The Halloween Project 2023 - Story 7: The Last Halloween
“Tonight I’m going trick or treating with my friends, O.K?” I half-pleaded and lightly
demanded as I threw my bookbag on the floor, bursting in the back door from school. My
mother stood at the kitchen counter cutting up some vegetables that I probably hated. Corn and peas, that’s all I liked. Anything else you might as well have given me dog food. Of course, it
was green beans.
“We’ll see,” she replied, “How was school?” There was only one answer that every kid
“Fine,” although I did add, “Tommy Marks got in a fight with Randy. They were wrestling
and ripped Tommy’s shirt. It was crazy.”
“That’s terrible,” my mother responded, “He ripped his school uniform? What were they
“I dunno,” I said. I went to Catholic school so the shirt rip was kind of a big thing.
“What did you do?” mom asked.
“What? You could have helped,” she said. At that point, I knew I should have just kept
my mouth shut and ended her first question with “Fine.” She went on for a minute or two but,
honestly, I didn’t really hear a word she said. I was already thinking about my Halloween
costume. A pirate again, but I had a cool fake sword this year and I was gonna threaten
“With my friends tonight? O.K.? No parents?” I asked again.
She looked down at me with one of those “mom” looks. It’s one of those looks
somewhere between ”Weren’t you just my little toddler?” and “Next, he’s going to be asking me to teach him to drive.” You know the look.
“We’ll see. Let’s wait until your dad gets home then, we’ll decide.”
“Mom, holy crap! I’m 11 years old. It’s 1963!” I argued.
“Did you just say “holy crap?” Her voice ticked up a bit.
“No, mom, I meant holy crud. Sorry.” I quickly said, reminding myself to be extra careful
in the next hour before dad got home. I didn’t want to blow it. Up to this point, my parents, at
least one of them, would always accompany us on trick or treating. We lived in a neighborhood
with lots of surrounding streets and candy that seemed to be calling us from every open door.
Parents would always stand out by the street but they were always there. Most of my friends
parents no longer came with us. I thought I’d throw out one more convincing fact.
“Mom, I’ll be going out with about 10 guys. Really. There’s Gary and Paul, Paul’s
cousin, and at least three of the Osborns,”. The Osborns had 10 kids in all and there was
always strength in numbers.
“We’ll see,” she answered flatly turning back to the countertop.
Dad arrived and we sat down to eat, as usual, at precisely five o’clock. Not 4:50, not
5:15. It was an uneventful but typical meal. Something my mother christened “Heavenly hash”
which was really just macaroni and cheese with hamburger. I loved it, but not the green beans,
so I snuck some of those into a paper napkin to get rid of later.
“You have a nice night for trick or treating. Not too cold, no rain,” Dad announced. My
father was a man of very few words. I looked up at him expectantly. “Your mom says you want
to go out trick or treating with your friends.” He let it hang in the air like he was announcing a
new pope. He continued.
“You know you’re 11 now,” as if I didn’t know, “So I think it’s O.K. to go out with your
“YESSSS!” I shouted.
“But,” he interrupted my exclamation, “You have to stay in a group. No going off by
yourself. At all. And you have to be home exactly at eight o’clock. Not one minute later. Not
one! And one more thing. No going to the Somersets house.”
Little did I know I’d be home at 7:13. Not a minute later. My pirate sword would be gone
somewhere on the street. I’d have scratches on my face from running through a hedge and I’d
have wet my pants. Really, really wet them.
But at that moment, I responded cheerfully, ”Thanks, dad! Thank you! Thank you!
Within an hour we were all on the street. In a half hour our bags and pillowcases filled
with every type of candy imaginable and some treats that we all detested. It seemed like every
candy apple ended up getting tossed onto some lawn or down a sewer grate, except for Terry
Osborn. He loved those stupid things. We were all together. There was Gary and Paul, Paul’s
cousin Philly, who was a bit of a character always saying “Aarrgghh!” like a pirate even though
he was dressed like a ghost. And four Osborns this time: Clark, Terry, Chris and Toby.
Let me just tell you about the Somersets. We all knew, without even telling, we were
headed for the Somersets’ house. Despite our parents orders. You just had to go there. It was
the best Halloween house for blocks and blocks around, maybe in the entire city.
The Somersets seemed old and were very, very strange. And scary too. They had a dog that no one would go near. It looked like it had mange, rabies and its rib stuck out more
than its fangs. It was chained in the front yard and would bark it’s head off.
It was a small house and their yard was never mowed. People said they used to have a
daughter but nobody ever saw her. We never knew if she was real or not. But Halloween, oh
man. Their house was decorated with candles in the windows and just a couple of ghosts
hanging from trees. This was before all those blow up things. It was inside that saw the best.
The fireplace was always on in the living room. Mrs. Somerset was always the nastiest
looking witch you could imagine. I’m sure kids used to have nightmares and saw Mrs.
Somerset. Mister Somerset was another thing altogether. Sometimes a mummy, or maybe
Dracula, or just some monster thing. He always looked real and he never came out of
character. Once they set up their kitchen like Frankenstein’s laboratory and they would blindfold you and make you touch stuff. Some was funny, some not so funny. Olives for eyeballs and thick spaghetti supposed to be stuff from your gut. Then they put your hands in the sink and it was filled with just the worst, icky feeling things. Clark Osborn swore that he pulled off his blindfold and the sink was filled with bones and pieces of animals like from the butcher, pigs feet and other gross things.
It was the best house ever. Not to mention their candy was awesome.
So we all rang the doorbell and crowded inside the living room, eight of us in all.
Something felt wrong. Mrs. Somerset was her typical witch but she wasn’t right. One of her
eyes, I can’t remember which one, wasn’t pointed straight, it looked in the opposite direction,
like she was trying to look out the side of her head. There was a little drip of brownish, reddish
spit coming out the side of her lip.
Then she said, “Come in, children, come in,” while she pointed to another room. Her
words were kind of slurry and dull.
We all walked into the next room which was completely bare except for a body on the
floor. It was huge, kind of like the Frankenstein monster. That’s the real name of the creature in
that movie. Frankenstein was the doctor. Well, it was huge, lying on its back. Long legs and
arms splayed out. All in black. Horrible face with the bolts and crazy forehead and all that.
Greenish in the murky light. With a huge chest, like super gigantic.
“Children,” Mrs. Somerset slurred, “Reach into its chest and retrieve your candy.” She
really said, “Retrieve.”
None of us even moved until Philly, who was almost 13 said, said out loud, “Shit,” and
stepped forward. He knelt down, plunged his hand into a little space between two buttons of the shirt, felt around for a second and came out with at least three or four big candy bars. That got us started. One after another we jabbed our hands into the enormous chest. As each kid went the creature began to moan and kind of squirm around on the floor. It got worse and louder and much scarier.
I went next and moved so fast I only got one candy bar but that was enough. Mrs.
Somerset started to make a garbled laugh. Finally, Terry Osborn knelt down. And then it all
Terry dropped his hand into the shirt, the monster kind of low groaned, reached up
quickly and grabbed Terry by his arm halfway between his elbow and shoulder. Terry screamed
bloody murder. We all jumped and shouted like Mexican beans. Terry screamed and screamed
and we all joined in. A couple kids bolted for the door. Mrs. Somerset cackled. We couldn’t
help Terry cause we were just kind of bumping and yelling and frozen and then it happened.
Terry’s arm just ripped from the shoulder. The monster waved it about like he was
holding some cheerleading baton. Blood spattered everywhere, on the floor, on the walls, on
us. Terry just fell over in a lump.
I’ll tell you that we ran, but in all honesty, I don’t remember anything. I barely remember
bursting into the back door of my house, covered in pee and blood. My parents started shouting questions at me, but I just sobbed and screamed. In the distance, we could hear sirens, lots of them.
I didn’t go to school for about a week. I just couldn’t even go out of the house. People
told me that there was police tape around the entire Somerset property. I didn’t go to Teryy’s
funeral. I just couldn’t.
Three weeks later President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by a crazy guy.
That was my last Halloween.