Hey guys, here is my entry for the Halloween contest. I hope you like it. For those who might not know, the title is Gaelic and is pronounced (as
close as I can figure) saw-een. It is the Celtic festival from which Halloween draws much of its inspiration. I hope you enjoy this story. It is a
little longer than my other efforts, but as has been pointed out, it takes a lot to scare people in these days.
Jason was caught in a strange world, a twilight realm somewhere between the fading world of childhood fantasy and innocence and the looming world of
adult responsibility and the grim acceptance of reality. Jason’s fairytales were dying and, at fourteen, stories and make-believe were already
beginning to occupy less of his time. Which is why Jason found Halloween to be such an awkward holiday, for it reminded him of all that he had given
up in his march to be seen and treated as an adult. When he had been younger, Jason had seen adulthood as an opportunity to escape from the stifling
confines of his parent’s authority. Not content to wait for it to come to him, Jason had reached for adulthood with eager, grasping hands, forsaking
childish dreams which he had counted of little worth. Now, as he straddled that strange space between two contrasting worlds, Jason began to question
his willingness to abandon tales and stories and playful constructs of the imagination.
That question became a burning accusation when he saw the joy and the wonder shining in the eyes of his younger brother. For him, Halloween was a day
of magic and ethereal promises, when spirits and ghosts and vampires walked the streets, dark symbols rendered impotent in the costumed expressions of
neighbourhood children. Jason’s brother ran ahead of him, eager to come to the next house and use vague and indistinct threats to procure candy from
“Don’t get too far ahead, Marcus. Wait for me”.
For the third time that night, Jason cursed himself for starting the argument with his parents. If he really wanted to be treated like an adult, they
had told him, he needed to show that he could be responsible. That he never saw the trap until it closed about him was, Jason thought, a valuable
lesson in when to speak and when to remain silent. Up ahead, Marcus waited impatiently outside the door of a house which looked as though it had at
one time been quite grand and impressive, but whose owners had obviously neglected its care in recent years. Tall weeds stood in what must once have
been proud gardens of sculpted elegance. Bushels of unkempt grass had begun to reclaim the wide cement driveway and tiny creeping vines had begun to
snake their way up a drainpipe that was stained here and there with patches of mould. As he approached the house, Jason felt a vague sense of loss and
of deep and abiding sorrow and felt he would be glad when Marcus had his candy and they could leave. As Jason stepped up to the door and went to
knock, he felt Marcus’ tiny hand tugging at his shirt.
“I want to do it”.
“You want to knock on the door?”
Marcus bobbed his little head up and down in an exaggerated yes motion.
“Okay then,” said Marcus. “But you have to knock real loud, okay?”
Marcus nodded and then banged his little fist hard against the wooden door. Jason strained, but could not hear any sounds from within the house. A
group of small children ran past the house, laughing and fighting over newly acquired bounties of sugar. A cold breeze blew through the street,
causing witches robes and ghosts sheets to flap wildly, eliciting cries of protest from crowds of trick-or-treaters. The breeze raised goosebumps on
Jason’s flesh. A strange and curious scent was carried with it and Jason struggled to place it in his memory, but found he was unable to do so. It
smelled vaguely of spices and for a moment Jason felt as though he were being carried away by the alien scent to a place of soft light and muted
colours. His reverie was cut short when the door to the house opened slowly, creaking on hinges that longed for oil.
An elegant woman stood framed in the doorway, warm orange light throwing her long shadow upon the two children. Jason thought the woman might have
been in her thirties, but the lines on her face spoke of pain and misery. This observation went unnoticed by Marcus, however, who thrust his small bag
of candy forward and demanded
“Trick or treat”.
The woman smiled softly but slowly, as though doing so required a great expenditure of effort.
“Well hello there, sweetheart”, she said gently. “That’s an impressive costume you have on. Who are you supposed to be?”
“I’m Goku!” Marcus replied enthusiastically.
“Oh”, the woman responded, obviously unsure how to respond. “And who exactly is Goku?”
“He’s from Dragonball Z”, answered Marcus. “He’s the strongest and he has the coolest Super Simian powers!”
The woman lifted her eyes to Jason, pleading silently for some explanation.
“He’s from a kid’s cartoon show”, Jason offered mercifully. “It’s on in the mornings”.
“Oh, I see”, said the woman. “Well, Goku, I’m sorry but we don’t have any candy here, sweetheart. We … we don’t really celebrate
Halloween any more. We haven’t for a long time”.
“Why not?” asked Marcus, who was simultaneously angry at not having been offered more candy and struggling to decide whether or not he was now
obligated to ‘trick’ the woman.
“They just don’t Marcus, okay. Don’t be rude. Thanks anyway, maam, have a good night” said Jason as he slowly began to steer Marcus away from
“You boys be careful tonight”, said the woman as she began to close the door. “This is a bad night for children. You make sure you stick to the
main streets, where the light is good, and go straight home when you’re done”.
Jason knew that it was impolite not to offer a thank you, but he was mildly offended at having been called a child. As the door shut behind him, Jason
noticed that the number of children and adults in the street had dropped and that there were now only a couple of small groups still moving from house
to house. Again a cold wind whistled down the street, casting candy wrappers and papers before it. One of the papers became caught on Jason’s shoe
and as he kicked it free he saw the black and white face of a child, no older than Marcus, printed below the words HAVE YOU SEEN ME? Jason tried to
look closer, to see if he knew the child, but the wind took the paper and swept it out of his reach. The wind cut through Jason and he began to
shiver. Looking up, he saw that the sun had just dipped below the horizon, casting the world into a soft purple twilight.
“Come on Marcus”, said Jason. “It’s time to go home”.
“Oh, come on Jason”, Marcus protested. “One more house, just one more. Please”.
“It was one more house two houses ago”, Jason replied. “Mom and dad put me in charge and I say we’re going home. Now come on, let’s
Marcus was about to protest further, but found that he was at once unable to construct a reasonable excuse for delaying his fun against his
brother’s wishes and excited at the prospect of consuming his weight in candy. Conceding, he offered his hand to his big brother, who took it and
began to lead him down the street towards their home.
Halfway down the street Jason heard a soft, melodic music. He supposed that it must be from a car stereo or from a distant house, since it was very
faint and hard to distinguish. If he listened hard, Jason thought he could make out broken fragments of words, although they didn’t sound
“Probably one of those German bands”, he thought. Jason found the music soothing and strangely compelling. His eyes began to feel heavy and his
shoulders began to sag, until he was jerked back to full wakefulness by the sounds of shouting from across the street. Looking over, Jason saw an old
man who was obviously homeless, probably drunk and clearly mad. The man bore a matted grey beard and covered himself with clothes that were little
more than rags. In one hand he clutched a frayed and worn Bible and he shouted incoherent ramblings at the people who passed by him.
“… were those who stood aside when Lucifer waged his war … beings of darkness sculpted in the light of children’s tales”.
Marcus squeezed Jason’s hand tighter and Jason moved to put himself between his brother and the homeless man, who continued to give voice to his
“… their mounds are open! Their city beckons, but they spin lies to suit their purpose! There is no sun in their city and it is forever veiled
As Jason hurried his brother past him, he noticed that the man wore his filthy jacket back to front, so that the open end hung limply at his back.
Jason continued to lead Marcus down the street and then turned into the cul de sac that would take them home. He stopped, frozen in place, and his
eyes grew wide as he took in the scene before him. Where familiar houses and streets should have been, a wide grassy area now stood. The grass in the
area was evenly trimmed and in the middle of the field stood a children’s swing set. The swing moved steadily back and forth, squeaking on rusted
hinges, as though guided by an unseen pair of hands. On the ground in front of the swing was a Halloween bag. It lay torn and violated in the dirt,
its spilt contents discarded and forgotten on the ground. At his side, Marcus wrapped his tiny hands around Jason’s arm and asked in a broken
“Jason, where are we? Did we get lost? Where’s home?”
Without taking his eyes from the grassy field and the perpetual movement of the swing, Jason answered hesitantly
“I … I don’t know. I guess we must have taken a wrong turn or something”.
Yet even as the lie left his lips, Jason knew that this could not have been the case. These streets were as familiar to him as the back of his hand
and he had remembered their paths and their turnings from childhood. Jason felt Marcus’ hands begin to shake.
“I wanna go home, Jason”, said Marcus.
“I know Marcus, okay. I want to go home too”.
Marcus began to cry then, his fearful tears staining the makeup his mother had lovingly applied as part of his costume. Jason steeled himself and
began to pull Marcus away from the defiant strangeness of the grassy area.
But as he did so, he heard a sound from behind them. It almost sounded like child’s laughter, but it was different somehow and as he struggled to
idenitfy that difference, Jason realised that the pitch was higher. It sounded like somebody had sucked helium through a straw and was giggling softly
behind them. Jason spun on the spot and thought he saw a black shape, but it ducked behind a low hill which had not been there five minutes ago. Of
the street and the neighbourhood they had just come from there was no sign. There was only the hill. The hill was not overly large, barely thirty feet
high, but Jason knew for a fact that no such hill existed anywhere near their neighbourhood. Suddenly, Jason heard the strange music again, only now
it was stronger, louder, clearer. And it was coming from inside the hill. Jason’s mind raced, and strange images flooded it with inexplicable
visions. He saw a strange city of impossible angles and towering structures. Although it was but a flash, the image of the alien city aroused a deep
sense of dread within Jason. Its unearthly geometry and strange, filtered light stirred something primal and basic within him and he tightened his
grip on Marcus’ hand and turned to run.
Yet though he had been sure of his grip, he had not gone ten paces when he realised that Marcus had somehow slipped from his grasp. Turning, he saw
his little brother walking dreamily towards the hill.
“Marcus!” Jason screamed. His brother showed no sign that he had heard him and continued his slow, measured pace towards the hill. When he had
crossed half the distance to the hill, a sudden flash of light erupted across the grassy area, forcing Jason to shield his eyes as they shrank in
protest at the change in light levels. When he was able to focus his vision once more, Jason beheld a doorway that stood carved into the side of the
hill. Looking past it, he saw the towers and tenements of a strange city and he knew with a creeping sense of panic and nausea that it had not been
built by human hands. The black spires of the city pierced enormous heights, thrusting themselves into a sky that was neither light nor dark.
“A twilight world”, thought Jason. In the distance he could see odd creatures circling in the air, but he was too far away to perceive them with
any degree of clarity. Jason could feel his fear reaching up from his stomach through his throat to strangle and incapacitate him and he might have be
content to let it were it not for the fact that Marcus had almost gained the threshold of the door in the hillside.
“Marcus, no! Come back!!!” Jason screamed, to no avail. As Marcus stepped into the twilight realm, Jason commanded his legs to move and with
newfound courage he sprinted across the grassy area towards the hill. As he neared the doorway, he could see Marcus walking along a grey path some
distance ahead of him. As he entered the hill he heard a high-pitched laugh, but could not tell where it came from. Behind him he heard a great crack,
as though the side of the hill were being torn asunder.
Jason and Marcus’ parents never celebrated Halloween after that day. They found their jobs no longer held meaning for them and soon quit or were
fired. Their house, in which they had invested their sweat and their money, fell into disrepair. As they walked the streets of their neighbourhood,
they felt that the wind was somehow colder and they pretended not to notice when it blew crumpled and torn posters towards them, bearing the faces of
their missing children below the words HAVE YOU SEEN ME?
[edit on 10/10/05 by Jeremiah25]