Lost in the Suburbs

The party was located at 402 Harper, and Derrick hadn’t the slightest idea where that was. The day was October 31st, and the party for Halloween. During his entire trek through the suburban hell he found himself in he watched children as they trick or treated. Daylight had still lingered in the sky when he had set out, but now the world darkened around him as the night marched on and clouds rolled in.

His sight diminished by the gloom, Derrick stopped at an intersection to make out the street name. He sat at the corner of two streets he’d never heard of.

He turned left onto Franklin because he didn’t think he’d gone down Franklin yet, and continued on.

Asking someone for directions was always an option, but Derrick didn’t feel like knocking on a stranger’s door. Other people managed to find their way around this place without directions.

As much as he’d grown to despise the neighborhood in the past hour, he had to give them credit for their dedication to the holiday. Almost every house was well decorated. Cobwebs hung from trees and skeletons coated doors. Not a single house was lacking in decorations.

At another stop sign light caught his eye, pouring from beneath a closing garage door. There had been two people in the garage. One he saw only the bottom half of, jeans and boots covering him. The other guy had been hanging upside down, hands draped limply on the ground, a bucket under his head, and if what Derrick saw was accurate, it almost looked like blood had been pouring down the guy’s head into the bucket, like a deer hung up by its feet, the blood drained from the body.

Through a window on the side of the garage he could swear he saw a man’s face, watching him, but no, that was probably just in his head as well. Derrick laughed at his own paranoia, and drove straight, thoughts of plotting out his path momentarily forgotten.

The night grew darker, and in the distance lightning flickered. He saw fewer and fewer children the farther he drove. He turned right, then left, then right again.

Before, the streets had just kept coming around. He had been driving in circles around the exact same neighborhood, coming at it from a different direction every time, but now the street names were different.

Sure enough, the rain began. Luckily it wasn’t pouring, but still, it made reading the street names even harder. It also made seeing the children harder, a fact Derrick took to heart when one walked out into the street.

Fortunately, the road wasn’t slick just yet, and Derrick managed to bring his car to a skidding halt before striking the child, who looked no more than seven or eight. His hands tightly gripped the wheel, more amazed by the kid’s lack of reaction than the near collision. Little bastard didn’t even look over at Derrick and just kept on walking.

In the light of his headlights Derrick got a good look at the kid. He wore a black Dracula cape and wore what appeared to be gloves on his hands, but the gloves were apparently designed to look like human hands. From Derrick’s perspective, it looked like the kid had the skin from another person’s hands covering his own. All of this was complimented by blood around the boy’s lips and dripping down his chin in the falling rain.

Only after the boy had crossed the street did Derrick realize it wasn’t a big candy bag gripped in his left hand, but what had to be a dead dog.

His tires spun on the slick ground for a second before propelling him forward. He ran two stop signs before he finally got himself back under control. His speed slowed to the appropriate twenty-five, and he continued on.

If the last houses he had passed had been good at decorating for Halloween, the houses he drove by now were outstanding. Not only did cobwebs cover the trees, but stretched towards the houses, and in the glare of the lighting he could swear he saw spiders crawling on them.

The look of the houses themselves helped compliment the decorations. These weren’t the cookie cutter homes he’d grown used to, but old and unique. Most looked to be deteriorating, shingles missing from the roofs, paint peeling and chipped. The lights on in windows revealed dark smudges of dirt and grime.

Up ahead of him a girl hung from a noose, latched onto a tree in the front yard. He slowed his car to stare at the hanging body. Her dead face was youthful, only a teenager, but long wet brown hair obscured most of her face from Derrick’s view. She wore a t-shirt and jeans, bare feet swaying lightly above damp grass.

Then Derrick was driving past her and he looked in his rearview mirror at the amazing decoration. She was only the first of the displays to come.

On the next house a body had been nailed to the front door. The man’s hands were fastened to the upper doorframe and he hung limply forward, head resting on his shirtless chest. Derrick marveled at how real the man looked. Blood ran down his arms from the metal drilled into his hands.

Next came the most realistic looking of them all: a middle-aged man impaled on a massive stake in a front yard, and Derrick found his stomach tightening into a deeper knot.

Someone had shoved a seven-foot tall stake in the ground and impaled it through the overweight man’s back. He hung suspended three feet in the air, his body limp, head hanging back, face aimed towards Derrick’s car. The base of the stake was soaked red, and in the bursts of lightening Derrick could see the man’s guts shoved up through his stomach on the tip of the spiked pole.

Derrick stopped his car to stare, transfixed by the gory image, his mind swirling as it attempted to rationalize everything he was seeing.

The man’s eyes opened with a jerk; mouth wide as he screamed into the night. His hands reached up and touched his own intestines wrapped around the stake. He struggled, which only dug the spike deeper through him, and after two minutes, his struggles ceased and he hung limp once more.

A soft moan ran through Derrick’s body followed by the fiery taste of stomach acid in the back of his throat.

Only then did he see the children.

Both sides of the street were cluttered with them, candy bags in hand; each was dressed just as horribly as the child he had almost hit. Many had masks made of what looked like a person’s face. Other’s Derrick actually believed had mutilated their own faces to obtain such grotesque appearances. And maybe they had.

Derrick’s foot struck the gas pedal, forced right away to slam on the brakes when he saw two children walk across the street in front of him.

Unlike the last child, these took notice of him, as did all the others. Every child turned towards his car; their faces slick with what he knew was both rainwater and blood.

They began to walk towards him, and through the pounding rain he heard them speak, each of them chanting, “Trick or Treat,” over and over again.

Without thought Derrick locked his car door. A little girl approached, her hand stuffed into her bag of candy. She lifted up her prize, the skin from an old woman’s face, and pressed it against Derrick’s window.

His car rocked as a child climbed onto the trunk, then another climbed onto his hood. There were too many of them in front of his car for him to start driving. Through the terror the thought came: what if these really were children and everything around him was fake? What would he do when the police showed up at his door because he ran over school children in a panic?

An older boy, probably thirteen or so, pulled out a baseball bat. Derrick’s passenger side window cracked from the impact, and Derrick couldn’t stop himself from screaming. Around him the chorus of Trick or Treats grew louder, the children’s faces distorted into gleeful grins of dark joy.

A teenager jumped on the hood of his car and shoved aside the two kids who had been there, knocking both to the ground. He brought up the axe until it rose above his head. His face was painted red and in his eyes were contacts made to look like snake eyes; at least, Derrick hoped they were only contacts. The bat struck his passenger window again, made his eyes jump to the side, but only until the axe came down and lodged in his windshield.

The car lurched forward. He watched the teenager on the hood fall off and felt the bump of tires rolling over the fallen body of a child.

He didn’t look in his rearview mirror as he shot through the night, his windshield and passenger side windows all but destroyed.

How, he wasn’t sure, his trip through the night erratic and without destination, but somehow in his panic he found the exit, a stoplight up ahead.

The light was red, but Derrick didn’t stop. A car screeched to a halt just in time to stop from smashing into the side of Derrick’s, and he heard the driver honk, but only barely. After five minutes Derrick realized where he was, and fifteen minutes later, drove into the parking lot of his apartment building.

He stepped out of his car in a daze and slowly walked up to his door.

Once inside he didn’t bother with the lights, but stood in the darkness, eyeing his living room. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do or what had actually happened. His windows were shattered, proof of something, but Derrick didn’t want to think about the rest. He didn’t want to see the man’s face turned towards him, impaled for nothing more than decoration.

Behind him he heard movement as someone walked up to the door, followed by a light knocking, and then a child’s voice. “Trick or Treat.”

Derrick couldn’t stop screaming.

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