I’m posting some old Mrs. Friedly stories in honor of Halloween! If you like these stories, you should definitely check out CREEPING STONES & OTHER STORIES, a collection of short horror tales that was just released this week! You can order it here.
The Silent Auction
By Cullen Bunn
“My word, Mrs. Friedly!” Claire tapped the tiny, elderly woman on the shoulder. “I’ve never heard such questions in all my life!”
Mrs. Friedly turned and regarded her new neighbor over the rim of her round-framed eyeglasses. “What’s that, dear?”
“These questions–” Claire waved towards the gorilla-suited MC, who was busy reading trivia questions from a crumpled sheet of paper. Behind him, a banner was tacked to the wall. HALLOWEEN TRIVIA NIGHT, it read. “–They’re dreadful!”
Mrs. Friedly smiled sweetly and nodded.
“OUR NEXT QUESTION …” The MC’s voice, muffled beneath his ape mask, boomed over the microphone. “…NAME, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, THE VICTIMS OF JACK THE RIPPER.”
Claire gasped in disgust, but a nervous titter passed through the crowd. At each table, a group of costumed ghouls gathered around scorecards. They whispered to each other and jotted their answers down. The question seemed to spark a heated debate at one of the nearby tables. A thin man in a skeleton get-up asked his companions, “Do you think he means just the known victims? Or should we list all the others, too?”
“AND THE FINAL QUESTION IN THIS CATEGORY,” The MC announced. It must have been very hard to breathe under the mask. Drool dribbled from the gorilla’s lips. “ACCORDING TO POPULAR BELIEF, HOW MANY CHILDREN WERE DEVOURED AT THE SIXTH FEAST OF EIBON?”
Mrs. Friedly clucked her tongue and muttered, “Trick question.”
“I’m afraid this is not what I had in mind,” Claire told the elderly woman. “I don’t care if it is Halloween. These questions are simply revolting. What charity is this event benefiting anyway? I appreciate you trying to introduce me to some of the other people from the neighborhood–I really do–but I think it would be best if I left.”
“Oh, don’t run off,” Mrs. Friedly said. “I’m sorry about the trivia questions. But I didn’t write them. I just run the silent auction, and that’s about to begin.
A cheer rose from the crowd as Mrs. Friedly walked to the center of the stage and took the microphone from the gorilla.
Just then, a pair of hands grabbed Claire by the shoulders and roughly pushed her on-stage. She struggled to free herself, but the beast that held her refused to let go.
“Here we have a lovely young woman,” Mrs. Friedly said. The crowd of monsters clapped and hooted. “She’s new to the neighborhood, and very sweet, I’m sure. Do I have an opening bid?”
Several members of the crowd raised clawed hands to place bids.
“Let me go!” Claire yelled. “This isn’t funny! Let me go right NOW!”
Mrs. Friedly looked at the young woman and made a tsk tsk tsk sound. She handed the microphone back to the gorilla, and approached. She dug in the pockets of her dress and withdrew a pair of bright, shiny scissors.
“Didn’t I tell you, dear?” Mrs. Friedly asked.
The hands at Claire’s shoulders strayed to her face and forced her mouth open. Mrs. Friedly raised the scissors.
“This is a silent auction,” she said.
The scissors snipped closed.