A Halloween Short Story
The houses on Packard Street no longer celebrate Halloween. When the 31st of October rolls around, we engage our deadbolts and close our blinds. The porch lights remain dark and we wait for the Halloween Freaks to arrive.
They first came the year after Jenny passed on. Jenny loved Halloween more than any other holiday. In the 53 years we’d been married, it was this autumn night that she looked forward to the most. She loved to see the kids in their costumes, their eyes bright. She’d welcome them with handfuls of candy, grinning in the way that made her so beautiful. I never cared much for the whole thing. I keep a smile and went along with it though. I would have followed Jenny to hell and back.
That Halloween that they arrived, I poured myself a drink and sat at my window. The street was teeming with excited children and parents doing their best to keep them near. I figured I could watch the festivities and think back on Halloweens past. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t done that. I could have flown to another place, spending the holiday on a beach somewhere. Then I maybe could have stayed there. Let the house rot. There is nothing left for me there anyway.
The kids couldn’t see them. Neither could their parents. But my neighbors could. I could. There is something about the people that live on Packard that makes us cursed. We see them on our porches. We see them in our gardens. Lurking near windows, poised just out of sight…
How would I describe them? Long. Withered. Skulls that glowed, amorphous eyes tethered wetly in cavernous sockets. They don’t have feet. Just legs that dangle and sway as they float above the ground. They don’t speak. They don’t call out to us. They float and they shine and they only come along when the sun sets on Halloween night.
When I saw them for that first time, I thought it was some kind of complex costume. I remember leaning forward, nearly pressing my brow to the blinds to get a better look. That’s when I saw them open their glowing lips and letting that foul orange light out that I realized exactly what I was seeing. Some kind of supernatural event, creatures birthed from some kind of darkness. The creatures’ heads twists and that light spin over everything, giving the shadows unholy life.
Someone called the police after. They came, lights flashing. I watched Mrs. Myers talking to them, her eyes bulging and her face flushed with fears. The officers left, shaking their heads. Of course they wouldn’t believe. Why would they?
No one talked about them after. We went about our lives. Pretended that we didn’t see what I called the Halloween Freaks. But I think that everyone dreaded the return of autumn.
They came again that next year. I drank nearly an entire bottle of whiskey as I waited. That year they floated from one end of the street to the other. There was less kids that Halloween. Even though no one else could see the Freaks, I think they could feel them. Perhaps it was the pull of their unholy light. I know I felt it. The nightmares I had that night were dark and foul. Jenny was in them all, her lips glowing. And, when she opened her mouth, the world twisted and squirmed, colors running together like blood down a shower drain.
Why do they come? What do they want? Are they spirits, tethered to this earth? Demons escaped from the deepest bowls of hell? I don’t know. I’m not sure if anyone does. They float from one end of the street to the other, lingering to gaze into windows, their inner light shining over everything.
The children have stopped coming. The street is nothing but dead leaves now. I’m 80 years old. I started coughing earlier this year, and bits of blood have started to appear on my handkerchief when the fits get particularly bad. It’s Halloween Day, about an hour before dark. They’ll be coming any minute now.
When they do, I’ll be waiting. I’ll put on my coat, pick up my cane, and I’ll walk right down my warped front porch stairs. I intend to greet these Freaks, perhaps touch their withered flesh.
Maybe they have some secrets to share. Anything is possible. After all, it is Halloween.
Happy Halloween! I hope it’s suitably spooky.
– Logan Noble