Tuesday, 6 April 2010

THE COSTUME by Hal Kempka

Hal makes a welcome return...

The Costume

Marcy’s annual Halloween party was a week away, but she still had not found a costume. She had searched every costume shop in town, but the costumes hung either too loose or too snug on her gangly, small-breasted, frame. She found a cute clown costume that fit her perky upper body, but the elastic-lined bottoms ended mid-calf on her bony legs and choked off the circulation.

While perusing the weekly paper, Marcy spotted a recently opened thrift store ad announcing the new arrival of clothes and costumes. She drove to the store and dug through the racks of costumes.

As had happened before, they either fit too snug or hung too loose. She found a great looking French maid costume, but after removing it from its hanger realized, she would resemble an anorexic penguin more than a sexy French maid.

A cockroach scurried out from beneath the collar, and over Marcy’s hand. She jumped back, and flicked it off her hand. As she did, Marcie bumped into a table and knocked a cardboard box to the floor, scattering its contents.

Marcy got on her hands and knees and retrieved the rubber spiders, silk cobwebs, and other small decorations. While placing them back in the box, she found a nifty purple and green spider costume neatly folded in the bottom.

She removed the bulbous, neon green spider top with its tubular legs and black spandex tights and top, and tried it on. It fit perfectly and the tights appeared to stretch enough to fit, and maybe even feel comfortable. After stuffing the costume into the box with the decorations, Marcie carried it to the counter.

“How much for this box of decorations and costume?” she asked.

The clerk eyed the box. “You gonna take the whole thing?”


“Maybe ten dollars if you take it all.”

“Really?” Marcy asked. “Great.”

The clerk then pointed to a sign behind the counter. “But, we don’t take returns! So if anything’s broken, torn, or doesn’t fit, it’s your problem.”

After hurrying home, Marcie emptied the box on the table. A small recipe book fell out.

She thumbed through the sugar-charged recipes for such party treats as bat’s eyes punch, cat brains cookies, and nutty fudge fingers

“This is so gross!” She said giggling. “My guests will love them.”

On the day of the party, she decorated the walls and ceiling with the spiders and cobwebs, and filled plastic pumpkins with candy eyeballs and Gummy fingers.

A large, furry tarantula found in the box fit perfectly on one of the candy dishes. A sensor in its eyes activated whenever someone reached for a piece of candy, and it rose and fell on its legs, clicking its fangs.

At the party that evening, Marcy chatted with her friends, and kept busy refilling the iced tubs with beer and wine, and resupplying the snack tables.

She walked by the tarantula candy dish and reached for a gummy finger. She figured she might have bumped the plastic tarantula as it fell onto her hand. However, something stuck her.

“Ouch!” she yelled and pulled her hand back.

Marcy’s hand bled from a quickly swelling puncture wound. She covered it with a napkin and hurried to the kitchen.

“What happened to your hand? Carol asked. “It is swelling up and you’re bleeding,”

Marcy smiled sheepishly. “I was refilling a candy dish, and that damn spider fell over and cut my hand.”

“Well, it looks pretty deep.” Marcy let out a nervous laugh. “I guess that is what I get for grabbing at the candy.”

Carol shook her head and squeezed an antibiotic ointment on the wound. “Yeah, but Marcy, it looks like it is already infected.”

At the end of the evening, after the last guests said good-bye, Marcy poured a glass of wine. She wriggled out of her costume and curled up on the couch in her bra and panties. Midway through her wine, she began to feel dizzy and claustrophobic.

Her hand throbbed and her insides began to twist and churn. Marcy tried to stand but vomited sticky, yellowish mucous. She fell back onto the couch weakened by a jolt of excruciating pain that stabbed her abdomen.

Through blurry, tear-filled eyes, Marcy saw a large shadowy figure jerk across the floor from behind an easy chair. She rubbed her eyes and then let out a terrified scream. The candy dish tarantula had grown to twice her size and was skittering across the room, carrying a large, silken sack on its abdomen.

Marcy and tried to scramble off the couch, but the tarantula crawled onto her and punctured her with its fangs. She lay helpless as it began sucking out her liquefying organs.

The squirming sack attached to its belly tore open and hundreds of knuckle-sized spiderlings skittered onto Marcy’s convulsing body. They crawled into her mouth and nose, suffocating her and muffling her weakened screams. Then, they delved deep inside her to feed.

Hal Kempka is a former Marine and Vietnam veteran who lives in Highland, California with his wife and son. Hal's been published in magazines and ezines such as TKnC, Flashshot, Apollo’s Lyre, Fiction Flyer, Flashes in the Dark, House of Horror (UK), The New Flesh, Dark and Dreary, Twisted Dreams, Microhorror, Long Story Short, Shine Journal and Black Petals. Hal has stories either published or forthcoming in Black Lantern, Black Petals, House of Horror, Night to Dawn, Blood Moon Rising and 52 Stitches.