A short story written for October 2020's Taboo Words Contest.
| No Halloween?
"I'm sorry, kids, but this October there will be no 'Trick or Treating'."
"What?" said Simon. "But we always do it, Dad!"
"Not this year. The orders have come straight from the Prime Minister himself."
"That's not fair," Kendra joined her brother in being outraged. "Just because he is too old."
Simon stood looking down at the ground, trying to hide his disappointment. He smiled slightly when he had another thought. "We can go to parties with our mates, though, can't we? Get all dressed up and..."
"No. No mixing with kids from other households either." Dan hated being the one to cause disappointment but there was no point in leaving it until the 31st to break the news. The twins, at eight years of age, did not really understand about the dangers of a viral pandemic. All they saw was their fun being taken away from them.
Kendra was turning away with tears in her eyes when Dan had an idea. "I've got an idea! Why don't we have our very own party. I'll tell you a story..."
"We're too old for stories, Dad," said Simon.
"Not for this one. In fact I'm not sure that you're really old enough..."
"Of cause we are! We wouldn't be scared would we, Kendra?"
"Could we still dress up?" she asked.
"Definitely, and we'll have a bit of a party too." Dan didn't know what he was going to do to make the night special but he'd come up with something.
* * *
"Another glass of blood, anyone?" Dan asked, holding out the jug of cranberry juice.
Both Kendra and Simon held out the wine glasses. They had dined on fingers and toes, that were really chicken nuggets liberally spread with ketchup, followed by slimy eyeballs and hell-hound foam, green jelly with grapes and frothed cream.
Just as it was getting dark, Dan gathered his son and daughter around him. They did not often have a fire burning in the old fireplace but Dan had decided it would add to the atmosphere. The flames flickered, shrunk back and then flared sending shadows in all directions. As the last of the daylight faded, he switched on his flashlight.
Kendra leaned forward with her hands on her knees, her witches hat pointed crookedly towards her Frankenstein brother. Their father looked different, lit up from beneath his chin; somehow his face looked longer and his eyes looked darker as he improvised a Halloween tale.
Dan spoke of creaking doors, of scratching noises and faces at the window. He spoke of people from a distant past brought forward in time to wander, lost and out of place, as they wailed and they moaned.
Both twins gasped! Both twins shuddered. And even Simon looked over his shoulder as he thought that he felt a hand on his shoulder. Sometimes their father whispered so that they had to lean forward to catch his words, then suddenly he would almost shout, making them jump backwards.
By the time Dan brought his story to an end, his children had been pulled through a whole range of emotions. They were tired, but their eyes still shone from excitement.
With the electric light back on, both children hugged their father. "That was so cool!" Kendra said.
"Can we do it again next year?" asked Simon.
"What about your friends? Things will hopefully be a bit more normal by this time next year."
"If they are, maybe we could invite some friends around and you could tell us all another tale."
"We'll see, Simon. Now it's time for Frankenstein and the witch to get washed up and ready for bed." Dan never expected to feel so emotional. It just went to show that the magic of storytelling had not gone away.
(Taboo words: ghosts, spectres, creepy, haunting, fear)