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The darkened streets were filled with carved pumpkins and monsters as Halloween was in full swing. Younger children dragged their parents from door to door, desperate to get as much candy as possible, while the older kids walked in large terrifying groups.
Alice Becker and her best friend, Tracey Simpson, were dressed in matching witch costumes as they roamed the streets. Since they were borderline too old to go trick-or-treating, they decided to wear masks to hide their faces.
“I don’t care how old I am; I’m never going to stop trick-or-treating.” Alice chuckled, scoring big on one of their stops.
“Did you see how that lady just shoved everything she could into our bags?” Tracey exclaimed, which made both girls laugh even harder.
As they carried on down the street, they suddenly found themselves standing in front of a looming, creepy gate. The girls peered inside the yard as their eyes quickly fell on what looked to be a haunted house at the far end. The window shutters creaked every time they smacked against the side of the house, and the whole house seemed to be deserted… or haunted? Tracey took several steps back as Alice rolled her eyes.
“Oh, come on.” Alice groaned. “You don’t still believe this place is haunted, do you?”
“Of course! You’ve heard the legends – you know what lives in there!” Tracey shrieked, apparently not loud enough though. Alice was already dragging her terrified friend through the gates. “I’m not going in there!”
“What better day to face your fears than on Halloween!” Alice cackled, shoving her friend up the rickety steps. She boomed her fist against the wooden door, which creaked open a second later.
An elderly man with gray skin and excessive wrinkles opened the door. His body trembles as though he were struggling to stay upright.
“T-Trick-or-Treat.” Alice said, eyeing the strange man up and down. Tracey refused to speak a word.
“Ahhh, yes. It’s Halloween.” The man’s hollow voice forced out. He stared directly at Alice and ignored Tracey entirely. “Before I give you some candy, could you please help me with something?”
Although both girls were growing increasingly nervous, Alice found herself nodding her head. The old man tried to smile as he retrieved a strange medallion from his coat pocket.
“I recently bought this, but I can’t read the inscription on the back. It’s supposed to be very sweet though.” The old man nudged the medallion directly at Alice. “Would you mind?”
Alice reached out and grabbed the medallion. There was an odd skeleton engraved on one side with a short inscription on the other. Alice nervously cleared her voice before reciting the words.
“On All Hallows’ Eve, a pure one casts the curse to raise the dead from the graves. If the curse remains whole until midnight, the dead shall forever walk.” Alice remained silent for a moment before handing the medallion back to the old man. “Sounds… charming.”
Instead of taking it, he pushed it back to Alice. “Keep it. I don’t actually have any candy left.” Before Alice can utter a word, the old man stepped inside and slammed the door shut. The girls exchanged a look before hurrying back to the street. As Alice slipped the medallion into her pocket, she barely noticed the key shaped hole in the side of the piece. Alice peered back to find the old man smirking in one of the windows.
Inside the house, the old man stood in front of the window looking quite smug with himself. A younger man, suddenly crept up behind him and peered out the window with a strange look in his eyes.
“What did you do, grandfather?” The younger man, Kyle, hissed out.
“What I’ve been waiting for, for decades.” The old man cackled, which made Kyle gasp with horror. “I will be young forever!”
Kyle whipped out the door and bolted down to the street, but the girls were long gone. He stared in every direction with no luck. Kyle glanced back at his grandfather who was smirking directly at him. He sneered back before speeding through the trick-or-treaters in search of Alice and Tracey.
Meanwhile, the girls were well on their way to another promising neighborhood. Although Tracey was over the creepiness they had just experienced, Alice couldn’t get her mind off it. She kept going over the inscription she had read out loud as a feeling of dread washed over her. Suddenly, Alice grew very faint as Tracey caught her right before falling.
“Can’t handle your candy?” Tracey giggled, but then quickly noticed the dazed look in her eyes. “Hey, are you okay?”
“I-I think that old guy did something.” Alice stuttered. “I need to sit down.”
As Tracey led her friend towards a bench, she peered off into the distance with a heavy groan. “Can we find a different bench for you to see it?”
Alice glanced over and rolled her eyes when she spotted what was spooking Tracey out. “It’s just a cemetery.”
Begrudgingly, Tracey helped her towards the bench and they both plopped down. Only a few minutes passed before they smelled something as pungent as death. Just then, a person dressed as a zombie strolled past them. His face was decaying and parts of his body were only bone.
“Wow, impressive costume.” Tracey said, watching as the zombie man continued on. Alice peered over to her left as she spotted a man dressed as a skeleton shuffling past. But as she squinted her eyes for a better view, Alice realized that the man wasn’t wearing a body suit. He was literally only bone. Tracey spotted him a second later as they both let out whimpers.
With deep breaths, the girls turned around to find dozens and dozens of bodies walking towards them from the cemetery.
“I-It was the inscription I read… It was real.” Alice wheezed out, feeling suddenly as fragile as the old man appeared. Tracey looked over at her with a gasp.
“Your face…” Jacey glided a hand over Alice’s now wrinkled face. “Where’s the medallion?”
Alice patted her pocket as her terrified friend yanked the medallion out. She tossed it onto the ground and proceeded to stomp on it, but nothing happened it. Tracey slammed it across the bench as hard as she could, but still it didn’t break.
“We need to get you back to the old guy.” Tracey exclaimed. Alice gingerly wrapped an arm around Tracey’s neck as they started to retrace their steps. They only managed to get a few feet away before witnessing a zombie bite into a teenager’s neck. Within seconds, the teenager had turned into a zombie as well.
“This can’t be happening!” Tracey screamed out. As they continued escaping down the street, they suddenly spotted Kyle running towards them. He was gasping by the time he stopped in front of the girls.
“Where’s the medallion? We don’t have much time.” Kyle blurted out.
“W-What medallion?” Tracey asked, unsure of whether to trust the stranger.
“I know you have it.” He said, glancing over at Alice. “The curse allows him to feed on your youth until he’s young again. If we don’t reverse the curse before midnight, you’ll die.”
With no other choice, Tracey handed over the medallion to him. She’s surprised when his hand remains outstretched.
“Where’s the key?”
“He didn’t give us a key.” Alice wheezed out, which brought a worried look to his face.
“That means he doesn’t have it with him.” Kyle thought out loud. He peered around as the zombies were quickly turning healthy people into zombies. “Where would he have buried it?”
Kyle’s head suddenly darted to the cemetery as his eyes grew wide. “Of course! His father tried to do the same thing. He would have hidden the key with the one person he trusted!”
Kyle helped carry Alice as the group made their way towards the cemetery. They found it odd that the zombies appeared to be ignoring him, but they didn’t want to question it. When they finally reached the cemetery, Kyle noticed a freshly dug up hole at his great-grandfather’s grave. He hurried over to find his grandfather in the hole. Unlike before, the man appeared twenty years younger and had the agility of a teen. He smirked at his grandson as he clung to the key.
“You’re not going to defeat me. Not like your father defeated my father.” His voice boomed with renewed strength. He peered up to find Alice looking extremely frail. “Thanks for being such a naïve child. Didn’t your parents ever tell you not to read strange inscriptions?”
“Give me the key.” Kyle demanded, ignoring his grandfather’s taunts. As Kyle reached over to grab it, his grandfather shoved him to the side as he tried to scramble out of the hole. Kyle held him inside as Tracey set Alice gently on the ground. With a heavy sigh, she jumped into the hole to give Kyle a hand. As Kyle held his grandfather’s arms behind his back, Tracey managed to find the key in his pant pocket.
“Alice, use the key!” Tracey hollered. Kyle tossed the medallion to Tracey, who them threw both the key and medallion back up to Alice.
Outside the hole, Alice shuffled her frail body over to the items as she inspected the medallion for a key hole. Finally, she found the hole on the side of the piece as she jammed the key inside. She craned away from the object, expecting something devastating to happen, but nothing happened at all. Alice reached down again and turned the key clockwise, which actually worked! As she rotated the key a full 360 degrees, the medallion suddenly broke in two as a loud groan filled the air.
Within seconds she could feel her youth returning as all the zombies retreated back to their graves. When Alice felt like her old self again, she peered down into the hole to find Tracey and Kyle scrambling out. Behind them were his grandfather’s remains.
“That’s the sacrifice you make when the curse is broken prematurely.” Kyle explained, dusting himself off. They watched as everyone who was recently turned to a zombie slowly returned back to normal. “Thanks for your help.”
Having enough of Halloween, the group decided to go home and sleep it all off. Although the girls started to walk away, Kyle stood frozen in front of the open grave. He picked up the two halves of the medallion and tossed them on top of his grandfather’s body.
“Not today, grandfather.” Kyle whispered with a smirk. He grabbed the key but instead of tossing it in, he held it tightly. “You were too weak and dumb to succeed.”
After pocketing the key, he toyed with a similar looking medallion hidden inside his pocket. With a final sneer, he hurried to join up with the girls.
Copyright © 2016 Julaine Piette