*Note: This story’s inspired by the very first short story I ever wrote decades ago.
Penny, the new kid on the block, stood in front of an old, rickety house along with two new-found friends.
She swallowed hard as she stepped up to the front door.
“Don’t be a scaredy cat and go in!” Darla called out.
Inside the dank-smelling entryway, cobwebs littered every nook and cranny. Dark and not a living soul present as the young girl walked down a hallway.
A movement on her right caused Penny to pause.
On the long, narrow table sat a huge glass platter with a steel cover.
The cover rattled ever so slightly.
She slowly reached for the metallic lid, and lifted it.
The first thing she saw was the wrinkled balding head, and in a great start, she released her grasp on the heavy top which landed on the hard floor with a thunderous clang that echoed throughout the building.
Her brown eyes widened as she stared at what sat on the glass dish.
A head of an elderly man who appeared to be asleep. His skin pallor and sunken except for one eye where folds of flesh drooped.
The sight had her rooted to the spot as she held her breath fearing that any noise would awaken him.
Suddenly, his eyes sprung opened. Black as coals they completely mesmerized Penny…
Until the mouth opened and an evil cackle bellowed from it.
She turned and ran screaming out of the house, and didn’t stop screaming until she reached her friends down on the curbs.
What dismayed her further was that they were laughing.
“It’s not funny!” She said.
Darla, the brunette, giggled through her hands but it was the blondie who spoke.
“If only you could have seen your face!” Roxie said as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
Penny glared at them. “You knew about this?”
“Oh yeah.” Darla finally replied. “Old man Marco’s been doing this every year for years.”
The red-head folded her arms at her two so-called friends. “And where does he usually pull this prank?”
“In the kitchen. On the table with the red cloth.” Roxie answered.
“Well, his head was on a platter in the hallway between the kitchen and living room.” Penny stated. “And it did NOT have ANY table cloth.”
Roxie and Darla looked at her.
“Go on.” Penny pointed to the house. “Go check on the old man!”
Clasping each other’s hand, the two girls walked across the front yard, and through the door way disappearing into the murkiness.
Penny continued to stand with her arms folded, and waited.
Moments passed before screeching screams sounded through the house, and the pale-faced girls galloped outside, nearly colliding with Penny.
Unmoved, Penny asked, “Well?”
“Th-that wasn’t Marco!” Darla said. “And-and there was no body under the table!”
“But the head is real, right?” Penny asked.
Both girls nodded in earnest.
All pairs of eyes turned to the house just as the front door creaked shut.