The Discarded One
By Bradley St Paul
Discarded, lifeless, and alone, its waxy eyes gazed up through the dank water. For weeks it lay at the bottom of the pond, listening as the living walked along the shore. A fish took a nibble out of its bloated stomach. The moon hung in the night’s sky, shining down on the rippling water’s surface above. Unable to move, it stared unblinking at the moon, praying for release from the bloated, decaying shell it was bound to.
The muffled sounds of cars rumbled nearby. It could hear the living talk, laugh, and breathe. It listened as they did all the little things that made life worth living. It listened as they happily counted and enjoyed their Halloween candy as its flesh was slowly eaten and dissolved away. For weeks it had desperately strained to see beyond its peripheral, to see the living, to live vicariously through them, only growing more and more frustrated.
Over time, frustration became anger, anger became despair.
Rocks plunked into the water from people skipping stones above. A school of little fish broke and darted away. A rock, a perfect skipping stone, floated back and forth as it drifted down. Back and forth it watched the rock float, unable to close its lidless eyes. Back and forth it watched as the rock inched closer to its head, which could not be turned away. Back and forth the rock floated until it landed on its face and stuck to the mushy flesh.
Despair became hate.
Numb and unfeeling, its arm lifted out of the mud, suction pulling off some of its waterlogged flesh. Its fingerless arm blocked out the wavering moon in front of its face. Slowly it crawled through the slime, dragging itself from the shallow, watery grave.
In the dead of the night, a murder of crows scattered away from its unnatural presence as it reached up through the surface at the water’s edge. Filthy water dripped down its muddy, now-white skin.
It wobbled as it stood for the first time since being dumped in the lake, putrid water and insects around its feet. A guttural moan pushed up from its belly. Its twitching eyes followed the costumed living going from house to house, mouths full of candy, obliviously enjoying the life that was stolen from it.
Hate became rage.
It took a soggy step forward, squishing out water from its saturated foot. The rock peeled off of its face and landed amongst the other skipping stones.
As water seeped from pits in its flesh, it focused its rage under the moon. The same fate would fall upon the costumed living. It would become as the fish at the bottom of the pond, biting and tearing at them with ravenous hunger. Eager to find some half-asleep tick-or-treater, some poor soul deep in the clutches of a diabetic coma, the little Special Edition Halloween Peep Marshmallow Man plodded across the bank to the first set of neighborhood houses.