Thank you to everyone who entered the STORGY Halloween Short Story Competition! It was a pleasure to read the diverse entries received, and we are honored to have experienced the thrill of reading such fine writing. Our editors have chosen the winning stories and over the course of the next week leading up to Halloween the full shortlist will be published in STORGY Magazine, with the two runners up and winner of the competition revealed on the final three days! Congratulations to everyone who made the final shortlist. We hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as we did. Happy Halloween…
Call Me Mr Moogle
It started as a tiny lump on the inside of my bottom lip.
I used to flick my tongue over it every now and then, telling myself that if it grew, I should probably visit the doctor. Two weeks later, I woke one morning to find it had erupted through my skin. It felt like a separate entity, a slimy island.
I went to the bathroom and pulled down my lower lip and a swollen pink bump stared back. It was about the size and shape of a tooth; a spare but useless molar I could almost pop into a gap left by a tooth long gone.
I went straight to the doctor.
An emergency, I said.
Nothing to worry about, she said. It will go over the next few days; just one of those things. Keep an eye on it and if it changes shape or gets any bigger, come back immediately.
She didn’t say anything about it starting to talk.
I was in the kitchen doing the washing up when it first spoke. I was listening to a play on the radio about a kids’ home and I kept hearing squeaking, thinking perhaps it was part of the play’s sound effects, some children messing around, or perhaps a seagull on a rooftop squawking about something or other.
But then I heard a clear, Hello! Hello! It was if someone was out in the street trying to attract the attention of an acquaintance, unsure whether the person would turn around, let alone recognise them.
Over here! the high-pitched voice said.
I didn’t want to listen to strangers’ inane conversations, so I turned the radio up.
But when I went to bed a few hours later and pulled back my bottom lip to check on my lump, I heard that same voice again.
Hello! Hello! Over here! it squeaked.
I peered out of the window into the dark street below. It was deserted apart from next door’s over-fluffed black cat ambling along the pavement.
I went back to the mirror and pulled down my lip once more.
I’m here, you big fat idiot! it said.
I noticed then how the words were being formed by a miniscule red gash of a mouth in the middle of the lump, its upper lip sporting a fine downy auburn moustache and two misshapen teeth. And when I saw its network of tiny veins pulsating like a heart I screamed.
You ain’t so pretty yourself! it said with a spitefulness I quickly came to dread.
It made me call him Mr Moogle. If I didn’t refer to him by his correct title, he’d bite me and I’d feel a sharp pain, followed by the metallic tang of my own blood. And once his moustache grew long, he used his teeth to pull at the thick hair hanging over his mouth, making me shriek.
Then I had to say, Okay, Mr Moogle, I’ll do it.
I had to be extra cautious when he started growing his tiny blue fish eye. Even though his eyesight was rubbish, if I yawned or spoke to someone then he’d snatch a glimpse of the outside world which usually meant trouble.
Once we walked past a poster in the Post Office advertising the Russian State Circus. Mr Moogle must have seen a flash of the exotic lady standing on top of a too-white pony as I yawned. The circus had set up in the park near to the train station and, even though we’d walked past on various Mr Moogle missions, he’d been oblivious to all the caravans pulling up, the big top being erected and the shabbily-dressed clowns blocking pavements and thrusting discount flyers into the faces of passers-by.
Mr Moogle wants to go to the circus, he said, scraping his teeth against the inside of my mouth.
That afternoon I bought a cheap back row ticket for the matinee performance.
The circus had a Rasputin theme running through it. All the performers had fixed grins on their over-made up faces but you could tell they’d much rather kill you. And who could blame them? That annoying Boney M record Ra-Ra-Rasputin played between the acts. Mr Moogle insisted on singing along and a boy and his mother, sitting in front of us, kept turning and giving me funny looks.
Quieten down, I told Mr Moogle.
But he bit me and I couldn’t help cry out.
During the interval, the boy and his mum moved to the expensive empty seats at the front but were frogmarched back to their former seats by the bouncer, who then gestured for me to leave.
Mr Moogle came out with a mouthful of bad words as the bouncer held open the canvas flap and shoved me into the daylight.
Thanks for nothing, said Mr Moogle, before biting into my cheek.
As he and his fish eye grew he liked to read the newspaper in the mornings over breakfast, not allowing me turn the page until he’d finished. That’s where he saw the advert for the Smurfs’ movie, a month after his arrival. He made me push my lip right into Papa Smurf’s smile so that my head was buried in his newspaper print beard and I began to dribble.
There are some things you cannot make me do, I said, after he’d permitted me to move.
Two hours later, we were queuing in the rain for the 12pm showing.
His Build a Bear ‘birthday party’ was the final straw.
But you’ve only been here for five weeks, I said. How can it be your birthday?
Mr Moogle wants a birthday party. Mr Moogle gets a birthday party. I want a koala, and Mrs Moogle wants a panda.
There is no Mrs Moogle, I said through gritted teeth.
I wasn’t going to admit that I’d felt another little lump erupting in the far corner of my mouth that morning, and quickly took out a soft white tissue from my pocket as the familiar taste of blood filled my mouth.
After I’d stuffed the bears with beige fluff, he made me browse the shop, with my bottom lip pulled down so he could view all the bear-shaped outfits available; sailors, ballet dancers, beachwear, cowboys, Star Wars, Batman, pirate wear, even a sinister-looking Iron Man costume complete with mask. Everything was £10 or over except for a pair of fat bear trainers for a fiver. I was out of work at the time and didn’t have the kind of money to throw away on outfits for toys and Mr Moogle knew it. But round and round we went, four, five, six times with him yelling at me to stop spinning the displays so quickly. When I glanced up, the shop assistants, previously helpful, had lost their friendly smiles and were whispering behind the cover of their hands.
Out of earshot in the wig section, I told Mr Moogle that everything was too expensive; the panda and koala would have to remain naked for now.
But Mr Moogle wants a pretty outfit for Mrs Moogle’s panda, he said, pulling at a few strands of his moustache with his teeth. I winced. My mouth was full of unhealed Mr Moogle bites. I couldn’t bear any more.
I took the blonde wig, silver bikini and pair of red kitten mules up to the counter and paid with my credit card.
When I got home I went straight to the kitchen, took out my sharpest vegetable knife from the drawer, walked to the bathroom mirror and grabbed Mr Moogle’s moustache. He came off nice and clean, and I left him screaming in the sink next to my morning’s toothpaste spit.
I bled all over the bathroom, down the stairs, in my car and over the A&E waiting room and several nurses. After stitching me up, the doctors kept me in overnight, referring me for psychiatric reports.
That was fine with me. I was in no hurry to return home. I relaxed, relishing the thought of Mr Moogle dying a slow death without my blood to feed him; a dried up Mr Moogle, a lump of hairy gristle with a shrunken eye. I decided that as soon as I was discharged, I’d scoop up his body in some old Tupperware, take it to the doctors and say, do you believe me now?
But when I returned home two days later, there was nothing there; just a toothpaste stain dyed red with my blood.
Sometimes I wonder if a spider dragged him away to its lair to feast on him. But then when it’s really quiet, just before dawn, when the seagulls are still dreaming, I think I can hear him berating me about something I haven’t done to his satisfaction. And it makes me wonder if he’s just biding his time before he comes and finds me and the lovely Mrs Moogle.
Catch up on the Halloween Short Story Competition Shortlist by clicking on the links below:
Day 1 – Rapping at my Chamber Door – by Leah Cooper
Day 2 – Swing Me – by Tabitha Potts
STORGY Halloween Competition Illustration by HarlotVonCharlotte