It was Halloween night, and this was the only thing I thought could help.
Alone, God knows where, I cried. I didn’t know where my friends were. I didn’t even know where I was, but crying, fuck, crying was the only thing that felt good.
We had gone out trick-or-treating. Mal was a sheet ghost with glasses. Taylor and Christie were some sluts from some dumb movie they liked. Trey was a tiger with like pierced ears and some weird hair, I don’t know. I just remember how much fun we were all having. I had worked all year on my costume. Oh, the hours of labor I put into that thing. Who fucking knows what happened to it. I was an astronaut. Like the real deal, not hey let’s get a fish bowl and a jumper, no I had real parts from real space suits. It was all a mash up of different suits, but it was still authentic. It was real. They all laughed at my idea but their faces when I came out in that thing. They were mesmerized. I could tell.
We had gone around, fuck, three quarters of the entire neighborhood at least. My bag was full. I… I remember because he had mentioned it.
This house was amazing. We approached and there was a fog machine casting mist out onto the lawn. Red lights illuminated the dead bodies in the grass. No one wanted to go up, but I was so excited, so ready to get more candy and show off my suit, I went.
I stepped up the walkway, winding through it. On either side of me were zombie animatronics, just screaming and gurgling in my ears. Oh, the porch was just covered in fake blood. So thick in some areas, it was black.
I knocked on the door after seeing no doorbell. The anticipation was building. I was so excited to meet the person who set up this awesome display. The door opened.
He smiled at me, his bright eyes shining from the red lights behind me. I smiled back, fogging up the glass of my helmet.
He said, “Oh, an astronaut I see. Well, that’s the most creative costume I’ve seen all night.” He laughed. It was such a nice thing to say. “Oh, look at all the candy you have! Almost full!”
I laughed, too. I said the normal line, “Trick or treat,” and opened my bag.
He just stared at me, then he peered out past me.
I turned around to see if the gang had followed me, that stupid smile still plastered on my face.
He pulled me inside.
It was so fast and the door closed so quickly, I had no time to react. I had no time to think. I turned around and looked at him. The lighting inside was glaringly white. It hurt my eyes. I squinted as I looked up at him.
He just smiled, staring down at me. He licked his lips and said, “I chose trick.” He laughed, and this time, it was deeper, meaner. Like he was laughing at someone who had just gotten hurt.
I tried to pull away from him, but he was so strong. He dragged me over to the couch. Zip ties covered the table. I screamed. I didn’t know what else to do. Yeah, of course I had seen the mafia movies where they tie people up with zip ties and toss them in the trunk of their cars. I knew I was in trouble.
Next thing I know, there’s a knock at the door. Multiple knocks.
He quickly took my hands behind my back and zipped them up, just like those fucking movies. He yanked my helmet off, no doubt breaking something. No matter now, I haven’t seen that thing since the night I wore it. There were bandanas on the table, and I already knew what was next. I screamed again, this time calling for my friends. He wrapped it around my mouth and tied it to the back of my head.
I had never felt so suffocated. I fell over onto the couch, struggling to breathe, watching him as he walked to the door. I couldn’t see the door, but I heard him open it. Before I could get to my feet, he had all of my friends inside, too. I stood there, waiting. They were talking to him. He had convinced them I had come in because he had a haunted house set up inside. That there were people waiting to scare them.
He was right.
Trey entered first. He saw me. We made eye contact just as this man stepped out from behind him. He wore a gas mask. It was green and perfectly wrapped around his little bald head. His big eyes gazed out at me. He whipped out a can and just as Trey turned to look at him, he sprayed Trey in the face. I mean, full boar. Everyone screamed. They tried to scatter but as soon as they took in whatever he sprayed, bam. They hit the floor. I tried to run, but, but my fucking suit caught this asshole’s coffee table.
I fell. My face hit the carpet and I took a deep breath through my nose, and, and I don’t remember anything until the dirt.
He must have taken me there while I was unconscious.
I was so alone.
I woke up in only my underwear, the zip ties and bandana were gone. The once white of my underwear was now a cream color and smeared in dirt from the floor. I wondered where I was, where my friends were, and how long I had been there. The dirt walls were so cold. I sat and shivered in the dark assessing what to do, what there was to do. The only light came from a flashlight in the corner. It was propped up, pointed at the ceiling. I had looked up only to see the roof was plywood.
I stood up, only having enough space to crouch, and shoved upwards. The wood was cold, just like the dirt around me. That’s when I realized, I must be underground.
I’m in a grave. It was long enough for me to lay in, as I discovered after collapsing. I wept into my arms, not knowing what to do. I was thirteen and buried alive.
I thought, what if I claw my way out? Surely this dirt must lead upwards. Only I realized doing that could make everything around me collapse, suffocating me. Oh, if I thought that rag around my mouth was bad, I could only imagine choking on dirt.
So, I laid down and cried. And cried. And cried. My nose was all plugged up. My eyes hurt. I thought about my family, who I thought I’d never see again.
Exhausted, I think I slept.
I slept in my grave.
I woke up God knows how much later, feeling a cold draft on my foot. I spun around as quickly as one can in a grave sized for a thirteen year old and shone the flashlight on what I expected to be someone.
It was a pipe. I knelt down in front of it, feeling the fresh air.
Someone was keeping me alive with this stupid pipe. I was so terrified, that I didn’t even bother screaming into the thing, I just breathed. I lay down, placing my head next to the pipe and breathed. It cleared my fuzzy mind a bit, only leading to more panic.
I started to cry again. It was all I could do. I had been stripped of everything and buried alive.
I don’t know how much time passed until I heard a thunk. It was light, but I knew I heard it. Another one. And another. It was coming from above me. I crawled to the corner furthest from the noise, the flashlight aimed up.
The plywood shook with each thunk. I thought, Jesus, is he coming to see if I’m dead?
I sat in that corner, trembling until the noise was so loud I couldn’t take it.
I screamed, just screamed. It was no particular word, just a strange, demented sound that came out.
Suddenly the thumping stopped. I paused, I think even my heart stopped for that brief second.
The thumping came like thunder. I screamed again, tears just pouring out of me. Light came at the edges of the plywood. I stared at this, shut off the flashlight, and held it like a weapon.
So suddenly, I could have had a heart attack, the plywood was ripped off of me. White light came in as it was a cloudy morning. Two officers stared back at me, looking just as terrified as I was.
They both looked to each other, then back to me, and smiled.
“Timmy!” They reached down and helped me up. I let them. My body had gone limp. They hoisted me to the surface. By my memory, I looked to be about six feet underground.
I was really in a grave.
Looking around, I saw I was in someone’s backyard. I knew it was his. I’m not dumb.
The officers carried me out to the front through a side yard. I saw the front yard decorations and wept like a newborn. Police tape had been wrapped around the entire place.
They loaded me into an ambulance, and… I never saw that neighborhood or my friends ever again.
Now it’s my twenty-third birthday. Exactly ten years since I was buried in my own grave. This is the first time I’ve ever written down the events of that night. The first time I’ve even recounted them.
I had moved into a new house as soon as I was released from the hospital. My parents had somehow already moved in that short time span. I still live here, in this quiet little neighborhood, and I wonder, why don’t the police ever rescue the little ones I collect and bury in my backyard every Halloween?
This story is from my third novel, Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales, which you can find in the link I’ve added. Thank you!