Friday, October 31, 2008

Candy Sticks - A Halloween Story

He had one stop left to make. Then he was free to head home and sit down in his big, comfy recliner. He had rented every horror movie he had ever liked. He was going to have a marathon of horror flicks running until he passed out. The only thing left were movie snacks, Halloween candy for trick or treaters (but really for him), soda and a frozen pizza. He parked in front of the grocery store and went in.

He grabbed microwavable popcorn, red licorice, cola and a huge pepperoni pizza. Then he headed to the candy aisle. It was filled with signs that said: "MORE CANDY IN THE SEASONAL AISLE!" He was a little irritated at that sign because he had no idea where the "seasonal aisle" was. This was a big store. One of those stores that had groceries, sports equipment, clothes, housewares and a lot of other crap. So he started wandering around. He was nearly to the garden section when he figured he better ask, he must of past it because it couldn't be near the garden section. He approached a uniformed female employee who was busy sweeping the floor.

"Excuse me. I need to find the seasonal aisle with all the Halloween candy. Can you help me?" He asked.

The employee slowly stopped sweeping and lifted her head even more slowly. He thought her movements were really stiff and odd. Then he saw her face.... she looked dead. So this person took Halloween seriously. She was not only dressed up at work but she was playing the part. The girl looked like she was pretty when she did not have the sick pallor of death hanging on her cheeks. Then he looked into her eyes and a chill ran up his spine. This girl was a good actress. Her eyes even looked devoid of life. That was when she dropped the broom, slowly turned and began awkwardly shuffling forward. He stood there stunned for a minute not sure what to do until he realized she was simply staying in character. So he did the only thing he could.... he followed her.

They were heading back toward the garden section. He had let logic get in his way again. Who puts the seasonal aisle near the garden section? Shouldn't the seasonal aisle be closer to the middle of the store? He turned his attention back to the girl in front of him, her gait remained awkward and she was definitely taking her time. He was positive that walking like she was would slow anyone down. It was like she was willing one of her legs to move as she dragged it forward with the foot facing perpendicular to the direction they were going. The other leg was pointed in the right direction but it also looked like she was very determinedly making it move. He decided to try and mimic the walk. It was so George Romero zombie-ish that he was nearly ready to propose to this pretty girl pretending to be dead. The walk was harder to pull off then he expected and he nearly fell over. He decided to try the walk later, when less people would see him fall face first into the ground. He was not really interested in achieving public embarrassment.

The girl stopped and then slowly maneuvered her body to face an aisle and slowly lifted her arm pointing down the aisle. That was when he looked and saw the Halloween candy. He thanked her but she ignored him and slowly turned and began lumbering back the other way. He smiled at her back and then turned to see what candy was still available.

The candy aisle had been pretty well plundered but there was still some left. He picked up a bag of M&M's, Snickers and Bug Hunk. Then he saw a bag of "Candy Sticks" which were packaged in small boxes with superheroes on them. He saw that they were only a buck and he put a couple bags in his basket. He was not entirely sure what the heck a candy stick was but he was curious. If they weren't any good he would hand them out to any kid that showed up at his door. It was always good to get a cheap crappy candy and hand that out with one good candy. That way he could give the kids a handful of candy but only lose 1 good candy at a time. It was a method designed to leave him with plenty of tasty Halloween candy to devour over the next few days. He purchased his personal Halloween party goods in a self check out lane and headed out to his car.

When he got home he turned on the oven to heat it up for the pizza and put the cola in the refridge. Then he grabbed a large mixing bowl and emptied all of his candy into it. He grabbed another bowl for the popcorn but that was for later. He put the licorice on the coffee table next to the bowl of candy and then he put in his first movie, The Shining. As he waited for the oven to get hot he sat down to watch the movie. His curiosity drove him to grab the candy sicks. He opened a little box and found two little sticks that reminded him of the candy cigarettes he used to play with as a kid. If one end had been died red it would have been a candy cigarette and not a candy stick. He chuckled at the PC-ness of it all as he pretended to smoke it, letting it hang loosely from his mouth as he talked to the TV in his best mobster impression. The oven beeped to let him know the desired temperature had been attained. He put the self rising pepperoni pizza inside and went back to pretending to smoke while he watched Jack Nicholson's descent into insanity play out in front of him. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY

The doorbell rang. He hopped up, grabbed the candy bowl and whipped open the door. To more people looking like zombies, even the children. They merely groaned and stared at him with their disturbing eyes. The TV seemed overly loud just then as Jack was hacking at the bathroom door with an axe while the super skinny lady screamed. He quickly grabbed a handful of candy and gave it to the way too real looking zombie children. They looked in the bag and slowly turned to head to another door. The parents merely moaned again before turning to go. That was creepy... he was not entirely sure why the only people he had seen this evening were dressed like zombies. Even the little girl was a zombie.... shouldn't she have been a princess or something sweet? Maybe the family couldn't afford anything but face make up. He shut the door and sat back down to watch Jack chase the little boy through the hedge maze.

The cooking timer buzzed and he got up to pull the pizza out. He was starving as he used his pizza cutter to cut it into pizza slice sized pieces. He grabbed a few slices and set them down in front of his chair before heading back into the kitchen to grab a soda, a paper towel and the Parmesan cheese. He set them down next to the plate and quickly changed DVDs. He decided on the Ring next and he popped it in.

He watched the movie begin and looked away right before they showed the face of the dead girl in the closet. He hated that scene it always freaked him out, the creepy moving girl in the video was terrible but the first girl she kills in the movie was the worst. The doorbell rang as Naomi Watts made her first appearance. He certainly liked Naomi and was a little irritated at the interruption but he had seen the movie before and he got up and grabbed the candy bowl. The door was filled with normal children in cute little princess costumes and Star Wars characters. The disconcerting part was that they merely moaned and held up their plastic pumpkin. He quickly handed them candy and shut the door. His heart was racing. He did not like those moans. He wanted a good ol' fashion "Trick or Treat" and smiling children.

He tried calming down and focused on his breathing when the door bell interrupted him again. He jumped and a startled yelp leaped from his mouth. He opened the door slowly and was greeted with more moaning children that looked like zombies in Halloween costumes holding up plastic pumpkins. This time after handing out the candy and shutting the door he turned off the porch light. He was done with this trick or treat crap. He turned the deadbolt and added the chain lock. Then he turned off all the interior lights and closed his blinds. He sat down and that was when he noticed his pizza was sitting untouched next to a pile of candy stick boxes. Had he not eaten any of his pizza? Had he eaten all these candy sticks? He saw the other half of the pizza sitting on his cutting board in the kitchen. He had not eaten any of it yet. His soda was not even opened yet. That was odd.... he picked up a slice and took a bite but it tasted terrible. He set it back on the plate and looked up to see the kid telling Naomi Watts about the little girl in the video. He reached into the candy bowl and hunted around until he felt one of the candy stick boxes.

The door bell rang again. He irritably moaned, grabbed the candy bowl and opened the door. He was greeted by moans and plastic pumpkins. He dutifully filled them with candy and then closed his door after he moaned back at them. He grabbed another candy stick and slowly began chewing it down to nothing before popping in another. The movie had ended and he headed over to change the movies. It seemed to be quite an effort as he had to think his way through each step. While he worked on opening the case the DVD player went on standby mode and the news appeared on the screen. The reporter was talking "... Candy Sticks. Apparently the candy sticks have been causing some strange reaction to the people who eat them. The government has not clarified what type of reaction people are experience but they urge you not to eat them. If you have them please put them aside and stop handing them out to children. Then call the number that is on this screen. Once again this is an emergency notification to stop handing out or eating the Candy Sticks...." The reporter began repeating herself and he stopped listening. He moaned as the DVD box finally opened and he put the next film into the player. He grabbed another box of candy sticks and stood up and shuffled back to his seat. The whole time he focused on his candy sticks. When he finally sat down the movie was already past the beginning and if he was not mistaken he felt that it was nearly the middle of a movie. How long had it taken him to get to his chair? There must be something wrong with his DVD player and then he remembered the news lady talking about his candy sticks. He decided to take a look at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and he made his way there.

When he finally looked into the mirror he saw something dead looking back at him. He felt like he should be alarmed but he could not bring himself to be. He headed back to his chair. When he arrived he saw the movie had ended and he reporter was back on. "... cause people to appear to be the living dead. According to our sources those that have consumed the Candy Sticks this year have been poisoned. The people appear to be zombies but unlike the horror moves they do not seem to require brains or human flesh. If you see someone that looks like a zombie please call your local police. Do not attack them or be overly afraid as they seem to be going through the normal motions of daily life but just a bit slower. The government is working on a cure for this affliction and the police are tasked with bringing all affected people back to a treatment facility. We repeat our earlier warning to not consume or hand out any more Candy Sticks this year. Put them aside and call the police. They will come and get them when they get into your neighborhood....." The reporter's voice droned on but he stopped listening. He continued eating his candy sticks and thinking about being a zombie. The only thought in his mind was "at least I don't have to eat brains." He opened his mouth to laugh and a moan came out instead.

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