Plague Mask


I was hurrying home after a quick run to the shops, not that there was much left on the shelves as everyone was panic buying but I had got as much on my list as I could.

Passing the costume shop on the corner of the high street, the window display caught my eye. Normally, there were bright colourful costumes, sometimes children’s character themed or old pop/rock stars, their Halloween and Christmas displays were great.

However today, there was a huge head to foot black cloaked figure with a 1600’s grey plague doctor’s mask covering the face. It looked scary, threatening and close to an imagine of Death himself.

I frowned and noticed the other three manikins were dressed as a mad scientist, a doctor and a sexy nurse.

Someone was really trying to get into fun of the health pandemic mode.

Storm Doris

Lighting Strike

England braced itself for the worst storm of the winter. Heavy rain fell, causing fast flowing streams to run down the side of the road. Large puddles gathered and formed mini lakes. The wind whipped up into a gale and swept up everything it could. In the higher lands, snow fell thickly.

People battled through the elements. Driving their cars out into the storm named as Doris, determined not to let ‘a little rain,’ halt their day. Soon though they had no choice as the wind swept the rain in sheets and caused all the coastlines to become tidal pools. Cars were turned about and those people who had walked hurried back home.

Reports came flying in about people being injured, public transports being cancelled, delayed and the traffic at a stand still. It was an all day storm and people should stay at home. Instead though, those that could, hurried to the shops and brought everything possible. Full shelves suddenly became empty and cupboards became full.

The wind roared, making the sea hit the wave breaking walls and wash up and over into the seaside towns. People gathered to see the waves but were driven back by the strong winds and spraying water. They retreated to the safety of their homes and watched storm Doris rage.


On The Shelves

Halloween Display

The shelves were full of Halloween items, Herbert noticed as he wondered onto the wrong aisle. He paused and stared at the stacked Halloween treats. Chocolates and gummies called to him in their bright packages. Next to them were savoury snacks also decorated up for the holiday. Shrugging bent shoulders, he selected a few packets of treats and put them into the cart. There was still three weeks to go, but Herbert had always liked to stay ahead of things.

Turning away, he looked at the baby and children’s costumes opposite. He had to move closer to make out the full outfits as even with glasses his eyes were fading. The selection was modest, with pumpkin baby suits, sparkly witch dresses with matching hats, devil jumpsuits, a vampire’s suit and a skeleton bone t-shirt.

It brought back the memory of a few years ago, when he had come shopping with Nancy and the kids. He had helped selected a pumpkin suit for his six month old granddaughter and it had the words Granddad’s Little Pumpkin on the front. For some reason he could clearly remember that, but he couldn’t recall the last time he had seen them. Had it been two years or three?

Shuffling on, he passed the line-up of scary masks and accessories. The adult costumes were next for inspection, though most of them were the grown up versions of the children’s. Herbert looked at an undead bride dress and one for a vampire countess. There was also a pirate captain, a cowboy and a werewolf. Once again masks and accessories followed.

He had a costume already, he recalled: a Count Dracula, with a floor sweeping cape, plastic fangs and a waist coat. He had wore it every year since he could remember and not once he had question the idea of an old man dressing up and celebrating Halloween. If his granddad kids hadn’t been living with him, maybe it would have stopped? He wondered on this and decided there must have been more to it than that.

Glancing over his shoulder he realised that he’d missed the decorations. For some reason, they had always been his favourite part. He went over and looked at the kitchen wares and party supplies. Crudely made skull goblets seemed to laugh at him, whilst a pitcher covered in one eyed pumpkins winked at his balding head. He frowned over the usual assortment of paper cups, plates and napkins, until he spotted a medium sized plastic orange bowl.

Picking it up with shaking hands, he put it into the cart and moved on. His eager eyes searched the shelves for his next item in the home decorations area. He soon found a bag of mixed plastic bugs and a bag of fake spider webs. Dropping these in, he studied the rest of the items. There was a selection of window stickers, wall hangings, fabric ghosts and skeletons. He peered into a large caldron, cheeky pressed the play button on a dancing zombie and fondled a bouncy ball with a floating eye inside.

As he placed the last item down, his hear aids alerted him to running footsteps. He half turned and watch two children- a girl and a boy-run to the costumes. Excitedly, they begin to shout what they wanted to dress up as and tug at things. An anger red faced woman snapped at them to come away and then fell into an argument with them. Herbert turned away, an odd feeling of shame creeping upon him.

He pushed the cart to the end of the aisle and then stopped. The mother had wrestled her children away and he was strangely alone again. Next to him sat a glittering fiberglass pumpkin with a fake candle inside. I’ll probably need that this year, he thought with a glance at his trembling hands. He eased the pumpkin off the shelf, checked it worked, then what batteries it would need. He placed it in his cart and stared into the carved face.

Every year he had painstakingly carved his own pumpkin and his wife had made pie and soup with the insides. Lastly year, he had been halfway through the carving when the shakes had struck. He’d had to get his neighbour to finish the design, whilst his wife had said he was too old to be trying so hard now.

This year had been so different. Herbert dropped his head and took a couple of deep breaths. From somewhere, a little voice came to him and question why he could give making pumpkin soup and pie a go? He pulled his head up and licked his cracked lips. Yes, I should do, he thought, haven’t I recently discovered a love for cooking?

Turning the cart about, he headed back to the front of the shop. There he selected a decent pumpkin, which he could also carry and put it inside the kart with satisfaction. Then smiling to himself, he started out again to complete his shopping list.