“I love you Halloween!” This exclamation six-year-old Harry cried out to the night sky left his mother, Mrs. Jane Florence, reeling with laughter at the door. They’d just gotten home, from trick-or-treating, along with Harry’s older sister Sabrina who was already inside, calling for them to hurry up so the candy could be sorted.
“Halloween loves you too sweetie,” Jane called, chuckling in her space-ranger costume. Harry turned to her, a wide smile over his “zombified” face, covered in white and black make-up that left his face ashen white with dark eye sockets and lips. Bits of red pigment dotted his mouth for “more realistic effect,” as he’d demanded, though it’d faded a bit; as Jane suspected, the boy hadn’t the self-control to keep from licking ketchup off his face. “So are we going to stay out here all night, or do you want some candy?”
“Candy!” The child cried, running up the steps past their pumpkins decorated with sharp-toothed smiles and witch hats. He only stopped for one moment, mindful that none of his candy fell out from his orange pumpkin basket. Then something caught his eye, another trick-or-treater on the sidewalk going by in a rather strange fashion, and he turned back to look.
It was a mime, only three-and-a-half feet tall, reaching his hands out, grabbing at the air, and pulling them back in as though to yank himself along an invisible rope. He wore black and white striped clothes and had on make-up similar to Harry’s, though smoother and more refined, with black lines running down over the boy’s eyes.
“Happy Halloween!” Harry called out, waving.
The mime stopped for a moment and leaned back casually at a strange angle, as though the air held him, and returned the wave with a grin.
“Look at him,” Harry called to his mother, chuckling. “It’s a real mime!”
“Oh,” His mom said, looking back outside the door. “Aw, that’s cute.” She laughed, though after a moment, a frown crept across her lips, and she looked around. “I don’t see his parents.” The mime was already on the move again, heading further down the street with his invisible rope. Jane followed along with her eyes. Harry looked up at her, concerned by the tell of her curled lips.
“They’re probably somewhere else on the street.” He said. “Look, that’s probably them.” And he pointed at another family coming up the sidewalk, two pirate parents with a kid wearing a shark costume far too big for them. The shark maw that should have been where the child’s face would pop out jutted well above the child’s head, pointed to the sky with its sharp teeth, and their parents had to guide them along. The sight of such a costume got a laugh out of Jane, but still, her gaze immediately returned to where she saw the mime, gone now.
“C’mon,” Harry complained, tugging at her hand. “I want to eat my candy.” She sighed as the family with the shark passed by the house in the same direction the mime went, then smiled at Harry.
“Alright.” She said, closing the door. “Looks like you were right.”
“Ugh, get over here you slugs!” Nine-year-old Sabrina called from the kitchen. “You’re wasting my candy time!”
“Candy time! Candy time!” Harry chanted, galloping into the kitchen. Sabrina sat at the head of the table, her candy piled in front of her like a hoard of gold. She was a scarecrow with a straw hat over her head, wearing a blue jumper with straw sticking out of her jacket sleeves. And across the table was their dad, Mr. Dan Florence, who held little baby Patricia, asleep in her pickle costume.
“Harry!” He called out as his son ran in. “How much candy did you get?”
“A whole lot!”
“Oh, I bet.” He chuckled. He was wearing a black suit with a cape, vampire dentures in his mouth. “Ah ah ah.” He laughed like Dracula. “Give all your candy to me, my zombie minion.”
“Never! You old corpse!” Harry snapped, running to his place at the table and slamming his basket of candy down. He bounced in his chair like a happy puppy.
“Alright, dig in guys.” Jane declared. And the children tore into their candy, leaving ripped wrappers strewn across the table as they devoured chocolates, gummies, Twizzlers and, the like. “How’s our little pickle been?” Jane asked, bending over to give her husband a kiss.
“Out like a light. She really wore herself out before when we got this on her.”
“Oh, poor thing,” Jane said, touching the baby’s cheek. “She really didn’t want to be put in the pickle.”
“I think she likes it now though.” Dan chuckled. “She’ll probably throw another tantrum when we try to get it off her.”
“Yeah, probably,” Jane responded wearily. She looked to the candy devouring monsters and smiled. “How’s the haul this year?”
Sabrina held a thumbs-up out, chewing up a whole chunk of chocolate, brown bits of it smeared across her lips. Harry was in the middle of sucking on a lollipop. He took it out for a moment to speak, whirling it.
“The best one yet!” He exclaimed and snatched a candy bar from his basket. “Look at this Hershey bar!” It was one of the big ones, and he held it out in front of him, proud as though it was a fish he’d caught.
“Oh look at that,” Jane said with a smile. “You really did good this year.”
“Yep.” And he sucked on the lollipop for a bit more. “Did you see the mime dad?” He blurted out.
“A mime? No. But it sounds creepy.”
“Creepy?!” Harry cried. “No! I’m the creepy one. Mimes are funny.”
“You are a creep,” Sabrina commented, sticking out her tongue, blue from a piece of gum.
“It’s Halloween! You’re supposed to be a creep.”
“Not every costume has to be scary.”
“Yes they do,” Harry said, offended. “And your stupid scarecrow costume isn’t scary at all.”
“Hey,” Jane said firmly. “Stupid is an ugly word. You don’t want to have to go to bed early, do you?”
“No,” Harry said, his tone immediately changing to meek as he turned back to his candy. Sabrina smirked at him, satisfied.
“Now, Sabrina, don’t tease him,” Dan said. “If you two start arguing,” And then his voice switched out to Dracula again. “Your candy will be all mine.”
“NO!” The children shrieked.
“You can’t do that.” Harry insisted.
“Yeah,” Sabrina went on, the force of her shriek before had made her straw hat fall off, exposing her curly blond hair. “We have rights. The constitution says so.”
“Oh not according to the parenting rule book.”
“That book doesn’t exist.” Sabrina accused.
“Yeah, we’ve never seen it.”
“Kids aren’t allowed to see it.” Dan flashed a sly grin. “Article fifteen.”
“That’s a load of baloney.”
“Say what you want.” Dan shrugged. “The book is absolute.”
“Well, if you take my candy,” Harry threatened. “The hollow man will come after you.”
“Oh, who’s this hollow man?” Dan asked, amused.
“Yeah, tell us about him.” Jane encouraged.
“He’s a ghost,” Harry said, doing his best at making a low, ominous voice. “He got grounded for too long and starved to death, and he follows around bad parents who are mean to their kids.”
“Oh, should I be scared?” Dan asked, flashing his fake fangs.
“Yes!” Harry said sharply. “He’ll follow you to the ends of the earth, and when he finds you, you can’t turn your back to him.”
“And what happens if I do turn my back to him.”
“He’ll kidnap you.”
“Oh no. That sounds bad.”
“But that’s not the worst part.
“It gets worse?!”
“Much worse.” Harry went on. He’ll lock you up in a car, and then he’ll give you a fate worse than hell.”
“Oh, what does he do when you’re in the car?” Jane questioned, egging him on.
“For the rest of eternity, you’ll have to listen to…” And he paused for effect. “Country Music!”
“How dare you!” Sabrina screeched, and their parents bent over cackling.
“That sounds terrifying!” Dan exclaimed.
“No it doesn’t.” Sabrina insisted. “Country music’s great.”
“Country music sucks.” Harry countered.
“Mmm!” Sabrina grunted. “Your taste sucks.”
“I think you’re in the minority here Sabrina.” Jane chuckled.
“All your tastes suck! I’m the only one in this darn house that knows what good music sounds like.” She threw a dark piece of candy at Harry. “You have to eat the black twizzler now.”
“Ew!” He cried, swatting it away. “It’ll give me the plague.”
“What?!” Dan exclaimed. “Black twizzlers are great! I’ll eat it if you don’t want it.”
“Well then get it out of our sight.” Harry tossed it over to him.
“Don’t mind if I do.” Dan said, licking his lips as he undid the wrapper. “Mhmmm. Yum.” And he bit off half of it.
“That’s gross.” Harry complained.
“It’s cause he likes his coffee black,” Sabrina explained as though this was scientific fact. “His taste buds died long ago.”
“Haha. Dad’s taste buds are dead.”
“Hey.” Dan said with a hurt voice. “Uncool.” And they laughed, continuing to dig into their candy, enjoying the last moments of this Halloween night.
Harry was in bed now, lying against his pillow in ghost pajamas, ready for sleep. He’d insisted on keeping the zombie make-up on ’till tomorrow; allowing that was all his parents could do to bargain with him not to eat all his candy in one night. So, he lied there, waiting to drift off, wishing for his next Halloween to be even better. As consciousness left him, there was a knock at the front door, and the sound of footsteps coming to answer. He didn’t hear what happened after.
Late in the night, Harry awoke, startled by a sudden rapping at his door. He sat up, groaning like the zombie he was dressed as, and there it was again, three curt knocks at his bedroom door. His gaze turned to the doorway, a painful sensation in his eyes from being awoken so late.
“Mom, is that you?” He called. There was silence. Harry lied back down with a sigh. A dream maybe. He thought.
Bang, Bang, Bang.
The knocking returned, even louder now. Harry sat back up and got down from the bed.
“That better not be you Sabrina!” He warned. “If you’re trying to scare me, I’ll tell dad. He’ll take your candy.” He walked closer to the door and shivered. There was a strange coldness to the room, as though the chill air from outside had crept in.
With a trembling hand, Harry reached for the doorknob, but stopped with his fingers on the cold steel. With his eyes still adjusting to the darkness, he noticed all the dark shapes about his room, and the thought occurred to him: “What if it’s a monster?” Goose flesh broke out over his skin. His hair stood up. He noticed his heart start to beat faster, his breathing growing hoarse as he stared down the door.
“I’m not scared Sabrina.” He lied. There was no response, just dead silence. He waited, ten seconds, twenty, thirty, for more knocking, anything, paying no mind to the cold numbness slowly overtaking his hand. Finally, after what felt like an hour-long minute, he turned the knob and opened the door.
“Oh, it’s you.” His voice was surprised yet tinted with relief. It was the mime, standing before him in front of the door. He was just about Harry’s height, wearing oversized baggy pants that trailed down past his feet. His hair was slicked back over his head, as black as the make-up covering his dark eyes. The mime gave him a crescent smile and put a pail finger tipped with a black nail to his lips, a signal to hush.
“Why are you here?” Harry whispered, nodding. “And why’d you have to knock so loud?”
The mime moved to the right, beckoning Harry to follow, and walked over towards the kitchen. Harry leaned out of his room, watching him move down the hall. “How’d he even get in?” He thought. “And why’s no one else up?” He looked to the rooms adjacent to his, Sabrina’s to the right and his parents’ and the baby’s in front of him. The doors were both closed, and there was nothing but darkness behind the cracks. “Did no one else hear?” He started towards his parents’ door; if anyone needed to be up, it was them.
But just when he reached for the door, a hand burst out from the darkness, grabbing ahold of his wrist. It was the mime. Harry opened his mouth, ready to scream; that was when a small object was tossed into his gullet, and a burst of flavor invaded his throat. It was a sweet taste like chocolate with a crackling intensity that woke his sleepy mind up immediately, the best candy he’d ever tasted. He chewed and chewed, savoring the smooth, gummy texture, and looked to the mime. Smiling brightly, the mime held out more candies nodding for Harry to take them. He snatched them, greedily lapping them up for their heavenly taste, and the mime led him away, down the hall towards the kitchen, swaying unsteadily as though walking on a tightrope. Harry tried to mimic the movements, still overcome by the taste of the candy, almost tumbling over with a laugh. The mime caught him, and Harry saw his black lips flip open and close as though to laugh, but no sound came out. True to his costume, the mime was utterly silent. Harry didn’t notice, but the mime didn’t even make noise as they ran to the kitchen; not even a floorboard creaked under his careful feet.
They got to the kitchen, and the mime came to a sudden halt, stumbling back from the doorway and falling over as though he’d run into an invisible wall.
“Wow.” Harry laughed. “You’re really good at this.” The mime responded with its silent laughing lip motions again and rose, though not in any way that can be described as normal. It was as though he had wires raising him up. He didn’t use his hands at all; in fact, his whole body remained straight and rigid, rotating upwards.
Harry clapped awkwardly—the feat was impressive—yet it seemed so inhuman; it was as if the mime had used magic to levitate. He didn’t laugh this time, and a frown crept over his face. The mime had a slouch now, yet strangely, his eyes still met Harry’s at an equal height, and there was a bit of drool secreting from his lips.
A chill ran down Harry’s spine, and he trembled. Something was very wrong here. He knew it, but he couldn’t quite put it into words. All the events since he’d woken up were like a lucid dream, absolutely unnatural, but with just enough normalcy to seem real.
It was then that he noticed the front door, wide open, letting all the heat out. The porch-light was out, and all he saw outside were rustling leaves under the pale moonlight obscured by the cloudy night. He would have realized it earlier if the house wasn’t already so cold, but he’d been so caught up in their antics, he’d completely missed it earlier.
“Why’s the door open?” He asked. And the mime flashed a sinister frown. “Did you—” At that moment, the mime moved with unnatural quickness, putting his face directly in front of Harry’s. He looked the mime straight in the eyes, cold, dark, and—he didn’t have the vocabulary to verbalize it, but he knew intuitively what that look was—feral.
But in an instant, the mime’s faced brightened up and smiled sharply. He gestured towards the kitchen doorway, and led by the hand, Harry followed, too frightened to resist.
Though, as soon as he entered the kitchen, the tension felt somewhat relieved. On the table was a colossal hoard of myriad candies, such a dense pile that you couldn’t see the wood underneath. And over on the counter was a stack of square cardboard cut-outs. The mime grabbed them as Harry ogled the candy.
“C-can I have some?” Harry asked, turning to the mime with a nervous smile. The mime held out one of the cardboard pieces. It read in big black letters: Tada! And the mime, threw it with unnecessary gusto, tossing it behind him and into the sink. The next piece of cardboard read: My name’s Samuel. Do you want to be my friend?
Harry laughed, a bit more comfortable now. “Um, sure.” He said. And Samuel grinned, making his silent laugh again.
They sat down at the table and dug into the candy. Somehow, it tasted even better than before. It was like eating pure sugar mixed with the richest tastes and smoothest textures imaginable. All the cold that had crept into the house seemed to have faded now. This was his heaven. He guzzled the candy down like water from the fountain of youth.
It’s great, isn’t it? Another of Samuel’s signs read.
“Mhm,” Harry mumbled, stuffing his face with a chocolate bar bigger than his hand. “Where’d you get all this?”
Samuel tossed the previous sign aside and flipped through from another. The circus.
Harry gasped. “You work at a circus?!”
Samuel nodded, grabbing six spherical candies off the table, jaw-breakers, and he started juggling them. They went up in the air and came back down in a rapid cycle. Harry could barely keep track of them in the dark, yet Samuel kept it up, tossing them into the air over-and-over again in a circular motion. The dexterity and skill in his technique were incredible—a marvel to watch. For the finale, he threw them all up in the air at once and caught them in his mouth.
Harry started clapping earnestly, though his smile faded at the crunching noise that followed. Samuel started chewing them—six jaw-breakers, all at once—casually, with as much ease as Harry would have eating M&Ms.
“I’d need to suck on one for a good ten minutes at least before I chew on it.” Harry thought, disturbed. “How is he doing that?”
“Do you have parents?” He blurted out. And Samuel smiled, swallowing with a hearty gulp, and he repeated the process of changing signs. The silence of that moment restored a bit of reality to the situation. The cold and dark crept in once more, and the sweet taste of candy began to fade.
Samuel got his next sign out, showing it with a grin. They died in a trapeze accident. Those words left Harry reeling with fear. He gulped down the last bit of candy that was in his mouth, but the flavor suddenly changed; it became rancid and sour, a taste that made him gag. Samuel seemed to smile even wider at that. He flipped through another sign.
I ran away a few months ago. Ever since, I’ve been wandering the streets, looking for someone to be my friend. He tossed it aside and brought out the next. Someone like you.
Harry reached for more candy, shoving it in his mouth, desperate for that flavor to return; it didn’t—in fact, it grew worse. The texture turned gelatinous, the taste to course iron, and the temperature went from cool to warm, warm like flesh. It was blood.
He spat it out immediately, heaving over at the table. His eyes were wide with terror, his heart going a million paces a second. Yet Samuel didn’t react. He just kept on eating candy, flipping through his signs. Do you know why I ran away? He went on. Harry’s gaze remained locked on the mime and his signs as he trembled, too horrified to turn away, and too disgusted now to even look at the candy. No one at the circus liked my voice, no one except the clown, Mr. K. He was my only friend. He turned to another sign. He always taught me to smile. But then he left. He had other shows to work under. And he’s very good with disguises, so I haven’t been able to find him again. He threw this sign away and snatched a gumball from the table. You should eat more candy. And he shoved the gumball in Harry’s mouth.
It was a putrid taste, even worse than the last. It was cold, slimy, and strangest of all, salty. The texture was nothing like the hard gumball he’d expected, no. It was squishy, more like a grape. He spat it out in an instant, falling back off his chair with a yelp.
“Mommy! Daddy! Help! Help me!” And on the floor, the candy rolled in front of his face. It was a raw, human eyeball, green like his mother’s. He shrieked at the sight of it, a tortured, high pitched sound.
And the mime stood over him with another sign, and something else in his left hand, something meaty. But Harry didn’t notice. He was curled up in shocked fear, screaming his voice hoarse. There was a crunching snap, and an object fell onto Harry’s side, wet and soft, fleshy. With one look at it, Harry convulsed and shrieked as though he’d been electrocuted. It was a half-eaten hand, bleeding all over his arm. Blood dripped down onto the floor in small puddles around the mime, secreted from its twisted smile. The mime stood tall over him, at least five-feet high now.
If you want to be my friend, you have to hear my voice. The next sign read. The mime tossed it aside as Harry backed away, crawling back like a crab. Do you want to hear my voice?
“No!” Harry cried, tears flowing down his face. “No! Go away!” And the mime’s smile turned to a frown. He threw the sign, this time straight at Harry’s head. It hit with an unexpectedly strong force, leaving Harry on his back clutching his forehead. Do you want to hear my voice? The next sign repeated.
“Stop!” Harry pleaded. And the sign struck his face again.
Do you want to hear my voice?
“Go away, go away!” He cried, holding his head, bleeding where the signs had struck him. He braced for when the next blow would come, his eyes locked shut. But it didn’t. Instead, there was silence, and a dark liquid began dripping on his hands, seeping between his fingers.
“Oh, God. Oh, God.” His mind repeated in dread. He tore his hands back in disgust, and he saw above him the mimes face leering over him just a few inches from his face, open-mouthed, with dark blood dripping down. The eyes sat in hollow looking sockets like marbles, lifeless. Its jaw stretched open wide, unhinged like a snake to reveal a row of sharp teeth hiding behind the normal ones, and a low rumble emerged from its throat. The noise that followed was indescribably loud, a deep, eldritch roar that resonated throughout his entire body. Even though he only heard it for a brief moment, it felt like his skin had suddenly been pricked all over with needles. It was only a second though; after that, his eardrums exploded and blood poured out his ears, leaving a high pitched ringing the only thing he could hear as he reeled back in terrible pain. He got up and ran, dashing back through the living room; it was a struggle. He was in such pain that the world seemed to spin around him, sending him crashing between the walls as he made his way down the hall to his parents’ room. But when he threw open the door, it was empty. Their bed didn’t show any sign of being slept in that night; even little baby Patricia was gone from her crib. Harry called for them, crying, dripping blood all over the place from his ears, but there was no answer; he couldn’t even hear himself.
So he dashed back out and to his sister’s room. The sight of it when he threw open her door stopped him for a moment, and he walked in, mouth agape at the carnage. It’d been trashed, the walls slathered with blood and scratch marks, the floorboards ripped up here and there, Sabrina’s dolls scattered about, all broken. And then there was her bed, ripped up, covered in feathers and bed stuffing, mixed with dark blood.
“Nuh, No, No NO.” He repeated to himself, struggling to get the words out without hearing himself. Still, there was only that damned ringing noise.
He turned back, ready to run, ready to bolt straight for the door and get out of the house. But the mime was right there behind him. Leaning over, its body straight and rigid at a low angle as to meet his eyes. Then, its body suddenly crumpled to the floor and convulsed. It grabbed its throat, gagging and choking. Its eyes bulged out from its head as though they could fall out at any moment. Harry was cautious. He edged his way around the monster, his eyes constantly switching between it and the door. Before he could leave, the mime spat something out, and rising as it did before, held it up to Harry’s face with a cruel smile. It was a ball of wet, curly hair, golden brown, Sabrina’s.
With a heaving pain in his chest, Harry turned and ran from the mime as it chuckled its silent laugh.
“This isn’t happening.” His mind repeated to itself as he dashed for the door. At this point, his thoughts were all he could hear besides the ringing. “This has to be a dream.”
He got to the front door, shut now. Twisting at the doorknob was to no avail. It was locked; and the switch that locked it was jammed. There was no way out.
“Why, why, why, why?” He thought with a frantic sense of dread, fully grasping now the dire situation he was in. “Why am I going to die?” He turned away, and out from the shadows, the mime emerged. It stomped and swung its arms in a manner like a dancer in a parade, now towering over Harry at a height over seven feet. Its eyes were gone, replaced by a black void that seemed to drip from its sockets over a thin crescent smile lined with needles for teeth.
With what little will Harry had left, he ran, his heart jumpstarted with fear as though he’d been shocked; pain coursed throughout his body with every step. Each breath he took was an unsteadying heave that left him doubled over choking as he dashed. He moved back into the kitchen and towards the door to the basement. That was the only place to go now, the only place to hide. The door flew open, and he descended. And it was then that he found his family, what was left anyway. At the sight of them, strewn across the couch, his knees buckled and he fell down the rest of the steps, numb to the pain as his arm broke against the stairs and his face crashed to the carpeted floor. He couldn’t move. He didn’t have the will to.
His parents were sat down on the couch, next to headless Sabrina, one half of Patricia’s pickle costume in each of their laps with the baby’s torn up flesh inside. Their faces were gone, and the rest of their skin for that matter, leaving them a bloody mess of flesh and bone. Knives were stuck in their empty sockets, pinning their heads against the furniture as blood leaked down their cadavers. The couch was normally brown, though in the dark, with all the blood caked on it, it was a dark black color. Bits and pieces of flesh and limbs were strewn about the rest of the basement, a finger here, a foot there. The room was one of such savage gore that Harry couldn’t help but give in at the sight of it.
Down on the floor, curled up and deaf, he vomited out a stream of black bile mixed with the blood and flesh he’d been fed before. It was painful; it was harrowing. Harry cried and shrieked so that his eyes grew sore and blood burst from his throat; still, he didn’t hear himself the slightest bit.
He felt a vibration in the floor behind him, and turned back. There, the mime’s eyeless face looked back at him, sneering with menacing malice. Its body lay behind it, crumpled, its neck bent at a horrific angle. It lied still for a moment then rose back up, its features changing. Lumps grew out of the top of its face like tumors, stick-thin arms burst from its palms, tipped with sharp points, and its legs twisted around underneath its baggy pants, reshaping into something muscular and spiny. Its striped shirt seemed to blend into its body, and finally, its mouth unhinged wide enough to swallow a watermelon, the black gums lined with rows of razor teeth.
Harry closed his eyes one last time, and he was alone with his thoughts. Strangely enough, he wasn’t quite panicked anymore. There was a calm serenity in knowing that all would be over soon, this nightmare.
“It’s over.” He thought. “I just wish…His last tears began flowing down his cheeks. I wish I could see them all again.” He braced himself, and his limp body was raised up to be dropped into an early grave. The monster grinned with its snake-like mouth, and took the boy.
Deep down in the sewers, it sat, a savage silhouette picking at a pouch just below its chest. It opened it with its spear-like arms, raising up a tattered piece of skin. It grinned down at it, Harry’s face trapped in a silent, agonized grimace.
“Mr. K would like this.” It said, leaning back against the sewer wall with a sigh. It chuckled, a noise like metal scraping against a chalkboard as it draped the skin over its own deformed head. “I love you Halloween.”
Credit : Dr. A.K. Stein
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