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Welcome to my Spooky Flash Fiction Friday! From now until Halloween, there will be some horror going on!

I mean, horror-ish. Don’t be scared

When You’re the Kid Who Can’t Have Candy

Today’s Flash Fiction Friday is brought to you by:
The old man who lives in the haunted house across town
Pumpkin Patch

Lilly’s fingers tightened around the plastic handle of her hollow jack-o-lantern. The edges bit into her skin, and not just because it was half full of candy already.

“Don’t be scared,” Lilly’s best friend said. “He’s nice as long as you give him the candy you brought for him.”

Lilly gulped and nodded. Easy for Mary to say. Her parents let her have candy in the house. Ever since Lilly’s dad had gotten diabetes, all sweets had been forbidden, including candy. She’d had to bring something different, and she hoped the man who lived in the house before them would accept it as an offering.

If not, her family would be cursed for an entire year.

A small group of the older kids came back down the crumbling walkway from the porch. They smiled at Lilly and Mary. Next year they wouldn’t remember this. Next year they wouldn’t have to come to the house and make an offering.

Lilly had a long way to go before that.

One of them spoke, “Your turn.”

“Come on.” Mary grabbed Lilly by the elbow and tried to propel her forward. “Let’s get this over with so we can finish trick-or-treating.”

Lilly’s feet stayed rooted in place, as if the sickly vines that crawled up the rusting iron fence had burst from the ground and trapped her feet.

Mary frowned and looked over her shoulder at the line forming behind them. “Come on, we have to go now.” One big tug broke Lilly loose from the imaginary hold, and she stumbled after Mary through the sagging gate and up the dirty walkway. Tangled, dead weeds from the yard leaned toward them, causing Lilly to pull her princess dress in around her.

Wide, sagging stairs led to a long porch. The color had been leached from the wood years before, leaving everything a pale, ominous, gray.

A single rocking chair sat on the porch, occupied by a man.

Only Lilly knew it wasn’t a man. It was a demon. Or something bad. No one knew for sure. If Lilly looked at him straight on, he kind of looked like her grandpa, only with long stringy hair instead of bald. If she glanced at it out of the side of her eye, she could see a sort of shadow around it shaped like a monster.

It always made her shiver, but she did it every year.

This year she bit back a gurgle of fear. If the man didn’t like her offering, then her family would be haunted by the monster until next Halloween.

It had happened to Brian down the street. He’d tried to give the old man a package of beef jerky. Their family had moved the next summer.

The old man liked candy.

Lilly didn’t have candy.

Her feet grew heavy again, and Mary moved ahead of her.

Mary, who wore a superhero costume, smiled at the man-thing and held out her offering. “Kit-Kat’s are my favorite. I hope you like them too.”

The man-thing smiled, and waved for her to drop the candy into a bucket that glowed and looked like a skull. It’s smile grew wider when the candy landed in the pile.

Mary then stepped back and shoved Lilly forward.

Lilly almost fell on her face, and barely caught herself before she landed on the man-thing. Some of her candy spilled out of her jack-o-lantern, but she didn’t care. It wouldn’t matter.

The man-thing gave her a chilling smile, so much not like her grandpas that she shivered and stepped back.

“What do you have for me,” it said in a gravely voice.

Lilly’s hands shook so much that it took her two tries to get her fingers into the pocket in her dress. The contents slipped free with a hiss, and she held it out. “I—last year I noticed the holes in your pants.” She pointed at his knees.

The man-thing looked down, then back up at her and cocked its head to the side.

“I’m not allowed to have candy at my house, but this is my favorite patch. I took it off the hole my jean jacket and I’m giving it to you. So you can put it on your pants.”

Mary let out a gasp.

Lilly tried to hold her hand still as it hung in the air between them, but her whole body shook.

The man-thing leaned forward and reached out with spindly fingers to pluck the patch from her hand.

Cold burned her when his skin touched hers, but it went away when he withdrew, holding the little pumpkin patch. He looked at his knee, then up at her.

Did he not know how to use it? “You stitch it on.” She held up her elbow where her jacket had been patched. “Like this.”

The man-thing tilted its head to the other side, then placed the pumpkin on his knee. A light flashed, and Lilly threw her hand over her eyes. When she lowered it, the light faded, revealing the now sewn-in patch.

“You did it,” she said with a smile.

He smiled back and waved her away.

Did this mean her family wouldn’t be cursed? She’d have to wait and see.

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