The NoSleep Podcast

The NoSleep Podcast is a multi-award winning anthology series of original horror stories, with rich atmospheric music to enhance the frightening tales.

NoSleep Podcast S18E18 Halloween 2022

October 29, 2022

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Description

Tune in to the annual sleepless Halloween hauntfest.

“Creepy Crawlies” written by Charlie Davenport (Story starts around 00:01:40)

TRIGGER WARNING!

Produced by: Phil Michalski

Cast: Narrator – Nichole Goodnight

“Fall Foraging” written by Andrea Pereira (Story starts around 00:06:00)

Produced by: Phil Michalski

Cast: Narrator – Kristen DiMercurio

“How to Carve a Jack-O-Lantern” written by Michael Fallon and Mariah Fallon (Story starts around 00:16:40)

Produced by: Phil Michalski

Cast: Dan Harper – Graham Rowat, Pam Harper – Sarah Ruth Thomas

“Sick” written by Alexa Simpkins (Story starts around 00:26:30)

Produced by: Phil Michalski

Cast: Isla – Jessica McEvoy, Mia – Wafiyyah White, Taylor – Katabelle Ansari, Ben – Matthew Bradford

“The Shadow Mouth” written by Caitlin C. Baker (Story starts around 00:34:20)

TRIGGER WARNING!

Produced by: Phil Michalski

Cast: Narrator – David Cummings, Eleanor – Tanja Milojevic, James – Matthew Bradford, Tommy – Dan Zappulla

“That Time of Year” written by Charlie Davenport (Story starts around 00:53:10)

Produced by: Phil Michalski

Cast: Narrator – Atticus Jackson, Kristie – Linsay Rousseau, Man – Peter Lewis

“It Comes from the Moors” written by Jack Thackwell (Story starts around 00:56:40)

Produced by: Phil Michalski

Cast: Dahlia – Ash Millman, Jacob – David Ault, Tina – Penny Scott-Andrews, Harry – James Cleveland, Josh Goodyoke – Andy Cresswell, The Beast – Erika Sanderson

“We Don’t Trick-or-Treat on Blueberry Lane” written by Mr. Michael Squid (Story starts around 01:23:30)

TRIGGER WARNING!

Produced by: Jeff Clement

Cast: Narrator – Kyle Akers, Bill – Jeff Clement, Mrs. Finley – Katabelle Ansari, Man – Atticus Jackson

“Take Just One” written by Charlie Davenport (Story starts around 01:40:26)

TRIGGER WARNING!

Produced by: Phil Michalski

Cast: Dale – Jesse Cornett, Lucas – Elie Hirschman, Denise – Nikolle Doolin, Witch – Mary Murphy, Skeleton – Jeff Clement, Jack-o-Lantern – Danielle McRae

“The Faces of Halloween: Director’s Cut” written by Lisel Jones (Story starts around 01:54:20)

Produced by: Jesse Cornett

Cast: Lauren – Erin Lillis, Cody – Dan Zappulla, Alicia – Nichole Goodnight, Will Joiner – Mick Wingert

Click here to learn more about The NoSleep Podcast team

Click here to learn more about Charlie Davenport

Click here to learn more about Alexa Simpkins

Click here to learn more about Mr. Michael Squid

Click here to learn more about Lisel Jones

Executive Producer & Host: David Cummings

Musical score composed by: Brandon Boone

“Halloween 2022” illustration courtesy of Hasani Walker

Audio program ©2022 – Creative Reason Media Inc. – All Rights Reserved – No reproduction or use of this content is permitted without the express written consent of Creative Reason Media Inc. The copyrights for each story are held by the respective authors.

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Transcript

It's the 2022 Halloween special from the No Sleep podcast.

It would truly be a crime to miss this one.

And for true fans of true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening.

Hosts Aaron and Justin started this podcast in 2012 to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes and conspiracy theories together.

And 10 years later, they're still at it.

Unraveling a new case each week.

Listen, get your true crime fix from the best.

Aaron and Justin take on infamous cases like the evil genius bank robbery, the Zodiac killer, and the Tylenol murders.

Big time crime, right?

Well, they also cover lesser known cases like the case of Kimberly Rico, aka the Valentine murder.

Where, get this, Kim takes her husband on a romantic weekend that includes a murder mystery play that she of course uses as a cover to murder him for insurance money.

Romance to die for.

The two go over every angle, breaking down theories, diving deep into forensic evidence and interviewing those close to the case.

And honestly, it feels like you're in the room with them while they get into it.

You really should hang out with these guys.

So sleepless, follow the Generation Y podcast, that's W-H-Y on Amazon Music or listen early and ad-free by joining Wondery Plus on Apple Podcasts or the Wondery app.

Now, are you ready for Halloween treats?

Because I think there's someone at the door.

When we got home from trick-or-treating, I noticed a spider crawling across Joseph's mask.

My Joey usually freaks out about creepy crawlies, but this time he was such a big boy.

He stayed still while I chased it all over his face.

I was the one who lost it when it went scuttling into the eye hole.

Oh God, take it off, take it off!

But he just kept standing there, staring at me, like nothing was happening.

I couldn't take it.

I grabbed his mask with both hands and yanked it right off his face.

There were thousands of them under there.

Spiders, beetles, cockroaches, millipedes, all twisted together, swarming all over my little boy.

With both hands, I started sweeping them away, ignoring the stings and bites, sending them this way and that.

I was making headway when Joey's costume just dropped to the floor, completely empty.

We never found any sign of him.

Fixed him right away.

Drink my tea!

As the seasons change and the night time grows longer, the shadows expand, the darkness grows stronger.

The veil which hangs between us and those past fades to reveal the realm they've been cast.

Saw in some will say, others all hallows eve.

No matter its name, you must dare to believe.

For this night of the dead has promises to keep, the promise of horror of endless no sleep.

So now heed the warning, it won't be the last.

Brace yourself for the No Sleep Podcast.

Ah, Halloween. Such a deliciously dark time of year.

I'm so glad you seem to like it because Halloween tends to...

bug some people.

That's what we learned from author Charlie Davenport.

From the tale which was this episode's cold open.

Creepy Crawlies, performed by Nicole Goodnight.

We welcome you to our 80s inspired annual Halloween episode for 2022.

And while the theme this season is old time television, the 80s was the first decade when your TV could be transformed into a movie screen with the help of a VCR and a membership to the local video store.

And just imagine the movies you could watch during the month of Halloween in the 80s.

The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street, Poltergeist, the list is almost endless.

So why don't you settle into a comfortable seat in the dark, candlelit theater of your mind.

Because we have many tales which will make all Hallows Eve a sleepless affair.

And so, may your Halloween be a treat, may your Solwyn be a delight.

Halloween is here, so you'll be sleepless tonight.

In our first Halloween tale, we meet a woman doing what so many of us do on Halloween.

Going out looking for mushrooms.

Wait, that's not traditional. Ah well, to each their own.

But in this tale, shared with us by author Andrea Pereira, the woman discovers a type of mushroom she's never seen before.

And what are the odds that the mushrooms seem to look like jack-o-lanterns?

Performing this tale is Kristen De Macurio.

So if you'd rather look for a fungi than be a trick-or-treating fungi, you'd best beware while you're out fall foraging.

I was an amateur mycologist.

Okay, very, very amateur.

I'd only been out into the woods maybe two or three times with a guide, but had decided to branch out on my own and see what I could find.

So, on a beautiful fall afternoon, I stuffed my backpack with an extra bag, a mushrooming field guide, my knife and phone.

I grabbed an apple off the counter, filled my water bottle, and hopped into the car for the 15-minute drive to the local forest.

Ever been to New England in the fall?

If you have, you already know what I was looking at.

Stunning shades of red, yellow, orange and brown leaves filled the trees and fell softly to the ground all around me.

There was a slight breeze with just a hint of chill to the air and warm yellow sunlight filtering through the branches.

Paradise, in other words.

Today was Halloween, and I hoped that the unseasonably mild weather would last until the morning.

I always felt for the kids trick-or-treating with snowsuits on under their costumes.

I set off through the massive trunks of old growth, shouldering my pack and scanning the ground for falling rotten logs and protrusions coming from the base of the ancient trees.

I was able to fill my bag with a couple of hen and chicken of the woods, beautiful finds that I took photos of to upload to my local foraging club, and continued to move further in and away from the places that were already somewhat familiar to me.

Looking up, I noticed that the woods had fallen silent.

Through the dust moats dancing past the slanted rays of an early setting sun, I saw a tiny mossy clearing with fallen logs that looked like the ideal place to find some of nature's treats.

Stepping into the circle, I was at first confused, but then entranced as I saw what looked to be tiny jack-o'-lanterns strewn about the forest floor in clusters of three or four.

Kneeling, I was shocked to realize they were mushrooms, with bright fluffy orange caps reaching down in separate lobes almost to the forest floor, giving them a globe-like appearance.

On one side of each specimen was what appeared to be a tiny face, and the spaces were filled with a black, tacky-looking substance to complete the pumpkin appearance.

Each one had a small green shoot coming from the top center.

I dropped my pack, careful to avoid crushing any of these little wonders, and broke out my phone and guide.

Snapping photo after photo, I became more and more excited.

There was nothing like it at all in the guide.

Maybe these were a previously unknown variety, maybe I could name them, and my name would live on forever.

Well, at least in the mushrooming community.

And getting as many angles as I thought would be appropriate, I dropped a GPS pin on the map and broke out my mushrooming knife.

Cutting the stem as gently as I could and being careful not to crush the shape, I tucked three of the tiny orbs directly into my pack to avoid contamination with the other species I was already carrying.

Looking up, I noticed that in my excitement, I had spent longer than anticipated on my discovery.

The light was getting weaker and weaker and I decided to finish packing up and head out.

Juggling my edible finds along with my pack, I stuffed phone, keys, water bottle and guide into various pockets to avoid damaging anything, and turned and hiked back the way I had come.

Once I reached home, I carried everything into the kitchen and unpacked.

I balanced the three jack-o'-lantern mushrooms on the counter and took more photos, trying to properly document every inch.

Outside my windows, porch lights blinked on in the gloom as the residents of my street prepared for the onslaught of trick-or-treaters.

I had been ready to distribute candy with the rest of the neighborhood, decked out an appointed hat and green wig, but my new find overtook any desire to keep the tradition, so I dumped the candy into a big plastic bowl and placed it on the porch with a take-one-please sign taped to the side.

Flipping on the outside light on my way back to the kitchen, I bet the teens would have me cleared out before the night had even really begun.

Standing over the mushrooms, I picked one up and began to turn it in my hand.

I almost dropped it when for a moment, I thought the black substance of the face had moved towards my fingers.

I figured it must have been a trick of the light, bouncing off the slick surface.

I set it down and went about cleaning and sealing up my other bounty in plastic freezer bags.

I picked up my phone to upload my finds to the club website when I realized all the photos I had taken were just black squares.

Seriously, I swiped over.

Photos before this afternoon were fine, but everything after that was blank.

Thinking I would just post the location and description and go back for another shot at the area, I opened my map and zoomed out over the forest to the approximate area I had explored.

No pin.

I knew I had marked it.

I had been taught to include coordinates when I made a post, but it simply wasn't there.

Turning back to the tiny smiling faces, I began trying to decide where to put them until I could get some of my club to come look at what I found.

I pitched them up and placed them on a baking sheet to give a sturdy surface.

My fingers must have brushed up too close to the black, dummy eye.

And I dropped the one in my hand onto the floor as a sharp pain stabbed into my thumb.

Rushing over to look at it in the brighter light of the bathroom, I started in fear as I saw small black dots wriggling into the tip of my thumb.

What the hell?

Sweat broke out on my forehead.

I attempted to grab at them with tweezers and pull them out, but the pain intensified and started to spread down into my hand.

Blood welled from the holes I was digging in my attempts at removal.

My thumb and part of the palm of my hand began to swell and stretch, with black filaments coursing out underneath the surface of my skin like a spider web.

I clutched at my wrist and sank down against the side of the shower, my mind chittering in panic.

Allergic reaction. This is just an allergic reaction.

A sudden knock on the door and calls of trick-or-treat momentarily broke my focus.

And I staggered out of the bathroom, crashing into the end table in an attempt to reach the wall and turn off the porch light.

I could hear older kids yell with anger as I flipped the switch.

Suddenly, the pain made a massive surge up my arm, and I looked down to see the tiny black lines had become thicker, coursing up to my elbow.

I turned my head and retched onto the floor in fear and pain so hard I doubled over.

I watched as the threads thickened and grew with lightning speed, continuing up my arm and toward my shoulder.

I was sobbing with agony and fear as I tried to calm myself down enough to think straight.

I should call for help.

I struggled to my knees and looked around for my phone.

My head felt fuzzy and light.

My arm had swelled in size up to the shoulder, and tiny, orange fungi coated in blood sprang through the surface of my skin as I crawled into the kitchen.

The tiny pumpkin mushroom lay on its side on the floor, and I could now see a black net of my celium spreading out from beneath it, tiny, orange spores dotting the surface.

My phone wasn't anywhere I looked, and I began to wonder why I had needed it.

The pain had begun to radiate through my chest and head, the side of my face pulsing and throbbing as bloody tears dripped to the floor.

I wretched again, and black strings dangled from my mouth, choking me and making me continue to gag.

Turning in one last attempt at help, I managed to get myself upright and lurched towards the front door, bloody footprints trailing behind me as mushrooms sprouted all over my torso, ripping through my clothing and spreading down my legs.

The hand and arm that had first been infected were no longer working.

Instead looking dry and puffy with orange bulbs sprouted over every square inch of skin, I managed to get the front door open, bleeding, black writhing strings hanging from my mouth as families walked by laughing and talking.

I took one step and fell forward, tripping over the bowl I had left and sprawling flat onto the ground, my body breaking into bloody hunks of mushroom and skin.

Nobody noticed me under the dark overhang of my house, and I was no longer able to scream.

As I looked over the remains of my hand, my mind slipped into blackness, and a moan escaped my broken lips, the wind picking up the spores I had become and blowing them away.

Halloween has plenty of old traditions, but as technology advances, there are new traditions starting to take over, like live streaming your Halloween preparations.

Everyone wants to see that, right?

And in this tale, shared with us by authors Michael and Mariah Fallon, we meet a couple of family vloggers, and they want to show you the best way to get into the Halloween spirit.

Performing this tale are Graham Rowett and Sarah Thomas.

So log in and join the family fun.

That's how you'll learn how to carve a jack-o'-lantern.

Welcome to our Halloween episode.

Thanks for hanging with the Harper's.

I'm flying solo tonight.

The kids are already out prowling the neighborhood.

Jessica is, I think, a fruit bat, if I'm not mistaken, and Josh is dressed as some character from a Japanese anime.

They're trick-or-treating with the neighbor kid and his dad, Steve.

It's nice to have neighbors you can count on.

The kids are complaining that we didn't have a jack-o'-lantern.

So I'm going to kill two birds with one stone and take you step-by-step through the process.

I realize most of you already know how to carve a jack-o'-lantern, but I bet there are some of you who've never done it, because maybe you're put off by the knives and, you know, the mess, and, hey, don't you have to have some artistic ability?

No, is the answer to that.

Worse, jack-o'-lanterns are the ones where some show-off carves out a witch on a broomstick or a howling cat with its tail sticking up.

Nice work, Leonardo da Vinci. Real scary.

We're live streaming, so it's not too late to decorate your house for the hungry hordes that'll be coming to your door.

So, let's get started.

Take a look at my pumpkin.

It's just about perfect.

Not too big, nice shape, good color.

No barnacles or growths or other blemishes.

Some people like the oddly-shaped ones, you know, wide and stumpy or tall and stretched out, but I prefer the traditional shape.

Now, I prepare my work area, as I have done here.

Clear off a table with a lot of space and spread out newspapers.

Use several layers so they can absorb the innards.

You don't want to stain the linoleum.

I place my pumpkin on the papers.

Of course, you'll need some knives.

A big one, like this butcher's knife.

Serrated to make it easier to cut off the top.

And something like this paring knife.

My favorite for the fine work.

I can't emphasize enough how they have to be sharp.

Super sharp.

If they're not sharp, get a sharpener or buy new ones.

But don't use knives with dull blades.

You're far more likely to get cut with a dull blade.

That goes for cooking, too, but that's another strain.

Also, you'll need one of these permanent markers.

Permanent so it doesn't smear.

And a big spoon.

I like this big metal one.

It's solid and has a nice long handle.

Use the marker to draw a circle on top.

Around the crown.

Then draw on the face.

You can't go wrong with the basics.

Eyes, nose, mouth.

Don't worry about making a mistake.

You don't have to cut along the lines per se.

And Comet will take off any residual marker.

See, now I made the nose a little too wide.

I can correct it in the cutting.

And now we cut.

Stick the big knife into the top, like this.

This is where it's thickest, so you might have to use some force.

But if your knife is sharp enough, that shouldn't be a problem.

Carefully saw along the outline.

This could take some time.

You can see I've started already to save time.

Now, when you're done, pull off the lid like this.

By gripping the stem and lifting.

If yours is bald, use the knife or screwdriver as a lever.

As you can see, there will usually be some of the insides hanging off the bottom of the lid.

You cut those off with a paring knife or a pair of cooking scissors if you got them.

Now, spoon out the guts.

I start with the big spoon, but usually end up just 10.

Turn them out with my bare hands and slopping them onto the newspapers.

You could use rubber gloves if this grosses you out.

Now, clean out as much as possible.

Don't leave any tendrils hanging or clumps of goo, because that can make it harder for the candle to stay lit.

You want a nice, clean inner surface.

Time to carve my pumpkin's face.

Like I said, I prefer to keep it simple.

Using the paring knife, I cut out the eyes, just like pouring an apple.

There you go.

Now, then we make a triangular incision to cut out the nose, like that.

See?

Easiest pie.

But the mouse is where the jack-o'-lantern gets its personality.

I like a big old smile.

You might want to do an angry or a spooky look or a simple O-shape like it's scared, but there's something creepy to me about a gleeful expression, like it knows something you don't.

I take my time and carve a big, wide, round mouth.

A big, wide grin from ear to ear with a few scattered teeth.

But just a few.

Now we clean up.

You wrap the leftover gunk in the newspapers and put it out in the garbage as soon as possible, or before long it'll start to stink.

Wash the knives under cold water.

Wow, the livestream's getting a ton of hits.

Thank you.

Time to light her up.

Now I'm using a photo of candle.

It's stable and easy to light.

Now lower the candle inside.

Uh-huh.

Pop the lid back on and let's head out to the front porch.

A perfect night.

Crisp autumn breeze, rustling leaves.

I can already see trick-or-treaters across the street.

Is that a fruit bat?

Oh, better hurry, they'll be back soon.

Position the jack-o'-lantern on the top step a little to the side.

Don't want the tikes tripping over it.

And use one of these long utility lighters to light the candle.

Make sure it stays lit.

Then replace the lid carefully to avoid snuffing out the flame.

Let's take a last look at my pumpkin from the front walk, where everybody will first lay eyes on my handiwork.

Perfect.

Now let me tell you, scary.

Can't wait for them to see it.

Especially good neighbor Steve, who is so helpful.

I don't know what we do without him.

Uh-oh, I hear giggling voices coming this way.

Let's book it.

Let the festivities begin.

I've got my easy chair, a beverage, a bowl full of candy, mostly peanut butter cups.

Now we wait for the arrival of our trick-or-treaters.

I love Halloween.

Thanks, Pam.

Thank you, Dan.

And thank you for hanging with the Harpers.

Where we show you how though life may give you scratches and scrapes, family is the best band-aid.

Right, kids?

Yeah, right.

See you next time.

Love you, sweetie pie.

Love you, pumpkin.

Halloween parties can be a lot of fun.

But do you want people coming over to your tiny apartment for a party?

Not likely.

So in this tale, shared with us by author Alexa Simkins, a woman reluctantly decides to hold a party at her grandparents' cottage.

If only they weren't home at the time, and also rather unwell.

Performing this tale are Jessica McAvoy, Mia White, Katabelle Ansari, and Matthew Bradford.

So if you're going to throw a party at someone else's home, please be considerate.

At least first make sure the hosts aren't sick.

Mia's voice yells from the kitchen, overlapping with at least a hundred others, all packed into my grandparents' cottage.

Are you going to help me?

Yeah, sorry.

Only half mean it.

It was her idea to have a Halloween party, and them letting her use my grandparents' house to host it.

I had even told her that the only reason the cottage is available to use for a party is because my grandparents are ill, and she's still insisted.

Isn't that enough help?

I push my way through all of the warm bodies dancing in my way.

Amongst a cast and crew of friends and acquaintances that had decided to come tonight, the least favorite of mine by far were my ex-boyfriend and his new fling.

I'm not sure why they even wanted to come.

But sure enough, Taylor's smirking face greets me when I get to the kitchen.

My best friend stirs punch, and Ben and Taylor take turns picking pieces of apples out of it to snack on.

Despite the party being at my house, he ignores my presence completely.

She glares at me from behind him.

I roll my eyes and look out the window.

The moon suffocates behind an overcast of clouds.

Cool draft blows in through the window, making me instinctively reach for the jacket on the counter.

Um...

I realize my mistake.

It's Ben's letterman, which now belongs to Taylor.

She giggles.

I avoid their stares and continue to look out the window.

My face is red hot against the chilly October air, and I can feel Mia's sympathetic gaze on me.

Six months of being broken up, it still feels like it happened yesterday.

Cobwebs, string lights, and other decorations adore in the shed.

Starting to smile, I say, Taylor, why don't you run to the shed and grab a blanket for me?

She grins wickedly.

Anything for a friend?

She grabs Ben's hand to lead him out the back door with her.

He looks at me with guilty eyes.

I will.

Don't tell me you've forgotten where they are already?

He knows I'm still angry, and I don't feel sympathetic to his guilt.

He was guilty when he cheated on me with her, and he is guilty now.

The last time he was here, at my grandparents cottage, he had gotten extra blankets from the shed to lay on the lawn and stargaze.

Now the only thing in his gaze is her, and it repulses me.

He turns and leaves without another word.

I need more apples.

Mia follows them out.

Before I can protest, she's gone.

As soon as I step outside, I am immersed in darkness.

The only illumination comes from twisting orange and purple lights around the shed.

A stillness envelops the grounds, and for a moment, all that exists is the shed and I.

I listen and wait.

Just as I hear someone go back into the house, presumably Mia and her apples, with the swing of the kitchen door, a piercing scream disrupts the peace outside.

Grinning, I walk to the twinkling door.

I hear shuffling, crunching, and moaning from behind it.

But now, as I take in the scene before me, the screaming isn't coming from the victims.

It is coming from me.

In the shed stand two small, naked figures, hunched over two bodies.

My grandparents, wrinkly and ravenous, twist and pull the flesh from the bones of their victims and shove it down their throats.

Ben is under the grasp of my grandfather, but to my horror, it was not Taylor sneaking off with my ex-boyfriend, and it is not Taylor who is in my grandmother's arms.

I thought you said your grandparents were sick.

Well, they kind of are.

Okay, I've heard of a flesh-eating disease, but that takes it to a whole new level.

That's the kind of sickness I'm not sure anyone can fix.

But I do want to talk about problems that can be fixed, and that's why we now have a word from our sponsor, BetterHelp.

When I was a kid, this time of year presented a very real problem to me.

Namely, what am I going to dress up as for Halloween?

Think of the conflicts. I could go as Superman if my mom could get me a red cape, or maybe I'd go as the Wolfman if I could find the right mask.

Listen, when you're a kid, these are serious problems.

As adults, our problems are a little more serious, and we need to take them seriously.

Oftentimes, we need to look for outside help to solve our problems, finding someone who can give you a new perspective on things.

I'm not just talking about finding someone who's going to solve your problems for you.

I'm talking about someone like a therapist who can help you train your mind so you can become better at solving problems on your own.

It can help to speak with someone trained in helping you develop better problem-solving skills.

So if you're thinking of giving therapy a try, BetterHelp is a great option.

For me personally, it was only after I worked with a therapist that I realized how effective it can be to help train my mind to work better at problem-solving.

And that's why BetterHelp is so good.

BetterHelp is online therapy that offers video, phone, and even live chat-only therapy sessions, so you don't have to see anyone on camera if you don't want to.

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Our listeners get 10% off their first month at betterhelp.com slash no sleep.

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It's all treats with no tricks at BetterHelp.

And now, the jack-o'-lanterns await.

Let's get back into some biting Halloween horror.

For most children, Halloween is a time to put on creepy costumes and collect copious candy.

Usually the day after, the spooky stuff fades from their minds.

But in this tale, shared with us by author, Caitlin C. Baker, we meet a girl who embraces the creepy Halloween spirit year-round.

She absolutely loves the darkest night of the year.

I joined Tanya Milosevic, Matthew Bradford, and Dan Zapula in performing this tale.

So try to take Halloween as seriously as most people do.

You'll find it helps if you have to encounter the shadow mouth.

Eleanor's birthday was on Halloween. As such, it was only natural that she grew up loving the types of things that would make most children refuse to turn off their lights at night.

At four years old, she had shunned Dr. Seuss in favor of learning her ABCs from the gashly-crumbed tinies.

And on trips to the library, she always sought out the books with the scariest pictures long before she could read them by herself.

Every year, when her mother took her to the Halloween store, Eleanor picked out her birthday present, bringing home masks of ghouls and banshees to play dress-up for tea time, and new baby dolls that caused the neighbors to give her curious looks when she carried them around the yard.

She loved their eggshell-colored skin, their blue-cracked lips, and the black chasms that stood in place of their eyes.

Of course, Eleanor always had the scariest Halloween costumes of all her friends, although she always needed to explain them.

Last year, she had dressed as Lygia after she had arisen from her coffin, undead, and wrapped in her tattered burial shroud.

She'd had to explain this reference to her friend James, who lived next door, a normal seven-year-old boy who had never read any of Poe's classic tales of horror, and who was dressed as a pirate that year.

He had listened wide-eyed as she carefully recounted every dreadful detail leading up to the transcendent resurrection of Lygia's corpse.

This terrible retelling had prompted a tense phone call from James' mother the next morning.

She was upset as she explained to Eleanor's mother that James had difficulty sleeping the night before, and had a nightmare that had caused him to wet the bed and then cry for several hours more.

James had later confided to Eleanor that he had dreamed that his body was being devoured by a giant worm, as a womanly ghost wrapped in white looked on.

Sometimes Eleanor still felt guilty that she had been the cause of such trouble for her friend.

Occasionally, she noticed the watchful looks that James' mother still gave her to remind her to be careful of the stories she told.

This year, Eleanor would outdo herself once again.

Halloween Eve was the night that Eleanor and her parents would enliven plain pumpkins into terrible but temporary fiends.

At least, Eleanor's jack-o'-lanterns were always scary.

While her mother was sketching out some classic jack-o'-lantern features, and her father was already working on carving out a rather soppy-looking smile, Eleanor would not let herself be rushed.

She was busy planning out a menacing masterpiece that would strike fear into the hearts of approaching trick-or-treaters when they saw its evil smile aglow and flickering with malice.

She carved and filed with near-surgical precision and care, imagining herself as the great artist Frankenstein.

With talented hands, she would bring life to inanimate material, to cold guts full of seeds, but without the living spark.

At last, her formidable creature stood, framed in fearful symmetry, with two glowering and narrowed eyes, two small reptilian-like nostrils, and nearly split in half by a wide mouth full of teeth that were long and jagged like broken glass.

She imagined that on Halloween night, her little minion would crack open its jigsaw jaws to reveal an impossible void where its squashy innards had once been.

If the mean kids from the housing developments came to play their tricks this year, it would gulp them down whole.

With one giant serpentine swallow, they would disappear down its invisible gullet into oblivion.

Eleanor's monster awaited only the heat of a flickering flame to lodge within its belly to bring it to life and awaken its terror to the world.

The next evening saw a quiet birthday celebration at home.

James' mother had made some excuse for him this year, and Eleanor did not have many other friends to speak of.

But this was no matter. Even after a large slice of chocolate cake and a generous scoop of peanut butter ice cream, the real tricks and treats of the evening were yet to come.

After dressing in her old-fashioned black lace gown, black bonnet, and black lace veil, Eleanor proudly carried her jack-o'-lantern to its place of honor on the top porch step.

She lit the pillar candle inside with a long match before replacing the lid.

Eleanor lowered her veil before admiring it, wanting to witness her horrifying creation come to life for the first time through the eyes of a Victorian ghost.

She was disappointed to see only unlit blackness.

She lifted her veil again, wondering if the fabric had not allowed the nighttime visibility that she had hoped.

The problem turned out to be not the veil.

Eleanor was puzzled to see that the fiendish features remained unlit.

Not merely unlit, but the cavernous hollows in its face were deeply shadowed, like standing in the doorway of a lightless maze or staring down the throat of an animal.

The air was brisk with a sturdy breeze that should have challenged even strong flames.

Perhaps the candle had been extinguished already, she thought.

Eleanor removed the pumpkin lid again to relight the candle, and was astonished to find that it was still lit, and did not even flicker in the late October wind, even as the candlelight was undetectable behind the glowering eyes and ghastly grin.

Happy birthday, Eleanor.

Startled, Eleanor quickly clapped the lid back onto her jack-o'-lantern and turned around to see James, who was dressed as Black Panther this year.

Hey! Happy Halloween, James. Cool costume.

Thanks. Yours is cool, too.

James hesitated as he warily considered her eerie appearance.

Who are you supposed to be?

I'm the woman in black. It's from a book my mom read to me. She's the ghost.

It's okay. You don't need to explain. Awesome jack-o'-lantern. Why isn't it lit yet?

Oh, it's too windy. It won't stay lit.

Knowing it was a lie, Eleanor rolled her eyes for the sake of believability, then quickly changed the subject.

Do you want to hit the full-size candy bar neighborhood first?

Yeah, definitely.

Suddenly, they noticed the soft whirr of approaching bicycles and looked up.

Three boys rode towards them, in plain black clothes rather than costumes, but wearing masks.

A rider in a werewolf mask led the pack.

They approached Eleanor's house and made a sudden turn onto her driveway.

Instead of slowing down, the boy in front swerved and braked suddenly on the gravel in front of them, spraying little pebbles at Eleanor and James.

His two goons followed suit.

The werewolf got off, dropped his bike in the driveway, and made a beeline for Eleanor.

He stopped when he was only a few inches from her face.

He was close enough that Eleanor could smell the rubbery odor of the latex mask.

The werewolf began to growl, low at first, but gradually escalating.

From the other two bicycles, a gargoyle and a Frankenstein's monster watched with crossed arms approvingly.

Cut it out, Tommy.

James threw a quick glance at the other boys, who seemed ready to step in at a moment's notice.

Eleanor had turned herself into steel and would not let anyone see her intimidated.

Eleanor gave the werewolf a sudden shove that nearly knocked him over, and as soon as he recovered his balance, a mockingly amused, ooh, bubbled up from among the three trespassers.

Ooh, check out James and his little ghoul friend. All dressed up to come to our neighborhood for the good stuff.

What are you doing here, Baron Buttface?

He tore off his mask and laughed.

While we certainly didn't come here for whatever bite-sized nibbles you're handing out this year, we just wanted to see how completely pathetic your Halloween decorations are.

Tommy looked around with critical appraisal, one eyebrow raised.

Three boring jack-o-lanterns? That's it?

And you know you actually have to light them, right?

Or couldn't you even afford enough candles this year?

He chuckled again, and the other monsters echoed his laughter.

My house has a fog machine, real stone gravestones, and a six-foot werewolf that really howls when people walk by.

As soon as Tommy was silent, they noticed another sound punctuating the night.

A very low growl, like a distant mockery of Tommy's cruelty.

Everyone stopped to listen.

Eleanor saw the other kids look over her shoulder at the porch behind her, but Eleanor did not turn around.

She was afraid that she already knew the source.

Tommy moved closer to scrutinize the corner of the porch where the pumpkin with the shadowed face sat, and the growl became gradually louder as he moved closer to inspect it.

Eleanor could almost believe that there really was some terrible beast hiding in the shrub next to the porch if she didn't already believe the truth to be even more frightful.

Suddenly, Tommy broke the tension with another burst of laughter.

It's just a Halloween goof.

He retreated to his bike, mounting it again and pulling his mask back on over his face.

Happy Halloween, losers! Don't let the monsters get you tonight! Leave your masks on, fartsacks! It's an improvement!

Tommy let out a wild howl as they sped off, and Eleanor and James could hear their last chuckles fade into the distance.

Eleanor took James by the hand.

Come on, let's go get some candy.

The two friends returned a few hours later, pillowcases heavy with sweets.

Eleanor and James were about to go inside and survey their hall when they saw the last trick-or-treaters of the evening approaching Eleanor's house.

Eleanor recognized Oliver, who her mom babysat sometimes, among a group of his friends and chaperoned by parents.

Oliver was only three and was dressed as Spider-Man.

Another little kid was dressed as Scooby-Doo.

Another was dressed as a Troll Doll.

The three of them carried orange plastic pails that rattled modestly with treats.

As they turned up the walkway towards Eleanor's house, the parents encouraged the kids to climb up the stairs and grab some candy from the bowl sitting on the top step.

However, as the kids got closer, they were surprised when they noticed the quiet, low growl coming from in front of them, and they backed away from the stairs.

Scooby-Doo began crying.

The Troll Doll retreated to hug her parents' leg and eye the jack-o-lantern uneasily.

Oliver's mom reassured him, gently pushing him towards the porch as the boy leaned back against her hands, whining and stomping his feet.

Eleanor almost smiled to see her jack-o-lantern carrying out its intended purpose.

After failing to convince the little kids that it was only a Halloween joke, one resigned parent walked up the stairs and grabbed a handful of candy to distribute to the three upset toddlers, paying no mind to the mysterious growling that Eleanor could attest was not coming from a sound box.

Now all in tears, the three little kids were escorted away by their chaperones.

As soon as the last trick-or-treaters were gone, Eleanor and James eagerly climbed the stairs to conduct inventory and make their usual trades before eating themselves sick.

Although it did not go unnoticed that, as Eleanor passed, she could feel a heat emanating from her jack-o-lantern that left her legs warm.

Not the heat of a candle, however, it was the moist, living heat of a hungry mouth.

Late that night, Eleanor lay restless, too full of candy and dread to fall asleep.

As sleep evaded her, she thought of the jack-o-lantern that she had created, inhabiting the shadows just below her bedroom window and guarding the darkness from mischievous trespassers.

She tried to reassure herself that it was just a pumpkin, just a strange pumpkin carved by a strange girl with a spooky imagination.

A chill draft came from her window, and Eleanor could almost hear the faint growl carried on the wind.

The vivid memory of her creature's hot breath warmed her cheek and her stomach, already heavy with chocolates, turned to lead.

Despite all the lies that she tried to calm herself with, she knew that it was her hands that had brought the monster to life, and now she must lie awake in fear of what the creature would do while everyone else slept.

Still, what harm could a pumpkin do?

A stationary thing without any limbs did not seem like it could cause much trouble, even on mischief night.

Eleanor tried to think this last thought with confidence rather than speculation, but it cast yet another shadow that she was not able to dispel.

Suddenly, a panicked scream from right outside Eleanor's window shattered the silence of the night.

Eleanor could feel her heart stop for a brief moment, petrified, before she threw off her blankets and fled down the stairs to the front door.

She burst onto the unlit porch in time to see three terrified boys in masks try to figure out what had just happened.

Eleanor quickly stepped back inside to turn on the porch light.

Suddenly illuminated, Eleanor could see that a werewolf held one hand with the other, protectively, both hands covered in blood.

He had wet his pants.

The Frankenstein's monster and gargoyle looked as if they wanted to help, but were just uselessly crowding the werewolf in their confusion.

It bit me, it bit me, it bit me.

He looked at her, his eyes wide with shock, and Eleanor could see, even behind the mask, that all of the color had drained from his face, leaving him as pale as a full moon.

He backed away, stumbling, and the three of them ran off, their bikes lay forgotten at the mouth of the driveway.

Eleanor surveyed the scene that remained.

Her parents' creations were smashed into pieces on the walkway.

She noticed three baseball bats that had been discarded after they had broken the magic spell of Halloween and turned the jack-o-lanterns back into mere pumpkins with a few powerful swings.

Only Eleanor's own jack-o-lantern seemed to be unscathed.

Warily, she stepped forward to look at it.

It growled quietly at her approach.

The dark wide mouth and jagged grin were smeared with blood, and somehow it looked rather pleased with itself.

With trepidation, Eleanor slowly lifted the lid by the stem.

Her blood ran cold.

Although the candle was burned down to almost a puddle, a strong flame was still a light and unwavering.

Sitting in the flame was a child's finger, snapped off at the knuckle and covered in blood.

The tip lacking in the fire.

When you're staying home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, you know what to expect.

A bunch of costumed kids anxious to fill their bags or buckets to the brim.

But in this tale, shared with us by author Charlie Davenport, we meet a man who knows there won't only be children coming to his door on all Hallows Eve.

Performing this tale are Atticus Jackson, Lindsay Russo, and Peter Lewis.

So don't fear when your doorbell rings. It's probably just some kids.

Don't be so worried when it's that time of year.

The End Christy was upstairs with the kids, getting them ready when the doorbell rang.

I shouted up that I had it.

Thanks, babe!

As it always did, it brought a smile to my face and sent Todd and Maggie into a flurry of kissy noises and gagging sounds.

Grow up, you two.

Not just yet, please.

I thought as I hefted the bowl filled with KitKats and Starbursts.

I opened the door and my grin just fell off my face.

Standing there, inspecting the pumpkin I carved with Maggie and the scarecrow I'd stuffed full of newspapers with Todd was a man.

He was wearing the same shirt and pants as me, even had on my favorite running shoes.

The ones with the arch support, great for long nights of trick-or-treating with the kids.

Already?

I asked, though the answer was clear as day.

I took a deep breath in before speaking, his voice full of patience and empathy.

It's been a year.

I was clutching the bowl tightly to my stomach, as though it could offer me any protection.

But I loved him.

He smiled sadly at me, held out his hand and said simply, I know.

Of course he did.

How could he not?

He pulled and stepped off the porch into the cool autumn air.

I only made it a few feet before he called out, gesturing for me to come back.

My heart leapt in my chest, and I practically bounded towards him.

He gave a quick look over his shoulder and then said, apologetically, I'm going to need that mask.

I nodded, knowing there was no chance.

I held my hands around the scene, just under the chin, with a horrendous tearing sound, not unlike husking corn.

I came away from my face for the first time in a year.

Is it possible?

Could there actually be people out there who don't like Halloween?

I refuse to believe it.

This tale surely must be the most fictional of fiction.

I mean, who doesn't like this unholy holiday?

Well, in this tale, shared with us by author Jack Thackwell, we meet a group of friends looking to escape the commercialism of Halloween by spending some time out of the city in a dark, isolated cottage in the countryside.

Performing this tale are Ash Millman, David Alt, Penny Scott Andrews, James Cleveland, Andy Cresswell, and Erica Sanderson.

So I'm afraid you're just going to have to accept Halloween.

I can't get away from it, even out there, because, you see, it comes from the Moors.

I still don't think it was Halloween we were trying to escape.

Not really, though that was what we said when we found the cottage and booked a holiday through the 31st.

After all, it's a day, isn't it?

And you can't escape a day, much in the same way you can't escape the next hour.

It comes to you.

See, what I really think we were trying to get away from was what's been done to Halloween.

Spooktacular promotions in the supermarkets, the crappy house parties where just because they hear the cranberries sing about zombies, they think it's a Halloween song.

They've killed Christmas and then returned for Halloween.

Valentine's Day already gutted and singing with an electric voiceover on their mantelpiece.

That was how we found ourselves up in the Yorkshire Moors on October 29th in the quaint little timber-beamed house.

It was just the four of us.

Me, Jacob and Tina, my housemates, and Harry, Tina's boyfriend.

It was a long journey from the south, four changes on the train.

So by the time we got in, we were just about ready to fall asleep.

A few cups of tea, and we were done.

We picked our rooms and passed out.

I remember waking up around 11 the next day, the smell of bacon in my nostrils.

I got dressed and went downstairs to find the kitchen, my mouth watering.

It was a small house, so it didn't take me long, and when I did, I saw my friend Jacob.

His lanky frame was bent over the hob, where bacon was sizzling in a pan, another filled with scrambled eggs steaming beside it.

He turned away from the food for just a moment to give me a smile.

Morning, Dahlia. Sleep well?

I nodded, hands in my pockets.

Yeah, not too bad.

Then I took in the room properly, and for a moment, I was confused.

I turned to my right and saw a plastic shopping bag on the breakfast table, stuffed with milk and bread and boxes of cereal.

I looked back over at Jacob.

Geez, what time did you get up? Have you found a shop?

There was one nearby, but the website we'd booked with had said it was a mild walk.

Straightening up, Jacob turned, smiling, a spatula in his hand.

Nah, I've only been up about half an hour now.

So, where did we get the food? Did the homeowners stock up for us?

There was the sound of boots in the hallway, and a second nighter, I saw a figure of a tall man stepped through to lean on the frame.

He was in his early 50s, I thought, wearing a gilet and a raincoat.

Those are well-kept beard framing his jaw, his face aligned with age and hard work.

That was me.

I heard you a lot were coming up, thought I'd bring you some groceries.

It's not a nice time of year to be going up and down the moor roads to get your food.

Not without a car, at least.

I smiled and nodded.

Well, thank you very much.

I let the end hang there, realizing I never got his name.

Then he snorted and stuck out his hand.

Sorry, Josh, good yuck. Just call me Josh.

I clapped my hand into his, feeling the leathery skin of his palm.

Good to meet you, Josh, and thanks again. We forgot all about food yesterday.

Don't worry about it, they often do.

He nodded out the kitchen window, whereby you could catch a sweeping view of the brown heather carpeting the moors.

It's not until you actually get out here that you can really understand what people are on about, is it?

From over by the hob, Jacob puffed out his cheeks and laughed under the humming of the extractor fan.

I'm just now going into grips with how vast it is. It just goes on and on.

Josh nodded, stepping through into the kitchen and folding his arms with the rustle of nylon.

He ducked a little so he could peer through the window.

Yup, it's a desolate fucking place, alright, but beautiful for it.

He looked between Jacob and I, suddenly serious.

Best advice I can give you folks is to stay warm, not to go out alone, or, especially at this time of year, go out after sunset.

I shot Jacob a look, feeling quite how wide my eyes had gone. He was an inquisitive fool and so wanted to follow up.

Are there predators out there then?

Josh nodded, his eyes still fixed on the window, picking through the spongy grassland.

Hmm, sometimes.

Then he snapped out of it and jerked his thumb out of the room.

Oh, I almost forgot. I brought more than just food with me.

Then he was gone, ducking back out of the kitchen where bacon smelling steam coiled around the ceiling, where the beams, blackened by age and smoke, made up the skeleton of the cottage.

What was all that about?

Jacob shrugged and started dishing the bacon, which had cooked up nicely onto plates, along with the egg and some coffee he brewed.

Who doesn't like messing with tourists, eh?

He turned, bringing the plates across to where I stood, putting on his best basil wrath-pone impression, complete with waggling eyebrows.

The helln'd! It stalks the moors!

I snorted and took a seat at the head of the table, my stomach grumbling.

Lord Knows Weed did the same if he came down to the city.

You'll get mugged, you'll get stabbed. One day we're all gonna get sick of trying to scare each other.

Jacob set my breakfast down, then took the seat beside me, facing out the window.

Maybe, but that day won't be tomorrow.

I raised an eyebrow, pausing my food just before my face.

A Halloween without trying to scare people? Imagine that.

I can. I swear, every year now I see more video game characters and celebrities than monsters or slashes.

I mean, if people have fun, sure, fine, but I think the last time I was scared on Halloween, I was in middle school.

I heard boots in the hallway and looked up to see Josh coming back into the kitchen. Under his arm was a bright orange pumpkin, the size of a beach ball.

You'll be once in one of these.

The older man patted the gourd with an affectionate hand.

Near as pumpkin farms miles from here, so I thought I'd do you a favour.

I put the fork down and gave him what I hoped was an apologetic smile.

We're not really doing Halloween this year. We came here to get away from it, really.

Good yoke froze for a moment, an incredulous look spreading across his face like I'd said something either hilarious or horrendously stupid.

You came to the rural heart of England to get away from Halloween.

I looked to Jacob and he stared back, his face blank. He had about as much clue what to say as I did.

I shrugged, wanting to get back to my breakfast.

We're just kind of done with it for this year.

The look slipped from the old man's face. He nodded once again.

That's your choice.

He stooped to place the pumpkin down beside the door.

I'll leave this here, just in case you change your mind.

He straightened up, looking between Jacob and I, holding our gaze.

If I were you, I'd put the light out tomorrow.

We have our customs around here, and we advise tourists to stick to them.

We've found it's better that way, safer.

But it's your choice. I can't force you.

And that was the end of it. He went back to his cheery self.

Well, I'll be off. I've got some other errands to run.

I'll probably drop by the day after tomorrow, bring some more food and see how you're getting on.

Alright?

We told him that would be perfectly fine, and that we looked forward to seeing him again.

After that, he showed himself out.

We heard the sound of a large car taking off down the drive, and the silence returned.

It was a silence that's only found in the country, where nothing moves to our pace of hours and days and appointments and schedules, where the world takes its own time and damn you for asking more.

We finished breakfast and caught up with Harry and Tina, who came down from their room with messy hair and sleep in their eyes.

We told them about Josh and showed them the pumpkin.

Tina stared at the gourd with annoyance.

What are we going to do with it?

It'll start rotting before long, and then we'll have to bin it.

She turned on Jacob.

He didn't ask him to take it back?

I stepped in, not wanting things to get out of hand.

It didn't look like he was going to take no for an answer.

It seemed he was pretty adamant that we have it.

Harry put an arm out, touching her wrist gently.

It's alright.

We can hack it up and put it in the rubbish.

We were all happy with that idea.

Tina, because it would be out of the way, the rest of us, because we'd get to take a knife to the thing.

With nothing else to do, we took the pumpkin outside, where there was a nice little picnic table and chairs.

We set it down, then each armed ourselves with a knife from the block in the kitchen and started at it.

Harry went first, as it was his idea, and took a chunk out the side with a hefty chop downwards, revealing the soft yellow flesh on the inside.

Tina went next.

The tip of her knife zipped in through one point and cut a long line across the surface.

Her blade got stuck, and she had to put her hand on the pumpkin to steady it so she could pull the steel free.

Jacob had picked a knife with the widest blade, so he came down at it, putting his whole arm into the swing.

His knife whacked in through the crown of the pumpkin, joining Tina's cuts.

The top right quarter of the gourd came loose.

Oh, man.

Harry chuckled as Jacob worked the hunk free, putting it down on the table, pumpkin seeds now scattering across the wood top.

Jacob looked back at him, then around at us, grinning.

How's this for carving a pumpkin, huh?

I finished it off, packing away the top left quarters that only the bottom remained.

Then we chopped it up into smaller pieces and scraped them into a bin bag.

When we were done, we stood there and looked at the spilt guts of the thing and all the little seeds that lay on and around the table.

We were all wondering who would be cleaning them up when Tina patted her boyfriend on the shoulder and beamed up at him.

Well, Harry, it was your idea.

And then we left him to it.

With the pumpkin disposed off, we settled in for a comfortable weekend.

We went for a walk on the moors, but to the highest point where they had erected a beacon and the chill caught at your bones.

You could see for miles around.

And still, it was just rolling dales and expanses of wind-ripled moss and heather.

Good yoke was right.

It was beautiful in its desolation.

I saw clusters of houses, villages, I supposed, but I understood what Josh had meant when he said it would be a slog to get to them.

Winding country roads connected these hamlets and cars shot by at alarming speed.

We went home eager to get in out of the biting cold, then brewed tea and cooked ourselves a chili before settling in to watch a film.

It was a relaxing night.

We had the heating on, so we were all good and sluggish from that and the food.

I do remember looking out the lounge window onto the moors and being startled by just how dark it got out there.

Pitch would have been a laughable way to describe it.

It seemed to eat the light that radiated out from the windows, thin and bulging out in some places as if they were so antique they'd been hand blown and shone a halo around the house.

There were lights down the driveway, but they might as well have been stars for all the good they did.

We went to bed not long after the film ended and I slept like a log.

The musty smell of the house, wood and dust and smoke, thick in my nostrils.

If I'm being honest, I don't remember the next day.

Who does on Halloween?

The day is just to build up before darkness falls and everything begins.

Even though we had gone into the country to escape the holiday, it was the 31st and my body remembered the usual exhilaration.

The first thing that happened, that I remember anyway, was that Harry found a basket on our drive, a wicker thing that you see people keeping onions or potatoes in.

He bought it inside and we gathered around with it on the kitchen table.

What's inside?

I don't know. Let's find out.

There was a letter on top, so he took that out and gave it over to Tina, who opened it as he undid the leather straps fastening the basket shut.

My friends, I realize you probably forgot to bring sweets with you, and whilst I understand that you want to avoid the holiday as best you can, I suggest you take these, like with the pumpkin, as you may still get visitors even up here and if so, they will expect treats.

All the best, Josh Goodyoke.

Tina made a considering face.

Well, that's nice of him.

Sure. Now we've got treats.

I mean, he's right, we didn't bring any and I was about to make the trip down to the shop just to get some.

Harry looked at Jacob out of the corner of his eye.

You going to put sweets out?

No, I've just got a sweet tooth.

So we split them into four bowls and got eating.

We tried to be neat about it, given that it wasn't our house, but soon the living room rug was scattered with crumpled wrappers.

We put on another film and had a small roast as night fell.

Thinking about the note and the idea we might get trick or treaters, we decided to keep the drive lights off and dim the ones in the lounge, keeping only a lamp on.

With the movie going, we thought it would all add to the atmosphere anyway.

We all decided it was a good plan, and we decided to keep it in the house.

We had a good plan.

After all, we had no sweets to give out, no pumpkin.

It would be plain to see that we weren't participating.

The night was going well.

The film was a good one, a modern western, as Harry and I shared an interest in history, and Tina had mistakenly let us pick.

She didn't mind though, she was sitting happily enough with a steaming mug of tea.

Jacob sat across the room, sipping a beer in a leather arm chair.

His legs hooked over the armrest.

If that had been it, it would have been a perfectly good night.

But it seems some holidays are more optional than others.

And at around 9.30, there came a knocking at the door.

The movie had just reached a quiet point, as the old fighter and rival Cheyenne Chief shared a few words of bridging respect.

The noise echoed down the hall.

I jumped in my seat, and Jacob lent forward, pausing the movie.

He looked around, confused.

That wasn't just me, was it?

We left the silence intact for a second, hoping to hear the noise, and a moment later, it came again.

Someone was definitely hitting the door, and with enough frantic energy to rattle the knocker.

Jacob nodded and rose.

I'll go see what they want, probably just some kids got turned around.

That would have been fine if he hadn't left the remote on his chair at the other end of the room.

Faced with the choice between going to get it, sitting in silence, and going to see who was at the door, we chose the more exciting of the three.

Harry put his bowl down on the coffee table, and we went to see who was at the door.

Tina and Harry went to stand behind Jacob as he pulled off the safety chain and unlocked the door.

I was hanging back, leaning in through the living room, one hand on the frame.

He started talking before he even got the door open.

I'm sorry guys, we don't have anything to give you.

It's probably not something you'll learn till you're older, but when grown-ups don't put out a pumpkin, it means that...

his words died in his throat as he pulled the door open.

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting.

Maybe a few kids stressed up like witches or cartoon characters, a Range Rover idling on the road as a parent sat by on their phone, the moors stretching away beyond, the sky and open range of stars.

Instead, the doorway was filled by a wall of shaggy gray fur, matted in some places with something dark.

Jacob took one step back, eyes wide in his head.

What the fuck?

A canine face came down under the door frame, ears pinned back to fit under the low wooden beams, tongue lolling over a muzzle overstuffed with yellowed teeth, which stuck out at odd angles like those of a bent comb.

Its eyes were two huge sources of black, like the darkness I'd seen on the moors the night before, the black that ate light.

What was worse was that they sat close together, focused like a human's, like a predator's.

I remembered back to the day before and heard Jacob's voice again, back when he was playing at Sherlock.

I heard Harry's breath catching his throat, Tina's hand gripping his arm.

Jesus Lord.

The thing in the doorway let out a ragged breath, whistling through the gaps in its teeth before it spoke in a warped voice that seemed to drip out of its mouth like treacle.

Trick or treat.

Its lips did not move with the words, and I couldn't tell which of us it looked at, though I suppose it was all of us.

Jacob swallowed and found his voice.

We don't have anything for you, we don't have any treats.

The shaggy dog creature drew back a growling gasp after hearing this, and then the silence came back, and it appeared stony with the creature's raspy breath.

Trick then.

What?

That was all Jacob had time to say before the creature's head shot forwards, its lips separating at the base of its mouth, where the jawbone should have held them, and came down over his head.

I heard those snaggle teeth sink into his skin, saw the blood welling up from hundreds of points where he had been bitten.

All the while, as his arms beat the creature's fur covered body, it stared at us, its gaze unwavering.

Then it seemed to have had enough of him as it bit down harder, and I heard the wet popping as it broke his spine.

I saw his arms jerk and then go limp, blood splattering onto the floor and walls from the force of the bite.

Together we screamed as the thing wrenched Jacob over the threshold and into the dark of the night.

We ran back into the living room, slamming the door shut behind us, and very pushing his back into it, expecting any second to feel the thing pounding to get in, to get at us.

What was that?

I saw Tina's face was covered in a slight mist of red, flying droplets of blood thrown off when the hound thing bit into Jacob.

I decided not to tell her.

I don't know what it fucking was, but it broke Jacob in half like he was a goddamn twig.

I was hunting around, looking for something heavy we could push in front of the door.

At the end I threw my weight behind the chair I'd been sitting in and started to shove it across the room, leaving two great drag marks as the wooden legs scraped over the floor.

Tina was doing the same, and did a double take when she saw the armchair Jacob had been sitting in.

She made for it, thinking it would be a good barricade.

Perry saw what she was doing and realized, before she did, that it took her closer to the front of the house.

Baby, stay away from the windows.

Finally as soon as he said this, the creature melted out of the darkness beyond the glass.

The glow thrown out by the lamp showed the depth in its eyes, soulless pits that glittered with stolen light.

It looked for all the world like a child's nightmare, dressed up in what it thought looked like a dog.

Tina reared away, her hand leaving the back of the chair like it was white-hot.

Its voice came again through the closed window, echoing through the room like it was working on a PA system.

Trick or treat.

I saw a sheen of red on its teeth, but no sign of Jacob.

Then it was gone again, blending back into the dark that had burst it.

The eyes were the last thing to disappear.

Harry was freaked.

He grabbed Tina and the pair of them were backing away from the window.

Where the fuck did it go?

Harry, come back over here.

He shook his head with protective arm around Tina.

Oh no, Dahlia, we're staying the hell away from there.

I looked behind him to the plate glass windows that watched out over the garden.

The plastic framed back door with its large glass panel.

I had just enough time to notice those sorceries reappear and cover my head before the whole side of windows was shattered by something heavy.

I threw myself down, close to the wall, hoping it would shield me.

I looked up along the line of the floor and saw the creature, against the ceiling, tongue, lolling, eyes wide.

It was bearing down on Tina, two huge arms extended, paws fitted with six-inch nails.

I heard a yell.

I saw Harry charge the creature from the side, a fire poker in his hand held like a spear.

Trick or treat.

It knocked him backwards with one swipe of its arm, throwing him sprawling into the coffee table, which toppled over, sending cups and sweets flying.

I heard the wind coming out of him in a single wheeze.

It grabbed hold of Tina, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her tight against its fur.

Then, with its free hand, it caught Harry by the foot and slung him up over its shoulder before starting back out the way it came, dragging my friends through the ruin of the broken back door.

My mind was reeling.

One friend dead, two taken.

I was looking for something I could do.

I couldn't fight it, and Tina, that went.

I had to think.

I looked around me, trying to find something, and then my eyes settled on the sweets that lay scattered over the floorboards and I had an idea.

I snatched up as many of the sweets as I could and started for the door.

It was a last-ditch effort, but I had no guarantee it wouldn't come back to finish me off anyway, and if I could save my friends, it was worth the risk.

I tried my best to avoid the broken glass, but I still felt shards of it slice into my bare feet.

Then, I was on the damp grass, with the smell of the cold night air in my nostrils, the chill biting at my muscles.

I saw its receding back, with its shaggy fur caught in the light from the kitchen.

It was almost at the radius of the house lights.

If I didn't reach it by then, my friends were gone.

Sprinting, I built the sweets up above my head, feeling some spill through my fingers and screamed into the night air, TREAT! FOR GOD'S SAKE! TREAT!

But it was already too late.

The hound thing had reached the edge of the light, and with one glance back at me, its inkwell eyes passive.

It stepped out and disappeared into the night once more, this time taking Harry and Tina with it.

I reached the edge of the light and threw down my sweets, spilling them across the wet grass.

Come back! Treat you fucking bastard! Treat!

All I heard was the wind in the trees and the sound of a stream running nearby.

The moors heard me, and they didn't care.

And then, from the dark, a single claw crossed the light thrown by the house.

Gently, the tip came down on a single toffee, piercing it through the wrapper.

I watched it ascend above me, where I saw once again those saucer eyes.

A moment passed between us, before they, the claw and the toffee, drew back into the night.

Harry and Tina toppled back into the house lights, stunned and bruised, but alive.

I collapsed onto the grass, exhausted.

Josh was as good as his word and came back the next morning.

He took in a smash-back door and the disturbed appearance of Harry and Tina.

He shook his head sadly at the blood by the front door.

I told him what we'd done to the pumpkin and how we'd eaten the sweets.

I thought he might call me a fool or blame us for Jacob's death, but all he did was give me a pitying look.

He knew I'd learn my lesson.

Later, we sat in the kitchen, steaming mugs of tea between us.

The other two were upstairs, still passed out in bed.

What was it?

I had to ask. I thought I'd go mad if I didn't.

He sipped his drink, and for a moment I thought he wouldn't reply.

But then he put the mug down on the table again and set his face.

I don't know for sure.

All I can say for certain is that it's something very old.

It's been here longer than this house, longer than the village, and it's easily offended.

Can we go after it? It has my friend Jacob.

Josh shook his head.

No chance, lass.

It only shows itself on Halloween.

That's when the veil lifts.

You went out there today.

You'd be out there wandering on the moors until you froze up, lost your way and died of thirst.

After that, I let go.

We had fucked up, disregarded his warnings and paid the price.

Josh called the local police and they put it down as a freak accident by a stray dog.

The looks they gave good yoke when they came to talk to us told me everything I needed to know.

It was a local problem.

We went home with two stories, the one we told people, the one they believe at least, and then the one we wheeled out when it was just the three of us in a bottle of something strong.

It's been four years now and we still meet each Halloween night.

I suspect they never will.

When it comes to trick-or-treating, there is always a very serious issue to contend with.

Namely, when should you stop collecting candy for the evening?

Well, in this tale, shared with us by author Mr. Michael Squid, we meet two boys who are pretty much done their trick-or-treating, that is, until they decide to get a few more treats down that one mysterious street.

Performing this tale are Kyle Akers, Jeff Clement, Katabelle Ansari, and Atticus Jackson.

So let's hear this cautionary tale and discover the reasons why they say, we don't trick-or-treat on Blueberry Lane.

Each year, when the leaves turn fiery red and the cold winds sweep in from the north, memories from my childhood return, and not the good ones, the memories I meditated and medicated over to bury deep in the cellar of my mind, memories that began on Halloween back in 1996 when I was just a kid, memories of Halloween night on a narrow little street called Blueberry Lane.

My local blockbuster carried a copy of a French film called The City of Lost Children, which I'd fallen in love with.

And being a naive kid, I thought of dressing up as Ron Perlman's character one.

I quickly learned I was actually dressed as a costume you have to explain for yet another year, but I was happy.

I slept with my neighbor and friend Bill, eager to venture out and fill our pillowcases with sugary treats.

Bill wore skeleton pajamas and a skull mask, same as he did the previous year.

He greeted me at the door by lifting his mask and smirking.

What the hell are you supposed to be, unburnt Freddy Krueger?

I looked down at the sweater I wore, stuffed with socks for fake muscles.

I'm one from The City of Lost Children.

What the hell is that?

Never mind, let's head out.

I felt a bit embarrassed at the revelation that my costume was unrecognizable, but excitement was in the air and a bounty of cavity-causing treats awaited.

We zipped out on our bikes, hitting up the Finley residence just next door.

There's was a modest two-story home, and their porch had paper cutouts of witches and black cats in every window.

Trick or treat.

Soon the door opened to the smiling green face of Mrs. Finley beneath a witch's hat.

Ooh, what do we have here? A skeleton and a little Freddy Krueger!

I frowned a little and realized it was going to be a long night.

We thanked Mrs. Finley after receiving a few dumb-dumb lollipops and headed back to our bikes.

We hit house after house, filling our pillowcases with Reese's and KitKats, and the occasional apple from a well-meaning, yet totally misguided parent.

Bill and I ran laps around the other kids we encountered.

We cleared our entire street in 40 minutes flat.

After following some older kids to a wealthy neighborhood with king-sized candy bars, it truly felt like a successful run.

I was content to head back early to binge horror movies and scarf down our suites, but Bill made a suggestion.

Hey, let's head down Blueberry Lane.

Blueberry Lane was fairly close to our little cluster of homes, but we didn't go there.

Nobody went on it, unless it was a lost driver in search of the interstate or one of the unfortunate families who hadn't moved out after the murders.

The Schaifers had been an upper middle-class family that had a lovely home on the narrow street.

They'd had two boys, Roger, who'd been about my age and two I'd played a Genesis game with one afternoon, and their older son, Tim, had just graduated high school as valedictorian and was looking forward to attending an Ivy League college.

One beautiful fall day, however, Tim Schafer came home, took his father's hunting rifle, and shot every single member of his family dead.

The police found him, splattered with blood and bone chips, giggling.

It turns out he hadn't just shot them dead, either. He went back to reload again and again, decimating the bodies, particularly the faces, until they were beyond recognition.

Last I heard, he was locked away, upstate in an asylum.

Why in the hell would we go there?

Bill lifted the plastic skull mask up from his face, revealing the glint in his eyes.

Didn't you hear about the stories? The weird shit that happens there?

His eyebrows lifted, as did his freckled cheeks as he smiled. What weird shit?

People say there's a reason Tim shot his family to pieces. There's a reason compasses won't work right, and animals won't go anywhere near that street, not even insects.

Some say the land is haunted, that some massacre of the original Native Americans brought a curse on the land.

Others say it's a place where the fabric between our dimension and some place, darker, has worn a bit too thin.

Thin enough to open up this time of year.

Sounds like BS.

But the truth was, I wanted nothing to do with the street. Something about it always freaked me out.

Perhaps the way the trees leaned in from the woods on either side, failing it in constant shadow, even on sunny days.

It was always far too dark. Billy furrowed his brows.

Look, it's Halloween dude, I'm going. If you want to be a chicken shit baby, just head home.

With that, he took off, biking in the direction of that one lane in our town with no streetlights.

I felt a sense of dread rise up within me, but I tagged along, just hoping to get it over with fast.

Once we made it to Blueberry Lane, it was clearly much darker than any other road in the vicinity.

Tall pines on either side of the narrow road blocked out much of the night sky.

It felt colder too, as if some arctic wind had somehow found its way there alone.

I reluctantly pedaled behind Bill, and once there I noticed the sound of crickets had completely vanished.

It was quiet, yet anything but serene.

Still, I followed Bill as he rode up to the first house on the left and parked his bike.

It was a small two-story home, and the sightings white paint had blistered and peeled.

A single, ochre light was on upstairs, in the small window beneath the sagging roof.

I just wanted to be safe in my parents' house, but I had very few friends.

Losing the respective Bill was too great a risk for me to take.

I'd never leave it down.

I lowered my kickstand and followed him up the steps, feeling a chill as Bill knocked on the door.

Tricker treat, trick or treat.

A light went on downstairs, illuminating the dilapidated porch in an amber glow.

Soon we heard the floor creak as footsteps approached.

The door slowly opened to reveal an emaciated man with hollow eyes and a long, gaunt face.

He just stared at us, unmoving.

He creeped me out, a forty-something man with no hair.

The eyes were wide and expressed immense fear, but he said nothing.

Tricker treat, sir.

But the man just watched us with that haunting stare.

Let's get out of here.

I followed Bill back to our bikes. I'd had enough.

Yeah, let's just get home. My mom is expecting me.

It was a lie, but Bill just nodded.

I think he was ready to get out of there, too, if we only knew.

We hopped back on our off-brand bikes and pedaled back the way we'd come, but my stomach sank when I saw an endless stretch of road fading off into absolute darkness.

We could no longer see the connecting road, which we had turned off about eight meters back.

There was just an endless pathway into the shadows where our turnoff should have been.

I think it's actually the other way.

I absolutely knew it wasn't, but prayed it was just our paranoia toying with us.

I followed Bill as we biked past that first house.

That skeletally thin man was still visible through his cracked door, staring at us with wide, begging eyes.

We pedaled on the dark road for a while, and the hairs on my body rose as the house shrank behind us until it was so dark we couldn't see.

Then Bill switched on the light affixed to his handlebars, illuminating a stretch of the narrow road that seemed to curve slightly to the right.

The tall trees bent inward on either side like curling fingers.

It was not only the wrong way, it was impossibly narrow, a mere two meters wide, barely wide enough for a car.

This is the wrong way. Let's go back. Something's wrong.

You saw what was back there. That was definitely the wrong way.

I didn't try to argue. I pedaled behind him, watching the street gradually taper off until it was a mere few feet wide.

What the hell?

Up ahead on the left was the yellow glow of a home's lights, barely visible through the tall trunks of the bone-white trees.

See? It's the wrong way.

I turned back around. My stomach sank and horror tickled my brain.

Behind us was a dense, dimly-lit cluster of trees. No road. Just an endless span of forest.

Oh my god.

Bill turned too and I saw his face go white.

He spun his handlebars to face the other way, lighting up the tree trunks and leaf-strewn forest floor.

Where is the road?

He then turned his bike back to the impossibly narrow strip of tarmac leading through the woods.

It has to be this way.

I realized something in him had broken. It was as if he was refusing to accept the impossibility of our situation.

Like his mind was unable to allow him to comprehend it.

I was too terrified to argue and just trailed along that bike path-sized street that cut through the woods.

The path widened as we drew closer to the second home.

I felt a slight relief realizing we weren't going to be forced to walk our bikes through the woods.

A road meant a path back to safety.

And Blueberry Lane was only a mile long.

I followed Bill as we rode closer to the drive, leading to the house on the left.

Seeing the lights on filled me with a sense of hope.

At worst we could ask them to use a phone and get one of our parents to pick us up.

For just a moment I felt a slight wave of calm.

But then I recognized the house.

I remembered heading there after school one day to try Roger's brand new Genesis.

It was the Schaefer residence.

Just keep going.

That's the house.

I willed him to stop, but Bill just kept riding up their driveway before slowing the stop halfway.

He hopped off and let the bike fall to the road with a clank.

He then walked very softly a few steps towards the house before stopping dead in his tracks.

He stood there motionless, facing the house.

His skeleton printed pajama arms slack at his sides.

Bill? Bill? Let's go!

I lowered the kickstand and walked along the driveway until reaching him.

Then I grabbed his shoulder and gave him a shake and set it again.

Bill, let's get out of here. That's the Schaefer home. Come on. This isn't funny.

Nothing. It was as if he was in a trance.

I rounded my friend looking into his cheap plastic skull mask.

The way he was angled I couldn't see his eyes.

What the hell, Bill? I'm going with or without you.

Something about him filled me with fear.

I just wanted to see his face.

I reached out and lifted his mask.

A mangled mess of meat dangled down from a concave hole in his head where his face should have been.

Dripping gristle, speckled with teeth and chipped bone.

I screamed and retreated to my bike.

My heart pounded so loud it was all I heard as I pedaled past the house and into the blackness of the shadowy lane.

The moonlight barely gave any glimpse of the path and I had to squint to tell where the road ended and the trees on the side began.

I huffed as I sped away my calves soar and my lungs aching from the exertion.

Soon another house's lights came into view up ahead.

Relief filled me as I realized I was making progress.

There were only four houses on Blueberry Lane.

After this one would be the last and then I'd be at the main road, which was well lit and easily navigable to get back to my house.

I'd tell my parents and they'd call the police.

They'd drive over and we'd get Bill and we could laugh over our minds playing tricks on us.

But then the upcoming house came into view.

A small bike was on the Tarmac driveway and a boy stood next to it.

It was the Schaefer home.

Again, and in the middle of the driveway there stood what had become of Bill.

His head was a grim crescent of gore for the face and most of the skull should have been.

He walked towards me, picking up speed until he was running straight at me.

I screamed and spun around and my heart stopped in my chest as I saw nothing but woods behind me.

That disfigured walking torps was running towards me and I hopped off my bike and ran into the woods trying my best to weave between the trunks.

The sound of crunching twigs behind me was joined by a gurgling, wheezing breath as my pursuer chased me through the seemingly endless woods.

I ran until I felt my body would collapse and then ran some more, terror consuming my mind at the horror that was chasing me.

I had no idea how long I'd been running, but it felt like at least a half an hour.

I eventually saw the passing lights of cars on a road up ahead.

I ran out and collapsed and a stranger slowed to a halt.

A middle-aged man got out and stood over me.

You okay there, little Freddy Krueger?

I responded by wheezing out my address and he nodded, understanding I needed to get home.

The drive was short and I was soon back in my parents' house, thanking the man before running into my mother's arms as tears flowed down my pale face.

Over the following weeks, multiple search parties scoured those woods, searching for Bill.

They located both of our bikes deep in the woods, but Bill was never found.

They even searched the Schaefer residence, which was still uninhabited since the tragedy that took place there.

They found no trace of him.

It was as if Bill had vanished from the face of the earth.

Years of therapy followed and eventually I was able to move past the horrific night.

I lost my friend.

I never again went near Blueberry Lane.

I occasionally looked it up on the internet and read about fatal car crashes, or unknowing kids who'd gone missing in the fall.

The next and final time I saw it was when I looked on Google Street View.

I clicked along the panoramic photos of Blueberry Lane, seeing distorted and glitched images of an otherwise normal looking road, but as I clicked forward to virtually traverse the length my insides squirmed.

About a few clicks up from the entrance, in the woods opposite the Schaefer house, I saw something.

The face was blurry, but in that photo a child-sized figure stood a ways back in the trees, wearing the same skeleton pajamas Bill wore that night, decades earlier.

He was the same height as I remembered, and though his face was just a blur, I could see the long, dark oval of a mouth stretched wide open.

He was screaming.

We all have busy lives and hectic schedules.

As much as we want to celebrate Halloween, we might not have time to stay home and shell out candy.

That means trick-or-treaters often encounter an unattended bowl of candy on a front porch.

But in this tale, shared with us by author Charlie Davenport, we meet a man who clearly doesn't understand the etiquette that a bowl of Halloween candy demands.

Performing this tale are Jesse Cornette, Ellie Hirschman, Nicole Duhlin, Mary Murphy, Jeff Clement, and Danielle McCray.

So if you're out on Halloween with the little ones, set a good example, follow the rules, and please take just one.

You took two pieces.

Lucas' voice was filled with a righteous indignation.

One for me and one for Mommy.

That's not how it works, Daddy.

Take just one.

I'm as honest as the day is long, but a whole bowl of Butterfinger BBs and...

it didn't look like a single one had been taken.

Come on, any one of you would have done the same.

Besides, the directive had been scrawled out in a spidery rapid cursive on a plain white card in the center of the honor bowl.

It had been done as an afterthought, a last-minute thing before some no-kids, two-in-comes couple went out for the evening.

If anything said suggestion or guideline, any clearer, I'd never come across it.

Within a few houses, Lucas forgot about my ill-gotten gains.

While my boy was a born stickler, he also had the same mission as any other kid on Halloween.

Fill up the bag.

We must have walked another sixteen blocks and hit every house along the way.

By the time we got home, Denise had already switched off the lights but had forgotten the empty bowl out front.

My feet were aching and Lucas was utterly tuckered.

I carried him up the short three steps to our front door.

His Spider-Man mask rested heavily against my shoulder.

All Hallows' Eve was a done deal.

I was fishing out my keys when I heard a croaky, flat voice behind me.

Trick or treat.

I was a bit annoyed, fully expecting my son would be awakened by this, but Lucas was still sawing logs.

I turned and standing there on my front lawn was a waist-high witch, emerald green hooked nose, gnarled features, and a wide-brimmed pointy hat.

My irritation instantly melted away.

After a season of superheroes and princesses, this kid's classic choice delighted me.

Wow, you look awesome.

She didn't acknowledge the compliment or react in any way, other than to snap her bag forward with urgency and repeat.

Trick or treat.

I picked up our bowl and held it out for inspection.

Sorry, but I think you're out of luck.

Her eyes scraped around the bowl, seemingly searching for any remaining confection, but otherwise she didn't move an inch.

It was then I realized there was no adult lingering at the curb while this kid, who by her height couldn't be any older than nine, walked up to a complete stranger's house.

Hey, are you alone?

I looked up and down the street, thinking that maybe she'd fallen behind her group.

I imagined some harried mom dealing with a pack of hardcore sugarhounds, and she was just realizing the headcount was off by one little cauldron stirrer.

Trick or treat.

Daddy, I think something's wrong with her.

I don't know when Lucas had woken up, but I found myself inclined to agree with him.

Let me see what we have inside.

I turned without waiting for a response, my hand already mercifully stabbing the key into the lock.

A pair of voices called out in perfect synchronicity.

Trick or treat.

The little crone was a foot or two closer and standing shoulder to shoulder with her was a skeleton.

His bulbous latex dome formed a convincing skull.

The black recesses of the mask made the revenants rolling, searching blue eyes really unsettling to take in.

For a moment, I was hopeful, certain that some guardian would have to emerge, an embarrassed or apologetic look stamped on their face, but none seemed willing to appear and claim these two.

Sure guys, just give me a second, okay?

Trick or treat.

I whirled back and saw a garish orange jack-o'-lantern with a jagged slash of a maw had joined the gathering.

There was light, bright yellow and flickering, pouring out from behind its triangular eyes.

I slammed the door shut and told Lucas to go to his room.

He dashed away calling for his mom.

It awakened Denise, her dozy voice calling out from the bedroom.

Dale, what's going on?

Uh, kids? Looking for last minute candy?

I shouted back, reasoning they were just children after all.

Through our people, I watched as a dozen others, Dracula's, Wolfman, pint-sized zombies, and God help me, clowns.

Rapidly shambled out from the darkness, their bags snapped in unison again and again like battle flags.

Then as one, they fell silent and the witch strode forward from their congregation, her palms up as she approached.

She stopped at the door, raised a fist and knocked once, twice, three times, and then in that groan of a voice, she repeated.

Trick or treat.

Oh, for God's sake, get them some gum or something.

I could hear Denise trying to comfort our son, telling him that everything would be all right.

The witches' face contorted into rage, pure and animalistic, one eye squinting into the door's Judas lens.

It's her face. That's her real face.

The thought evaporated even as it lanced its way across my conscious mind because it protested that simple fact.

The tiny hag raised one hand above her head and in a sudden chop dropped it.

Instantly, the mob charged across our lawn, screeching.

Trick or treat.

Fists and feet smashed themselves against the door, the windows and the walls themselves.

Bones cracked up against the plaster and wood with abandon.

Over this mad clamor, I heard a laugh, deep and inhuman.

I looked through my fish-eyed aperture and saw flames licking up the sides of the pumpkin's face as it gaffod.

Blistering and scouring the gourd, it wore for its head.

A werewolf smaller than Lucas bounded up our steps, its rubber flesh and matted acrylic fur bouncing as it did.

It launched itself sideways over the heads of the others, smacking against the door hard enough to crack the frame.

It led out a horrendous yelp of pain and collapsed onto our porch.

The beast's fellows just stepped over its prone form, surging forward with no thought for their compatriot.

I heard the witchy, scratchy, wretched voice scream a single word.

It's me.

The assembled parted swiftly, creating a path for the skeleton child.

It had a large black sack, coarse like burlap, slung over its shoulders.

The others bowed to him in deference as he slowly made his way through them and up the stairs.

Seemingly looking me right in the eye, he dumped the contents onto the cement.

The knives, owls, and claw hammers clattered as they landed.

The children clamored to claim their share, like they were swarming over the spilled guts of a broken piñata.

The skeleton held up his palms towards me and then back towards himself for inspection.

His head tilted to the side, seemingly perplexed.

Then he held up one finger in an, oh, I have an idea, gesture.

In a broad sweep, he reached behind his back and drew out an ancient, rusty sledgehammer.

Ta-da!

It looked far too heavy for someone his size to even carry, but he twirled it in his hands and gave it a few practice heaves with no more effort than swinging a whiffle ball bat.

He even gave me a wink before delivering an awesome blow against the door.

With a loud accompanying pop, I saw the first line racing down its face.

It would not survive many more like that.

Denise?

I turned down the hallway, my rational mind finally letting go of all the this can't be happening nonsense and telling me it was long past time to go.

My wife emerged from the bedroom, confusion and fear written on her brow.

Lucas was in her arms, pressing himself into the side of her neck like he might escape that way.

Her eyes went wide and I heard cracking wood behind me.

Trick or treat!

Their chorus of voices drowned out Lucas' terrified shrieks.

Pain exploded at the base of my skull and the whole world flashed white.

There was a sensation of falling and a stampede of footfalls rushing past me and into my home.

I came to the world, a blurry mess and I could just make out the shape of Denise kneeling over me.

One of her hands was frenziedly stabbing into my neck, checking for a pulse.

The other clutching her phone in a white knuckled grip.

I had it the whole time.

Why hadn't I called the police?

She wailed into the receiver.

They took him. They took him right out of my hands.

I heard sirens approaching and my eyes began to focus.

Denise's face shuddered with relief as she watched me struggling back to consciousness.

I could see the bruises, cuts and scratches that had been delivered to every visible inch of my wife's body.

On the hand holding the phone, I could see two of her fingernails had been ripped right out of their beds.

What happened? Where is it?

I felt a small weight drop onto my chest, a sensation that should have been easy to miss in the world of raw bone agony I occupied.

Maybe I would have if Denise's expression hadn't so suddenly changed.

I could see her words inch out of her mouth.

Where did that come from?

With hands that felt heavy, numb and dumb, I picked up the object.

Just a piece of folded white cardstock and on it were those familiar, spidery words.

Like just one.

In our final Halloween tale, we meet a family who dreads Halloween.

It's not that they don't like the traditions or the children, they just don't like the people who come to their home.

As we learn in this tale, shared with us by author Lyselle Jones, the family lives in a house which was years ago used as the filming location of a low budget horror movie.

And now that the movie has finally been released, the hardcore fans simply can't stay away.

Performing this tale are Aaron Lillis, Dan Zipula, Nicole Goodnight and Mick Wingert.

So let's hope show business is none of your business this Halloween.

Find another movie to watch.

Anything but the faces of Halloween directors cut.

The worst thing about Halloween is waiting for the inevitable knock on the door.

I know I'm not alone in this, lots of us prefer to be left to ourselves, but our house gets it really bad.

It's not like it's in a busy neighborhood or anything.

In fact, it's very rural on its own up a dirt road, and it isn't especially creepy to look at either.

A three-story barn-like old farmhouse, hardly a gothic masterpiece.

No, the reason why it gets so much attention is because it was the main filming location for a cult horror movie.

My parents didn't know about this when they bought it. How could they?

The faces of Halloween was made back in 1978, way before they moved in.

And the movie wasn't actually released or even known to the public until five years ago.

It got caught up in censorship and legal issues back in the 70s and didn't get a release.

The footage then supposedly languished in a storage unit for nearly 40 years until the director rediscovered it.

If you haven't had the questionable pleasure of seeing the faces of Halloween, then let me tell you a little bit about it.

In some ways, it's a typical low-budget late 70s slasher.

Although I guess it had fallen to the home invasion genre these days.

That's one reason why it's gained such an obsessive following.

It has elements that became tropes in later horror movies, yet it would have been impossible for them to have been influenced by it.

The basic premise is that the Daryl family parents are God-fearing folk determined to keep their teenage daughters safe from the wicked influences of Halloween.

There's a knock at the door and there's a trick-or-treater in a goat man slash baphomet costume.

They send him off, but a gang of wordless mask assailants break in and hunt down the family.

The practical effects are gory, but dated, and much of the violence actually takes place off-screen, which is probably just as well because the attackers slice off the victims' entire faces after they kill them.

Yeah, really.

What we do see is the horrific scenes where they've made the victims' bodies into twisted Halloween displays and pose next to them, waiting to traumatize the remaining family.

The attackers are a particular highlight for fans.

They call the one in the baphomet costume Bleeder.

None of the invaders actually speak. Instead, they have their own sound effects.

Bleeder got his name from the haunting goat-like laugh we hear when he opens his mouth.

Like a lot of things in the movie, the effects basic, but really unnerving for some reason.

The second attackers a cawing, scythe-wielding scarecrow called the Harvester.

And the last one's Crone, a witch figure, grotesquely wrinkled face and wild white hair under a black cowl.

She cackles, shrieks, and brandishes a huge axe.

The movie's ending is another big talking point.

It seems that the attackers' motive is that they need amputated faces for a bizarre occult ritual.

The final girl, Mary, is caught in the attic where they're going to perform the spell.

They drug Mary, strip her to her bra and panties.

Hey, it was the 70s after all, male gaze.

Then tie her up next to a cauldron full of bubbling blood and her relatives' floating faces.

It gets weirder, the killers scoop handfuls of what clearly look like gummy worms into their mouths and dance around Mary before eventually cutting off her face and tossing it into the cauldron.

In the final shots, the worms multiply and the murderers squirm around with them on the floor, stuffing their faces as the visuals go all swirly, psychedelic, to the sound of some trippy hippy rock.

It's really incongruous to the rest of the film with its moody lighting and primitive synth soundtrack.

To me, the ending simply looks like intentional what the fuck weirdness.

You can find plenty of other interpretations online, though.

Does it represent traditional Christian values being supplanted by greed and crass commercialism?

The hollow rewards of violence and murder?

Who knows? Who fucking cares?

I'm thoroughly sick of the faces of Halloween and wish it had never been unearthed.

Thankfully, it's not quite as bad as a few years ago.

Most of the hardcore fans and movie location YouTubers have done it to death.

But there's always at least one group of shitheads who discover it for the first time and think it's a fucking hilarious original idea to dress up like the characters and pay the house a Halloween visit.

Last year was one of those when Halloween fell on a Thursday, so most people would be trick-or-treating or partying the following night.

Anyway, I had worked the next day and my younger brother and sister had school, so Cody and I stayed in to watch horror movies while Alicia, as usual, sucked to her room to play video games, messaged her classmates, or do whatever she didn't there.

My parents were more than happy to let us deal with any uninvited visitors and had gone to bed early.

We'd made it to around 11 p.m. when we heard a loud bang on the front door.

Cody groaned.

And there was me hoping we weren't getting any of them this year.

At least it's late, so they might be the only ones tonight.

We dragged ourselves to the door and opened it.

I still felt shocked, even though I knew what to expect, a tall figure in an oversized bafflement mask stood silently on the deck against the swirling moonlit mist.

Cody grinned.

Whoa! Great costume, bro! One of the best I've seen, seriously. Did you make it yourself?

The figure remained motionless, wordless.

Uh, okay. So I guess you'd like me to do the lines from the movie. You got friends out there videoing this?

I looked over his shoulder but couldn't see anyone.

Bleeder thumped the base of his red iron trident on the deck and let out a high-pitched bleep.

He was not the first one to use sound effects.

Love your attention to detail. Which app do you use for that? You got a controller in that staff or something?

No reply. Cody shrugged before putting on his old man Daryl voice.

Don't they teach you kids to read no more? The sign back there clearly says Satan's minions not welcome here. No trick or treating.

Ehhhhhhh!

The figure bleated and stood his ground just like in the movie.

I said, didn't you read the sign, kid? Get your heathen ass off my property before I get my shotgun.

Bleeder takes half a step back before sweeping his trident in front of Cody's face.

Razor-like tips glinted inches from his cheek.

Shit, dude. Be careful with that thing.

Fuckin' idiot!

I scowled as I slammed the door.

Wow, he was a bit intense.

Do you think people will ever get tired of this shit?

Before Cody could reply, a cawing sound cut through the air.

Heeey! Heeey! Heeey!

His eyes flicked towards the stairs before looking back to me.

Did that? Did that come from inside? Upstairs?

Sounded like it.

Mom? Dad? You okay?

Caw! Caw! Caw!

Another caw echoed down the stairway and we raced over. When we were around halfway up, the light cut out.

These guys are going too far.

Events were following the opening scenes of the movie all too closely.

As we reached the landing, we found Alicia wandering out of her room, plucking out her earbuds.

What's going on? Why's the power gone out?

Caw! Caw! Caw!

More caws spilled out from under our parents' bedroom door.

I pulled Alicia to me.

Something weird's going on. Stay with us.

Cody grabbed the door handle and looked at me. I nodded and he twisted it open.

I felt less shocked than you'd expect. Maybe watching that movie too many times had kind of prepared me for it in some way.

Or maybe it was too much to take in that I was actually seeing it for real and not on a screen.

Someone dressed like the harvester was in my parents' bedroom recreating his iconic movie poster, DVD cover pose.

Scarecrow arms outstretched to the sides, a drooping, dripping face dangling from each hand.

My parents' faces.

A ring of flickering candles illuminated the scene in the background.

The open window, mom and dad's mutilated bodies heaped on the bed.

I figured cod scornfully.

Caw! Caw! Caw!

Alicia screamed and I pushed her face to my chest.

Cody glared at the motionless killer.

You fucking sicko! Lauren, go call the cops now!

I started towards the stairway but froze as I saw the front door downstairs being smashed open.

Bleeder burst, horns first through the broken panels and charged towards us with a mad blot.

This isn't happening. I clutched her.

Have you got your phone? It's in my room.

Right, let's go.

Cody grabbed my hand but before we could run, the harvester's sides sliced through the air and chopped into the wooden handrail blocking our path.

Shut up!

Bleeder tramped up the stairs, thrusting his trident.

We spun away from him. The three of us dived into Cody's bedroom.

He leaned against the door while meanly, push the heavy chest against it.

We stopped and stood, panting, trying to hear what was happening outside.

It seems quiet.

Cody pulled his ear away from the door.

Maybe they've gone. They've done what they were here to do.

He stopped, verging on tears.

I don't know, I don't know. This is unreal. None of us have our phones. Some psychos are reenacting faces of Halloween for real in our house.

We're being chased around like the fucking Daryl girls and mom and dad have been.

Alicia squeezed my hand.

There's still hope that I can hear them moving something.

I forced a little smile, tried to keep a brave face.

Okay, okay, maybe we can get out the window.

Cody peeled back the curtain.

Shit.

He slumped against the wall. I went over and peered out.

Bleeder stood directly beneath. He must have been coordinating with the others and knew exactly where we were.

He spotted me and waved his trident in my direction with a mocking bleat.

I pulled back.

Fuck!

So, what now? Are these freaks following the plot of the movie?

I'm such a mess right now. I can't remember what happens next in it.

Abigail dies. She was the youngest so it's gonna be me, isn't it?

They're going to... they're going to do... to do that to me.

I hugged her.

No, it doesn't have to be that way, honey. It's just a movie. They can't make us follow the script.

Hey, maybe that's what we need to do. Make absolutely sure we don't do what the characters in the movie do.

Could be worth a try, Cody.

Alicia tapped her fingers against her lips.

So in the film, I think Abigail gets split up from Mary and Esther when they go looking for the gun in their parents' closet.

Carlon catches her and then the other two run upstairs.

Well, we don't have any guns in the house so avoiding that part's easy.

There's a knife in my room.

What if we turn to look at Alicia?

I was using it for, um, carving pumpkins.

I shook my head.

We should aim for downstairs. Better chance of getting away.

Cody started sliding the chest away from the door.

What are we waiting for?

I backed open the door and peeked through the gap.

Nobody there!

I snuck out, beckoned the others to follow, and we crept to the top of the stairs.

Shit.

The officer was standing at the bottom like a century back to us, side held upright.

I'll go get something from my room to throw down to try to distract him.

No, Cody, wait. We should just get...

But it was too late.

As he walked back to his bedroom, the closet door opposite it was flung open.

A crone emerged, shrieking, axe raised over his shoulder. Fear seemed to overcome Cody.

He threw his hands in the air in a ridiculously helpless manner and screamed.

A crone shrieked again and slammed the blade deep into his chest.

She pushed his floundering body backwards into the bedroom, strode in after him, and kicked the door shut.

Cody! Cody!

The floor by our feet shuddered as something hacked into the boards.

The harvester dragged his blade through the wood and pulled himself up the stairs.

Come on, Alicia. There's nothing we can do.

I hanged her away just as the harvester took another swing.

We dashed to the end of the hall, up the other stairway to the third floor, exactly where we didn't want to go.

The harvester followed. I opened and slammed shut a few doors to try to confuse him before leading Alicia behind a thick curtain that covered the large bay window.

We pulled ourselves up onto the window seat and held our breaths.

The harvester's footsteps stopped. He cod in the darkness.

Cod! Cod!

I prayed he wouldn't hear our pounding hearts.

Then it sounded like he was going back downstairs slowly, dragging his scythe behind him, letting it drop and rig along each step as he descended.

Has he gone? I think so.

What's happening, Lauren?

I wished I could have answered her.

Wish I could have explained why Cody had acted exactly like the Abigail character when he was attacked.

Why me and Alicia had ended up here, hiding exactly like the remaining sisters.

It'll be fine, hun. We just need to work out how to. How to...

She turned away from me. Her despondency was infectious. I couldn't see anyone outside, but we were too high up to escape through the window.

I couldn't think of anywhere where we'd be safer hiding, let alone imagine how we might get downstairs safely.

Maybe we could...

Footsteps cut off Alicia's words. We squeezed each other as at least two attackers walked past on the other side of the curtain.

It sounded like they were dragging things along the floor, something soft and something heavy metallic.

I pulled Alicia's head tight to me, covered her other ear with my hand.

We stayed like that for minutes that felt like hours, listening to the murderers wordlessly move about.

The murderers creaked, objects were dragged, and liquid sloshed as they went about their business on our floor and above the attic.

I shuddered, trying to avoid visualizing what they were doing.

Their movements eventually stopped and the house fell silent.

By now, we had no idea where they were. They could be upstairs, outside, even soundlessly standing in a row a few inches from us on the other side of the curtain.

It was torture, but we couldn't stay there forever.

I signaled to Alicia that I was going to take a look, but before I could, the curved tip of a bloody blade pierced the curtain and sliced down it.

We cowered as the scythe cut the material before pushing it aside.

The harvester stood in the hallway, staring at us through the crudely torn eye holes in the sat that covered his head.

I tried to scream, but my throat was too dry.

He crowed and jerked his fedora-headed head, motioning to his left.

No, I don't want to see it.

At the time, I didn't know what she was so scared of. Couldn't remember what happened next in the movie.

The harvester's arm twitched, thrusting the scythe's blade closer to us.

He cawed and repeated the motion.

CROW! CROW!

Okay, okay.

I took Alicia's hand. We were powerless to refuse.

Going along with his instruction felt safer than resisting.

Alicia reluctantly slid off the window seat and we edged into the hallway, leaning our bodies as far as we could from the harvester-fetted boiler suit.

I kept glancing over my shoulder as we walked away, but he didn't follow.

We were heading towards the stairs to the attic. I desperately tried to think of a way of avoiding going there.

As we passed the bathroom door, it flew open.

CROW! CROW!

Yellow light and a shriek escaped from inside.

At that moment, an image from the movie flashed into my head, the display they'd made of Abigail's body.

This was what Alicia had been dreading, but it was too late to stop ourselves from looking.

The white tiles on the bathroom floor and walls were smeared with Cody's blood.

His naked body was propped up in a bath filled with pink-red liquid and sprinkled with plastic spiders.

The bloody water lapped against his chin, or at least where his chin used to be.

The front of his head was just a red mass of muscle.

One eyeball hung down by its nerve, the other was bonk-shred and oozed.

A rictus of exposed teeth recorded his final cry.

I wanted to run, tried to pull Alicia away, but was too sick and to move.

We were a captive audience. Crone perched herself on the edge of the bathtub.

Her arms stained with gore.

She pulled something limp from the tub and crung it, letting red droplets trickle into the bath.

With horror, I realized it was Cody's flayed face.

She dabbed her underarm with it like she was washing the catcull as she lifted her robe and wiped it between her legs.

I finally snapped and yanked Alicia away.

We ran away from Crone, away from the harvester.

I was desperate to not go up to the attic but couldn't see any alternative.

Then Alicia pulled open a closet door and jumped inside.

It wouldn't work. They'd see us go in there, no doubt.

It made no sense, but I found myself squeezing in behind Alicia and shutting the door.

We shook as we waked, but they didn't come to cast.

Alicia began to sob. I had no words to comfort her as I rubbed my face.

Pretty chimes rang through the air and a blue glow filtered through the slats in the closet door.

Alicia pushed past me to look.

That's my phone. I could see it. I must have dropped it.

My mind swelled with hope momentarily before crashing packed down.

No, Alicia, it's a trap. Did they do something like this in the movie?

Pretended to drop car keys so that Esther ran out and got caught?

It's my phone, Lauren, not keys.

Tears shimmered in her eyes.

And anyway, I don't care anymore. I'm tired of running, of fighting this.

I've got to go with it.

I couldn't bring myself to stop her as she pushed open the door.

I love you.

In utter despair, I watched Alicia lean down for her phone as Bleeder came to storm me out of the darkness for her.

A hoos without stopping, he scooped her up like a doll and flung her over his shoulder.

As he thundered past towards the attic, I got a glimpse of her weeping face.

Anger surged through me.

You fucking asshole! Bring her back!

I tried to launch myself from the closet, but something sharp struck in my middle.

The harvester saw it. I screamed, fell back and shut the door again.

His dark figure moved in front of it and slapped his hand against the edge.

He held it shut as Alicia's cries echoed through the house.

Stop it! Let her go! Please!

I pushed against the door as hard as I could, but it barely moved.

The harvester stared in at me through the slats.

Truth be told, I'm not sure if there were any eyes inside that sack, just a dark pulsing presence.

Alicia's screams faded to whimpers. Then stopped altogether. The harvester didn't move.

He just kept observing me like I was a caged animal and breathing heavily.

I slid down against the wall, dropped my head into my hands.

Caw! Caw!

Suddenly, Caw, the harvester tore the closet door from its frame and threw it aside.

I backed into the corner. He nodded his head sideways, directing me towards the attic stairs.

Hopelessness overtook fear in my heart. It was time to face my fate.

I pulled myself to my feet.

Let's just fucking get it over with!

Like a condemned prisoner, I walked towards the stairs.

I knew how Cody and Alicia must have felt in their final moments.

Resigned to play their preordained roles in the story. As I reached the base of the stairway, the attic door creaked open to reveal bleeder waiting for me.

His devilish silhouette was backlit by flickering red light.

Trident in one hand, a rope in the other. I sighed.

And trod upwards. A wet, mask-like thing dropped down and smacked into my face.

I recoiled, wiped the blood from my forehead, and stared into Alicia's hollow face.

It was still connected to her chin by a few threads of flesh, and they painted it with clowns' makeup.

Bleeder let the rope slip, and Alicia's upended body jerked down to reveal giant, fake bat wings fastened to her scarred arms.

I'd been numbed by the spectacles, the stress, but out of nowhere felt an urge to scream.

I screamed myself, hoarse, as Bleeder descended towards me. I screamed as I braced myself for prone to wrap her hand around my face from behind.

Like I knew she would. I healed it as she pushed the plastic tube into my mouth and squirted a tasteless liquid into it.

The drug didn't knock me out completely, but left me barely able to move.

It also affected my vision, like the psychedelic effects at the end of faces.

Everything was outlined with yellow-black fuzz. Sounds were distant.

I felt grateful for the delirium as I watched myself being stripped and bound.

When their preparations were complete, the killers arranged themselves around the cauldron to enact the final girl scene, my final scene.

I closed my eyes as they circled. I sensed them coming to a standstill, and the music stopped.

I opened my eyes. They were gathered by the added door. There was a distant knocking, and they began to file downstairs.

As I watched them disappear, my blurred mind tried to remember whether this was something that happened in the movie.

The effect of the potion and the trauma of the night's events had almost destroyed me.

It would have been so easy to just lie there and wait for the conclusion, but then I noticed something else.

They'd only found my wrists, not my ankles. They definitely tied Mary's legs in the movie, no doubt about that.

Thoughts rushed my head. All the little differences between what had happened to us and what happened in the film.

It was like I was in an alternate version or something. It may be the same horror story, but maybe it didn't have to end the same way.

I fought against the drowsiness, the despondency, the rope around my wrists.

I almost squealed with joy as I managed to slip my hand free.

With a burst of energy and clarity, I got to my feet and stumbled towards the door.

Shit.

Approaching footsteps sounded like they were on the second floor.

I backed into the attic and looked around desperately. They hadn't left any of their weapons.

The desire to give up, to give in flooded back. Then I spotted something in the corner.

A vial of liquid and syringe. Must be the drug they'd used on me.

I picked up the container, opened it, and drizzled its liquid contents over the gummy worms strewn on the floor.

The stairs creaked as the trio got closer. I rushed to return the vial, lay down where they'd left me, and loosely wrap the rope around my wrists.

The murderers entered the room. They were carrying a bleeder mask that dripped blood.

Must have been an unfortunate late night trick or treater at the door. Never thought I'd be grateful for one of them.

They restarted the music, and I watched them through the corner of my eye.

They danced absurdly around me and the cauldron, kneeling down occasionally to grab fistfuls of worms.

My heart raced as I saw that each and every one of them ate the spiked candies.

None of them seemed to realize. Crone began to stumble first, followed by the other two.

Bizarrely, they all kept trying to dance, falling to their knees, then picking themselves up, attempting to prop themselves up with their weapons.

As they slowed down, a gap emerged between me and the door.

I took my chance, pushed myself to my feet, and skidded out of the attic.

I steadied myself with the handrails as I tripped down the stairways.

When I reached the front door, I grabbed Dad's coat from the stand before pitching outside.

Fumbling in the coat pockets, I found the keys to his pickup and got in.

They started first time.

Before I drove off, I glanced back at the house.

They weren't chasing me. They weren't even watching from the windows.

Maybe that wasn't in the script.

By the time I'd convinced the police that I wasn't playing some Halloween prank, the attackers had long left the house.

They'd left behind most of their props, but no useful forensic evidence, apparently. Whatever that meant.

Obviously, the aftermath was a complete nightmare.

The funeral, the attention from the press and the weirdos, the therapy, plus legal issues I didn't expect.

It's a year later, and I'm still unable to sell this fucking house.

And if I thought the attention this place received just because a movie had been shot here was bad, then I couldn't have imagined how terrible it would get after it became the scene of a real life mass murder.

As ever, when the authorities couldn't solve a mystery, the internet stepped in.

Feel free to waste hours of your life reading the endless theories about the murderers.

Rumors they met each other on some Discord server for extremist horror fans, even that original uncredited cast members were involved.

None of that's true.

I know, because one day I received an email claiming to be from Will Joyner, the writer and director.

I deeply regret the day I decided to unleash my movie onto the world.

In my defense, I was desperate.

My movie career didn't exactly flourish after the failure of Faces.

I lost everything, including the farm I inherited.

Guess it didn't bring any of us good luck.

In fact, I spent the rest of my life in a string of low-paid jobs.

Even had periods of homelessness.

I know this is nothing compared to the pain you've experienced, but I hope it gives you some idea.

So when I faced unaffordable medical bills at this late stage of life, I resorted to selling the only thing I had left that might be worth some money.

I faked the whole long-lost movie finally found thing.

I'd safely had it all along, but life had never gotten bad enough for me to want to sell it until then.

Maybe its release was inevitable anyway.

Its influence had already somehow began to seep out into the world, even while it remained unseen.

You see, there is something truly evil in that movie.

I was young, but not that young, and felt the time was running out for me to make a name for myself.

I knew horror movies were going to be the next big thing back then.

I felt it in my bones, but I didn't have any good ideas.

So on Halloween night of 77, I put on my favorite space rock album, dropped some acid, and stared into the flame of a jack-o'-lantern, praying for inspiration.

Sounds stupid, I know, but hey, it was the 70s after all.

And then, then they appeared to me.

The unholy trinity, the true faces of Halloween.

The ancient, the medieval, the current.

They gave me the movie, the whole thing all at once.

The story, the dialogue, the shots, everything.

It almost felt like something else was doing the writing and directing, working through me.

It was all done and dusted in a few short months.

You probably already know what happened after that.

The censorship issues, the contractual problems.

Even after I cut the movie right down, got rid of the most objectionable bits, and even inserted that cheap sell-out replacement ending.

The distributor still didn't want it.

People back then had a stronger sense of danger, I think.

Perhaps it was our last chance.

I realized how stupid I'd been, too.

I should bargain for a successful movie, not just an influential one.

It went nowhere, and I gave up.

Gave in to my addictions and disappeared as far as most people were concerned.

But the reason I'm contacting you isn't just to excuse myself.

I'm writing to warn you.

Maybe you can work out how to save yourself if you see what's coming.

I pray you will.

I've read all the info I could from the press and the police records.

What happened to you follows the original version of Faces we made.

Granted, it's not 100% the same, but the sequence of events.

The way you escaped at the end, it's all too close to be a coincidence.

I don't have a full copy of the original.

I don't think anyone does.

But I've attached the rough cut of the final scenes that I do still have.

But before you watch it, I need to warn you.

There's an epilogue.

That's never been released.

It wouldn't get past the censors even today.

It takes place one year later.

I'm so sorry.

I didn't take it seriously at first.

Archived the email without ever even watching the video file.

Thought it was just some sick joke by some sick joker.

Plenty of them out there.

But it kept niggling me.

So I did some research and the emailer's story seemed authentic as far as I could tell.

Inevitably, I watched the clip.

So, yeah, the original ending.

Which is what happened to me.

The killers leave the attic to deal with an unexpected trick or treater.

Mary drugs the worms and gets away.

I should have left it there.

It'd be better not to know how things are going to play out tonight.

But I didn't.

I watched the epilogue.

I thought I was desensitized after everything I'd experienced.

That nothing could sicken me anymore.

But the censors were right.

Ever see this?

What they did to Mary must have been unfilmable.

We only get to see what's left of her after works.

After they chopped her, spliced her, edited her to be a part of their art, their vision.

But that's little comfort to me.

No action is off-camera in real life.

I'm too tired to fight.

I tried calling the police.

Begged them to watch the house tonight.

They said they'd try, seeing as it's me and it's this house.

But it's their busiest night of the year, so no promises.

But deep down, I know they wouldn't be able to stop it anyway.

Nobody can.

The movie will play out.

The script will be followed.

The faces of Halloween will call again to finish their story.

Even after all I've been through.

The worst thing about Halloween is still waiting for that inevitable knock on the door.

Halloween Halloween Our tales have ended.

Are you feeling alright?

We did our best to give you a fright.

You may feel safe in the bright sunlight, but soon, once again, you'll be sleepless tonight.

The No Sleep podcast is presented by Creative Reason Media.

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