Halloween used to be my favorite holiday. It was the one time of year you could be anything you wanted to be. You could draw out your darkest desires and display them for the world to see. No one would think you were odd for being the person you always wanted to be. There was no judgment for your choice of attire and oftentimes you were commended for that choice. Then at the end of the night, you received a reward for your efforts in the form of a bag full of candy.
I am far too old to go door-to-door, begging for treats, but I enjoy watching my children do the same. Weeks in advance we let them pick their costumes; they are far too young to delve into the ghastly and usually end up picking a character of a popular movie or tv show. I simply take my pictures and urge them on to each doorway. I always remind them to say, "Trick or Treat" before the door opens. It has been this way for a few years now but I am starting to question the tradition, especially after visiting 113 Forest Road.
This past year we made the rounds of our local neighborhood. We made sure to only approach homes that had their porch light on, which was the unspoken rule. Our night had almost come to an end when we reached a home that had been vacant for the last two seasons. It was the largest within our neighborhood, towering at two stories when all others only had one level. It was a large, brick Victorian monstrosity that may have once been beautiful but the landscape had long needed work. It was the house most kids made stories about and when we saw the dim glow of that yellow bulb I was unsure of letting my children approach.
My oldest begged to ring the doorbell and my youngest simply wanted more candy. I was outnumbered and relented at their pleas. My wife sat within the idling vehicle while I followed close behind. The two made their way up the steps and I waited at the bottom. Like always, I reminded them of what to say. My oldest son held his brother's hand and pressed the lighted button. Ringing, much like church bells, echoed from within the house for a moment, before returning to silence. After a few seconds, they turned to me with questioning looks.
I had noticed a moving truck parked outside the home earlier in the month and knew someone must live there but I had not seen them. There was no car in the driveway and I did not see any lights on inside. I started to think they were simply gone and left the light on in case it was dark by the time they returned. I waved to my children to come back to the car and told them we would just head home. The look of disappointment on their faces told me they were not ready to end the night just yet.
Their faces lit up as the door creaked to life and a voice beckoned them to wait. "Trick or Treat," they both screamed with excitement.
A feeling rolled in me like thunder and a signal of danger rang in my head. Something was not right, if they were home all this time where was the car I had seen sitting the driveway the last few weeks? I instinctively advanced on my two children, taking the steps in leaps. A feeling inside told me they should not go toward that voice and I called for them to stop as they turned toward the door.
"I choose both," the voice seemed strained, like that of a lifetime smoker.
Two ragged hands shot from the parted pathway and drew both of my little boys inside. Their screams echoed in my head. My adrenaline shot me forward but my body slammed against a closing door. I pounded repeatedly, screaming obscenities of every nature. My body shook violently as my world became a spiral of despair. The whole scene drew the attention of my wife and soon she was right behind me. In an effort to find the entry I took a step back, lifted my right foot, and dropped it full force into the hardwood.
The doorframe shattered, allowing the barrier to fly freely into the darkness. I cried out in terror for my little boys as I rushed through each room. My entire reason for living had been snatched up in an instant and I had been too late to stop it. When the house had been searched completely with no results, my wife phoned the authorities through wails of agony. We both held each other until sirens lit up our tiny neighborhood.
It has been a year now and we still have no answer as to what happened to our children. My wife distanced herself from me and I am sure she blames me for what happened. I don't fault her for that, I blame myself as well. If I had not let them go to that door or listened to my feelings sooner, they would both still be here. Halloween is no longer a time of fun for us, but a reminder of our mistakes. I don’t even leave my house on that night and even the sight of a pumpkin makes tears stream down my face. The drive home from work is especially hard, witnessing the houses that decorate for the occasion. I am almost in a panic before I close myself within the safety of my home. Please, if you read this, don't let your kids visit 113 Forest Road on Halloween.
Written by L0CKED334