Halloween, and a story in a bit of a rush for the night. I have work tonight so this is on a timer and will pop up before I get home. It’s a bit primitive, I hope the idea comes through okay. This one should get added to the next shorts collection although it will definitely be edited first.
When the wind changed
Sheila pursed her lips. “So what are we going for? Cute or horrific?”
“Horrific.” Aileen grinned. “Let’s give them a horror night to remember.”
“So…” Sheila raised one eyebrow. “Blackthorn’s?”
“Huh?” Aileen wrinkled her nose. “What’s Blackthorn’s?”
“I found it in a side street the other day. They have masks like you’ve never seen.” Sheila started walking, fast. “Come on. It’s not far.”
The shop looked shabby and dusty. Aileen winced at some of the latex masks on display. They weren’t the usual cartoon vampires or Frankenstein monsters, no ordinary ghouls or zombies. These were realistically horrible. One in particular caught her eye.
It looked not so much tortured as tormented. The skin sallow and wrinkled, one eye lidless, dry and clouded. The other eye filled with almost palpable agony yet bright and alert. Its nose was bulbous and pockmarked, the lips thin and cracked. Cheeks sunken, a hollowness that shouted of the horrors this face had seen and experienced.
Aileen licked her full lips. This mask was the one for her. She was well aware of the beauty of her natural features and this mask was the exact opposite of her self-image. It was ideal for tonight’s Halloween party. She lifted it from the rack and found it was the only one of its kind. Beneath it were different masks.
Perfect, she thought. Nobody else will have the same one.
“You got one?” Sheila held up a vampire mask, more original Nosferatu than the generally handsome Christopher Lee version. Old and evil and bald and cruel, with fangs as the most prominent feature.
“I have.” Aileen showed her selection.
“Eww, nasty.” Sheila giggled. They made their way to the checkout.
“Good afternoon, ladies.” The old man at the counter leered at them. “A party tonight, I’d guess?”
“It’ll be a good one with these masks.” Sheila dropped hers on the counter. “Hey, do you do much business outside Halloween? I mean, there isn’t much call for the stuff in here for the rest of the year.”
“I’m only here for Halloween.” He rung up the purchase on an old till. “The rest of the year I do… other things.”
His uneven smile disconcerted Aileen, who went through her purchase in silence. As they were about to leave, the old man called to them.
“Ladies, be sure to take the masks off at midnight. If you miss midnight, don’t take them off until the sun comes up.”
“Why?” Sheila gave a half smile.
The old man showed a yellow grin. “Like my grandma used to say, if the wind changes, you’ll stay like that.”
Sheila laughed and pulled Aileen from the shop. “He’s in the Halloween spirit all right. We have to come here again next year.”
“Yeah…” Aileen looked down at the mask in her bag. If the wind changes…
The party was a wild one. Zombies and witches and devils and demons danced and drank the night away in drunken revelries. Aileen spent most of the evening with Paul from the computing department and had perhaps more to drink than she was really used to having.
Sheila appeared in Aileen’s slightly hazy vision. Her face was unmasked. Squinting at a wall clock, Aileen noticed it was ten past twelve.
“Hey, Sheila.” Aileen draped an arm around Paul’s shoulders, more for support than affection. “You chickened out and took off your mask by midnight.”
“Yeah, I took it off ages ago.” Sheila grinned. “So did you.”
“Yes, I didn’t even see you take it off.” Paul smiled at her.
“Oh come on. I’m not too pissed to see a wind up.” Aileen reached for her face and felt latex. “I don’t really look like this.” She pulled off her mask.
“Shit!” Paul pulled away from her.
Sheila screamed. The room fell silent, every face turned their way and the ones who could still focus became ashen.
“What?” Aileen looked down at the mask in her hands.
A pretty face, full lips and deep blue clear eyes looked back at her in a latex parody of herself.
Part of her mind demanded to find a mirror, but a bigger part of her thought that would be a very bad idea.