Peter sliced, working his fork and knife over the dinner plate. He nibbled on a head of lettuce and two baby carrots, savoring each bite. Vegetables never satisfied his hunger, but tonight was different. He was almost full.
The doorbell rang.
“Trick or Treat,” said a boy dressed as Spiderman. “Creepy costume. You had me for a second, Mister.”
Peter wiped his mouth on his sleeve and reached into a bowl next to the door. He offered the boy and his two friends chocolate Easter eggs.
“Wrong holiday,” the boy said, chuckling.
The two others only cringed and began to take steps back, ignoring his offer. Peter slammed the door and bounded towards the kitchen.
He placed a kettle on the stove, sprung into his favorite chair, and thought about his Mommy.
“Peter,” she would say, “come hop into my lap and let me read you a story.”
She always had a bag of fresh carrots to tempt him with. He licked his lips clean and grinned. Story time warmed his heart. It was the best part about being home schooled—extra story time. He thought for a long time about his mother, but then his grin began to wilt.
He knew he wasn’t allowed to leave the garden.
Just then he leaped from his chair and curled up on the couch where his mother used to crochet.
“Here, feel how fluffy this is, Peter,” she would say. “When I’m done, I’ll stuff them with cotton. The more cotton, the fluffier they’ll be.” She sewed her cotton creations to the back of all his white pants. “You can never leave the garden, especially in these pants, Peter.”
His mother was right; he should have never left the garden.
The kettle screamed. Peter scurried over to the stove, removed the kettle, and turned the burner off. Tears streamed down his face. He thought about his garden. It was vast, but he was growing, and his hunger was growing along with him. Mrs. Hawkins’ backyard had a garden also. He could smell it. So he finished all the vegetables his garden and sprung into Mrs. Hawkins’ backyard. When she saw him grazing her tomatoes, she screeched loud as the kettle. Peter’s mother dragged him back home. She dressed him in his father’s old clothes, hardly able to lift the clothes over Peter’s head.
“Men are going to come to the house, Peter,” she said. “You need to be an adult now and answer their questions just as I tell you to. You tell them I’m sick. You tell them I forced you. Of course that isn’t true. It’s to keep you safe because I love you.”
Peter did as he was told, and after, the men in white took his mother away.
Peter wanted to stop feeling sad. He decided that after he buried his garbage, he would play in his garden, but the doorbell startled him.
A man in green spandex trembled on his porch, looking up at Peter. He wore a green Afro wig and matching gloves.
“Excuse me,” the man said, a lump swelling in his throat. “that’s some costume,” he continued, studying the red on Peter’s white, bunny outfit. “My name’s Sam… I need help.”
Peter’s nose twitched.
“I worked late. I was supposed to meet my wife at the corner on the end of your block, but I can’t seem to find her anywhere. She was with my two daughters. We were all supposed to be dressed as a garden salad. I’m the broccoli, get it?” Sam paused for a reaction but received none. “Anyway, any chance you’ve seen a woman dressed as a head of lettuce with two twin baby girls in carrot costumes?”
Peter’s nose twitched again… “In the garden.”
“I’m sorry… in the garden?”
Peter turned back into the house and Sam followed. His costume hugged his thick frame like it was meant for a child. His legs stretched out the white yarn like frayed gauze. The house had heavy dirt stains all over the carpet.
Exiting to the backyard, Sam was awestruck by the tall, overgrown vegetable garden. He looked in every direction for Peter who quietly vanished in the thick greenery.
On Sam’s forehead, a cold sweat broke, running down his face and neck. To his left, a zucchini hung from a vine, half eaten. Below the zucchini, was an open garbage bag lying next to freshly dug hole.
Although it was twilight, The colored fabrics showed within the bag. Fabrics speckled with moist red. By the time he realized it was the remains of his family, it was too late.
Peter crept behind Sam and held the serrated kitchen knife to his neck.
© 2013 Paul New York
Paul New York lives on Long Island. He studied English at SUNY Geneseo and spends his free time traveling, and writing dark tales.