My grandma sent me to the basement to retrieve the three missing costumes. She was cleaning up after her annual Halloween party and I’d been dropped off to help her out.
After I gave her tea and toast in bed, for her headache, she told me to check the back room in the basement for the missing items.
“Okay, no problem grandma, anything else?” I questioned.
“Yes, there is. Turn on my CD player and put on that wonderful opera singer. You can turn it up loud, too! Thanks, honey,” she replied.
I did as complied. It seemed as I left the room the sun was setting; I waved goodbye, not sure why. She smiled and began her quirky hand movements flowing with the music.
“Old people,” I muttered to myself. They’ve seen it all. I’d get her to tell me a story tonight when I bring her dinner to her at eight. She ate late on weekends, she told me, as it reminded her of the good old days.
You see Grandma had had a slight stroke, nothing serious, she just needed TLC my mother, the nurse, told me. TLC stood for tender loving care.
I walked the long hall headed for the steps and out of the corner of my eye, I swear I caught a glimpse of a ghost just above the light. That didn’t scare me but I did take a second look after I blinked. I hadn’t even been scared of the costumes last night at the party or trick or treating to the houses. I was seven now and pretty much a big guy.
Her music faded as I opened the basement door and entered the passage below to her dungeon, I mean very old house. My nose smelled something foreign, probably old clothes of Grandpas, who’d been dead five years now. I pulled the chain for the light at the bottom of the stairs. Broke. Great, I thought. I’d have to walk in the dark to the backroom. I’m a big guy, I told myself a couple more times.
My body shivered when the cricket let out its joy tune. My hands now felt like I had rubbed lotion on them and when I swallowed, three cotton balls coated my throat. Geez, I thought as my eyebrows curled up with the pull of my forehead. I felt for the door and hoped the light wasn’t broken inside the back room. Darn those cousins who played back here last night and left their costumes for me to get. Next time I saw them, they owed me a favor.
My hand, with no blood supply, turned the nob while the hairs on my forearm stood in the attendance line at a foreign military school I’d never been to. It opened. Good. Why didn’t I bring a flashlight? I thought. Shut up! Just get the costumes.
I walked slowly in the dark and lost my footing. I heard the door slam shut as I fell to the cold slab of basement cement.
Later on …
The back of my head hurt but I opened my eyes and saw her staring at me.
Was she a good witch? Her eyes glowed green and she wore black with orange and green striped leggings and, then she came for me rustling along on her broom. I blinked.
Was I dreaming? No. I saw her. She turned and howled, and she lost her pointed hat as she swooped back over me. That’s when I saw him Dracula walking my way. Man, I need to bust out of here, I thought.
I couldn’t move, I must be pinned down. Wait. Someone help me.
Scream for grandma, I decided. “Grandma,” I screamed but it was all breath, not a sound.
I heard a noise as Dracula made his way over to me. I blinked my wet eyeballs, but he was still coming for me. I turned to see where the noise was coming from and my eyes became glued to a vision I’d seen on television. Grandma told me not to watch the zombie show. Oh no.
At this point I fainted, I’m sure I did.
When I woke the vampire was looking over me licking his lips, smiling. They were glowing red and dripping the hot juice right on me. My neck hurt, I couldn’t touch it. I still couldn’t move.
Who would save me from this terrible nightmare, except I wasn’t dreaming. It was real. I said a quick prayer for any angel that might be in my presence. I sure hoped the zombie went for the vampire and then the two of them got knocked over by the witch, evil or good. She might be my hero.
Just then the door opened and, someone said, “Here he is!”
“Oh, honey are you okay?” asked my mom.
“No, I’m not!” I yelled back.
“Your head is bleeding,” she said as she flashed a light upon me. “And it’s all over your neck!” She exclaimed.
My heart skipped a beat and tried to jump from my chest like a frog.
“What?” I asked. “Mom, get me outta here.” I stood up and ran from the room towards the steps. Mom said be careful of the spider web at the top. She flashed the light on the staircase.
I replied, “A little old spider doesn’t scare me mom, nope, never.”
~story by Caroline Clemens
~photography by Kim Troike