The Challenge: In five days, write a Halloween themed story about the following prompt – explain why your character stole an orange fluorescent sharpie marker from an office supply store. Must use: cauldron, purple goo, candy apple, brownie, creepy, and poltergeist.
The Candy Apple Bandit
by Camas Baugh – 2011
As light filtered through my sheer curtains, I snuggled deeper into my covers. Saturday mornings have always been my favorite; the sleep is stolen and the warmth sinful, as though sleeping late is cheating. Savoring the laziness, I enjoyed the scent of warm brownies wafting into my bedroom. I smiled and stretched, languidly leaving my cocoon. My husband knew that only the scent of brownies could draw me from my Saturday slumber. I found my fuzzy slippers, donned my plush robe, and wiped smudges of cauldron black mascara from my eyes.
Entering the kitchen, I yawned “Happy Halloween, sweetheart.” I stretched my arms and looked around. “Honey?”
I noticed the brownies were burning. My ever-distracted husband must have wandered off before finishing the task at hand. Smiling at this quirk, I pulled the brownies from the oven and poured a cup of coffee, shaking off the early morning cobwebs clouding my mind. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, so I was excited to begin creating our annual haunted house for our neighborhood’s little ghosts and goblins.
Typically, I could find Tony outside working in the yard. On my way out, I noticed a strange mark on the door. The scent of decaying flesh filled my nostrils. Trying not to gag, I reached out to touch what appeared to be a hand print. A malodorous, purple goo coated my finger tips. Struggling to stifle my irritation with Tony for causing another mess, I opened the door only to find the yard empty. Suddenly, hairs on the back of my neck bristled. I whirled around and was knocked flat on my back by an unseen force. Alarmed, I muttered, “What the. . . ?”
A creepy, devilish voice from nowhere growled, “Trick or treat, Jackie.” The poltergeist commanded “Do as I say or you’ll never see Tony again.”
Without constraint, I yelled angrily, “Tony, this isn’t funny!”
The voice answered, “Tony isn’t here, Jackie. You have one hour to get $5,000 cash. Leave it on your front porch in a bag marked with an orange fluorescent X. Do this, or your husband dies.”
“Tony, this has gone too far. Knock it off.”
Suddenly, the lights began flashing, the television came on blaring static, the radio cranked out “Devil Inside” by INXS. Hands to my ears, I stumbled to the radio to turn it off, but the power button didn’t work. Frantically, I unplugged the entertainment system’s power strip. Nothing worked. I stumbled to the electrical panel and threw all the breakers. The system still roared cacophonously. Leaning against the wall, I sank to my knees. I heard a loud bang next to my head and a purple, gelatinous hand print suddenly appeared.
The voice raged “DO AS I SAY!”
Suddenly, silence rang in my ears. I began to cry. The legend of the Candy Apple Bandit had been told around campfires since I was a child. Camp counselors would tell the story, illuminating their faces with flashlights in the dark. The end of the story always sent children screaming to their tents. Until this moment, I found the story a charming addition to local Halloween lore.
I felt lost. I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened for fear of sounding like a lunatic. Terrified, I knew I had to do as I was told. I looked up at the clock and saw I had only thirty minutes before the bank closed. I fumbled for my keys and ran to my car; I drove recklessly to the bank. Trembling, I handed over my withdrawal slip to the bank teller. She raised her eyebrows when she saw the amount.
“This will bring you to a zero balance, Ms. Franklin.”
I steadied my voice. “I realize that. Thanks for checking.”
She sighed and began typing in my account information. I drummed my fingers nervously as she slowly counted out $4,987.00 one bill at a time.
With concern she asked, “Is everything okay, Ms. Franklin?”
“Fine, thank you.”
Reluctantly, she handed me an envelope with the cash in it. As calmly as possible, I walked through the door. Sitting in my car in the parking lot, I looked down at the envelope. I was $13.00 shy of the $5,000 and I still needed an orange Sharpie marker. Steeling myself, I looked up at the office supply store across the street. I took a deep breath and found the nearest parking spot to the store. I knew what I had to do.
I got out of my car, straightened my shoulders, tied my bathrobe tight, and walked into the store like everything was normal. All eyes were on me as I marched into the store, head held high, looking insane. Although hurried, I thought I needed to be somewhat casual. I pretended to study the envelope prices, then sauntered to the marker aisle. I waited until the area was clear and casually palmed the fluorescent Sharpie. I put my hands in my pockets and turned to leave.
I yelped when I turned directly into a sales associate who accusingly asked “Can I help you, Ma’am?”
“No, thank you.” I stepped around him quickening my pace. I grabbed a candy apple from the counter as I rushed out, ran to my car, and sped home.
Parked in my driveway, I rummaged frantically through my glove box and found $13.00 in bills and change. I put the $5,000 and the candy apple in the bag and marked it with an “X.” As the dash clock switched to 12:01, my eyes snapped open and I shot up in bed.
The scent of brownies filled my room. I found my fuzzy slippers, donned my plush robe, and wiped smudges of cauldron black mascara from my eyes.
Approaching the kitchen, I yawned “Happy Halloween, sweetheart.” I stretched my arms and looked around. “Honey?”
My chest constricted as I noticed the brownies were burning…