The smell of pumpkin spice and cinnamon brought me from my hole of a room as the sound of "Monster Mash" emitted from my mother's old radio. My mother was a lonely woman, divorced from my father when I was eleven years old. Now, I was sixteen and dragged into the horrid activity of decorating she had done for every holiday, every year for the past five years. Decorating was the only vice she had.
"Oh, Mia!" My mother exclaimed, garish red lips spread into a grin. Her hands were covered with orange goop, encasing her fingers like a lurid coffin. One look at the counter showed that she had been trying to bake a pumpkin pie by scratch again.
"Hey, mom." I inched away from her, towards the fridge, to grab a soda. "What are you doing?"
"Baking a pie!" Upon closer inspection, I saw that she had gotten the fire engine red color on her teeth. Gross. "Wanna help?"
"I'll pass." I popped the tab on my soda, taking a long and satisfying gulp. The kitchen looked like someone had murdered a pumpkin. Seeds and fibrous strands stained the marble counters orange. The pumpkin itself lay, gutted, on the table. "Wow, mom you really went all out."
"I don't see why you have to be so boring." She pouted, digging her fingers into the bowels of the pumpkin.
"Mom, I absolutely loathe Halloween." I replied, rolling my eyes. "I hate scary stuff, I hate the cute little specials they have. Halloween was used to scare away the devil in small villages back in the dark ages. You would think that those ancient superstitions would be gone by now."
"It's not about superstition, Mia. It's about having fun."
"Looking stupid isn't fun." An exasperated sigh escaped my mother's mouth. A moment later, her face fell. "We're out of sugar."
Now was my chance. "I can go see if Tony has some to spare?" Tony was a childhood friend of mine. Someone I had spent my childhood with, a person I had told countless secrets and embarrassing stories.
A confused look fell over my mother's face. "Tony?" She asked, turning to look at me as if she had just realized I was off my rocker.
"Yeah, he's our neighbor."
"I thought our neighbor was a woman?"
"That must be his mother." I had never met Tony's mother before. I had only heard stories of her during his childhood. However, they always seemed a bit outdated.
"Honey, I don't think she has a son named Tony. I've seen her at the market and she's only ever had a young girl with her."
"Well obviously. He hates shopping."
A small smile lit up my mother's face as she wiped her hands on her apron. "Okay, Mia. Go ask this Tony boy for some sugar then."
"Mom, he's real! I'll prove it to you!"
"I believe you, now go ask." What I didn't know was that my mom thought I had finally found my love for the spooky season.
I huffed, grabbing my over sized coat from the hook on the kitchen wall. "I'll bring him back with me." I dropped my can in the trash before stepping outside into the chilly, Salem air. My mother and I lived in the rural part of Salem, Massachusetts which left me walking a half a mile through the woods to get to Tony's. It wasn't your cliche walk through the woods, dark and creepy with the howl of the wind leaving you imagining voices.
The sun shone through the hole in the tree cover and the birds chirping left me in a state of annoyance. After walking for thirty minutes, I came upon Tony's small and rundown house. I noticed a blue, rusted truck in the driveway which had never been there when I had visited before.
His mother was home.
I strolled up to the door, using Tony and my's signature knocks. Three short raps followed by a sharp slap.
I stood in the cold for about ten minutes before the door swung open and a short, frumpy woman opened the door. "Yes?" She asked, looking down her long, warty nose at me.
"Hi, I live right back through those woods and my mother was wondering if we could borrow some sugar?"
"Of course dearie! Come in out of the cold, have some hot chocolate! I'll go grab some from my storage room."
I stepped inside, looking around the familiar house. I had played here countless autumn afternoons. Chilly breeze floating in from the open windows.
"Mia." A loud growl exploded in my ear and I whipped around.
"Tony?" I whispered, eyes wide, heart racing.
Glass shattering tore my attention from the empty spot I was staring at. A picture had fallen from the wall, laying facedown. Taking a deep breath, I creeped towards the picture and picked it up from the ground. The glass hadn't even scratched.
The boy in the picture was more familiar to me than my own father. Dark hair and dark eyes appealing to the eye, pink lips quirked up into a sly smile. Tony. I smiled, caressing the smooth glass with my thumb.
I turned to find Tony's mother with a bag of sugar in her hand. "Oh, thank you." I breathed, but I didn't move. "Hey um...is Tony here?"
A dark expression crossed her face, the smile dropping into a scowl. "Tony." She tilted her head, beady eyes staring into my soul.
"Yeah, Tony...we're friends." I smiled brightly, trying to seem like someone she would want her son around.
"Oh, that's impossible." The woman laughed nervously, eyes darting around. "Tony's not...here."
"Oh, where is he?"
"Maybe when he comes back, you can send him over to my house? My mom doesn't think he's real." I laughed as if my mother was some ridiculous creature.
"He won't be back, Mia. Tony's um...Tony's been dead for ten years now." The woman in front of me crowed, wringing her hands.
"What?" I stared at this lady in shock, my jaw dropping. Then it hit me. "Oh my- my mom put you up to this didn't she?!" I laughed loudly, shaking my head. "Alright you guys got me. Where's Tony really?"
"Mia, I mean it my son's been dead for a decade now. He died in 1998." It was then that I realized that I had never told her my name.
"Oh, could you get me a glass of water? I don't feel too good."
"It's probably the shock, dearie. I'll be right back."
I waited until she left the room before bolting to the wooden door by the steps. This was Tony's bedroom, the place I had spent most afternoons with him. Slowly, I opened the door and a whoosh of air swept past me, my hair pushed off my face.
"Mia, help me!" Tony's voice drifted from the closet and when I ran to pull the doors open, the smell of burnt flesh swept into my nostrils. A horribly burned boy stood before me, a grotesque smile on his face. "Mia..." It croaked, reaching towards me.
I gasped, flying backwards onto my bottom. "Tony what...what are you?"
"She did this to me. She'll pay!" The thing growled, staring at a spot right behind me. When I scrambled away from him, I bumped into a pair of legs. His mother.
"Okay it's not funny anymore!" I screamed, tears welling up in my eyes. "Stop it!" Tony's mother grabbed my arm and dragged me from the room while slamming the door shut.
"You have no idea what you're doing girl." She snapped at me, her eyes burning with anger. "Tony is dead."
"What the hell is going on?"
"She murdered him." A young girl around my age stood in the doorway, her dark hair hanging in her face. "For eternal life."
"Mia, I thought you were smarter than this."
Tony's mother's eyes glowed red. "The devil dangled a deal in front of my nose. A deal I couldn't resist. And now he's offered me another one."
"Eternal power for the life of a pretty girl, to be his bride."