special treat.”
She withdrew what looked like a blackened baby doll’s head from a pocket on her apron.
“Let your brother have the first, sweet bite, but tell him he must share with his dog.”
The ball quivered as it fell into Gwen’s bag.
“Don’t I get no candy?” she protested, but it was too late. The strange lady had shut the door. In a huff, Gwen marched away.
Keith scowled when she returned. “About freakin’ time. What’d the old witch give ya?”
He laughed. “Probably one ‘a her used tampons. C’mon. You’ve got lots more candy to collect before the moon comes out.”
Gwen moaned. “It’s your turn to knock on the doors.”
“Nope, you’re cute, like a puppy. People will give you candy. I’m…” Gwen stared at his twisted features and at his lumpish body hidden beneath dark clothes.
“Yeah,” she said and they walked away.
After three more blocks and too many houses to count, Gwen stopped. “Keith, I’m tired an’ this bag’s heavy. I gotta rest.” To make her point, she dropped the sack. It fell, spilling much of its contents.
“Hey!” Keith knelt to collect the stray treats.
“Hands off,” she said. “That’s my candy.”
“Nu-uh. I’m bigger. I get the most.”
Gwen growled. Her feet hurt and she had torn the hem of her angel costume. She balled her fists and beat Keith about his head. “Leave my candy alone.”
He shoved her away. Her hateful brother unwrapped some of her candy and scooped it into his big, ugly mouth.
He crunched a pumpkin-shaped sucker, and then bit off the head of a marshmallow vampire. Sugary drool dripped down his chin as he reached for more of the goodies.
“Hey, what’s this?”
He removed the gray ball and examined it. “Is this what the ole hag gave ya?”
Gwen didn’t answer. She hoped he would choke on all that candy.
“I ain’t never seen nothing like it,” Keith said. “Do ya think it’s for real? I mean an actual human head?”
“She said it was sweet.”
Keith smiled. Bits of chocolate stained his teeth. “And it’s all mine.”
“She said you should share with your do–” Gwen choked, the last word lodged in her throat.
“Screw that. I ain’t sharing no candied head.” He held it like an apple and bit down.
Fat crimson drops splattered the front of his shirt. Loud slurping noises made Gwen furious.
“You big stupid,” she spat, and then the ball opened like one of the rolypoly bugs her brother enjoyed squishing in their garden.
Keith shrieked. He pulled at the thing with both hands. Segmented, insectile legs unfurled from the creature’s shell and grabbed for him. Before it could find purchase, however, Keith ripped the thing free and dropped it. As it fell, the monster took most of Keith’s lower face with it.
Her brother stood, his exposed, bloody jawbone glistening. Gwen seized his hand. “Run!”
Before they had taken a dozen steps, Keith tripped and fell. Behind them, Gwen heard the angry buzz of wings.
Glancing up, she saw the thing’s hideous face. It stared at her with eyes that waved on jointed stalks. She tried to move, but the creature darted in front of her and shook its head. The meaning was clear: stand still.
Keith rose to his feet again and wobbled away. The thing spun and darted after him. Dropping out of the air, it unhinged its jaw and swallowed the boy’s head whole.
“Quick, Keith. Change!”
Before the last word had left Gwen’s lips, the thing expanded, and gulped down past Keith’s shoulders. It consumed his torso, his belly, his thighs.To her amazement, Keith remained standing.
When the thing reached her brother’s ankles, it stopped. As if the feet weren’t worth eating, it sheared them off clean. Keith’s tennis shoes with the feet still in them stood in middle of the road.
The thing, now about the size of a basketball, turned and flew toward her. Gwen howled, determined to respond faster than her brother had. She wouldn’t be the creature’s next entrée.
Talons burst through her shoes as her body grew immense. Coarse hair, darker than that which already covered her, spouted. Her face elongated into a snout and saliva dripped from her pointed fangs.
The thing paused in midair, surprised. It turned to escape, but flew too sluggishly after its large meal. Gwen snapped her great jaws and plucked the creature from the air.
Crunching down, she made a face. The old hag had lied. The thing wasn’t sweet after all.
She spat the creature out, and then crushed it beneath a hind paw.
Bending to all fours, Gwen started to run. Her mouth tasted bitter.
That old hag better have some candy left, she thought, or I’ll leave more than just shit on her lawn.
Kyle White resides in Texas with his two sons and one, ornery cat. He enjoys reading and writing dark sci-fi, horror and fantasy. His work has appeared in Cemetery Dance, AlienSkin and Flash Me magazines. He is currently working on a Middle Grade horror novel.