A Special Boy, A Special Halloween

There were two prompts for us to choose from for today’s Chatham Writers Group. I chose to write a horror story for Halloween. The setting is Pittsburgh, the time frame is within the last decade. My story follows.

Kaufmann’s Department Store, downtown Pittsburgh. Where my story opens. (Sadly, Kaufmann’s closed several years ago).

A Special Boy, A Special Halloween

KDKA, Channel 2 Pittsburgh, opened with a breaking news story:

“The nine year old son of philanthropists, Peggy and Bill Whitlock, was kidnapped while at Kaufmann’s Department Store.  The Whitlocks had taken their son, Samuel, to have his picture taken at the portrait gallery.  A man claiming to be the photographer’s assistant is the person suspected of taking Samuel, the photographer noted she had no assistant.  A ransom note was discovered in the portrait gallery seeking $5 million dollars for the safe return of the Whitlock’s son.”

The station then shifted to a press conference where the anxious parents indicated they were making every effort to meet the kidnapper’s demands.  But there was no mention in the note of how to transfer the money for the release.  Both Peggy and Bill Whitlock became emotional and begged the kidnapper’s to let their son go.  He was a “very special child” and today, Halloween Day, was his  10th birthday and “He really needed to be home for his birthday.”  Peggy Whitlock recovered her composure, glared coldly glared at the cameras and said, “We don’t want anything bad to happen.”  There was a harsh emphasis on the word “bad”.  The press conference ended.

Frick Park in Pittsburgh, location of kidnapper’s hideout.

In the living room of the caretaker’s cottage in Frick Park, , a man who went by the name of Mr. Gray switched off the TV.   A second man in the living room, known as Mr. Red, was completing the next ransom note by using individual letters cut from different magazines.  Looking up from his task, he said, “Sounds like that Whitlock woman was threatening us, Gray.”

“Nah, she’s just worried about the kid.”

“Come up with the five mil and nothing bad will happen.”

“Mr. Black is outside the county jail now, calling on a burner phone with instructions for the transaction.  Things should move faster.”

“How’s the kid doing?” asked a man named Bud, the Frick Park caretaker.  After three men broke into his cottage, carrying a kicking child with a hood pulled over his head, Bud was clubbed and had his hands zip tied.  The men were each named after a color, like in the movie “Reservoir Dogs”.  Bud sat hunched over on a kitchen chair.

“What do you care?” snapped Mr. Red.

“I saw the news, it’s his birthday, he’s probably upset.”

Mr. Red, menacingly pointing a pair of scissors at Bud barked, “It’s none of your business.  We’re just using this dump of yours until we get our dough, then we’ll be on our way.”  Turning to Mr. Gray he said, “I hope Black is back soon with our food, my stomach’s growling.”

“ Did he get something for the kid?  He’s probably hungry.  Can I check on him?”

Mr. Red leapt out of his chair and gripping the scissors like a knife snarled, “You shut your mouth…”

Mr. Gray spoke sharply, “Sit down Red.  Leave Bud alone.”

Mr. Red sat back down, “Go check on him.  I heard the kid talking.  Just make sure it’s to himself and he doesn’t have a cell phone.”

Bud stood, grabbed a couple of packages of chocolate covered pretzels from his cupboard and walked back to the bedroom where the kid was held.  Mr. Gray accompanied him, unlocked the bedroom door and shoved Bud into the room.  He followed close behind.

The boy looked at Bud and said, “Hello.”

Handing the pretzels to Samuel, Bud said, “Happy Birthday, and Trick or Treat.”

“Thank you,” replied Samuel, “But I only say treat on Halloween, bad stuff happens if somebody says trick.”

“Who you talking to kid,” snapped Mr. Gray.

“There is a monster under my bed.  I was trying to keep him calm.  There’s one in the closet too.”

Mr. Gray’s eyes widened in surprise and he took a couple of steps closer to the bed Samuel was sitting on.  He began to chuckle, “Monsters, eh?  Under the bed and in the closet?  You gotta cell phone kid?  Is this some kind of trick?”

At the word trick, tentacles snaked out from under Samuel’s bed and curled around Mr. Gray’s legs.  A tentacle shot into his open mouth and cut his scream short.  The tentacles dragged his struggling body under the bed.  A loud crunching noise, similar to the sound of a person biting into an apple, came from under the bed.  A slurping sound and a burp followed.

A Boris Karloff voice came from the closet, “Bad manners Octoman, excuse yourself.”  

From beneath the bed, a phlegmy voice replied, “Sorry Mum.  Excuse me.”

Bud stood motionless in shock at what he just witnessed.  From out of the closet shuffled The Mummy.  Bud passed out.

The thud of Bud hitting the floor roused Mr. Red from his ransom note work.  Gripping the scissors in his left hand and a pistol in his right hand he strode down the hall to the bedroom.  “You alright in there Gray?  What’s all that banging?”  

Barging into the room, he saw Bud‘s limp body sprawled on the floor and Samuel sitting on the bed.  A movement to his right caught his eye and he turned to see a dude who looked like he was wrapped in masking tape shuffling towards him with his hand extended.  The dude’s eyes glowed.  Mr. Red suddenly felt sluggish.  The masking tape guy grabbed him by the throat and effortlessly threw his body toward the bed.  

“Open wide Octoman, got you another,” said the Boris Karloff voice.  The Apple crunching and slurping sounds followed.  No burp this time.

Hearing the jingle of keys in the cottage door lock, the Mummy shuffled and hid behind the open bedroom door.  From the living room, Mr. Black called out his associates names.  There was no reply.  Glancing down the hall, he noticed the open bedroom door and called Mr. Gray and Mr. Red again.  Still no reply.  He crept stealthily down the hall towards the bedroom, now gripping his pistol.  Entering the room, the same scenario caught his eyes.  The passed out Bud and the kid sitting on the bed.  

Black’s last words were “What the..” as the Mummy grabbed him by the throat and threw him down next to the bed.

“Last morsel Octoman!”  More crunches and slurps.

The daylight was fading when Bud the caretaker came to.  Shaking the cobwebs from his head, he heard a child’s voice ask, “Are you okay Mr. Bud?”

He saw young Samuel Whitlock sitting on the bed, holding his backpack.  “I think so, Sammy.  Where is everybody.”  

“They went away.  Can you call my Dad & Mom to come get me?  Thank you for rescuing me from those bad men.”  Samuel got up and cut the zip ties from Bud’s hands.  He had no memory of chasing bad men away, his last memory was of them watching the news of the kidnapping in his living room.

“Yeah, sure, Sammy, I’ll call them right now.”

As Bud left the bedroom to get his cell phone, Samuel Whitlock slid two small action figures into his backpack, a mummy and one with tentacles called Octoman.  “Thank you he whispered, Happy Halloween.”

Samuel Whitlock’s Mummy action figure.
Samuel Whitlock’s Octoman action figure.

Ernie Stricsek

The Chatham Writers Group

October 31, 2022

2 thoughts on “A Special Boy, A Special Halloween

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