It’s Hallowe’en, as I’m sure most of you have guessed. Luckily I am not going out tonight – and the ‘luckily’ is for a number of reasons, not least having to be educated in the morning. So this means I will not have to a) try to find a costume that doesn’t start my dysphoria or let me get cold, b) feel sad that the majority of costumes ‘for women’ are objectifying and sexual or c) worry about getting set upon by transphobes/homophobes equipped with eggs. Or several other things.
And it’s also my 100th post on here! So here’s something completely different…
So that I don’t completely waste the day on which horror stories are utterly appropriate, here’s a story I wrote ages ago (‘you can’t write that in an English exam’ my arse) that measures up pretty darn well. It was conceived as a bit of backstory to another story I was/am writing in its current form, used in the exam in a modified form and now remodelled to its original conception.
A van drew up and its back door opened, spilling a teenager out onto the street. Laughing, she raised her bottle to those within and made her way to the curb as the van drove off. A flicker of guilt crossed her face. She took a huge swig, unzipped her denim jacket to reveal a black t-shirt emblazoned with Budgie’s logo and stowed the bottle in an inside pocket. Hopefully her mother wouldn’t notice until she could hide it.
Long hair blowing in the night-time breeze, she strode to the door and let herself in. Instantly her mother appeared, as though summoned by the movement of the door. She’d evidently just been preparing food, because she could see the vegetable knife in her pocket. “How was it?”
“Brilliant!” she replied. “Everyone went mad when they played Breadfan.”
“Good.” She embraced her, smiling.
Abruptly her mother’s smile vanished and she took hold of the zip on her jacket. “Kath, you’ve been drinking again, haven’t you?” she reproached her, producing the bottle.
Kath’s face fell. “Mum, I had the last inch. The lads passed it round and I got saddled with the bottle.”
“You know what I said about drinking.”
“Yes!” she snapped and stomped upstairs. This happened every time she went to a concert. Her mother must be telepathic or something, she thought; even if she’d had just a taste, she knew. Somehow. Last time she’d said that if she carried on, she’d have to stop going to the concerts. That would be devastating.
Once she was in his room, she relaxed. This was her sanctum. The walls were covered with life-sized posters of her favourite bands, Budgie, Sabbath, Purple, ELP… Where there weren’t posters, there were shelves laden with records and tapes and a large, expensive stereo in the corner by her bed. Currently, the bed was occupied by her brand-new Fender Telecaster copy, lying with the headstock resting on the pillow.
There was a knock at her bedroom door and she yanked it open. “What?”
“Kath, please don’t cheek me. You know I only want the best for you. And hanging around drinking cider isn’t the best.”
She shrugged rebelliously.
“Do you want to throw your life away? I’ve seen it happen. They all say, ‘Oh, I only had a sip,’ and then they’re on the streets, begging for money for another bottle. I don’t -“
A knock on the door.
“Stay here, we’ll discuss this later.”
Swiftly she descended the stairs, calling out, “I’m coming!” Kath retreated into her room and put Master of Reality on the stereo, clamping her headphones on her head. The doomy, sludgy sound of Black Sabbath filled her world.
Even it couldn’t drown out the scream, though.
Kath ripped the headphones off. Her mother. She was screaming.
Without further though, she charged down the stairs. For one second the scene was clear – a figure, human-seeming but subtly wrong in proportions, towered above her mother. She had the vegetable knife out, but its claws were outstretched, travelling towards her in this one frozen second. Then everything blurred, and Kath was falling, falling – landing heavily, on the stairs.
Only then did she realise the screaming had stopped. She tried to get up, but the pounding in her head made her fall over. Her eyes wouldn’t focus properly, but everything seemed to be red…
There was a chuckle, and it all went black.
At first she thought it had been a nightmare, but when the headache came back she forced herself to open her eyes. The world swum, and it was all she could do to keep her stomach from ejecting what little it contained.
Blood was spattered over all the wallpaper, in some places forming a solid, drying, reddish mass and in others becoming a terrifying, gory mosaic of pain. Slumped against the wall lay her mother’s body – and she turned around before she could take in the details.
Something clattered from her hand and she looked down slowly. Her hand had been grasping the hilt of the vegetable knife, which was now stained with blood.
Panic overwhelmed her and she snatched it up, ripping her bloodstained shoes from her feet and grabbing them in the process. She pelted up the stairs and into the bathroom and put the knife and shoes into the sink, running water over them. Desperately she scrubbed at herself; the blood had got on her jacket, on her jeans, in her hair…
When she got into her room, still carrying the shoes and knife, she slumped onto the bed. Her head wasn’t working properly. It just kept coming back to the words, ‘they’ll think I did it. They won’t believe me. They’ll think I did it. They won’t believe me. They’ll think I did it.’
Dully she made her bed and leaned the guitar against the wall in its case. She picked up her schoolbag and mechanically shovelled tapes and clothes, followed by the knife, into it, then found a piece of paper and a pencil.
Mum, she wrote, I think I have to get out on my own. I’m going to go to Rhys’ place after the Budgie concert. I’ll come back before school starts, I promise, but I want to be independent this summer. Lots of love, Kath.
She wrapped her hand in a piece of fabric and opened the window. Carefully she let herself out with the bag and shut it behind her. That done, she slid down the drainpipe and ran.
The knife went in the river, and she called Rhys from the nearest phone box. “Hello – did I take you up on that offer of living at your place at the concert?”
“I thought I had. Just grabbed my stuff I left round the back. Thought you’d wait for me. Can I come round now?”
“Yes, fine. We’re having a bit of an afterparty here -“
Kath rang off, breathing heavily. ‘They’ll think I did it. I DIDN’T KILL HER. They won’t believe me. I DIDN’T DO IT. They’ll think I did. BUT I DIDN’T! They won’t believe about the – the – the – I don’t believe it! Oh God, I didn’t…’