Halloween special short story: A note, to the one in red

Editor’s Note: This is an exclusive PantherNOW fictional Halloween-themed short story.

Matthew Ellmore/Staff Writer

The seat of the wooden park bench was beginning to gnaw at Malcolm’s backside, slowly getting harder and harder to sit on without pain.

He was sweating, though he wasn’t sure if it was from the sun or his nerves. Malcolm had always been a nervous kid, even before he knew what his family was doing. He had a feeling that most of his nervousness came from his parents. He had every disorder imaginable: ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety. If there was a name for it, Malcolm probably had it.

Growing up was a nightmare. Tutor after tutor, pill after pill, his parents did everything they could to try and “fix” Malcolm.

As if he needed to be fixed.

“Fixed,” that was the word that his mother used. Malcolm knew something was wrong, obviously. But he didn’t think that he needed to be “fixed”. If anything, it was his parents that needed to be fixed. Well, hopefully his little pen pal could help him do that.

He hadn’t been meaning to find the letters. Of course, they didn’t just fall into his lap. He had been trying to hide from one of his numerous tutors in his parents’ bedroom when he saw the box that was shoddily hidden by some hanging clothes. He began to hear feet ascend the staircase and without even thinking, he bolted for the closet and closed the door.

He heard the door open, and his mother’s voice called his name. He held his breath and prayed that they wouldn’t find him. The door closed, and the sound of footsteps began to fade to another part of the house.

He knew that if he stayed in here long enough, the tutor would leave. Then he wouldn’t have to deal with the corrections and the fixing, he could just move on with his day.

His attention turned back towards the box that now lay by his side. He took the top off, and peered in. Inside the box was a bunch of papers, an anticlimactic result that Malcolm was frankly disappointed with until he looked at one of the letters. The letter was written in his handwriting and was addressed to Satan.

As Malcolm began to read through the letter – he had no recollection of it whatsoever – but it sounded like him. It asked Satan for a new life, one that Malcolm didn’t have to spend the whole time getting “fixed’ in. As he read through the other dozen letters, he realized that all of them said the same thing. What was this? Why would his parents let him write to Satan, and why did they keep his letters? And why didn’t Satan answer him?

These questions ate at Malcolm for the next few months, until he decided to do something about it. Malcolm snuck back into his parents’ bedroom and copied down the address that was written on the front of the envelopes that contained the letters. The next morning, Malcolm woke up before school, snuck his letter into the mailbox, and waited until the day.

Malcolm buried his face in his hands. It was an hour past the meeting time that he had written in his letter and his pen pal still hadn’t arrived. As he started to pack his stuff, he heard footsteps behind him. They were heavy footsteps.

Malcolm turned and was shocked at what he saw. Instead of the dark, menacing figure that he imagined Satan would be, here stood a small, rosy cheeked man with a white beard and a beer belly.


“Not quite,” said the man.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash.

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