As far as I know, most people in Africa are not familiar with Halloween. I once explained to an ex-girlfriend of mine that it's a time of year when people celebrate ghosts and she almost slapped the black off my skin because she thought I was screwing with her. In retrospect, I didn't properly explain the creepy holiday. Anyway, the point is most of my friends, family, relatives, and associates don't know about Halloween.
I am from a country in Southern Africa and I have to be honest, Halloween is not a big deal here. I am not going to disclose my name or that of my country because some of the stuff in this story is illegal and I don't fancy spending time in the big house again.
I only know of Halloween because of the many European and American horror movies I watch, not to mention I am a devoted patron of internet sites like Reddit and Creepypasta. Even with my knowledge of it, I was never big on Halloween. That all changed last year when certain circumstances led me to move back in with my parents.
Let me first explain how this thirty-five-year-old man ended up staying with his parents again. I was never formally employed. I did several shady deals around town which provided for my bread and butter. I was what most people would refer to as a scammer or con man or con artist.
Before you judge me, you should know that this wasn't my dream profession when I was a kid. My country's economy is not that good and decent jobs are hard to come by. Anyway, one day a deal went bad and it cost me my house, furniture, and cars. This forced me back to my parents' home. I am not married and don't have any kids that I know of, so my parents didn't complain too much because I wasn't bringing extra mouths to feed.
One night in early October of last year, I was binge reading stories on the internet when I realized most of them were centered on Halloween. That's when it dawned on me we were close to the spooky holiday.
A light bulb turned on in my head and dollar signs rolled up in front of my eyes. I had an idea. This idea was going to get me paid big time, I could feel it.
I had to create a haunted house. I had the perfect house in mind. The house next door had been vacant for years. When I was growing up, different families moved into the house but never stayed for longer than a year. I never thought much about it and I figured it was because of the rent or the bills. My parents live in an opulent suburban neighborhood and most people can't handle the costs of staying in that area.
I knew the real estate agency which owns the house had security guards that watched over the place. I knew one of the guards. His name was George, he had dark skin, he was thin as a rack, bald as a coot and he had a thick moustache.
Whenever I got the chance, I always chatted with him for a few hours. He would pour his heart out to me. He would talk about his wife, his family, his job, his boss, and a bunch of other things I never cared to know about. I wasn't sure if he considered me a friend and I wanted to use this situation to gauge the nature of our relationship.
I approached George with the proposal of using the house as a haunted attraction for a few hours during his shift and he was hesitant at first. However, as someone who had whined to me about his measly salary, he agreed after I convinced him that this could be an opportunity for him to make some money on the side. He vehemently warned me that if he lost his job because of this, he would have my head.
Since his job was usually as boring as watching paint dry, he also offered to help me with running the haunted house and this was music to my ears. I just needed one more person for assistance and John happened to be that guy.
John is a thickset man who has always had the same crew cut hairstyle ever since I met him back in high school. I know I said he is thickset but if you say that to his face he may drop you with a punch. He prefers to be called big-boned.
John is a huge baby. He also lived with his parents but he had a well-paying job as a baker at a local supermarket. He earned enough money to fend for himself but I guess he still wanted his mother to do his laundry and his dad to check for monsters under his bed which is why he was still residing at his childhood home.
Anyway, John was also on board with helping out with the haunted house and he even made posters to advertise the place. He put them up all over the neighborhood. He also brought discarded cookies and muffins from the bakery which he suggested we should give to our customers after they have gone through the haunted house. I loved the idea because it really captured the Halloween concept of trick or treat even though we were actually giving both a trick and a treat to our customers. It also meant we will be charging the customers more, so I gave a double thumbs up to the idea.
Next, I needed props to decorate the house. Since I was dead broke, I had to work with what was at my disposal. My mother has a lot of bedsheets which I borrowed without her knowledge. My younger sister, Ruth, was a hoarder of dolls when she was a child but she neglected all her toys when she reached puberty. My dad kept all of Ruth's dolls in the garage. I also borrowed several of these dolls without telling anyone about it. So when I finally had my props and team, I felt confident this haunted house scheme would be a success.
When we went to the house to set up for the first time, I was shocked with the deplorable state of the place. I had never gone inside our neighboring house before. Every time I spoke with George it was always outside the gate.
The yard was choked up with waist-high brown grass, the windows were caked with dust, the seven-foot-tall Dura wall was mantled with green vines and the wrought iron front gate had enough rust to give you tetanus by just looking at it.
The house was a typical suburban home painted white with a sloping blue roof. It had three bedrooms, a toilet, a kitchen, a lounge, and a dining room. The little bit of furniture it had was decrepit and filled with either dust or cobwebs. The place was already creepy and required minimal effort on our behalf.
George told us the house has an electrical problem so it didn't have power. His bosses had sworn to get the problem fixed but they hadn't done anything about it yet. We didn't mind because the lack of power served our purpose well.
It took us half a day to set up everything we needed. Our target audience was kids preferably below thirteen and since they weren't that hard to scare, we didn't go full psycho on the decorations.
So, the rundown of the haunted house was simple. As soon as our customers arrive, the front gate will appear to have swung open by itself but in reality, it was being pulled open by George using a wire. He would be hiding deep in the thicket of brown grass in the yard. The customers would be met by a small wooden table with a glass jar on top labelled "feed me" where they will pay their admission fee.
If they pay, George was supposed to play a recording of witches laughing from his phone. If they didn't pay, George was supposed to play a recording of barking dogs. John and I would be inside the house. If we heard the sound of laughing witches from George's phone, we would get into our positions. If we heard the sound of barking dogs, it meant the approaching customers hadn't paid, so we would lock the front door. We were not going to entertain broke kids. This was a business, an illegal one, sure, but a business nonetheless.
Anyway, after payment, the customers would follow the concrete pavement leading up to the front door. The pavement was smeared with ketchup which I also borrowed from home without telling anyone. My mother became suspicious of how the ketchup was finishing up so quickly and since my father really loved the stuff, she considered him the biggest culprit. I kept my mouth zipped.
The walkway was flanked with tall brown grass where we planted doll heads on sticks. The customers would walk down the pavement and enter through the front door which led to a spacious lounge where dead lizards hanging on strings will dangle down from the ceiling. George provided us with the dead lizards, I have no idea why he had them or where he got them and frankly, I didn't want to know.
The loud wailing of a baby will then arrest the attention of the customers and they would follow the crying to a closet in one of the rooms. Before they reach the closet, a doll would pop out holding a butcher knife and it's meant to chase the customers out of the room. John would be in the closet playing a recording of a crying baby on his phone. He would also be the one pulling strings for the doll to walk and make threatening gestures with its arms.
This particular doll was spine-tingling to look at, even for me. I have no idea why my sister kept this thing as a child. It looked like a Chucky understudy because of its shiny porcelain skin, the nefarious smile on its scarred face, and its long bedraggled orange hair.
The customers will then proceed to the main bedroom where I will be. We called this room the white room. The room's furniture only comprised a small rickety table, a wooden rocking chair, and a large fitted in bookshelf. All of this furniture would be shrouded with white bedsheets. I would also be cloaked by a white bed sheet and standing next to the bookshelf, waiting for the customers to enter.
The bedsheet I often used was long enough to cover my whole body including my feet. I was always concerned that one day I would trip over myself and not only fall but shamefully reveal myself to the customers. Thankfully, it never happened.
When the customers entered my room, I was supposed to run at them and chase them out of the house. When they reached the gate they would find the admission fee jar gone and in its place, there would be a plate with either a muffin or a cookie. Not a bad haunted house for guys with a zero dollar budget, huh?
Business boomed in the first week. John marketed our haunted house well. His posters were quite alluring. I had warned him to only advertise in our neighborhood, we didn't want George's bosses finding out about this and getting us arrested.
John even spread rumors that the old inhabitants of the house were Satanists who used to sacrifice children for fortune and fame. The news spread like a wildfire and brought us a lot of customers. Since our suburban neighborhood was extremely boring, people were always eager to jump at anything that entertains them. At first, mostly young kids were our biggest customers but eventually, teenagers and adults also took an interest in our haunted house.
George's shift usually started late afternoon and John finished work at midday so we would open the haunted house at four o'clock and close at around seven PM. For two amazing weeks, we made great money which we split three ways. I was having the time of my life and I was thinking of milking this cow until it ran dry. I wanted to run this business until the end of the year.
However, one fateful night forced us to retire early from this dream job we didn't know we wanted.
It was two days before Halloween and it was almost closing time. It was already dark and we had agreed to do one more act before we called it a day. I heard girls giggling from the hallway and a guy's voice said, "Oh my, that is scary." The sarcasm in his deep voice was all too evident.
The group of customers continued cackling as they made their way to my room. I heard one of them complaining of how this was a waste of money. They reached my room and stood by the door.
The bedsheet festooning me was pure silk, so I was able to see through it. The glimmer of the moon spilling through the barren windows was enough for me to confirm what I already suspected, it was a group of teenagers.
Teenagers were problematic for a lot of reasons. Most of the time they didn't want to pay. They were barely scared with our stunts and some of them thought it best to write on the walls, steal or break something in the house before they left.
This group was comprised of two girls and one guy. One of the girls had dark skin, short hair, and hazel brown eyes. The other girl had long black braids tied into a ponytail, light skin, and dark brown eyes. They were both wearing white jean shorts and were garbed by a pink and red tank top respectively. The guy accompanying them was a well-built kid with thick black afro hair. He wore skinny blue jeans and a grey T-shirt.
"What's going on in here?" the guy asked as the trio walked into the room.
The girls snickered as they swaggered close to each other.
"That's really innovative, dude. We can see you under that bedsheet," the guy said.
I sighed for being made out so easily but I then realized the teenager wasn't talking or looking at me. He was looking the opposite side of where I was standing. In fact, all three of them were looking in that direction.
I followed their gaze and my heart stopped. A few feet to my right, there was someone seated on the rocking chair in the room. The figure had a white bed sheet blanketing its humanoid body. My mind raced to think of who it could be. I considered the possibility of George or John coming into my act.
The figure slowly stood up from the rocking chair and the sound of snapping and crackling bones resonated from underneath the bedsheet. The humanoid figure stood at a colossal height. It was about eight feet tall and slim like a willow. Its shoes were sticking out from under the bedsheet. Its feet were facing sideways like how Charlie Chaplin used to stand. And just like Charlie Chaplin, its shoe size was ridiculously long. The shiny black leather shoes of the figure looked like the shoes of a cartoon clown.
All of a sudden, the figure began marching towards the teenagers. With every step it took, its Bugs Bunny sized shoes pounded on the hardwood floor with force.
The teenage girls wrapped their arms around each other and shuffled behind the boy.
"Hey man, we get it, you are a ghost. You scared the girls but now you need to stop," said the teenage boy.
Like a bouncer walking up to someone causing problems in the club, the figure's striding had a malicious intent to it. Its giant steps were rapidly decreasing the distance between it and the teenagers.
"Okay, that's far enough, pal. Don't come any closer. I am warning you. I have got skills of combat!" the boy yelled at the figure.
But the figure was already upon them. The teenage boy swung a punch at the bed sheet and it flapped to the ground revealing no one underneath it. The leather shoes that rivalled the size of a duck's feet had also disappeared.
My knees wiggled and a wave of uneasiness jounced my scrawny body as I stared at the bed sheet lying flat on the ground.
The teenagers' faces were all blanched with fear. The vanity of the girls had disappeared and the bravado of the boy had evaporated. They all screamed so loudly they didn't realize I was also screaming with them.
I began running towards the door and the teenagers noticed me. They probably thought I was another apparition coming after them and they bolted out of the room. They ran down the hallway and went out the front door with lightning speed.
Before I exited the white room, I was dumb enough to turn back and my heart jumped to my throat at what I saw. The bony humanoid figure was erecting from below the bedsheet. It stood once more at an abnormal height and its inhumanly long shoes had reappeared.
I yanked my bed sheet to the floor and ran like the wind. I sped down the hallway and burst out the front door. I screamed for help from John or George and I think I even yelled out for my mother in the process.
George stopped me before I ran out of the gate and he asked me what was wrong. I was too petrified to reply so I just pointed at the house. John came wobbling out of the house and asked the same question as George.
After a couple of deep breaths, I tried to explain but I was interrupted by a sound emanating from the house. It was the sound of a crying baby.
"Did you leave your phone inside the house?" I asked John.
His reply shook my body to the core, "No, I have it with me." He even showed it to me.
The sound of the crying baby became louder. It soon seemed like there was a crying baby in every room in the house.
"What is happening?" George tremulously asked.
No one replied to him because we had all noticed a cadaverous figure covered with a white bed sheet was by the front door. Its protracted shoes were now hovering in the air as the figure floated a few inches above the ground. The sounds of crying children had reached ear shredding volumes. Some of the crying seemed to be coming from the doll heads on sticks in the yard. My stomach was in knots when I noticed the gobs of worms pouring out of the doll heads mouths and ears.
The figure by the door stretched out its arms like Jesus on the cross and one by one the lights of each room in the house switched on. My mouth was dry and agape when I saw the dead lizards hanging down from the ceiling of every room in the house.
"I dont remember putting up all those lizards," I heard George mutter.
The figure eventually lowered its arms and all the lights simultaneously switched off. The front door abruptly slammed shut in front of the figure and the crying ceased.
That night, George stayed at our house. I forgot the explanation I gave my parents but I guess it was more believable than the truth. Up until now, I had never spoken to anyone else besides George and John about that night. I tried convincing both of them that it was a prank of some sort but even I couldn't believe that.
George quit his job the very next day. He used the money he made from the haunted house to open a tuck shop or a barbershop or something. I told you we made good money.
John also quit his job and became a paranormal investigator. He goes around the country exploring and researching ghosts and haunted places. His team once went into the house next door with cameras and a bunch of ghost-busting equipment but I never asked what they found. I had already seen enough.
I soon moved out of my parents' house. I couldn't stand the sound of a crying baby I always heard coming from next door in the middle of the night. I now have my own apartment on the East side of the country.
I am not an expert on Halloween but I have a feeling it had something to do with whatever spirit that came after us that night. I once asked George if something like that had previously happened at the house and he said no. He had even asked the other guards and they said they never experienced anything of the sort during their shifts.
My reasoning is this, by celebrating Halloween we may have invited or awoken something supernatural in that house. I know that sounds crazy but John contacted me the other day and he said, according to his nationwide research, more people in the country are celebrating Halloween this year and based on the statistics, this year now has the most ghost sightings in the country's history.