October 28

Fictober, Prompt 28 – “Enough! I heard enough.”

Warnings: bad language, implied past harassing behavior, implied violent death, monster, slightly ambiguous ending? Horror.

“You stupid bitch! You can’t tell me where to walk on a public—”

“I can when you’ve repeatedly been asked to stop harassing my friend and persist in doing it anyway.”

This is harassment, you can’t just—”

I raised one extremely unimpressed eyebrow at him. “You’re the one spending your Friday nights walking around in a serial killer mask, getting your kicks by scaring random strangers. If one of us is in danger of harassing somebody, it’s not me.”

This launched him into another diatribe, with more insults liberally peppered throughout. I was tempted to cast my own aspersions on his character (well, more than I already had), parentage, and intellectual abilities, but restrained myself with effort.

A quick glance showed me that Sasha had snuck by while I was physically blocking him from following her, and she was now out of sight.

“Enough!” I cut him off. “I’ve heard enough. I can’t stop you from walking up and down a public street.  I get that it’s almost Halloween, and you’re not the only one in costume. Plenty of the bar goers even seem to appreciate the scare. But I can and will prevent you from scaring my friend, who has to walk by here for her job every night. She has repeatedly asked that you leave her, specifically, alone, and you have refused, which definitely moves you out of ‘sort of acceptable Halloween creepy’ and solidly into ‘actually creepy asshole.’ So, I will be here every night to walk with her and prevent you from being that creepy asshole as far as she is concerned. Capiche?”

He swore at me again, voice low enough to be muffled by the mask, and turned away.

I wished desperately that I could give him the ass-kicking he richly deserved. Halloween was big in our town, had been for almost a century, and he’d become an (unfortunate) fixture in the past couple years. If he kept his scares to the drunk bar patrons who were looking for that sort of thing, or for ‘fun’ selfies with a famous fictional serial killer, that would be fine.

But that wasn’t enough for our masked friend. I didn’t think he was a real danger to anyone, fake knife notwithstanding, but he was definitely the kind of asshole who enjoyed actually scaring people unwillingly, and that wasn’t cool.

He headed back into the dark alley that he enjoyed lurking in, with one more obvious glance and a raised middle finger at me.

Man, he really deserved that ass-kicking, but I kept my feet firmly planted on the sidewalk outside the alley. He’d not raised a hand or made any attempt to grab or harm me, even now when he’d been really angry, and I wasn’t going to be the one to escalate things.

Something else moved farther back in the alley.

Something big.

I froze. Still busy flipping me off, mask guy didn’t see it.

It was dark in that alley, much more so than out here on the street, so I couldn’t see all that well. Surely it had just been my eyes playing tricks—?

A deeper blackness yawned in the dark.

Mask guy, finally sensing something amiss, turned to look. He had time for one weak, cut-off whimper before that yawning darkness swallowed him, and he was gone.

I didn’t think I was ever going to blink again.

The darkness moved, and I could feel eyes on me, though I could see nothing.

In the alley, a large mouth opened again, this time to grin.

This time, the streetlights gleamed on gigantic, razor sharp teeth.

This time, it wanted to be seen.

On instinct, without breathing, I nodded my head slowly once, twice.

The grin widened imperceptibly, and then was gone. The feeling of a presence in the alley was gone too, a weight lifted from the air that I hadn’t realized was there.

It was dark in the alley, but I could see all the way to the back again.

It was empty…except for a fake, plastic knife on the ground, off to one side.

Without pause, I turned around and walked away, following Sasha down the street to the bar restaurant where she worked.

“Are you okay?” she gasped when she saw me. “He didn’t hurt you, did he? Oh, I never should have asked you to—”

“No, no,” I said, hoping to reassure her. “He yelled at me a bit, but he didn’t try to touch me.” My voice sounded strange and thin to my own ears. This was not convincing Sasha that I was all right. Which I was. Or would be. Probably. “I don’t think he’ll be bothering you anymore.”

“Oh.” Relief overcame her worry, at least temporarily. “That would be nice. Are you sure I don’t need to call the police?”

“Nope, no police,” I said, taking some strength from the knowledge that she would not be so stressed anymore. “But I do want you to promise me one thing.”

“What is it?” she asked, worried again.

I looked her straight in the eyes. “Promise— No, swear to me that you will never, ever go into that alley. Okay?”

I wasn’t sure what she saw in my face, but her eyes were wide now too. “I swear,” she agreed. “There’s no reason I have to go down there, and I won’t.”

“Even if you think you have a reason, don’t,” I insisted, and only relaxed when she nodded. “Okay. Now, I would like a drink. A very strong drink.”

She smiled, clearly also trying to relax, and set about making my favorite.

I decided that whatever I might or might not have seen in that alley, I was just going to be glad that myself, my friend, and many other people in town had one fewer asshole to worry about at this time of year.

Maybe, I thought, taking a good long swig of my drink once it was finished, maybe this town was taking Halloween a little too seriously, for too long. Or maybe it was just getting to me.

The gleam of teeth in the dark stuck in my memory, and I shuddered.

Maybe it was getting to other things, too.

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