Happy Halloween

The room was bathed in a warm, golden glow. Candles flickered on the table and a fire crackled behind the grill, its embers popping as they wafted up the flue.

Viola cupped her lover’s face, her fingers lingering against his soft stubble. She couldn’t get enough of this man. Even after a year, just his touch made tiny fireworks burst behind her eyes.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year since we met,” she said. “Such a perfect year.”

She took a sip from her glass, the deep red liquid staining her lips.

As Viola’s tongue darted out, gathering every, last droplet, she saw her lover’s eyes lock on her mouth, and it was all the invitation she needed.

She leaned in and pressed her body hard against him, sliding her palm under his t-shirt and brushing it across his strong stomach.

He groaned, his muscles flexing and twitching beneath her tender caress.

“I don’t think I can wait any longer,” she said, as her heart thundered against her ribcage.

He whimpered in response, and Viola thought she might explode.

When the doorbell chimed, they both jumped.

Viola leapt up. “Trick or treaters!” she said and planted a kiss on the tip of her lover’s nose. “I’ll be right back. Then we can really celebrate our anniversary.”

***

“Trick or treat,” the children sang, their happy faces beaming.

Viola looked around the kids to their mum standing by the gate, “Wait! Are you dressed as Nancy from The Craft?”

The mum shrugged. “It was my husband’s idea. He has an unhealthy love of that movie.”

 “There’s nothing wrong with a bit of witchy love!” Viola said with a laugh. She looked down at the kids and scooped an array of colourful candy into their jack-o’-lantern buckets. “I love your costumes too.”

“I love yours,” the little girl said. “I have a black cat at home!”

“You do?”

Viola wore a black jumpsuit, eyeliner whiskers, and a kitten ears headband.

“Meow,” she said, stretching out her arm in a cat scratch motion.

The little girl giggled.

“Come on you two,” the mum called. “Thank the nice kitty.”

“Thank you,” they sang in unison.

“Happy Halloween, guys,” Viola called after the kids as they wandered down the path, checking out each other’s haul. She glanced across the street and noticed her neighbour glaring at her from his porch.

“Pagan whore,” he hollered.

“Happy Halloween to you too, Mr Jenkins,” Viola hollered back with a cheery wave. She set the bowl of candy on her front steps and closed the door, flicking off the outside light.

“That’s enough interruptions.”

***

Viola ran her hand through her lover’s hair as she moved behind him pausing for a moment to drink in his beauty. His broad chest rose and fell with deep, fast breaths, and his pale cheeks had a pink blush. A shiver of delicious anticipation ran down Viola’s spine, “Now, where were we?” she said. “Oh yes.”

She took a dagger from the table and sliced it along her lover’s arm, holding her wine glass below the wound to catch the falling blood.

A muffled cry escaped around his gag.

Dipping her fingers into the sticky liquid, she traced an upside-down cross on his forehead, before sucking the remnants off her fingertips.

“You taste really good,” she said. “The best yet.”

 He whimpered again, and she pressed her bloodied finger to his gagged lips.

“Shh, my darling. Your soul will be an All Hallows’ Eve gift to our Lord Satan himself. Pretty cool, huh?”

A single tear trickled from the corner of her lover’s eye.

Viola raised her dagger high above her head. “Ready?” she said.

He thrashed wildly, struggling against the ropes that bound him to the altar table; his eyes wide, his frantic screams subdued by the material stuffed into his mouth.

“Oh, stop making such a fuss,” Viola said, and she swiftly swooped the blade down, plunging it into her lover’s chest and silencing his cries.

“You always said your heart belonged to me.”

© Amy Hutton 2020

Panic

Panic: Noun. A sudden and overwhelming fear, which may or may not have a cause.

Five letters.

Panic: That feeling of utter dread when you know you’ve totally fucked up.

P-A-N-I-C.

Lydia scrawled the word out on a notepad, underlining it with angry, black scribble that ripped through the page, and continued determinedly onto the page below. She was currently experiencing an attack of the word, complete with sweaty palms, elevated heart rate and a loss of control over her breathing that saw her gulping at the air like a possessed guppy.

“Calm down, stupid. Don’t be such a moron. It’s no biggie. You screwed up the monthly report. So what? People make mistakes. And hey, if you get fired, well you don’t like this job anyway? You hate this stupid job. Fuck this job. Fuck everyone here. You should get up and walk out before they escort you out.”

She reached for her bag and attempted to shove her half-full mug of tea inside. Tepid, brown liquid splashed across the white leather, running down her arm, and dripping off her elbow.

“Shit. Idiot. IDIOT!”

She dropped the soggy bag to the floor and peered furtively over the top of her computer monitor towards the glass walled corner office and the meeting being held inside.

“Shit shit shit. Shit to everything.”

Suppressing the urge to run to the bathroom and puke, she instead closed her eyes and kneaded the sides of her temples in aggressive circles, causing the hair around her face to ball up in messy clumps.

“You alright, Lydia?”

Lydia jumped. Her lids sprung open to see the alarmed face of her co-worker Jeff.

“What? Oh yeah. Fine Jeff. Fine. Just spilled some tea. Like a moron. Ha ha.” She gave him a smile which she hoped looked reassuring and not like some crazed, maniacal clown.

Jeff’s eyebrows soared towards the ceiling. “Ohhh-kay,” he said, as he inched slowly away.

“Crazed maniacal clown it was then.”

The door to the corner office opened, and her manager’s head popped out.

“Oh shit. This is it.”

“Lydia, you got a minute,” her manager called, waving Lydia in.

“Sure,” Lydia sung out cheerfully. A little too cheerfully it happens, as all eyes swung in her direction. She smiled brightly about the room, quickly gathered up her scratched up pad and a pen and sauntered as casually as possible towards the office whistling “When the Saints.” Like a demented parrot.

“Ah Lydia, take a seat,” her boss said.

Lydia silently slid into the seat beside her manager.

“We just wanted to go over last month’s financial report with you…”

“Here we go Lydia, get ready for that dole queue.”

“…We found a discrepancy…”

“Told you, you shouldn’t spend all your money on clothes.”

“…In your role, you must ensure absolute accuracy, I can’t stress this enough…”

“At least when you become homeless, you’ll be chic homeless.”

“…But everyone makes mistakes. So, we wanted to go over it with you, and make sure you see where you went wrong. Okay?”

If Lydia’s life had a soundtrack, this is where the record scratch would have happened.

*Screeeeech*

“What?”

“Please make sure you double and triple check everything next month.”

“Um, yes.” Lydia spluttered. “Of course. I’m Sorry.”

“Excellent. Janet will run these numbers with you, so you can see where they went awry.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Is everything else alright?”

Lydia looked around the room at the expectant faces.

“Um. Yes?” she said, sounding more like she was asking a question than giving an answer.

“Good. Well, let us know if you need anything.”

Lydia walked back to her desk and dropped into her chair looking like a relieved stunned mullet. She stared at the notepad that was still in her hands, with its angry, black writing and furious, page-tearing scribble.

“Told you it was no biggie. Also, you should probably try to do better with that self-love stuff.”

Picking up her pen, she added in all caps;

IDIOT.

 

© Amy Hutton 2020

A Composition of Death

“So, they’re dead?”

“Yes Sir.”

“All of them?”

“All of them..”

Detective Page scrutinised the room. “Ironic, don’t you think? Writers murdered at a murder mystery writing conference?”

There were at least 20 people slumped over desks, most face down on their laptop keyboards.

“What do you call a group of writers anyway?”

“I’m not sure what you mean, sir,” the Constable said.

“You know – like a cluster?”

“A mob?”

“That’s kangaroos.”

“A gaggle?”

“Geese.”

“A circle, a society…a…does it matter?”

“Not really. Any suspects? Where’s the teacher?”

“Behind the desk at the front.”

The Detective crouched down and peered around the desk legs. “Ah, also dead.”

“Yes, also dead.”

“Weapons? Injuries?”

“Nothing obvious. The coroner is leaning towards poisoning, but we won’t know until tests are done.”

“In their water?” Detective Page picked up a bottle and took a sniff.

“Could have been the water, or their lunch?”

“Hmmm.  Do we have a list of the victims?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Well, first step is contact their families. Then we’ll start checking backgrounds. I’ll also need the names of every person who attended the conference. Can you handle that?”

“Of course.”

“Okay. Let’s allow forensics to do their job.”

The Detective took one last look around the room. He clicked his fingers. “I’ve got it,” he said. “A composition of writers!”

“Sir?”

“Never mind.”

© Amy Hutton 2019