Candies and Brains

Candies and Brains

A Story by bba
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Two friends set out for an adventure on the lovely night of Halloween.

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The ghastly moon shone feebly in the black sky. No stars could be seen. The occasional strip of cloud slithered across the face of the moon like a finger trying to erase it. It was All Hallows Eve and the children of Brookside Hills were all dressed up, clutching their buckets and hoping to fill them with sweets by night’s end. The streets were littered with mini-monsters and green aliens, fairies with their sparkling wands and witches with their mother’s broom. They marched along the streets - Concord Street, Columbus Street, Crisfield Avenue, and Brookside Drive, knocking on doors and chanting trick or treat like the town crier reminding the villagers it was time for their offering to God. Only one street remained empty.

Clinton Street was on the far edge of the village. Nobody went there except to bury or to visit the dead. The street was rough and unpaved unlike the others that ran across Brookside Hills. Tall dried stalks clumped on the sides of the road like brown walls, keeping trespassers from crossing over the empty lot. The leafless trees reached out from the dark, grasping the sky with skeleton branches. There was no sound as though nature itself didn’t want anything to do with Clinton Street.

A young man walked briskly on Clinton Street. He wore a black vest over the white dirty shirt, black moldy-smelling pants, and a pair of black shoes that looked like they hadn’t seen a shoe brush in years. He had just turned seventeen early this year, but with his stunted height and thin frame he could have easily passed for twelve. Under his right arm was the six-pack he managed to swipe from the fridge while old Annie wasn’t looking. He hated stealing from old Annie. She was sweet and probably the only person who was kind to him, kind enough not to treat him like garbage like everybody did, but he didn’t have any money to pay for the beer. On his other arm was a pumpkin-shaped plastic bucket like the ones the kids dangled under the noses of whoever opened the door. His bucket was already filled with candies. His name was Rupert Bartholomew and he hated the cemetery.

Rupert reached the rusty gates. He edged to the side where the wrought iron wall was bent open then slid carefully in, trying not to spill the candies like his life depended on it. Once inside, he walked more rapidly to the center of the cemetery, where a candle was melting on top of one of the headstones.

The cemetery was abysmal as always. The dried flowers scattered on the ground didn’t help get rid of the weird chemical smell that circulated the air. This is how death smells like, Rupert thought, wrinkling his nose. The ground was dusty and dry like a cake left in the oven. Nobody even thought of planting grass, but even if they did, no grass would grow in this kind of soil. Headstones protruded from the ground like jagged rows of teeth, waiting to close on an unsuspecting meal that would come near them. He broke into a run.

He stopped in front of the headstone. The candle had been waiting for him, its thick tears streaming down the engraved name. He dropped the six-pack and the pumpkin on the ground and rested his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.

“Boo!”

Rupert stumbled backwards, his eyes as round as the moon, staring dumbly at the stocky young man, who jumped from behind the headstone. The young man had a white face and his cheeks looked like they were rotting - the skin cracked and peeling off. Bruno Jerkins was ready for Halloween.

“Jeez, man, what’s got into you?” said Bruno as he moved from behind the headstone. He had his stupid little smile as he examined Rupert on the ground.

They weren’t actually friends in school; they didn’t even belong in the same group. Rupert was one of the geeks who flocked the library between classes, discussing computers and role-playing games. Bruno was a loud jock, famous for his winning touchdowns, and knew nothing else beyond the topic of sports. They met two years ago in this cemetery and had been stuck with each other ever since despite their many differences.

“Aw, what’s this, Roofy? You went out trick-or-treating without me? I thought we were friends,” Bruno said. He kicked the bucket, sending the multi-colored candies all over the cemetery ground.

Rupert said nothing while he picked up the candies and put them back to the bucket.

“Jeez, leave it, man. Aren’t you’re too old for candies?” Bruno said, disgusted at the sight of Rupert. He reached for the beer, and with one motion, he took one and threw it towards Rupert. “Here, have a beer.”

Rupert raised his hands to save his face from the flying can. He caught the beer and the candies scattered back down to the ground like broken pieces of glass. Bruno’s chuckle echoed throughout the headstones.

“So, what do you want to do tonight?” Bruno said, opening a can. He drank half the beer in one swing.

Rupert shrugged. “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

“Me? We did my thing last year, remember? It’s your turn now.”

He crushed the empty beer can with one hand, threw it over the headstones as far as he could then reached for another one. Rupert had only taken three sips. He wondered how Bruno managed to drink the awful thing. He fell silent, staring at the cold sweat of the can in his hand.

“Well? Who do you want to visit tonight?” Bruno said after a few moments of silence. He knew Rupert was thinking of somebody and with a little nudge he would have a name.

Rupert skimmed through his memories. He really wanted to get back to somebody this year that made his life miserable at school. So many names. So many faces. And so many miserable moments. He thought about Jose the school janitor and remembered the way he bickered at him and his friends around the school grounds every time he had the chance. Then Rupert remembered the janitor died early this year. His headstone still looked new and stood out from the rest in the dark cemetery. Then there was Yvette, the senior girl who pranced around the school with her cronies of giggling girls, thinking she was the prettiest girl in Brookside Hills. She once poured a glass of orange juice on Rupert’s head when he wrote her a letter. He hated that girl ever since and loved her at the same time.

“Okay, who is it?” Bruno said, seeing Rupert flash a faint smile. “Tell me, Roofy.”

The name he had in mind had been attached to Bruno’s name since he first stepped in school. They were inseparable like a pair of butt cheeks. Rupert hesitated. He didn’t know if Bruno would approve his pick. But then again, Bruno had picked Ms. Sarah the math teacher last year and he didn’t even think twice about going with the plan even though he really liked her a lot and math was his favorite subject.

“I don’t know,” Rupert said, trying to avoid Bruno’s eyes. “Joseph Taylor?”

Bruno smiled. “Nice pick, Roofy. Nice one. Grab the rest of the beer, will you? I’ll get the shovel.”

They walked away from the headstone towards the dark road of Clinton Street, leaving the candlelight dance for the dead.

 

Joseph Taylor was the PE teacher and Bruno’s head coach. They both had muscular bodies, and Taylor could easily be mistaken for Bruno’s uncle. Taylor lived at the far end of Brookside Drive with his mother and her two cats. Nobody at school had ever asked why he still lived with his mother and they had a good reason not to. It would be a death sentence to ask a stupid question like that to someone with arms as thick as a toddler’s waist.

The two boys walked the length of Brookside Drive. The night was still young but the kids were almost finished with their trick-or-treating. The buckets were filled with treats, and smiles painted every face. Once in a while some kids would throw a glare at the odd couple. The two looked too old for trick-or-treating after all, and even though their costumes and make-ups looked convincing, the kids didn’t want them on the streets tonight. Better costumes meant lots of treats. And the kids of Brookside Hills were in no mood for any competition in this special night.

 

Although the house at the end of the street looked the same as the other houses along the Brookside Drive, tonight it stood out like a gap between perfect white teeth. There were no decors of spider webs on the walls, no plastic bats hanging from the ceiling, and no carved pumpkin heads on the porch. Taylor couldn’t make the message any clearer. Halloween wasn’t his favorite holiday.

Inside, Taylor was on the couch watching TV and a bottle of beer in his hand. He decided to spend the night catching up with weekend games and killing the twelve bottles of beer in the fridge. This was his fifth bottle so far.

“Trick or treat!”

The voices behind the door reached Taylor like the ugly smell of a garbage can. He took a deep breath and turned to the door. He could’ve melted that door with his eyes.

“Scram!” he said.

As much as he wanted to hurl those trick-or-treaters from his porch, he decided to stay on the couch. He figured his loud, deep voice would be enough to scare them away. He turned back to the TV and missed his team make a touchdown. He nearly threw his beer at the TV.

“Trick or treat!”

He choked the bottleneck tighter. Those kids got some nerves, he told himself. He bolted up from the couch and headed straight to the door.

“Are you deaf? I told you to scram!” he said as he opened the door.

There was nothing on the porch except shadows. Taylor clenched his teeth and squinted his eyes, watching the darkness to reveal any kind of movement.

“You want to play games, huh?” he said. “Come out now and get your treats.”

He stepped out of the door, his stone-like heels thumping the wooden panels. The wind pulled the door closed, and he spun around and threw the beer bottle. The bottle found the door and exploded. Taylor’s temper rose from dangerous to deadly dangerous. He heard footsteps behind him and his lips formed a grin. Heads will roll tonight.

“Trick or treat!”

Taylor drew himself up to his full height and very slowly, as though giving the poor trick-or-treaters time to change their minds, he turned.

To his satisfaction, the stocky young man didn’t move. Taylor wasn’t even bothered that the young man had a well-formed body fit for a quarterback. He was the PE teacher and the head coach after all, and no teenager could ever take him down.

“Trick or treat, Coach,” Bruno said.

Taylor paused. That voice. It sounded familiar.

“Yeah, it’s me, Coach,” Bruno said, still hiding in the shadows. “So, would you give me a treat?”

“Jerkins?”

Taylor started to raise his arms to give the boy a hug. God, he missed his best quarterback. How long had it been? Three years? Three long years since the team hadn’t reached the finals. Three long years since the shelf at his office had been deprived of the state championship trophy. Three long years since Bruno had…

Taylor’s arms fell back down to his side. He remembered. Bruno shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t be anywhere except under the ground.

“Come on, Coach. Gimme some treat, for old times’ sake, will you.”

Taylor took a step back. He felt the shards of the bottle under his feet, but he kept backing away. Then the sound of the shovel came whooshing behind him. The shovel found the back of Taylor’s head, and he flung forward. Taylor held his head and tried to straighten himself up. Another swing to the head. Taylor stumbled back, his shoulder hitting the wall and breaking his fall. He turned and saw the thin boy behind him holding the shovel.

“Trick or treat, Mr. Taylor,” Rupert said, raising the shovel above his head.

Rupert swung the shovel towards Taylor’s neck, and kept swinging and swinging and swinging until the head of the shovel finally hit the wall.


The two young men walked silently in the dead of the night, each holding a Halloween bucket. The children were long gone, and probably feasting on their candies at their homes. Rupert couldn’t suppress a satisfied grin all the way back to the cemetery. He was tired and his arms felt like they had grown a few inches of muscles from swinging the shovel. But it was rewarding. He didn’t feel this kind of satisfaction when they visited Ms. Sarah the math teacher last Halloween. Tonight had been a different experience now that he actually participated in the killing. The rush was addictive, consuming and at the same time liberating.

They sat on the ground facing the headstone with the candle, now reduced to a stub, flickering in the starless evening as if saying goodbye to the world. Rupert looked down at the pumpkin head bucket with a grin still in his face. The pinkish gray organ quivered with the slight movement of the bucket. It reminded him of jelly. So sweet and so soft.

“So, Roofy, feeling good?” Bruno said.

Rupert didn’t answer but widened his smile.

“I thought so,” said Bruno, smiling broadly himself. He stood up, making the brain inside his own bucket wriggle. “Well, see you next year, Roofy.” Bruno said, giving a salute. He walked away from the headstone towards the heart of the dark cemetery.

“Yeah, see you next year,” Rupert said.

Rupert waited for the candle to flicker out and die. Then he stood up and walked towards the rusty gates of the cemetery, his bucket swinging on his side. He took a left before reaching the gate and zigzagged through the headstones. He reached an open grave at the far end of the row then looked down.

He hated the cemetery. The weird chemical odor always seeped into his shirt and the cushion of his coffin had lost its softness. He climbed down into the grave and lay down, placing his bucket of brain on his chest.

Rupert mused over the night’s adventure and felt a slight disappointment. He wished he could have Halloween every night. There’s always next year, he promised himself, then closed his eyes.



The End

© 2012 bba


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Author's Note

bba
This is one of my first stories, my sixth actually. Wrote it way back in 2008, a year after I started writing.

I did some minor changes, fixing a few awkward sentences and the bad grammar. But overall, the original story is still there.

Please, if you see any mistakes whatsoever - grammar, punctuation marks, weak prose - point them out. It will make very, very happy if you do.

Thank you and remember to be good to trick-or-treaters! XD

My Review

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Featured Review

- The leafless trees reached out from the dark, grasping the sky with its skeleton branches.
Not really a problem but at the start, you talk about multiple trees but end with talking about a single tree's skeletal branches.
- This is how death smell like, Rupert thought, wrinkling his nose.
Should that be 'smells like'?
- Nobody even though of planting grass, but even if they did, no grass would grow in this kind of soil.
Missed the t in in thought.
- Headstones protruded from the ground like jagged rows of teeth, waiting to snap close on an unsuspecting meal that would come near them.
The 'waiting to snap close' was a little awkward. Should it be 'closed'? Or maybe 'snap shut'. I don't know.
- She once poured a glass of orange juice on Rupert’s head when he wrote him a letter.
Did you mean, when he wrote her a letter? Or was he writing to someone else?
Anyway, I'm being a little nit-picky, forgive me. I hope it doesn't offend you because this story was fantastic and it was so engaging. I found your words completely captivating and I was so into the story.
You painted a magnificent picture and I could imagine it perfectly. It was particularly interesting that they were dead. How exciting. I loved the whole idea and was very happy with the way it flowed. Thanks for a great story, I loved it and found it so interesting! :) Keep it up!

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Tamelia Jade

7 Years Ago

Phew. I'm glad. Because despite that, I loved the story. And I agree, it's nice to get corrected hah.. read more
Larry Dyson

7 Years Ago

GOOD STORY LINE...NEED TO RUN IT THROUGH A GRAMMER CHEKER..SPELL CHECKER...
bba

7 Years Ago

@Eclipsing Moon-blood red. Yes, this story has tons of problems!



Reviews

I love your style! It's dark but there's something playful about it as well. And the story was intriguing because you never knew where it was going until the end. I look forward to reading more of your stories.

Posted 6 Years Ago


Can i read on this on my podcast?

Posted 6 Years Ago


wow.another great and interesting story.in the first place.according to the description given bu you about Bruno made me sure that he was dead man alive.but then it went on in such a way that i completely remove that thought from my mind.thinking that it might be their Halloween make up.....but all the revelation was actually made in the end...the theme is really new and awesome..people coming alive in Halloween to take revenge from people who had made them suffer.......
i really liked the the way you have described and compared everything about the surrounding......
summing up.it's a nice and pretty eerie tale ..nice work!!!!!!!

Posted 6 Years Ago


Well written story! I honestly didn't see the twist near the end coming despite the title. Wonderfully creepy and dark. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Posted 6 Years Ago


Hi Bryan!
"Candies and Brains" is the first story I have read here at "Writer's Cafe," and I've got to tell you: I'm very impressed - both with the story and the quality of the critiques. Sure, I've got some minor quibbles, like the first two sentences (which have already been discussed.) Also the cliche trying not to spill the candies LIKE HIS LIFE DEPENDED ON IT jarred me because the rest of the story seemed so perfect.

Overall, though, I thought this was first rate - a terrific story. It's like you conjured the spirit of Ray Bradbury with the relationship between Rupert and Bruno and some of the lyrical passages but gave it that lovely down and dirty, EC Comics twist at the end.

You wrote this after your second year of writing? WOW.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Thought this was pretty well written. Reminded me of Ghoul by Brian Keen. You've already made the grammatical and technical corrections, so it was hard to find any flaws. I'll try though.

at the stocky young man, who jumped from behind the headstone. The young man had a white face--This isn't wrong, but it always sounds off when the reference to a person is immediately used in the following sentence.

He took a deep breath and turned to the door. He could’ve melted that door with his eyes.--Maybe change "door" in the second sentence to "brass knob" or something.

Posted 7 Years Ago


I like that at the beginning, I didn't really see where this was going. But, I like it. It was a good, fun read. Although thinking about "placing his bucket of brain on his chest" made me cringe. Haha.

Posted 7 Years Ago


This is great stuff. I really enjoyed this story. It was entertaining and you kept me guessing. Well done. Bravo.

Posted 7 Years Ago


bba

7 Years Ago

Thanks for reading!
Very creepy and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

bba

7 Years Ago

Thank you for reading!
It's long. Maybe an edit? You have a lot of extra baggage. The title drew me in, but why is the moon ghastly? That first line set the tone for the extra words that are left hanging. If it's an old story, a proofread and revision is required. Always. Not just syntax edits.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Laura Maidah

7 Years Ago

Very well-written though.
bba

7 Years Ago


To be honest, I was in love with adjectives and adverbs back then; a clear sign of bad techni.. read more
Laura Maidah

7 Years Ago

THanks. You're ESL? WOW. WOW. Definitely top percentile in your peer group!

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Added on July 2, 2012
Last Updated on July 3, 2012
Tags: Halloween, Brains, Buckets, Shovel, Horror, Fiction, Brian Ayson, I really don't know how to tag m

Author

bba
bba

Philippines



About
I write short stories mostly, somewhere within the realms of horror, fantasy, drama, dark fantasy. Please feel free to read and write a quick review of what you think of my stories. Any comments gr.. more..

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