Thriller Horror Crime

               “I’m sorry it took so long,” The doctor said as he walked into the waiting room. Marvin and Rebecca stood. “No, please, sit down.”

              “What is it, doctor? I don’t like the look on your face,” Rebecca said.

              “Mr. and Mrs. Chatsworth, the MRI shows a mass near the hypothalamus.”

              “What exactly does that mean?” Marvin asked.

              “It tells us why you are undergoing mood swings. There’s an area near that region of the brain that is responsible for violence, and the tumor is pressing up against it, that explains some of your recent outbursts.”

              “Doctor,” Rebecca said, “he has also displayed a lack of empathy. He is the most wonderful man, but lately he’s been cold and distant.” 

              Marvin gave her a surprised look, “You never told me that?”

              “As the tumor crowds the brain,” The doctor continued, “it puts pressure on other areas. The frontal lobe is responsible for personality, and it too appears to be under considerable strain.”

              “Can we remove the tumor?” Rebecca asked.

              “It’s growing on the interior, and that makes surgery impossible. Medication might slow the growth, but there is nothing else we can do.” The doctor who had been speaking to Rebecca looked directly at Marvin. “Mr. Chatsworth, I don’t like telling you this, but your family and friends will not recognize you in a few years.”

              “And what does that mean?” Rebecca asked. Marvin could hear the concern in her voice.

              “It means his personality will undergo dramatic changes. Mr. Chatsworth, you struck your wife the other day, which she tells me is completely out of character for you. That is why she begged you to come in for an examination. Do you remember striking her?” Marvin shook his head.

              The doctor turned back to Rebecca, “I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. We have medication that can calm your husband to some degree, but, Mr. Chatsworth––Marvin, you will lose the essence of who you are.”

              Rebecca sobbed, and Marvin put his arm around her. “I’m sorry, honey,” he said, “just know that no matter what happens, my love for you will never change.”

              The Grim Reaper towered over Marvin. It was October 31st, and he was hard at work setting up the lawn decorations. It was his and Rebecca’s favorite holiday. Inflatable ghouls, tombstones, cobwebs, and animated figures accented his house, making it the shining star of the neighborhood. Marvin worked many years as a studio prop master, and he used his movie skills to entertain the children.

              He stood back to admire his work, walked into the warmth of his house, and picked up Rebecca’s photograph. Rebecca died ten years ago, almost to the day. Her passing had been sudden, like a knife to the gut, Marvin would say. Death came and swept her away without warning. Never in his wildest dreams did he expect to outlive her. Part of him was glad she was gone. He had changed, and he didn’t think Rebecca would like it. He kissed his fingertip and gently touched it to her photograph. This act conjured up one of their final conversations.

              “Honey,” she had pleaded, “you need to let him go. Not even a dog deserves to be locked up in a ten-by-ten bedroom.”

              “What’s done is done,” Marvin said dismissively, “He’s got a place to sleep, he gets plenty of food and water, and you know I can’t set him free, so drop it. “

              But Rebecca couldn’t drop it. “It’s not your fault,” she told him, “It’s the sickness making you do these things. You’re not in control of your actions or your body.”

              “I hate it when you say that,” he snapped, “Please, stop telling me I’m not in control. I do what I want to do when I want to do it.”

              Rebecca backed off, but they would have the same argument a few more times before her passing.

              Marvin walked to the kitchen cupboard and pulled down a large bowl. Only the best candy would do tonight. Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, and Kit Kat bars were positioned by the door. No mini-candies for this household; oh no, Marvin went all out and bought the full-size candy bars making his house a neighborhood favorite. But all things change, and Marvin noticed fewer children in the neighborhood. Many had moved away to start their own families, and Covid-19 didn’t help. Last year, the authorities canceled Halloween, and he hoped the children would come back in droves.

              A candle in a jack-o-lantern signaled the neighborhood that he was open for business. Over the years, Marvin noticed that many of the kids didn’t say trick or treat as frequently as they used to, and they certainly didn’t say thank you. Often, they would just open their candy bags and expect candy to drop in magically; children, it seemed, had lost some of the most basic of social skills and good manners.             

              Marvin was known as the pariah of the neighborhood, often snapping at dog walkers and joggers for no apparent reason. He noticed that many of the neighbors would walk on the other side of the street to avoid unnecessary confrontations. Most of the year, Marvin was irritable and unapproachable, but not at Halloween. On October 31st Marvin felt that he underwent a remarkable change welcoming every child in the neighborhood into his home.

              The little preschoolers brought him the most joy. They usually held their parent’s hands and gently knocked on his door. They arrived early when the twilight glow of sunset still made the neighborhood appear safe. But once darkness fell, the little ones went to bed, and the older kids, the ingrates, came out.

              It was early evening when two little angels appeared at his doorstep. “Twick or Tweet.”

              “How precious, “Marvin said, “Are they twins?”

              The young couple nodded, “What do you say to the nice man?”

              “Tank you,” the girls chimed in unison.

              “You are most welcome,” Marvin said. He turned to the parents, “You have beautiful children. Thank you for teaching them good manners; that is so rare these days.”

              Early evening brought out more children than he expected. He handed out candy to Spiderman, Yoda, kings, queens, and monsters. But as daylight vanished, so did the little ones. The ingrates would come knocking any minute, and Marvin had to prepare himself mentally in case he ran into any hoodlums.

              He thought that second and third graders could be just as nasty as those horrible eighth-graders, but high school kids were the worst of all. They should be at parties, he thought, not collecting candy from senior citizens. It was creepy, and it bothered him that they were walking the streets among the little children.

              Rebecca once told him that his personality took a turn for the worse once the sun went down. Sundowners, she called it, and then she told him the tumor intensified the condition. It was Halloween night ten years ago when he really lost it. Rebecca came close to calling the police, but he stopped her; he was shocked when she died only a few weeks later. It was the tenth anniversary of the incident, and he knew he could use her calming presence tonight.

               Marvin walked to the pantry, grabbed a bowl of dog food, and walked it into one of the bedrooms. He put it on the floor along with a bowl of water. “I don’t want to hear a sound tonight do you understand me? Not a peep. You be a good boy.” He locked the door, put his ear to it, and listened for the sound of slurping water and the munching of food. Satisfied, he walked away.

              It had been quiet for almost an hour when the doorbell finally rang. Like in 2020, he thought there might be no older children this year. The neighbors didn’t help matters either. Only a few homes on the block had decorations. Kids were attracted to neighborhoods where residents got into the spirit, and decorations lined the blocks.

              “I’m coming,” he yelled down the hallway. He stood without problem, but walking had become a bit of a chore “Don’t go away!” he yelled again, “I’m coming!” He opened the front door, “Well, look at you.” The child on the landing looked to be seven or eight. “You’re the first Wonder Woman to knock on my door tonight.” Marvin bent at the waist. “I love Wonder Woman.” He gently whispered, “What’s your name?”

              “Billy,” the child said.

              “Billy, you do know Wonder Woman is a girl, don’t you?”

              “I want candy.”

              Spoiled Brat. Marvin smiled and waved at the young couple on the sidewalk. He looked back at the child, “Don’t worry, I’ll give you candy, but wouldn’t your rather be Superman or Batman?”

              “Mama!” Wonder Woman yelled.

              Marvin dropped a candy bar into the bag. “There you go,” he said, “now get the hell off my porch.”

              The child ran to his parents. “He said a bad word. He’s a bad man,” the child whined. The father reached into the bag, removed the candy bar, and placed it in his pocket. He gave Marvin a dirty look.

              It was unusually slow, and another half-hour passed before the doorbell rang again. “I’m coming,” he yelled. He picked up the candy bowl and greeted his guests. Two children stood at the door.

              “And who are you?” Marvin asked the shorter of the two.

              “I’m Jason,” he said.

              “Are you sure you’re not a hockey player?”

              “I’m Jason,” the child said defiantly.

              “Cuz, you look like a hockey player with that mask.”

              The child opened the bag wider. “I want candy.”

              “That’s not what you say, you little monster. Marvin felt a throbbing in his head. Now, what do you say?”

              “Trick or treat!”

              “That’s better.” Marvin reluctantly dropped a candy bar in the bag. He turned to the other, “And who are you?”

              “I’m Chucky.”

              “Where are your parents?” he asked. Chucky pointed to a house up the street. “They shouldn’t leave you alone. Do you know what happens to little boys who get separated from their parents?” The boys shook their heads. Marvin summoned his scariest guttural voice. “They disappear!”           

              The boys ran across the lawn, a witch laughed, and a wolf howled. The frightened boys stumbled over a tombstone and rolled on the turf. Marvin snickered. He had placed a speaker behind the hedge that played terrifying sounds whenever someone walked by. He straightened the yard ornament and walked back inside, doubting those kids would return next year.

              Oh, how he wished Rebecca was with him tonight. He went to the bar and poured himself two fingers of scotch. Who was he kidding? He poured himself another three fingers and sat down to watch Silence of the Lambs. It was their favorite scary movie, but it wasn’t the same without his wife. War of the Worlds was the earlier feature, the original, not that knockoff piece of crap with Tom Cruise. But Silence of the Lambs, now that was a world-class thriller. The scotch kicked in, and Marvin dozed before hearing his favorite line. “I’ve been in this room for eight years, now Clarice, and I know they’ll never let me out, not while I’m alive.”

              Marvin was in a whisky sleep when the doorbell woke him. It rang incessantly. What the hell, he looked at the clock. It’s almost ten!

              The doorbell continued to ring another five, six, seven, times in a row. He heard a stirring in the guest room. He stood unsteadily, looked at the whisky glass, which still had a sip left, and finished it. The doorbell rang several more times. It was pissing him off. Confused and intoxicated, he made his way to the door.

               Three young men with pillowcases and no costumes stood on the porch. They looked too old to be trick or treating. He figured they were about seventeen. Teens without costumes were the scariest of all.

              “What you got for us, old man?” one of the boys said.

              “You’re supposed to say, ‘Trick or treat.’”

              “What ya got for us, gramps?”

              “For you punks, I’ve got a story.”

              The boys laughed. “We’ll pass on the story. Just give us candy, or whatever it is you’ve been drinking.” He turned to his buddies, “This old fool can barely stand.”

              “Ten years ago,” Marvin began, “a punk came to my door. He was alone, unlike you three sissys who travel in packs. Anyway, he called me, old man, just as you have, and when I told him I wouldn’t give him any candy, he spat on my shoe.”

              The boys laughed, “That’s it? That’s your scary story? What’d ya do? Give him some cheap ass candy?”

              “No, I tasered him, locked him up in the guest bedroom, and now all he eats is dog food. He’s chained to the bed with a dog collar around his neck. If he talks back to me like you punks are doing, he gets electrocuted. I kicked up the voltage a few years back, and now he can barely speak. He’s been missing since 2011, and I understand his parents have never stopped looking for him. He’s in that front bedroom over there, but he knows better than to talk.”

              “Ooooh, you’re scaring us, Gramps,” one of the boys said.

              “You’re no Stephen King. Just give us some candy and shut up,” the third said confidently.

              “If I were ten years younger, I’d teach you punks a lesson.”

              “You’d lose an arm-wrestling match to a squirrel,” one of the boys said.

              “I was strong enough to stab my wife to death when she wouldn’t stop nagging me about the boy. Let him go, she said. They won’t put you in prison, she said. You’re not well, she said. Well, she’s not saying anything anymore. Oh, she still sleeps with me every night. She’s mostly skin and bones now, but if she were alive, she’d tell you punks where to go.”

              “You’re not scaring us, old man. Just give us candy.”

              Marvin took three candy bars and tossed them on the lawn. “Fetch,” he said.

              “No problem, old man. We’ll play fetch.” The boys barked like dogs. “Beggars can’t be choosers.” The boys jumped off the porch and ran to the side of the house to pick up the candy.

              From the bedroom window came a weak whisper, “Help me, please. Help me.”

              The boys laughed. “Help me, please, help me,” they mocked, “Crazy old man. Do you think a recording is going to scare us?” They flipped Marvin the finger, kicked over a few tombstones, and ran off.

              Marvin slammed the front door, walked to the guest room, and unlocked it.

              “I told you not to make a sound,” Marvin growled.

              In the corner, a young man of twenty-three crouched in a drug-induced stupor. His skin was almost transparent from ten years of incarceration, and his ribs showed through the threadbare tee shirt. He gently tugged at the modified dog collar around his neck.

              “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.

              “You ever call out that window again, and I’ll slit your throat,” Marvin yelled.

              “I’m sorry,” the boy said, “I’ve learned my lesson. You won’t hear another sound from me.”

              “I thought you had learned your lesson, but apparently, you haven’t. Tell me again, you’re sorry.”

              “I’m sorry,” the boy whispered.”

              “Louder,” Marvin said.

              “I’m sorry,” again the boy whispered.”

              “Say it louder, or God help me, I’ll kill you.”

              “I’m sorry!” the boy shouted. The volume triggered the voice-activated collar. Electricity crackled, his neck spasmed, spittle flew, the boy screamed in pain, and with each successive yell, the collar shocked him, again and again, and again until mercifully his throat closed, and the screaming stopped.

               “It’s how we train dogs not to bark,” Marvin said, “Works pretty good on punks too, don’t you think?”

              Marvin went into the master bedroom, flicked on the light, and walked to Rebecca’s side of the bed. “You told me once I had no empathy,” he said to her, “Well, you were wrong. I have plenty of empathy.” He broke off a rib bone from her desiccated carcass, walked back to the bedroom, and tossed it on the floor. “Chew on this,” he said, “It’ll strengthen your teeth. I’m sick and tired of picking them up off the floor.”

October 29, 2021 01:05

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Chris Winters
04:11 Nov 04, 2021

Some stories make you see them as a movie. This is one of those. Nice job.


Rudy Uribe
16:03 Nov 04, 2021

Thank you, Chris. I appreciate the kind words.


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Jon Casper
10:56 Nov 02, 2021

Holy cow, that turned dark! Wow! Great story though. What an interesting premise with the inoperable tumor. Well done sir!


Rudy Uribe
19:56 Nov 02, 2021

"Holy cow, that turned dark," made me laugh. Thanks for the kind comments.


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Stu Flegal
02:08 Oct 30, 2021

that's a really great story! that would make a truly scary film! Great job Mr. Uribe!


Rudy Uribe
18:28 Oct 30, 2021

Thanks, Stu.


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Verna Avarell
12:40 Oct 29, 2021

Wow! Creepy!


Rudy Uribe
18:27 Oct 29, 2021

Thanks. I think.


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