Friday, October 31, 2014


Miss Fern and the Jack O’ Lantern

Miss Fern taught elementary school. She was one of those spinster types—a tall, reedy woman with hooded eyes and a bit of a beaky nose.

She had thin lips that never smiled and a face that had never worn a lick of makeup; her dresses were too long and her legs too thin.

She was the kind of person who wrote outraged letters to newspapers and dreamed of making citizens' arrests.

She told people off in stores for queue jumping, admonished teenagers for speaking too loudly--she was always complaining about something.

In short, she was one huge, monumental pain in the ass.

On the last day of her life she woke at 6, scolded the cat for dripping milk on the floor (only three drops), had a dry slice of toast with weak tea, got dressed and went to school where she would sadistically torture (as usual) little Timmy Meeks and anyone else she felt like giving holy hell to.


Yes, people like Miss Fern did compensate for their lack of humanity and for their prejudice and nastiness.

They were losers in life who sought to feel better about themselves by striving to make as many people as miserable as they could.

She had her favorites to pick on but the most fun was targeting little Timmy. Perhaps it was his thick glasses and buck teeth or it might have been something else, like his timidity or the fact that everyone knew his father beat him. Whatever it was, Miss Fern picked on him the most.

“If Timmy Meeks can give us his attention for a moment…We’re not interrupting you; Mr. Meeks from studying your stubby fingers are we?”

He would answer her without ever being fresh because if he didn't it might all end in a visit to the Principal and Mrs. Wadd was nearly as bad as Miss Fern because she thought Miss Fern was ‘a great teacher of the old school.’

Now on this, the last Halloween morning Miss Fern was ever going to see; it happened to be quite sunny and mild. And because it was so warm, the attendants at Briarcliff Care Home were lax. Two of them actually failed to lock the facility up properly.

Desmond Oliver the night porter didn’t lock up nor did Jess Cummings the day supervisor.

Lester Muggs realized it and as crazy as he was made a dash for it.

He just darted across the lawn, stealing some clothes off a clothesline and went on his way.

He had been in Briarcliff ever since he had murdered his mother.

He was declared unfit to stand trial. He really was unfit because he actually was more of a gentle giant than a murderer; he just wasn’t wrapped quite tightly enough.

The day passed with Lester stealing pies off window sills and some fruit off a vegetable stand.

By dusk he was beginning to notice all the children out and about in their Halloween costumes. He smiled and nodded for there in the far reaches of his muddled mind he recalled the holiday of candy and fun.

The thing that struck him most was how great the pumpkins looked lit with candles inside.

He wanted one desperately. He finally spotted the perfect one sitting at an open window. As he reached for it someone screeched at him, a woman with a thin, scratchy voice.

"Just what do you think you’re doing?!"

Yes, that’s right it was Miss Fern looking furious and loving every second of it.

“You’re a thief that’s what you are. A thief and nothing else! I’m going to call the police."

It happened while she was on the phone; well actually it happened after she hung up.

Lester crept up on her and she never heard a thing.

She hung up the phone and just as she whirled around to put the fear of god in the thief, she saw the knife.

She opened her mouth to scream but that’s when Lester cut her head off and then went to work on hollowing the head out. After all, he wanted it to look right.

He was still admiring his handiwork when the cops drove up.

They didn’t see it right away; they were staring at the headless corpse. But then they saw the big oafish fellow sitting and pointing toward the windowsill.

“It’s a Jack O' Lantern," he said, "You see?”

And it was. Only it was Miss Fern’s head with a lit candle stuck onto the tongue.

Her dead eyes were glazed and were looking up as if she was waiting for something.

"Happy Halloween," Lester said. “I’ll go with you now. Only I’d like to take my Jack O Lantern too, may I?”

Copyright © Carole Gill 2011     

House of Horrors Anthology contains this and
many more stories!




Enjoy! And stay safe! 


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