Friday, October 31, 2008

When morning comes to the diner

As promised, here is the final end to the tale of Abby and the diner! To read the first parts, go here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

“I’m not going to do it.” Abby shook her head so hard her strawberry blond hair smacked her in the face. “There is no way I’m talking to that nut job.”

“Please?” Paul asked, his lower lip quivering. “We have no other option. You’re our only hope. If you don’t help us, we’ll be trapped in his dark prison forever, only free for a few hours on Halloween night after midnight.”

Abby opened her mouth to protest again when she realized the diner was silent. Dozens of ghosts were staring at her, their pale faces and dark eyes desperately pleading her to change her mind.

“I can’t,” she cried, her voice cracking. She shook her head back and forth, sickness bubbling in her throat. “You don’t understand. He’s evil. His eyes—oh God, his eyes”—

It was as if someone had pulled the cord on the world’s happiest song. The lights in the diner dimmed and the jukebox went dark. The ghosts’ shoulders slumped and they exhaled in a collective sigh. The food in their hands turned to dust, trickling away as the ceiling fans overhead spun. Their eyes sunk into their faces, their cheekbones piercing the gossamer fog that passed for skin. They looked more like sad skeletons than the happy, colorful ghosts that had been giggling a few minutes ago.

Abby’s eyes slid to Paul and she felt a wrench in her chest. He was faint, slumped against the bar stool as he stirred the dust that was formerly a pie with a fork clutched in his bony fingers.

“Where did the pie go?” Abby asked stupidly. Paul barely raised his eyes as he droned his reply.

“Food is life,” he replied. “It is celebration, joy, comfort and hope. Without hope, there is no sense in pie.”

The sorrow in his voice broke Abby’s heart.

“I’ll do it,” she said, her voice trembling. “I’ll do it.”

The ghosts cheered. The lights flashed on, the jukebox blared and a fresh piece of pie appeared on little Paul's plate. Before Abby could say a word, a napkin was tied around her head and two ghosts were leading her to the kitchen in gleeful anticipation.

"Wait!" Abby cried, anxiety bubbling in her stomach. "What if he tries to hurt me? What if he tries to steal my soul or something? What am I going to do? How am I going to convince him that I'm Jessica?"

"Don't worry!" Paul cried behind her. "Just have faith. We believe in you!" The ghosts burst into another round of cheering as Abby was shoved in the kitchen.

"And don't worry, dearie," one of the ghosts said kindly as they shoved her into the kitchen. "We have plenty of pie." Abby stared at the door as it slammed shut in her face. She was alone in the kitchen. The only thing she could hear was her heart pounding in her ears and the sound of her breath quicken. Forcing herself to stay calm, she turned around.

He was staring right at her. The shock of seeing the blackened, rotting skin vibrated through her like she had been slammed against a brick wall going seventy miles an hour. She swallowed her scream and widened her lips in what she prayed looked like a smile. His eyes watched her. He knew she was scared. He was enjoying this. She could feel it.

"Hello, Mr. Jackson," she croaked, stretching her dry lips so far over her teeth she could feel her skin cracking. "I'm here for work."

To her surprise, the monster staggered back. Shivering, he ducked his head under his arm. When he turned back to her, his face was free of the boils and burned skin.

"Jessica?" The voice was hopeful, but cautious. "Is that really you?"

Abby wondered if she would go to hell for lying to a ghost. "I'm here for work," she repeated, avoiding the question. "What tables should I take over?"

The creature trembled, hiding his eyes. "Wouldyouhaveapieceofpiewithme?"

"I'm sorry?" Abby leaned forward, praying he didn't ask what she thought he asked. "Could you repeat that?"

"Would you have a piece of pie with me?" The creature's voice howled, sending a shudder through her. She couldn't, she wouldn't do this. Through the kitchen door, she could hear laughter and the faint burble of music. She sighed, thinking of how disappointed the ghosts would be.

Abby bit her tongue, wishing she had never stayed late. She looked up and gasped.

It was his eyes. The evil sneer and swagger was gone. Instead, all she saw were the desperate, lonely eyes of a crazed old man.

It was at that moment Abby decided she was the biggest sucker in the world.

"Sure," she said, swallowing hard. "That would be nice." The ghost sighed with relief and smiled. The black skin dotted with blisters, boils and raw flesh drained away down to the ground, slithering down the drain like dirty dishwasher. All that remained was a chubby bald man with furry arms and red cheeks with the saddest eyes Abby had ever seen.

The light buzzed overhead as the ghost cut two pieces of pie. Abby took a bite and tried not to spit it out. It tasted like sawdust and glue.

"I have a confession to make, Jessica," the ghost said, taking a bite of his pie. "Please don't be scared."

Abby nodded, waiting.

"I never wanted you to think I liked you, in that way," Mr. Jackson said, tapping his fork against the plate. Rat-tat-tat. Rat-tat-tat. "It's just--my wife died. She was the only one who cared about me. I got so caught up in work, and then I met you."

"You see, my wife had red hair, just like you. She always used to tell me that she wanted a little red-haired girl with green eyes. And when I saw you--I just felt like you were the daughter I never had." He lowered his head, embarrassed. "Please, eat."

Abby took another bite of pie. This time, it tasted like a stale cracker.

"But Mr. Jackson," she said, her voice wavering. "You have to understand, I was scared. You were so mean. You yelled at everyone, you treated people badly--you played mean pranks."

Mr. Jackson hung his head.

"Why did you want to be mean to people?" Abby asked, sliding her fork through the pie. "I mean, you were almost--evil."

"It was evil," he whispered. His eyes were wide and filled with tears. "It was a rotten thing to do. I scared a girl, tonight, you know. Scared her to death, I bet. Poor thing. I was just--so angry and so lonely and so miserable. My life was terrible, so I didn't care about anyone else. I had lost hope. I'd lost joy. It felt like something had taken over me, crawled inside me--turned me from me."

He leaned forward and his cold hand wrapped around hers. "And then I found you. And you had some pie with me." His voice was filled with wonder.

Abby took another bite of pie and smiled. It tasted like a rich chocolate cupcake mixed with pudding. For once, she felt no fear. "Promise me, something, Mr. Jackson," she said.


"Promise me you'll be nice to the diners--both kinds," she said, raising her eyebrow. "Promise me you'll make the diner a happy place they remember, so they can come out more than just Halloween."

"I promise." Mr. Jackson stood and held out his hand. "I've got to go now," he said, nodding towards the window. Abby glanced at the shades and started. She could see the sunrise peeking through the blinds. "Shall we say same time, same day next year?"

Abby took his frigid hand and smiled. "I'll be there."

Beaming with joy, the ghost faded into the air. Abby stood alone in the kitchen, the shadows in the corners the only darkness left. She left her half-eaten pie on the table and walked into the dining room. Light was streaming through the windows. The ghosts were gone, any trace of their festivities faded away. She picked up her purse and glanced at her cell phone. 30 missed calls.

Suddenly, a voice filled the air. Her head swirled toward the jukebox, its neon lights twinkling happily in the early morning.

"When I was alone
You came around
When I was down
You pulled me through
And there's nothing that
I wouldn't do for you

'Cause I wanted to fly,
so you gave me your wings
And time held its breath so I could see, yeah
And you set me free."

Abby laughed and held up a hand in goodbye. She stepped through the diner door, locked it and strode through the car. From the corner of the diner, the darkness watched her go in smoldering fury.

"I'll be back next year," Abby whispered as she climbed into her car. "Next Halloween, I'll be here." As she drove away, she hummed to herself as she thought of the pies she could make for Paul and Mr. Jackson.

In her review mirror, a pair of dark eyes peered out for the windows of the diner.

"They're free," he muttered, pounding his fist into the window. The glass barely shuddered, part of the effect of not having bones or skin, he through bitterly. "No longer am I ruler, no longer is Mr. Jackson under my spell."

A grin spread over his face. "At least, until next Halloween." As the final strand of sunlight threaded through the door, the creature slunk back to wait in the shadows.

It would be a long time until midnight at Halloween. But when it came, he would be ready for Abby.



Just superb!! Happy Halloween :0)

alexandra's kitchen said...

Awww. Great story! Abby is such a hero. She's so brave!

Saying that, just now, reminds me of something my sister would say when she was young that made me laugh hysterically. She would say, "I love Dr. Quinn The Medicine Woman. She's so brave!" I don't know why, but it makes me laugh.

I love your stories. Can't wait to read more.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

I like π
Happy Halloween!

The W.O.W. factor said...

I love it!
...until NEXT Halloween!
Good job Duckie!

Jane said...

Happy Halloween Duckie, great story well done Abby. She's got more nerve than me. Jane x

Marjie said...

Of course, our Blond Duck left it open for next year....

Happy Trick-or-Treat!

Pam said...

Great story! Abby's a brave girl.

Meaghan said...

Happy Halloween!!

Hi from your fellow SITS-tah :) Just wanted to invite you to my Giveaway. I am doing todays drawing at 8pm ET so there is still time to get in!

Every Friday we give away 1 lb of Gourmet Coffee or tea from my new online coffee shop: Get The Bean.

To enter visit:


Michelle said...

Oh a fellow writer!! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I will have to definitely follow this story along. My girlfriend and I have started a sort of "whimsical" book which we hope will become a series. Maybe I can bounce some stuff off you every now and then? I'm going to go back and read the previous posts so I can get this whole story!

Happy Halloween!


Alyson (New England Living) said...

Ok, I've got to go back and read your stuff from the beginning because it's so interesting.

Lori said...

I liked that story. Abby has got courage and vision. Able to see past the monsters in people.

Bunny said...

Ok , wait !! At the this another ghost??? One that doesn't have control over Mr Jackson??? OMG I have to wait till next Halloween!!!!!

jenjen said...

What a great story! Perfect for Halloween. I hope you had a great Halloween night. Did your cute dogs dress up?

Marie said...

OH Duckie, I do love a Happy Ending! This story had us on the end of our seats from beginning to end, and I do confess I am still at the edge of my seat to find out what happens next Halloween! Hope you are enjoying your time away and that Ben's dad is getting better. I love you to bits my friend! (((hugs)))

Heather said...

great story! i hope you had a great halloween :)

Dee said...

Yay! I can't believe I'm can comment again :) Hope blogger stops being so mean.

Loved the story - have you tried getting published?

Happy belated Halloween.
Happy Birthday to your dad. I love his expressions :)
The pecan pie looks scrummy. The rolls too. And the icing perfect on both. I've never made cinnamon rolls - always meant to but all the other bookmarked recipes kept getting in the way. I really must.

Finally, thanks for all your positive and kind words :)

Anonymous said...