SHORT STORIES

 

                             Magic Numbers 
                                                     By Anthony Jones 

Terri sat at the desk in her finest evening gown and opened the center drawer. The sweet odor of the cigar box arose like a warm hug from her father. She could hear Jim’s footfalls on the tile floor as he approached the den. 

“Are you ready to go?” Jim asked in a stern voice.

“I’m ready, but we can’t leave yet. You know what day it is.” 

Jim’s eyes fell to the cigar box on the desk, and his heart sunk. “Yeah, today is the day the Association is honoring me at the annual awards dinner and it happens in eighty minutes. Let’s go!” 

“Who do you think your talking too? If you’re in such a hurry to leave, just go. I’ll meet you when I’m done.” 

“Done? With what? An OCD ritual created by a lunatic? I have had it with this!" 

Terri looked up from the desk, eyes filled with hurt and anger. “Why don’t you calm down. Why are you acting this way?” 

“Don’t turn this on me!” Now Jim was on a roll and was powerless to stop. This was the last straw. Even his ears burned hot with rage. His words cut her like a razor. 

“You drug that damn box to Hawaii last year and we missed our anniversary dinner cruise. And for what? So, you can carry on a stupid tradition of your dead father that is ruining our lives?” 

The tears she was fighting back began to stream. Jim didn't understand. This was her time to remember her father in her own way. Terri’s first memory was sitting on her father’s lap at age three while the weekly drawing played on television. He would take out the box, where he kept every ticket he ever bought. The tickets were meticulously filed chronologically dating back to the beginning of the lottery. He even had a special pen to circle each of the numbers that hit. Then he would number the ticket at the bottom in small print and hand the pen to Terri to draw the sad face indicating another loser. He always played the same numbers and bought the ticket at the same mom and pop bait shop in Rio Vista and never missed a week. He died in a head on collision seven years ago returning from that very store. After the funeral, when her mother asked if she wanted any of her father’s things, she chose the cigar box. For seven years, Terri has never missed a week playing her father’s magic numbers. 

“Please Jim, you know how important this is to me, go on and I will catch up,” Terri said trying to compose herself, dabbing at her eyeliner with a tissue. 

“Don’t bother! I don’t want you there! I’m done!” Jim slammed the door on his way out. 

Terri used her small mirror to assess the damage her sobs had done to her face. Black lines traced the tracks of her tears. She took out her makeup kit to complete the repairs; then she put it away and laid her head on her folded arms and cried again.

The tall grandfather clock’s chimes brought her back from her sobs and she took the remote from the desk drawer and turned on the weekly drawing. She opened the cigar box slowly and allowed the aroma of tobacco mixed with her father’s spiced cologne to scent the air. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath through her nose. She felt a smile on her lips as she imagined her father playing his magic numbers. Terri opened her eyes, picked up the special pen and began to circle the numbers as they appeared on the television screen. She printed, not this week at the bottom of the ticket. Then she numbered the ticket 1,507 and drew a small sad face on it and placed it meticulously in the box with the others. When she was done, she returned the pen to the box, placed the box in the drawer and turned off the television. It was seven twenty, she had plenty of time to make it to the awards banquet, but the sting of Jim’s words would not leave her. Instead, she went to her room, curled up on her bed and cried some more. 

The next morning, Jim was gone. Terri remembered this was his annual training conference in Los Angeles. In their eight-year marriage, she thought their boundaries were fully tested, well defined and set in stone. They had never separated for any extended period while angry with each other or without saying goodbye. 
                                                                  ***


It was Saturday when Jim left his hotel for the airport. Why hasn’t she called? Jim tortured himself all the way to the airport replaying the awful things he said about Gabriel. Did I really call him a lunatic? Jim asked himself. Truth be known, Jim really liked Gabe and missed him deeply. He was like the father he never had. Jim even made the trip with Gabe to Rio Vista on occasion and enjoyed chatting about the Forty-niners and fishing in the delta. And now, he was not speaking to his beloved because she wanted to carry on her father’s rather benign tradition. 

After processing through security at the airport Jim found a seat at his terminal and took out his cell phone. He scrolled through his photos finding dozens of selfies of him and Terri. When he came across the Hawaiian anniversary vacation he stopped on a photo of Terri in her sexy bikini on the beach with her arm around his neck. The love and adoration in her eyes was priceless. What was it I said to her about the cruise we missed because of the lotto thing? 

Now he remembered it differently. It was he who suggested they skip the dinner cruise that night. He hated pre-ordered food and the pretentious onboard jazz band that would expect them to dance as the boat cruised the blue haired old ladies a mile off shore. It was him who insisted on ordering room service and using the in-room spa. Jim remembered it was Terri who rocked his world so passionately that night, he measured all other romantic encounters against it and nothing in his life has ever come close. 

By the time he landed in Sacramento and collected his luggage, Jim was contemplating what he would say when he got home.

Where do I start? He thought as he pulled out of the long-term parking lot. When he reached the freeway, he noticed his gas gauge was on empty. At the Chevron, Jim thought about texting Terri with something sweet to test the waters but chickened out fearing it was too impersonal after a week of the silent treatment. No, he would have to do this one in person. He simply had not figured out how to apologize so she would know he is sincere. I am such an idiot, he thought as he entered the store to pay for the gas. He wandered to the cold drink section and selected a water and approached the counter.

“Hello, my friend,” the clerk said as he rang up the water. 

Jim took out his wallet. “Hi, I got forty on pump seven.”

“The lotto is at a record three hundred and ninety million, would you like to add a ticket to your purchase?” The clerk said pointing to the lighted sign. 

Jim looked at the sign and shook his head, then noticed fresh cut roses on the counter beneath it.

“You know odds of hitting the lotto are higher than being struck by lightning; how much for the roses?”

                                                                    ***


Terri was halfway to Rio Vista to get her weekly ticket when her phone rang. “Hello,” she said.

“Mrs. McLain, this is Sergeant Thomas with the California Highway Patrol, I’m sorry to inform you your husband has been in an accident on the causeway.”

“Oh my God. No!” Terri cried into the phone, “Is he ok?” 

“I’m afraid not ma’am; he has been life flighted to UC Davis Medical Center and listed as critical. 

Terri’s stomach clenched. UC Davis is where they took her father before he died. 

“I’m on my way!” She said and turned her car toward Davis.

When she arrived at the hospital, the nightmare started all over again. The same faces at the counter, the same elevator, the same smell of iodine and disinfectant mixed with a pasta aroma escaping from the cafeteria. The same nurse Jodi that tended to her father before he passed. 

“I’m sorry Mrs. McLain,” Nurse Jodi said, “your husband just came out of surgery and must spend some time in intensive care, no visiting. Come with me and I will show you where you can wait.”

Terri followed the nurse to the emergency room waiting area. “Can I get you anything while you wait?” Nurse Jodi asked. Terri shook her head and sat down. 

For five hours, she sat, not wanting to believe it was happening all over again. She thought about all the things she wanted to tell Jim. She wanted to tell him she was sorry and would put her father’s box away forever, and that he was far more important than a silly game. She would choose another way to remember her father, perhaps visiting his grave from time to time like normal people. She prayed for a second chance to talk to her beloved, a chance she never got with her father. 

As she sat contemplating the worst, she noticed the nurses chatting about the lottery being at a record high. 

Today was the last day to get a ticket. The drawing was coming up in two hours and would forever break the living chronological chain in the cigar box. And it was ok, if only she could speak to Jim once more she would give anything. She felt ashamed for the way she acted last week. The awards banquet was an important night for Jim and she made it all about a stupid game. “Please let him be ok.” She whispered. 

“Mrs. McLain, your husband was moved to another room. You can come in now. The doctor said he is going to be just fine,” Nurse Jodi said. 

Terri welled up as she looked at Jim sleeping peacefully. “Thank God!” she whispered and sat beside him. She took his hand and pulled it to her lips and kissed it softly. She sat quietly thinking of all the things she would say when he awakes. 

A short time later, Nurse Jodi came in the room. “Mrs. McLain, would it be alright if I turn on your television just for a moment, I want to watch the lotto drawing. It is at a record high and we all went in on tickets,” she whispered
Terri nodded, still holding Jim’s hand.

When 16 came up Terri smiled and thought, one of father’s magic numbers. When 15 and 4 came next, she started to laugh. Then 42, 8 and finally 23. Now Terri was laughing hysterically, then crying a little bit, then laughing again. 

“Are you ok Mrs. McLain?” Nurse Jodi asked.

Tears were tracing her face as she said, “You did it daddy.” When she reached for the tissue she noticed the roses. 

“They’re for you, the EMT said your husband refused to let go of them, so I put them with his personals,” Nurse Jodi said, pointing to the small table with her chin.

Then Terri noticed something else. The distinct color of an orange lotto ticket was poking from Jim’s wallet. When she opened it and saw that Jim had played her father’s magic numbers. Her tears returned and she placed her hand over her mouth. 

Nurse Jodi left the room shaking her head. 

Jim awoke to Terri’s sweet kisses on his face. 


                                                                    The End

The Wish

by Anthony Jones 

That hazy place where dreams fade and memories are formed is Sarah’s favorite place. That special time best remembered when we were children, when blissful sleep slips away and we are left with what remains, remnants of truth and fantasy easily held by the mind of a child.  Weather a dream or a doorway to another place, Sarah believed it to be magical, where all things are possible, even the occasional visit from her mother.  In this place, her mom is wearing her favorite summer dress and she still has her hair, before the big C stripped her of her dignity. It’s hard to believe she has been gone four years, Sarah thought. Sometimes the scent of her mother’s room or the summer star-jasmine in the back yard were enough to bring memories of her mother to the surface, but these days, her stepmother did her best to quell such reminiscences.

 

Tracy Richmond sat on the edge of the swimming pool while her son Emmet peeled off his pull-up and pissed.  

 

Sarah looked up from her work, “Emmet is peeing in the pool” she said pointing at her three-year-old brother with her broom.

 

“That’s okay Sarah, he’s three, and nobody likes a tattle tale; now go get a diaper and put it on him,” Tracy said without making any effort to correct the abomination.  Sarah was told under no circumstances was it OK to pee anywhere near the swimming pool.  In fact, showers were required before entering and a trip to the toilet was mandatory. Yet, Emmet’s peeing in the pool seemed to be acceptable behavior.

Tracy sipped her wine while Sarah changed the baby’s diaper.

 

A Sheryl Crow song came on the radio, and Tracy, feeling her wine and nearing a drunken state, decided to sing along. Young Emmet couldn’t stand the pitchiness and missed notes as she attempted to harmonize with the singer and put his hands over his ears. Even in her state, Tracy knew that she was off key and that made it even more painful every time she heard Sarah’s angelic voice singing to motivate herself to complete her many chores. While most fifth graders were spending the summer swimming, playing in the park, and shopping with their moms, Sarah spent her time tending to her younger brother, vacuuming, making beds, scrubbing toilets, and doing laundry.

 

Sarah’s father was gone most days working. On the few occasions when he was home, Sarah was usually on punishment for failing to complete a task or not finishing her lunch prepared by her stepmother.  The food was non-typical for a nine-year-old. It was not as if she was given a grilled cheese sandwich or a slice of pizza; rather, she was served baked goat liver and chopped sheep kidney mixed with green peppers and large white onions.  The steamy odor from the plate made Sarah’s stomach clench.  

 

“It’s good for you and will make you strong,” Tracy said.

 

“But you know I don’t like the liver and kidneys, it makes my stomach hurt.”

 

“You are not getting up until it’s all gone! And because you argued with me, you will be on punishment this weekend.”  

 

“Aww, I was going swimming with Gigi this weekend,” Sarah said, tears already standing in her blue eyes.

 

“You’re going to learn not to argue with me young lady,” Tracy said as she finished the last slice of pizza left over from Tuesday night’s takeout.

 

Deep down Sarah knew the awful meals were nothing short of torture. She has known her whole life her step mother had nothing but contempt for her. Hell, she couldn’t even get a drink of water without asking permission. I hate her, Sarah thought, but she didn’t want to hate. She wanted to love her like she loved her real mom. Most of the pictures of her mother, June, were strategically tossed over the years until only one existed in a very secret hiding spot in Sarah’s room.  

                                                                              ***

Today was garage day. Tracy made sure Sarah had all morning to clean the garage as it was full of old junk left over from the previous renters. Sarah’s father Ray had made a deal with the landlord to haul away the junk in exchange for the cleaning deposit. It had been six months and still, the job had not been completed. Sarah pulled on her leather gloves and started loading the junk one piece at a time into her father’s flatbed trailer.  Sarah sang as she worked and Tracy burned with envy at the beautiful singing voice coming from this nine-year-old child.

 

As Sarah dug deeper into the junk she came across several tarnished brass items. One such item was like a teapot, only with jewels on the top and the sides. Sarah was fascinated by the item and set it aside for a closer look when she finished the job. Once she had the junk loaded on the flatbed, Sarah used her broom to sweep the floor.

 

Tracy opened the back door to check on Sarah and noted the job was nearly complete. Tracy announced the laundry was ready to come out of the dryer and must be folded and put away. Sarah was quick to respond and complete the laundry assignment before her father got home. Exhausted, Sarah curled up on the couch and fell asleep. When Tracy found Sarah sleeping, she tossed a cup of cold water in her face and told her to keep off the couch until she had her shower.  Sarah made her way to the shower, washed up, and put on her pajamas – it had been a long day. It was another night without supper because Sarah could not finish the liver and kidney lunch.

 

Emmet feasted on macaroni and cheese, and Tracy ordered Chinese food for her and Ray. Sarah knew better than to tell Ray about the lunch episode. Sarah loved her dad and wanted to see him happy. He had been so sad since her mother died. On the few occasions when she tattled on Tracy, she witnessed an argument so vicious she feared Tracy would have her dad arrested one day. Better to keep quiet about the food and chores, she thought.

 

With her brass polish and steel wool ready, Sarah started to clean up the tarnished container. She went over the sides and the top as she sat on the end of her bed using cotton balls to give it that extra shine. Slowly, the object took on a luster that was brilliant when held up to the light. Just when she thought the item must be worth a small fortune the sound of a rushing wind and purple smoke began to shoot from the spout of the object. Sarah dropped the item on the floor and pulled her blankets up to her chin. As the smoke cleared, Sarah saw a small girl dressed in bright silk garments and wearing silk slippers holding a book.

 

“Who are you?” Sarah asked

 

“I’m Jenn,” the young girl said.

 

“Where did you come from?”

 

“I came from the lamp,” Jenn said.

 

“Is that what this is?” Sarah asked, picking up the brass container.  

 

“Well it’s a lot more than that; it’s my home really,” Jenn said.

 

“So, does this mean I get three wishes?” Sarah asked.

 

“Not three. I will grant you one wish, though. For the nice job you did on polishing my lamp.”

 

“How can you live in such a small area? It must be awful in there.”

 

“Not really, would you like to see?”

 

“You mean go inside the lamp with you?”

 

“Why not?” Jenn asked.

 

Jenn folded her arms and closed her eyes and again the sound of a rushing wind appeared.

 

When Sarah opened her eyes, she was standing knee deep in green grass near a barn with horses and a big house. Jenn was next to her smiling bright.

 

“Where are we?” Sarah asked.

 

“We are in the lamp,” Jenn said.

 

“But I see mountains and rivers and lakes and animals. How can this be?”

 

“Oh, but you have seen nothing yet,” Jenn said. “Come with me.” She took Sarah’s hand. They walked to the barn and met Jenn’s ponies. Then they rode them into the small town where Sarah met Jenn’s mom and dad and sisters and brothers.

 

Jenn took Sarah to the highest building and showed her the Valley of the Lamp.

“It’s beautiful,” Sarah said.

 

“This is my favorite part,” Jenn said and took Sarah’s hand and leaped off the building into the clear blue sky. The two flew over the valley and the lakes, taking in all the beautiful sights. Never had Sarah felt so free and happy.  After supper, a wonderful meal of cheeseburgers and fries, Sarah and Jen were back in Sarah’s room at the end of the bed.

 

“Have you decided on your one wish?” Jenn asked.

 

“Can it be anything?” Sarah asked.

 

“No limits. You can even wish to join me in my world if you want,” Jenn said.

 

“Can you bring back my mother?” Sarah asked staring at the floor.

 

“I could, but you should know, whatever you wish will impact your life. You should consider what your dad would think.”

 

Now Sarah started to imagine what she could wish for that would not disrupt her dad or her brother. “If I wished to go away, my dad would be sad. If I wish for Tracy to go away, then poor Emmet will have to grow up without his mother.” Sarah sighed. “What should I wish for?” She asked Jenn.

 

“I know you will make the right choice.” Jenn said.

 

Then it came to her and she said it aloud. “I wish Tracy loved me like my real mom loved me.”

 

“Granted.” Jenn said and in a puff of purple smoke she disappeared.

 

Sarah woke to the smell of bacon cooking. She got up, made her bed, brushed her teeth, and went to the kitchen to start her chores.  

 

“Good morning sweetheart,” Tracy said as Sarah entered the room.

 

Sarah’s first reaction was to look behind her to see if perhaps she was talking to someone else. Seeing she was alone, she smiled and said, “Good morning.”

 

“Do you want me to start the dishes?” Sarah asked.

 

“Don’t be silly, sit down and eat some breakfast.”

 

Sarah could hardly believe the scrambled eggs and bacon were for her. She felt tears welling in her eyes as she considered the possibility her stepmom was serious.

 

“Sarah, I was in your closet and I could not believe you are still pushing yourself into those old clothes. I got a sitter for Emmet today because we are going to have a girl’s day at the mall. Complete with getting our nails done and catching a movie.”

“Just the two of us?” Sarah asked, unable to stop the tears from falling.

“Well, I did ask Gigi if she would like to join us for lunch and she is going to meet us at the restaurant.”

“Oh mom, that sounds great.” Sarah said.

 

                                                                     The End

                                                                  All Fall Down

                                                               by Anthony Jones  

                                                         © 2017 All rights reserved  

 

The fire was licking the newly placed log and the orange flames seemed to enchant the teen campers. It was Gordon Ashbury who suggested they tell ghost stories. Four boys and three girls had snuck away from Camp Konocti to have their own nightly adventure. Gordon’s brother Daniel told the story of Bloody Mary and they all had a good laugh.

 

“That’s the oldest ghost story ever,” Cindy said.

 

“Do you know any new ones?”  Jenny asked.

 

 

“I know one,” Linda said. “And it has to do with this very area.”

 

 

“What do you mean?” Daniel asked.

 

 

“My aunt came to this camp when she was a kid and she said the counselors told the story of Tabitha Levy to scare the kids into not sneaking away from the camp like we just did.”

 

 

“Who is Tabitha Levy?”  John asked.

 

“She was a nine-year-old girl who was accidentally killed while playing ring around the rosy in 1870,” Linda explained.

 

“The nursery rhyme game for little kids?” Daniel asked.  

 

“Well that’s just it, we remember it as a harmless child’s game that we all played, but my aunt said it’s not a game at all. She said it is really a witch’s spell.”

 

“Ha, sounds pretty stupid to me,” Ken said as he tossed another dry log onto the fire causing the flames to rise with the scattered embers.

 

“Easy Ken!” Daniel exclaimed, “We don’t want people to see our fire.”

 

“So how is an accidental death a scary ghost story?” Cindy asked.

 

“Well, the legend of this camp goes back to the 1960’s, about ten years before my aunt came here. She said some kids who heard the story of Tabitha Levy went to find the graveyard where she was buried and were never heard from again.”  

 

“Ok Linda, let’s hear it... tell the story,” Cindy said and hugged her knees as she sat near the fire.

 

Linda looked around at the faces of her friends. Daniel had his arm around his sweetheart Jenny Casner. They had been an item since the seventh grade.  Gordon, Daniel’s brother was sitting on a granite rock and tossing small twigs into the fire. Next were Cindy, then Ken and finally John who was to Linda’s left. All seemed interested in the story so she started much in the same way her aunt told her.

 

“Ok, but I may mess it up some because I have only heard it once,” Linda said and took a sip from her Dr. Pepper.

“In 1870, before this area by the lake was a summer camp, it was a gold town. Where we are now is where the school playground used to be. The whole town was only about a hundred people and only about sixteen children attended the schoolhouse. Tabitha Levy was the only child of a single mother who some say was raped by the Indians. Tabatha never knew her father and was treated cruelly by the other kids. The called her half-breed.

 

“That’s terrible!”  Cindy said.

 

“I get it, in the 1800’s people treated Indians pretty bad,”  Daniel added.

 

“One day, Tabatha was invited by the four most popular girls in school to play ring around the rosy.” Linda continued.

 

“Tabitha was delighted as she was usually excluded from such games and jumped at the chance to be part of the popular group. What Tabitha did not know, was the leader of the group, my aunt called her Jessica  Bower, was really plotting a dirty trick against Tabatha, she had loaded a bucket filled with creek water on the oak branch above them and had Tabatha stand directly below it. Hands together one linking to the next in a circle, the four girls chanted as they turned the circle. Linda took another sip of her soda and started to chant.

 

“Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy ashes ashes all fall down. The girls dropped to the ground at the final note of the incantation and Jessica turned and pulled the rope tied to the branch meant to shake the bucket loose. What happened next was talked about for years to come. The old oak branch was rotted and broke off falling down and striking young Tabatha in the head. They say it killed her instantly.

 

“Oh my God, that’s awful,” Cindy said.

 

“Her mother was devastated and put a curse on the town for treating her beloved child so cruelly. Tabatha was buried in the town cemetery and her grave was marked with a headstone. Legend has it Tabitha died so quickly she doesn’t know she is dead. Her ghost still wants to finish the game.”

 

“Ok that’s a pretty good ghost story.” Cindy said, “I got chills.”

 

“That’s not the worst part Cindy, my aunt said in 1962 when this camp opened, the four girls who went out to find the grave disappeared. They say the ghost of Tabatha got them.”   

 

“Very good, you even had me going,” Gordon said, “You know there is a graveyard over that hill and you used it to give the story that extra spin, I love it.”

 

“I didn’t know that,” Linda said.

 

“How far is the graveyard?” Ken asked.

 

“It’s right over that hill, we could be there in about ten minutes,” Gordon said.

 

“Not me!” Cindy said hugging her legs even tighter.

 

“Chicken?” Ken teased.

 

“Yes, I am,” Cindy said and reached over to take a sip from Linda’s Dr. Pepper.

 

“I say we do it,” Daniel said.

 

“No!” Jenny said and punched him in the arm.

 

“Come on, lets at least see if we can find the grave,” Ken said taking out his flashlight and standing up.

The rest got to their feet and took out their flashlights. “Lead the way Gordon,” Daniel said.

 

Gordon started towards the hill and the rest followed not wanting to be left alone.

When they reached the graveyard the teens split up and started reading the headstones.

 

“There from the 18oo’s alright, look at this one.” Gordon said, “Jack Murphy, born 1829 and died 1892.”

“This place is historical,” Daniel added.

 

“Hey, guys! I found it, right here,” Ken said, “Come here everyone, you have to see this!”

 

The seven stood in a half circle shining their flashlights on a granite tombstone. Linda read it aloud,

 

“Tabitha Levy, beloved daughter, born September 8, 1861, died October 31, 1870.”

 

Holly crap! She died on Halloween, now that is really spooky! Daniel said.

 

“She was barely nine years old, how sad. Cindy said.”

 

“Ok we found it, so now can we go back?” John asked.

 

“Don’t be such a puss John; this is starting to get fun,” Ken said.

 

“It’s like we are living in a ghost story.,  Jenny said.

 

“Guys, I think we should leave,” Linda said.

 

“Hey Linda, you said Tabitha wanted to finish the game right? So let’s help her. Daniel said.

 

“That’s a terrible idea!” Jenny said.

 

“Actually it will make a good story to tell the others when we get back, come on join hands,” Gordon said.  

The teens began to turn the circle and chant the age-old incantation,

 

 “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy ashes ashes all fall down!”

 

As the group dropped to the dried leaves and dirt on the ground all of their flashlights went out.

 

“Don’t panic I have matches,” Gordon said.

 

But the light was the last thing on their minds, in the moonlight near the headstone stood a small girl in a white nightgown, she had long dark hair that fell into her face. Her eyes were as black as shark eyes and lifeless as a toy doll. She had dried blood on her head and when she smiled her teeth were black with decay. The butterflies in Linda’s belly quickly turned to pure terror and she screamed in horror.

 

As the teens scattered in fear, all sense of direction was a blur.  Ken ran right into a tree rendering him unconscious. Daniel and Jenny tried to run holding hands but quickly tripped over headstones in the dark and became separated.  Gordon did not move, he was frozen with fear, eyes fixed on the little girl as she began to approach him chanting in her wee little voice, “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy ashes ashes all fall down” On the last note this time, the little girl rushed Gordon and locked onto his torso biting her sharp black teeth into the neck of Gordon Ashbury and drinking his life-giving blood rendering him a lifeless shell of who he used to be.

 

As John hid near a creek that fed Clear Lake he tried to remember a prayer. All that would come to mind was a meal blessing his father used to say. In his moment of terror, he began to pray. “Bless us oh Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through—, he did not get to finish. From the graveyard behind him, he heard the chant in a strange voice

 

“Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy ashes ashes all fall down.”  This time Tabitha attacked from behind him, she latched onto John's back and he tried to run with her. He screamed in pain when her sharp little teeth bit his neck. Tabatha fed until John was lying on his back dead and white as snow.

 

Jenny was crying and calling for Daniel. When Tabatha stood in front of her, Jenny fell to her knees, begging,

“Please no, please don’t hurt me.”

 

Tabatha’s brow dropped in anger as she stared her black eyes at Jenny.

 

“All fall down Jenny, All fall down!”

 

These were the last words in Jenny’s ears before her blood was drained and her lifeless body lay on her back, looked up at nothing.

 

The sun began to rise over Clear Lake. It was foggy and cold. Linda was all alone. She was bleeding from her knees and elbows and her clothes were torn. She had thorns in her face and hands from trying to run in the dark through the unforgiving woods.

 

“I made it.” she said in a hoarse voice. Her screams died out hours ago. When she reached the counselor's cabin, she busted through the door and was shocked at what she saw. Betty, her group leader was actually in two pieces. Betty’s top half, with her head, was on the bed and her legs were on the floor.  Blood was everywhere, from the ceiling to the floor the cabin was stained crimson.

 

In the corner of the cabin, also dripping in blood, stood little Tabitha Levy.

 

“All fall down Linda! All fall down!” Tabatha screamed…


 

                                                                       The End

                                                                     Happy Halloween!

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