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Mark of Shame

by Roxanne Dent

About the Author: Roxanne Dent lives in Massachusetts and has sold nine novels and dozens of short stories in a variety of genres, including Paranormal Fantasy, Regency, Mystery, Horror, Steampunk, Drabbles, Middle Grade and YA. She has also co-authored short stories and plays with her sister, Karen Dent, written screenplays and wrote and directed her own three-minute thriller which won the “Audience Choice Awards in the Bare Bones International Film Festival.


Much to her neighbors’ chagrin, Bettina Wilson celebrated every holiday no matter how insignificant, with unbridled enthusiasm. It was a childhood tradition she followed faithfully every year. Unfortunately, the decorations were always of the cheap variety. The tasteful community of Winchester, Massachusetts shuddered and tried to ignore the obvious bad taste.

Despite her lack of taste, everyone liked Bettina, who was always the first to come to the aid of a neighbor. She cheerfully walked dogs, fed cats and offered her services as a babysitter.

But when October rolled around, no one could ignore the revolting display of cackling witches, ax-wielding monsters, ten-foot plastic pumpkins and howling ghosts displayed on her cramped, front lawn. The neighbors felt it was an outrage and cheapened the upscale neighborhood. They tactfully suggested she cut back, but Bettina loved to see the children’s reactions. She had no intention of eliminating any of the decorations she’d collected over the years.

On Halloween night, an excited Bettina filled bowls shaped like skulls with massive amounts of candy and plugged in the garish, orange bulbs around her windows blissfully unaware she was about to be murdered. The crackling current raced through her fragile body, delivering a fatal jolt of electricity to an already weak heart. She was dead before she hit the beige, wall-to-wall carpet.

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