📅 Published on October 26, 2020


Written by M.J. Pack
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.75/10. From 8 votes.
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When I was a kid, my mom thought the world was a very dangerous place.  It wasn’t just her, either – all parents seemed afflicted with this strange mania that made them believe around every dark corner, in any shadow lurked something unspeakable ready to snatch up wayward children that stumbled into its grasp.

We were told the rules, over and over and over:

Never take candy from strangers.

Always come in before the streetlights turn on.

Never go anywhere with someone you don’t know, even if they say they were sent by your parents.

Always use the buddy system.

The 4 Commandments of Parents, alternating with absolute statements: never, always, never, always.  We would nod solemnly as we were told these rules but inside we were thinking, so what?  No strangers ever offered us candy, you couldn’t see outside after dark anyway, no one tried to convince us our parents had been in an accident so we should go with them… and as for the buddy system, that could rarely be verified so we just came and went as we pleased.  We felt like it was parents that made it hard to be a kid, not these countless threats that were (as far as we were concerned) imaginary.

I remember a visiting neighbor who told Mom about the newest fad in child abduction: the Altered Appearance Trick.  A kidnapper would grab an unattended child in a public place like a market or department store, take them to the bathroom, cut (or in some remarkable cases, dye) their hair, change their clothes, and walk out of the store in plain sight with a brand new child that now didn’t match the hysterical parent’s description.  I thought it was bullshit (although at 9 years old I’d rather die than use that word in my mother’s presence) but she ate it up, her mouth open in terror.

“Who would DO such a thing?” she asked the neighbor lady, who wrinkled up her nose and said, “Pre-verts.”

I didn’t know what a pre-vert was but I assumed it was on the same level as strangers, which ranked just below Satan himself on Mom’s list of people to avoid.  You could practically hear the emphasis in her voice when she said the word, an all-capital-letter sort of word: STRANGERS.

Halloween was the worst for parental panic.  All those masks, each one covering the face of a potential STRANGER, all the children in town knocking on every door for a STRANGER to give them candy – the year the newspapers claimed someone was hiding razorblades in chocolate bars was a total nightmare.  My mom dumped out all my candy as soon as I got home and went through each piece with painstaking, almost obsessive thoroughness, which meant that by the time she was done it was already bedtime and I’d only eaten two or three candies – another thing I considered bullshit and kept my mouth shut about.

But the summer I turned 10, kids started getting sick.

Not all at once.  Just one here, one there.  We were all on summer vacation so the first assumption was there was a nasty stomach bug going around, jumping from kid to kid as we attended each other’s birthday parties and swimming pools.  None of my friends had gotten it yet, but from what I heard in our children’s version of the grapevine it started with vomiting.  Lots of it.  Then fever, sweating, followed by hallucinations.  These kids babbled crazy stories until the fever subsided.  Then, they were fine.

Well.  Mostly.

The part the parents didn’t tell each other (but we kids did, it was the best bit, the jump scare at the end of a campfire story) was how the ones who got sick were so quiet after.  Different.  A lot of them even claimed what they saw in their fever dreams was real.  One boy, Tommy Anderson, supposedly spent three days begging his parents to believe that a six-headed dog had chased him all the way home the first day he got sick.  When they ignored his pleas and instead drilled him about where he’d been before his panicked dash to the house, Tommy clammed up.  (Probably to avoid punishment for breaking the Buddy System Commandment.)  The kids who’d been to visit after he got ‘better’ told anyone who’d listen how he barely said anything while they were there, just stared at his bedroom wall with dead eyes.

There were other stories, other kids who got sick, but after a while it was just boring.  It all went the same way, like when classmates came down with chicken pox; the first few were new, rare and exciting, but after the seventh kid started barfing and ranting about snakes slithering across his ceiling it was old hat.  Summer was too full of promise to worry about some dumb virus that hadn’t touched you yet.

It was mid-August when I broke the Buddy System Commandment myself and headed to Main Street, the pocket of my jean shorts full of pleasantly clinking coins.  I’d spent a few days collecting Mom’s change from the various places she left it – kitchen counter, on top of the dryer, between the cushions of the couch – and I had some big plans for the few dollars I had managed to scrape together.  I cut through the neighborhoods like a street-smart tomcat, shaving minutes off my trip, whistling a tune and jiggling my pocket so the coins made a cheerful accompaniment.  A field, a few alleyways, and I was at my destination: the Cherry Pop Candy Shop.

The Cherry Pop Candy Shop was a staple summer destination.  Its jolly storefront seemed to shout at you from between the other bland brick businesses: COME IN!  COME IN!  COME IN!  The glass door proudly bore a hand-painted logo, all fire engine red and sunshine yellow, with giant juicy cherries replacing the Os in ‘pop’ and ‘shop’.  I admired it as I always did when I pushed the door open that day in August, the bells above my head tinkling their announcement of my arrival.

Behind the counter, Stanley grinned at me.  “Thought I’d be seeing you here soon!” he said jovially.  “Been setting aside some candy necklaces just for you, Wendy, my dear.”

Stanley was nice.  He owned the Cherry Pop Candy Shop and he always remembered what sweets we liked best.  Candy necklaces were my favorite; I’d eat them straight from around my neck until nothing was left but damp, limp string.

“I had to save up!”  I jiggled my pocket again so he could hear the coins clinking together.  “Mom’s been stingy on the change this summer.”

“What, don’t you do chores for allowance?”  Stanley leaned his elbows against the counter and surveyed me briefly.  “Mow the lawn or something?  We got lots of rain in June, grass is sproutin’ up something fierce.”

I was only halfway listening to him, my attention now on the jars of candy on display like cases of bright glittering jewels.

“Mom says that’s boys stuff,” I answered, trying to decide between Fun Dip and Pixy Stix.

“Hmmm.  Your mom’s got some funny ideas.  She should just put you to work, you look like you could handle it.  Grown up an awful lot this summer.”  Stanley paused, then raised his voice a little.  “Hey, you wanna try something special?”

The word recaptured my attention.  Special candy?

“What is it?”  I started to grab a handful of Pixy Stix, reconsidered, and dropped them back in the bin.  If there was special candy I better save my money.

“I already said, it’s special.”  Stanley took out a key from his pocket and unlocked a drawer beneath the counter as I approached.  He cast a quick glance at the door.  “Now, if I give you a piece of this, you have to promise not to tell anyone else.  It’s unreleased, straight from the Mars Candy Company.  If they find out I’m giving free samples they’ll have my hide.”

“I won’t tell!” I said immediately.  His hand was still in the drawer, grasping something; he was scrunching up his face at me, trying to decide if I was trustworthy enough.

“I dunno, Wendy, I hear from the other kids you can’t keep a secret.  They say you’re a blabbermouth.”

“Who says I’m a blabbermouth?” I demanded.  “That’s bullshit!“  As soon as the word popped out I was mortified.  I’d said a CURSE in front of a GROWN-UP.  It was nearly as bad as if it had been my own mother; I clapped a hand over my mouth in horror.

Stanley started laughing.  Not a polite little laugh either, a full-on belly laugh that almost had him bent over.

“Okay, Wendy, okay,” he chuckled, “I believe you.  Such conviction!  I hope I never get on your bad side, you’re gonna be a hard lady to handle someday.”

I wasn’t quite sure what he meant but he was pulling the special candy out and locking the drawer again, and that was what mattered.  Stanley set it in on the counter front of me with the flourished presentation of a stage magician – ta daaaa.

It was a row of little circular discs, pastel-colored, pale pinks and greens and yellows.  The packaging was plain clear plastic, no logo.  The ends were twisted so it couldn’t fall open.  It was generic, boring, and I felt like I’d seen it before.  What a letdown.

“Those are just Smarties,” I said at last, my voice thick with disappointment.

Stanley shook his head earnestly.

“No, they’re so much more than that.”  He delicately took the end of the packaging and began to untwist it.  He dumped four of the candies into his hand and held his palm out towards me.  “Try them.  I promise, they’re fantastic.  And you’ll be the first person in town who got to eat them before anyone else.”

That got me.  I wouldn’t brag about it, of course.  Stanley had sworn me to secrecy and I’d rather die than be a blabbermouth like the other kids said, but I was never first at anything so I scooped the four candies out of his hand and dropped them greedily into my mouth.

They were sweet, almost cloyingly so.  My teeth ached as I chewed.  I was once again disappointed to realize that their texture was powdery-soft.  Even with their extra sweetness, these were definitely just repackaged Smarties.  But Stanley was smiling at me, a big wide eager smile, and I couldn’t tell him the truth – that I thought someone had ripped him off.

“They’re really good, Stanley!” I said, feigning enthusiasm.  “Wow, I mean, for real!  Super sweet.”

Stanley’s grin grew wider.  He nodded.

“Good, good!  Do you want some more?”

Before I could respond he had dumped more of them into my palm and I ate them obediently because he was just so excited, so pleased to share this special secret candy with me, and like I said, I was never first at anything.  I hoped he wouldn’t give me any more, though; I was starting to feel sick.

“Really good,” I said again.  I smacked my lips, trying to get the sugar-sweet taste off my tongue.  “Um, do you think I could have a glass of water?”

Stanley’s grin faded.  His mouth turned down at the corners.

“You didn’t like it,” he said sadly.  “My special candy, you didn’t like it.”

“Oh no,” I said, stomach rolling.  “I did, I liked it a lot, but I just want—“

When I said the word ‘want’ a sudden jet of vomit burst out of me like hot lava.  At the last second I had the sense to bend down and put my hands on my knees; the puddle of sick landed between my feet on the floor.

A long moment of silence went by.

“Oh, look at the naughty girl,” Stanley murmured, almost to himself.

“I’m – I’m sorry—”  I heaved again but nothing came up.  My face was burning with embarrassment.  I hadn’t been sick in public like this since I was four and caught the flu during Christmas.  I’d spent most of the holiday in my grandmother’s living room with a bucket, weeping because I couldn’t play with my presents.

“I can’t have anyone else in here with that nasty mess on the floor.  Bad for business.  Very bad.”  Stanley left his spot from behind the counter and swept past me, clicking the lock on the front door.  He flipped the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’ and turned back to me, hands on his hips.  “Who would want to buy candy with that nasty mess on the floor, Wendy?”

“I’m sorry,” I said again.  I was near tears but to cry would cost me the last shred of my dignity so I held it back (as well as the urge to vomit again) and met his gaze pitifully.  “Can I have some water now, please?”

Stanley sighed as though this were a ridiculous request.

“Come with me.  I have some ice water in the back.  Nice and cold.  Should help.”  He took me by the hand and began to lead me past the candy counter.  I stepped clumsily over my pile of sick and followed him, begging myself not to throw up anymore.

Stanley pushed open the swinging door between the store and his back office, pulling me inside.  I tripped over my own numb feet and jerked out of his hold to stop myself from sprawling on all fours.

When I looked up at the room, everything was wrong.

What I’d expected to be some kind of office was a nearly empty room, sterile, just a few broken candy crates in one corner.  The walls were dull grey cement but they seemed to be melting, oozing.  And the door he was leading me to was impossibly small, a door meant for dormice that was pulsing like a languid heartbeat.

“I can’t fit in there,” I mumbled, my tongue thick in my mouth.

“Sure you can,” Stanley insisted as he reached for my hand again.  “Come on, I’ll get you some water, just like you wanted.”

As his hand grew nearer, almost in slow-motion it seemed to morph into an oily bundle of worms, all squirming together in a disgusting wet mass.  I could feel my face pounding with red-hot heat.  Sweat had begun to prickle on my forehead and under my arms.

“Don’t touch me!” I screamed, backing away.  I didn’t want to bump the walls because I was sure they would make me melt too.  I didn’t want the worms to wrap around my wrist in their slimy grip.  I didn’t want to have to force myself through that terrifyingly tiny door.

I saw Stanley make another move towards me but now his face was long, drawn, pointed in all the places it shouldn’t be.  His eyes narrowed to evil little slits.  I shrank from him, knowing if he touched me I’d shatter into a thousand painful jagged pieces.

“I want my Mom!”  I’m not sure how much of that was really what I said; I just know it was what I was thinking over and over.  I want my Mom.  I want my Mom.

“Your water’s in there,” Stanley said, pointing one wormy finger back at the impossibly small door.  “Don’t you want a glass of water?”

I want my Mom, I thought again, and then I was flying, barreling through the swinging door back into the Cherry Pop Candy Shop.  Stanley shouted for me to stop but his voice became a thundering waterfall, a rushing torrent that broke bones over river rocks.  He reached for me and missed.

I scrambled past the counter to the front door.  Stanley was behind me, wormy hands and waterfall voice.  He got close but forgot about my puddle of sick on the floor and slipped in it, losing his footing, going down.

I couldn’t get out.  I was pushing at the door and it wouldn’t open.  My hands beat uselessly at the glass until I remembered the lock; with surprisingly deft fingers I turned it and launched myself into the outside world.

The sun burnt my eyes and my whole body was throbbing with an almost unbearable heat but I ran, I ran aimlessly down Main Street knowing that if Stanley touched me it was over, I would simply burst and there would be nothing left of me.

I don’t remember much beyond that.  I’m told I fled screaming down the road, begging people for help, telling them I was on fire and that the candy shop owner was made of worms.

It was my escape that made it possible.  That connected the previously scattered pieces of the puzzle.  The memory loss, that was a pretty common side effect; most of the other kids couldn’t remember where they’d been when they first got sick.  Either that or they wouldn’t tell.

Turns out I wasn’t the first kid in town to try the special candy like Stanley said.  (I told you, I’m never first at anything.)  Turns out I was right – they were just Smarties.  Smarties soaked in liquid LSD.

He’d started out careful, only giving a piece or two to select children, spacing them out over the course of weeks so as not to draw suspicion.  Then he couldn’t stop.  By the time I walked into his shop that day, Stanley was giving out triple the dose he’d started with.

Mom refused to tell me what happened to the other kids.  The ones who went through that door that I insisted was tiny, too tiny for anyone to fit through.  Whenever I asked, she just told me I was lucky, luckier than the rest.  She said it like it was a good thing but she always got upset when I brought it up, turning her face from me to hide the fact that she was crying.  The 4 Commandments of Parents had failed her, and she knew it.

Never take candy from strangers – but Stanley hadn’t been a stranger.  That was the problem.  He was the candy man and he was supposed to be safe.

To this day I wonder what was behind that door.  How he got the other kids through it.  What he did to them back there.

And to this day, I can’t eat sweets.

Rating: 9.75/10. From 8 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by M.J. Pack
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: M.J. Pack

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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