The Back Gate
The shadows were thick and almost reactive as thee children stepped through the piles of leaves on the sidewalk. The night had a cool tinge to the air as they made their way from one stoop to the next. Giggles and taunts and the smell of rotting leaves combined with pumpkin and cinnamon filled what little wafting air there was. Jack stepped lively, no friends on his arm but a sense of tradition circling his mind, he moved to the next house and stepped to the door. Ding Dong. The door swung open.
“Hello?” Mrs. Philson stepped just over the threshold, holding a bucket of candy out for whatever may have rang her bell. She looked from side to side, not reacting to Jack as he held his pillow case out for recognition.
“Trick ’r Treat!” Jack announced. Mrs. Philson continued moving, glancing, from side to side looking for who rang her bell, to no avail. His sheet costume blowing slightly in the breeze, “Trick Or Treat!” he announced again, shaking his pillow case and silently demanding it be filled. Mrs. Philson stepped back into the house, shaking her head, and closed the door. Jack sneered under his hood and glanced around, taking in the surrounding porch and layout of the house. He moved to the front window and peeked in around the dirt and curtains, the house seemed warm and cozy with yellow light flickering around like dancing fairies. Jack quickly moved, vaulting over the side of the porch railing and landing in the garden which had not been tended since the end of summer which meant Jack landed in a nice mud pit. He looked down, his face grimacing under the sheet ghost costume, before he bundled up a handful of costume and leapt into the side yard.
“Hee hee he, you’re such a…” noises from passing by treaters filled the small space between the two houses as Jack stepped carefully out of the mismanaged garden and near the back gate for Mrs. Philson’s back yard. It wasn’t long before he was standing at the back gate itself and looking to see if anyone was watching him as he lifted the latch on the back gate. Jack stepped across the to the back yard, the leaves in the trees rustled and the wind gusted slightly, the moon shown down illuminating the way as Jack stepped down the narrow path between the house and the wooden privacy fence. His sheet muffled the sounds around him but the holes slit for the eyes allowed him to see everything he needed to. The white washed wooden siding, the orange and red leaves crunching quietly under his feet, the sickly brown water damaged wood of the fence. He moved quickly around the back corner of the house and next to the back stoop, crouching down he all but disappeared.
Jack stayed quiet and still while he sat and waited. Several moments past with no sounds from within or signs of motion from without. Jack stood looking back and forth, checking the perimeter before he hopped over the rail to the back deck. He crouched and slowly approached the back door of the house, still looking from side to side to ensure no one was sneaking up on him. The sounds of crickets were all that met him as he reached out to the back door, his hand covered in black knitted glove encircled the crescent handle to the rear screen door. Slowly and tentatively, he pulled the handle. With a soft click the screen door pulled open followed by the scrunching sound of a spring compressing as he pressed his body against the door, trying to muffle any sounds. He stopped dead in his tracks, his ghost costume sheet blowing slightly around his waist, and he listened to see if anyone inside had heard the sounds of the door.
“Haaaaa, huuuuuuh.” Jack breathed in and out as he wrapped his hand around the knob to the Philson’s house back door, turning it slowly. The light from the living room shown faintly through the kitchen and out the back door window, Jack watched for any signs of movement as he ever so slowly opened the door. Suddenly Jack’s ears were filled with the sound of the television from the living room, apparently Mrs. Philson was watching the seasonable Halloween movies as Jack was greeted by the sounds of canned and fake screams. Under his sheet he smiled widely. He stepped across the threshold and set his pillowcase candy bag on the kitchen table before moving to the back counter and in turn pulling the drawers open slowly and quietly.
He had gone through several drawers before he found what he was looking for, the knife drawer. He shuffled around slowly, looking for the largest knife, until he came to the butcher’s knife. Under his sheet costume his smile no longer wide, instead he had the huge devilish grin of someone about to thoroughly enjoy their work. He held the knife up, examining it in the defused light filtering in from the living room. He turned and slowly walked to the doorway between the living room and the kitchen, his eyes landed on the back of the couch and quickly shifted to the back of Mrs. Philson’s head.
Just as he stepped into the living room he heard a faint knock from up the stairs, Jack jerked his head around and looked up the staircase. Another faint light glowed around the corner and off the banister. Jack turned and stepped slowly up the steps, keeping his attention split on Mrs. Philson as well as whatever may lie atop the steps. He made the second floor landing quickly and turned in the direction of the light, a bedroom door slightly ajar back behind the staircase opening. He stepped gingerly around the banister and down the hallway, peeking into the door. The room was small and covered in a wooden paneling with a small man sitting at a desk, banging away at an old typewriter, with a black and white television lighting the room from a small table next to the door.
Jack pressed the door ever so gently and it creaked open. The small man did not seem to notice, or to Jack’s observance made no sign of it. He stepped across the floor, imagining a ninja infiltrating an enemies castle, then to a more appropriate specter floating to an interloper. Knife in hand, he slid right behind the small man, and prepared himself. The knife threatening the back of the man as Jack’s other hand floated around the man’s head.
With one quick motion Jack grabbed the man by the forehead and pulled back as he plunged the knife deep into the man’s back, just under the shoulder blade. A few quiet whimpers and the man fell silent before Jack pulled the knife free and wiped the blood on the man’s sweater. Jack snickered silently to himself as he turned and made his way back to the staircase, and back down to the main floor.
Ding Dong… the door bell screamed out, startling Jack. He quickly ducked back into the kitchen as Mrs. Philson stumbled from the couch and to the front door.
“Yes?” she coyly asked as she pulled the door open. Jack rolled his eyes.
“Trick Or Treat!” a chorus of voices poured into the house as Mr.s Philson stepped across the threshold and divvied up portions from her pot of candy. Jack stepped out of the kitchen and crouched next to the couch, waiting and smiling under his ghost costume. He listened to Mrs. Philson as she squawked about the children’s costumes and how cute they all were before closing the door. The hardwood floor creaked begrudgingly under her as she made her way back to the couch.
Jack smiled horrifyingly. Mrs. Philson plopped back into the couch and shoved herself the rest of the way down before grabbing up her bowl of popcorn and resuming her position of sloth in front of the television. Jack slid silently around the front of the couch, still unseen by Mrs. Philson as he moved to her blind spot behind the bowl of popcorn. Absently, Mrs. Philson grabbed a glass of soda from the end table and washed down a few handfuls of popcorn. Jack waited for the optimal time…
Ding Dong… Mrs. Philson rolled her eyes and grunted as she dropped the bowl of popcorn onto the couch next to her and braced herself to stand, until she saw Jack crouched at the front of the couch. Jack stood confidently, the knife held tightly behind his back.
“What are you…” Mrs. Philson began as Jack flashed the knife at arm’s length and with one long swiping move the knife slid easily into her flesh. As his arm completed its arch Mrs. Philson’s blood splattered the wall, the television, and Jack’s ghost costume. She slumped back into the couch, grasping at her throat as blood poured down her front side. Jack stood back and watched as Mrs. Philson struggled through her mortal throws, cocking his head slightly.
“Trick or treat.” Jack informed as he held his hands out, knife still clasped and drizzling blood.