Gather up your friends and the neighborhood kids for a great Halloween Story in the public domain. The short story is culled from a book of holiday short stories – one of many that are copyright free and available for anyone to publish on their blogs or add to other Halloween short stories and create a Ghostly Product!
Halloween In Precinct B
TERRY pulled himself up on to the captain’s stool and put his elbows on the desk. His legs swung a long way from the worn floor of the station house. His merry face twinkled with smiles as he looked across the piles of ledgers and over at the old man in the corner.
“It’s Halloween, Maguire!” he said.
“Sure and don’t I know that?” the old Irish janitor said, getting up and pouring more coal from the scuttle into the stove. “Don’t I remember All-Hallow Eve in the old country when I was a boy-everybody out listening for the fairies, and watching for ghosts on the churchyard wall. Then the games in the barns, and plenty of apples and cakes! All- Hallow Eve’s a fine time, lad. Nobody knows it better than Patrick Maguire.”
“Well, it seems like Halloween here in the city a bit, anyway,” Terry said cheerfully, pointing to the window that looked out on the street. “I went over to Jasmine’s father’s store this afternoon and, O, such fat pumpkins as she was selling, and red apples, and bags of nuts! I tried to tell Jasmine about Halloween, but she’s an East Indian girl and couldn’t understand how we keep it up.
” ‘What does Halloween really mean, little master of the precinct?’ she asked. ‘O, Jack- o’-Lanterns, and spiders, and witches, and snakes!’ I said. Then her eyes got so big. ‘Not snakes!’ she said. ‘O, yes,’ I told her, and she seemed so surprised. Girls are all ‘fraid-cats, aren’t they, Maguire? “
“I don’t know about that,” Maguire said, thoughtfully. “I’ve known girls in Ireland every bit as plucky as a boy. But Terry, lad, do you know the real meaning of the Eve?”
Terry got down from his stool and went over beside the old man.
“Why, no, Maguire,” he said. “What does Halloween really mean?”
The old Irishman took off the cap he had been wearing, and lowered his voice. “It’s the night when we keep in mind the folks we love who’ve gone to heaven. That’s how it began and that’s how it ought to end, Terry.”
“Father!” the boy breathed, softly.
“Faith, yes!” Maguire echoed. “The finest, bravest policeman that ever lost his life in doing his duty in the precinct. Where would this station have been, or the children in the tenements that night if he hadn’t carried out the box of powder that was half lighted when he found it? That’s why you’re the mascot of Precinct B, lad, because we were so proud of your father. Never forget him, lad.”
Terry’s eyes filled with tears that he couldn’t keep back.
“I think of father day and night, Maguire. Mother’ll tell you how I try to make up to her for him, and I’m proud of being the mascot here.” He touched his big tin badge that the force had given him. “If there’s ever anything I can do to help, you know I’ll do it.”
“Sure, we do, lad,” Maguire said, patting Terry’s back. “And there’s something now. I’m hungry as a pig for my tea and potatoes, and the captain’s not due to be back for a half hour yet. Could you mind the station, laddie, for that, and answer the phone, and send out a call, if it’s needed, to headquarters? It’s bound to be quiet. Everybody’s having a good time, not thinking about doing harm.”
“Could I, Maguire? O, just try me!” Terry said.
“All right. I might be back any minute, and you’ll have the captain himself before you know it.” Maguire lighted his pipe, pulled on his cap, and went out into the crisp night air.
Through the opened door there came the shrill singing of the chestnuts roasting outside. A boy passed by waving a grotesque false face. Terry peered out. Then he closed the door and stood in the middle of the room. There wasn’t a prouder boy in the whole city than he.
“Maybe I can’t make a Jack-o’-Lantern or bob for apples this Halloween,” he said, “but I can take father’s place. O, I do wish something would happen!”
As if in answer to his wish, the door of the station house opened noiselessly and then closed.
Terry turned to see a large tin box that had been shoved in by some strange hand.
There were a few small holes perforated in the top and it fastened in an old-fashioned way by means of a pin thrust in a hasp.
Terry ran to the window and looked out. No one was to be seen either up or down the street.
Whoever had brought in the mysterious box had made his escape.
Terry went on tiptoe over to it and saw for the first time that there was a folded piece of paper stuck in the hasp.
He carefully pulled it out and unfolded it. The writing was in an awkward, crooked hand, but it was plain enough.
Terry crept behind the big desk, his heart beating so loudly that he could scarcely hear the ticking of the big wall clock.
At seven the captain and the day shift would be in and the night shift ready to go out. Every policeman in the precinct would come, and perhaps the box was something that could do them harm.
Terry loved every one of the husky, good-natured, heroic bluecoats. So did everybody on the beat. Didn’t they help the school children to cross the crowded streets, and look after the lost cats and dogs of the neighborhood, and have a Christmas tree in the station house with a gift for every child?
These thoughts flashed through Terry’s mind. He must open the box, now, he thought and save his policeman friends. But as he stepped toward it, the box moved slightly. Terry jumped. He felt cold and covered with goose flesh. After all, he was only a boy of eleven, and alone.
“I can’t touch it. I don’t dare,” he said. It seemed now as if his heart had stopped beating altogether and he heard the clock. It was striking a quarter before seven. With the sound, Maguire’s words about his father came back to Terry.
“The finest, bravest policeman that ever lost his life in doing his duty-”
That decided Terry. Nothing mattered now save that he must do his duty in the precinct, trying to take his father’s place. He went bravely up to the box, kneeled on the floor, and took the pin out of the hasp. He pulled the hasp.
Just then he heard a. sound of merry whistling in the street outside. It came nearer. Maguire, happy after his supper, was coming back to the station house whistling “The Wearing of the Green.” Nobody in the precinct had a way of whistling like the old Irishman. It beat the pipes any day.
Terry gasped, lifted the cover of the mysterious box, and fell back, white and amazed, just as Maguire came in the door, still whistling loudly. As the lid of the box lifted, the head of a huge green snake appeared, followed by its lithe, twisting body. It looked out, its jewel-like eyes flashing in the dim light. Then it began to sway its head and neck gracefully in time to Maguire’s music. It was uncanny. The snake was dancing.
Maguire’s terror brought Terry to his feet and over to the old man’s side. Maguire was shaking from head to foot as he pointed to the snake which had dropped back into the box again and only peered out now that the music had stopped.
“The ghost of Saint Patrick; I called him by my tune!” Maguire moaned, but Terry held his arm and pointed to the snake.
“Well, don’t worry about it anyway, Maguire.
I guess whoever he is, he’s tame. I-” but Terry was interrupted by a little girl bursting in the door like a breath of wind, bringing the colors of leaves and the perfume of the harvest in its trail. Her dark hair was held back by a crimson turban. She wore a shawl of woven orange and yellow, and beneath her embroidered dress were strangely fashioned, Oriental slippers. She had an accordion in her hand.
“Jasmine!” Terry exclaimed.
The little girl stamped her foot and pointed to the clock.
“I said to wait until seven. Then I would come when the store was closed and play for our Alonzo to dance. He is one of the best- trained snakes of the East. My father was a snake-charmer there, but here one cannot earn enough money with dancing snakes, so we have a store. But we could not part with Alonzo. He lives in our yard. Here he is! You said you needed a snake to-night?” she said, questioningly.
The station house had begun to fill with policemen now. The captain had taken his place behind his desk. At Jasmine’s words a laugh filled the room that made Alonzo lift his head and look about in surprise.
“Play for him, little snake-charmer!”
“We’re keeping Halloween all right.”
Everyone in the station watched as Jasmine opened and closed her accordion and Alonzo bent and swayed in perfect time to the rhythm.
Once, as Jasmine stopped, the captain spoke: “Who opened that box? It must have taken some pluck.”
There was a moment’s silence and then Maguire answered: “The little fellow opened it,” he said.
“I thought about father,” Terry explained, quickly. “It said on it, ‘Wait until seven o’clock’ -just when the men would be coming in off the beat. I didn’t want anything to happen to them, if there was something dangerous in it.”
In the hush that followed, the men in the room looked at each other and at the boy. But it was Maguire who spoke:
“All-Hallow Eve in Precinct B!” he said.
That’s all you have to do. Copy and paste a Halloween story from the public domain. Add a picture and few of your own words and you have some great holiday content. Just like using Halloween PLR only it was Free!
About The Author:
|Debra Conrad is an online entrepreneur, information publisher, and author that has been using Public Domain material to create profitable products and businesses since 2007. She is also co-author of "The Public Domain Treasure Hunter's Survival Kit" available here. For more info Debra, click here.|