When I was a kid I loved Halloween, probably more than Christmas. What kid doesn’t love Christmas? Presents, Santa, all the great stuff. But for some reason, Halloween was my favorite time of year. Hell, October itself was a month of pure bliss for me in my youth. I was walking on clouds whenever October 1st came around with the chill in the air, that meant soon something spooky would be happening.
I think this is partially due to my older brother, Danny. He loved Halloween too, and made sure the love was passed down to me, his only sister. We would spend hours coming up with costume ideas together, in his room. He loved to dress up in scary costumes, and tried to get me to indulge him. I preferred princesses and fairies, sometimes a witch. I loved being scared, but I didn’t think I had to be particularly scary. Danny would always roll his eyes but grudgingly let me dress up as whatever my little heart desired.
Danny was the one who took me out trick-or-treating every year. Our mother only had one rule, be back by 8pm, no later. We never questioned it. We were young enough where 8 seemed late enough to be trolling the neighborhoods for free candy, and we always got a shitload of candy anyway.
But what happened in our small little town, on the last year we lived there, will always haunt me. I had to write about it, because it’s almost Halloween and I’ve got a little cousin who lives in that town still, and I don’t think is mom believes me when I say that he really shouldn’t be outside after 8pm on Halloween night.
See, that year was really exciting because Danny was 12 now, and he felt as if he was old enough to stay out past 8. He whined that some of his friends were talking about holding a party and he was invited. My mother of course wouldn’t hear of it.
“No, you can’t stay out past 8,” she told him, her voice firm, a raise of an eyebrow and we knew her word was not going to change.
“But,” he said, one last lame attempt.
“I said no, now go finish your homework,” my mother turned away from us and focused on chopping vegetables for our dinner later that evening.
“Whatever,” Danny huffed. He stomped his foot before walking away. I looked up at my mother who met my eyes and smiled sadly.
“I know he wants to go out, but you two need to trust me, it’s better to be home and safe in bed,” she explained.
I trusted my mom so I didn’t question her, I was only eight at the time and felt no need to go against the grain.
Still, I followed Danny upstairs and quietly knocked on his door.
“What do you want, Lucy?” he sounded like he had been crying.
“Can I come in?” I waited by the door, whereas normally I would’ve barged in, demanding his attention. This time I knew I didn’t want to make him mad.
“Whatever,” he conceded. Upon entering his bedroom I found his costume laid out on his bed, an elaborate pirate costume. He was leaning away from scary and doing something with his friend group instead that year.
“Your costume looks super cool,” I said, I sat on the bed gently, avoiding the costume and looked at him, “I’m sorry Mom won’t let you go to that party,”
“I’m going anyway,” he snorted.
“How?” I asked, leaning forward, “Mom says it’s not safe,”
He looked up at me, “I’m not some kid, I can handle being out a little later than 8 at night,” he said, “any other night I’ve got like an extra hour and I want to hang out with my friends,”
I just shook my head, “Mom will find out,” I said.
“Only if you tell her,” Danny said, “And you won’t because you’ll be with me,”
I looked at my brother in confusion, “But I wanna be safe,” I protested. I remember feeling doubtful, I didn’t want to be out if it was dangerous and a bad feeling started growing in my stomach.
“What, you think I wouldn’t protect you Luce?” Danny asked, gently shoving my shoulder, “There’ll be kids your age there too, c’mon it’ll be fun,”
Since my brother rarely invited me out with his friends, I reluctantly agreed. I wanted to be cool to him, and he was the coolest person in my eyes. I didn’t think I would regret it so much.
So the night of Halloween came a lot more quickly than I had anticipated and my mind was whirling with anticipation and fear. My mother had to work that night (a nurse) and it was awfully convenient. We would be able to sneak over to the party and be home by the time our mother got home. Or so we thought.
The night started out normally enough. I was in a cheerleading costume, and my mother had done my hair up in tight pigtails before she left for work. My brother and I left around 6 or so, to get the ultimate candy stash, he held my hand and walked me out around the neighborhood.
It was a great night honestly, until we hit 7:45 pm and started to walk to the party house. My stomach couldn’t contain the butterflies it held and I started to walk slowly.
“Lucy, come on!” Danny sighed, “It’s just going to be a bunch of kids and their parents,”
So once again, persuaded by my brother, we walked about a block until we got to the house.
Party house indeed, there were a dozen kids chattering on the lawn and parents dropping them off with sleeping bags and pajamas, Danny looked confused.
“Oh crap, is this a slumber party?” he asked me.
“How would I know?” I looked up at him, shrugging.
Danny let go of my hand and walked up to his friend, they talked for about a minute before Danny came running back to me.
“It is,” he said, grinning, “I must’ve not heard, we can just head to our house down the street and grab some pj’s, they have spare blankets, okay?”
He held out his hand and I looked at my watch. It was now 7:55pm. Our house was roughly a five minute walk away.
“I don’t know, if we’re outside past 8,” my stomach did a flip and Danny sighed.
“It’s okay, we’ll actually be inside past 8, right? Because we’ll be sleeping with lots of other kids, and we’ll be totally safe,” Danny urged, taking my hand and pulling me away from the crowded house and front yard.
“But,” I still couldn’t shake my bad feeling.
However it was too late. The sky was dark, the doors were all closing, and I looked at my watch one more time, the one our mother made me wear every Halloween.
Danny stopped suddenly, “What do you think is down there?” he looked transfixed and I followed his gaze to what looked like an unfamiliar side street. A part of me wondered how I hadn’t noticed it before.
“We need to get home,” I said, “We’re almost there,” I tugged on his hand but he dropped it completely and walked toward the street.
There was a single street light on on that street, and it seemed to be illuminating an old house. It looked like the kind of house you’d see in a scary movie, haunted with ghouls and demons just ready to rip you to shreds.
Danny was walking towards it with a blank expression on his face, and I could feel a pull towards it myself. But the fear that was now running rampant in my stomach felt stronger and I called out to my brother.
“DANNY THAT’S THE WRONG WAY!!” my voice came out shrill and Danny didn’t even flinch, he just kept walking. I watched him with terror growing in my chest.
Finally, against my better judgement, I ran after him. I stopped once I was next to him and kept up with his slow pace.
“Look, I think that house has all the candy,” he said to me, he sounded as if he was reciting an old and worn out line.
“No, I think we have enough,” I said, but he kept going. I grabbed his hand and pulled, but he was stronger and ended up pulling me. I struggled and kept begging, but eventually we were right in front of that house.
I looked around, a mist had surrounded us by now and I couldn’t see our street, or other houses. My heart hammered in my chest and I tugged at Danny once again.
“D-Danny?” I looked up at him but he just shook his head.
We were on the porch now, and I heard a “meow,” I looked down to see a black cat staring up at us, an intense gaze.
I tugged on him again but he just shrugged me off.
He opened the door.
I don’t know why at this point, but when he walked in, I followed him. I knew I couldn’t leave him alone, that was part of it. But my childhood self felt compelled to walk inside and see what awaited us.
I don’t remember much about the house, I just remember seeing a staircase, and that we both walked up it. By now I was under the same spell my brother was.
I do remember what came next.
Danny opened a door, it made a slow creaking sound and we both stepped inside the room. I felt now as if I was slowly regaining some sense of self control, and I looked around the room blinking.
“Where are we?” I asked.
Danny looked dazed, “I-I don’t know, how did we get here, Lucy?” he looked at me, my brother again, all concerned and confused, “are you okay?”
“Yes,” I looked up at him, “can we go home?”
But he never answered me.
Instead we heard a creak on the floor, it sounded like someone or something was moving toward us.
I looked up to see what could only be described as a thing. It was long, arched back and long fingernails on it’s right hand, it seemed to have a hook on it’s left…hand? No face, or covered by shadows. Too tall, and I could feel it’s gaze, even with no eyes, penetrating us.
I let out a scream at the same time as Danny, but my legs were rooted to the spot and I couldn’t move, even when I tried.
“LUCY RUN!” Danny yelled, not moving either. Gazing up at the creature.
Then the creature came into the light and it was grotesque. Rotting flesh, worms coming out where it’s eyes should be, I could see it’s teeth through where flesh was missing on the cheek.
A sweet stench filled the room and I gagged.
Then the creature ripped out and grabbed Danny. I couldn’t save him, I dodged the hook as it dug into my brother’s chest and dragged him forward.
Danny was screaming at this point, his eyes frantically darting around the room.
Even in that moment all he could scream was, “RUN LUCY!” as if I was still his number one priority, and even as the screams died out because of the pain he was in.
The creature turned to me and stared at me with it’s worm filled eye sockets.
I couldn’t move.
The creature looked at me as it removed it’s hook from my brother’s chest and it almost smiled.
Then it spoke, “I love candy,” and proceeded to slice open my brother’s stomach. Just. Like. That.
I won’t describe what that looked like.
All I know is that instead of trying to stop the creature, or looking at my brother, I turned around and ran. I heard his screams as I ran down those stairs, and out the door.
I ran past that stupid black cat, still sitting on the porch, and I ran through the fog until I was on my familiar street, and even then I kept running.
I ran until I was at that party house, and started screaming and banging on the door. It took ten minutes before it opened just a crack and the mother peaked out, “what?” she said in a harsh tone.
“MY BROTHER, PLEASE SOMEONE NEEDS TO HELP ME!” I was screaming and before I knew it I was being pulled inside into strong arms and comforted. Kids were staring as I cried into this woman’s arms, babbling about a monster and my brother being cut open.
“Who did you let in?” a man’s voice asked.
“It’s little Lucy from down the street, it’s fine, I’m not leaving her out there,” she answered.
The rest of the night is a blur. They waited until around 10pm to call my mom and tell her where I was.
In the morning the police were called and my mother came to pick me up.
“Where is your brother? Where did you see him last?” she asked me in this panicked voice.
“He…” I had no idea how to answer. All I know is that after she questioned me, the police did as well. They of course didn’t believe my full story, and just said it was trauma.
They never found his body either. They concluded some lunatic had been out and closed the case.
We moved before Christmas.
Our relatives questioned as to why, but my mom was so mad she didn’t even talk to them. It became clear to me as I grew older that the old town had a secret, and it covered up my brother’s death just to keep the secret safe.
I asked my mom once why people stay. She told me that sometimes people get used to living a certain way, and they just don’t think to change their lives, even if for the better. She said that’s why it can be so hard for someone to leave an abusive relationship, or a bad job. We get used to our shitty lives, and don’t know how to change it.
My mom had another kid a couple years later, my little sister, Danielle, named after Danny. She met a man and they fell in love, and brought my favorite person into the world.
I took her trick-or-treating a few times but she never wanted to be out past 8, even though in our new home and town trick-or-treaters would come by as late as 9 depending on the weather.
Either way, I miss my brother and I had to get it out. I had to tell someone besides my mother. I had to think of a way to get my cousin to not let her kids out on Halloween.
Becareful this Halloween. Please. No matter where you are, because if it’s a small town where your parents ever said, “Don’t go out past 8,” they probably have a good reason.