“Know it now, ye who sit and judge me, ye and your spawn will always have cause to fear me. Even though I be but dust in my grave, some of ye I choose for my own will fear me forever.” -Sarah Good, Salem, Massachusetts, July, 1692
“We’re too old for Trick ‘r Treating; I’m not going this year.” -Andy Corwin, Springfield, Illinois, October, 2017
This year, Andy Corwin wasn’t going to get talked into going “one more year” like he had last year. If his friends wanted to go, they could go without him. He would stay home and pass out the candy instead. And not have to see….that thing with the teeth.
As best as he could remember, he had been five or six when he first saw it in Mrs. Blair’s bushes. He had thought it was part of the Blair’s Halloween decorations.
But when he had left the Blair’s porch with his candy and was walking back to the sidewalk where his older brother waited with his girlfriend, the thing had made as if to grab him.
“Oh, don’t be such a baby,” his brother had said when Andy had tried to tell him what he’d seen.
Every year thereafter Andy had seen the tall, thin thing in black robes somewhere along his Halloween route. Tall and thin with long, sharp teeth.
One year, when he was probably nine, and old enough to go out with kids his own age, Andy asked them if they had ever seen “The Thing.”
“Cute, Andy, very cute,” Billy Fenton said. “Like we’re supposed to be all scared now, right?”
Andy never brought it up again.
Some years it stood partially hidden behind a tree in someone’s yard. Other years, it was just barely visible in a backyard garden. One year, it was even on a kid’s swing and waved at him while swinging slowly back and forth.
The worst was last year when it had been inside Mrs. Martin’s doorway, standing right behind her as she passed out candy. It nodded at Andy as if they were both in on a secret. Then it made as if to bite Mrs. Martin on the neck and it was all Andy could do to keep from screaming.
“I don’t mind handing out the candy, Mom. I’m staying in tonight anyhow.”
Andy was watching a horror movie from the eighties and would jump up every time the doorbell rang.
“Trick ‘r Treat!” the kids would yell.
One kid stayed behind after the others in a group had gone on. “Are you Andy?” he asked.
“Yeah, I am.”
“Well, this guy in a super-scary costume standing over by that tree told me to say ‘Hi’ to you.”
When Andy looked over at the tree, The Thing stepped out and waved at him. Then it pointed at him and drew a finger across its neck.
Andy dropped a few more pieces of candy in the kid’s bag and thanked him.
“I saw him last year too,” said the kid. “He’s cool.”
The Thing was now standing at the end of Andy’s walk. Two more kids turned off the main sidewalk and walked right through it. After these two got their candy, the first kid left with them. The last two again walked through it, but the first walked around it. Andy felt an odd sort of camaraderie with that kid.
As he was getting ready for bed that night, Andy looked out the window to see if The Thing was still in his yard. He looked as far as he could in each direction, but it appeared to have moved on.
As he continued peering into the darkness, he felt something like a curtain brush against his back. He heard the soft intake of breath as people do sometimes when they’re about to speak. Andy knew The Thing was in his room and standing right behind him, and he froze in place.
“Can you see me out there?” The Thing whispered. “Look over by the tree. No? How about by the garage? Oh, wait! Here I am!”
The Thing wrapped two bony arms around Andy’s chest from behind and pulled Andy to it. It pressed its cheek against Andy’s and hugged him close. The icy cold touch of The Thing and its horrid smell was too much for Andy – the room spun and he fainted.
When he came to he was alone in his room. Looking at his phone, he saw he had been out for a half hour. It was now after midnight and Halloween was over. Until next year…
After Andy finished college, he moved to the South where he could have a house without a basement. He had it custom built to be without closets and there also was no attic.
Andy never went out on Halloween. He sat in his living room watching old horror movies as he had done as a teenager. He kept his porch light off and didn’t hand out any candy to Trick ‘r Treaters.
Every Halloween for the rest of his life at a little before midnight, The Thing would pound on his front door and scream at him until midnight passed.
“Spawn of Jonathan Corwin,” it screamed in an old woman’s voice. “Ye will fear me forever!”
It was only after midnight on Halloween nights that Andy felt safe enough to go to bed. But even then, the bedroom light stayed on until morning.
Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had flash fiction published recently in Black Petals, Yellow Mama, Theme of Absence, Near To the Knuckle, Bewildering Stories, Flash Fiction Press, The Story Shack, Spelk, Shotgun Honey, and a number of other online and print journals. Roy is currently the submissions editor at Yahara Prairie Lights, which puts him in the enviable position of sometimes being able to accept his own work. That site is at yaharaprairie.wordpress.com.
Image by Kim Jones