Bad Candy

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This story was contributed by krazydiamond

Jamie realized she made a critical error when she answered the door to three pirates and a cardboard transformer.

"Trick or Treat!"

"It's three in the afternoon," she said.

Five hopeful eyes stared up at her, as the pirates each sported an eyepatch.

"Uh, yeah, here." She fished in the glass bowl beside the door and dropped a travel size roll of tums in each of their bags. "For the candy hangover."

The pirates shared a mutinous expression, while the transformer scoffed. Thank god Jamie lived in an apartment complex. Somebody else could clean up the eggs and T.P.

"Sorry kids, maybe try again later," she said. She wouldn't be here, but they were welcome to try.

Jamie shut the door before they could react and let out a sigh. Halloween, big hairy deal; it was just a day. One she had to work, like most of the population. She straightened her fishnets and smoothed her artfully ragged gypsy skirt. Yes, it felt somewhat hypocritical to dress up for work when she harbored such disdain for the holiday, but Barry the Butthead manager insisted on it. Initially, she refused, but when he hinted at best costume earning an early closeout, she bit the bullet and searched through her closet. Costume materials weren't in short supply.

She used to love Halloween. That was before Claire. Talk about a nasty break up.

Maybe it was because she was already thinking about her ex, or dreading her evening shift at the mall, but she opened her cabinets without thinking and froze.

There it was, squatting on the shelf as if it had always been there. It might have been, she still didn't fully understand the nature of the curse, but the nonexistent contents of her stomach curdled in dread.

How could she be so careless?

A fleeting thought slid through her head, a nefarious whisper that she could get it over with and unload it onto the next hapless trick or treaters who bothered her before the sun went down, but Jamie couldn't be that cruel. Though Claire seemed to think so.

She held her breath and pinched the corner of the innocuous plastic bag, lifting it slowly out of the cabinet like it was a bear trap that would snap over her fingers. In a way, it was, a brightly colored, high fructose corn syrup of a bear trap. The familiar conical shapes left a negative image when she blinked; she'd stared at them too long. Candy corn, why was it always candy corn?

But she knew why. The memory of that teasing conversation between petting fingers and nibbled lips, the last good conversation between them before it all went to hell. Candy corn was vile. She'd joked how all candy corn in existence was the same candy corn in circulation since the 1950s, regifted over and over like grandma's fruitcake.

Nobody ate candy corn.

Somebody had to eat candy corn. Because if they didn't.... she could already feel the prick of metal against the back of her throat.

"I hope you choke on them." Claire's parting shot. Jamie's jaw trembled, wishing not for the first time, she could go back, fix things, but that wouldn't save her now. She tossed the bag in her purse. She wouldn't forget it. The knowledge of her task would tug and nudge her the rest of the day until the deed was done. She grabbed her hat on the way out the door.

Barry started in on her the second she walked through the door. The surprise candy corn threw her. She was ten minutes late, not that there was exactly a rush in the store. It was a candle shop. The busiest it got was at Christmas, where shoppers came in as long as their olfactory senses didn't blow a fuse. The store was dead, but that didn't matter to Barry.

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