Katie couldn’t wait until Halloween. Her excitement was overwhelming. She wasn’t going trick or treating this year, that was for babies. Katie had just celebrated her 8th birthday.
Anna, Katie’s older sister, was having a Halloween slumber party. 16 year old Anna was head cheer leader at William Howard Taft High School. She was very popular and Katie loved watching her and the older girls apply make-up and put together really cool outfits from the bits and pieces and accessories they bought on sale at the Sherman Oaks Galleria.
One of the shops in the mall, The Calico Cupboard, was sponsoring a Halloween costume contest, With only a few days left before the big night, Katie was concentrating on making a werewolf costume for Cholmondley, the family Yorkshire terrier. The grand prize was a $100.00 gift certificate. If only Cholmondley would hold still, thought Katie, as she pricked her finger with the needle for the umpteenth time. Droplets of blood spurted from the tiny puncture wound. Cholmondley licked the blood off her finger.
–Ewwww, that’s gross!
Katie went into the bathroom she shared with Anna to wash the dog spit off her hands.
Mom and Dad were going to drive down to Oceanside for a party some of dad’s coworker’s had organised. The theme was “ Cute Couple’s.” Mom was putting the final touches on their costumes. Katie didn’t get it. Mom’s costume was a long black dress and a black bonnet. Dad’s costume was a pair of black pants Mom had hemmed up so they were too short. She had done the same thing to the cuffs on the threadbare jacket. Then there was this ridiculous hat…flat across the crown with a wide brim. Her usually dapper dad looked so silly. When Katie pointed out that Mom had forgot to apply her make-up, mom retorted.
–Katie, we’re going as an Amish couple. Amish women don’t wear make-up!
Katie still wished she wouldn’t make Dad look so silly. Katie wanted her mom to be something glamorous not some plain Jane. She wished they had gone as King Arthur and Guinevere or Anthony and Cleopatra, Sonny and Cher even. Anything but this. To add to her disappointment she had not placed in the Calico Cupboard’s costume contest. A boy in a blonde wig dressed as Lady Gaga won first prize, a mermaid took second, and there was a tie for third. Two kids in flesh coloured body stockings with fig leaves strategically placed came as Adam and Eve. Geeesh, even they had a better imagination about cute couples costumes than Mom!
On Halloween night, as Dad packed Mom’s train case, their overnight bag, and a buggy whip into the car, he said,
–Oh my little Katydid why so glum? Come on give us a hug and a kiss.
Mom came out of the house, in her drab black dress, bonnet slung over her arm, followed by Anna and her best friend Darlene.
–Remember girls, NO BOYS allowed in the house tonight and take care of your little sister.
Anna rolled her eyes back into her head.
–Mom, you’ve already told me a dozen times! Duh!
Anna and Darlene went back into the house.
Just as the Cabriolet pulled out of the driveway, Angela and Sara’s older brother Fred dropped them off. The girls were 11 months apart and did everything together.
–Hi Mr. and Mrs. Atkins. How are you?
–Doing good Sara. We’re on our way down to Oceanside.
While Angela and Fred gathered the sleeping bags from the trunk of Fred’s souped up Mustang, Sara glanced into the Cabriolet, then took a closer look at Ginny Atkins.
–Uh, Mrs. Atkins, you forgot your make-up.
–No Sara, I’m Amish…Amish women don’t wear make-up.
–Oh, totally cool! Well, have a good time.
Ginny Atkins eyed Fred.
–You too Sara, and remember NO BOYS in the house tonight.
–No problem Mrs. Atkins. Bye.
Katie took the girls into the kitchen where Darlene and Anna were making a punch they called Deadly Nightshade. It was a ghastly colour of bilious green. No one would tell her what was in it.
–It’s a secret.
–It’s Witch’s Brew Bwa ha ha ha hah! My pretty!
Mom had baked pumpkin flavoured cupcakes and they were set out on a rack to cool. She had left bowls of frosting and a bag of orange and black sprinkles for Katie to frost and decorate the cupcakes. On the table was a brand new twenty dollar bill for a pizza delivery.
One by one the other girls began to straggle in, until all eleven of them had arrived.
Soon the living room looked like a hand grenade had gone off in a shoebox. There were sleeping bags, pillows, bedding, make-up, gym bags, curlers, and clothing strewn all over the couches and the floor.
Music was blaring, Mimi holdng a hairbrush as if it were a microphone was lip-synching to Lady Gaga’s Let’s Dance.
By 8pm the trick or treaters had stopped ringing the bell. Katie put the last remaining bags of candy into a bowl on the dining room table.
She went back into the living room. Mimi had relinquished the hairbrush to Samantha who was doing a rendition of Bad Romance. Her lips outlined with a brown eyebrow pencil as she wriggled and gyrated herself through the song. When the song was over Katie asked if she could have a turn.
Darlene took the hairbrush from Samantha.
–No you’re too little. Go frost the cupcakes or something.
The next song began to play. Samantha seductively placed her lips close to the hairbrush, closed her eyes and began to move her lips in an exaggerated fashion.
Katie went into the kitchen to frost the cupcakes but Laura and Dorina were already doing it.
–Hey! Mom said I could do that.
–Scoot! It’s my party.
Anna shooed her out of the kitchen.
In the hallway between the dining room and the living room, Iris and Rose, the Blanchard twins, and Callie and Candy were practising cheerleading moves. They had made makeshift pom poms out of strips of cut up newspaper tied with twine. Katie asked if she could join them.
–No, you’re too little. This is serious stuff. We have a big game on Friday night.
–Come on girls let’s concentrate.
–You might be good at track
–But when it comes to football
–You might as well step back
–Might as well step back
–You might as well step back
–Can't hear you
–Might as well step back
The doorbell rang. Katie thought it was more trick or treaters, but it was just Aaron, the school nerd. He was wearing a Wizard's hat and a polo shirt that had written on the pocket, “Jacopo’s Pizza. Had a piece lately?”
Anna paid for the pizza and carried it into the dining room. The girls were all joking about what a geek Aaron was.
–Hey Callie, isn’t Aaron your prom date?
–Yeah right. As if!
Katie went into the kitchen to wash her hands and to get some of the paper plates Mom had bought. They were orange with a black cat and a silhouette of a witch on a broom flying across a full moon. There were matching napkins. She carefully picked up the black handled butcher knife, deftly slit the cellophane wrapping on the plates and took the knife with her so Anna could cut the pizza.
When Katie arrived back in the dining room, there wasn’t one piece of pizza left. It had been pre-cut into 12 pieces and the girls had gobbled up every sliver.
Katie tried to hold back her tears, but it was impossible. Her lower lip trembled and the tears splashed onto the paper plates.
–Oh, you’re such a crybaby. Here blow your nose.
Anna opened up one of the orange napkins and handed it to her.
Katie blew her nose as she watched Mimi feed a piece of crust to Cholmondley.
The girls returned to the living room to give each other facials.
Katie went upstairs to her bedroom, shut the door, and sobbed into her pillow. Why were the older girls being so mean to her? She missed Mom and Dad. Katie cried herself to sleep.
The next thing she knew, it was morning and Dad was shaking her awake; then hugging her and repeating over and over again,
–Oh my God, my little Katydid, are you alright? You’re alive. She’s alive!
As she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, she was aware of two policemen in her room. Mom was by the door her face all red and contorted, mascara ringing her eyes and dripping down her cheeks.
One of the policemen stepped forward and said to her,
–What happened here last night?
She screwed up her forehead.
–What do you mean?
–Katie, who was here last night, besides you and the girls?
She could hear Mom, in the doorway behind the other policeman, weeping.
The first policeman, in a gentle voice, said,
–Young lady, your sister and her friends have all been murdered. We need to know what happened.
Katie was dumbstruck. Anna? Her sister Anna murdered? But how?
Now Mom was sitting at the foot of her bed.
–Tell us what happened Katie.
–Nothing. I mean, I don’t know.
Mom in between sobs,
–Were there boys here?
Turning to her husband.
–I knew it. I knew there would be boys here.
The policeman looking at Katie’s hands,
–Why were you sleeping up here? Why weren’t you downstairs with the other girls?
Katie began to cry, the tears hot on her cheeks.
–They were being mean to me. They wouldn’t let me play with them and they ate all the pizza.
The word pizza caught in her throat as she sobbed into her mother’s skirt.
–So you slit their throats?
–No, I never did. She sobbed.
–Tell us exactly what happened from the beginning until you went to bed.
Katie told them about the girls not letting her lip-synch to the records, about them not letting her practise the cheerleading with them, not letting her frost the cupcakes, not saving any pizza for her. She told them she had gone into the kitchen for a knife and the plates and when she came out they had scarfed up all of the pizza.
–Katie where is the knife? What did you do with the knife?
–I left it on the dining room table.
–And then what did you do?
–I came up here to sleep.
–What time was it when you came up?
–Maybe around 9 o’clock. I don’t know.
–And you didn’t hear anything?
–No. I was upset. I was crying.
–Katie what’s the last thing you remember?
–Ummmmm… It was around midnight. I woke up and Cholmondley was licking my hand.
The policeman asked her.
–How do you know it was midnight?
–Because I heard the clock chiming. It chimed twelve times.
–Katie, where’s Cholmondley
Katie looked around the room and shrugged her shoulders.
–I don’t know the last thing I remember, he was licking my hand.
They left the room and began a search of the house for the Yorkshire terrier.
Still dressed in his Halloween costume, he was found on the stone cold, damp floor of the basement; the butcher knife thrust into his furry belly. The blade of the murder weapon stuck through one of the Halloween napkins. On the napkin someone had written the words:
NOT ONLY DOGS CAN LICK HANDS!
Ten Years of Terror: The 2010 Halloween Horrorquest