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I was born in Montreal, but now live just outside Toronto, Canada with my wife, two kids and a fat Maine coon. I've been writing in some form or other throughout most of my life, but have only recently devoted a significant amount of time to completing the novels I dream about. Sadly, I can't write in my sleep or I would be able to spend my waking hours watching hockey, reading books, and playing video games. When the writing bug bites all the other interests in my life tend to get neglected. As for work, well I'm a writer trapped in the job of an accountant. Let's just leave it at that.
I have a short story below, Trick or Treat, which is a part of my horror collection, Crooked Souls. Feel free to send me any feedback or questions you have to the contact e-mail below...although I don't know the meaning of life, so don't ask that one.
For generations, The Community has thrived within a complex cave system, sheltered from a blight that has infected the rest of the world. Despite the seeming perfection of their society, its people want nothing more than to return to the Outside, and so, every ten years, a Hope is chosen to venture forth and discover whether it is now safe for them to emerge from their rocky home. The Hope has never returned.
Generations of Fathers and Mothers have always guided the Community, and the people are completely devoted to them and their society, but after Bastion's dad is chosen he questions whether Father is truly the benevolent leader the rest of the Community believes. His lack of faith leads him on a path of self discovery and redemption, but he loses sight of those closest to him. Through his ignorance, Bastion sets the Community on a path that teeters between salvation and destruction.
Sometimes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing...
A thin crack is all it takes for wickedness to coil into our world. Winding through the delicate minds of innocents and the twisted desires of killers, it preys upon the crippled pieces of our souls.
From a train bound for Hell, to the greedy cravings of a murderous unicorn, Crooked Souls is a collection of sixteen original horror stories about broken people and the unearthly encounters disturbing their lives.
If you like horror that builds steadily to twist endings, you’ll love Crooked Souls.
TRICK OR TREAT
The silver haired man stirred the batch of caramel with a long, wooden spoon. He eyed the sticky treat critically. He’d made caramel many times before, but still needed to be careful during this part of the recipe. If he left it untended for too long, the caramel would stick to the edges of the pot and burn, or worse, it would crystallize. He stirred patiently, waiting for it to reach the right consistency. Round and round the battered, iron pot he guided the spoon, scraping it against the edges. His hands shook. Not because he was nervous. He was old and his hands had a mind of their own. They no longer wished to be still. He sighed. The day was coming when he would be too old to bake treats for the children. That would be a sad day. He’d been making them for so many years now it felt like a part of him. He loved the sweet smell wafting from the pot. Even cleaning the sticky mess from the dishes after he was done didn’t bother him. It was all worth it to give a special treat to the children. Something he created from scratch. Something he was proud to pop into their pumpkins, bags and pillow cases. Halloween was the one day of the year that children ruled the street, and they deserved to be treated special.
He frowned unhappily. Halloween had changed over the years. He recalled the fun he had as a young lad. Sneaking from door to door. Plotting all sorts of mischief for the neighborhood. There were more tricks in those days, and the treats were often nuts and apples, rather than candy. Nowadays, if children got apples they threw them in his garden, or if they did take the apples home, they ended up in the trash. Children wanted to eat candy, not fruit, and their parents liked it that way. The world had become a distrustful place and parents were frightened of razor blades in apples. They weren’t scared of prepackaged junk food made with ingredients he couldn’t pronounce, but a nutritious apple struck fear in their hearts. Ridiculous. Apples with razor blades was surely a Halloween myth. The silver haired man shuddered. A razor blade in the mouth would make an awful mess.
The caramel was ready. He dipped a small, silver spoon into the pot and scooped a portion out. He blew on the hot caramel with his thin pursed lips and tasted it. Mmm, perfect. The kids would love it. He carefully poured the caramel into three aluminum lined pans he had set out on the black marble counter beside his stove. There was enough to make thirty six caramels in each pan, one hundred and eight caramels in all. He hoped it would be enough. It was always best to have the correct amount of treats.
The silver haired man had been living in the neighborhood for a year now. It was a small town and they always seemed to have the best turnouts for Halloween. He liked living in small town neighborhoods. They often had a friendly, sharing atmosphere. Sometimes, the children even helped him with his chores now that he had gotten old. But that only happened in small towns. The few times he lived in big cities, his neighbors kept to themselves. He didn’t like big cities. The people were too cautious.
This past summer, the Casey’s had sent their thirteen year old son, Dillon, to mow his lawn every week. He tried to give him money in return, but the boy never accepted it. Idiot. The silver haired man shook his head. Perhaps he should be more grateful to the Casey’s. At his age, he may need a lot more kind deeds from people like them.
The caramel needed time to cool. He carried the aluminum pans to the butcher block table and laid them down. Beside them, he placed a large kitchen knife and a container filled with colorful wax wraps he had purchased from a nearby dollar store. The wraps were decorated with witches, ghosts and black cats. The children loved scary things on Halloween and he hoped the wraps appealed to them. Best of all, it made the treats appear as if they had been purchased from a store. Parents could be nervous about homemade candy and he didn’t want any of the treats thrown away. He examined the items set out on the butcher block table. That seemed to be everything. All set to cut the caramel into squares tomorrow.
He rubbed his eyes sleepily. It wasn’t that late, and it hadn’t been particularly difficult making the caramel, but he often felt tired nowadays. He shuffled to the oak staircase leading to his bedroom. Carefully, he gripped the solid banister and made his way up with baby steps. The stairs creaked, and so did his back, as he took the stairs one by one. Next time he should move to a bungalow. Stairs were becoming a challenge.
Tomorrow was Halloween. The thought flashed through his mind, and he smiled, scampering up the last few steps. Huh, guess the old body has a few ticks left. He entered his bedroom. It was plain, but serviceable. The walls were painted grayish, white. A matching pine dresser and bed set were the only pieces of furniture. The silver haired man moved quite often and always rented furnished homes. It made it easier to leave in a moment’s notice.
He removed his tattered slippers and slipped a pair of worn pajama bottoms on before lying down for bed. He pulled the heavy comforter over his skinny chest. Nice. It was a very comfortable bed. Probably because the mattress didn’t have springs. He supposed that some things had improved over time, although the old days were still the best, even if he had to deal with the occasional pointy spring in the back.
Before drifting off to sleep, the silver haired man reminisced about the Halloweens he’d enjoyed as a youngster. How he prowled the neighborhood looking for tricks to play. Sometimes he managed to corner a neighborhood cat. He was a quick lad in those days. They usually tried to escape, but he was fast enough back then to snatch them up by the tail or paw. There used to be so many cats around. They were a nuisance. Nobody paid attention when one went missing.
He woke early the next morning. Halloween. He grinned. Even at his age, Halloween still put a smile on his face. It made him feel young again. He slid his feet into the worn slippers and headed downstairs. In the kitchen, everything was exactly as he had left it, ready for the treats to be prepared. He regarded the caramel in the pans. Three perfect golden squares. He removed the first square of caramel and placed it on a cutting board. He took the heavy knife in one hand and made some indentations into the caramel where he needed to cut. The size of each treat had to be just right. Once the measurements looked correct he took the knife and pressed down on the large squares. Five times in each direction. It was difficult to cut through the caramel, but in the end he had thirty six perfect squares. He repeated the job two more times and when he was done paused to admire the squares. Perfect. He straightened his back and it cracked in response. Ah, that felt better. Almost done.
Oh, he had forgotten the bowl. He made his way to the front of the house and fetched a large, green plastic bowl with a goblin face printed in black on the side. He carried it back to the butcher block table and took the bag of wax wrappings. He sat down and leaned forward, squinting at the caramel squares. One by one, he picked up the caramels, placed them in the center of a single wrapping paper and twisted the ends tight. After each treat was complete, he dropped it into the goblin bowl. His hands shook the whole time and it was difficult to tie the ends neatly. He ripped the wax paper a number of times and was forced to start over. He frowned. This was getting harder every year. It might be necessary to buy candy from a store next year. It had never been his way. He preferred to make the candy himself. It felt more personal when he gave something he created to the children, and the silver haired man liked the tradition. He sighed. If store bought treats helped him celebrate Halloween for a few more years, he supposed it was a sacrifice he would have to make.
After he was done, his fingers were stiff and sore. He clenched and unclenched them, waiting for the throbbing to fade away. Twisting the wrappings tight was definitely harder than it used to be. He eyed the bowl of candy critically. Some of the decorative wax paper looked loose and unprofessional. Yes, this might be the last year he made homemade caramels for the children. His workmanship was getting shoddy. He took the full goblin bowl in his hands and stood. His back groaned as he carried the now heavy bowl to a foldable chair placed beside the front door. He placed the bowl so the goblin face looked directly upon the door. Perfect. The children would see the goblin right when he opened his door. He reached into the bowl with a thin wrinkled hand and mixed the caramels around, enjoying the sound they made as they swirled around and knocked against the plastic edges. Behind the goblin bowl, against the wall, were two pieces of worn, grey luggage, and a black satchel bag. They were mostly packed, but he still needed to add some toiletries and a few articles of clothing.
He made the journey up to the bedroom and changed into a grey sweater and slacks. It was pretty dull clothes for Halloween, but his days of dressing up were in the past. Years ago, he used to wear a costume for the kids. A werewolf was his favorite, but those days were long gone. He’d played so many tricks on the children back then. The silver haired man grinned at the memory. Sometimes the tricks lasted for days after Halloween was over.
He picked up the pajamas and tattered slippers from the floor and fetched a small bag of toiletries from the bathroom. He wiped everything clean before returning downstairs. His toiletries and clothing went into one of the suitcases. As he zipped it up, he glanced at the black satchel bag and smiled.
It was about an hour before any of the kids arrived and he went over his two Halloween rules. The first and most important rule - one caramel per child. Sometimes there would be a particularly enthusiastic child who would dance at his doorway and put on a bit of a show before declaring “trick or treat.” Even those kids were given a single caramel, no matter the amount of capering or performance they put forth. As for the skinny teenagers, slouching at his door, wearing their jean jackets and a scowl, they also received one caramel. Even if they didn’t wear a costume, everyone was treated equally. The second rule - any caramels left at the end of the night were eaten by him. He hated wasting food. When he grew up, money was tight, and he was often hungry. To this day, he couldn’t bring himself to leave food on his plate, no matter how full he was. Leftover toffees were all his. Fortunately, he was very good at predicting how much he needed and there had only been one Halloween in the past when there were extra treats at the end of the night. That was the scariest Halloween of them all.
The silver haired man opened the front door and stepped onto his porch. Many of the houses had coffins or webs decorating their front yards and entrances to their homes. He heard the recording of a cackling witch emitting from somebody’s home. He sighed. He wished he was able to decorate his house the way others did. It would attract so many more children, but he was too old to reach up high and hang things like webs and orange lights. He supposed it didn’t matter. He would have to leave the decorations behind anyways. He always travelled light.
There weren’t any children out yet, but it wouldn’t be long. He closed the door and paced to his living room. The silver haired man parted the mustard yellow curtains and peered out through the crack, waiting for the children to begin trick or treating.
The first to appear was a young girl dressed as a white cat. She was walking with an adult, probably a parent, on the other side of the street. Back in his day, parents never went anywhere on Halloween with their kids. Kids were left to fend for themselves and it made them stronger. The older ones preyed on the young ones, and some Halloweens you would be lucky if all that happened was the loss of your bag of treats. Eventually he got older and participating in the torments with an older gang was a lot of fun. It was a shame the kids nowadays wouldn’t grow up with the same memories he had. They didn’t understand that Halloween was so much more than collecting candy.
The white cat girl was almost out of sight. Maybe she would come to his house later, or maybe not. Sometimes, he would see children on the other side of the street and then never see them again, almost like they vanished after going into a stranger’s house. He shook his head. That was highly unlikely.
The silver haired man peered intently out onto the street. Two kids were moving from door to door on his side of the street. A witch and a skeleton. They ran up the steps to his neighbor’s house. The silver haired man scurried to the front door and waited. It shouldn’t be long now. He looked at the bowl of candy. Yes, it was positioned just right. The goblin face stared at the front door. He tapped a foot impatiently. Where were those kids? How long did it take to collect a piece of fucking candy?
The electric buzz of his doorbell startled him. The doorbell didn’t work. It had been broken ever since he moved in, buzzing instead of a clear ding dong. He didn’t mind. It was quieter then a functional doorbell. He opened the door and stared at the children.
“Trick or treat,” they exclaimed, thrusting white plastic bags towards him.
Yes, it was the skeleton and the witch. Their costumes were shabby and worn. Probably hand me downs from older siblings. He examined them without speaking and then moved to the goblin bowl. He snatched it up in his hands and approached the children.
The silver haired man reached into the bowl and dropped a candy into the skeleton’s bag.”Trick or treat,” he said with a crooked smile.
He reached into his bowl for another candy. The witch waited impatiently, her bag stretched out wide. “Trick or treat,” he repeated and dropped the candy. It landed with a crinkly sound into the plastic. Her bag was nearly empty. They had just begun their festivities.
“Thank you,” they called out before running to the next house.
The silver haired man closed his door and crept back to his living room. He resumed peering out onto the street from behind the mustard yellow curtains. There were more kids on the street now. He went and got another chair and placed it across from the bowl of candy. He knew from experience that he may as well take a seat by the candy. He would be up and down for the next few hours.
The doorbell buzzed just when he had taken a seat. He opened the door.
“Trick or Treat.” It was Dillon. His father accompanied him. Did a thirteen year old really need to be trick or treating with his father?
“Nice night for Halloween,” Dillon’s father smiled.
“Yes, it is. We get to see the kid’s costumes instead of their jackets,” the silver haired man responded cordially. He examined Dillon. He was dressed as a hockey player. Dillon played hockey. He’d seen him going to early morning practices many times last winter. Not exactly a lot of effort went into that costume. He reached into the goblin pail and retrieved a caramel, dropping it into Dillon’s bag.
“Trick or treat,” the silver haired man pronounced.
There was a moment of awkwardness. Dillon’s father looked at him, waiting for something more. The silver haired man understood what was happening. Neighbors were supposed to give extra to each other, but that would be breaking his first rule. One candy per child. That was the rule. There were no exceptions. He looked at Dillon’s father and feigned a confused expression. The awkward moment passed. Dillon said thank you and the two of them moved on to the next house. Dillon’s father would just think he was old and didn’t know any better. Sometimes, old people could get away with abnormal behavior, just because they were old. It was almost as if people expected them to be odd or absent minded. That was one advantage of getting old. It was easy to fool people.
The kids started coming in quick succession after Dillon. Zombies, witches, werewolves, ghosts, and so on. None of them were the same. No two witches looked alike. He gave each of them a caramel before sitting back in the chair. The stream of kids lessened to a trickle. One candy per child, anything left was his to eat.
He looked inside the goblin container. There were only five treats left, but it was very dark out now. He opened the door and peered into the street. The moon was fat in the sky and the witch recording cackled in his ears. The street was nearly empty. He hoped he would use up the rest of the treats. He was a bit nervous at the thought of leftovers.
He closed the door, and almost immediately after shutting it heard the buzz of the broken doorbell. He opened it. It was a lone pink fairy. “Trick or treat,” she pronounced. She twirled around in a circle on his doorstep, and when she finished, pointed her wand toward her orange pumpkin that was packed full of candy.
If anyone deserved an extra candy, she was the one. Should he break his rule? There were only five caramels left, and he may not get anyone else at his house. No, rules were rules. He had never broken them in any of the previous Halloweens, and he wasn’t about to start now. He reached into the goblin bowl and tossed the treat into her stuffed container.
“Trick or treat,” he chuckled and withdrew to his house.
He swirled his fingers around the remaining candies in the bowl. Just four more to go. Where were all the children? He was worried whether he’d made enough, and now he had extra. Kids nowadays had so much candy all year that Halloween probably wasn’t a big deal to them anymore. He remembered when he used to make two hundred caramels for a neighborhood like this and still end up running out. Times were always changing. He hated it.
Bzzz. It was the doorbuzz. He smiled at his clever joke. There were three children. A vampire, a ghoul, and some sort of superhero. He didn’t know many comics and had no idea which one.
“Trick or treat,” they cried out together.
“Yes, yes, trick or treat,” he cackled and dropped the treats into their bags.
He rubbed his hands together. Just one left. Only one more to go. He didn’t know why, but the last treat made him extra happy. It was the same feeling every year. For him, the last treat represented a new beginning. It meant a new place to discover, a new neighborhood to find. He hurried to the curtains and peered into the street. Empty. Nobody was out at all. He looked at his watch. It was eight forty five. That was pretty late. Maybe no one else would come.
He returned to the door and waited nervously in the chair, the goblin pail on his lap. One of his legs bounced up and down as he waited. Bouncy legs, it was a nervous habit he’d had his entire life.
He looked at his watch. Nine o’clock. The silver haired man despaired. Should he just turn off his porch light and call it a night? He had to get going. It looked like he would end up with one extra treat.
The doorbell buzzed. He grinned and opened the door wide. A sullen teenager in ripped jeans and a faded black leather jacket stared at him, holding a pillowcase open. The teen didn’t say a word, but when he saw the wizened, old man he became brave. He stepped forward and peered into the house. The silver haired man recognized the threat and retreated, giving the teenager space. He was probably looking for valuables, deciding whether this home was worth the trouble. The man was all too familiar with this type of decision. The teen finished assessing the house and then moved back to the porch. Wordlessly, he thrust the pillowcase forward again. He must have decided there was nothing worth taking, or perhaps he planned to come back later.
He didn’t want to give this sullen teenager, that was likely a thief, his last candy, but rules were rules.
Irritated, the silver haired man tossed the final caramel into the pillowcase “Trick or treat,” he groused and retreated to his house.
The teen departed wordlessly
The silver haired man sighed and closed the door. Another Halloween was over. He went upstairs and double checked every room, making sure he hadn’t left anything behind. They were spotless. The bathroom was clean. He returned downstairs and looked around the living room and kitchen. Perfect. Not a speck was unaccounted for.
He picked up the two worn suitcases and tottered to his car.
As he walked, he scanned the neighborhood. The tattered, pretend spider webs still hung from people’s homes, and pumpkins decorated their lawns and porches. None of them had been smashed onto the street. The webs were untouched. It was so sad. In his day, if you left a pumpkin on your lawn, it would be a crushed orange smear on the sidewalk by now.
He opened the trunk of his car and placed the suitcases inside. It was a short drive to the secluded parking lot where he had another car registered under his new name. From there, he had a much longer drive before reaching his new home. He yawned. It was late, and he was so tired. He gave his face a light slap. Wake up. Now was no time to be sleepy.
He returned to the house. The empty goblin bowl faced him. He wouldn’t take it. It was cheap and easily replaced. He picked up the black satchel. The zipper was partway open. How careless. He unzipped the satchel and verified the contents. The syringe and bottle of liquid poison were still lying exactly where he’d left them on top of a small towel. He pushed them to the bottom of the bag underneath the towel and closed the bag. It was a fast acting poison, and deadly. He had to leave quickly. Most of the children would enjoy their caramel treats, but one of them had received a very nasty trick. The silver haired man needed to be long gone before the trick was played.
100% - Crooked Souls
Finished. Hooray. Science Fiction next I think