The Pig’s Head, by Judi A. Calhoun
There were always opportunities to scare people. It didn’t have to be Halloween, even though it was Stella’s favorite holiday. Every year she tried to out-do herself coming up with more terrifying displays to frighten the neighborhood kids.
That afternoon the butcher delivered a large, bloody, pig’s head to her house. The pig’s head would be swimming in blood, in the toilet on her front porch. She could just hear the screams of horror when unsuspecting children opened the lid for candy, but were sprayed with blood from the pig’s mouth instead.
An old woman by the name of Aruna answered her advertisement for a used, non-working, handicapped toilet. Stella drove across town and parked in front of a creepy Victorian house, wishing she owned it, thinking it would make the perfect haunted mansion.
The wizened old crone was stooped over leaning on a twisted dragon-wood cane. She appeared almost plant-like as if someone had carved a demon’s face into the bark of a gallows tree, and it came to life.
Hard lines of wrinkles ran down to her chin, and cut circled around her eyes that sunk unfathomably, and unnaturally deep into her skin. When she opened her dark mouth to smile, Stella swore that something yellow flew out and landed on the hardwood floor.
Stella thought she was the most horrifying creature she’d ever seen, a beast from her childhood nightmares… a real wicked witch in the flesh.
Aruna stood just inside the darkened hallway her fingers fidgeting with the beaded amulet that hung around her neck. Stella stood motionless; a strange uneasy feeling hardened in the center of her stomach like a week-old undigested glazed doughnut.
When the heaviness moved upward and pressed hard into her chest, it made breathing difficult and more than anything, Stella wanted to run back to her SUV. She was sure that Aruna was practicing some type of witchcraft…casting a spell over her.
The witch titled her head to the side, her penetrating gaze reading Stella as if by a single glance, she could know everything about the woman. Slowly, a duplicitous smile spread across her deeply wrinkled lips, slightly opening her marionette mouth.
When she beckoned with a wave of her hand, Stella could not fight the strong compulsion that pulled her penny-loafers over the threshold and into the frightfully old decaying house.
The loud groaning from the ancient floorboards, sent her eyes suspiciously glancing around the hallway, wondering what other horrid monsters might be lurking behind the walls.
The toilet leaned up against one of those walls, right next to an antique umbrella stand. Stella just wanted to grab the toilet run, and never look back.
The witch watched with some amusement as Stella struggled the thing out of her house, down the long walkway where she loaded it painfully slow into her SUV,
The moment that Stella turned heading toward the house, the sorceress was suddenly right in front of her, appearing as if from out of the atmosphere. Her bitter cold wrinkled hand latched onto Stella’s white arm, causing a prickle of chills and her body to tremble.
Winter wind howled behind her eyes, depressing meditations overwhelmed Stella with a craving for suicide, seeing herself stepping naked onto a frozen lake as the ice cracked and shattered beneath her bare-feet the thin ice gave way, and Stella slipped almost motionless into the painful water, sinking down to the bottom where she died.
Stella stared wide-eyed at the witch’s cold hand on her skin and marveled at her powers. “Please let go of me,” she begged softly.
Nevertheless, Aruna held on even tighter. “I know about you, Stella. You like to play tricks, don’t you?”
“Um, sure,” she said her lips barely speaking. Her own stressful frown was causing a painful headache near her temple and forehead area. She struggled to free her arm from the hoary woman’s grasp.
“Do you ever get frightened, Stella?”
Stella gulped hard. “No,” she said shaking her head. “No, I don’t.”
Aruna raised her wooly eyebrows, in a way that said she didn’t believe her. A thin devilish grin played around her wooden lips. “My, my, my…perhaps all of that will change.”
Stella moved to reach inside her purse and handed over the money, but the old crone refused. “I have another price I want, instead.”
Stella frowned. “How much?”
“I think I’d like your head.”
“My head?” Stella searched the old woman’s face for explanation. “Oh, you must mean the pig’s head, fine. You can have it tomorrow.” Stella was desperate to get away from this old woman, and at the same time she was happy and relieved to have found a way to dispose of the pig’s head and save a few dollars in the bargain.
Aruna let go of Stella’s arm. The ice rushed through Stella’s veins turning her blood cold causing a shockwave of gasps from her mouth, and sudden faintness before returning to normal.
At home, Stella tried to shake off her discomfort and forget about her horrid visit with Aruna. As she applied her makeup, that scary, wrinkled face of the old crone was still vivid in her mind. I might as well put them to good use; she thought and to the best of her ability, she painted her face to look exactly like ugly Aruna.
The spooky night was filled with screams. Stella slipped into the shadows, hiding on her porch, waiting for the first unsuspecting child to lift the toilet seat.
Later, when all the night screams ended, Stella wrapped the pig’s head tightly in a plastic bag. She placed the head in her shed and then lugged the toilet into her garage. She planned on delivering the pig’s head to the witch Aruna in the morning.
After locking the door, she headed upstairs, noticing a trail of blood leading into the bathroom. When she drew back the shower curtain, she gasped and covered her mouth with her fingers. The bloody pig was smiling up at her in a pool of blood.
Stella’s gut twisted into a painful cramp. Her hands on her stomach she nervously glanced over her shoulder. Someone was playing a trick on her, but who? She remembered the words of the old crone, Perhaps all that will change.
She was much too tired for all this nonsense. Whoever was playing tricks on her, obviously had a good laugh at her expense. Stella wrapped the head in another plastic bag, and again she carried it to the shed, this time placing a padlock on the door.
Stella fell asleep the moment she climbed into bed. The next morning, she woke up feeling sticky and heavy as if she had eaten that bloody pigs head.
Although her eyes were slightly blurry, she could still see the blood. It was everywhere, even in her mouth. Feeling something in bed with her, she drew back the covers and screamed. The half eaten pig’s head lay next to her, smiling.
Immediately, she felt disoriented, dizzy, and groggy nothing like her usual self. “What is wrong with me?” she said aloud, she glanced down at her arms. They were not her arms. The skin was all wrong…appearing tree-branch bony and stiff.
The moment she stood up the house filled with Aruna’s laughter. The wicked old prankster’s rattling cackle cut into her nervous system as it echoed off the walls.
“Tricks are so much better than treats, my darling,” said the disembodied voice of the witch, chortling as if she were insane.
“Where are you?” Stella asked walking around the bed, searching the room.
“Inside your head,” said the witch. “Go, run to the mirror, see what you’ve become.”
Stella walked awkwardly into the bathroom and stood gazing at her reflection. She blinked and rubbed her burning eyes, fighting to make them focus.
“Oh my god!” she yelled. The face in the mirror was the face of the old wretched witch.
It has to be makeup, Thought Stella, grabbing a white towel; she used the strongest soap violently scrubbing yet to no avail. Sobs were building in her throat, frantically she scampered to every mirror in the house, and sadly; all reflected the same image of nasty Aruna.
“What kind of magic is this? How can I look like you?” Stella shouted at the mirror knowing full well that the witch was enjoying her pain. “I want my face back!”
“A deal is a deal,” said Aruna softly. “You said I could have your head.”
“I thought you wanted the pig’s head.”
“Now, why would I want that pig, when I can have you.”
“No!” said Stella. “I don’t want to be ugly. I want to look like me again.”
“Think about it Stella, isn’t this what you’ve always wanted? You love to trick people, to scare children, to hear them running away screaming. Now you have the opportunity to scare everyone, every single day of the year.”
Feeling helpless Stella sank down on her bed. After a few minutes, she stopped crying then ever so slowly, she began to smile.
Judi A. Calhoun lives with ferocious black bears, and wild, wolves that howl at the moon at night in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire. She is both an artist and an author. Her artwork can be found on a few covers of e-zine magazines. She is the author of Ancient Fire, the Chronicles of Shonna Wells. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies such as the popular pulp fiction, Love Free or Die in the Granite State, and Live Free or Ride in the Granite State. Horror anthology Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies & Mummification and Bugs, Tales that Slither, Creep and Crawl, The Black Cat, and Green Gecko Cat Anthology, Motorcycle Anthology to name a few. Judi is currently looking for an agent and Publisher for her new novel, Dragon Girl. Be sure to check her out at her website!
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