T’was All Hallows Eve with the sun going down,
and Sid didn’t really care that he’d been grounded.
Grabbing his costume, he sneaked out of his home,
sauntering toward town. Soon he ran and bounded.
He knew his friends would be dressed to the nines,
ready for mischief, mayhem, and trick-or-treating,
and he had no intention of being left out. Rather,
he’d be right in the thick of things, never retreating.
Donning his wookie mask from last year, Sid put on
his suit of fur next, wishing for something cooler.
But his parents had refused to buy him anything
else, instead threatening to whip his butt with a ruler.
“Cheating on your test was very bad,” they’d fussed
before grounding him, saying it was way past time
he learned he couldn’t continue his usual antics. His
allowance had been stopped, too; he got nary a dime.
Sid hurried toward Lewis and Chet’s homes, hoping
his friends hadn’t left for a Halloween celebration yet.
When two masked figures stepped from the shadows,
he froze, but relaxed after one mumbled, “All set?”
The two turned to walk off, heading away from town,
and he followed because they always knew where the
best fun was. “You guys sure are quiet,” he commented
soon. He shrugged when they responded with, “Huh?”
Several minutes later, Sid saw the old house ahead that
people thought was haunted, and froze, cocking his head.
His companions beckoned, though, and he followed them
inside. “Welcome to Flesh Fest,” someone behind him said.
Snickering at that, Sid looked around and stated, “I love this!”
The lights were off, illumination coming from lamps and candles.
A mist rose from the floor and cobwebs covered with spiders
hung everywhere. Red liquid dripped from the door handles
and ran down the walls, and snarls and growls sounded from
all directions. “Everything is perfect; I’ve never seen better,”
he stated, then watched some costumed “monsters” devour
brains — fake ones, of course — but convincing to the letter.
What looked like real intestines hung from the ceiling, and
he noted a dart game which featured terrified-looking human
faces attached to a large spinning wheel. Laughing attendees
were taking aim, and Sid quickly went over to join in the fun.
He threw a dart right into an eye and chortled as a winner’s
crown was placed upon his head. A glass of dark red punch
was thrust in his hand. He sniffed, grimacing at the off-taste.
Metallic and smelly, it almost made him upchuck his lunch.
Wandering around, Sid found another game in progress.
Party-goers were standing at poles and playing tether ball,
so he decided to do the same, too. When he prepared for the
ball coming at him, though, he saw it was not a ball at all.
Instead, it was Chet’s severed head attached to a rope, blood
still dripping, and Lewis’ lay with many others on the floor.
Trembling uncontrollably now, Sid eyed everything anew,
found dozens of eyes on him, and dashed toward the door.
A monster barred his way, armed with a huge hatchet that
was half the length of an adult male. “Who’s wants a treat?”
it yelled in a deep, raspy voice. “In a moment, we’ll have
fresh heart, intestines, and many kinds of moist, tasty meat.”
Another creature, enormous and grotesque, approached
with a bloody ax and boomed, “Everyone, gather round.”
Knowing he was next on the menu, Sid tried to get away,
but scary things encircled him, shoving him to the ground.
Some raised weapons but others bared both teeth and claws,
and the boy’s terrified wails soon tapered off, only the sound
of whacks, thunks, and splats remaining. Drops of blood and
bits of flesh flew everywhere, body parts tossed in a mound.
Monsters salivated over who’d get which piece. “So who’s
in the mood for a drumstick?” the host called out. “The liver?
The eyeballs will be juicy, I’m sure. And I can leave the tongue
in the mouth, or you can yank it out. Which would you prefer?
Someone needs to claim this head. Hot blood’s still dripping.
And who wants the heart? It’s in the chest, ready for ripping.
Remember, I promised food aplenty with no fuss and no fear.
It came right here to us, and we’ll have even more next year.”
Gabriella Balcom lives in Texas with her family, works full-time in the mental health field, and has loved reading and writing her entire life. She writes fantasy, horror, sci-fi, romance, literary fiction, children's stories, and more, and loves great stories, forests, mountains, and back roads. She has a weakness for lasagna, garlic bread, tacos, cheese, and chocolate, but not necessarily in that order, and adores Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food. Gabriella has had 360 works accepted for publication, and won the right to have a novel published by Clarendon House Publications when one of her short stories was voted best in the anthology in which it appeared. Her book, On the Wings of Ideas, came out afterward. She was nominated for the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award, and won second place in JayZoMon/Dark Myth Company’s 2020 Open Contract Challenge. Gabriella's novelette, Worth Waiting For, was then released. She self-published a novelette, Free’s Tale: No Home at Christmas-time, and Black Hare Press published her sci-fi novella, The Return, in 2021. Her horror novella, Down With the Sickness and Other Chilling Tales comes out in November of 2022, and four others pend publication.