Here’s another old story about the delightful Mrs. Friedly!
If you like these stories, now would be a great time to order my new collection of horror tales, A PASSAGE IN BLACK AND OTHER STORIES. Everybody loves spooky stories on Halloween!
“Another year,” Mrs. Friedly piped, “another Halloween Festival!”
The Elk Ridge Community Center was decorated with paper jack o’lanterns, dancing skeletons, and dozens of orange and black streamers. Children in costume—goblins and witches, vampires and ghouls, princesses and ninjas—scurried around the large chamber, and their laughter and squeals formed a constant din.
Mrs. Friedly clucked her tongue as she watched the children. Maybe she was old-fashioned, but some of the costumes just didn’t seem very… Halloweeny… to her. Ghouls and ghosts and monsters—those were fine. But the princesses and cowboys and monkeys just didn’t seem to fit the spirit of the occasion. Halloween, as the elderly woman saw it, was supposed to be a spooky night.
What on earth, she thought, is a ninja anyway?
The festivities were in full swing. Music swelled as a group of older children (and more than a few parents) took part in a cake walk. Screams and giggles rose from the make-shift haunted house the local Industrial Arts club was putting on behind the curtain on the auditorium stage. Groups of kids were playing Pass the Pumpkin and Candy Corn Catch. All around the perimeter of the massive chamber were small booths featuring all sorts of attractions and games. Fortune tellers, face painting, apple bobbing—there was something for everyone. There was even a kissing booth, sponsored by the Elk Ridge High School cheerleaders, and the line of teenage boys waiting for a smooch was impressive.
A pudgy little boy approached Mrs. Friedly’s booth.
“What’s this all about?” he asked.
Mrs. Friedly looked the boy over in disappointment. His only attempt to get into the spirit of Halloween was to wear a t-shirt that read, “This IS my costume!” Still, she forced a sweet smile.
“This is the fish pond.” She motioned to the curtain wall behind her. The curtain was decorated with dozens of swimming fish, many with sharp, fearsome-looking teeth. “You cast a line over the curtain and fish for a prize.”
“What kind of prize?”
Mrs. Friedly eyed the boys round belly and smiled. “Usually something good to eat!”
“I’ll give it a try,” the boy said.
Mrs. Friedly giggled happily. “Oh, goody!”
The boy looked around the booth. His brow furrowed. “Where are the fishing poles?”
Just then, he noticed something large moving behind the curtain. It was the shape and size of a gorilla, but the head was misshapen and covered in what might have been wriggling snakes. The grotesque figure made awful grunting sounds as it approached.
“W-what’s that?” the boy asked.
He had his answer soon enough. The shadowy figure moved behind the curtain. A fishing line dropped down next to Mrs. Friedly. At the end of the line was a large, rusty hook. Mrs. Friedly grabbed the hook. Without a second’s hesitation, she flicked her wrist and drove the hook through the flesh of the boy’s mouth.
The boy screeched and trembled, pulled at the hook and flailed.
Mrs. Friedly looked around. No one else seemed to notice.
The elderly woman gave the fishing line two quick tugs. The line was quickly retracted, and the little boy was hoisted up. He vanished over the top of the curtain. The last Mrs. Friedly saw of him was his kicking legs flopping over the edge.
Mrs. Friedly smiled and hummed to herself as she waited for her next customer. Within a few minutes, she saw a princess walking her way, and she felt a little rush of Halloween excitement.