That Halloween was cool and foggy, making it even more creepy and mysterious than Lacey remembered. She was seven years old, and she wanted to be very brave, even though it frightened her to think of the ghouls, ghosts and witches that would be out at night. She had a princess costume to wear for trick-or-treating. Nothing would hurt a princess, would it?
In preparation for a Halloween party, Lacey’s mother had put up spooky decorations all over the house. The windows were festooned with green and orange lights. A cauldron in the fireplace emitted smoke. Gigantic spiders climbed the walls and a horrid stuffed mummy sat in one of the living room chairs. Meanwhile, in the basement, her 16 year-old sister, Julia, was also preparing for a party with her teenage friends.
Lacey worried she would be forgotten. She was always a second thought when her family got busy. “Momma, when will we go trick-or-treating?”
“Oh honey,” her mother said, as she set out a punch bowl and some bottles of wine. “Do you really need all that candy?”
Lacey’s lip trembled. She had counted on going out with her pumpkin-shaped trick or treat basket. “But Momma. My costume… I want to dress up as a princess and go trick-or-treating like the other kids.”
“Okay, tell Julia she needs to take you. Dad and I are going to be busy with a houseful of guests tonight.”
“But she’s having her own party!”
Just then, the first guest rang the doorbell. It was her Uncle Tim, dressed in a smart black suit. He kissed Lacey’s mother on the cheek as he stepped in.
“I’m just off the plane from a business trip to Chicago,” he said. “I guess I’ll be going as a businessman for Halloween!” Then he spied Lacey and smiled. Uncle Tim was her favorite relative. He loved to make her laugh, and often brought her presents. After giving her one of his big bear hugs, he handed her something from his pocket. It was a toy scepter. It looked just like the kind used by royalty. “I heard you were going as a princess!”
“Oh, thank you, Uncle!”
“Come on, Tim,” Lacey’s mother said. “Let’s go find you a costume.”
Lacey waved her scepter in the air and wondered what costume they might have that could fit Uncle Tim. He was much taller than her father, and even had to have special suits made.
The doorbell rang again, and Lacey's mother called from down the hallway, asking her to greet the guests. She opened the door to find a couple in garish costumes on the porch. The man was dressed as Count Dracula. The woman had makeup on that made her look sickly pale, and she had two red gash marks on her neck with fake blood running down. Coming up the walk behind them was a woman dressed as a hideous witch and someone in a scream outfit with a long black mouth and scary drooping black eyes. Lacey ran to her room.
She put on her princess costume, which comforted her somehow. She could hear music starting up in the basement. Julia’s friends would be entering through the basement door, and Lacey wondered if they would be wearing creepy costumes too. She grabbed her scepter and walked past the adult party, where kings and knights held court with pirates and devils, then down the stairs to the teen party.
Though it hardly seemed possible, the party for the teenagers was even more awful. The room was dark, lit only with blacklights that made the basement seem sinister. A play list of creepy Halloween music was running on the sound system. Many of the party goers had chosen the most frightening costumes possible. She saw zombies, monsters and wounded hospital patients, and the vision of gruesome zombie faces and bloodied bandages made her want to scream. She looked around wildly for Julia, and couldn’t see her anywhere.
Suddenly, someone grabbed her hand and she reeled back. But then she saw that it was someone she recognized — a girl named Samantha from Julia’s group of friends. Samantha was dressed as a gypsy in a flowing dress, with bangles and chains, and a brilliant red scarf tied around her head.
“Come here, little princess,” Samantha said. “It’s time to tell your fortune!” She sat Lacey down at a chair in the corner, which was outfitted with candles and a glowing crystal ball.
“Do I have to?” Lacey asked. “I need to find Julia. She’s supposed to take me trick-or-treating.”
“There is no one here named Julia, little princess,” Samantha said, evidently staying in character. “If you mean the evil sorceress, Julianna, she’s busy.”
“Let me see your palm,” Samantha said. But she winked at Lacey, smiling kindly, and her pearly white teeth gleamed in the blacklight.
So Lacey dutifully placed her hand on the table, palm up.
“Let me see, here… oh!” Samantha took her finger and traced it along a line in Lacey’s small palm. “Well, you certainly don’t have a very long life line.”
Lacey pulled her hand back. “Stop! Please. I don’t want to know any more.” She stood from the table, bumping it. A candle toppled and Samantha yelped and grabbed it to keep it from lighting the table cloth on fire.
Lacey pushed through the crowd of dancing zombies, looking for Julia. And there she was, against a wall in a rather revealing sorceress outfit, kissing a boy. Lacey backed away, then dashed back up the stairs. In the kitchen, she found her Halloween trick-or-treat basket, and ran out the kitchen door into the foggy night.
Out on the street, people of all sizes in costumes walked in groups along the street. There were ghosts, devils and goblins, and people in robes carrying swords and hatchets.
In the fog, the costumes seemed more realistic, and her mind played tricks on her. Could it be that some of these eerie characters were real? Who would know if actual monsters and witches came out to join the throngs on the street? It was the one night of the year when they could be themselves and no one would notice.
She fell in behind a group that included a child her size dressed in a pretty shimmering pink dress. But when the girl turned to look at her, Lacey saw that she had the face of a ghoul. She ran away — down one street, then another, her heart pounding.
Lighted jack-o-lanterns with evil faces leered at her from every porch. The fog confused her, making the streets and homes creepy and unfamiliar. She wished desperately that she had asked to go trick-or-treating with one of her friends. Or that her parents had wanted to take her. Or Julia. Anything but this. And now she was terribly lost. She spun around, looking everywhere for something that would show her the way home.
And that’s when she saw him. The largest Frankestein monster she had ever seen, walking toward her in the fog. It seemed to be locked onto her, moving quickly toward her. As she backed away, she suddenly remembered Samantha telling her about her short life line. She turned to run. But the monster was too fast. It quickly got to her and reached out and grabbed her. She screamed.
The monster picked her up. “Hush. It’s me, Lacey,” it said. And then she recognized the voice of Uncle Tim. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
She threw her arms around him, and sobbed.
“You’re okay now,” he said, as he sat on a rock at the edge of someone’s garden, and set her on his lap. “What are you doing out here all alone?”
“No one would take me trick-or-treating,” she said through her sniffles. Then she laughed, because she saw that he was still wearing his business suit. Her mother had merely put green makeup on his face and used a black makeup crayon to draw some stitching on his cheek. He looked funny.
Uncle Tim laughed too. “I must be quite a sight! Anyway, everyone is very worried. Julia went upstairs to see if you were okay, and your parents searched everywhere and couldn’t find you. Your dad is also out looking for you.”
“I didn’t think they cared,” she said.
“Of course they do,” Uncle Tim said. Then he looked in her pumpkin basket and saw that it was empty. “Oh, poor little princess! Alright hang on.”
Uncle Tim took out his cell phone and made a call. “I’ve got her,” he said.
Lacey could hear her father through the phone. “Oh thank God. I’ll call her mom to let her know. She’ll be so relieved!”
“Great,” Uncle Tim said. “We’re going to do some trick-or-treating, and then we’ll be home.”
He hung up the phone and smiled at her as they stood. “Come on, Halloween Princess. Let’s go get you some candy.”
Thank you for reading my story! As one of The Ink Well admins, I rarely have time to write and post my own stories in the community. With this story, I am participating in both the weekly prompt from @theinkwell and the @hivebuzz Halloween badge initiative. I look forward to your comments!
Photo credits: All of the photos in this post were taken by me with my iphone and belong to me, unless otherwise noted.
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