Deena Warner

2014: I'd like to thank Laura Long--horror writer, supporter, and all-around great gal--for the story to accompany this card!

Halloween Card 2014

"Air Conditioned For Your Comfort"

by Laura Long

"It doesn't feel like October. It's too hot." He was too young to see anything funny about a devil unhappy with the heat. It had rained; his trident was slippery from the humidity, so he made a trombone with it, flicking her headdress.

"Stop! My moccasins are full of mud."

They had plenty of candy already. Black Dog had been right there alongside them the whole time, but now he'd found a stinky, tangled mess of kite string and was chewing it.

"I think they are having a party." He was looking toward the house. "I see balloons."

The house had an arched back. It was ordinary red brick but had a round roof, slanted forward. Whiskers of moon fog curled away from a lantern under the eaves.

They read the sign a second time, still not sure whether to trust it. "Candy inside. Come in."

An old woman wearing a giant fruit hat swept out on the porch and grasped their hands. “My darling DARLINGS! Terrible weather. Come in. We’re air conditioned for your comfort.”

The two children looked at each other and grinned, expecting some ridiculous amount of candy. Heck, maybe money. This lady was a scream.

Once in, the door slammed behind them. The dim light unfolded a dozen youthful faces, strung together like paper dolls, mouths open, ceiling piñatas. The old woman’s sutured face began to swell and stretch.

Outside, Black Dog played with the string in the yard for an hour before he yelped and bolted home.

Author's dedication: For Maurice Broaddus, my HWA mentor, and Sally Jo, MOCON Goddess.