The door swung open revealing a deformed red boy. Horns on his head and a long tail whipping behind him. His right arm ended in a metallic hook.
“Wow, cool costume,” Cyrstal said burying her trembling hand in a bowl of candy.
The boy growled as she dropped the loot into his bag.
She couldn’t shut the door fast enough.
She jumped at the knock on the door. Was the boy back? He wasn’t real, stop it, she shook her head and slowly opened the door.
“Hey!” Ken smiled leaning again the door jamb.
He pushed away from the door, his six foot frame dwarfing her smaller one, “You ok? You look a little pale.”
“Yeah, fine…just I dunno. Halloween and all.”
“Afraid of the Jersey Devil?”
Ken chuckled, “I saw the Devil walking away as I came up.”
“Oh,” she breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah, him,” she tugged at her shirt.
“You still wanna…” he gestured toward that dark night that was filled with screams.
“Mom!” she yelled over her shoulder. “Ken’s here. We’re going to the Party now.”
“Ok, be safe. Don’t drink. Be back by ten,” her mom ordered from upstairs.
“Yes, mom,” Crystal rolled her brown eyes at her not so innocent boyfriend.
The moon was floating in and out of the clouds as Crystal and Ken drove toward the dark Pines.
The clouds seem to thicken the closer they got to the Pines and the full moon would disappear for longer and longer stretches.
Crystal tried to breathe through her momentary panic as Ken slowed to turn onto the dark unlit dirt road. The car inched slowly past the house shrouded in complete darkness just beyond the tree line.
“Nervous?” Ken asked as her squeezed her hand.
“A little,” she replied.
“Did that little Jersey Devil scare you? An evil little teenager with hooked hand to prevent lovers from necking in his Pines?”
She giggled to hide her nerves, “Stop, you’re being ridiculous.” This was her first time completely alone with Ken it made sense that she was nervous, right?
Ken zigged zagged slowly down the dirt roads looking for a good place to park as the woods turned pitched black. Suddenly this did not seem like a good idea. Jersey Devil or not.
The car pulled into a small cut out that dead-ended a few feet in, nothing but a solid wall of trees. He put the car into park and rolled the windows down a little to cut the thick heavy air in the car, flipping the station to a light soft jazz.
Everything went dark. The moon disappeared as the car lights died.
Something lightly slid up her arm and she jumped toward the door.
“Whoa! Easy, it’s just me, darlin’,” Ken said.
She patted her heart trying to get it to relax, “Sorry. Guess all this darkness is freaking me out.”
He picked up her hand, “It’s ok. Hear the cicadas and other critters talking?”
Crystal swept her dark hair off her shoulder.
The night was alive with sounds of a soft coo of an owl, cicadas sang back and forth, and crickets. It was utterly completely dark. Was it always this dark?
“As long as there is noise, you are safe. The animals go silent when they are protecting themselves from prey. If there is no prey then they keep talking to each other.”
“Really?” She eyed him looking for a joke.
The talking critters seemed to pick up their chatter as if to prove Ken right. He raised her hand to his lips and kissed her palm lightly.
She started to relax, running her fingers through his hair as his lips traveled up her arm. She leaned back against the head rest and allowed his tongue to slip into her mouth.
She frowned as her bra was snapped opened.
“Stop,” she whispered.
She pushed his shoulder, “Stop.”
He moaned, “You don’t – “
“Stop!” Crystal said louder pushing at him.
He yanked his hand back.
“That sound, hear it?”
He frowned at her, “No. What sound?”
They looked at each other for a long moment.
The talking woods had stopped, the music had stopped, all the air had disappeared.
From behind the car, near the trunk came the tinkling of metal against metal; the back window was midnight black.
The car seemed to dip in the back suddenly.
There was a soft thump from the roof of the car.
The clink, clink, clink from the partially opened window near Crystal fill the sudden vacuum of noiselessly.
“Shit!” Ken yelled jamming the keys into the ignition, thrusting the car into reverse.
Crystal screamed as something flashed near her window. She pressed the button to close the window,
A demonic scream filled the air.
The car rushed backwards narrowly stopping before a tree. It stalled. Ken restarted the car. He rammed it into first.
The car fish tailed into one turn and Crystal saw him fighting for control. The clink, clink, clink persisted through the darkness, like it was chasing them.
“What the hell?” Crystal asked as Ken pulled into the safety of a brightly lit Acme parking lot.
“I dunno.” Ken swiveled his head looking out each window.
Crystal followed his lead, but saw nothing. It was clear, she could see everything and there was no one around, human or otherwise. The clinking had stopped.
“We hit something, I heard it.”
“Maybe we just imagined it.”
“Both of us?”
Crystal shook her head, she needed air. Brightly lit — clean — safe air.
She pushed the door open and a bloody metal hook with a red cloth swung into view.