I looked for the ‘Ten items or less’ checkout. This one read ‘Four items only,’ so I joined the queue.
“I will knock on your door,” said the young checkout operator, looking at me—past three other customers. She was wearing a witch costume.
She swiped the food item over the scanner.
She put her head down, face hidden under her hat.
“On Halloween night.” Beep. “I will come for your soul.” Beep. “When the time is right.” Beep.
The customer said his thanks and walked off.
The operator grabbed the first item belonging to the next customer.
“I will knock on your door.” Beep.
She looked at me again. “On Halloween night.”
I swear she looked about ten years older, this time.
She looked back down and continued scanning.
That was twice she looked at me; I turned and saw nobody behind.
“I will come for your soul.” Beep. “When the time is right.” Beep.
The customer paid, smiled, and left. There was just one customer in front of me.
“I will knock on your door.” Beep. “On Halloween night.” Beep.
Again, she looked at me. “I will come for your soul.”
She looked middle-aged. Her hair was mostly grey.
“When the time is right.” Beep.
The customer said his thanks and left.
I walked alongside the conveyer belt. Her hair was now white, face hidden. She was perfectly still. I stood at the end of the counter and waited.
She grabbed my pumpkin. “I will knock on your door.” Beep.
She placed it in front of me with old hands.
There was a maggot on top of the fruit. I brushed it away and put the pumpkin into my basket.
“On Halloween night.” Beep.
This next food item was in transparent packaging, and I could see that it was writhing with maggots. I opened my mouth to complain, but nothing came out.
“I will come for your soul.” Beep. Rotten fruit slid towards me.
I looked at her. From under the brim of her hat, a worm dangled, and maggots fell.
“When the time…” She raised her head.
I tried to scream and raise my hands but could do neither. Her face belonged to a corpse, riddled with creatures under the earth.
She started to move towards me—through the counter. I was sinking into the ground.
She towered over me. Maggots, worms, and chunks of rotting flesh fell onto my face.
This echoed into the black chasm below, and I knew it was waking the dead.
The customers stared, as the young checkout operator stood over me with a look of concern. I had been screaming and howling for at least a minute.
This happened many years ago, and I know the day will come when I hear that dreaded knock on the door. It will not be a trick, this time. And it will most definitely not be a treat.