I need to take a good hard look and revisit my definition of fun. My girlfriend, Allison sobbed almost to the point of incoherence as she spoke to the police. Kevin grimaced with pain as his arm dangled from his elbow. His girlfriend, Missy was catatonic, unable to answer any questions. And me – I stood in the foyer with my arms handcuffed, and a police officer reading me my rights. They were charging me with manslaughter.
It had started innocently enough. I sat at my breakfast nook and sipped my cup of coffee. I looked up at Allison. “Why don’t we rent an old Victorian house for Halloween this year? We can dress up in costume and ask Kevin and Missy to join us. It’ll be fun. We can hand out candy to the kids in the neighborhood and make it one of their most memorable Halloweens ever. What do you think?”
“I am in,” Allison said emphatically, “We’ll buy a plastic cauldron and fill it with dry ice. The kids will flip. We’ll be the most popular house on the block.”
We called our friends who wholeheartedly agreed to come along, and we spent the next two hours looking for the perfect house. We found and old Airbnb that fit the bill.
A week later, we were on our way. The three-hour drive took us to an old mining town nestled in a hillside. It must have been something in its day, but now it was nothing more than a bunch of abandoned mines and broken- down saloons. We figured the remaining residents must own local shops or make the forty-five-minute drive into the big city. The population sign read just over two-thousand so we didn’t think we’d have that many kids visiting us, but that didn’t matter, we were in a ghost town and we were going to spend a night in a spooky house on October 31st. Now, that was my definition of fun.
The house was exactly what we had hoped for. It had a shingle roof, peeling paint, and cobwebs hung from the eaves. We weren’t sure if the owners had left it that way on purpose, or if the house was simply in disarray. Either way, it didn’t matter. Once inside we let Kevin and Missy claim the master bedroom, and we took the guest room. A lot of the furniture was draped with white sheets, although there were enough chairs and sofas to accommodate our needs.
We had never told the owners we were looking for a spooky place to hang out, and so we found it odd that the house hadn’t been cleaned before our arrival. Maybe we could get a partial refund once we got back home.
Kevin walked into the den and found a table with four chairs and a Ouija board. It was becoming pretty obvious the owners knew we were looking for a haunted house setting.
It had taken us a while to find the place. The GPS kept telling us we were off road and directions were hard to come by. When we finally arrived it was later than we had planned. Sunset was only a few minutes away, and so we all hustled to get into our costumes.
Allison dressed like a fairy even though I told her there was nothing scary about being a fairy. Kevin was the quintessential, Dracula, fangs and all, Missy was the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and I was the guy with the creepy mask from the movie Scream. I even had a hand pump that would drip blood from my eye sockets. We were going to scare the living daylights out of some of these kids.
Sunset was at 6:01 pm, and so we thought we’d have our first trick-or-treater by six-fifteen. Some parents didn’t like their little ones to be out late. By seven o’clock we were beginning to wonder if we would have any trick-or-treaters at all. We thought the house might be too dark and scary to attract kids, so Kevin ran upstairs and turned on all the bedroom lights. By seven-thirty we were wondering if the night was going to be a bust.
Missy suggested we ask the Ouija board if we were going to have any kids stop by. I’m not a big fan of Ouija boards, but we had nothing else going on, so we gave it a try. We sat around the table and placed our fingers on the planchette. I asked Missy if she would remove her full-face mask for the session. Missy started the ceremony by asking the spirit of the board if he had a name. The planchette moved a few inches, and we all removed our fingers and accused each other of causing it to move. After a spirited debate we agreed that no one had moved the planchette, and we decided to try again.
“Oh, spirit of the board,” Missy said, “tell us your name.”
The planchette moved to the letter C.
“C,” we all said in unison.
It then moved to the letters A-P-T-A-I-N.
“Captain,” I said as I removed my fingers. “I’m done. No more Ouija board for me.”
“You’re not afraid, are you?” Allison asked.
“Yeah, I’m afraid. I don’t want to talk to any spirit whose name begins with Captain.”
“What name wouldn’t you be afraid to talk to?” Missy asked.
“Look, I never expected the thing to move at all, much less spell out a name. If it had spelled the name, Pinky, I would still be done playing with it.
“You’re no fun,” Kevin said, “You’re the one who wanted a memorable Halloween.”
Just then, the doorbell rang. “It’s about time,” I said, “What’s Halloween without a few kids.”
Missy put on her mask, and we all walked to the door. We agreed that Kevin would greet the kids in his best Dracula voice.
Kevin opened the door. “I vant to suck your blood,” he said, but there was no one there.
“It took us too long to get to the door,” Missy said through her rubber mask, “They must have figured no one was home and left.”
We pulled four chairs onto the front porch and decided to wait outside for the kids. We set a small tv tray in front of us and set the boiling cauldron and a bowl of candy on it.
“Look,” Allison said, “Here comes another one.” A child who could have been no more than five walked up the drive. He stopped at the bottom step and opened his bag with both hands. “Come on up,” Allison said, but the child didn’t move. “And who are you supposed to be?” she asked, even though it was apparent the child was the clown, Pennywise.
“Where’s your mom?” I asked. The clown stood motionless, holding its bag open, waiting for one of us to walk down the three steps and hand him a treat. “You shouldn’t be out alone,” I said.
“Hi, sweetheart.” Allison grabbed a candy bar and stepped forward. “Who picked that costume for you?” No answer. “Wouldn’t you have preferred to be Superman or maybe Spiderman?” The clown didn’t move.
“This kid is freaking me out,” Kevin said, “give him some candy and send him on his way.”
“What do you say?” Allison asked. The child said nothing. “Can you say, ‘Trick or treat?” The child said nothing.
“Stop making him work for the candy,” Kevin said, “Just give it to him.”
“Here you go,” Allison said as she dropped a candy bar in the bag. “Now, what do you say?”
“Let it go,” I told her, “You’re not the kid’s mother.” Pennywise turned and walked away without saying a word. On the way out, he crossed paths with another child coming our way.
“Looks like eight-fifteen is when Halloween starts in this town,” Missy said.
The kid walked up to the porch and stopped at the bottom step like Pennywise before him. “And who are you supposed to be?” Allison asked.
“Are you nuts?” I said, “Isn’t it obvious he’s, Darth Vader
“I just want to make him feel comfortable,” she told me in front of the child. “This one looks like he’s no more than five either. Halloween can be scary. I want him to relax and talk to me.”
“How old are you, kid?” Kevin asked. Like the child before him, Vader stood motionless with the candy bag wide open.
“Can you say, ‘trick or treat?’” Allison asked in her kid-friendliest voice. Darth Vader said nothing.
“Where are the fricking parents?” Missy asked, her voice muffled by the mask.
“Their parents have got to be waiting at the house next door,” I said.
“Would you leave your five-year-old alone for even a minute on Halloween?” Allison asked me.
“No way,” I said.
Allison dropped a candy bar in the kid’s bag and watched him walk away without uttering a sound, much less a thank you. It had been over two-hours since sunset, and we had seen a total of two kids. I didn’t think five-year olds could scare me, but their silence sent shivers up my spine.
“Missy,” I said, “do me a favor and take off your mask. I’m kind of wigged out right now, and besides, we can’t hear what you’re saying.
“You don’t have to ask me twice,” Missy said, “That mask was suffocating me.”
Kevin removed his fangs. “Maybe we should wrap it up. Two kids in two hours isn’t worth the effort.”
The driveway, bordered by cypress trees on either side, made it difficult to see if any kids were coming our way. I thought of walking to the end of the drive to see how many kids were working the area, but as Kevin had said, I didn’t think it was worth the effort. Just then, a kid wearing a hockey mask appeared at the top of the drive.
“Who’s that kid supposed to be; Jason, from Friday the 13th?” Kevin asked.
“That’s no kid,” I said, “he’s got to be a teenager. What is he, six-foot-three?”
“I don’t like it when teenagers go trick-or-treating,” Allison said, “It makes me nervous.”
The teen in the Jason mask stood motionless. His legs, slightly spread apart, gave him an ominous look. He held a pillow case in one hand and a chainsaw in the other.
“Why is he just standing there?’ Missy asked.
“Maybe he’s not a teen,” Kevin said, “Maybe he’s an adult waiting for his kids to catch up to him.”
“Come on up, pal,” I shouted, “We’ve got some candy for you.” I turned to the others, “This is freaking me out. I wish he would either come in or move on.”
Jason held his ground. The driveway was dark but for the glow of the quarter moon. The white, lifeless mask was disconcerting in the subdued light.
“Let’s just wrap it up and go in the house,” Missy said. “He’s crazy if he thinks we’re going to walk over to him.”
“I agree with, Missy,” Allison said as another teen appeared in the driveway. “Who is that supposed to be, Michael Myers?”
Michael stood next to the guy in the hockey mask and took a similar pose. His mask was ghostly white. He carried a pillowcase in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. Neither man moved.”
“I’m calling 9-1-1,” Allison said.
“What are you going to tell them? Jason and Michael Myers are in our driveway?” Kevin said, “It’s Halloween.”
Michael Myers took a step forward. Jason matched his stride, and then they stopped.
“What the fuck,” I said, “Are they messing with us? Allison, make that call and tell them someone is trying to break into the house.”
“But that’s not true,” Allison said, “I could get in trouble for filing a false police report.”
“Just do it,” I snapped.
Allison held the phone to her ear. “Why won’t they answer? Isn’t 9-1-1 supposed to answer right away?”
Michael Myers and Jason were fifty-feet away when they made their move. Jason matched the Michael Myers character step-for-step. Their walk was slow and deliberate. I removed my mask to show that we were friendlies. When they got to within twenty-feet, Missy let out a scream. The four of us stood at the back end of the porch as far from the steps as we could get. “Hi, guys. Want some candy?” my voice broke with tension. They said nothing. “Hey, guys. The girls are a little freaked out right now. If your goal was to scare us – mission accomplished. Would you mind taking your masks off so we can relax a little bit?” Neither man said a word. They stopped at the base of the steps and stared at us through those empty, black holes that hid their eyes.
I reached into the bowl and tossed them each a candy bar. One bar hit Jason on the shoulder and fell to the floor. Michael Myers gradually lowered his head and looked at the other candy bar. His mask slowly came back on me. He climbed the first step.
“Look, guys. We called the police, and they’re on their way.”
“No, they’re not,” Allison said, “it’s still ringing.”
If looks could kill, Allison would have been dead at that very moment. Michael Myers took his bat and smashed the handrail, splintering it into a thousand pieces. “Hey, we’re renting this place, “I said, “Now back off.”
Jason fired up the chainsaw. The sound was deafening. He raised it over his head and came down hard on the other handrail.
“All right, guys,” Kevin said, “you win. You scared the shit out of us. The jokes on us, now why don’t you kill the chainsaw, and walk away?”
Jason responded by gunning the chainsaw. Michael Myers climbed the second step.
Allison and Missy panicked. They fumbled with the front door knob and ran in the house. “Hello, hello, police? We have two men threatening our lives. They’re causing damage to the house. Please hurry,” Allison yelled. She couldn’t remember the address and had to rifle through our travel itinerary to find it.
Kevin and I held fast until Jason destroyed the TV tray with the chainsaw. Candy fell to the floor, and dry ice spilled from the cauldron. We followed the girls into the house and locked the door behind us. Kevin and I placed our backs against the door, hoping it would keep the attackers at bay. The oak trembled and vibrated against our spines, but it held against the assaults from the baseball bat. We were safe for the moment, but it wouldn’t be long before Michael Myers figured out that a window was no match for a bat.
Once again, Jason gunned the chainsaw and this time; he placed it against the heavy, oak door. We moved away knowing it wouldn’t hold. The girls ran upstairs, a bad idea, I thought since that would trap them on the second floor. I ran to the fireplace and fiddled with the hearth tools. I picked up an ash brush, then the shovel, and finally settled on the poker. Kevin ran to the kitchen and returned with a frying pan.
The door splintered and sent shards of wood spraying in our direction. “Let’s stand next to the door and hit them as soon as they come in,” I yelled to Kevin. We both stood on the door handle side hoping to surprise them as soon as they broke through.
The door flew open, and I swung the poker like a left-handed hitter aiming for the bleachers. I caught Michael Myers flush in the chest with the sharp, iron, implement. Michael fell to the ground blood gushing from his chest. Kevin screamed a banshee cry and swung the frying pan hitting nothing but air. Jason swung his chainsaw and hit Kevin on the elbow with the blunt end of the saw. I heard Kevin’s elbow crack, and I saw his forearm swung freely, dangling at a ninety-degree angel as Kevin fell to his knees. Instead of following up on his attack, Jason turned and ran with his chainsaw as would an escaped criminal. Michael Myers let out a guttural sound and then expelled his final breath.
The girls came down the stairs and screamed when they saw the dead body. A few minutes later, the police showed up and asked who killed the trick-or-treater.
“Trick-or-treater?” I said. “Are you kidding me? This guy is no trick-or-treater. He’s a stone-cold killer.”
“Did you hit this man with the poker?” the officer asked me.
“You’re, damn right, I hit him, and I’d do it again.” The policeman handcuffed me and read me my rights. Paramedics arrived a half hour later and attended to Kevin’s dangling arm.
Testimony from Kevin and the girls convinced the police that everything we did was in self-defense. The broken door and the bat marks on the handrail were more than enough evidence to support my story. The police uncuffed me and took us to the station house for a complete statement.
It’s been weeks since that Halloween night. Kevin is recovering nicely, but he and Missy broke up. Allison and I called it quits as well. It seems the trauma had scarred us all permanently.
Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, but from now, on I’m going to exchange my scary costume for a bunny suit and a basket of Easter eggs.