When my children were younger, I would write a story for Halloween just to amuse them. It's been a long time since they were young, but this year the idea came to me for another story, so here it is. Enjoy, and if you don't, don't tell me, LOL
By Tracy Dunham
© October 28, 2009
House of Purity
Of all the crappy things in a year filled with crap, Laura had to take her little brother trick or treating. Even worse, she had to stick with all the moms and dads at the bottom of the porch steps, make “oooh” noises when the candy rolled out and the munchkins dove in like starving sharks, and pretend like all the snotty nosed kids were just darling, so cute, yes indeed, precious beyond a doubt. Oh, the joys of being older by twelve years. If she had a penny for every time she wished her parents hadn’t decided to have another baby, she’d be as rich as Ivanka Trump. So here she was at seventeen, looking like an unwed teenaged mother with a five year old brat who thought dressing like a ninja was cool. Ninjas went out of style when she was twelve.
“Laurie, hurry up. I don’t want Robbie to stay up past eight. And no eating the candy! Dad and I will be home by eleven at the latest.” Her mom put on her lipstick by the hall mirror.
“Lucky me,” Laura muttered under her breath. Louder, she grumbled, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Bed by eight, no candy.” As if Robbie the House King would keep his sticky little fingers out of his candy bag. The only way she could keep him sugar-free was to wire his nasty little mouth shut.
“Laurrriiieee,” Robbie screeched from the front door. “Hurreeyyyy!”
“Off you go. How do I look?” Her mom primped, adjusting her tiara and fluffing up her tulle skirt. She was too old to dress like a fairy princess, Laura wanted to say, but it was just sour grapes. She hadn’t been invited to a Halloween party since she was ten and everyone in the fifth grade got invited to the class party.
At least it wasn’t raining or freezing. She remembered some miserable trick or treating when she was little. Robbie got all the luck. Always had. He got the smart genes, the DNA that got him put into advanced classes for super geeks. He was reading at two, full sized books that gave her a headache, and doing math problems she wouldn’t even try. Everyone loved Robbie. Big blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a laugh that made everyone smile with him, even if they didn’t know what got him giggling. Yeah, Robbie had it all. What did she have? A sucky grade point average, stringy mouse-colored hair, braces for the past four years, and zits.
“Okay, little monster, let’s hit the road.” She grabbed the flashlight her mom handed her and followed Robbie out the front door. “If you give me any grief, we’re going home. Got it?” She didn’t like the way he stuck out his tongue at her, but what was she going to do? Smack him? He’d tattle and her mother would take away her Internet. Robbie was perfect around adults, but with her he acted like she was his serving girl. Clean his room, fix him a snack, blah, blah, blah, and her mother made her do it. She couldn’t wait until she graduated from high school next year and could get out on her own. College wasn’t going to happen, her parents informed her. Robbie’s extra classes cost a lot of money, and her grades weren’t good enough, so what the heck, she was on her own.
Fine by her. Far as she was concerned, this was the last Halloween she had to play nanny for the Super Kid. Next year she’d have her own place and a job, and she wouldn’t have to see the brat again if she didn’t want to.
“Hi Laurie. Good to see you.” Mrs. Evans was waiting for them at the sidewalk, her two little girls dressed like ghosts.
“Hi.” Laura figured Mrs. Evans was cool. She hadn’t spent a fortune on some stupid costume for her kids or herself. The ghosts were made from old sheets. “Mary and Susan look great.”
“I want candy,” Robbie whined.
“So start walking,” Laura ordered. “It doesn’t jump in your bag by itself.”
“I hate Halloween,” Mrs. Evans noted casually. “No child needs as much candy as they get. ”
“I guess so,” Laura agreed. “My mom said Robbie couldn’t eat anything tonight. She wants to check it all out, I guess, before he swallows anything.”
“Can’t be too careful.” Mrs. Evans waved at the Roginsons, who were standing in their doorway, making admiring noises at the kids’ costumes. “Would you and Robbie like to stop by our house on the way home for some hot chocolate?”
Just what she wanted. More chatting with Mrs. Evans while Robbie whined that he wanted to eat his candy.
“I don’t think so, thanks. Mom said Robbie has to be in bed by eight.”
“Sure. Makes sense. I’m a terrible mother, I know.” She sighed, then laughed. “The girls won’t be able to sleep until I let them eat their candy, but they don’t have to show off in school tomorrow.”
Laura couldn’t help it, she laughed.
Mrs. Evans tilted her head under the nearest driveway lantern and looked at Laura as her girls and Robbie attacked another front door. “Must be difficult sometimes, being the elder sibling to the alien child.”
This time Laura’s laugh was less enthusiastic. Robbie was a brat, but he was her brother. “Not too much. He has a mouth on him, but then he was talking in full sentences before he was one.” Her mother was very proud of that fact and repeated it often.
“How far are you taking Robbie tonight? Around the block?”
She hadn’t really thought of it. “I guess, and maybe the next one if we have time.”
“I hear the church on Ford Avenue is open and handing out candy. I might take the girls there after this row.”
“Sounds good.” Robby couldn’t object. “What’s the church? Isn’t it new?”
“I’m not sure of its name. It got left the old Coleman house in the old lady’s will, so it’s turned the place into a church. Opened about a month ago. They’ve been pretty quiet, but I hear they’ve worked on the yard a lot, and the neighbors are happy.”
The trick-or-treating on their own street took forever, it seemed. Laura was sick and tired of all the cutesy comments about costumes and how big everyone was getting, blah, blah, blah. Dragging Robby with the two girls turned out to be pretty easy, since the girls were handing him pieces of candy from their bags and he was stuffing it in his mouth as fast as he could. Finally, they headed for a new street.
The church on Ford Avenue that Mrs. Evans wanted to visit didn’t look too promising, however. No lights brightened the second floor windows, and the front door hid beneath a bulb that couldn’t have been more than ten watts. A hand-painted sign reading “House of Purity” hung on the porch eaves. If this was a church, she was a gorgeous blonde with big boobs.
“You sure they’re handing out candy?” Laura dragged Robby back beside her as the two girls and their mother wandered down the walkway. “It doesn’t look open for business.”
“That’s what I heard. Can’t hurt to try. I’m right here, and besides, I’ve been wanting to see what they’ve done with the place.”
Not much, Laura thought. The paint was still peeling, and if they’d worked on the yard, she’d be surprised. Big branches hung low over the sidewalk and leaves cluttered the gutters. Checking out the second floor, she saw the shutters still hung at crazy angles. Fat lot of good the House of Purity was doing this house. And who in the heck would belong to a denomination with that name? Purity of what?
Laura watched Mrs. Evans ring the doorbell. To her surprise, it opened and a nice looking woman wearing a long blue dress gestured for the two girls to enter. Something didn’t feel right to Laura, but Mrs. Evans didn’t hesitate. She and the two girls disappeared. Waiting for them to come out, Laura started to worry. When the porch light went out a few seconds later, she panicked. What did she do now? Call the police? Call Mr. Evans?
“I wanna get more candy,” Robby whined. “Why can’t we get candy there?” He pointed at the house where the Evanses disappeared.
“I don’t think it’s a good place. Come on, let’s go home.” She’d call Mr. Evans from her house. Maybe after this, her mom would let her have a cell phone. She was the only girl in her class who didn’t have one.
“No,” Robby screamed. “I have to go in there! They’ll get all the candy!”
“You’ll do what I tell you to do! Now come one!” Jerking Robby behind her, Laura tried to drag him down the sidewalk but his hand slipped from hers. Running as fast as his short legs would carry him, he hurtled to the front door and beat on it, crying “candy, candy!”
“Robby,” Laura cried, scrambling to catch up, fell flat on her face. To her horror, the door creaked open. A single hand reached out, and before Laura could dive to catch him, Robby disappeared.
A loud crack sounded like a gunshot as the door slammed shut behind him.
“Hey,” Laura screamed, “give me my brother! You can’t do this! I’m calling the police!”
Racing to the house next door, she beat on the front door, crying that she needed to use the phone. No one opened to her. Down the block, she continued her quest, but it seemed the whole block around the church was dark. Where was everyone? This was Halloween, at least a few houses should have been handing out candy at this hour. Why weren’t they?
She gave up trying to get to a phone anywhere near the House of Purity, and fighting panic, ran for home. Hands shaking, she could barely unlock the door. Grabbing the kitchen phone, she was trying to see through her tears to dial 911, when someone came through the front door behind her. Terrified because she hadn’t locked the door, she ducked under the kitchen table, clutching the phone to her chest. She hadn’t turned on the kitchen lights, thank goodness.
“Laura, where are you? What happened to you? The girls missed you when they left the church.” Mrs. Evans lifted the tablecloth and peered at Laura. “Are you ill?”
“You’re okay,” Laura screamed, “I thought they’d taken you and the girls. Where’s Robby? What was going on in that place?” She could barely talk, she was so relieved to see Mrs. Evans.
“Robby who? What do you mean, you thought someone had taken us? We didn’t go anywhere. Just got the girls some chocolates, we brought you some out to you, and you were gone. Come out, dear, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Grabbing a table leg, Laura held on for dear life. “What do you mean, Robby who? He’s my brother, he followed you into that creepy so-called church. I’ve got to call the cops, my parents will kill me for losing him. How could you let them keep him?” Shrieking at Mrs. Evans, Laura tried to dial 9ll again, but she dropped the phone trying to fight off Mrs. Evans. The woman had her foot in both hands and was dragging Laura like a sack of grass seed.
“You poor dear. I can’t help you if you won’t let me. What’s your mom’s cell phone number, she needs to get home right now.” Mrs. Evans, Laura realized, sounded like the sane person in the kitchen. She wanted to scream, but no one was home to hear her.
“I’m going back for Robby,” Laura cried as she fought free of Mrs. Evans, and half on her hands and knees, threw herself out the front door. She was younger than Mrs. Evans, she had to be faster if she could just stay on her feet. She did. Running so hard her lungs hurt, she cut through back yards to get to the House of Purity before Mrs. Evans.
As she rounded the corner, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She had to have the wrong street, but glancing at the street sign, she saw it was Ford Avenue. How could this be happening? Where was the house that had swallowed her brother as if he were a gnat? Nothing but trees stood where the house had been extant not fifteen minutes ago. Big trees. Black walnuts and pin oaks. Even the grass had been planted at least a season ago. There was no way that house disappeared into thin air. Or any kind of air, thin or not.
“Robby? Where are you?” she sobbed. She’d lost him, her little brother. Her parents would never forgive her. She may as well find another place to live right now.
“Honey, what’s wrong? Mrs. Evans called, said you were having some kind of breakdown.” Her mother hopped out of her dad’s car, still in her fairy princess costume, and came running to her. “Come home before you make a complete fool of yourself out here.” She gestured to the black Mercedes.
“Mom, Robby’s been taken! By a house that was standing here not twenty minutes ago. You’re got to believe me.”
Her mother stroked the sweaty hair from her face. “I believe you sweetie, but you need to rest. It’s been a busy month, with all the games you had to cheer, researching colleges for your applications, tutoring after school, being class president. It’s my fault for letting you get so busy, but you seemed to be thriving. Please, hon, let’s go home.”
“You’ve got to call the police about Robby.” What if he were hurt?
“I don’t know about any Robby. Is he your new boyfriend? I’m glad you’re dating, but there are so many boys, it’s hard to keep up.” Her mother laughed.
Fighting for breath, Laura shut her eyes and counted to ten. This was a bad dream, she’d wake up any second now. Please, let her wake up. What if she didn’t?
Malin morphed from the humanoid woman dressed in blue into her true state – a large gaseous blob. “I must say, this has been a disappointment.”
“You weren’t the one who had to live as a human child for the past five human years. I thought you’d never show up! What took you so long?”
The green gas once known as Robby swirled into the house’s ceilings. “And when can we get out of here? There’s nothing here for us, I can report with the utmost certainty.”
“It’s a shame their intelligence is so limited. We had high hopes.” Malin’s gas form grew more frenetic. “There’s only one thing left to do. I’ve wiped clean the memories of everyone who had contact with you as Robby. What an unfortunate name.”
“Good. What about the sister? I sense her distress. She doesn’t seem. . . .” He hesitated. “No, it can’t be. She’s searching for the boy. Malin, what’s wrong? Why isn’t she cleansed like the others?”
Malin sighed. “It happens sometimes. You know that. We’ll have to go to stage two. Not that it’s a loss, this planet is so useless. I just hate expending the energy.”
“Well, it’s your job, not mine. I’ve done my part. See you on Ulona 6. I’ve got my orders. First, though, I’ve some R & R coming after that ordeal.” With those words, the green gas blob dissipated into the night sky.
“Right, leave a woman to clean up the mess. How like a man.” Swelling into a larger gaseous state, Malin swirled into the sky behind him. From miles above earth’s atmosphere, she hesitated, then with a mighty swelling, knocked earth out of its orbit. With compassion for the pea-sized inhabitants of this minor world, she added a quick shove that would hasten the end more quickly.
No sense in prolonging their pain.