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Template:Halloween on Carpenter Drive[]

"Stephen, I noticed you haven't put out any Halloween decorations this year," said Eve, my nosy neighbor and head of our townhome association. I was in a rush and didn't want to get into it with her.

"Yes, I'm well aware, Eve. We're working on it," I replied, trying to maintain my composure. "Thanks for the reminder, but I have to go. And please, call me Steve."

"There are rules to living here, Stephen. You'd best remember that," she said, her tone taking on a disconcerting edge. She swirled around and walked away, her steps eerily quiet. I started pulling out of my driveway, and as I glanced back, I noticed her standing right on the border of our yard, staring directly at me.

I sat at the end of the cul-de-sac, my car's engine idling, waiting for the last few cars to pass by so I could leave. A jogger happened to run by. As he did, he yelled back, "Love the way you guys celebrate Halloween on your street! Everything looks so realistic!"

I grimaced. The last thing I wanted to hear was about how great everyone else's decorations were, putting more pressure on me to keep up. Work ran long, and it was already dark by the time I arrived home. The primary sources of light came from two areas. First, the lampposts which had been decked out to flash red or orange, bathing the streets in a sinister glow. They were all draped with elaborate decorations, from nooses to alien signaling beacons. Second, a source of the dim light emanated from Eve's yard. She was still out there, adding the finishing touches to her decorations. Satanic symbols, summoning circles, and a fountain of blood now adorned her yard. The eerie ambiance became increasingly uneasy as I drew nearer and entered my home.

"Honey, Eve called. About the decorations," Luna, my wife, said as I walked in.

"I'm working on it!" I snapped back, my frustration evident. The last thing I needed was my wife joining Eve's incessant pestering about Halloween decorations. I knew the neighborhood standards for holiday decor.

Luna raised an eyebrow at me, clearly sensing my stress. "Honey, we knew what we signed up for when we moved here. I think we both agree the perks have been worth it. Please appease her. You know what she'll do if we don't comply," she warned.

I let out a heavy sigh, realizing my reaction had gone too far. "Yes, dear, I do," I said, softening my tone. "I will get it handled, I promise."

After Luna went to bed, I finally had a moment to work on these decorations. I sat down at my computer and browsed for hours, but the selections were slim. Most of the good options were unavailable, and I cursed myself for procrastinating this long.

Then I heard a knock at the door. I hesitated, my fingers frozen on the keyboard. Nobody ever visited us at this hour. I tiptoed to the front door and peered through the peephole, then opened the door, revealing a familiar face from the neighborhood.

It was Mr. Hollows, one of the neighbors, emerging from the inky darkness. He was clad in a tattered black coat, his face obscured by a twisted, grinning mask. He wasn't wearing a mask for Halloween; his was a permanent fixture, the result of a near-death experience years prior.

"Evening, Stephen," he said, his voice a low, chilling murmur. "I've noticed you have yourself a dilemma."

I swallowed hard, feeling his gaze weigh me down. "Mr. Hollows, it's been a challenge to find the proper decorations."

"Stephen, where's your Halloween spirit?" He took a step closer, and I couldn't help but retreat a pace. His voice remained low, "The Blair's yard is lit up like a carnival of horrors. What's holding you back?"

My heart pounded in my chest, and I stuttered, "I'm still working on it, Mr. Hollows."

His eyes, hidden behind the mask, bore into mine. "You know, Stephen, the spirits of Halloween demand their tribute. Without it, they might become...unhappy."

He slowly extended a gloved hand, revealing a collection of crimson-stained fingers. "You wouldn't want that, now, would you?"

Nervously, I shook his hand, the icy grip making me wince. "No, Mr. Hollows. I'll get right to it. I promise."

His eyes seemed to gleam with an unnatural fervor. "That's what I wanted to hear, Stephen. I do hope you'll find something befitting the occasion. After all, Halloween is a time for revelry, isn't it?" He turned and left, his footsteps fading into the darkened street.

Feeling uneasy, I quickly purchased the best props available and had them set for 24-hour delivery. Then I closed the blinds and went to bed, hoping that I wouldn't be having anymore neighborly conversations for a while.

The next day, after work, Luna and I began setting everything up in the yard. Our yard looked like it came straight out of the French Revolution, complete with its own guillotine.

But, as I fumbled with a tangled mess of decorations, I felt a figure creep close behind me. Suddenly, a raspy voice whispered, "Trying to catch up to the Blair's, Stephen? Looks like you're still missing that special something."

Startled, I turned to find Mrs. Stoker, an elderly neighbor notorious for her dark sense of humor. Her face was half-concealed by a grotesque mask that appeared more like a genuine human skull than a Halloween costume.

"I'm...doing my best," I stammered, feeling the need to explain myself.

Her skeletal fingers reached out, brushing against fake cobwebs I had set up. "You know, Stephen, it's not just about setting up decorations. It's about embracing the spirit of Halloween, about diving into the darkness."

"I'm doing my best to get into the spirit, Mrs. Stoker," I assured her, trying to smile through my unease.

She leaned in, her skull mask mere inches from my face. "Are you really, Stephen? Halloween is a time for indulgence. A time for crossing lines you'd never dare to cross in the light of day."

I watched as she extended a gnarled hand, presenting an intricate, antique dagger. "How far are you willing to go to please the spirits, Stephen?"

My heart raced, and I took a step back. "As far as I need, Mrs. Stoker."

Her grating laughter echoed through the night. "Good answer, Stephen. For now, you are safe. But remember, Halloween is a time for reckoning. Those who fail to appease the spirits may find themselves on the wrong side of darkness."

With that, she turned and disappeared into the night, her footsteps fading along with her cackling laughter.

Later that week, I found myself unable to sleep. Heading outside to the porch, I let the cool breeze blow against my face. That's when I heard it. A strange sound emanating from Eve's yard. It started as a faint melody, barely audible over the rustling leaves. The notes were dissonant and haunting, like a tune played backward.

Curiosity got the better of me, and I cautiously approached the fence that separated our properties. Peering through a crack in the wooden panels, I was dumbfounded by what I saw.

Eve, dressed in a dark, hooded robe, stood at the center of her yard. She was surrounded by flickering candles that cast shadows on her face. Her voice was barely audible, a low, monotonous chant that sounded like gibberish. Her eyes were wide and unblinking, as though she were in a trance.

The ground around her was covered in a series of strange symbols drawn in what looked like blood-red paint. These symbols seemed to come to life, their lines writhing like serpents, as if they were etched in flesh rather than soil.

The air grew heavy with an unnatural presence, and the world seemed to warp and shift around Eve. The night itself seemed to hold its breath, as though nature itself were in awe of what was happening.

My heart pounded in my chest as I realized that I was witnessing something beyond my comprehension. I quickly retreated from the fence, my mind racing with fear and confusion. If I didn't get this figured out, I was a goner.

Days went by, each one stretching my patience and fraying my nerves. The constant scrolling, the never-ending search, and the perpetual frustration gnawed at my sanity. This was maddening. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, and my life had become an endless loop of tormenting anticipation.

Until finally, I found what I was looking for. A bead of sweat trickled down my forehead as I leaned closer to the screen, my eyes locked on the revelation.

"Honey!" I shouted, my voice tinged with excitement. "Come here!"

I heard her stir in the bedroom, and her footsteps, heavy with sleep, approached the office. "What is it?" she asked, her words muffled by a yawn.

I pointed to the monitor in front of me, the cursor hovering over the screen. "Well, what do you think?"

She squinted at the screen, her eyes tracing the lines and contours. Her sleepy expression slowly transformed into a smile. "Oh, he's flawless. A sacrifice that will even put the Blair's to shame. The perfect final decoration."

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Cheeselover405 04:35, 10 November 2023 (UTC)[]

Hi JustinHale23,

Great start to your story, and it's good you spell-checked it yourself before you published it. My only criticism of your story is that it ends where the climax is supposed to begin. The protagonists prepare to do something, and there's lots of foreshadowing to hint at what they will do, but it ends right before it happens. Your exposition is stunning, and I think I can infer what the protagonists are about to do, but I feel it should be included in the story. If you don't want to explicitly say what they do, you can simply skip to after they did it and describe the consequences of their actions. It just seems to me that you didn't know how to progress the story from that point, so you just ended it.