ALL HALLOWS EVE
A long time ago, the streets would have been filled with tiny revelers in an array of colorful and sometimes gruesome costumes. Their goal: gather enough candy to last a lifetime. Times had changed. Parents let their paranoia get the best of them, so Halloween was relegated to back rooms and the occasional school party.
Sam couldn’t get the memory of all of those great Halloweens of the past, out of her mind. She still bought a large bag of chocolate candy every year, just in case the odd trick-or-treater should stumble across her door. She carefully carved an enormous jack o’ lantern and placed it outside with a candle to illuminate it’s face. It gave notice: all trick-or-treaters welcome. She hoped to see at least one. One child that would brave the odds and venture out on All Hallows Eve.
After arranging, then rearranging the candy in a large glass candy bowl and placing it on a stool by the door, she settled down on the couch with a good book. It was one of her all-time favorites, Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein.’ It was a Halloween tradition and was perfect for this night - this foggy night when the veil between the dead and the living parted. When spirits wandered the earth, to mingle with the living.
Who was she kidding, she thought. It had turned into a day like any other day.
A couple of hours ticked by and Sam started to feel drowsy. She put the book down and headed for the bedroom, when she heard a knock at the door.
A trick-or-treater? She was thrilled by the prospect. She had waited three long years. Suddenly wide awake, Sam rushed to the door and opened it to see a two and a half foot monster standing there, silent. He was covered in fur, arms down to his knees, with a huge great toothless grin that almost filled his face. He was adorable.
“Happy Halloween! What a great costume. So authentic. Is that real fur? And the claws on the feet. Your mother did a great job. How long did it take? Was it your idea?” Sam was so excited to finally get a trick-or-treater.
She had moved into the house four years before. It was small, but comfortable. It was surrounded by huge camphor trees and was at the end of a long winding road. She left her hometown for a number of reasons, mostly family - nosy, bickering relatives who had nothing better to do than criticize her choices in life. She wanted her privacy and she got it. She didn‘t have many friends. The friends she did have were busy with work or families of their own.
She was tempted to invite her little friend and his mother or father in for a visit. She looked around, but there was no parent in sight. Odd, she thought, who would let their child wander the streets at night unattended? She decided that the parents were probably waiting somewhere out front on the street, hidden by the fog.
Sam reached for the candy dish and noticed her little friend didn’t have a bag. “That’s okay,” she said, “I remember a time, when I didn’t have a bag, either. I was a little too eager to go trick-or-treating and forgot it.” She crossed to the closet and pulled out a small plastic bag. "Once a bully stole mine after it was stuffed full of candy." Sam crossed back to the door and filled the bag with candy and handed it to her little visitor.
He just stood there. “Well…I imagine that costume is cumbersome …hard to get around in, I mean. Here…” She bent down and tied the bag around his wrist. She caught a whiff of the costume and almost choked. Talk about authenticity. No wonder his parent stayed by the road, she thought as she laughed to herself.
“There, you’re all set. Happy Halloween!” She waited for him to turn with a gleeful yell and run to the next house. He just stood there.
“Well, don’t I get a ‘trick-or-treat’?” she asked. He just stood there and glared at her. “Okay, then,“ she said, “Happy Halloween.“ Sam slowly closed the door.
She went back to her book. She decided to stay up just in case another trick-or-treater came. This was a good sign, she thought. Maybe Halloween is coming back. Maybe next year the streets will be full again. She could only hope.
After about an hour, Sam dozed off on the couch - book in one hand, candy wrappers in the other. She was startled awake by a loud knock. It took her a minute to orient herself and remember where she was. She quickly got up and rushed to the door.
Sam opened it to see the monster. She was shocked and almost knocked the candy dish over. It was the same monster as before: covered with fur, arms to his knees, strange toothless grin, and just as before, the same bad smell. Only now, it was five and a half feet tall! Clever, very clever, she thought. A brother perhaps. The two had gotten together to pull a prank on the night of all pranks.
“Ha! What a great costume. What a great prank. You had me going for a minute there,” she laughed.
Sam reached into the candy dish and grabbed a large handful of candy and offered it to the trick-or-treater. It was then she noticed the bag tied to his arm. The same bag she had given the little monster - tied in the same way.
“Nice touch,” she said as she reached for the bag. She didn’t want to get too close because of the smell. She extended her arm and plopped the candy in the bag and quickly backed up. “Well, Happy Halloween,” and as before, the monster just stood there and glared. She slowly, hesitantly closed the door and peered through the opening as the door swung shut. She had expected the monster to run off to the next house, but he just stood there and stared. Sam felt a little unnerved - probably the response he wanted.
“I see we have a new generation of trick-or-treaters; clever, organized and quite creative,” she said softly to herself.
Sam checked her watch. It was eleven o’clock. It was definitely time for bed. She turned off all the lights, grabbed her book and headed for the bathroom for her nightly ritual.
She took a long hot bath, longer than usual. She had become totally engrossed in her book and had forgotten about the time. It wasn’t until she noticed her fingers all pruned up, that she climbed out of the tub. She dried off, changed into her nightgown and did her typical beauty routine; brushed her hair, rubbed on face cream, brushed her teeth.
When she returned to the bedroom, she finally settled into bed and continued reading, ’ …when suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. It came from the room into which Elizabeth had retired. As I heard it,…’ A knock from the door made her jump. She checked the clock on the nightstand: 12:00.
“Awfully late for a trick-or-treater,” she said to herself. Sam walked to the front hall, picked up the candy dish and opened the door.
There before her was a wall of rank fur. She recognized the smell from her other two visitors only now it was much stronger. She also recognized the fur, but this time her little trick-or-treater was enormous.
“A prank is a prank, but this is ridiculous,” she said. She hesitated, then took a step out of the house. After all, they went to a lot of trouble to pull this prank, she wanted to get a good look at it.
“Aren’t you a little too old to be…”
The candy dish shattered on the ground.
What stood before her was the little monster who first graced her doorstep. Only now it was nine and a half feet tall, with the same candy bag tied to its wrist stretched almost to the breaking point.
It was very different, somehow. There were details she had not noticed before that were exaggerated with it's exaggerated size - frightening details.
It’s nostrils - damp and black as pitch - expanded, and It’s fur heaved up and down, as it took labored breaths.
It’s long, shabby, arms almost dragged the ground. Claws slowly protracted from it’s huge apelike paws - jagged and blood stained.
It’s enormous feet with long sharp claws crushed the jack o'lantern Sam had so carefully carved. What remained of it spread like an orange carpet on the ground.
It’s huge, black, penetrating eyes not only glared at her, but glared at her hungrily.
It’s grin finally widened to reveal sickening yellow saliva dripping from rows and rows of razor sharp teeth.
They bit down...