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Author's note: This is my entry for Cornconic's Halloween 2021 story contest.

Pardon my French but I can’t fucking stand today’s kids.  You know what  I mean, right? It’s not like it was back in the day. Everything’s gone wrong. As far as I can tell, it all started when the aliens killed Kennedy. They  went and dropped a crystal superstructure on Dallas and that was that. I was in the third grade back then. It was all any of my school friends seemed to talk about. It was like nothing that had ever happened before. Then, all at once, we changed; an entire generation of children were altered. Our senses were different. Our minds were ever so slightly changed. We were not what our parents were. We were new. Still we were kids. We were okay. We made sense even after all that.

I remember when I was thirteen and first began feeling the minds of the older folks around me. I could taste the shape of their thoughts, I could sense their motivations and their fears. Mostly I would just use it to work out the answers of pop quizzes or what I was getting for Christmas. I know a few others of my generation could do the same trick but we weren’t very open about those things back then.  Children were to be seen and not heard. I was fourteen when I first saw another person’s memories. It was my father. I was sitting at the dinner table and I looked over at him for just a second. He was wiping mashed potatoes and chicken gravy off his cheek with a wadded up paper towel. I looked at him and he looked at me and then without any effort on my part  I was inside his mind.

I was him and we were in his car in a parking lot somewhere. I remember there was a stray dog staring at us/him from behind a rusty old dumpster. It’s funny the things that get stuck in your head. I remember this wonderful feeling like pure ecstasy. I looked down with his eyes and there was a man in his lap with his mouth around my father’s penis.“That’s so good, baby.” I heard my father say in a half moan. He was a ww2 veteran who always carried a gun and thought Elvis was a bit too new age. This was not the man I knew. I felt his body tense up. Quickly  I shuddered out of his mind before the inevitable conclusion. I was still sitting at the table looking at him and he was looking at me and then he sneezed and I excused myself and went to take a shower. I still don’t know if he knew what I saw. We never talked about it. Mostly I put the whole thing out of my mind but when he died that man was at his wake. He said his name was Ed and that they were buddies from college. I shook his hand and then went and sat next to my grieving mother. That was all so long ago now. It hardly matters at all.

It probably sounds funny to folks these days, caring if your father was gay. We live in such different times. I remember when I was about nineteen the Indigo Children started being born. It was all over the news. They were like us but more snakelike in appearance with forked tongues and vibrant multicolored, scaly skin. It wasn’t longer after that they started being born with tails and stingers and fangs. I was a modern enough guy. I didn’t hate them. I wasn’t afraid. It was just a bit queer, you know? Hanging out with friends who had kids got really uncomfortable. Eventually I made a point of avoiding those friends. Sooner or later they became strangers.

These days the children aren’t even children anymore. They’re floating twisted monstrosities. They leak their yellow sludge from curled and scaly tentacles. Their eyes are black and soulless. I’ve heard it said they don’t even have blood in the same way we do. It’s made of different stuff.How can they be our future? Still I’ve always been one to leave well enough alone. I worked and saved and worked and saved my whole life. I retired. I bought a decent house in a decent neighborhood and lived a simple life full of simple pleasures. My one companion was a tuxedo cat named Connery. Connery was a good boy. He liked eating popcorn and sitting on my shoulder while I read. When I’d smoke he’d swipe at the air with his little paws. He used to sleep directly in front of the TV.  when I would try to move him he’d go limp and play dead.It really was adorable. I loved that cat more than I’d ever loved my ex wife or anyone else for that matter.

It was July 16th that he ran away. I was grabbing some groceries that had been delivered to my porch and he slipped out the door and between my legs and before I knew it he was gone. I chased after him but that came to nothing. Three days later on the nineteenth I heard a scratching at my door and this pained yowling. I opened the door to a disturbing sight. Connery was covered in slashes and bites. There was so much blood in his fur and streaked across my porch where he’d just barely managed to drag himself to the door. I held him and tried to provide some comfort. I hope that helped him feel less scared. He died in my arms within a couple minutes. As I examined his body after the fact it was clear what had happened. His flesh had been pierced with sharp tentacles, large beaks and razor sharp fangs. There was yellow slime mixed in with the blood. “Damn kids!” I cursed.

The next day I wrapped Connery in a clean white sheet and buried him between two large hydrangea bushes in my backyard. The days were lonely after that. The house was so quiet. Mostly I slept and smoked. I’d go for two or three days without brushing my teeth or changing my clothes. I can’t say for sure when I had the idea. It was impossible to put it aside once it became clear to me. I bought six large bags of candy for less than fifteen bucks. The poison was significantly more expensive. It was intended for exterminating rodents but I figured it would do the trick.

I am not a bad or cruel man but someone had to take a stand. Halloween came. Actually it was the week before when trick ‘r treat took place in my neighborhood. That day I hollowed out a big old pumpkin so I could bake the seeds and pour butter all over them like my dad always used to do before he had his second heart attack.  Afterwards I took the candy I had bought and piece by piece unwrapped it. The poison was a chalky white powder not dissimilar in its textures to very fine sand. I sprinkled just a little bit on each piece then placed the pieces in little baggies with Halloween themed stickers. The little bats and pumpkins and things were kind of cute and they provided a plausible enough reason for the candy to be unwrapped. I filled the hollowed out pumpkin with the baggies of candy and stickers and placed it out in my yard with a sign that read in big red letters TAKE PLENTY. Then I poured myself some gin and sprite, took a seat by my living room window and waited. Darkness came soon enough. Then the monsters came out dressed as astronauts and cowboys and Disney princesses. I watched as they went from house to house. Their less freakish but still grossly mutated  parents followed behind them with tired  dead  eyes.

The children were so strange to look at. I mean that wasn’t news to me but I’d never just sat and watched them before. They were whirling balls of limbs, beaks, teeth  and stingers like machines made of flesh and bone solely existing to consume and destroy. Their laughter was similar to nails on a chalkboard. Even the air around them seemed to be made revolting and impure by their presence.  The blades of grass and flowers they touched wilted and died. These kids truly were poison to the world. Child after child floated on up and took their candy. They  squealed with what must have been glee but was as unsettling and hair raising as any wolf’s howl.

A kid dressed in a vampire cape wearing a fake plastic ruby around the closest thing it had to a neck approached cautiously. It was a fat kid with massive clear and veiny sacks of fat hanging like revolting Christmas tree ornaments from its tentacles. It came up to the pumpkin, grabbed a bag with a chocolate bar inside then proceeded to open the bag. The little bastard flung the candy and stickers into its disgusting mouth and ripped them apart with the efficiency of a blender. I’ll admit I let out a small chuckle. Suddenly it went limp, convulsed twice and then collapsed to the ground dead. The other children and their parents all stared silently at the corpse for just a moment before it went burst like a squeezed zit spraying brown, green and dark red puss all over my well kept yard. I expected fear. I expected some kind of awful, terrified reaction. I could not have predicted what actually happened. The surrounding children shrieked in delight and swarmed the remains of their dearly departed comrade.

All at once they gorged themselves on the fluids and flesh of the dead. They forgot about their candy. This is what they really craved. Then, as if a miracle, the cannibal freak children began to collapse and die themselves. Their parents moaned and tutted in annoyance at their children’s gory fate. Soon my yard was completely covered in bubbling mush with bits of tentacle and bone coating the front of my house. It was overwhelmingly beautiful despite giving off a smell of sour milk and  sweaty asshole. The parents left. A few other children came by and floated over the mess to grab their candy before quickly moving onto another house. I smiled and laughed and cried. This was so wonderful and so freeing. Still it had hardly been anymore than a mild distraction from the nightmare which was the E.T. generation come to replace us.

I don’t think I had planned to do what I’m doing now. Maybe it was always in the back of my mind. About an hour ago. I went out to my messy yard and took a candy bar from inside the hollowed out pumpkin. It was sticky with meat juices. I wiped it off and carried it out to my backyard along with a glass of cheap white wine from a box. I’m finishing the wine now. It’s not bad. Not great, but not bad. The candy bar is melting in my hand. I can just barely see the poisonous powder sticking to the chocolate. I’m sitting in the grass by Connery’s grave. I pat the ground and pretend he can sense that I’m there. Maybe he can. I suppose cats have souls if any of us do. Now it’s time to leave this damned  mess. I bite into the chocolate. It’s so sweet. It tastes like a simpler time.

Written by Gomez Capulet
Content is available under CC BY-SA