Grim Reaper

Old Bob peeled himself from his recliner. Cable news droned in the background as he shuffled to the door. He peered out the side window, opening the curtain just enough for him to see out, but not enough for those outside to notice. There were three costumed children at his door – a superhero with his cape dangling dangerously close to the lit jack-o-lantern, some kind of homemade wild animal, and a very short grim reaper with a realistic looking scythe. He looked in his bowl–only two pieces of candy left. He grimaced and grabbed and apple from the table, then opened the door.

“Trick or treat,” the children sang out.

Old Bob looked them over, then gave candy to the superhero and the animal, then dropped the apple into the bag of the grim reaper. Fascinating costume, he thought of the grim reaper as he turned back to the news. That one deserves some kind of award.

Just as he had settled in to his recliner, the door sounded again. Shoot! Forgot to turn off the light. He shuffled back to the window and peeked out. There were four kids this time, and the grim reaper was back. He opened the door.

“Sorry kids, just ran out of candy,” he explained. Dismal groans ensued. He turned off the porch light as they walked away. The grim reaper stayed on the sidewalk, watching him. He scowled. Damn ungrateful kids, he thought.

He returned to his recliner. As the news droned on, he started to doze.

He awoke to a thwack! He was suddenly wide awake. Thwack! Thwack! 

He pulled himself once again out of his recliner and headed toward the door. He yanked it open just as an egg went sailing past his head and landed on the wall behind him, yolk oozing down. His temper flared. “You damn kids better get out of here,” he yelled into the darkness.

Thwack! Another egg landed on the doorjamb above his hand, splattering him with eggy goo.

“That’s it,” he cried. “I’m calling the police.” Let them deal with the little hooligans.

He turned to reach for his phone, but was surprised to see the short grim reaper in his foyer. The figure stood still, not even seeming to breathe. Old Bob didn’t know much about kids, but this seemed odd, even to him. All the kids he’d ever seen were somewhere on the fidgety scale, but not this one.

“What are you doing in here?” he demanded. “How did you get in my house?”

The reaper just stood there.

Thwack! Thwack!

“I’ll let the police deal with you, too,” Old Bob said, reaching for his phone. The small reaper slowly pulled out an hourglass. Bob looked at the sand that had almost run out.

“Funny,” he said, but he had started feeling very heavy all of a sudden. As he dialed, his breath caught in his chest. He brought his hand up, panicking. He stared at the reaper, who was slowly walking toward him. He went down on his knees. He looked into the hood of the reaper. “Can’t…breathe…” he managed to say before crumpling to the floor.

“911…What’s your emergency?”

The last thing Old Bob saw was an incredibly lifelike skull and the metallic glint of a raised scythe.

The news droned on in the background as the police investigated the scene.

“Looks like the old guy died of a heart attack,” the paramedic said, then paused. “But I just don’t understand this strange cut on his chest.”


Luminis Kanto / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Taking liberties with the prompt this morning. Happy Halloween!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Trick or Trick.” Let’s imagine it’s Halloween, and you just ran out of candy. If the neighborhood kids (or anyone else, really) were to truly scare you, what trick would they have to subject you to?

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Shhh… Don’t Tell Them Where I’ve Gone

I am at the tail end of parenthood. My first two are successfully out of the house and pursuing their lives, both still at university, one engaged to be married. Getting them to that point hasn’t been easy, but looking back I don’t see the bumps and potholes in the road that got us here.

That leaves me with the two teenage boys at home.

Oh, vey!

If you are not a parent of teens, I don’t know a good analogy. Maybe grabbing two raccoons by their tails and trying to make them walk forward. Maybe harnessing a lion and a cheetah to a cart and asking them to pull. You get the idea. Give an instruction and either they snarl at you or each other, or, best case scenario, they just lay down on the job.

I’m moving to Maine.

I don’t know what makes Maine my nirvana right now. Maybe it’s the farthest I can go within the contiguous United States without bumping into retirees or Micky Mouse. Maine seems remote, quiet, devoid of people who would snarl and slam doors. (Well, the boys don’t slam, but my daughter sure did!) It seems like the last place they would come looking for me.

I had four wonderful, exuberant, loving little kids. I was the sun their little planets orbited. I took them places, made them cookies, read them stories, and tucked them in every single night with a hug and a kiss. Their smiles lit up my world and their tears shook it to the core. I was their rock, and they were my wings.

Until they got wings of their own.

As my kids hit puberty, they began to look at me askance, as if they were questioning how they could have ever held me in such high regard. Our talks became fraught with underlying meaning, and I tried to verse myself in reading between the lines. I even considered taking a course in mind reading, such was the vast desert of communication. Our lively game nights became fewer and farther between, eventually replaced by everyone sitting silently in front of the television in the living room. Finally they just left the living room altogether for the safety of their respective caves. Any forays into the cave were met with stilted conversations and requests for me to close the door on my way out.

My youngest was still cuddling with me at ten.

I know about child psychology and cutting the apron strings and flying the nest. I know that there is a push-pull relationship between parents and teens. I understand all of that. I don’t want my sons to be mommy’s boys. But head knowledge and heart knowledge don’t always jive. I still want to be important to my kids.

If I’m not, I might as well move to Maine.


brentdanley / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “If You Leave.”Life is a series of beginnings and endings. We leave one job to start another; we quit cities, countries, or continents for a fresh start; we leave lovers and begin new relationships. What was the last thing you contemplated leaving? What were the pros and cons? Have you made up your mind? What will you choose?

They Come in the Night

As the darkness receded, each small gremlin sheathed his knife, folded himself up, and pulled the small pumpkin he carried over his head.

The children looked outside. Pumpkins galore! They filled the house with the globular gourds.

As they fell asleep that night, they thought they heard tiny footsteps on the stairs.

©Suman at Desibuckets Photo provided by Grammar Ghoul Press

The Exclamation Point

In a world of increasing din

The humble period enters in.

He stands alone and hopes to speak,

But suddenly his voice is weak.

The shouting match has come to town,

With exclamation points thrown ’round

Willy-nilly, here and there,

As if the writer doesn’t care.

I see your one and raise you two.

The next one says that two won’t do

And places four. So now I ask,

Should you raise the volume more?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “By the Dots.” We all have strange relationships with punctuation — do you overuse exclamation marks? Do you avoid semicolons like the plague? What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!

The White Wolf

They say that on a certain moonlit night in the fall of the year, the fog creeps over the hill, and a white wolf appears, its coat resplendent in the light of the full moon. Its intelligent eyes scan the horizon for that one lone soul who has had the misfortune to be outside on this night. Stealthily creeping ahead of the advancing fog, it lopes just out of sight of the unsuspecting victim until, seizing the opportunity, it pounces and grapples with its prey, finally dragging it back into the forest.
They say it requires a sacrifice.

Jed had heard the stories. He scoffed. He smirked. He may be a cattle man, but he subscribed to Scientific American and prided himself on not falling prey to the superstition of the rest of the country folk.

His wife had met with the ladies at the local library and had heard the rumors of a white wolf. She had come to him, worried, begging him to not go out at night. He had laughed at her. She had begged him to take a gun. Well, if it would make her feel better, he had said.

Jed was picking up a load of feed when he ran into Hiram Lowell. He related the story told to his wife and asked about the rumored wolf.

“Well, yeh might not want to throw caution to the wind,” stated old Hiram, matter-of-factly. “There are things that go on in these parts that can’t be explained away.”

Jed just smiled and shook his head. These old-timers were all foam and no beer.

That night Jed’s wife was working on a quilt for her granddaughter as she watched Wheel of Fortune. The tidy house smelled of pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. More pumpkins were piled by the front door. The moon rising over the hill cast shadows in the cornfield, its light a cold, shadowy reflection of the warm sun’s rays. Jed stepped into the crisp, autumn night and walked down the country road, his dog Baxter by his side. His gun remained on the rack above the door.

Jed thought he would show these country bumpkins that their rumored wolf was just a story, nothing more. He and his trusty dog would walk this country road, looking for any signs, tracks, or fresh kills. He gave a momentary thought to the gun on the rack at home. Oh, well. You can’t fight a mythical creature with a gun, anyway. You fight this kind of thing with reason – proof. As he crested the hill, he saw the fog rising on the other side. He stood there for a moment, admiring the countryside in the pale moonlight.

Then Baxter stiffened. A low growl gurgled in his throat. His hackles stood on end.

Jed peered into the fog. His eyesight wasn’t what it used to be. In the distance, cows bellowed. He turned on his flashlight and aimed it toward the fog. Two eyes reflected back at him, then disappeared.

Jed had a sudden burst of unexpected fear. Turning toward home, he imagined he heard rusting on either side of him in the tall grass. Soon, the fog caught up with him, caressing and teasing him as it passed. Baxter barked once, ferociously, then bolted toward the house, leaving Jed standing in the middle of the road, only a hundred yards from the house.

He started to run He heard a rustling in the grass and turned just in time to see a flash of white fur and a gaping mouth full of sharp, polished teeth headed straight for him.

Craaaaack!

Just as he was raising his arm to fend off the creature, it yelped and swung around in mid-air, landing in a heap just feet from him. Glaring up at him, it snarled and picked itself up, then loped into the fog, dragging a bloody forefoot.

He burst into the doorway of his house and grabbed his gun off the rack. The damn thing was hot! He looked back at his wife, peacefully sewing by the fire.

The next day at the feed store, Hiram Lowell sat in his pickup. Jed walked over to relay the news of the previous night, but stopped, confused, when Hiram met his gaze with sharp, glinting eyes. Then the old man smiled, showing polished canines.

That’s when Jed noticed the thick, gauze bandage on Hiram’s forearm.

© shocky Photo provided by Grammar Ghoul Press

Practicing Magic

I think, and there it is, a world conjured into existence. I smile. This power given to me has the ability to cause good or evil. Which will I choose?

I think again, and my world is populated with people so different from one another, I wonder where they came from. But there they are. They turn to each other and begin to speak, and I become the outsider, watching to see what will happen.

I turn my gaze away from them and conjure another world, a fantastical world, a place I’ve never been and maybe would not even want to go. It’s full of peril. I populate it with people who have to fight to survive. I’m a little horrified at my creation, and cease my magic temporarily, but magic is intoxicating, addictive, and draws me back. I meddle in the lives of my creatures, needling them and placing them directly in harm’s way. I know most of them will make it out alive.

On a dark day, I create a dark world, full of toxic people, people I would never associate myself with, yet they attach themselves, remnants of them clinging to me like lichen to a tree. In time they will break free, but they will always leave a mark. I withdraw from my conjuring, placing my pen on the table, and stashing my journal. I take time to breathe the fresh air and feel sunlight on my skin.

Magic is powerful business.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Do you Believe in Magic?.”You have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?


JKim1 / Foter / CC BY-NC

Hiding in Plain Sight

Jack and Jenny peered from their tent as the procession shuffled past.

“What’s going on?”

“Samhain Festival.”

“Look at the one over there.”

“Which one?”

“With the horns. Shh, he’s looking this way.”

“So?”

“Those aren’t boots. They’re hooves.”

Scary Monsters on the March at the Perchant Pagan Festival in Germany, by Philipp Guelland, Photo provided by Grammar Ghoul Press