TRIGGER WARNING: MENTION OF SUICIDE
Twenty-three kids, no more. That was the plan.
It was my
therapist’s suggestion that I give out candy this Halloween, and I’d been
making such progress that it sounded like a good idea. I moved to this quiet
hamlet at her recommendation, after all; the familiarity of a small town should
help with the paranoia, she said. And it has, until tonight.
understood how any sane individual can celebrate Halloween. A night when masked
strangers toting knives and axes can stroll up to your doorstep, and your
neighborly duty is to open up? Might as well tattoo a bullseye on your chest.
But if the doctor says this is what normal people do, then I’ll try.
kids, sixteen teenagers, and seventy adults in this town, all known by name and
address. None of them psychopaths by my reckoning, so I could tolerate the
masks long enough to answer the door. Adults don’t need candy, teens could be
turned away. I just had to hand out twenty-three sweets, max, and then I could
lock up and be done with this horrible night.
twenty-four knocked on my door.
thrown the rest of the candy away. I grabbed a bag of pretzels from the pantry,
shoved it into her pail, and slammed the door. Since then, two more have come
onto my porch. I didn’t answer.
barely on any map. No reason to come here just to trick-or-treat. No one has
family visiting, I would have catalogued it. No double-dippers, I’d notice the
same costume twice.
people out there who shouldn’t be.
opened the door to some of them. They know I’m here. They know I’m alone. Only
two cops in the whole town, and they’ll be working parking at the festival. My
car’s in the drive – if they’re waiting in the yard for me to make a break for
it, they’ll get me for sure. I didn’t watch them all leave. Idiot.
hold, but I can’t watch all the windows. I have a bat under the bed. I have
knives in the kitchen. I have…I have a rope in the garage.
Sam surveyed her haul and congratulated herself on her
cleverness. She’d figured out how to properly fill a Halloween pail in a
village with only a few dozen houses: throw a bedsheet over your werewolf
costume, wear a goblin mask atop your zombie makeup. Double the costumes,
double the prizes, as long as the adults didn’t catch on.
Her friends all
reported that the ploy had worked wonderfully – except at the house on Market
street, which had stopped giving candy halfway through the night. Sam had
peeked through the windows when no one answered on her second go-round, and saw
a strange decoration in the garage. Why hang something like that where no one
can see it? Then again, that guy had always been odd.