Lyn sat sipping coffee at the counter of Charlotte’s Café. He’d had French toast and sausages for breakfast and was very satisfied. To his left, George discussed studded snow tires versus chains with three other local men. Bill dropped onto a stool on Lyn’s right. “Can I talk to you, Lyndon?”
“Sure, what’s on your mind?” Lyn motioned for Katy to get Bill a cup of coffee.
Bill waited for the coffee, added sugar, and took a sip. He nodded his approval to Katy and then turned to his friend. “Last night was Halloween.”
“Oh. The kids didn’t damage your place, did they?”
“No, nothing like that; I live in the old, small part of town, you know, and the kids tend to hang around the suburban McMansions in the cul-de-sacs; better pickings for the effort.”
“So, what was the problem?”
“Right at dusk, my wife and I saw a blonde man go into the horse stable. We’d been watching for kids, we had a little candy, but no kids, just that guy. I thought he was up to no good; I’ve got a young mare in the stable, so I grabbed my shotgun and went to confront him.”
Lyn turned to fully look Bill in the face. He also motioned for more coffee.
Bill continued, “No one was in the stable. My mare was a little agitated, but nothing serious. Only one door opens into that old place, and he hadn’t come out. High up on the walls are some windows, but they don’t open, and nothing was broken, the cobwebs weren’t even disturbed.”
“Sounds like you’ve got a Halloween ghost story.”
“I was hoping you’d help me lift the planks in that old stable; see what’s under there. I’ll put the mare out into the pasture.”
“We’ll all come!” George and his three friends had given up on snow tires and fallen to rubbernecking Bill.
“I’ll come, too.” Katy jerked off her apron.
“Me too,” Charlotte hurried into the kitchen to tell the cook, Marie, to hold the fort for a while.
Soon everyone except the strangers in the McMansions was clustered around Bill’s old stable. Crowbars were applied, and the floor boards creaked upward for the first time in many years.
“A skeleton,” everyone crowded forward for a look, “nice teeth, must have been young.” Then they fell silent, just staring.
“Evil awakens,” one teenage girl finally exclaimed excitedly, “and just in time for Halloween, this is so cool.”
“Does that young man have blonde hair; can you tell?” The Crone Who Lived Alone had arrived. Most of the people had never seen her up close, so they stared, but she was very normal.
“I think there’s some blonde hair down there. The ghost I saw was blonde. Did you know the original family? This place changed hands a couple of times before I bought it.” Bill found his voice.
“The original family, no, I’m not that old,” her eyes sparkled with cunning, “it’s a Cain and Abel story; it’s an ancient curse.”
“What do you mean?” Lyn stepped forward. “Tell us everything.”
The old lady pressed her palms together, touching her nose as she thought. “A very nasty man and his wife moved into this house when she was pregnant. She gave birth to two boys, fraternal twins. One was blonde and the other a redhead. The man could never accept the redhead; he felt she’d had more sex partners than just him. Although they were officially named Charles and Andrew, he started calling them Cain and Abel, Cain being the redhead.
“The father thought he was very cute and funny. He would insist on making school lunches for the boys, and while Abel got an apple, Cain got a lemon. Abel’s tuna sandwich was made with good stuff, and Cain’s was made with cat food. He even mixed shit, erm, I mean poop, into Cain’s peanut butter. Oh, he thought he was clever, and Abel started joining in the torment of his twin. I think there was sexual abuse. They didn’t seem to notice that Cain was getting bigger than both of them.”
“Kick a Ginger…,” the teenage girl murmured, “some say Cain was a redhead.”
“Yes, they had that mentality. I tried to intervene with the mother, I threatened to call the police, but she was a scared little mouse, fearing more abuse. I guarantee she’d never cheated; redheads existed on both sides of the family, so Cain shouldn’t have been a surprise. The father was just an asshole, sorry.” The old lady shivered suddenly.
“Then what happened?” Charlotte put a warm arm around the thin, stooped shoulders.
“Halloween night, fifty years ago, there were all sorts of screams in that house. I stood on my porch, wondering if I should call the cops, but not really wanting to do that. Cain finally saw me, came out, and said he was playing scary records to frighten any trick-or-treaters. I didn’t believe him, so I just wished him well, and meant it! I turned off all my lights and didn’t peek out; I didn’t want to see what he was doing. We sort of had an understanding, Cain and I.”
“So, he killed his brother and buried him under the boards,” Lyn nodded, “sounds fair.”
“Oh, I think he did more than that. The mother became bolder and the father very repressed; they reversed roles. The father got heavy in the chest. I think Cain’s knife had struck below the belt, so to speak. They sold out and moved away. They didn’t tell me where.”
The old lady turned then, as if to return to her rickety old house. She looked at Lyn over her shoulder. “I didn’t like Abel, but the undertaker can put him in my family plot. He was my nephew. His mother and I were fraternal twins, as well. And Cain has a fifty-year head start.” She walked away lightly.
This was a Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Friday.
“It’s time for another game of aspects. Three categories — this time, a mix of Horror Subgenre, Conflict, Setting and Must Feature Ingredient. You know the drill…”
I chose Ghost Story, Evil Awakens, Small Town and an Ancient Curse.