By Jessica Ricks
Jacob, Chrissy, and Marcus made their way to the end of the long, winding street. It was getting late. Houses were starting to turn off their lights indicating that they were done giving out candy. The streets that were busy with kids, and some teenagers, going from door to door in their colorful costumes shouting “trick or treat!” just 15 minutes ago were nearly abandoned. Only a few more remained and even they were going home, a kid across the street in a Captain America costume from Target with a big pumpkin-shaped basket of candy, a high school couple in the typical couples costume (these two had gone as Mickey and Minnie), and a kid wearing an obviously handmade witches costume carrying around a pillowcase full of candy.
“Guys, let’s go home,” Chrissy said. Her basket of candy was starting to weigh her down and she was starting to get cold in her Wonder Woman costume. All she wanted was to go inside and dig into her Kit Kats, Laffy Taffy, and Twizzlers.
“We’ve still got one more house left,” Jacob said. His goal had been to hit every house in the area that night and when he said every house, he meant every house.
“What house did we miss?” asked Marcus who was totally fine with staying out if it meant he didn’t have to go home and be kept up all night by his crying baby sister.
“That one!” Jacob said pointing to the old house in the distance. It was huge but it was dark and worn down. The house always had bats flying around and there was a graveyard on the property.
“Why do you want to go there?!” Chrissy exclaimed.
“Because that’s the only house we haven’t gone to. No one else has gone there so I’m sure they’ve got tons of candy.”
“But we can’t go there!”
“Why can’t we? Scared of a little graveyard huh?”
“Jacob, you’re new around here,” Marcus said. “Obviously you don’t know the story.”
“What story?” Jacob asked skeptically.
“You may want to sit down for this one,” Marcus said. Chrissy and Jacob sat down obediently while Marcus dramatically cleared his throat. He loved to tell stories and having to tell Jacob this story completely made his night.
“The family that owned that house is the Jeffersons. They built the house over a hundred years ago, they were one of the first people to live in this area. Everyone liked the Jeffersons. They were nice people. The father, Abraham Jefferson was a carpenter, Emily Jefferson was a teacher, and their kids, especially Ameline and Geoffrey were always helping people.
“Then weird things started to happen around them. People were going missing. A kid drowned in their lake. Another man was found hung on a tree in their backyard. People thought it was tied to them, Ameline was even tried for being a witch but she was found innocent, something about her almost drowning when she was thrown into the lake.
“Things were quiet for a while. That’s when three people were found dead in their graveyard. Could have been a coincidence right? Not likely. They were excommunicated from the town. It was right before they left that Emily said some foreign words, put some kind of curse on them. Supposedly it said that whoever enters the house will never live to tell what they saw. It was many years before a Jefferson ever came back to live in the house, by then all the people that lived through the story were long dead.”
“Who lives there now?” Jacob asked.
“Just old Milton Jefferson. He’s like their grandson or something. He’s super weird, talks to himself a lot and gives people angry looks of they step on his lawn.”
“Well let’s go,” Jacob said standing up and walking toward the house.
“Wait, you still want to go?!” Chrissy said incredulously.
“Marcus said himself that the weird Jeffersons moved out a long time ago and Milton is just a crazy old man. He’s probably lonely. He might be happy if we go knock on his door.:
“But what about the story?” Chrissy said following after him.
“Who knows if it’s actually real?”
“It could be!”
Jacob stopped walking and looked at Marcus. “Marcus, who told you that story?”
“My brother…knowing him he probably made it up.” He trudged forward alongside Jacob. “I’m in.”
Chrissy followed them hesitantly. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Don’t be such a chicken Chrissy,” Marcus said. “Besides, won’t it be cool to be the only kids at school to ever even get close to the Jefferson house? We’ll be famous!”
The three kids walked a bit longer until they arrived at the tall, rusty black gate to the house. It creaked as Jacob pushed it open.
The house was certainly bigger than it looked, and also scarier. The black shingles were worn down and even missing in some places. Several of the windows were cracked, a shutter on the second floor was hanging off, and the house creaked and groaned in the crisp autumn breeze.
They slowly approached the house crunching dead grass under their feet. Chrissy screeched and nearly jumped in the air.
“What’s wrong?” Marcus asked in alarm, ready jumpy and suddenly starting to regret the decision to come to the house.
“I thought I saw something move in the graveyard.”
“Relax, it’s just a bat,” Jacob said pointing to the bat perched on a low tree branch.
They finally arrived at the front door. Jacob reached out a gloved band and rang the doorbell that chimed throughout the house. A few moments passed and finally the door opened revealing a very old man. His back was slightly hunched, he wore a flannel shirt and overalls, and what little hair he had left was brushed over his bald head.
“Trick or treat!” the kids exclaimed.
A smile crept across the mans face and they could see that he was missing a lot of teeth. “Well, isn’t this nice. No one ever comes to this house for trick ‘r treating. Here you go.” He reached beside the door and pulled out a bowl full of candy.
Chrissy nearly let out a sigh of relief and Jacob have her an “I told you so” look. Marcus eyed the candy hungrily.
“I’m so glad you came by,” Milton said. “It gets kinda lonely on this end of the street.”
“We’re glad we came by sir,” Chrissy said politely.
“Well now I’m sure you three came a long way and you’ve had a long night. Do you want to come in and rest your little feet for moment? I’ve got some fresh apple cider.”
The three of them exchanged a look. Chrissy was about to kindly refuse remembering what her parents told her about stranger danger, even though this man had just given them Halloween candy.
Before she or Jacob could say anything, Marcus did. “Sure we would love to!”
The old man smiled again. “Lovely. Right this way.”
They walked down a dark hallway lit only by one light bulb. He led them into the living room. “You sit here and I’ll get you that apple cider.”
The three of them sat on the couch and looked around the room. The couch was soft but smelled of mothballs. The green wallpaper seemed to be the brightest thing in the room and it was adorned by portraits of people who seemed to all be looking at them.
“This place gives me the creeps,” Jacob said.
“I told you we should have just gone home,” Chrissy said.
“We’ll just have one cup of apple cider and then we’ll leave,” Marcus said.
Milton walked in carrying a tray of four cups. “Here you go.” He sat down across from them but they noticed that he didn’t drink, just watched them with a bright look in his eyes. “It’s so nice to see young people around here. I hardly see children anymore. None of you ever come down this way.”
“Most of the kids live up the road,” Jacob said conversationally.
“That may be true. I know most of you are also scared of my graveyard.”
“I-I wouldn’t say that…” Chrissy said not knowing what to say that wouldn’t be offensive.
“It’s alright, I understand. It’s a peaceful graveyard if you get used to it. My whole family rests there now, the whole lot of ‘em. Knowing that they’re there makes this big house a little less lonely.”
“Don’t you have any living family members?” Chrissy asked.
“Oh no, not at my age. I don’t have any children or grandchildren neither.”
“Are these your family members in the pictures?” Marcus asked pointing to the wall.
“Oh yes. That’s my sister there, Maria,” he said pointing to a pretty girl with brown curls. “She was a hoot when she was around. And that’s my ma.” He pointed to a woman who looked similar but much older. “My cousin Merrick that is. And that Uncle Pete. Now that there is my grandma Ameline.” He pointed to the girl with long blonde hair and piercing gray eyes. “That’s her brother Geoffrey and their parents Emily and Abraham.”
The kids exchanged a nervous glance. So the people in the story were real but that didn’t mean what happened was real…or did it.
“They…they look like lovely people.”
“Oh yes, they are. I still enjoy talking to them when they come around to visit their old relative.”
“Um, but aren’t they…dead?” Marcus asked carefully putting down his apple cider.
Milton was giving them that bright look again. “No, no, they’re always with me. Whenever they like to come out from their resting place to pay me a visit I always appreciate it. Would you like to meet them?” His eyes seemed to be shining brighter than before.
“Excuse me?” Jacob asked confused.
“I’m sure they would love to meet you. They really like the rare occasions that we have visitors. Would you like to meet them?”
“No…” Chrissy said starting to panic.
Before they could say anything more Milton stood up and went to the window behind him. He opened it and stuck his head out. “Family! Come inside! We have visitors!”
Jacob stood up. “I think we have to go. Our parents are probably wondering where we…”
Milton turned back to them. “Please stay,” he said pleasantly. “As I said, it’s so rare that we get visitors and my family loves to meet new people.”
“Guys, we should leave,” Jacob said, the fear in his voice reflecting that of Chrissy and Marcus. “Now!”
The kids got off the couch, grabbed their candy, and ran for the door as fast as they could.
They let out blood curdling screams as a zombie jumped into their path. The only other exit was the window which they ran to next but two other zombies jumped through shattering the glass. Finally another zombie appeared out of the fireplace.
The kids were trapped, huddled in the middle of the room while the zombies inched closer. They were so clearly the people in the pictures: Abraham, Emily, Geoffrey, and Ameline. Yet they had been dead for a very long time with their rotting skin, matted hair, tattered and dirty clothes, blood pouring from their mouths, and bugs in their ears.
All the while Milton remained in his place on the couch with his hands crossed pleasantly in his lap. “Why so eager to leave? It’s not often that my family gets such willing visitors.”
Abraham and Emily seized Jacob by the arms, Marcus was grabbed around the throat by Geoffrey.
Chrissy took the next opportunity to run. She dropped her basket of candy that now seemed to insignificant and bolted to the door. Ameline jumped in front of her, a blood thirsty grin spreading across her toothless mouth. Chrissy backed up, her next thought to go for the window, but she tripped over her candy and fell to her back.
She risked a glance behind her. Marcus was wailing in agony as Geoffrey attacked him. Jacob’s lifeless body was eerily silent as Abraham and Emily feasted on him.
Emily was towering over her now. There was nothing she could do. No one could hear them scream. No one would ever know what happened to them.
The once beautiful Ameline reached down and once she grabbed Chrissy’s throat, it was all over.