There’s a point in your life when the things that have happened to you just become stories. I don’t mean that they are less important or that they didn’t happen, but they just turn into that thing that happened once. No matter how much it affected you, it’s just a story.
Even if you’re the one who survived.
Five years ago, when we were 15, my best friend Andy and I decided to go trick-or-treating one more time. I know we were probably too old and the adults in the neighborhood would roll their eyes when we showed up, but we figured they would give up the candy because kids our age were more likely to mess with their house if they didn’t get free chocolate.
Andy and I weren’t like that at all, but it didn’t make us any less likely to embrace the idea. Free candy is free candy.
Being of that age when lazy becomes an art form in itself, Andy and I weren’t just going to go out only to find that we were getting crappy stuff like butterscotch candies or the sort of stuff you’d see in grandma’s candy dish. Leave that for what our parents did. This is the digital age.
If you know what to look for and with even basic social media skills, you can actually get your route mapped out for you in advance. Even four years ago, kids were all over Twitter posting pics and putting up hashtags were the really good candy was. It’s probably more Instagram now.
We looked for #fullsize. While it sounded like a good idea at the time it also led to more than a few pictures of dudes naked below the waist. It wasn’t a foolproof way to find the candy, but it worked at least a little bit. We were able to find a neighborhood not too far from Andy’s house that had four different stops with full-sized candy bars.
We each had three different masks, you know, the cheap thin plastic kind that gets held onto your head by an even cheaper and thinner piece of elastic or rubber band? They were only a buck a piece at the local dollar store and we got more than that back in chocolate just from those few houses. Sure, by the third time the parents got the clue, but what difference did it make?
By the time we actually went out, only about an hour had passed until most of the houses were turning off their lights or blowing out the candles in their pumpkins. We went out a bit later than other kids because we were older and of course that meant we couldn’t be out at the same time as the little kids.
Andy was scrolling through Twitter trying to see if there were any other houses close by that we could hit up and wasn’t having much luck. I was looking through what had turned out to be a pretty epic haul when he nudged me with his elbow and held out his phone for me to see.
“Hey, there’s one more,” he said, his voice muffled behind his white skeleton mask.
I looked at the screen and saw a picture of three full-size Snickers bars on a picture with the hashtag #fullsize. Andy scrolled his thumb across the screen and showed the address. It was about two miles away, which, where we lived meant that it was out in the middle of nowhere near the edge of the woods.
“Dude,” I said, “that’s way out there. We won’t get there before they go to bed.”
Andy shook his head. “Nah, check it out,” he kept scrolling his thumb to all the people who had replied to the picture. No one was going out there, everyone saying it was too far away or too creepy or whatever. “If they went through the trouble of getting full-sized candy bars and barely anyone showed up, they are for sure gonna wait up. I bet it’s some lonely geezers who just want people to remember they’re alive.”
I hesitated. I really didn’t want to go that far out. It was cold out and I watched as the thick clouds of breath came out from behind Andy’s mask.
“Two miles?” I asked.
Andy proceeded to goad me with some of the more off-color insults I’d ever heard. None of which meant anything to me until he pointed out that if no one was going there, then they would probably just give us a bunch of candy without needing to do the mask routine.
Finally, I agreed. If nothing else, it would make for a good story. We could make it sound even better, maybe even live tweet it and see if people could make it go viral.
We talked about doing that the entire walk there. How we could make it seem like we were in the middle of a scary movie.
“Going up to the house #creepy“
“There’s some weird music playing inside #wtf“
Just that sort of thing to get people paying attention. Even if they were asleep we could take some pics or something and make it seem like a big deal. What else were we going to do?
Except that we forgot most of that by the time we got there. The house was even further back in the woods than I thought. The start of the driveway seemed about a half a mile from the road to the house and there was a slight bend in it so you really couldn’t see the house beyond a light that was on in one of the windows.
We didn’t stop at the road or anything that dramatic. We had been walking that far and I think that as much as we had excited ourselves at the idea of the Twitter thing, we were also tired and just wanted to get the candy and go home to watch scary movies.
As long as the driveway was, it felt like a fast walk. I didn’t take my eyes off the door from the moment we could see it. There was just the one light on in the side of the house, I think it was a garage light and it shone out the side window, so you couldn’t actually see inside anything.
There was a craved pumpkin with a flickering flame on the stoop, but it was really poorly done. Like a little kid or some old person with palsy tried to make it. And there was a lock on the door. I don’t mean like a deadlock, but one of those little five-button things that you see attached to doors of houses that are for sale.
“See, old people. They keep that on there in case they lock themselves out or something,” Andy said in a tone that didn’t sound all that sure. But it sounded good enough to me as my arm reached out to press the doorbell.
The sound of the ding-dong had barely stopped when the door cracked open. Andy and I stood there, not a single word between us as we stared at what we could only assume was a man in the doorway. He was about average height, a little overweight, but he was wearing this weird mask. It had squinting eyes and really fat cheeks and a puckered mouth like it was trying to hold its breath.
Behind the man was a single exposed red lightbulb that backlit him. He just stood there, wheezing with each breath behind the mask as it slowly turned back and forth looking at each of us. I’m not sure which of us spoke first, but eventually we each remembered to say trick-or-treat. The man stood there for at least another minute looking back at forth between Andy’s skull mask and my fox mask before turning around and walking deeper into the house.
Andy and I looked at each other. Even though I couldn’t see his eyes, I imagine they had the same confused/terrified look as mine. When we looked back I could see the man pick up a box of candy bars. As he slowly turned back to the door his arm hit a railing and he grunted as the box flew out of his hands, the candy bars spilling out onto the ground.
A few actually slid to within a foot of the door. The man grunted and cursed as he bent over to pick them up. Andy and I didn’t move from where we were on the front step until the man turned around. He was on his hands and knees picking up the candy bars and Andy nudged me, pointing at the candy that was just inside the door. I think I shook my head, but I can’t remember, a moment of panic overtaking me I just wanted to leave so I reached inside the door to grab the candy. The man’s back was still turned and I knew I could just grab a bar and we could take off running, splitting-up if we needed to. Why he would chase us I had no idea, but we were pretty worked up by that point.
It all happened in a matter of seconds. As my hand touched the smooth cool wrapper of the candy bar I felt a vice-grip clamp down on my wrist so hard I thought it would break. The man had spun in place and grabbed me. He had been way closer than I realized, something about the light and my mask messed with how well I had seen him.
In one smooth motion he tugged my arm and I went flying into the door. But as soon as he pulled me past him, my body falling to the ground like a lump, he lunged at Andy. Something flashed in his hands. Andy had turned to run and suddenly crumpled to the ground. The man stood over him, still breathing insanely loudly, his breath a cloud in front of his face.
I was trying to get up as he turned and I saw what was in his hand: a taser. That’s the last thing I remember before waking up again outside of the house. My body ached and my head was killing me. My face was cold too. I realized that I wasn’t wearing my mask. I looked around desperately for Andy, but I was all alone.
The front door to the house was closed. The pumpkin was gone off the front step. The lights were off. I scrambled to grab my phone, but that was gone too. I was just about to start running when the panic shifted in me and I realized that Andy might be in the house still. Yeah, he could have run away, but what if he didn’t?
As quietly as I could I went around the house, trying to look into the darkened windows, but I couldn’t see anything. I was too scared to knock on the door. I mean, it wasn’t a prank. The son of a bitch had used a taser on Andy. When I had almost done a complete lap I thought I saw something moving in the dark. I cupped my eyes to the window and almost passed out as the fat, round mask burst toward the window, thumping the forehead against the glass. I let out a scream and it just stayed there, staring at me, then it looked down at the side, next to him and I watched as something white lifted into view.
It was a skeleton mask. Andy’s skeleton mask. And there was something splattered on it. Something red.
I ran until my legs gave out and I tumbled against the first house I found that had all the lights on. I was gasping and crying and begging them to call the police.
By the time the police got out to the house, there was nothing there. No man. No Andy. All they found was the splintered door frame from where the back door had been kicked in. I hadn’t even noticed that in the dark. If I had… maybe I could have done something instead of running away like a coward.
I later learned that the lock was on the door because the house had been foreclosed on a week prior. The Twitter account that Andy and I had found was a week old as well. If we had bothered to look, we would have seen that the account followed over 1000 people and had all of 15 followers. All the tweets were retweets from other legit accounts except for the picture of the candy bars. It was registered in the name of a kid who went to a nearby middle school, but that was just a lie to throw people off.
To lure someone in.
And it had worked.
I cried a lot. I cried as I told the strangers whose house I ran to what happened, begging them to call the cops. I cried when I told the cops and my parents what happened. I cried as I tried to understand why any of it happened, why he let me go.
Why he only took Andy…
It’s been five years since Andy disappeared and there’s been nothing. No response. Every year, I sit on Twitter and I look up the hashtag #fullsize, checking everything out, making sure it isn’t a lie or a lure. I’ve called the police more than a few times thinking I found the guy.
But mostly… mostly I’m just looking for my friend, so I can stop telling this story and start living my life again. The life that I lost the day Andy disappeared.
All for a full-size candy bar…
Written by Sumgigh
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