Everyone in our little town celebrated Halloween when I was
a child. No decorations were ever put up, nobody ever threw parties, but the
stores would all be sold out of candy come the big night. It had been that way
ever since the dead in our town started coming back on Halloween, years before
I was born.
claw their way out of their graves, wandering the streets and carrying
makeshift bags fashioned from their burial clothes. Zombies always craved
brains in the movies, but in our town, all they wanted was candy. My mother
once told me that some of the townsfolk fought back when it all first began.
Those families didn’t last long, and none of them remained. Ever since, people
gave their candy to the restless dead, leaving none for us kids.
I was eleven
the year my older brother decided to go trick-or-treating. He crept into my
room, and I would have screamed had he not clamped his hand over my mouth. His
face was a horror show, his features a rotting mess. He seemed pleased at my
petrified reaction to his makeup, and he smiled crookedly.
I asked him
what he was doing, dreading the answer, and he told me he was going to get
enough candy for both of us. Our parents were focused on placating the hungry
dead, and they had no idea as my brother snuck out of my bedroom window while I
begged him to stay. I watched him shamble away into the night, moaning
convincingly as he mingled with a sea of walking death.
I didn’t see
him again until next year. My parents had fallen apart after my brother’s
disappearance, and I was tasked with handing out candy at an age when my peers
were still hidden safely away in their beds. The night seemed to be drawing to
a close when I heard the telltale scratching of a corpse at the door. I opened
it to find my lost brother standing on my front porch.
had washed away long ago, but his face was more gruesome than I remembered.
Much of his flesh had been torn off in vicious mouthfuls, the ragged edges of
the bites never healing. A dirt-caked lollipop was stuck in what remained of
his hair. He held out his bloodied shirt and groaned at me, his cloudy eyes
showing no recognition.
I said nothing as I dropped a handful of candy into his
jerry-rigged bag. He turned and shuffled slowly down the driveway, and I
watched him go with a pang of sadness. At last, I knew how his night of
trick-or-treating went all those months ago. I closed the door softly and
sighed, comforting myself with the fact that I would see him again next