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I tended to hate Halloween. Don’t get me wrong; the candy was always something I would look forward to. Hershey bars were especially my favorite. No, what I disliked about Halloween was dressing up. I’m certain you would find it odd as to why that is. My family had been through some hard times, and as such, we often recycled clothes to create Halloween costumes. I was always made fun of because of my raggedy costumes. One time I went as a ghost, and the costume was a mismatch of fabrics that were different sizes. It was grotesque in appearance. It was badly stitched with different colors of yarn. I could barely leave home without someone laughing it off, as though I were going as dirty laundry.

I tried everything I could think of to stay home this Halloween, such as pretending to be sick, but my Mom considered it best that I go out to socialize with the other kids. This year, I decided to go as a robot. I wore a strainer pot as a helmet, and a box for the torso. Buttons and levers were crudely drawn onto it. I wore gloves on my hands, spray-painted to a silver color. And it was all topped off with baggy pants. I looked horrible. It reminded me of those 1950s B-movies my grandparents would watch. I tried one last time to stay home, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. I scanned the street around me to ensure that there weren’t any other trick-or-treaters, and I slowly walked out the front door of my house.

Without a moment’s notice, the streetlights droned on and the children were free to walk. They all had costumes far better than mine. Some were disguised as the classic Universal Monsters, others as the more famous monsters such as Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and the like. I looked at them with a mixture of amazement and envy. Envy that reminded me of how I was dealt a bad hand. Nevertheless, I tried to ignore them and continue my quest of obtaining candy. After scoring the first house I came to, I glanced back, and to my frustration, I saw three people I knew from school. Their names were Ed, Willis, and Dave. They were the “popular kids” of my school. They came from better-off families, which they always flaunted at school. They always had the latest in-fashion clothes, hardly ate in the cafeteria, and they were grossly wealthy. I went to turn away, but I was spotted.

“If it isn’t Dirt Rat,” laughed Willis.

“What are you supposed to be? A trash can?” inquired Dave.

I held my breath. Words cannot describe the feeling of hatred I have for these boys, because I must attend school with them every day. Every day, they make my life a living hell. They make fun of me. They once put dog shit in my locker. They even glued all my textbooks together, and my poor Mom had to bend over backwards to pay for replacements. I knew they were only wanting to get a reaction from me, so I tried to tune them out. They followed me to each house I traversed to, their incessant name-calling only becoming more wearing on my sanity. Eventually, the insults changed course.

“Who was Dirt Rat’s Mom again?” asked Ed.

“I think she’s that same one my Dad sees at the club,” replied Willis.

“Yeah, Dirt Rat’s mother sells her body to get by!” snickered Dave.

I stopped in my tracks. I was boiling over in rage. I am used to being made fun of in my school life, but calling my Mom a whore was something I was not going to stand for.

“Take that back.”

The three boys stopped laughing and gave me stern looks. They looked at each other momentarily, and smirks spread across their faces.

“Your Mom’s a slut, kid,” said Dave, his head bent back in a laugh.

“I bet my Dad pays her good,” added Willis.

My hands clenched together into fists as I allowed my rage to fill my body. I managed to lay a hit to Dave. He was stunned at first, not fully comprehending what had just happened, but he immediately hit back, sending me sprawling on the ground. I couldn’t even stand up, because I was forced back down on the ground and was pummeled by a succession of punches and kicks to my rib cage. I was hit repeatedly in the face until one of my eyes swelled over, and my nose was bashed in. I felt as though I was going to vomit up a lung, because of how badly they hit my rib cage. Some of my ribs even felt as though they were broken. The boys tired themselves out and turned to leave. Ed remained a little longer to spit a crusty, mucus-riddled loogie in my face as the cherry on top.

I struggled to get up after they had done their work. I might have been blacked out for a bit because the streets appeared to be vacant. I clumsily got to my feet and continued to walk. I walked for a good distance until I collapsed. The last thing I saw was a weird figure heading towards me. I regained consciousness,finding myself in a strange house. I saw that I was in a bedroom, my wounds having apparently been healed. I continued to soak in my surroundings until I heard someone suddenly speak up.

“Oh, I’m glad that you’re awake.”

I looked around and saw a beautiful woman. She had long, black hair and emerald eyes. She wore a red dress laced with a white apron. She possessed a slim figure and luscious, pink lips. She was the utmost picture of beauty.

“Who are you?” I asked.

The woman smiled at me, her smile feeling like rays of sunshine.

“My name is Aria. I noticed that you had some scuffle earlier.”

I looked away embarrassingly. “Oh, so you saw everything.”

She nodded reassuringly. “Well, you are lucky that I found you and patched you up.”

She went to explain how she had worked as a nurse a few years back. Several children had come to her doorstep suffering injuries, or because they were being bullied by their peers. She always ensured that they were made better by her. Each child felt at home with her, oftentimes not wishing to leave her.

I stretched my arms. “Well, thanks, Aria, but I have to go back home now.”

She frowned. “Do you have to?”

I felt bad for upsetting her like that, so I decided to stay a little longer. She was, of course, delighted by this. Before I even knew it, I found myself at her dinner table, where she brought out a variety of delicious-smelling food. There were several pastries such as pies and cakes, chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and fries. All of this assortment of food was delicious. I scarfed down the plates relentlessly. But the oddest thing was I never felt full. I was overcome by this desire to consume more and more of the food until I literally almost made myself sick. I was on the verge of not even remembering the time of day, because it only seemed to be an hour since I came to Aria’s house.

But the food wasn’t the only great thing about the visit. I received the finest of clothing that only money could buy, several styles I believe were even foreign to that trio of boys’ typical clothing line. My robot costume was replaced by a more authentic looking design, and I received oceans of candy. I had no idea how Aria was able to do all this, but I couldn’t care less. I was becoming deeply enraptured by not only Aria, but the house as well, despite my stomach telling me that something was wrong with my host. At least, until I made a discovery in her house.

After drinking gallons of soda, nature called, and as you know, you have to answer it, no questions asked. Aria wasn’t around in the house for some odd reason, so I decided to find the bathroom myself. I found myself walking through long hallways. The house appeared larger than it already seemed. It seemed…alive. I walked in different directions but ended up in the same spot every single time. After what to me was forever, I gave up and opened a door into a room. My nostrils were assaulted by a horrid smell. The room was dark, but as my eyes adjusted to it, I could see what was lurking inside.

Inside were the skins of several children. There were 15 in total, I made sure to count twice. They were all set on mannequin stands. I walked over to one of the displays – that being a girl that was around my age – who had incisions down from her sternum to her groin. The girl’s insides were hollowed-out; instead of organs, there were several crumpled up newspapers. I pulled out one of the newspapers, and the date conveyed that it was published back in 1965. I did the same to the other skins, and they each had different years published.

“So, you discovered my art room?”

I turned around and saw Aria standing at the door. Instead of that warm and inviting grin, she instead had an expression of total disgust on her face. She also appeared differently than before. Her eyes glowed a yellow color. She became larger than she initially was when I met her. She had long, skeletal fingers, topped with gnarly fingernails. She walked in a staggering matter. Her feet were practically nonexistent. She wobbled, like a baby taking its first steps.

“Why?” I began, “Why did you do this?”

She smiled. That once warm smile was replaced with a devilish smirk. “I devoured their innards after I enchanted them into staying with me forever.”

She motioned towards one of the skinned mannequins. “They all wanted to stay forever, so I gave them what they want.”

From there, I realized that she lured children who have had bad experiences to her home and fed on their lives so she could continue to exist. Through assuredly supernatural means, she made herself immortal from the many human lives she had snuffed out, and had made crude artwork with the skins. She lurched closer to me, her lower body now transforming before my eyes. It contorted in grotesque fashion, the legs seeming to widen and bend in inhuman ways.

But this actually wasn't the end as I have imagined; when she was inches away from using her knives on my tender body, I struck up a deal with her. I had become her personal cohort where each year, I would provide her with trick or treaters as a means of escaping my demise. In fact, my first selections were pretty obvious.

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