The Taylight Zone - Anthology Five

12 - Halloween Sucks - Joe

It was Saturday night and everyone in the Hanson house-hold was getting ready for Halloween.  Mrs. Hanson had decked the house in spider webs and cling-on window pictures of black cats and ghosts.  She was now helping Jesse put the finishing touches on her cat costume and a bowl of snacks sat waiting by the door.  Zac delved into it and pulled out a Kit-Kat and munched on it as he pondered what last minute Halloween costume he would throw together.
“Zachary!” Mrs. Hanson scolded as Zac picked a Jolly Rancher out of the bowl.

Zac looked hurt and put it back in the bowl.  Mrs. Hanson departed for the kitchen and Zac took the Jolly Rancher back out and peeled off the plastic and popped it in his mouth.

Taylor rounded the corner and Zac grabbed his arm, “what should I be for
Halloween Tay?”

Taylor glanced at the handful of candy wrappers in Zac’s hand. “Well, at this
rate, you could always go as a whale.” 

Zac swung his arm at Taylor and he ducked out of the way just missing Zac’s strike. 

“Easy there killer,” Taylor laughed putting his hands in front of him in a defensive gesture.  Zac stuck out his tongue, which was a bright purple from the candy, and Taylor grinned triumphantly and headed upstairs.

Zac finally decided on going as a hippie.  He wore a pair of his dad’s old
sandals and a ripped pair of bellbottoms he had gotten at a thrift store.  His mom painted peace signs on his cheeks and gave him some colorful love beads.  Zac grabbed a pillow case and led the parade of younger Hanson siblings down the block. 

Mrs. Hanson shouted after them, “be careful, watch out for you brother and sisters Zac!”  It was the first time they had gone without Taylor or Isaac having to lug them door to door.  This year Zac was thirteen.  Walker and Diana decided that thirteen was a respectable age to start trick-or-treating and watch the younger Hanson clan without supervision.

Jesse and Avery had paired up as a cat and mouse team.  Jesse had a black headband with felt ears and Avery had a gray one with round cable dish looking ears. They both wore sweats to match and their mom had made mittens to boot.

Mackenzie went as a cowboy and a rather adorable one.  His blonde hair stuck out from underneath the wide brim of his grandfather’s sagging brown hat.  The boys had bought him little cowboy boots at a concert in Texas and he never took them off.  One of Taylor’s belts was wrapped twice around his waist and closed with a big silver buckle.  Mrs. Hanson had refused to buy him a cap gun so he had to go without and instead held out his tiny hand, index finger and thumb up.

Taylor eagerly looked out the window of his bedroom for a sign of any trick-or-treaters.  His room was above the street, so he had a great view.  The black pavement was bathed in the moon's white light.  Taylor looked up at the moon.  It had looked just like that the night Mercury Records had signed him.

His thoughts wandered back to the trick-or-treaters.  He had actually enjoyed having to take his little brothers and sisters out in the past although he wouldn't admit it.  It wasn’t just because they let him have all their good candy either.  He just felt so proud as they marched down the street.  Five long blonde haired children was quite a spectacle in Tulsa, no matter how you looked at it.  He decided he was too old now that he didn’t have to escort the younger bunch.  The trick-or-treaters had been coming since five o’clock when the preschoolers made their rounds with their parents.  He loved seeing the look on their faces as he deposited a little treat inside their bags.

Taylor went downstairs and sat on the couch next to Isaac and scanned the Sam Ashe catologue.  He listened to the clamber of feet up the steps and the doorbell sounded.  Isaac nudged Taylor. “Get that, Tay.” 

Taylor nodded and bounded for the door and swung it open.  Five kids, a little younger than Zac, were dressed as Power Rangers.  Taylor put some candy in their bags and they left.  He certainly missed the good old days when kids dressed as the Ghost Busters or the Thunder cats, the cartoons from his time, but it was fun nonetheless.  He was just about to plop back down on the couch with a satisfied look on his face when he heard the bell ring again.

He hopped over the couch and sprinted to the door.  He hadn’t heard any footsteps, in fact he was certain he would have seen whoever it was coming up behind the other kids.  A figure in a red cape stood before him.  It’s eyes gleamed an intense scarlet and he could almost feel them burning into him.  He couldn't help thinking he had seen though eyes before.  Empty eyes.  Huge horns sprouted from it’s head and crooked up towards the black sky.  A large red tail about the width of his wrist trailed behind it.  Mackenzie had been the devil for Halloween once, but his K-mart costume didn’t compare with this one.  It must have been done by one of those specials effects people.  “Hey cool, costume man,” Taylor smiled as he reached for the candy bowl.

He was certainly always good for a scare.  “Trick,” it growled and extendedit’s palm towards Taylor.  The voice made Taylor’s skin crawl. 

Taylor stared down at the hand.  Long yellowed nails protruded from it’s finger tips.  The hand was red and rubbery and thick veins throbbed through it.  It looked so realistic.

Taylor began to reach for the hand to feel it’s texture when he was suddenly tackled from behind.

Once he got up, he found the perpetrator to be his dad.  Taylor gave him aweird look.  “It’s for me Taylor,” his dad said pushing him aside.  Taylor backed away from the door.  Obviously his dad wasn’t thrilled about whoever it was being there.  He looked back at Taylor sadly before he turned to the creature. “Leave him alone.  It’s me you want,” his dad said glaring at the figure on the porch.

Walker flashed back to that night.  Taylor was just twelve and had looked up at him with his big teary blue eyes.  “Dad, I don’t think I can do it anymore.  I want to make music for people.”  The boys had just been rejected by the twelfth label and Walker was sure it was not the last.  So he had made a deal. He knew that any day it would come and take him.  Today was that day.
Something in his dad’s eyes told Taylor something was terribly wrong with the stranger that had appeared on their steps that night.  It was a look of absolute fright and uncertainty.  Taylor watched in awe as they descended down the front steps and disappeared into the mist.  Suddenly Taylor remembered where he had seen those eyes.  They were Steve Greenburg's eyes.  He flashed back to the night they had been around the table looking over the paperwork.  His dad looked so nervous as he signed his name on the dashed line.  There had been different papers for Taylor and his brothers.  What had his father signed?

The white moon hung silent and unforgiving in the sky.  Taylor felt his heart drop.  He felt as if the very moon would fall from the very sky and break into shards of moon rock and dust, but of course it didn't.  Instead, Taylor stood in the doorway listening to the creaking of sacatas and the rush of the wind in the trees.  It was a long time before he closed the door and
returned to the living room.  He could still feel the sinking pit in his stomach.

Zac, Jesse, Avery and Mackenzie arrived home at ten o’clock with hordes of Ju Ju Bees and Snickers and Sugar daddies and any other candy imaginable.  As they poured them out on the table and sorted through them, Taylor looked outthe window again.  He didn’t know it then, but he had seen his dad for the last time.  None of them could sleep the night after Walker’s strange disappearance.  They called the police, but the only thing they found was three numbers etched into the wood above their door, 666.  There weren't even any finger prints where the creature had rang the bell.  No fibers.  No footprints.  It was as if he had never been there.  The paper ran a story about Walker Hanson and Steve Greenburg missing the next day and Taylor shivered.

Because you see, Walker Hanson made a pact with the devil that his children would succeed and his day of reckoning had come.  One wish for one soul.  This was a Halloween none of them would ever forget, especially Walker.