Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
I have a confession to make. I have been trying so hard to forget what I saw, but now that Halloween is right around the corner again, all these memories resurfaced all of a sudden. I now know it was wrong to keep my mouth shut. But before I tell my husband about it and later on the authorities, I want to get it off my chest anonymously. Maybe this will help me confessing to my loved ones.
My son, I’ll call him Al for the sake of this story, is crazy about Halloween. Each year he dresses up as a zombie. Al loves zombies. Last year he begged and pleaded with me to let him go trick-or-treating with his friends. I used to always come along but that year, he wanted to go without adult supervision. Just him and his buddies. He was ten years old at the time and pretty mature already.
I was reluctant at first but after thinking it over for a while, I approved. We live in a friendly rural neighborhood bordering on large cornfields. Everyone knows everyone. I figured that they would be fine. The kid needed his freedom after all. Plus, his friend Amy would come along as well. She was twelve years old already and always reminded her younger friends to behave. However, one last glimpse of uncertainty within me caused me to decide that I would sneakily follow them to keep an eye on Al from a distance without bothering him. Just to be absolutely safe.
I did as planned and on Hallows’ eve, I let my son put on his costume and painted him some spooky zombie make-up, complete with sprinkles of fake blood on his ripped clothing and smears of it around his mouth. He took a look into the mirror and let out a squeal of delight. He hugged me, grabbed his little bag and rushed outside. I waited a bit before going outside myself. His father wasn’t home that night, so I left a bowl of candy on the front porch in hopes of it not being raided immediately.
Upon walking out the door I saw Al run towards a small group of other kids in fancy costumes. I recognized them all. There was Amy in her witch costume, our neighbor’s son Marc was a vampire and there was a ghost whom I could only assume was Al’s best friend Blake. I smiled at the sweet sight. It was always the four of them.
I followed them at a safe distance, trying not to catch their attention. I watched as they rang at the doors of several houses on their harvest, growing more and more cheerful the more candy they received. It was obvious that Amy wasn’t too fond of Al’s costume though. From time to time, my son would scare her by jumping in front of her all of a sudden or making creepy sounds. Amy would shriek loudly every single time before bursting out into laughter.
At some point along the way, they began developing Al’s zombie-scares into a full-on game of catch, my son merrily chasing around the others who, happily giggling, tried to avoid him. It was adorable to watch them play. I knew they weren’t little anymore, but it still warmed my heart.
They had reached the end of the main road and were still playing catch. They were enjoying themselves and I was content – until Amy suddenly ran off into the cornfield to the side of the road. Al, Marc and Blake followed her, howling like little monsters along the way. I was taken aback. The cornfields were large and children, or rather residents of our neighborhood in general, were forbidden from entering it. Not because they would trample the corn, but because people had gotten lost in there before.
I couldn’t help but instantly get worried. I hurried to run after them, but seeing as I was in pretty bad shape, it took me a while to find them. When I finally caught up with them I found that they had gathered at the side of the field. Amy was still chuckling but completely out of breath.
“Give me a second, you guys,” she panted.
“Aw, come on!” Blake argued from under his white cloak.
“Playing zombie is so much fun!” Al cheered. In the heat of the game, he had completely given up on his usual calm demeanor and was losing himself in a fit of giggles. “Can we keep playing zombie? Please!”
“Yeah, just… just gimme a second, guys,” Amy repeated. She was still bent over and trying to catch her breath.
Suddenly, the three boys stuck their heads together and began murmuring something amongst themselves, out of earshot from Amy.
“What? What are you talking about?” the young girl asked.
“We’re playing zombie for real this time!” my son exclaimed.
I frowned in confusion, but stayed where I was. I watched as Blake and Marc strode towards Amy and grabbed her by the arms. “It’s okay, they’re just trying to scare her again,” I told myself. But that notion was quickly knocked out of me when Al suddenly picked up a large stone from the dusty ground, his skinny arms struggling to lift the heavy thing. Slowly, at a pace almost menacing, he made his way over to Amy.
I wanted to intervene, I wanted to dash out of my hiding spot and stop him, tear that rock put of his hands, I wanted to scream… but I couldn’t. I was paralyzed. Tears began welling up in my eyes and running down my cheeks as my mouth dropped open, trying to form sounds, to somehow produce this shriek I was hoping for but to avail. I tried to move, I tried so hard… but I just couldn’t. My body didn’t obey me.
I watched in horror as my son lifted the rock above his head and brought it down on the screaming, struggling girl’s head. He did it again. Then again. Then again. My son, my child, my flesh and blood, bashed his friend’s skull in. Blood was gushing everywhere. Onto my son’s hands, his face, his costume.
Al let go of the stone and knelt down and fumbled around in the remains of Amy’s head. I felt the vomit rise in my throat when I realized what he was doing. I remained paralyzed with fear, terror and disgust as my son carefully picked at the bloodied, gory mess and slowly led bits of Amy’s brains to his mouth. One by one they vanished in between his lips like trick-or-treat candy.
I didn’t stay to watch Marc and Blake join him. When I finally regained control over my body, I simply turned and ran. I ran all the way back home, tears of shock still gushing out of my eyes. I barely made it into the bathroom before I started vomiting. When Al came home later that evening, I didn’t come out to greet him. I wouldn’t have dared to look into his eyes. I wouldn’t have been able to.
I haven’t been able to look at him the same way ever since. I don’t know why he did such a thing. Was it my fault? Where did I go wrong? How did my sweet little boy turn into a monster? I’ve pretended that everything was fine for almost a whole year now. Every time I would run into Marc’s or Blake’s parents on my way around town, every time I would pick up my son from school… I pretended I never saw what I saw.
They found Amy’s corpse the day after Halloween. The police never found out who had done it; otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. No suspects were ever arrested either. When they questioned my son, he lied through his teeth. Amy’s parents moved away not long after. They couldn’t stand being in that home in which they had made so many memories with their daughter.
I know I should have told the police and I hate myself for being too weak to do the right thing. I was scared. Scared of my own son, but at the same time scared of losing him too. I hate myself for not helping Amy. I don’t know why I was unable to move, but had I been able to… if I could trade my life for hers, she would be standing here right now. I wish Halloween 2018 had never happened. It has left my son a killer, a sweet young girl dead, and me a guilt-stricken shell of my former self.
I’m not stupid. I know that withholding information from the police in a case of child murder has severe legal consequences. I deserve everything that’s coming to me. But so does he. I guess I thought telling the truth wouldn’t make a difference. It wouldn’t bring Amy back to life. But by now I know that those were just the cowardly, foolish thoughts of a cowardly and foolish woman. I know it’s way too late, but for once I’m going to do the right thing.
I’m going to use the blood-stained costume as evidence. I never disposed of it. They’re going to figure out which stains are Amy’s and which are fake blood alright. I’m going to name Marc and Blake too.
No more Halloween. No more playing zombie.
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