“All Hallow’s Eve, the eve just before Halloween, the eve where impatience runs thick in every, single Other; the ghouls, ghosts, and monsters, all the creatures that we tell our stories about. They are real, but they are only allowed to come to the living world on Halloween, when the Church Bell’s toll at midnight on All Hallow’s Eve, and with the final bell chime, the doorway’s open, the graveyards come to life, and from the Othersides, all those creatures that go bump in the night return and frolic for tricks and treats, for one day; the one day that they wait for every, single year.”
“But Grandpa,” Samantha asked, the little girl still dressed as Wonder Woman, a costume her grandfather had shown open distaste for, saying the costume didn’t “have any Halloween spirit in it at all,” which had hurt his granddaughter’s feelings, but he hadn’t cared. “Aren’t all those monsters bad? Why would they come back for trick’s and treats?” Sitting in the living room in front of the fire, Samantha and her younger brother Tommy, who was dressed as a ghost, with just an old white bed sheet with the eyeholes cut out, they listened as their Grandpa Sammy was preparing to tell them ghost stories.
“Yeah,” Tommy said, his mouth full of candy that he was shoveling in from beneath his bed sheet costume. “Monster’s don’t eat candy Grandpa. Do they?”
“Oh, they do Tommy. And of course not all of the Others come back for treats. Some come back to play kind hearted tricks on us. Nothing harmful, just good humored. But then, there are those who come back for more nefarious reasons.” Rocking in his old, wooden rocking chair, Halloween was Samuel Shelley’s favorite holiday. Always had been.
“Nefarious?” Tommy asked, the boy oblivious to the definition of such a big word, his six year old vocabulary not that extensive yet.
“Its mean’s bad, stupid,” Samantha quickly told him, the girl very smart for her age, which was nine.
“Always picking on your brother Samantha,” Samuel said. “He isn’t stupid, that was my mistake for using such a grown up word. But, back on subject, your sister is correct. Some of the Others merely come back to do bad, bad things.”
“Like what?” Samantha asked, heavily intrigued, always loving to hear Grandpa Sammy’s stories. Especially on Halloween.
“Like revenge for instance. And I have one such story that has to do with just that. Revenge.” Smiling, Samuel had never told the children this story, but they were old enough, and it was one of his favorites.
“Revenge, dad,” Ellen said, the mother of the two listening children entering the room, looking for her purse as she waited for her date to arrive. “Do you think they are old enough to hear about revenge. Why not just tell them a ghost story?” Ellen, having listened to her father’s stories for as long as she could remember, had grown tired of them, their scares having no effect on her any longer. Now, it was her children that were her father’s audience, and sometimes she felt he forget that they were just that, her children.
“But this is a ghost story dear. One you haven’t even heard before. Why don’t you sit and listen?” Samuel knew his daughter would refuse to listen to his story, having not done so since she was a teenager, but he still felt it didn’t hurt to ask, just in case she would have a sudden change of heart.
“Yeah, mommy,” Tommy said, his mouth again full of candies, “sit and listen to Grandpa Sammy’s ghost story with us.”
“I can’t baby,” Ellen said, finally finding her purse which had somehow found its way behind the couch. “Mommy’s got her date tonight with Richard. And please don’t sit under that sheet and eat all your candy. You’ll get a tummy ache baby.” Returning to check on her makeup, the clock was tick tocking away and still no sign of Richard.
“Okay mommy,” Tommy said, ignoring his mother’s wish, shoving another handful of M&M’s into his open, chocolate covered lips.
“Tell us the story Grandpa! Please,” Samantha begged.
“Alright kids,” Samuel began, rocking a bit harder in his chair, the creaking of the old wood in perfect, spooky harmony with the crackling of the living room fire. “It was All Hallow’s Eve…”
John had to get out of the house. He had felt like it was closing in on him, an unfamiliar sense of claustrophobia setting in, the feeling of eyes from behind the walls staring at him. He had lived in his house for years, and for the first time, the feeling like it wasn’t his home forced him out, but merely for a few minutes, just long enough to go for a run.
Figuring it was just exhaustion from work mixed with the atmosphere built around him by the season, Halloween being the next day, John reasoned a good jog would work the stress from his body, and upon returning to his home it would again feel like his home, instead of just a house that had chased him out.
Rounding the corner off his street, Chestnut, onto Rogers Lane, John saw a couple teenagers walking on the opposite side of the street, the kids most likely up to no good, smashing pumpkins or other tricks that kids found themselves in on All Hallows Eve.
Passing by all the decorated homes, the sounds of the fallen, dead leaves crunching beneath his feet mixed with the sound of his shoes slapping the concrete of the sidewalk numbed his mind, relaxing him as he focused on his breathing.
Running down Rogers Lane till the sidewalk ended, making his way onto the side of the street, John felt eerily alone, though he knew how late of an hour he was out at. Slowing his pace, looking behind him, the teenagers gone, John was startled to see how dark it had gotten from the way he had just come, the road behind him pitch black, nothing visible.
Stopping, focusing, looking back down the road, it was completely dark, as though something had swallowed every ounce of light from the area, leaving it hidden in black. Confused, having just run through there, with streetlights that had been casting down from above, porch lights from the homes he had run past, and now, all of it was gone. Extinguished and hidden in the night.
Peering at the houses that were around him and still visible, they were all dark inside, no light spilling through window blinds or window decorations. Shaking his head, thinking that maybe the same stress that had chased him from his home was playing more tricks on him, making him just think there was darkness everywhere, upon opening his eyes, John was blinded, two painfully bright lights tearing towards him down the street.
Jumping to avoid the lights, John was clipped, tossed to the side of the road as the screeching of breaks brought the car that had just hit him to a sudden halt. With the smell of hot rubber and exhaust fumes in the air, John let loose a string of obscenities as he made sure nothing was broken, his arm and leg just sore, but he was still able to stand and bend his arm.
On his feet, looking at the car, the red lights from the breaks bright in contrast to the darkness that was strangling the ends of the street, John was able to make out the license plate, reading it to himself under his breath. SWTDRMS. The car, a 1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88, was a cigar boat of a car, the yellow paint chipped and rust adorning the bottom the vehicle.
“Hey, are you out of your mind or just blind!?” John yelled to whoever was driving the car, wondering why they hadn’t gotten out yet to check on him. If it was going to be just a hit and run, they wouldn’t have slammed the breaks; so cautious, John stood behind the car to see just what the driver was going to do.
Having to react again quickly, jumping out of the way before clipped for a second time by the vehicle, the Delta 88 quickly and surprisingly drove in reverse, running over the blacktop where John had just been standing and yelling. The brakes slammed again, the sound of the tires squealing, John was shocked and frightened, but more so angry that they had tried to hit him for a second damn time. On his feet, heading for the stopped vehicle, John tried to the see the driver, but the light given off by the car’s high beams were blinding, John having to shield his eyes with his hand as he approached.
“What the hell are you doing?” John began to yell, making his way around the cigar boats hood. “Are you trying to kill me?” Able to see, the headlights behind him, John was shocked to see no one in the car, the driver side door shut, the car running, but no one behind the wheel. Leaning against the glass of the driver side window, looking in, no one was in the car, yet it had been running, and had nearly killed him. Twice.
Opening the door, peering in for a closer look, there was no one. The radio was on, just barely audible, and after listening for a moment, a chillingly haunting cover of the Eurhythmics “Sweet Dreams” played through the car, only seeming ironic as John thought about the license plate. Looking at the clock inside the car, it read 12:09. It was finally Halloween, or nine minutes into the holiday.
Pulling back out of the car, looking around, John had not seen nor heard anyone get out of the car, making him wonder where the driver was, or if there had been one to begin with, why had the car itself attempted to kill him.
“I really hope you’re name isn’t Christine,” John said jokingly to the car, patting the roof, almost expecting it to rev it’s engine or honk it’s horn in response, but, the car just stayed running, the girl’s voice whispering through the speakers. “…some of them want to use you…”
With both ends of the street shrouded in unholy darkness, it would be impossible for John to see if anyone had just left the car and ran off into the night, evading the whole scene and possible police involvement, though John hated the police and the “idiot driver” of the car had left the car itself there at the scene, running.
Thinking the driver’s information would be in the car, and seeing that the car was there anyways, John climbed in, thumbing through the glove-box and center console, with no papers what-so-ever. Sighing, rubbing his eyes, the whole situation was strange and he wanted to wash his hands of it, his injuries not being too serious and there being no real need to involve the law. Going to climb from the car, he was stopped, the door slamming shut, nearly catching his leg as he was preparing to step out.
“SHIT!” he shouted, jumping back into the driver seat, trying to catch his breath after being startled by the sudden slam of the door. Attempting to open it, the door wouldn’t budge, the window wouldn’t roll down. And no matter how hard John slammed his shoulder into the door, attempting to use all his weight to get the door open, pulling on the handle, punching the glass, he was stuck in the Delta 88. Exhausted, attempting to catch his breath, he rested his forehead against the steering wheel, damning the car under his breath, all the while listening to the radio, the song still “Sweet Dreams”.
“..some of them want to be abused…”
“Shut up!” John yelled at the radio, like it was going to listen to him. Attempting to turn it down himself, it was just as futile as his attempts to exit the vehicle. “YOU GOD DAMN DEMON CAR! JUST LET ME GO!!”
And as though the car had heard his yells and feeling a moment of compassion, the door, just as it had slammed on its own, opened up on its own, John moving quickly to get out before the Delta 88 had a change of heart.
Stepping away from the car, the music from inside the vehicle seemed to increase in volume a little bit with each step John took, as though the music itself was trying to stay just barely audible to his ears. Stopping, John just listened, trying to get a grasp on what was happening.
“…Are made of these… Who am I?” Listening closely, John thought just below the music he heard something else. Stepping closer to the vehicle, though he thought twice about it, the car already having attempted to kill him and trap him, he knew he had heard something else just underneath the music. After several long seconds, with only the female singing away at the song, he heard it again, and telling himself it wasn’t what he was hearing, there was no denying what the sound was.
“Impossible,” John said, shaking his head, telling himself he was just hearing things, the noise not really there, his father’s laugh not really coming through the speakers of that car’s stereo. Slowly making his way back to the car, seeming in a trance from the music and the subliminal laugh, John was quickly leaning in, staring at the clock inside the car, the clock no longer reading a time, the soft green symbols of the clock changing to unrecognizable jibberish. “Impossible. Stop,” John pleaded with the car. “Stop!,” he told it again, “STOP!” he finally had had enough, snapping, punching the console with all his fury, trying to smash the radio and kill the song and that laugh, his father’s laugh. His dead father’s laugh.
“STOP IT DAMMIT!” His knuckles bleeding from punching the console, the music jumped to deafening levels, forcing John to cover his ears and retreat out of the vehicle. Ears still covered, the music didn’t seem to soften when the car door slammed shut again, the vehicle putting itself into drive and roaring off down the street into the darkness like a bat out of hell.
Left alone, John looked around him, not sure what was happening, wanting to just go home, back to the place which hadn’t felt like home, but at that moment, he thought it was the safest place for him to be. Shaking, the cold October night air nipped at him, John asked himself why he had gone running so late, why he had just up and had the urge to get out.
Was it stress?
Am I that stressed out? What’s going on? Work? Life? What?
John felt like he was going to have a meltdown, like everything that was filling his mind was going to overflow and spew through every orifice of his head, leaving him dead on the street till he was found in the morning. Shaking his head, as though that would shake those thoughts away, John couldn’t quite remember what street he had ended up on, the houses around him not looking familiar, though he hadn’t run far from his home, and he had run on every street in his neighborhood plenty of times, enough times to certainly not have the feeling of loss and confusion that hung over him like the dark shrouds that clung to the ends of the streets.
“Where am I?” John managed to get past his lips, a sudden feeling of tired hitting him, the man finding it difficult to keep his eyes open, but John pushed to walk down the street, aiming to find a street sign with the name of the street on it. Slogging down the street, stumbling more than walking, John couldn’t explain what was happening, his whole body feeling as though it was fighting to walk through a pool of jell-o rather than the cold Halloween night air that was all around him
Poking out from the darkness, the green and white that was the street sign was just barely readable. Elm Street, which John knew he hadn’t run down, not even knowing of any Elm Street’s in his neighborhood. Ignoring the blasphemous sign, John looked into the darkness, squinting, as though that would allow him to see through it.
And like he was standing on a beach and the point where the ocean meets the sand was where he stood, the darkness in front of John just ended mere inches from him, closer than an arm’s reach. Not daring to reach into the dark, not sure what could be lurking within the shroud, John decided to maybe try one of the homes, see if there was maybe a living soul that could assist him.
Stretching as he walked, trying to shake the feeling from his body, the feeling like he had just finished off two fifths of vodka, and then some more alcohol, John couldn’t get his body to feel right. Stumbling, falling to his knees, catching himself before his face met the concrete, he gave up on his mission to make it to a house, deciding to just lay there on the street and yell till someone came to him. Or the car came back to finish him off.
“HELP! For the love of all things holy somebody help!!!” Screaming, doing so till his lungs ached, John broke down and found himself caught with a bout of uncontrollable laughter, the man coming to the conclusion that he was losing his mind, or that he was lost in his own mind, his subconscious placing him on a metaphorical Elm Street with no obvious escape.
Clenching his face, covering his eyes, praying that when he opened them he was in his bed, safe and sound, all this having been one lucid dream, upon opening them, John was surprised to see children trick or treating around him, some kid’s even stepping over him, none paying any heed to the man laying out on the concrete convinced he was losing his mind.
Sitting up, looking to both ends of the street, the dark shrouds were still thick, but the children were coming and going through like it was nothing to them, while John had been afraid to even stick his hand into it.
“Hey kid,” John said, speaking to a child dressed as a prisoner, with black and white striped clothes on. “Hey, kid, I’m talking to you.” Ignored, John attempted to get the attention of another child, noticing that all the kids were dressed the same. Black and white striped prisoner costumes. Getting to his feet, watching as the kid’s approached the homes, stood with their goody bags out, the door’s to the home’s opening, but no one there to hand out candy. After a few seconds, the children would step back, giving room for the next child to step up to receive nothing, only to walk away and to the next house, till all that was left was the darkness to walk into.
Grabbing one child, looking into its face, the little boys eyes were sunken, deep bags hanging from his sockets, the child looking up at John as though in a trance. Letting the child go, John ran up to a home, trying not to stumble and fall again, making it to the porch, pushing his way past the children waiting to get nothing, walking into the home, no furniture inside, instead thousands of carved Jack O’ Lanterns.
Taking one last quick glance at the little prison costumed child waiting on the porch, the boy put his finger to its lips as if trying to tell John to stay quiet, then the child was gone with the slamming of the front door of the home, leaving John alone in the home with the pumpkins.
“Hello?” John whispered, and then like his word had been a command to awaken, every Jack O’ Lantern came to life with light, candle glows spilling from carved eyes and mouths, the shadows played on the walls menacing. “Hello? Anyone there?”
And from the upstairs of the home, John heard the laughing that he had denied hearing earlier from the car’s speakers. His dead father’s laughing. Coming closer, the laughing getting louder, John’s eyes were glued to the stairs, waiting to see his father walk down, waiting to see his DEAD father make an appearance.
“Boo!” the voice said from behind John, John jumping clean off the ground, the heart trying to do the same from his chest. Laughing followed, but not his father’s. No, this laughing was higher pitched, like thousands of children laughing at a school yard prank. John, still startled, having trouble catching his breath, realized it was the pumpkins laughing at him. The god damn pumpkins.
Turning around, looking his father right in the man’s eyes, John was at an utter loss for words. His father, dressed in the police dress uniform that he had been buried in, stood smiling, the same smile that found its way onto the man’s lips when he had been alive. And heavily intoxicated.
“Good to see you Jonny boy,” John’s father said, John not believing, not being able to believe, that it was his father in front of him, the two surrounded by laughing Jack O’ Lanterns.
“You’re dead.” It was all John could think to say.
“Yep. That’s the obvious thing to say. Seeing as you killed me,” hearing his father make the accusation, John felt old memories begin to stir inside his head. Memories he had buried away, forgotten about.
“It had been an accident.” Sitting at the kitchen table, a thirteen year old John watched as his mother and father argued, a sight that was common in their household, but the drunken tirade that John’s father decided to take on that night was harsher than before, more frightening.
“Had it been Jonny?” his father asked, the dead man’s voice beginning to sound hollow, as though he was trying to talk through a wall. John, his mind still taking him through those memories, remembered watching his father hit his mother, smacking the woman to the ground, but not stopping there, proceeding to kick the woman, in front of their child, something that John’s mother had pleaded with her husband to not do. Acting on instinct, the gun having been sat on the table after John’s father had gotten off work, John picked it up and without a second thought or warning, pulled the trigger, painting the kitchen cabinets with his father’s brain and skull matter.
“It had been. The gun had gone off. That’s what everyone said. It had been an accident.” John, knowing the truth, knowing he had pulled the trigger to save his mother, had convinced himself every single day since the incident that it had been what everyone had thought it had been, nothing more than a drunk officer’s son handling a gun, accidently blowing a hole through his father’s head.
“How is shooting your father in the head an accident, Jonny? How is killing your daddy an accident? You can convince everyone else, but you can’t convince yourself, or me, boy.” Tilting his head to the side, John’s father, smiled, cracking his neck as a hole began to form on the side, just below his temple, black liquid oozing out over the shoulder and chest of the uniform. Sticking one hand under the dripping liquid, the dead man licked it clean from his fingers. “Wanna taste?”
John disgusted, backed away, horrified by the sight taking place before him. Running to the door, pulling the knob, twisting it, the door wouldn’t open, the pumpkins laughing at him, knowing it was no use. Feeling his father’s presence behind him, John stopped, closed his eyes, leaned his head against the door and sang the only song that he could think of, trying to not think of what was behind him, waiting for him to just turn around.
“Some of them want to use you,” he sang. “Some of them, want to be used by you.” Clutching the knob of the door with a death grip, his already bleeding knuckles turning white, covered with blood from his attack on the stereo earlier, John just kept on singing, hoping it would make it all go away.
“I was a good cop Jonny.”
“But a terrible father,” John got out, stopping his singing, but returning quickly shaking his head, feeling a fear that he hadn’t felt since a child and hearing the screams of his parents fighting from down the hall of his childhood home.
“I was a damn good cop. Took down the worst killer in our city’s history. Remember that, boy?” John remembered. The Chainsaw Kiddie Killer. That was what the media had dubbed the psycho that had butchered twenty something kids. Kids that John had gone to school with. Kid’s he had played with. Kids that he had just seen outside trick or treating.
“I remember dad,” John said.
“You know. There is no heaven. Only this hell, where every single dead person just sits and waits, sits and waits. Sits and waits. Charlie, or the Chainsaw Kiddie Killer, he was here, waiting for me. Wasn’t much he could do to me. Me being dead, thanks to you, and well, him, being dead, thanks to me. So we had plenty of time to talk, get to know each other. Let me introduce you to him.”
John refused to turn around, instead singing louder and banging his head on the door, keeping his eyes shut, both hands finding the door knob, twisting it with all his strength, pulling it, adrenaline from fear not even enough to get him out. Singing loudly, it wasn’t enough to be heard over the roar of the chainsaw started up behind him, the scream of the power tool bringing John to tears of fear, the grown man crying, sobbing his song out, trying to wake up from the nightmare he had jogged into.
“…Seven seas, and everybody’s looking for…” Trying not to hear the chainsaw, the laughing of the pumpkins, John felt the nasty bite of the tool as the ripping teeth, the tearing spinning metal, tore into his back, tearing through his shirt, flesh and bone with ease. Screaming, his eyes opening wide, he saw the chainsaw exit his belly, the gore splattered on the door in front of him made up of his blood, guts and insides.
Pulling up on the chainsaw, cutting up the man’s chest, finishing the job with the woodsman’s tool turned weapon slicing through John’s shoulder and neck, the man falling over dead on the floor, a pool of blood spreading out quickly, the dead man’s dead father couldn’t help but look down and smile, watching as his son twitched, coming back to life in this life-after-death world.
“Welcome to hell Jonny Boy.” John’s father spoke, John not being able to speak, his vocal chords no longer attached to his throat.
“Grandpa Sammy,” Samantha said, a look of disgust on her face. “That was gross.”
“That was cool,” Tommy said, picturing the man getting torn up with the chainsaw in his imagination. The thought didn’t frighten Tommy, video games having desensitized the boy much like most of the youth of the nation, another shame Samuel thought.
“Where was the revenge Grandpa?” Samantha asked, having been listening to the story, trying to piece it all together. Samantha knew that the story had been a grown up story, and it had been the first like that that her grandfather had shared with her and her brother, though she knew Tommy had been oblivious to most of the details, just listening for the gore, or cheap scares.
“John’s father got his revenge with John’s death. Do you know why his father wanted revenge?” Samuel had left out many details from the story, wanting to only give the children the bare minimum, enough to make them think, maybe enough to give them chills.
“Ummm,” Samantha thought. Looking up at the ceiling, as she did whenever she was thinking, the lil Wonder Woman eventually thinking she had it figured out. “He was angry that his own son had murdered him?” It was more of a question than an answer.
“Close,” Samuel wasn’t even going to ask Tommy, the boy already having lost interest, feasting on more candy from goody bucket. “The father wanted revenge because John had forgotten. John had convinced himself that it had been an accident, not murder. And that kids, is disrespect to the dead. And never, ever, disrespect the dead.” The lesson Samuel wanted to teach the children. The most important lesson to be learned, especially on Halloween.
“And why again shouldn’t we disrespect the dead grandpa?” Tommy asked, chewed up bits of licorice flying out of his mouth.
“Then the Chainsaw Kiddie Killer with get you with his chainsaw!” Samantha yelled, jumping at her brother, knocking him down, making a chainsaw noise with her mouth as she stood over him, preparing for her imaginary kill.
“Now, now,” Samuel said laughing, watching his grandchildren find fun from his story. But, there was a lesson for them to heed, to take to heart. “The Chainsaw Kiddie Killer won’t get you. But, someone else will come for you. Someone worse. That’s why we have Halloween. To pay our respect to the dead, to make sure that this someone won’t ever, ever come for you.”
“Who will come?” Tommy asked, sitting back up, as Samantha was sitting back down, hoping that another story was about to be told.
“His name is Mr. Twisp…”
****Halloween Writing Contest Entry****