Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Hijinks

This is my Halloween story that was published in the Charleston Gazette.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My family and friends have always enjoyed Halloween. From dressing up when we were kids to taking my niece and nephew out trick-or-treating, it's always been a good time.I remember when I was in the second grade, my friend Suzanne and I were having a ball at our school carnival at Justice Grade School. They had a haunted house in the clinic that year, complete with a dead body and bowls of eyeballs and brains and all that delicious scary stuff.

Suzanne and I went in several times, and each time we would get a little braver and more sassy. It wasn't until our last trip into the haunted house that we happened to look over at the werewolf in the corner. It had been standing there every time we'd been through, but we hadn't paid much attention to it. This time, though, that werewolf screamed and came at us with its arms outstretched, trying to grab us! It scared us silly, and we ran screaming out of the clinic.

Years later, when I was about 15, my parents went out after my brother and I had gone to bed. I was lying in bed, just starting to doze off, when my closet door was flung open so hard that it slammed against the wall, then my brother jumped out, screaming.

I let out what had to be the most terrified scream of my life, a deep, guttural scream that came from the depths of my soul. Since my brother was about 6 feet tall, I sincerely thought Frankenstein was coming to get me. He doubled over with laughter. He told me he'd spent nearly an hour quietly crawling into my bedroom so I wouldn't hear him.

He traumatized me for life - since then, I've never slept with my bedroom door open again.

I have generally made it my policy to avoid graveyards, especially at night. But one time, I was out walking along a trail with two friends when we got caught out after dark. We had to pass through a very old cemetery on our way out of the woods.

I was leading the way, and we were walking single file because the trail was narrow. All of a sudden, I heard a crashing noise coming down through the brush on the hill, right at me. I screamed and took off running, absolutely terrified out of my mind.

That's when I heard my friends Oscar and James laughing, and I knew they'd played a joke on me. James had taken a large rock and thrown it up the hill so that it would roll down right at me. His aim was perfect. I couldn't have been more scared if someone had risen from the dead at my feet.

Another year, I agreed to meet my sister-in-law, niece and nephew for a walk along Cato Park's haunted trail. The trail was filled with your standard Halloween monsters and gore, which my obnoxious niece (who was 13 at the time) pretty much ruined with her teenage sarcasm. The absolute biggest scare - and the only surprise - came at the very end of the trail.

At the end was an accident scene, complete with wrecked cars and mangled bodies strewn everywhere. As we were standing there staring at the carnage, all of those dead bodies leapt to their feet at the exact same time, then starting running toward us, chasing after anybody who ran. Even my sarcastic niece was afraid.

When my poor nephew, who was 8, started running, he turned and ran straight into me. He was so afraid that he wasn't even aware what he'd done. I could feel his little arms and knees pumping as he continued trying to run, not realizing he wasn't going anywhere. It was a good thing he hit me because if I had been a tree, he probably would've knocked himself out. He was in a state of pure terror, and I had to pick him up and carry him a little way down the trail.

Although his almost cartoonish fear was a bit funny, I comforted him as best as I could. I knew exactly how he felt, having been well acquainted myself with the feeling of being scared half out of your mind.

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