As part of the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Event, we’re showcasing a few of the participating authors who are also 2021 Coastal Magic Convention Featured Authors! What happens when a vampire must revisit the worst day of her life? That’s the story Tina Glasneck is telling today… based on this image…
Don’t forget to check the info for the Rafflecopter giveaway below the story!! Print books, ebooks, and giftcards are all parts of SEVEN different prize packs!
HAUNTED HOUSE by Tina Glasneck
A vampire riding a witch’s broom? If anyone had asked me, a new vampire, if it were possible, I’d have laughed.
That was before I knew the truth, for I did not travel alone. My companion’s reputation proceeded her.
In my quest to do shadow work, Baba Yaga was my guide. She was the stuff of nightmares. The old forest witch led the way, riding in her black mortar, steering with her pestle, while I sat on her broom. The wind carried her evil-sounding cackle. Even her name sent fear scampering down my spine as if it were a rickety ladder. Maybe if I’d not known of her nefarious ways, I might have been more at ease.
On this night, the veil was thin, allowing us to transverse time and space.
After a time of wrestling with my thoughts, we landed on a busy suburban street decorated in all of its Halloween delight.
Baba Yaga turned to me. Now I saw her, no shadows hiding her face from me. Emaciated, with deep wrinkles etched into her face, razor-sharp iron teeth in her mouth, she called my name. “Leslie, this way.” With her bony, long fingers, she motioned for me to follow her.
We walked a bit in silence, as the sound of her knife barely visible in her tattered skirt scraped against the sidewalk.
“What’s happening here?” I asked Baba Yaga. I wasn’t sure I truly wanted to know. This reminded me of the picturesque scene from the beginning of a horror movie, where the moon shone brightly, all was perfect, but a killer waited for an opportunity to create mayhem.
And all of the people were unaware of the danger right behind them.
My heart whacked against my ribs, my mouth went dry, and glancing around, I tried to find that bit out of place.
“Nice witch costume,” a little girl said, dressed in yellow and black stripes, squeezing between us.
Baba Yaga sneered and squinted her eyes. “A better way to eat you, child.”
The little bumblebee dressed girl yelped and raced off. A good thing too.
With porch lights lit up, scary pretend monsters decorated the yards, doorbells loudly rang as the children sang out “Trick or Treat.” The neighborhood children, carrying pillowcases or trick or treat pails, all seemed to come together to head toward the Halloween Haunted House.
“I hope you are not taking me to a house to eat kids. I don’t eat kids.” My breathing shook, panic lacing every word.
“Tonight is the night you learn the truth.” She waved me onward as we entered the forming crowd.
Truth was relative. It was like a game of craps. It all depended on who was rolling the dice and how hard.
Loud laughter before me mixed with the rustling of the golden leaves on the breeze. 1980s pop music loudly played. Following the crowd on the sidewalk, I trembled, but not from the chill. Something strange stirred. Something long-forgotten.
“The mind is a vault of memories, including things we’d rather forget,” Baba Yaga warned. Did I catch a hint of distress?
My gaze landed on a woman with a black, lace umbrella, who sashayed a few feet before me as we moved forward. Catching only her profile, as she glanced to the side, her alabaster skin appeared flawless.
Then we came to a stop before a gray house. The lights flashed in the windows as ghoulish screams accompanied scary music and that of a loud chainsaw.
Located a bit back from the street, this little gray castle-like structure was the perfect scene to be a sinister, haunted house. Outside, in the high hedges, skeletons and human body parts littered the area as if a monster or serial killer had tossed human pieces haphazardly to the side. Fake tombstones rested on the leaf-covered lawn, while mannequins with ethereal sheets and burning orange eyes unblinkingly stared.
The sound of a child’s voice made me look a bit further up the line, and that is where I saw my mother, recognizable at once. She was younger, wearing large rimmed glasses, with her brown hair teased and feathered. She’d dressed up as her usual green-faced witch.
“The haunted house?” I muttered, aghast. My jaw slacked as I felt my eyes widen in terror. I looked over and saw the neon-green street sign from Tuscarawas Street. Another involuntary shiver raced up my spine.
The house of nightmares that I’d repressed.
“Welcome to your past,” Baba Yaga said.
Entering the dimly lit front room, to my left, a man dressed as a vampire rose in a coffin to scare us, shouting “Boo.” Plastic skeletons swung from the above as if attacking, and thick fake spiderwebs hung from the ceiling. A woman in a blood-spattered wedding dress sat on a settee, fake blood raced down the walls, and the planchette moved unassisted on a spirit board. Lights and candles flickered, mirrors cracked and reassembled.
“Is this real?” I heard someone ask.
It was a question many might wondered, considering that of the spirit board and candles. Someone had combined a bit of spook theory with true spiritualism.
I kept my eyes on the little girl, who was the seven-year-old me.
In that crowd, I watched a shadowy figure move ever closer to her. Like it stalked her, just waiting for an opportunity.
“We have to help her,” I said to Baba Yaga.
Anger rolled off of her. “No one can see us. You are here to watch, to re-live.”
“What do vampires do for Halloween?” a teenager in the crowd asked to receive a bout of uneasy laughs at the punchline.“They suck, like you,”
The little girl turned around, and it was like looking at an old photo—pigtails with twists, with curiosity in her eyes. Until then, I’d been fearless. She moved back closer to her family, widening the groups’ distance.
I moved with the crowd, around and around in a circle. Darkness’s tentacles wrapped around me, tightening.
The memory pulled me in until, once again, I was seven years old. With my feet slid in plastic dress-up shoes, moving ever slowly to my family before me. This wasn’t the first time in a haunted house or around ghost or pretend ghouls.
The stench of musk mixed with the acidity of paint hit me as arms struck out to lift me and pull me into the darkness. A small scream escaped before a calloused hand clamped down tightly over my mouth, pulling me back against what felt like a human wall.
I kicked, screamed, my fingernails clawing into the grown man’s hand.
No one saw.
Pointy elbows rammed into all that I could, feet dangling.
The plastic shoes clunked to the ground as more fake ghosts and ghouls caused the house’s visitors to scream in delighted horror.
No one saw my fight.
My fear tasted like burnt candy apples.
His breath burned my cheek.
Sucked away back into my body, I watched with Baba Yaga, unable to help the earlier me, who struggled against a child predator. Anger mixed with an inability to do anything to change a thing of it.
“Pay attention, or you will miss it.”
I spotted the woman in black again. Her cat-like eyes flashed, turning from amber brown to glowing red, while her rosebud lips thinned into a grim line. With that umbrella she’d carried, she cracked it across the man’s skull, causing him to release the seven-year-old me. The child– me scurred away, having escaped the evil, and I turned to the woman in black. She snarled, revealing fangs.
“Charles,” she tsked, lifted the athletic man, and dragged him by his throat, with one hand, back behind the curtains where he’d wanted to carry the seven-year-old me.
This scene would haunt me forever.
The fear of what had rested on the other side of that darkness, knowing that there was no way I could have escaped on my own— that it wasn’t merely the struggling of a bean-pole kid that had dared to escape.
“I was saved by a vampire?” I asked. My throat burned with unshed tears.
“The heroes are often demonized. Those who are villainized, you must ask why. Morality is muddy, just like that back in my forest. Life is messy. Nothing is as absolute as myth, folklore, and even rumor would have you believe.”
“Why are you showing me all of this?” I asked. Unsure if I could continue to see such.
“Shadow work, my dear. You can’t move forward, carrying the bunch of branches on your back.”
“Baba Yaga, but why? Why must I relive this, and why must you show me?” This memory I’d pushed so far down never to have to re-live it, but it was always there.
It tarnished the unexpected touch in how trust could be so easily broken.
Assault broke the social contract of acceptability, even for an impressionable child like me.
How many others had he victimized? How many hadn’t escape?
Sure, many had said over the years how I’d misunderstood, accused me of falsely remembering the horror. No matter how old the memories become, the emotional pain always remained.
She was right. I’d been carrying this with me, an unwanted tenet, while yearly I’d pick the emotional scar as sounds of holidays long gone brought up feelings of terror, despite repressed memories.
“Do you wish to see what she did to him?” She prodded.
“That would make me no better than him. No,” I shook my head. “I don’t wish vengeance, but freedom.”
“Remember that desire, for when you let something go, you mustn’t call it back to you.” She stretched out her hand, and I took it. “Now come, there is more which we must accomplish this Halloween night.”
Thank you for reading Haunted House, a flash fiction piece, featuring Leslie from the Order of the Dragon series. Learn more about Tina Glasneck at her website: www.TinaGlasneck.com
After you have left a comment for one (or more) of today’s authors, telling us what you think of the story or this blog event, click HERE to enter to win one of our SEVEN prize packs! (One entry per day.) Enter now through midnight (ET) November 1st. Winners announced on November 2nd.