"Raisins! What kind of people give out raisins on Halloween?" protested Mark.
"People with no taste, that's who! Next year we're definitely skipping that house" replied Donny.
"Without a doubt!" agreed Travis.
The three boys had been friends since first grade, but this was the first year they were old enough in the parents eyes to go trick or teating by themselves and they wanted to make the most of it.
"Remember, we gotta be back by eight o'clock, my parents will ground me if we're late, I don't wanna get grounded" said Travis. He was the youngest of the group and had a constant fear of gettting into trouble.
"Calm down," replied Donny, the oldest of the group and self assigned leader, "we've got plenty of time".
Mark, the group jester, chimed in "We've gotta move fast, otherwise we'll miss all the good candy! I can't take any more raisins Donny, I just can't!" he said with tears welling in his eyes
"Both of you just calm down" Donny had a plan, "We'll hit every house down this street, then along Maple Street, up Third Street and cut back through Cedar Lane to home".
A look of horror cam over the other two boys faces.
"Cedar Lane?" questioned Travis. "But that's where Old Man Murray lives".
"So?" said Donny.
"You know he eats children......and we're children!" exclaimed Mark.
"That's just a rumor Joey Davis made up, and I'll prove it. When we get to Old Man Murray's house I'll knock on his door and get candy" Donny was unsure whether the rumor was true or not, but had a reputation to keep amongst the group so he had no choice but to appear brave.
The boys followed their planned path, hauling in a varied range of acceptable candy until finally they came to Old Man Murray's house.
It was a gothic stlye building, in need of repair and complete with gargoyles, which didn't help with disreputing any child eating rumors. The house always seemed to be in a constant shadow, and sat in a yard of long, unkept grass and weeds, surrounded by an old, rusted iron fence that resembled a fortress of spears.
Donny took a deep breath, "Who's coming?"
"Uh-Uh" said Travis, shaking his head.
Mark added "You go in, and if he doesn't eat you, call us"
"Babies!" chuffed Donny. He pushed on the large iron gate and as it opened it made a unearthly screeching noise, sending shivers down all of their spines at the same time.
Taking a deep gulp, Donny slowly and cautiously made his way up the cracked concrete path, the overgrown weeds seeming to grab at his legs as he walked, and the sky becoming evermore darker as he approached the house, which now seemed to resemble a monsterous face, the dimly lit windows either side of the front door looking at him menacingly.
His heart beating through his chest, Donny walked up the three wooden steps leading to the landing, each one seeming to moan in pain as he stood on them, giving the impression they would break apart at any moment and send him spiraling downward. He stepped onto the landing and stopped to momentarily reassess his decision and swallow the lump in his throat.
Donny turned around to take a final look at his friends, Mark was looking extremely nervous and Travis was peering from behind the letterbox looking just as terrified. All of a sudden an ear peircing screech came from behind Donny and he saw a look of absolute terror spread over the faces of his two friends.
For what seemed like an eternity, Donny stood there frozen, his heartbeat pounding in his ears. His mind raced with all the possibilites of what was about to happen, until his train of thought was broken by Travis, who screamed "OLD MAN MURRAY! RUN!".
Donny dropped his bucket of candy and literally flew off the house landing, making it to the gate in a couple of steps before joining his friends as they bolted without looking back.
Luckily Travis's house was close by so they ran as fast as they could, crashing through the front door and runing straight up the stairs to take refuge in Travis's room. As they did Travis's mother called from the loungeroom "Is that you Travis?", "Yeah Mum" he replied before slamming his bedroom door shut.
The three boys stood in a circle in Travis's bedroom, looking at each other unsure what had just happened or what to do next.
"What did you see?" asked Donny.
"It was Old Man Murray" replied Travis.
"Well, we think it was Old Man Murray," interrupted Mark "couldn't quite see his face, just a big shadowy figure standing behind you, but who else could it have been?".
Just then they heard a knocking on the front door downstairs, they all froze once again listening in silence as they heard Travis's mother open the door.
"Hello, may I help help you?" asked Travis's mother.
"Good evening ma'am" they heard an unfamiliar elderly voice say. "I'm sorry to disturb you, my name is Alan Murray and I live around the corner on Cedar Lane. I believe one of your boys dropped his halloween candy on my porch and I just wanted to get it back to him, I know how important candy is on this night in particular".
"Oh, how sweet of you, thank you very much Mr Murray." replied Travis's mother. "I'm sure whose ever it is will appreciate it very much".
"Your welcome ma'am, have a good evening" said Old Man Murray.
"You too, bye" finished Travis's mother before closing the door and heading up the stairs to Travis's room. "Travis, Mr Murray from Cedar Lane just returned someones candy that was dropped on his porch, isn't that nice of him!".
"Yes mum" Travis replied, confused.
As his mother left the room, Travis handed the candy bucket back to Donny, all three boys looking extremely puzzled by what had just happened. Donny looked into his candy bucket and said "Wow!".
"What?" the other two said in unison.
Donny smiled, "All the raisins have been taken out and replaced with my favourite candy!".
Travis and Marks eyes widened and they smiled, then all three said at the same time "Next year we're definitely not skipping that house!".