A 5-7 min read
Stumpy’s Pet Costume Walk
Moonlight draped over the tall oak trees and bled its way onto the street just in front of where Kevin, 8 and Meghan, 12 were walking. This Halloween had been one of the best, ever! Each of the two kids filled their plastic trick-or-treating pumpkins repeatedly as they snaked through the neighborhood knocking on doors.
Now, hours after the last of the trick-or-treaters found their way back into their homes, Kevin and Meghan were given the task of walking their dog, Stumpy. Stumpy was a short and squat Pug who waddled more than walked everywhere went. Tonight, Stumpy’s walk was especially awkward because he still wore the small cowboy-sheriff pet costume Meghan had picked out for him.
As the three of them wound their way along the sidewalk and around a corner lot within their neighborhood in hopes to give Stumpy enough time to relieve himself, they came up on lone witch’s hat nestled in between the concrete and brick barrier outlining a neighbor’s lawn.
Kevin knelt down to pick up the hat when suddenly off in the near distance they heard the sound of a high-pitched chirp. Meghan thought she recognized the sound, but something was off. It was almost the sound of a cricket, which would make sense because Meghan and Kevin have seen crickets in their neighborhood before. In fact, crickets were often found in their back yard, just near the water spigot and near the edge of the house.
Kevin asked Meghan, “Do you hear that? What is it?” Kevin stood up without retrieving the hat and waited for Meghan’s reply.
“It’s almost like a cricket.” She finally answered. “But, it’s slower I think, and lower pitched than a cricket.”
Each of the two children continued to listen. Abruptly the cricket noised stopped and just when it appeared to both it may have even been a tease of their imagination the sound appeared again.
“Chiirrpp Chiirrpp.” It started. “Chiirrpp Chiirrpp, Chiirrpp Chiirrpp,” it continued.
Something about the sound of the cricket made Meghan feel uncomfortable. Something unnatural about the way it rang through her ears. Kevin didn’t seem to be as phased by the oddity, however he himself had noticed something strange about the sound he just couldn’t put his finger on.
Stumpy pulled on the leash to signify he still had business to attend to, shaking Meghan out of her wonderment. She started to walk again, now crossing the road in their quiet neighborhood towards a small patch of grass with silver fire hydrant at the center. Kevin reached down, grabbed the witch’s hat and ran after them.
The Picket Fence
As they were crossing the street Kevin looked down and wondered where it came from. As he turned it over in his hands he noticed a small black cat emblem on the front of the band near the base. He immediately knew who’s hat it was, a little girl of about his age, Tiffany, who lives in their neighborhood and who he’d seen wearing the hat earlier that evening.
“Chiirrpp Chiirrpp.” Went the cricket again. The children froze. “Chiirrpp Chiirrpp, Chiirrpp Chiirrpp,” it continued, this time much closer to where they were standing.
The two children had made it to the patch of grass Stumpy was familiar with reliving himself on. As the children stood there frozen, they both realized they were uncertain of their next move. They looked to each other for an indication of the other’s intention. And, as Meghan was about to speak Stumpy let out a low growl.
Each of the children looked down towards Stumpy who’s eyes were fixed on the small picket fence just opposite the fire hydrant. Stumpy, who looked almost the part of the sheriff in his Halloween costume, continued to growl and began barking feverishly at the fence. Both children looked up to where Stumpy was pointing and making a fuss at through the fence and through the small slits between each of the fence pickets the outline of a dark shape with green eyes was peering back at them.
Kevin screamed and started running first, turning back towards their house. Meghan screamed and simultaneously picked up Stumpy who at that point was in a near frenzy. She bolted across the street chasing after Kevin. Neither of the two of them looked back. Stumpy continued to squirm and bark in Meghan’s arms and within a few more short seconds the three of them crashed through the front door of their home, slamming it behind them.
Home for Halloween
Their commotion drew the attention of their parents who were huddled in the living room. Another set of parents were also in the living room and they looked to be upset. Also, among them was what appeared to be a police officer, a real one, not someone in a costume. The sudden change of scene pulled both Meghan and Kevin out of their panic and with Meghan’s wits returning Meghan asked her mother, “What’s wrong? Why is there a police officer here?”
Meghan’s mother approached them and gently said, “It appears one of the neighbor kids has gone missing, both her and her dog.” Meghan’s mom paused for a moment and regarded her children’s sudden entry into the home asked, “Why were you both screaming? What’s going on?”
Meghan and Kevin looked at each other first and then back to their mom and started speaking at once, excitedly and in a panic. Their mother couldn’t make anything out and asked them to stop and start over. Meghan took a deep breath and set Stumpy down and as she started to recount their story the other neighbor mother from within the living room rushed over towards them and shouted.
“That’s hers right there.” She exclaimed, pointing towards Kevin. “That’s the hat she was wearing.” She continued, walking over and forcefully pulling the witch’s hat from Kevin’s grasp.
“We found it.” Kevin began to explain defensively. He paused and looked at his mom, “What’s going on?” he asked.
“Mr. and Mrs. Steepleton’s daughter is missing.” Kevin’s mother replied. “You remember her: Tiffany.” She continued, “She went out after trick-or-treating to walk her dog and hasn’t come home yet.”
Meghan and Kevin looked at each other. Panic started to creep into Kevin’s bones and chills ran up Meghan’s spine. And, just before either of them could begin to the explain again what they’d seen, Stumpy began to growl at the door. Just outside the door a they heard footsteps followed by a loud and deep…