Knock, by Chad A. Clark
Marissa groaned as the doorbell rang again and slammed the book down on the table. It had seemed like such a good idea to do Halloween this year and actually buy some candy for the kids. This was her first year in the new house and she thought it would be a good way to meet the neighbors.
Almost right away, she regretted the decision.
It was Halloween candy, how expensive could it be? Still, she had spent thirty dollars that she didn’t really have. And while she had consoled herself at the time with the thought that she would end up with a bunch of leftover candy, it was actually looking like she would have to close down early. Or head to the store to buy more. Maybe she was giving out too much. Probably letting the greedy little vultures take too much.
She greeted the fourth iteration of the complete Avengers team at her door by trying to smile sweetly while dumping the candy into the outstretched buckets and bright orange plastic pumpkins. If she had to put up with the aggravation, maybe she could take her anger out on them by helping guarantee a diabetic coma for the next day. The happy laughter and giggling as the little shits tore off down her driveway was only converted in her head to the sound of them making fun of her.
She wished she could get through a chapter without the doorbell ringing. A voice in the back of her head said that she should just call it quits and switch off the porch light. She didn’t owe anything to these people’s kids. Still, she intended to see this thing through to the end. She would not be seen by the neighborhood as a quitter.
She managed to read one page when she heard the sound, but this time it wasn’t coming from the front door. She looked over and saw the door to the closet on the far side of the room shaking back and forth, as if there was someone inside, pushing out. That was idiotic though, no way it could be possible. It must have been something inside that fell over, maybe a broom that was displaced. She pulled the door open and staggered back several steps, nearly yelling out as she did so.
One of the kids from the neighborhood had sneaked into the house without her hearing and was evidently hiding out, waiting to surprise her. The kid, she guessed it was a he, just stood there, staring up at her through the grotesque excuse for a Halloween mask he wore. It was unique at least, unlike anything she had ever seen, looking like some odd cross between a werewolf and an alien costume. Considering the lack of tags anywhere, and how worn everything looked, she wondered if this kid was some kind of budding fashion or costume designer.
Her curiosity was quickly drowned out by the anger of having her home intruded upon.
“Who the hell are you?” she asked. “How did you get in here?”
He stared at her through the mask, his breath coming out in sharp gasps as he rocked from side to side.
“Christ’s sake, we’ve got a moron here or something.” She glared at the kid, trying to figure out who it was. He had to be from the neighborhood, but behind the mask she couldn’t tell for sure. “Are you just going to stand there like an idiot? What are we doing here?”
For the briefest moment, Marissa thought he was going to start walking forward but he just rocked back onto his heels and stayed put, incomprehension glowing behind those eyes.
“Do you live around here?”
“Are you friends with someone in the neighborhood?”
“Where are your parents?”
The situation had extended beyond odd and was now infuriating her. She was about to take a step forward to grab the kid when the knife came around from behind, gripped in the tiny little hand. And for as much as she wanted this to simply be a prop that came with the costume, as she looked at it, she immediately realized that was not the case. This did not look like a cheap piece of plastic that most toys of this ilk would be made of. It was hard steel, stained up and down with dried blood. The hand that held it flexed on the handle, as if it was about to raise the blade to strike.
Marissa took in several breaths to try and calm herself before stepping forward. She had to control the situation, stay calm and try to figure out what this kid needed. She reached out to try and place her hand on the handle of the blade, but just before she got there, it pulled away from her smoothly. The look of rage in those eyes behind the mask made her breath catch in her throat.
Maybe it was the mask. The kid was hiding behind it and acting out in ways that he might not do otherwise. She needed to shake him out of his daze and this might be the only way to do it. Moving her hands slowly, holding them open to show she didn’t intend to hurt him, she reached up and felt around on the back of his head for a zipper or Velcro or a seam. Anything that would dislodge the thing from the kid’s face.
She found nothing.
The swirl of silence in her head became deafening, as she heard the kid’s breathing grow in volume. The eyes looking up at her had a bright red glow to them that she hadn’t noticed before. She had immediately taken the eyes as being behind a mask, but they were actually sunken down into skin that looked inhuman. The rage baked off the thing in waves and in the blink of a moment, all she could think about was the knife, still held in its hand. She turned to run, but before she could get more than a step, a hand that she couldn’t believe she had ever taken as human snaked around and grabbed her from behind. It pulled her in close, enfolding her in the stink of its breath and cutting off the scream rising to her lips on the sharpened edge of cold steel.
Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page