This Halloween-themed snap fiction (what’s that?) horror story started crawling out of the woodwork after I took a photo of a lone sneaker by the side of the road, trampled and almost buried in the sand.

The House on Trappers Lane

She’d been waiting for it for way too long—she thought—but now it was about to happen: their first kiss. Her first kiss.

Talbot had moved to Cherry Falls six months ago. Vicky had never met his parents, but she knew they lived in the old house at the end of Trappers Lane, the one that had been abandoned for years.

At school, Vicky had always been the outsider with a “dark streak” (not her words). The school kids ignored her, and she was happy to repay the compliment. When Talbot first came to Fogg Bay High, all the girls had checked out their brains at the door, turning into a gooey mush of wide-eyed silliness. But Vicky knew that the “pretty posse” at would never get a toehold with Talbot. There was something about him—something deeper, almost uncanny.

As far as anyone could tell, he wasn’t inter­ested in girls at all. He had, however, taken an interest in Vicky, and he was really good about it. Not too obvious, not too upfront.

Nobody had noticed the notes he slipped her at lunchtime. Nobody had seen her hop on the back of his bicycle, behind the old Pretzel Palace. Nobody knew they had left for Trappers Lane together.

I’ve been wanting to show you my place for a long time,” Talbot said, letting his hand drop behind his back as he rode his bike. Vicky took it, with eager hesitation.

Aren’t your parents home?”

Sure they are. Don’t worry, they won’t mind having you around. They’re pretty down to earth.”

The sun had set by the time they arrived. Talbot parked his bike against the porch and pulled Vicky’s hand, leading her.

Come along, the way in is round back.”

Vicky looked at the wooden building, silhou­etted against the darkening sky. No lights were on inside, and most of the windows were still boarded over. The air was colder here, and the cicadas had stopped chirping.

Talbot, something isn’t right.”

Let me show you. Stand right here.”

He put his arms around her and held her close. He felt surpris­ingly thin and boney.

When he kissed her hair, she relaxed a little. He nuzzled and licked her neck and before she realized what he was doing, he’d bitten her—hard.

She shrieked and struggled, but he forced his mouth on hers. She tasted her own blood on his lips.

This is what you wanted, isn’t it? A first kiss?”

Let me go, you—”

As you wish.” He stepped back. “We just needed a little time for the scent to call them up,” Talbot said, almost tenderly.

Call who? What are you talking about?”

And then she felt it. She couldn’t move her legs anymore. Creepers and black roots had risen from the ground, holding her feet down. The very earth beneath her was moving, breathing, yearning.

In a frenzy, Vicky thrashed and flailed until she lost her balance and fell on her back. Immediately, wiry stems and cold worms crept into her hair and onto her body, pulling her deeper into the soil. As she writhed, one of her feet came loose from her sneaker and she tried to kick away the evil vines, but she wasn’t strong enough.

For a single moment, she froze and stared at Talbot as she finally under­stood what was happening. Underneath her, in the sand and dust, among the shoots and prickles that were enveloping her, she felt fingers—groping for her flesh, pulling at her clothes, scratching and tearing her skin with undead nails.

Talbot smiled, “I’m glad you got to meet Mom and Dad.”

• • •

Father, son, husband, friend and writer by day; asleep by night. Happily pondering the immortality of the crab wherever words are shared.

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