Halloween is right around the corner and it’s the time of the year I dread more than any other; more than the anniversary of my father’s death or when I have to elbow people out of the way for TVs on Black Friday. And it all started a decade ago.
I was 25 back then, and the first time I felt too old to go out knocking on my neighbours’ doors asking for sweets. I had not long moved out of my parents’ house and had found a quiet little houseshare with three other guys. They had all gone to get pissed while I stayed in doing work that was long overdue.
Halloween that year was a typical cheesy 80’s movie affair – the wind was howling like a starved wolf and the rain lashed harder than a sadistic slave master. The whole gimmick bored me rigid so when the first groups of children turned up begging for charity, I promptly shut the door in their faces. Their costumes were profoundly home made with a bargain supermarket vibe to all of them. Lack of imagination.
It was around 10:30pm that I first saw the kid. He couldn’t have been any older than eight. He was with three other children decked head-to-toe in flowing black robes with an assortment of grim reaper masks adorning their tiny faces.
This one lad, however, had gone all out (or more likely his parents had) to terrify. He wore rags so tattered and torn that they could hardly be called clothes. He was barefoot, with his feet scabbed and ripped and covered in congealed blood. His skin had been discoloured to give it a putrefied appearance. There was however, no odour to him.
As I fixated upon the boy, I began to realise that none of his companions seemed to notice he was there, nor the spine-chilling gash that ran across his neck or how his eyes bulged with a permanent sense of horror.
Whilst I was clearing away the other kids, this one boy just stood and stared right at me. He made no movement other than to offer a festering right hand to me, presumably for sweets. I finally snapped out of my delirium and slammed the door in his face.
That was ten years ago, and I still remember every rivlet of water running down his face. How he didn’t seem to register the burning cold against his ruined skin. How he gave no response when I told him to: “get the fuck off my garden”. That night I didn’t answer the door to any more disturbers because I sensed that the kid would still be out there. When I went to bed that night, I checked quickly out of my bathroom window, which overhung the front door, to see him standing at the end of my garden, staring into my face, arm still extended…
I had woke the following morning to find my property thankfully child-less and I began to put him down to being more of a symptom of my tiring day at work and slowly my brain deleted him from its cache. That was, until the following October 31st…
Fewer trick or treaters that year. Just a handful of people barely even trying to spook. Some asking for money and one or two for drugs. It was becoming increasingly clear that Halloween was falling by the wayside in the neighbourhood. I, myself, was content to settle myself in my living room (my housemates had all moved out and left me over the last 12 months) with bourbon and a few softcore movies and fall into a deep sleep. Which I was rudely awoken from at 10:30 on the dot.
That’s not to say that “something” woke me, but I was definitely jerked out of a potentially nice slumber. I was hit by that fairly common chill that some people get when someone “walks over your grave”. Every inch of my skin pulsed and stood on end, like a gazelle sensing a predator.
Dozily, I wandered into the kitchen to grab a glass of water. While I was refreshing myself over the sink, I made the awful decision to look up, and saw a sight which haunts me to this day.
The boy from the year before.
His face was pressed against my window, completely expressionless with those wild, bulging eyes locked on me, unfocused. I jumped back, hitting the unit on the other side of the kitchen, giving me a searing pain on the back of my head. All the while, the boy continued to stand there, looking right into my kitchen. He made no movement to try and break the window. In fact he showed no signs of wanting to hurt me at all. His hand was still outstretched and the “make-up” he wore on last year’s Halloween still etched his face, though more tatty than then – as though it had decomposed slightly.
I slinked up to bed and the next day, as before, he was gone. I was beginning to think a prank was being played on me.
Now, this has happened every Halloween since that day in 2007. This boy has turned up, either on his own, or with a group that doesn’t know he’s there, and just stares at me. I watched him until 2am a few years ago whilst he stood at the bottom of the back garden staring up into my bedroom. I thought about calling the police once or twice but he’s showed no signs of aggression so I don’t know how much help they would be. What worries me is how he has not aged once over the last decade…
Anyway, with Halloween so close I just wanted to get this out there. I suspect he will be back again this year and for once I am going to be tough and speak to him. I’m 35 after all and he’s just an orphan in Harry Potter’s hand-me-downs.
Happy holidays, everyone!