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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hallow Fright

Decided to offer a free Halloween story this year to my fans. It's around 1300 words, so not long. Enjoy!


"Ouch! Mom, that hurt."

"You can thank me later." She yanked again on Tulek's rough hair. "Now hold still like a good little orc, and I'll give you some more."

Tulek smiled. He'd not messed up his hair for nothing. After all, he had to look good for Halloween. "Ouch!"

She put the brush down and wiped her finger-claws on her apron. "That's enough. Don't want to make you look primed and proper, like those vampires."

Tulek frowned and hopped off the stool. He sat at the table next to his little brother, Jukel, already chewing his bat innards. But he turned his attention to his plan for the night.

His mother's thoughts appeared to be there as well. "Tulek, you remember what your dad said about tomorrow?"

"Yes, ma'am." But he knew she'd tell him again anyway. She never believed he remembered anything. Well, sometimes he had to admit, he forgot things, but really?

"For your coming of fright day, he's signed you up for a bed. Did he go over with you what to do under that bed?"

Tulek nodded. "Yes, ma'am. Once the lights are out and the parents have left, I make growling noises and shake the bed."

She stared at him. "You should appreciate this opportunity. Your father worked hard to get you an easy shot like that. Do you want to get your fright by jumping in front of a car or eating someone?"

Tulek grimaced at the thought of eating a human. They tasted horrible. "No, ma'am."

She nodded as she pulled her apron off and set it on the counter. "I should hope so. Now finish your bat and go enjoy your last Halloween as a little orc. I've got to help your father with his lunar array project." She walked down the hallway of the cave. "Can't let those werewolves get a jump on getting to the moon's energy."

Jukel let his bat skin fall to the plate. "Are we going to go now? Huh? I want some candy."

Tulek swallowed. "Right after I get my first fright."

"But Mom said that was tomorrow, not tonight."

"I know."

"And you can't get a fright on Halloween."

"So they say." Tulek ripped the last of the intestines from the bat and gulped it down with some poison ivy juice.

Jukel shook his head. "Dad will not like this. No, no, no."

Tulek swung his head around. "You didn't tell Dad, did you? Or Mom?"

Jukel's long nose flared. "No, of course not. I'm not ready to lose any limbs."

Tulek relaxed, but pointed a finger at Jukel. "And don't you forget it, either."

Jukel dropped from his stool. "I still think it is a waste of time."

"That is precisely why I'm doing it."

"What? To waste time?"

"No, silly. To prove it can be done."

Jukel grabbed his bag and slid his feet into his shoes. "My life goals are so much more practical. Candy."

Tulek laughed. "You don't understand. But that's okay. Keep it simple, until you no longer can." He breathed deep before grabbing his own bag and heading for the door.

# # #

Tulek scanned the horde of children accompanied by their parents. Halloween, the one night an orc could mingle freely with humans and not scare them. Many of his kind, as well as vampires, werewolves, and other monsters, joined the kids for trick or treating. But it also was the night hardest to get one's first fright. A day off for most monsters, but not him. Not tonight. Tonight, he was set on becoming a man-orc.

Jukel pulled on Tulek's coat. "Come on. If we wait much longer, all the candy will be gone."

"Just a minute. First things first."

"We've been waiting for several minutes."

Tulek huffed. "Okay, okay." He scanned the area for a good target. He saw a small group of girls, unattended by any adults. He smiled. They would be the best bet. "Stay here. Watch and learn."

Jukel frowned, but nodded, and then sat on a small tree stump.

Tulek followed the girls and caught up to them. One dressed as a witch, typical pointy hat, broom, and black dress. Another girl arrayed as a fairy princess Please! One of them wore a pirate outfit, eye patch and broad-flat hat. The girls, looked to be around eleven or twelve, giggled among themselves as they gawked at other costumes and discussed their candy hauls.

Tulek leaped in from of them, extended his claws, and yelled out a big, "Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggg!"

The girls screamed and ran away. Tulek grinned. He knew he could do it. Then his smile sank into a frown. "They're laughing!"

Jukel had walked to where he stood. "Of course. That's why it's hard to scare anyone on Halloween. They don't take you seriously."

"I know that." Tulek growled. "But I just thought I could be different. Though I could prove to Dad that I don't need an easy job. That I'm as good as anyone."

"Don't take it hard. At least you have tomorrow. It'll be like taking candy from a baby."

Tulek stared into the stars. He blinked. "What did you say?"

"You have tomorrow."

Tulek smiled. "No, after that."

"What? Like taking candy from a baby?"

He snapped his fingers. "That's it. You're a genius, little brother."

"Can I get that written in blood?"

"I'll write it with my decomposed flesh if this works. Wait here."

Jukel shook his head. "Here we go again."

Tulek spotted a child dressed as a dragon. He'd just hopped out of a car. The perfect target. Tulek crossed the street and approached the child.

The kid's eyes peered from behind the dragon mask and he paused, watching Tulek.

As Tulek drew close, he stopped. "Have some good candy, kid?"

The child clutched his bag to his chest. "Uh hu."

Tulek bared his teeth and flexed his claws. The kid shrank back, his feet shaking. Hard to see his facial expression behind the mask, but he looked scared. Tulek had his fright!

The child stepped back. "Don't take my candy!"

Tulek lunged forward and grabbed the bag from the child's hands, ripping the paper. Two pieces of candy fell to the sidewalk. Tulek grinned at the fake dragon snout. "Boo!"

The kid's fake dragon mouth opened. Tulek knew it was to scream.

A whoosh of fire engulfed Tulek's face. The smell of burning flesh flooded his nose. Heat seared his head. Pain soared through his skull. He dropped the bag and fell backward, screaming.

As Tulek lay on the ground, writhing, he heard the kid running to the car screaming, "Mommy, I got my first scare, on Halloween!"

# # #

Tulek spit in the urn by the side of his bed. They'd taken him to an orc hospital. He had to spend a few days recovering, which meant he'd miss his appointment for an easy scare. Now he'd be seen as a total failure instead of the hero he wanted to be.

His dad and Jukel entered the room. His dad smiled. "Heard you tried to take candy from a dragon."

Tulek growled. "I didn't know he was a real dragon. Could have sworn he wore a costume."

Jukel giggled. "He did wear a costume. A dragon wearing a dragon costume. How cool is that?"

"Not very." Tulek stared out the window. "Sorry for ruining your Halloween."

Jukel pulled closer to his brother. "But have you seen your face yet?"

Tulek raised his hairless eyebrow. "No."

Jukel grinned and grabbed a mirror laying on a stand next to the bed. "Look!"

Tulek took the mirror and placed it in front of him. A horrid mess of charred flesh stared back at him. If he'd been human, it would have made him throw up.

Tulek's widened his eyes and turned to Jukel. "With this face, I can scare anyone!"

Jukel nodded his head. "Isn't it cool?"

His dad patted Tulek's chest. "Good job, son. You should have no problem getting your first fright now. Thanks to some dragon-based plastic surgery."

Tulek turned back to the mirror and caressed his face. "This is so cool." Yes. Now he would stand out and be the hero after all.

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