It’s amazing, really. Halloween, that is, just the idea of it. Humans, we’re intelligent creatures for the most part, but during this certain time of the year we seem to lose said intelligence; we crave the need to be scared, spooked, and terrified. I, myself, used to be one of these people, until that Halloween three years ago.
Now growing up, I searched for anything and everything that would scare me. The feeling of being scared intrigued me, that rush of blood from your heart to your head, the sound of blood pounding in my ears.
My family seemed to travel a lot now that I think back on it. One town to the other, state to state. I still don’t know why we did, we weren't militarily involved, my dad wasn’t a traveling salesmen, and he wasn’t a performer. I guess my parents just didn’t like to be in one place for too long, they were free spirits, or so I thought.
Halloween was a weird time for us, my father was just like me. He loved being terrified, even more than me, he even tried being a Daredevil for a short amount of time. My mom, now understand, was one of the happiest people I have ever come to know, she was so nice and gentle. But, for one night out of the year, she changed to this pale, ghostly image of a woman, drained of all color and life. She always looked scared, constantly looking over her shoulder, like something was following her. God I miss her.
It feels like an eternity since that fateful night. It started out like most Halloweens, my dad informing me of all the haunted houses we would be visiting, and my mother was her usual pale self.
As the day progressed though, my mom began to look increasingly worse, like the life was sucking out of her. Her cheek bones were sunken in like that of a holocaust victim, as if her skeleton was trying to rip free of the skin that held it. I just shrugged it off, as usual. That was my first mistake.
As my dad and I stepped into the cool autumn air, I felt the wind bite into my cheeks and turn them red. As we walked to the car I saw my dad fall to his knees; I quickly ran to his side. His face was that of my mother’s, pale and boney; he was grasping at his chest, and looking around, swiveling his head violently.
I asked him if he was okay. This seemed to snap him back to normal, he hastily replied that he was okay and we needed to get going so we didn't have to wait in a long line. Too bad we never made it to that damned haunted house.
As we drove the color in my dad’s face returned, but he still looked scared. I asked what had happened, he just replied that he had heartburn. I, again being my carefree self, shrugged it off. As we turned off the main highway onto a side road, that I suppose was meant to take us to the haunted house, I felt a sudden chill creep over me.
We hadn’t been on the road for five minutes before I saw headlights, it was an 18-wheeler for some local supermarket whose name is lost to me. Now at this point a lot of things happened at once; something or someone ran out in front of the truck, the truck swerved into our lane, my dad swerved, but we clipped the truck and went spiraling into the woods that surrounded the road.
Pain. That's all that came to mind after these events happened, and the loud rumble of an explosion, from what I suppose was the truck that almost killed us. My leg was caught under the caved-in dashboard. I was able to squeeze it out but this only intensified the pain.
I assumed I had a broken leg, or at the very least a major fracture. I observed my surroundings. The car was slammed up against a tree, the front end was basically non-existent. There was smoke cascading up in the distance, with the faint glow of what most likely was the truck on fire. In the midst of this silent chaos, my dad was nowhere to be seen.
As I dragged myself out of the car, I noticed something. I couldn't see the road, it wasn’t there. I mean it was as if the road had never even existed in the first place. I don’t even remember how I reasoned it out in my head, but again like I did everything, I shrugged it off.
As I hobbled over to my dad’s side, I saw that the door was ripped off and thrown at least fifteen yards to the side of the car. There was a clear path though, outlined in the weeds by blood and ripped pieces of clothing. Had someone dragged my dad to safety? I remember thinking this; it was the only logical thing, unless he dragged himself, but why would he do that?
I followed the trail for what seemed like forever, almost losing it a few times, like he tried to walk at some point, but gave up. After what felt like forever, the woods gave way to an opening. There before me lay a cemetery, but, there was something different about this cemetery that was different from any I had ever seen. I felt a rumbling underneath my feet like the dead were resisting the holds of their earthly prison, the tombstones had no names, but were wrapped in chains.
Standing in the middle was a figure, it was dressed in black, beside him lay my father.
I called out to it then, it turned its head towards me. What I saw I cannot describe, because its appearance did not stay the same for long, one minute it was a skeleton. Next, it was my friends, then my relatives, then a snarling beast whose name I know not. Then he spoke, his voice was hollow yet commanding, it gave me a feeling that I can only describe as hopelessness.
He told me that my parents had committed great crimes. When I asked him what my father had done, he said that he had made a deal, that helped him cheat death, and that he had been running from it since then.
I stood there, still pondering on whether or not this was a dream. I heard an anguished cry gurgle up from my father. Silence. My father was nowhere to be seen, the dark figure sank into the ground, and with him went my sanity and consciousness. Darkness overtook me.
I awoke on the sidewalk next to my house. My mother was gone, the house was cleared out and nobody even remembers me or my parents.
Now here I am in this hospital with the only person in the world I love, my darling wife, Rose. Please take heed of my story, and know you cannot cheat death.
“There honey, it's done,” I said to Rose soothingly.
“Thank you, baby.”
That must be the doctor; I walked over to the door and there stood the doctor in his freshly cleaned bone white jacket, looking very similar to a ghost.
“Tom, I know times have been tough for you and Rose, and over these past years I feel like we've all become good friends, so it kills me to tell you... It seems the cancer is terminal."
That word, terminal, it echoed throughout my mind, it resonated through it like the sound of glass shattering.
“I understand,” I said back.
“I understand this is hard, I’ll give you two a bit to discuss.”
I turned back into the room, and started to walk to her bed, when I heard another knock. I backtracked to the door, and opened it. I saw a man of average height, gray pin-striped suit and a black fedora, his eyes were icy blue and chilled me to the bone. He looked me in the eyes with a piercing stare and said:
“Wanna make a deal?”