Thursday, October 31, 2013

“Everyone Loves Surprises,” a short story especially for Halloween, by Cat Wilson

When Carla turned her Mercedes E250 onto the Bridal Path, she was almost home. Her husband Graham had been away for almost two months. Emails, phone calls, and  text messages only went so far. She missed his warm welcoming arms around her. They were especially welcome when watching old horror movies, her favourite pastime.

As Carla opened the front door, she was greeted by the most wonderful smells. God she’d missed his cooking. “Graham?”

“In here, Babe,” Graham yelled, from the kitchen.

Carla ran into his outstretched arms, anticipating that great big bear hug, tears streaming down her cheeks. She kissed every inch of his face before settling on his mouth. Mmm, she could not get enough of this man. She took a step back and looked at him. Goddamn, he couldn’t have looked better if he were a fudge brownie fresh from the oven.

“I have missed you so much” Carla said, not wanting to let him go.

“I’ve missed you too. I’m so glad to be home. So what do you want to do first?”

“First? What do you have in mind?”

“Dinner is ready, but I can put the prime rib on hold for a half hour or so … and for later I have a great horror flick and a surprise. So, again, what do you want to do first”?

“I think I can wait for dinner,” Carla said with a smirk and a wink.

Ten minutes later, Carla was looking into Graham’s eyes and smiling in contentment. Her top and jeans were thrown on the floor. Graham’s jeans were  thrown on top in some surreal exotic embrace. Her bra was on the lamp shade and her panties above her on the headboard. She was flushed and spent from their diversion.  

Graham smiled back at her and reminded her that dinner would be spoiled.

“Can’t have that,” she said. “I need my energy.”

After enjoying a fabulous meal cooked to perfection, Carla felt entirely pampered.  She moved to the family room with her glass of wine, thinking that Graham would follow. After a few minutes, though, she wondered where he had gone; he had promised her a movie and a surprise. She wandered down the hall, looking for him, and heard him speaking. It took her a moment to realize that he was on the phone.  He sounded upset.

“Halloween night is the best,” he was saying. Take my word for it. It will add a bit of, shall we say, camouflage. Now you hold up your end and we’ll all benefit.”

At that Graham hung up, and Carla ran back to the couch. She sat sipping her wine, wondering what the phone call was all about and whether she should tell Graham she’d been eavesdropping on him. But the Graham appeared all smiles and sat down beside her.  What was the point of spoiling a perfect reunion? Doubtless, the phone call had to do with Graham’s mysterious job.

“So do you want your surprise before or after the movie”? Graham asked, showing no sign of the irritation she’d sensed from his phone call.

“Now please, I can’t wait. You know me.”

“All right, the surprise is that we’re both going to Hawaii next month. I have a little business, maybe for a day or two, and I thought we could stay a week and have a second honeymoon. What do you think”?

“Sounds fantastic! I’ll get Julie to watch the gallery and I’m good to go.”

Did this sudden trip had anything to do with that strange phone call? She didn’t like the idea that Graham was keeping something from her, but had learned early in her marriage that Graham would not discuss his business. He’d told her he was a government agent and simply could not discuss his work. That was a biggie to get over, but Carla had accepted it.

After cuddling together and watching Silent Hill, a very scary movie, Carla turned off the television and headed to bed.

“Graham, are you coming?” she asked, hoping to rekindle those earlier sparks.

“Not yet, pet. I have a few calls to make and some e-mails to answer.”

“All right, but try not to be too long.” She tried to keep her tone sweet, but she was annoyed and had suspicious feelings she didn’t enjoy having.

In bed, Carla fell asleep almost immediately … and found herself in an operating room. No, an operating theater, because she could see faces watching from above. Oh, my god – she was naked and cold. And as the faces around her came into focus, she felt colder still. They were not human. They had grey-green skin and large black eyes shaped like almonds but were strangely handsome.  They were maybe six feet tall, muscular and well proportioned. They wore no clothes that she could see. One came toward her. His long arm outstretched, his long, slender fingers touching her body.

She tried to scream, but no sound came from her mouth. She tried to move but was paralyzed; she must have been drugged because there were no restraints holding her. She heard the sound of a dentist’s drill, and then felt pain, mind-numbing pain.

She woke up screaming.

“Carla, what is it?” Graham was sitting on the side of the bed holding her shoulders. She hugged him and held him so tight she thought she might hurt him.

“You must have had a terrible nightmare, but it’s all over now. Can you go back to sleep or do you what a brandy?”

“No, I’ll be fine. But that should teach me not to watch scary movies before bed. My nightmare seemed so real though.” She shuddered. “Hey,” she added, taking a look at him. “You’re still dressed. Weren’t you sleeping?”

“I was just coming to bed.” Graham smiled and removed his pants and went into the washroom. When he came out, he turned off the lights and climbed into bed; he turned to Carla and wrapped her in his arms.

“I’ll hold you till you fall asleep. Let’s hope there are no more nightmares.”

Graham was being as sweet as always. She had always longed for someone to take care of her and Graham did. How she ever got along before she met him, she didn’t know. As for the thought of losing him … she shuddered. Then snuggled more firmly into his arms and fell asleep.

Immediately, Carla was back in the operating room, just as before. They were all there again, staring at her naked body. It was just as cold and she could feel their hands touching her in places that made her want to scream. But again she could not scream or move. Just as before the sound of the drill started up, only this time there was no pain. But when she got to the spot in the dream when she’d woken up, there was something different. She heard a voice, a familiar voice. It was Graham.

She woke up. Not screaming this time, but terrified. She looked over at Graham. Asleep of course.
The next morning Carla woke up to the smell of fresh coffee and the smell of bacon frying, the two most powerful and appreciated smells imaginable, she thought.

“Good morning, my love,” Graham greeted her in the kitchen. “Did you sleep better after your nightmare? I hope so. I slept like a log.”

Carla assured Graham she had slept well, wondering to herself why she’d lied. Why not tell him about the second nightmare?

“What’s the date today?” Graham asked, seeming very cheerful. “With this travelling all the time I lose track of what day is what.”

“Let me think,” Carla said. “Oh my, it’s Halloween. Thanks for reminding me! I have to pick up candy for the kids tonight.”

“Let me do that. I’ll be coming home early and I can pick up the candy on my way home.”

“I thought you had something planned for tonight.”

“When did I say that? I’m not busy tonight.”

Carla remembered she had heard that during his telephone conversation – the conversation she’d been eavesdropping on.

“Oh, sorry, don’t where I got that idea. Anyway, that sounds great. You get the candy. Then I won’t have to worry about it. Don’t forget now, or we’ll have very angry goblins at our door.”
Carla enjoyed her breakfast with Graham. They talked and laughed about nothing really, but she felt good as she drove to work, thinking about how lucky she was to have him. How he had been a godsend when she had lost her father and had to take over his company.

She hadn’t ready to be responsible for so many people’s lives. Graham had shown her that selling it was the best idea. And he’d been right. What a weight off her shoulders!

Then she’d opened an art gallery, something she had wanted to do since she was a child. The gallery didn’t make a lot of money, but after selling Daddy’s company, she really didn’t need an income. Carla smiled to herself as she drove to the gallery; she couldn’t imagine her life could be any better.

That evening as Carla pulled into the driveway, she noticed that Graham had beaten her home. She hoped he had not forgotten the candy for the little trick-or-treaters, or she would have to go back out. After all you couldn’t disappoint the children.

“Graham?” It seemed almost a déjà vu moment from yesterday except as she stepped into the house there was no smell of prime rib cooking.

Graham came out of the bedroom wearing nothing but a great big smile.

“It’s early. It won’t be dark for an hour or more. We have plenty of time before any little ones come to the door”.

Carla laughed and ran toward Graham.

Carla must have drifted off after their love-making; tired because of her restless night. As she opened her eyes, Graham was above her leaning on one elbow. He looked so beautiful, Carla thought. If only this moment could continue forever. Then as if a rude awaking to a wonderful dream, the doorbell rang.

“What time is it?” she asked. “That must be an eager trickster wanting his candy. You did remember to buy some, didn’t you Graham?”

“Of course. Get dressed. You don’t want to miss any of the ghouls or goblins. This is your favourite part.”

Graham left and Carla dressed as quickly as she could.  Graham was right. She did love Halloween and seeing all the children in their costumes, guessing who they were. It was great fun.
As Carla walked into the living room, she froze in shock. Standing beside her loving husband was a being from her nightmare!

Was this a trick? A child dressed up for Halloween?

As it walked toward her and lifted his hand, with its long probing fingers, Carla realized there was no costume. This was real!

The room spun and Carla fainted.

When she came around, she saw Graham sitting in a chair in their living room, but moving her head ever so slightly, she saw the nightmare creature sitting on their sofa, only a few feet away from her.

“Oh good, you’re awake,” Graham said, giving her one of his boyish grins. “I’d like to introduce a friend of mine. Carla, this is Frank. Well, I call him Frank. Humans can’t pronounce his actual name.”

Carla was in a state of shock. She tried to speak but nothing came out.

“You’re probably wondering who and what old Frank here is,” Graham went on. “Let me explain. I work for the AIB that’s a secret government organization, the Alien Investigation Bureau. A different sort of FBI you might say, more like Men in Black, really. My job is to make sure aliens like Frank are kept happy. And what Frank needs to keep him happy, is you. It’s a win-win situation actually. I get your money, and Frank gets you.”

“Me?” Carla said, finally finding her voice.

The alien was no longer sitting, he was coming toward her. There was something different, something she hadn’t noticed before. There was a fold in his forehead. As he came closer the fold in his forehead began to open, revealing a long tentacle. It slithered out and slid wetly around her. Frank began to grin. At the same time, Carla began to scream, and she hasn’t stopped.

Catherine “Cat” Wilson is a mystery writer. She has been writing since she was fifteen and has a poem published in a national anthology. She also helped write and edit A Journey Through Time the Art of Steve Wilson, published in 2011. She hopes to have her first novella published this December 2013. She currently lives in Caledon with her husband Steve and her two dogs.
See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Bolton, Caledon, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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