An interesting guest list.
|The Night Halloween Became Real
I’m really not into all this Halloween nonsense but the wife says it’s for the sake of the kids so I go along. Not that we have kids anymore. All grown up now and moved away long ago. Might see them on special occasions but Halloween ain’t special enough, apparently.
So we buy candies, those little ones to keep the price down, and hand ‘em out on the night to whichever kids come a-knockin’. I sometimes wonder if the small candy bars end up as more expensive than just buying a few full size ones. But if it’s all you can afford, that’s the way it has to be. The big ones would disappear in an instant, anyway.
Martha puts on her old black dress, some white make up and a pointy hat made from a sheet of drawing paper to look like an old witch. But I just answer the door as myself. That’s scary enough, I figure. We put the candies by the front door, turn on the outside light and wait for the little visitors.
Usually we’d see quite a lot of traffic and be cleaned out before 8 o’clock but tonight I think there’ll be fewer. Covid is bound to keep most of ‘em indoors. But we need to be ready in case there’s a few with brave parents.
As it happens, it’s nearly closing time when we get the first knock on the door. Both of us get up to answer but I get there first and turn the handle. A witch is standing outside.
She’s not a little girl dressed up, however. This is a full grown woman as tall as Martha and that’s although bent over as if in age. She’s dressed all in black, has a pale face with a green tinge to it and a big, hooked nose. In her hand she has a broom of the old kind, just a bunch of twigs tied at the end of a stick. It’s a bit of a cliché, the broom, but the rest of the costume is so good, I’m quite impressed. There’s no way she’s a kid, of course, but she could be a teenager who’s taken time over her costume.
I reach for the candies and hold them out, at the same time telling her that she might be a little old for the trick or treat thing. She actually cackles back at me. First time I’ve ever heard someone cackle so authentically.
“You think so, dearie?” she says. “Just wait until you see my friends then. They’ll give you age, not that you’re exactly a spring chicken yourself.”
She dips a gnarled and wrinkled hand into the bowl and takes a single, miniature KitKat bar. Without removing the wrapper, she pops it into her mouth and starts to chew. How she is managing it with the few discoloured teeth I catch a glimpse of, I have no idea. But she turns and limps away, still chewing noisily.
“Who was that?” asks Martha, who has been peering around at the witch from behind me.
“I don’t know. Never seen her before, unless her make up was so good it fooled me. That’s the thing about Halloween. Some people travel in from other areas to get a larger haul.” We moved inside and I closed the door.
“Yeah, I know, but I’ve never seen such a good costume before. She really did look old, didn’t she? Sounded it, too. And did you see her teeth?”
I laugh. “Yup, how she managed to chew a candy still in its wrapper with those few rotten gnashers is beyond me.”
"Poor girl,” says Martha. “I suppose it was a set of false teeth but it really looked natural.”
As we move away to the living room, another knock sounds at the door. I look at Martha and she responds as I hope.
“”I’ll get it this time.”
She moves around me and opens the door. Three witches are standing there, each looking as real as the first one had. They are a range of sizes, however, one as tall as myself and thinner, another a dumpy little creature not much bigger than a child, and the third a mixture of the two. Their faces are pale and grey and sharing out an assortment of bumps, warts and wrinkles between them. All are in black and wearing the regulation pointed hats.
“Ooh, look,” says the tall one, “it’s another witch. D’you want to join our coven, dearie?”
Martha shakes her head and offers the candies. They reach their hands into the bowl in turn; each takes just one and then stands there holding it. Martha puts the candy bowl back in its place. When she turns back to the witches, they are still standing there, as though undecided what to do next.
“Is that all?” asks Martha.
The tall one answers through her straggling moustache. “Oh yes, I think that’s everything. At least, for the moment.”
The witches turn as one and shamble off down the path into the dark, still holding their candy trophies. Martha closes the door and returns to the living room.
“That was weird,” she remarks. “I swear those three were every bit as old as they looked.”
I agree and we fall silent, seeing those eerie faces again in our minds. If they were teenagers, they were gifted actors and had been made up by Hollywood class artists. And, if they were real, it made no sense that four old ladies had all decided to go trick or treating on this Halloween. At a time when everyone else stayed at home, indeed.
A loud thumping comes from the front door. I look at the clock. It’s 8:27. “Getting way too late for kids to be out,” I say, as I rise to go to the door.
This time it’s Frankenstein’s monster standing at the doorstop. He stands there impassive, all six foot six of him, not saying a thing. I attempt a joke. “Well, at least you’re young enough to be trick or treating. The Doctor just woken you up, has he?”
The monster says nothing. Just holds out a massive hand and waits. I take a KitKat from the bowl and drop it into the hand. It closes on the candy, the monster turns and lurches off into the dark.
“I guess gratitude isn’t the first thing Frankenstein teaches him,” I mutter as I close the door. A scraping sound comes from it even as the latch clicks closed. I open it again.
There’s a pack of werewolves on my porch. I know they’re werewolves because they’re all standing on their hindlegs and have much broader shoulders than a mere wolf is entitled to. And it’s the hindlegs too that tell me that these are not just elaborate costumes. They are far too thin for a human to get his feet and calves into.
It seems we are getting in pretty deep here and I figure I’d best play along while everyone is acting nice.
“Trick or treat,” says the nearest wolfman in a growling, hoarse voice. I hand out the regulation tiny candies and they take them in paws that are more like very hairy and taloned hands. They make no attempt to eat them, standing still and watching me.
I’ve read that one should never let an animal know you’re scared. So I attempt to brazen it out. “That’s it, only one per person, you know the rules. Off you go now.”
In unison, they all look down at their hands, as if checking to see that I am correct. They seem satisfied, since they all turn away and bound off into the night. I heave a sigh of relief and close the door again.
And so it goes for the next few hours. Martha and I don’t even have a chance to discuss things as the door keeps us answering its calls and the weird creatures line up at our house. By 11:55, when we run out of candy, we are almost inured to the sight of strange beings on our doorstep, ghouls, demons, goblins, zombies, mummies, and even one succubus that grabbed two candies, one for the dragon it claims is waiting for it in the dark.
As I close the door wearily and slump into my armchair, I voice the hope that there are no more visitors. I really don’t want to have to explain that we’re out of candies.
But the dreaded knock comes and I have to rise from the chair to find out who is waiting out there in the night this time. I open the door to behold Nosferatu, complete with bald head and billowing cape, flanked by two enormous creatures I presume are ogres. I launch into an explanation that they’re too late, everything has gone.
He listens, giving no sign of disappointment or any other emotion. Eventually my excuses peter out into silence and we stand there at the door in silence, perhaps both unsure of where we go from here.
In time, Nosferatu opens his mouth and says in a sepulchral voice, “That’s a pity. It really would be a shame to resort to the trick.”
Unaware of what that might be, I agree. He continues. “The problem being that I’m thirsty. And my two companions are hungry.” He indicates the two ogres.
Taking one step forward he grabs my shirt front in the proverbial vicelike grip. “But it’s of no consequence, you see. You and your lady have all that I need to slake my thirst and, just as I am keen on wet food, my friends are not averse to dry. Let us continue our celebrations inside.”
He picks me up without effort and steps into the house.
Word Count: 1,634
For SCREAMS!!! October 30 2020
Prompt: WRITE ANYTHING YOU WANT, AS LONG AS IT’S BASED ON HALLOWEEN!