Impossible Year: Caramel

(Okay, so I was originally supposed to post a really intense and serious shitty creepypasta-esque story that I wrote about a year back, but since it’s in my computer and it’s being a complete arse that won’t let up, here, have one of the parts from a Panic! At The Disco fic that I’ve been working on for a while now instead. Since all of the past halloweek stuff I posted have been nothing but morbidly dark and really gruesome, we’ll have something stupidly wholesome to end the spooky month instead. Boom, plot twist, happy Halloween fuckers!!! 🎃)

OCTOBER 31ST, HALLOWEEN.

Every house in the block and beyond displayed scary decorations on their front lawn; of plastic skeletons, fake cobwebs, carved pumpkins and other usual novelty spooky items. Squealing kids rounded the streets with their friends and parents, donning various colourful and monstrous costumes as they knocked on doors and yelled a cheerful “trick or treat!”, and teenagers held their own parties and dared each other to do crazy horror-related things that either sent them running away screaming, or laughing, or in most cases, both.

It was a festive night as usual, perhaps even more festive and rowdy than he’d ever witnessed in his entire life, but Jon Walker simply felt like he was getting too old for this shit.

He had just dropped a couple of fun-sized Snickers on the bag of a kid dressed up as a vampire slayer (“points to him for being a notch above cliche,” Jon wanly mused) and was heading back to his living room, a cup of store-bought coffee in one hand and the TV remote in another.

Nursing a headache, Jon tightened his shabby red bathrobe and sipped on his drink, grimacing slightly at the strange taste of…what was it that kids these days called it? Pumpkin spice? Yeah. Whatever the hell that meant.

He groaned as he unceremoniously plopped back down on the couch to continue watching a random B-list horror movie he found on Netflix. As soon as he pressed the play button, the TV immediately died and all the lights in the house flickered off.

“Great, just my luck.” Jon dryly thought, scratching absently at his unkempt beard. “This is so textbook cliche. Next thing you know, I’m going to fetch my flashlight in the kitchen and there’s going to be an axe murderer waiting behind the fridge to hack me into pieces.

Fortunately for him, there wasn’t anything of the sort.

Although, there was a translucent little girl calmly sitting on his kitchen counter, which definitely was not there before.

Jon recoiled back in shock, nearly spilling his lukewarm drink all over himself in the process. He blinked a few times, rubbed his eyes furiously, and determinedly pinched himself on the arm, all before cautiously glancing back at the apparition.

But instead of being gone, the ghostly child was still there, and this time, she was staring straight back at him.

“Oh.” She piped up as she waved softly, making Jon deliriously laugh. “Hullo.”

“Oh yeah no cool, how’s it going? Oh nothing much, just TALKING TO A GODDAMN GHOST.” He rambled on senselessly in reply. The small phantom, however, seemed mostly unfazed by his reaction, probably already used to seeing that sort of thing. She’d seen worse.

“Are you okay, mister?” She asked innocently, stubby legs swinging back and forth and occasionally passing through the closed cabinets. Jon paused for a moment to think about what he was going to do next, and sighed out as he finally decided to give in to the sheer insanity of it all.

“I’m sorry. I overreacted. Let’s start afresh.” He said, clearing his throat extravagantly. “So. What’s your name, kid?”

“…Nic.” The ghost replied hesitantly.

“Nic, sure, yeah, that’s a nice name.” Jon pleasantly appeased. “So. Nic. Why are you haunting my house?”

She blinked a few times before limply shrugging. “…Dunno. I’m bored. And I think I’m supposed to, I guess.”

“That makes sense.” Jon nodded sagely. “Do you like scaring people?”

All he got was the same blink-blink-shrug routine in reply. “Dunno. I guess. I know I’m not very good at it yet.” Nic pouted sourly. “The older ghosts keep telling me to practice some more and if I don’t, some dumb priest or whatever’s gonna send me back to hell or afterlife or something, like they even know if that’s a real thing, they’ve never been. But I just wanna go outside and play with the other scary-looking kids, honestly. I only ever get to do that once a year, and I’m not even allowed to.”

Her eyes began welling up with tears and she turned away stubbornly, trying to hide them from Jon’s view.

Jon had never seen a ghost cry before, least of all a child ghost. For sure, he could definitely check that off his bucket list. Or just throw away the damn thing because for sure at this point, he’d seen it all.

He set down his coffee cup on the counter and carefully approached the quietly-trembling Nic.

“Well, Nic, if you don’t mind, let me tell you a secret.” He began. Nic still had her face buried in her hands and didn’t move even as he spoke to her, but Jon could sense that she was listening intently, so he carried on.

“Here’s the thing I’ve learned. Sometimes, you don’t have to listen to mean old adults. We’re just really cranky and tired from doing a lot of boring stuff. But you’re still a child after all, and you’ve got a lot to learn, and heck, maybe one day you’ll grow to be the best damn scarer in this cul-de-sac and scare those ancient naysayers back to their miserable graves. But hey, if you just wanna mess around, go wild. You won’t get a lot of chances to do that soon, and honestly—what have you got to lose?”

Nic finally rose from her hunched position and was seriously gazing at him now, a wistfully curious look etched on her pallid face.

“They can take you out of the fight, kid, but they can’t take the fight out of you.” Jon concluded with an assuring nod, finding even himself impressed with his whole speech. “Now go out there and trick or treat with all the other youngsters and show those creaky geezers that you’re made of more than goopy ectoplasm and boring boo noises.”

He shone his phone screen down as he fumbled with his ratty robe’s pocket, and managed to fish a piece of hard mint out of it. Secretly picking some lint off the old candy, Jon handed it to Nic.

“Here’s something for a start.” He said with a casual shrug, “I know it’s not much, but…”

But to the ghostly child, it didn’t seem to matter at all; as the bright grin that grew on her face could have lit up the entire house by itself. She excitedly swiped the candy out his hands (“Note to self,” Jon wondered absently, “ghosts can actually eat candy?”) with a shrill laugh and went in straight for an unexpected hug.

Jon shivered madly at Nic’s hold. The sensation was like getting dunked right into a vat of liquid nitrogen. But he tried his best not to show his utter discomfort as he awkwardly patted her on the back, careful not to let his hand completely pass through her.

“That’s, uh, that’s the spirit.” He stammered out with chattering teeth, chuckling at his own pun.

“Thank you, mister!” She gratefully squeaked.

“You’re welcome. Now git outta here kid, yer bothering me.” Jon replied with a playful wink.

Nic simply nodded fervently, visibly filled with a new excited energy. She waved back once again and smiled the biggest smile a ghost could possibly ever have, before finally running on ahead of Jon.

He silently watched the otherworldly child as her glowing ethereal outline passed through the kitchen walls, and faded away into nothing. At that very moment, the lights flickered back on, but Jon didn’t even notice, still deeply lost in his own thoughts.

“Trick or treat!”

A giggling chorus of childish voices outside finally startled Jon out of his trance. Picking up his cold pumpkin spice drink (which didn’t taste so strange anymore) and the half-filled candy bowl, he walked to the doorway, sighed once, smiled the biggest smile a person could possibly ever have, and opened the door.

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