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Fright Night

by Mikesparks 

Posted: 06 July 2004
Word Count: 1200

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Fright Night

"See you later, love." Jane called as she stood at the front door about to leave.
"If you want your tea before I get back, just put a light under the pan. Low mind,
and cook the mince slowly. Don't want it burning."
"Yes, dear," came the uninterested reply. Jane shook her head, tutted then went out.
"Mind you don't meet up with any of your witch friends, it is Halloween after all."
Ron called knowing Jane was gone.
Jane had not planned on going out, but work had phoned to say there was an emergency
visit by the Health and Safety officer, and could she come in and clean up the cloakroom
and the toilets. She would be paid well, cash in hand, and she could come in an hour later the next day.
With an offer like that, Jane could hardly refuse. The only gripe she had was that it was right on teatime, and she was about to dish up mince and chips.
She had left Ron watching the Weakest Link, a programme he professed to hate, but never missed.
In the 35 years they had been married, she'd never had much help from Ron, she may as well have had three children, but the two girls had not been much trouble. She was proud of how she managed to bring up the girls, and were both mothers now themselves, making her a Gran three times.
As she walked to the nearby bus stop, she smiled as she saw the local children dressed up in their Halloween costumes. A red devil, complete with pointed ears, Trident, and red face paint came up to her clutching a shopping bag laden with goodies.
"Trick or treat, Mrs?" He snarled acting the part. The young mother rushed over and grabbed the boy by the arm.
"Luke. That's naughty." She scolded.
"It's all right, love, I think I've got some sweets in my bag." Jane rummaged about in her bag and brought out a packet of mints. "Treat," she said offering the mints. "Thank you." He smiled and sweets in his bag with the rest. "Sorry about that." The mum apologised. "Oh, he's all right. It's lovely to see all the children having such fun. I love to see them dressed up, see the funny costumes. I used to make my girls up when they were young."
"Come on, Mum." Luke protested pulling at his mother's hand. "I'll have to go. Thank you for that."
The girl left as the little boy had run off looking for another victim.
Jane shook her head smiling as she watched witches, mummies, devils, fairies, and other small horror characters walking in and out of houses.

Within half an hour Jane had arrived at work and was filling a bucket from the canteen urn, ready to start work.
Peter Case, her boss, had briefed her on what needed doing before having to dash off home to take his two children to the school's Halloween party. He told her he had missed last years, but had been warned by his wife to turn up for this year or she'd make his wallet suffer.

Jane picked up the bucket and the mop and made her way out and along the corridor until she arrived at the ladies changing rooms. As she opens the door she was hit by a very cold breeze that made her shiver. She shuddered, put the mop and bucket down and went to the radiator. She felt the heat from it before she carefully placed a hand on it and quickly took it off. She shrugged it off and took the mop and put it into the bucket. As she pulled the mop up to wring it out, a door slammed somewhere.
"Jesus, what was that?" Jane exclaimed almost jumping out of her skin. In her panic she dropped the mop, the handle crashing to the floor made her jump again. Heart pounding, Jane opens a door. She popped her head round the door and called out: "Who's there?" When no answer came Jane left the changing room and ventured tentatively out towards where she thought the door slamming had come from.
As she neared the end of the wall she waited at the right-hand corner, suddenly another door slamming echoed around the building, and again Jane jumped spinning around to it's source.
"Mr. Case? Is that you?" Jane called, her nerves rankled, her voice a tremor as she started back towards the changing room. "George? Is that you messing about? Bloody security guard, always slamming doors."
Jane felt slight relief as she realised it could be security doing his rounds.
"Silly old bugger," she'd chided herself. "Fancy being frightened by George."

Jane returned to the changing room, as she went into the room she saw that the mop was back in the bucket and it had been moved to one side next to the benches beneath the lockers. She shrugged it off thinking it was George; until she realised she would have seen him.
As she was about to go about mopping the floor, Jane looked up and a figure was stood a few feet away from her. For a split second her heart was in her mouth, until she realised it was her husband Ron.
"You frightened the life out of me, Ron." Jane scolded him as her nerves began to relax. Ron smiled.
"I couldn't get the gas to light on me tea, we must have ran out," he explained.
"You daft bugger, we pay by standing order. We can't run out. Now, sit yourself down whilst I get on. Once I've done here, I'll take you home and sort you out." Jane slopped the mop onto the floor. As she started a phone began to ring. She ignored it for as long as she could but it was driving her nuts. She had to answer it. She stopped mopping and left the locker room. The phone was ringing in the office opposite.
She opened the door, went in and picked the offending receiver up.
"Hello," she answered looking at the notices on the notice board. "Yes, Iím Mrs Roberts. What? How can my husband have been killed in a gas explosion? He's in the locker room opposite. I've just left him to answer this phone. Yes, yes. I'll go and check." June put the phone down and made her way to the locker room. "The police must think Iím loopy just because I'm old," she muttered as she bounded to Ron.
As she flung the door open she saw Ron slumped in the corner, he was charred black and smouldering.
His body was gnarled, his mouth open as if letting out a silent scream. Jane went hysterical, screaming at the top of her voice, it reached a crescendo as the burnt out shell faded before her and disappeared. She ran out of the room sobbing.

When she arrived home, still hysterical, she had to be grabbed by her eldest daughter stopping her from entering the blazing inferno that was once her home.
As her sobbing subsided, she realised Ron had visited her to say goodbye.

Mike Hayes

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Comments by other Members

Becca at 22:23 on 06 July 2004  Report this post
Hi Mike, it's an interesting twist to have the ghost of Ron in his normal form and then a bit later in his burnt form.
Do you reckon it would be possible to get more inside your MC's head in this story? I do think describing someone's fear and then horror is a really hard thing to do, but in this story there's lots of exposition, by that I mean you follow and explain her movements so closely that it reduces the tension in the piece. So, rather than concentrating on her movements with the mop and bucket, her sensations and thoughts would be the stuff to write about. Does that make sense to you?
I was once trying unsuccessfully to write about someone tied up in a room, and asked a friend to tie me up for a day and leave me there. She wouldn't do it, but I really felt I needed to get inside the head of the MC. Never did make that work properly.
If you could edit this piece I really think it would pull it up. I don't often do this but here is a possible type of style to use when you have Jane first go in the room, (hope you don't mind this): 'Jane made her way along the corridor to the Ladies Changing Rooms. A cold breeze made her shiver as she opened the door. Putting the bucket down, she crossed to the radiator, but knew before she touched it that it was hot. A door slammed somewhere as she started to mop the floor.'
I think you could make a really jumpy piece out of this, and maybe the scene about the children is a little long, and doesn't really add to it?
Sorry to be so hard on you.

Jim Beard at 17:00 on 07 July 2004  Report this post

Nice story but I guessed the husband was dead when he appeared in the changing room. The link with Halloween set the background but I thought that the narrative would have benefited from further build around Janes feelings about her husband and family situation. Would she be releived if he were dead etc?

All the best


bjlangley at 10:14 on 08 July 2004  Report this post
Hi Mike, I think what you have here is a good idea. I didn't guess that Ron was dead when he turned up, but I did think it was slightly strange. Maybe if you made a bit more out of how Ron managed to do very little for himself?

All the best,


Mikesparks at 15:34 on 08 July 2004  Report this post
Thanks to all who commented on this piece, it's nice to have such positive feedback on your work. Even when it is critical it is constructive and it encourages you to either rewrite the piece or create more stories.

This story was written for a writer's course I did a few years ago and thought I would share it.

Thanks again for your comments.


digriz at 20:56 on 09 July 2004  Report this post
Hi Mike,

I liked this piece although i felt some places needed exploring a little bit more. For instance, why did her husband say "Mind you don't meet up with any of your witch friends"? Was there some sort of conflict or resentment? or is it because they'd been in a long marriage together and had that kind of sniping dynamic in their relationship.

I agree with Becca about the bit about the children being a little long, i felt that it didn't really add much to the overall story. It did show the kind of person that she is though, which is good; but because of the type of story you wrote, was this really necessary?

I think building up the tension that leads to her husband showing up should be extended and played on more.

It had a good ending but i did kind of see it coming.

Please don't think i'm being nasty because i'm not. I genuinly did like the piece and i'm looking forward to reading some of your other work. For what my personal opinion is worth, i think with a little tweaking this story would be a great one and not just a good one.

Sorry if i've offended you, you're more than welcome to critique my work and be as harsh as you see fit.

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