{October 31, 2013}   Smells Like Teen Spirit


Eddie cupped his hand around the cigarette hanging loosely from his mouth as he tried to light it for the third time.
He was on his last match so he had to make this one  count.
As the first blast of sulfuric smoke burned it’s way to his lungs he choked back a cough. He was 15 years old, smoking was cool, coughing was not.
He leaned back against the wooden planks covering the empty arcade, one foot planted firmly against the wall behind him as he stared at the full moon rising above the dark cold ocean. Brushing a hand through his shaggy blond hair he scanned the desolate boardwalk. There wasn’t a soul in sight.
“Fucking Luke,” he said to no-one.
It was Mischief Night and Luke should have been here 15 minutes ago. He said he had something planned for tonight. Eddie didn’t know what Luke was up to but he was pretty sure it had to be nothing good.
His eyes wandered the deserted boardwalk as he shivered in the cold night air wishing he’d wore something warmer than a denim jacket.
The beach was empty. Even the infamous Beach Patrol was nowhere to be seen.
A fine misty fog was beginning to gather at the water’s edge, the pungent odor of the sea filled the air and the surf continued it’s relentless pounding against the shore. These things were such a part of Eddie’s life that he didn’t even notice them anymore.
He turned up the collar of his jacket against the increasing wind and looked at his watch. I’ll give him another 5 minutes, he thought, then I’m outta here.
The moon was bright, at least when you could see it.
The sky was filled with clouds, the thin flat kind that seemed to come in bunches, gathering together to hide the light of the moon making the shadows shift and twist into unearthly forms. When he was a little kid Eddie used to make a game out of finding monster shapes in the shadows.
Right now, standing alone on the dark deserted boardwalk, that game didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.
Hearing a loud crash from the southern end of the boardwalk Eddie nearly jumped out of his skin. His mouth twisted in chagrin as he watched the wind carry little bits of debris from the half empty garbage can it knocked over.
It was creepy being out here alone.
Every year it seemed like the summer people stayed longer and longer but now, at the end of October the place looked like a ghost town. Especially up here on the boardwalk with the rides closed down and the arcades boarded up for winter.
Eddie took one last drag on his cigarette before flicking it into the air. A gust of wind caught it sending tiny red sparks flying in every direction.
“Fuck,” he muttered, ” the hell with Luke, I’m outta here.”
He took one step forward and froze as he felt something softly brush the top of his head once, then once again. He just began to bolt when a blood curdling scream ripped through the night and a dark shape fell from above, knocking the wind out of Eddie as he hit the boards with a thump.
“What a pussy,” Luke cackled as he looked down at Eddie’s white-as-a-sheet face.
“You’re a fucking idiot Luke.” Eddie pushed Luke off of him and winced at the large splinter embedded in the palm of his hand. He yanked it out and blood gushed from the wound, glistening darkly in the moonlight.
“Blood’s cool,” sneered Luke.
“And you’re a dick,” Eddie said.
Luke responded with a loud belch and Eddie just rolled his eyes.
There weren’t too many kids his age living on the island year round but he was starting to think he’d be better off alone. Luke was definitely one wave shy of a shipwreck.
“Dude, c’mon, we’re breaking into the arcade.” He didn’t even bother to see if Eddie was following him, just walked toward the arcade certain Eddie would follow him.
Which he did, a fact he wasn’t too proud of but it was Mischief Night.
That’s when he saw what Luke had been dangling across his head before; lying on the boardwalk tied to some fishing wire was a small, decidedly dead mouse. He cringed in disgust at the wet squishy crunch that met his ears as Luke brought a heavy black-booted foot down on the poor mouse’s tiny skull.
“You’re fucked up dude,” Eddie said. He knew he should have just left but boredom was in the drivers seat so he sighed, shrugged his shoulders and followed Luke into the arcade.
Blue lights flickered through the tiny cracks of the boards barricading Lucky Lenny’s Arcade.
“Luke, man, this isn’t cool dude, the lights, somebody must be in there dude. Let’s split. It’s too fucking cold out here anyway.” Eddie tried reasoning but Luke was on a mission.
“Fuck that shit man, I spent some major bucks here this summer and didn’t win anything good. I’m going in, you coming or what? They owe me dude, I’m just getting what’s mine. Besides, it’s Mischief Night, don’t be such a pussy.”
Luke pulled something out of his pocket and fiddled with the locks then slipped through the door. Eddie followed him.
Once inside Luke went straight for the locked display cases where all the expensive prizes were kept and got busy on the locks.
The further inside he got, the more Eddie noticed the smell of something disgusting, like the smell of a dumpster or something.
Once he went camping and left a package of raw hamburger meat in a cooler. He forgot about it until he opened it up a few months later.
That’s what it smelled like in the arcade.
“Hey Luke, what the hell is that smell? Smells like something died in here man, lets split.”
Luke ignored him as he continued stuffing his pockets.
“I’m outta here man.”
When Eddie turned to leave he noticed the entire place was bathed in a wash of blue light. It seemed to be coming from the crystal ball behind the glass of Madame Zema’s Fortune Telling booth. He approached the wooden seeress warily, watching her wooden face waiting for her to move. She appeared lifeless, after all, she was only made of wood and paint.
Later on, Eddie would say that it wasn’t really a premonition, that somehow he just knew what would happen. He also knew that nobody would believe him.
Madame Zena’s lifeless marble eyes began to glimmer and shine, turning an ugly blood red-brown color. At the same time the still assembled carousel began a slow soundless spin.
Colored lights from the video games and pinball machines flashed on and off in a strobe effect but made no sound.
But it was the clown that was the worst. The clown standing in the corner looking like Ronald McDonald with a massive hangover began to emit a low throaty chuckle. It sounded evil, bringing to mind that scary clown in that Steven King movie and Eddie knew now where that awful smell was coming from.
Luke was so busy stuffing his pockets when he heard the evil chuckle he thought it was Eddie.
What happened next took hours and hours for Eddie to try and explain to those nice men in the white coats but it all happened in an instant.
Luke turned around, hands dripping with cheap arcade toys and silly prizes. Ronald McDonalds evil twin had moved closer to Luke and Eddie watched in horror as one wooden arm reached out and grabbed him by the neck, lifting Luke a few feet off the ground. He walked stiffly, toward Madame Zena, hand squeezing Luke’s neck leaving his face red, his eyes nearly popping out of his head. Madame Zena’s eyes spun faster and faster till they turned red, her eyes flashing fire then shot out a burst of fire that shot right through Luke’s black heart.
The clown released his hold and Luke’s charred body crumbled in a heap on the floor. His body made a lifeless thumping sound as it rolled against a video game.
The part of Eddie’s mind that was still intact watched passively as the clown split in two and a badly decomposing body slid out, landing on top of what used to be Luke.
All the games stopped flashing and the blue glow disappeared, but that awful smell was still there.
Eddie couldn’t say how long he stood there before the red lights started flashing outside but right before the police walked in Madame Zena made a clicking sound and a piece of paper spit out, floating through the air landing at Eddie’s feet.
A fortune.
He reached out a trembling hand and looked at it.
“Your future will be much like your present. Only longer.”
Eddie was still laughing as they placed the straight jacket around him.


bentalice says:

I love it when shadows twist in the moonlight.

me too….they can be very flexible 😉

Creepy. *shudder

my work here is done 😉

spooky atmosphere! A very good halloween tale. i loved the fortune at the end – so true!

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