Flash Fiction Challenge: No Costume Needed

jackolantern 2003 1
Jack o’ lantern
Photo by K.S. Brooks

Willy watched with wonder as the ceaseless parade of little ghoulies went from door-to-door, receiving treats.

It stirred a dull memory in his mind of something pleasant – something from before.

Looking down at the necrotic flesh of his hands, he wondered if he might join the revellers without being noticed, without being hunted.

In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: No Costume Needed”

  1. You’re unique. The last of your kind. Alone.
    You spend your days in shadows, but the night is yours. You roam. You feed. You hunger for “other.” For someone like yourself.
    Day after night after day after night, alone. It nearly drives you mad. Perhaps in fact it does drive you mad, for you are not quite certain how you got to this place; no memory of parents, no memory of brothers or sisters.
    Then one night, one bitter autumn night, something extraordinary happens. There are small creatures, not with pink skin, but with ghastly faces, and bright colors. Some even look almost like you.
    You leave your safe place, your nest. You sniff the air. A strange sort of sweetness. Friend or food?
    You are taller than these creatures, but you are enough like them that they do not notice, except to chatter happy sounding things at you. You feel your face doing something unusual, baring your teeth, but without malice.
    You join their little line, their parade.
    At last you are among those who understand, those who crave the night. You feel so alive! So unalone.
    One of the small beings turns to you, smiles, and reaches for your hand.
    She screams when your fingers come unattached.
    You run. You hide. Lonely. Again. Still.

  2. The children of the town went out trick or treating in large groups on Halloween. Both for fun and safety. No one forgets how a few children had disappeared last year. The cops went door to door then trying to figure out who saw them last, what house they wound up at before never being seen again. Every house they visited seemed normal and innocent. Thin is the veil between living and dead on Halloween night. The one chance for small victims to pass through seeking revenge. As the color of the sky darkened and the street lights came on – another small group joined the others going door to door. When they reached a certain cross street; they broke off and determinedly made their way to a certain house at the end of the cul-de-sac. Once there they rang the bell and when the evil person inside opened the door with a malicious grin – they attacked and tied up the person. They also made sure they left mementos of their identity in the house. They waited a few hours and late that night they called in an anonymous tip that someone was in distress at that address. When the police arrived, they also found the mementos of the dead children on display. Their revenge was complete.

  3. Suddenly a kid on a skateboard rattled down the sidewalk, bumping loudly over every seam in the concrete. He was carrying a luminous plastic jack o’lanturn and snarling at packs of other youngsters as he passed them down the block. He drew alongside Willy, silent on the stoop of his house, and stopped.
    “I went as you tonight, Willy.” The figure stirred, rising to unsure feet. He skittered sideways toward the kid, dragging a bad – no, terrible – gimp leg. The kid had long hair down over his face; his clothes were grey with wear and sprayed ten colors of paint.
    “You’ve got it down straight, boy. I like it.” He produced a bag of Twix bars and let his Halloween friend grab a handful. “Keep it up and you’ll be a weirdo, too.” The boy fiercely pushed off up the block, all the while looking back at the famous painter, scarred with disease and shunned for it, who watched him intently.

  4. Willy, Willy, quite so scary,
    How does your pestilence grow?
    With infected pores and canker sores,
    And bleeding ulcers all in a row.

    Willy, Willy, oh so scary,
    How does your governor crow?
    With quarantine rooms and hazard suits,
    And CDC warnings all in a row.

    Willy, Willy, not quite so scary,
    How does your healing flow?
    With antibiotics and ointment creams,
    And doctor visits all in a row.

    Willy, Willy, again so scary,
    Why does your treatment slow?
    With co-pays and altered prescriptions,
    And over-priced insurance all in a row.

    Willy, Willy, quite so lonely,
    How does your virility grow?
    With measles, mumps, and ebola plagues,
    And mass graves all in a row.

  5. -How about some little treat?
    I was young enough to be curious.I decided to go with it and went inside his house.
    -Would you like a drink?
    -I am OK. So where is my treat?
    -Just close your eyes and imagine the moon, bright almost like sun.
    I closed my eyes.
    -Are you ready for your treat now? i heard him saying. His voice sounded like coming from very deep far end.
    -Yes! I said and there was silent in the room. I wanted to open my eyes but i felt very much in peace.
    -Now, open your eyes and look down.
    I open my eyes and i only saw little lights around in the darkness. In that moment i realize i was not touching the ground. I was floating between these lights. That made me panic.
    -I want to come back. I shouted.
    -Now you really open your eyes.
    I manage to do that this time and i was in his living room. He gave me a glass of water. I thanked him for that. I still didn’t recall what just happened.
    -I have to go now.
    -Watch your step on your way out. He said.
    As soon as when I step out from his house everything started to move. In that moment i realize i was in the air, flying.
    I just look up and see the bright moon, i was so close to it.
    I close my eyes again and thought ‘ Thank you for the treat’.

  6. Easy enough to steal a bag and fall in behind a group of the fleshlings, dissolve into the pack and imitate their squeals, the shuffle of their feet. Willy had to steel himself against the odors of exhaled breath, fragrances that stirred his senses and hungers to distraction, but it was that memory…that memory of before that kept his focus. He had to know what compelled him to fling himself into such a vulnerable state.

    They rang another doorbell and a human female smiled. A warm flutter coursed through him as she laughed and then tossed crinkly packages of treats into each of their bags. All his impulses told him to flee as the wave of little ones—witches, werewolves, and vampires—parted after receiving their bounty, but a larger one rooted him to the spot, waiting to see what she would do. She bent then, patted a hand to his head, her red hair glinting under the porch light. Red…why did he know that hue?

    “What a scary little zombie!” she squealed, dribbling a few packages into Willy’s bag. The aroma released as the contents rattled about smelled wrong, tainted. It punched an old, broken chord inside him and a moan strangled in what was left of his lungs.

    “Oooh, very good!” Her laughter now hurt his eyes, grabbed that broken chord and strangled it.

    He didn’t notice that the grouping he had followed had moved on. All he knew was the tantalizing aroma pulsing from the woman’s throat.

  7. He waited until a group of seven or eight ghoulies reached the house closest to him. As a smiling fat man opened the door to them, Willy moved over quickly and took up station just behind the group. When they turned around to leave, one of them, a redheaded Medusa, stared at Willy before turning back to the others.

    “Look, Lenny finally made it,” she said, pointing at him.

    They stole quick looks at him, and the zombie in the torn jeans—who seemed to be the alpha male of the group—grinned at him. “You look real scary, Lenny,” he said. He was either missing two front upper teeth or they had been blacked out. The man who had quietly moved up to check out Willy relaxed and moved back.

    “It’s Lenny,” he told his partner quietly, but the sound reached Willy’s ear. Willy turned around and looked at the two adults a discreet distance behind; they caught him looking and raised their hands. He waved back.

    Adults. Something in Willy stirred.

    The kids reached home later that evening. Jimmy’s father and Melissa’s father never made it back. Not that evening, not ever. The search lasted weeks and hopes lasted years, but no worthwhile lead was ever found.

    The cops questioned Lenny and his parents the longest. The other children were adamant Lenny had joined them late, but he had been in bed with flu that evening. No tricks, no treats for him.

  8. Only on a night of masks can I take mine off.
    “Hey, nice costume! You’re dressed as the Elephant Man, aren’t you?”

  9. Like you, I was born of a dying star. Like you, I was once made of star stuff. Seven billion billion billion atoms of it.

    Now I exist in the space between the stars. I see you without my eyes. I touch you without my hands. I love you without my heart.

    Except for tonight. All Hallows’ Eve. Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium, along with a smattering of other stuff: they all bind to my soul for one night and I walk with you once again. I am part of the cosmos, but just for tonight, I am part of the cosmopolitan.

    I have forgotten the formula of how to be flesh, so please bear with me. I have forgotten how to layer skin over muscle. I may have gotten it inside out. I have forgotten the placement of organs and limbs, the texture of hair. I will do my best.

    Do not be afraid.

    You laugh with your friends.”Trick or Treat!” But I know you feel me near. You look around and beneath your laugh you long for affection, not confections.

    You see me. My eyelids are missing, I think, but I can see you. My hand is a few fingers short, but I can touch you. My bloody heart is bulging through my chest, but I love you.

    You hold out your hand. With a child’s innocence you see the soul through the stuff of stars.

    “Hello Grandpa. I’ve missed you.”

  10. “The Surgeon”
    by Michael Seese
    250 words

    “Shhhh!” I whispered. “Lie still, or he’ll hear you.”

    No need to say who he was. He was “The Surgeon.” The bogeyman that we as children talked about, and our parents tried to play down, for fear we would find out the truth.

    That he is real.

    The legends varied, though they contained common threads. Around this time every year, The Surgeon would come, searching for victims to whisk away to his operating theater, where he would…

    Footsteps crunched through the leaves. I held my breath, terrified and blind beneath the moonless sky.




    “A-ha!” cackled the maniacal voice. “I’ve found you.”

    I didn’t feel the blade. But I heard it slice the air.

    “Help! Help me!” I screamed as he dragged me away. No one moved.

    I must have passed out. When I awoke, bright lights warmed me. I felt good. For a moment. Then…


    The knife cut into the top of my head. There was no pain. Just an uncomfortable tug as he began sawing. Up and down, around and around.

    Then his hand dove in and began yanking out my insides.


    They landed in a bucket below him.

    “Yum! Tasty,” he said.

    What kind of sick animal is he? I wondered.

    The knife then dug into my face. My eyes. My mouth.

    I now had them. It ended when he stuck a lighted candle inside me.

    “Kids!” he called out. “All done. Let’s get it on the porch, and then roast some seeds.”

  11. Chocolate, gooey caramel. My mouth almost waters. If only I could still taste that luscious candy, but the reanimated can’t do that. It wouldn’t be bad if I got out more. I mean, Grandma is great and all. She brought me back to half-life. It’s just not the same without other kids to play with. Halloween is the only day I can go outside without freaking the living. Believe me, you don’t want the pitchfork and torch brigade chasing you.

    “Trick or Treat.” I hold out my sack with the other kids.

    A lady hands me a handful of candy. “Great Costume.”

    I thank her and hurry toward the next house. Two little girls sob at the curb. Halloween should be fun, not sad.

    “Are you ok?”

    The bunny points a gloved paw at three disappearing teens. Her ears bounce with each sniffle. “They…took… our…candy.”

    I hate bullies. “Here, take mine.”

    Big, round, adoring eyes look up at me. Being undead has its perks. I track the thieves faster than a bloodhound.

    “That candy isn’t yours.”

    They laugh and tower around me. “Get lost or get pounded, squirt.”

    “Squirt, is it.” I take a deep breath and squirt them with inky old blood.

    A moment of stunned silence, then they clench their fists. I point down. They stare as skeletal hands reach up and pull them into the ground. Half-buried, they shriek and struggle.

    “Don’t steal, especially from little kids on Halloween. I’ll be watching.”

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