This story was my contest entry for Fictional Black Ink‘s 2015 Halloween Flash Fiction Contest, for which I received Honorable Mention. Check out the details here and read the winning entry! It’s really good.
I sat on the curb, alone. It was three days before Halloween and already the streets were lined with broken gourds, pumpkin seeds, and bits of run over candle tins smashed into the asphalt. Tommy was late, and the light had already started to fade, yellow tingeing the skyline just above the mismatched neighborhood houses. He was always late.
“I don’t even know why I bother.”
Reaching under my sweater I pulled free the bag of fortune cookies I’d swiped from work the night before. It was mostly just the leftovers, already half broken and a little bit stale, but that’s when they were best.
“Old cookies have the best fortunes.” I laughed, thinking how soon I’d be old too and wondering what my fortune would be. Nineteen and lonely on the nasty suburb streets, eating old cookies and waiting for my idiot brother like a lost little baby.
I pulled a fist full of cookies out of the bag and began to unwrap them, balancing them all on my knees. Each bag I opened carefully, pulling out the broken cookie bits and setting the fortune aside, unread. Tommy hated the way I ate fortune cookies. “It’s like birthday cake wishes,” I explained to him once, “if you read them before you eat the cookie, then the fortune isn’t really yours.” He thought I was stupid and didn’t understand birthdays. I thought he was a child. I slipped another cookie piece into my mouth and wondered where he was.
Five fortunes in my fist, a closed my eyes and chose the first. Blank.
I dropped it aside and repeated the process, closing my eyes and carefully selecting the second. “It was a dark and stormy night.” I read out to the empty streets. The wind kicked up as I scowled. Not even a real fortune.
Crushing it in my fist, I chose the next. “The children have all vanished, not a voice to be heard.” My skin crawled as I read the words. “That’s not even a fortune. These cookies are defective.” I forced a laugh, crushing it with the first as I yanked the next fortune loose. “She shouldn’t be out all alone.”
I froze. Quickly glancing around as the wind howled by, the sun sank lower but the street lights still hadn’t come on. My hands trembled as I pulled the last slip of fortune up, squinting to read it in the dimming light. “That isn’t your brother.”
I jumped to my feet and let it all tumble away into the road, cookie wrappers and fortunes scattering in the breeze. I heard the scuff of feet behind me and swung around to see Tommy approaching. He smiled, teeth too sharp and eyes full black. It wasn’t Tommy. I turned to ran, leaping from the sidewalk, and he lunged at my back.