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Crunch Time

by Kelly Matsuura


Three boys crouched behind the hedge surrounding Mrs. Murphy’s yard, checking their gear. While other neighborhood kids were out trick-or-treating, these young friends had some serious business to attend to.

“We have to get photos this year. Failure is not an option,” Josh reiterated, not wanting a repeat of last years’ disaster.

“I swiped my dad’s infrared camera,” Benji confirmed. “Dax, if you take some photos too, we’ll have the proof we need.”

Dax held up his camera. “Brand new batteries, and I’ve been practicing taking shots on the move.”

“Then we’re ready. Masks on, fellas. It’s crunch time,” Josh instructed.

The boys pulled on their devil masks, and stashed the empty backpack under the bushes.

Creeping to Mrs. Murphy’s backdoor, Josh picked the lock, and quietly opened the door for Dax and Benji to enter first.

It was over in seconds—Josh caught only a glimpse of Mrs. Murphy, the cauldron, and the pentagram on the floor with candles staged around it—his friends blocking his view of anything else. The cameras snapped, Dax’s shooting flashes of light over the scene but Benji’s only emitting a soft clicking sound.

“Let’s go!” Dax screamed. Josh bolted out the door, Benji close behind him.


The boys ran for their lives, their feet thumped the pavement in a loud, heavy drumbeat but to Josh, it felt like he was flying inches above the ground.

They reached the park around the corner, and hid behind the gardeners’ shed.

“I got … it … look …” Struggling to catch his breath, Benji held the camera to Josh.

The infrared images were clear, showing Mrs. Murphy in her full witch gala and the pentagram on the floor but something was missing.

“There’s no animal sacrifice,” Josh realized. “The pentagram is empty in the center.”

Benji paled. “Where’s Dax?”




Author Bio

Kelly Matsuura writes diverse YA, fantasy, and literary fiction. She is the creator of Insignia Stories (Asian fantasy-themed blog & anthologies), and has had stories published with Ink & Locket Press, A Murder of Storytellers, Black Hare Press, Harbinger Press, and many more.

Kelly lives in Nagoya, Japan with her geeky husband. She loves traveling, knitting, cooking, and of course, reading.


Julie · November 1, 2020 at 2:21 am

I was on the edge of my chair the whole time reading this!

Peggy Gerber · November 2, 2020 at 4:38 am

Oh no! Poor Dax. Great story.

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