It was the night all children look forward to all year long–the one night they never stop longing for all year and plan all year long around it. And no..not the Jolly Fat Guy in the suit day where everything seems to be green and red and the adults are all boozed up in bad sweaters all day.
It was Halloween, the GREATEST night of the year! And for Andy, especially this year, it meant a LOT. It ha dbeen the year of that crappy COVID thing and he and his friends had already been in masks all year long, but not the fun kind, and there had been little to look forward to let alone have any fun doing.
By comparison, Most all the parents and adults looked like week-old party balloons after all they had been going through, and the prospect of letting the kids all go out and go door-to-door for trick or treating had come up for debate.
The kids in Andy’s neighborhood had all decided they were going to go forward anyway. After all, it was their argument that they would be dressed up anyway and they could incorporate (and yes, they knew what that word meant) a mask under their other mask and be safe. All of the, led by Andy, made a lot of posters with their ideas and what they wanted to do and how important Trick Or Treating was to them, and, EVEN promised to do CHORES for the right to just do a little Trick Or Treating, just for a little while, and then they would be happy.
The parents had taken this seriously and had actually met, socially distanced, in the back yard of the Davis household and asked for a vote. Everyone had felt bad about he kids and the vote passed unanimously, WITH the provision that all Candy would be kept in an outside container, individually wrapped of course, and groups of two could each come up and get a handful and go to the next house after sterilizing their hands.
Costumes were of course fine except for those that did not require masks such as cartoon princesses, clowns, etc…they all had to wear a coordinating mask with the get-up. The kids were all fine with that so everything was a go! Andy and his friends were ECSTATIC. Oh, there was ONE thing, the parents all agreed that NO child go to the Mannion house at the end of the street. They were a family who didn’t participate in any of the block parties or get togethers and did not speak when spoken to in the course of neighborhood communications between neighbors.
So–the night came; Andy was always going to be a robot and his friends were all going to be robot warriors so they had completely covered faces and could be as safe as possible. They watched the clock drag its way to sunset, tick by tock, until they finally saw the setting sun make its way down the horizon. The excitement that rose in the minds and souls of the kids was immeasurable and, with shaking, excited, nervous hands they got on their costumes and hit the streets.
There were gangs of goblins, ghosts, masked princesses, robots, (including Andy’s warrior brigade) and superheroes all over the place. They ran from home to home in the burnt orange glow of the evening as the setting sun shone through the barren trees, laughing and shrieking with fun for the first time in months. The parents stood back and watched safely and all smiled to themselves broadly, seeing their children happy and having fun after being locked down like prisoners for months on end as they had been.
Suddenly, In all the candy colored chaos, the cacophony of capes and ghosts and princesses, someone yelled “Look at the Mannion house!”. And they all came to a stop. The Mannion house had been decorated for Halloween and was OVER THE TOP with lights, and eerie noises, and smoke machines and all sorts of spooky fun. The kids, like a sea of luridly costumed protestors, marched down the street as one to see this wonderful event.
Indeed, the Mannion house WAS OVER THE TOP. There were literally tons of plastic skeletons hanging from trees, fake gravestones, scary music playing, fog going all over the place and a big sign saying ‘ENTER HERE” in green letters lit up by a Black Light and a bug fake witch’s finger hanging from the side of the house pointing to an open door.
This was absolutely going to NOT ne missed. The kids, not thinking twice, headed straight for the door, just before the parents intervened. “Wait a second kiddos!” We said this house was off limits–sorry, we just don’t feel comfortbable…we..” but the cries of “COME ON!” and “THIS IS TOO COOL LET US GO!” began and didn’t stop to the point where the parents just decided to say to hell with it and go along..they all had a little liquid courage in them already anyway so, again, “what the hell–let ’em have fun!” “We’ll go with ’em–they’ll be fine!”
They all gathered then. All of them. The entire neighborhood as a little, costume army came together and slowly began to enter the “ENTER HERE” door at the Mannion house. It WAS cool after all. Even the parents had to admit it. They must have put out hundreds of bucks to pull this off–after all, inside the “room” they had built they had put huge animatronic clowns and spiders, scarecrows and mad doctors, all robotically moving around making scary noises and moving around mechanically. The room was very dark but everyone could see pretty well; and at the base of every robotic figure there was a big bucket of candy and a bottle of sanitizer, they had tried really hard to make things fun and safe.
This was a big room too. The entire group of parents and kids easily fit inside so the parents figured they had added on to the house or built it separately, yet no one could remember hearing any construction not seeing any activity..until today.
That was when things changed. Once it seemed that all the parents and kids had assembled in the haunted house room of the Mannion house, there was a loud bang and the group sa that door had closed behind them where “ENTER HERE” once was. Now the sign said “HAPPY HALLOWEEN!” in Bright red orange black light letters..but apparently no way out. It was also at that time that he animatronic horrors stopped moving. And, slowly, as one, they all stopped thier mechanical gyrations and started to turn towards the group. They each stepped down from the pedestals they were standing on and advanced on the group from all sides waving buckets of candy.
The group began to bunch together and scream…quietly at first, then huge panicky screams of panic and fear that echoed off the walls of the chamber ad bounced back until it was like an explosion of audible terror that wrapped itself in and throughout the entire space.
The creatures weren’t machines after all. They were real. This must have been the Mannion family in their real form. An eight foot clown with a mouthful of razor sharp teeth walked slowly with stilt-like legs into the middle of the group and raised it’s broomstick arms to the top of the chamber and then screamed; “Let us now offer our sacrifice my children of the furrows and the chasm! Let us now FEED!”….and, in the luird colors of the black light, the showers of blood and candy filled the chamber like a sea of purple-pink cotton candy as he screams rose ad then fell to whimpers..then nothing. The black light faded–and Halloween, for the Rolling Oaks neighborhood..came to it’s end.