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Rotten Stumps

October 28, 2017


Little Tommy celebrates his third Halloween appearance in this twisted tale from Rinoa Cameron. 


Rotten Stumps

By Rinoa Cameron


Little Tommy decided to play it safe. No Halloween parties this time, no battles with demonic angels, and no headless, axe swinging demons. This year, Little Tommy jammed himself into the hollow stump of an old tree. Safe and sound. His one miserable day of walking the Earth a year might not be so unbearable.


From his hiding place he could watch the night fly past, lit by the dim illumination of his faded bones. By now the costume hung in rags from his small body. He should have dressed as something else – just his lousy luck to cark it while dressed as a glow in the dark skeleton.


Stupid angel.


Stupid axe-man.


Stupid Halloween.


Tommy folded his arms, wiggled himself tighter into the tree crevice and squashed his knees against his chest. This was as good as it was going to get – at least he wouldn’t have to scrape his severed head off the ground and snap it back onto the stump of his neck for a third time.


It could be worse, he told himself.


Not much worse.


But worse.


The night was cold and Little Tommy discovered ghosts shivered as hard, if not harder, than regular people. The wind sliced him cleanly, like he still wore flesh on his bones. His teeth chattered.


Through the wooden gap of the dead tree he watched a dog trot by with a pair of clip on devil horns attached to its head, its tail dancing. It stopped to sniff Tommy’s hiding place, then cocked its leg, and peed all over Tommy’s feet.


He groaned and stuck his tongue out. The pee felt warm, but soon ran cold. His teeth clattered together and the devil dog waddled off into the darkness.


  I hate this time of year, he thought.


In the distance gangs of trick or treaters marched by. A little girl dressed in a robot suit and a boy wearing black sack – Tommy can’t work out what he’s supposed to be. They both had their sacks of goodies and began scream when the next group they happened upon – a band of bigger kids dressed like reapers – burst out of the bushes. They tripped the robot girl and stamped her cardboard head. Black sack boy tried to make off with both goodie bags, but pretty soon ended up curled on the ground, whimpering and whining, getting his ribs kicked in.


Better than kneeling at the feet of an axe-man, Tommy thought, wishing he could trade places with the boy.


Still, Tommy felt safe this year. Feet covered in dog pee and freezing cold, but safe from the Halloween monsters out there. His head firmly locked to his shoulders for once, and that is where it would stay.


Black sack boy’s cries trailed away, buried beneath the reaper’s laughter. They delivered three extra boots for good measure, then snatched up the spilt, ruptured goodie bags and howled into the night.


Tommy watched black sack boy struggle to his feet and limp away in tears. He still longed to trade places with the boy. Sure, he was beat up, but he’d head for home, get wrapped up warm and be hugged. Tatty glow in the dark skeletons, on the other hand, didn’t tend to get hugged.


Time crawled by and Tommy stayed in his tree stump, watching the night drift by without him. After a while another band of kids passed his sanctuary. They carried a fat pumpkin, which one of them tossed in the air and drop kicked.


Little Tommy’s eyes widened as the horrendous orange football hurtled over and over, heading straight into his hiding place.


It smacked him in the face.


He tried to cry out but couldn’t.


The pumpkin rebounded from the tree and settled on the grass. Little Tommy’s head flew in the other direction, bounced off the opposite tree, then landed face down in the mud.


Brilliant. Just brilliant.  

Eventually, small, chubby fingers curled through his hair and his vision rocked. He lifted his head up and replanted it on his shoulders.


“I hate Halloween,” he muttered, then abandoned his hiding place in search of demonic axe men and angels.


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