Your Trick is My Treat, story by Dawn DeBraal at Spillwords.com

Your Trick is My Treat

Your Trick is My Treat

written by: Dawn DeBraal

@DawnDebraal

 

Carl’s shoulders were being rubbed raw by the weight of the garbage can costume. It took him all week to cut leg holes in the bottom and armholes through the side. He glued the lid on his bike helmet with some heavy-duty epoxy. Regretting the choice of metal, he wished he’d opted for a plastic can.
Waiting for passersby, Carl would jump up and shout, “Boo!” Some people laughed, others screamed and ran, and one guy called him names that he would never say aloud and angrily sat on the cover for over five minutes pinning Carl to the ground before letting him up. Carl’s legs were shaky when the indignant girlfriend got the guy to ease up, allowing him to stand.
“Rob, he’s just a kid. Let him go!” she screamed. The irate boyfriend drew back his leg and kicked the can as hard as he could, making a dent. It sounded like a gong reverberating inside, hurting Carl’s ears.
Carl had suffered claustrophobia from a recent trauma and thought he should go home. After the incident with the angry boyfriend, he could kiss off this night of fun that wasn’t fun anymore. But it was his last year as a child to Trick or Treat.
Being stuck in the can while the man sat on top of him brought back the memory of a dare made by his friends to crawl into a culvert that ran beneath the road a few months ago. They dared him to do this, bribing him with the promise of five dollars once he came out the other end.
When Carl reached the end of the culvert, a vehicle had run off the road crushing the pipe to the point that even a little slender kid like himself couldn’t get through. He used his feet to pull himself backward. Carl’s arms were stuck in the forward position, and he tried to push away using the ridges of the pipe floor in front of him.
He shouted to his so-called “friends” to let them know he was stuck, asking them to reach in and pull his legs out. But the guys had tired of waiting for him and took off, leaving Carl trapped.
His first panic attack ensued while stuck in that pipe when no one answered, he realized they’d done this to him on purpose. It was ironic that he chose to dress like a garbage can for his last costume, but knowing he could get out of the metal can by standing up and stepping over the top made him confident with his choice.
After the culvert incident, he’d become a loner deciding not to hang with the guys he usually went with. For some reason, his former friends decided it was fun to gang up and pick on him. Friends that he’d had all his life were changing and pushing him off to the side. What made him so different from them?
Carl squatted when he saw the guys coming up the sidewalk. Ducking his head inside the can, pulling his arms in, he watched as Parker, DuWayne, and Connor, dressed in store-bought costumes, came closer.
Pretending to be an ordinary garbage can, he sat at the end of a driveway listening to the boys acting tough as they walked by, laughing about Carl.
“Where is Carl? I got a great joke to play on him this year.” Conner and DuWayne huffed when Parker said that. Carl’s face grew red when he heard his former friends talking smack, and he wanted to jump out of the can to scare them, but something told him not to. The boys could be more vengeful and give it back to him twice as badly as he gave. Carl had learned that the hard way. Even though he had crawled to the end of the culvert on a dare, the guys did not give him the five dollars promised for taking the challenge.
“You didn’t come out the other side,” Parker told him.
“I couldn’t; the pipe was crushed. No one could fit through that opening.”
“Then you didn’t navigate it successfully, and we don’t owe you anything,” Parker laughed in his face. In that instant, Carl understood he had been played and mentally divorced his friends.
The boys rounded the corner. Carl followed them from a distance. He wasn’t out here to collect candy. He wanted to scare the kids, make them feel as bad as he did. Carl would follow the guys to find out what they were up to.
As the guys collected candy, they pushed their way in front of the little kids whose parents chastised them. When their bags were full, Parker thought of a new way to entertain themselves and lit a firecracker throwing it to the ground. They laughed when people jumped out of the way.
“Someone is going to get hurt! I’m calling the police,” called out a parent. Before the patrol car arrived, DuWayne shoved the firecrackers, along with the lighter, through the hole in Carl’s costume. He remained silent.
“You boys, come here,” the police officer called. Three troublemakers approached the vehicle.
“You wouldn’t know about someone shooting fireworks, would you?”
“No,” they answered in unison, one of them pointing off in a different direction. “We heard firecrackers over that way.”
“Turn your pockets out,” said the police officer, not believing them. The boys capitulated. When no firecrackers were found, the officer warned them to be careful and drove off. DuWayne returned to where he’d thrown the firecrackers into the can, but the bin was gone.
“Hey, the can is gone. Our fireworks! I’ll bet the people who live here took their garbage can in while we were talking to that cop.”
“Are you sure? There’s a can over there.” Parker pointed. DuWayne followed Parker’s finger, running to the can, where the fireworks were on the ground near it.
“I guess I was wrong.” DuWayne doled out several firecrackers to his friends, lighting one of the little sticks; he threw it into the hole on the side of the fake garbage can.
Carl immediately stood up to escape the pending explosion, but his standing coincided with the loud bang.
“Check it out!” DuWayne whooped, thinking the can had rocketed off the ground because of the firecracker.
“That was impressive!” Connor agreed. DuWayne lit another fuse and threw the firecracker through the can’s armhole. Carl could no longer pretend. He got up and ran, his ears still ringing from the first explosion when the second one blasted nearby.
“It’s Carl. Get him!” shouted Parker. The boys gave chase when they heard their friend scream.
“Help!” DuWayne batted at the flames on his leg. Sparks from the firecracker had started his nylon costume on fire. Parker and Connor stopped to help their friend, attempting to beat out the burning material, when a string of firecrackers ignited in DuWayne’s pocket.
Carl ran as fast as he could, not knowing why; he’d done nothing wrong. Later, he could hear the ambulance and suspected DuWayne’s burns must be bad.
He wasn’t going home without some candy, so he walked up to the next house shouting “Trick or Treat,” standing among the little kids holding his hand out for candy.
“A little old, aren’t we?” The owner chided. Carl made a face at the homeowner; why would the guy say something like that? He could be out soaping windows or egging houses. He grabbed the candy and marched down the driveway.
Carl caught an unnatural movement out of the corner of his eye, immediately going into stealth mode and hunkering down in the garbage can. There was something about the man that seemed “off” as he walked down the street hunched over with a slight limp.
The guy was dressed like a vampire but wasn’t escorting children. Maybe he was a loner, like Carl. Something set off alarms in the teen.
Carl made another dash moving into a nearby alley and turning himself back into an unnoticed garbage can, keeping quiet as he peeked out of the armhole. He watched a group of people walk by, followed by the vampire, a short distance behind them. The creature scanned the alley around him seeming to be able to see in the dark. Only a distant streetlamp shed a little light at this end of the alley.
The man walked along with his nose in the air, sniffing like he could smell the fear coming from Carl, suddenly turning toward the garbage can. Carl shut his eyes as the man approached, but nothing happened. He looked out to see the guy had been distracted by another group of students coming through the alley. They were loud and boisterous. The vampire pushed himself further into the shadows when one of the students called after his friends.
“Don’t wait for me. I’m going to be sick.” He stumbled to the garbage can, where Carl held onto his bike helmet with all his might; he would not let the kid barf on him. The sick guy pulled on the handle while Carl used his full weight to hold the lid down, praying the epoxy he used on the bike helmet would hold.
On the second attempt to pry open the can unsuccessfully, Carl heard a scuffle. He saw the vampire holding onto the kid through the can’s armhole while his woozy victim attempted to escape. The struggle was brief, and the vampire overpowered the drunk, attaching himself to the boy’s neck; Carl closed his eyes to the sucking sound jumping at the sound of the dead man’s hand hitting the garbage can lid.
Once the creature was sated, he pushed the dead body between Carl and the building wall, limping away toward the streetlight.
The pressure to breathe was overwhelming after Carl found himself in another panic attack. He didn’t dare open the lid for fear the vampire would return and sat in that small metal cylinder, trying to breathe through his fear.
The walls were closing in on him, making him feel like a sardine. Carl was reliving the culvert nightmare again. His knees were tight to his chin, and though he tried to push the lid up, it didn’t budge. He put his arms through the holes, hoping to lift the stuck lid off.
Carl put his right arm through the hole, feeling the dead body. Shrieking, he pulled his hand back. All senses were on high alert, his heart exploding in his chest when another group of students heading back to the college walked by. He couldn’t bring himself to shout for help.
“Hey, who wants to play Kick the Can,” shouted one of the guys. He broke ranks with his friends and kicked the lonely garbage can with a Karate yell. His friends laughed when the can kicker jumped up and down, holding his sore foot.
The garbage can tipped onto its side, releasing the stuck lid. When it hit the ground, Carl cried with relief, finding he was able to stretch his body. The group panicked when they watched something struggle to come out from the garbage can and the dead guy it exposed.
Newly freed, Carl wiggled out of the can, shocked at the horror of seeing the dead kid up against the building. The mottled corpse’s eyes, still open, caused him to run off.
Halloween was done for him. No one walked the streets; it was late, and his parents would be mad. Releasing the buckle, Carl pulled off the bike helmet, throwing the lid and helmet down, jumping at the sound as it clattered on the sidewalk behind him.
Tears flowed as he mindlessly ran while the sobs escaped him; he’d seen his friend on fire, a man killing another man, and touched a dead body. The porch lights were off, a reminder that Trick or Treating had ended.
“Carl!” He stopped and turned to see Connor and Parker. “Where have you been? We’ve been looking for you!” Carl knew they planned to play a trick on him and ran away with his friends in hot pursuit.
He was only a few blocks from home and kicked his pace into a higher gear, feeling adrenalin coursing through his body; oddly, when he heard the boys behind him screaming, it sounded like they were scared.
When Carl looked back, he saw two vampires, one taking Parker to the ground while the student he’d seen murdered came after Connor.
Connor was faster and escaped, running toward Carl as fast as he could.
“Run! He’s got, Parker!” Connor screamed, whizzing by.
Was this the trick they were going to play on him? Carl froze, unable to move, trying to understand what he was seeing, but after Connor flew by, Carl snapped out of his trance.
Carl was crossing Broad Street on a dead run when he felt the car hit him and toss his body in the air, coming down hard, headfirst, on the pavement. Something snapped, and everything went dark.
“Kid, are you okay?” The car driver tried to wake him, but Carl couldn’t move and felt nothing from the neck down.
“I can’t feel anything. Call an ambulance.” The driver pulled his cell phone from his pocket when the vampire came up behind him, ripping out the driver’s throat. Then the vampire turned to face Carl, who was helpless and could not move.
It laughed with an evil hissing sound, blood dripping from its fangs that glowed in the glare of the car’s headlights. Carl whimpered, closing his eyes; he could not watch his death.
“Bang!” Carl’s eyes flickered open. The vampire danced in the sparks of firecrackers exploding around him before he escaped into the night.
“I called an ambulance. Hold still.” Tears flowed from Carl’s eyes. Connor had come back to save him.
“Thank you,” was all Carl could say. Connor sat next to him, and then he bent over Carl.
“I’ll get this over quick; you won’t suffer, pal. Your trick is my treat.” Connor sank his teeth into Carl’s neck.

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This publication is part 94 of 103 in the series 13 Days of Halloween