Halloween Tricks and Treats
BY: Carol Marrs Phipps
Illustrated By: Lana Dobbins-Cramer
Benny laughed and sailed up the walk to the neat brick front stoop and the cheerily decorated house before them. It even had fake spider webs all over the bushes near the house and a neat witch decoration on the front door. Benny rang the doorbell and a moment later the boys heard an odd pitter patter coming across the floor inside the house. A few moments later the screen door creaked open a crack and Josh and Benny peered inside, somewhat confused that they at first saw no one and didn’t know why the door had come open. Suddenly, Josh felt something tap on the top of his shoe and looked down to see a disembodied hand motioning him inside. His first reaction was to jerk his foot away from the little horror and get the hell out of there, but Benny was giggling. Josh looked inside again and saw a young boy, Benny’s age, dressed like Count Dracula, himself, remote control in hand, coming towards the door. Beside the little vampire was a beautiful girl, with long, blonde hair, dressed up like Sleeping Beauty. He was sure she had to be close to his own age. Benny’s party shows promise, he thought as their hosts stopped at the door to greet them and bid them enter.
The party was amazing and both Josh and Benny were having the time of their lives. The costumes were the most realistic either boy had ever seen. The beautiful teenage girl turned out to be Mindy Cates. “Moving back to this very spot and even having this party was my idea,” she explained to Josh. “Well, and my therapist’s, too. He felt that I must confront what had happened to me. You know, that was ten years ago on Halloween night on this very spot,” she confided. “The doctors hope that I might finally free myself of my horrible nightmares of what happened that night.”
It seemed a bit extreme to Josh, but hey, what did he know about psychology? Soon he found himself dancing to crazy Halloween tunes like The Monster Mash and having the time of his life. When Michael Jackson’s Thriller began to blare from the CD player the partiers got into place and began an incredible imitation of what the boys had both seen Jackson and his incredible dancers do in their music video. To Josh’s surprise, they pulled him into it. He was having such a riot he never even noticed when Mindy, Damon and Benny disappeared from the room.
Mindy and Damon led Benny to a quiet little room down a long hall that was completely empty save for three chairs. Mindy indicated he should sit with a wave of her hand. Once he had complied she and Damon took the other two chairs.
“So,” Benny said after a moment, “is this some kind of game?”
“No,” Mindy said, sharing a quick look with Damon, “this is quite real and quite serious, Benny. You see, Damon and I want to help you...if you will let us?”
“Help me? I don’t get it. Help me what?”
“Heal your body and your sad heart,” Mindy replied in almost a whisper.
Benny’s eyes widened. “How? The doctors said it will take years of surgery...and even then, I won’t be the same as I was before the accident.”
Mindy chewed her bottom lip briefly and studied Benny’s face. “Look...you’ve nothing to be afraid of and this is all...complicated. So, I’m going to ask you to just trust me and do what I ask. I promise I won’t hurt you and when it is over, you will look exactly as you did before your accident...if that is what you want?”
Benny sat back in his chair and looked questioningly at Damon, who nodded his reassurance. “OK,” he replied. “What do I have to do?”
“Close your eyes tight and keep them shut, no matter what, until I tell you to open them,” Mindy instructed. “Will you do that?”
“All right,” Benny said after one more quick glance at Damon. Then he squeezed shut his eyes and waited. A moment later he felt something quite cool, but very soft, brush across his neck, and pause there.
“You can open your eyes now, “ Mindy said in what seemed to Benny to be only a few seconds later. “All done.”
Benny blinked. “That’s it? Now I’m magically transformed into my old self?”
“Yeah, all transformed...only, we’ll have to do this again every year on Halloween until you become eighteen. Then...you decide if you want your healing to remain permanently, or return to what you were before I...helped you,” Mindy said.
Benny frowned. “I’m confused. What exactly did you do and how do I even know that you did anything?”
Damon jumped up and hurried over to a door on the far wall and jerked it open, revealing a full length mirror attached to the backside of what Benny could now see was a closet door. “Come take a look,” he invited.
Benny strode quickly to the door and gasped when he saw his flawless reflection. Then he reached up in wonder and felt his now baby, smooth skin. Tears of joy and gratitude sprang into his eyes. “But...how?” he asked as he turned back to Mindy, who had come over to stand by him and Damon.
“I...shared my regenerative powers with you,” she said, “but when you become 18 you will have to either become fully like me or become as you were.”
Benny reached slowly up and touched the place on his neck where he had felt that cold, soft touch. Mindy nodded at the realization she saw in the young boy’s eyes. “Yes, Benny, I am a vampire. But you are not...yet...as I am. I will come to you every All Hallows Eve until your appointed time. No matter where you go, I will find you. But the final choice will be yours. Do you understand?”
Benny glanced at his image in the mirror once more then back at Mindy and nodded.
“Good, then we should return to the party, I expect it is nearly over and you and Josh must return to your lives while Damon, I, and our friends return to ours. You will not remember how you were transformed this night, until we meet again, next Halloween. That is both for your own protection and ours,” she said. Then she led him back to the party that did, indeed, come to a conclusion, almost as soon as they re-entered it.
Time somehow seemed to stretch and then shrink and become all fuzzy. The next thing Benny knew he and Josh were standing back in their own kitchen and their Mom was coming through the kitchen door.
“Hi guys!” Jean said breezing into the kitchen, “how come you’re both still up? You didn’t just get here, did you?” she asked as her eyes narrowed and her gaze darted to the bold-faced kitchen clock. It clearly read 12:15. She placed her hands on her hips and turned back to wait for a reply from her sons. Suddenly she gasped and nearly fainted as she finally got a clear look at Benny’s no-longer ruined face. She stared questioningly at Josh, who shrugged and shook his head. Benny just beamed and threw himself into his Mother’s arms.
The next morning, Jean packed her two sons into the car and drove to 666 Mockingbird Lane, determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious healing of her precious young son and also to thank whoever had been responsible for this amazing miracle. The family piled quickly from the car the moment Jean turned off the ignition and hurried to the narrow sidewalk between the tall hedge...and stared in amazement at the empty lot beyond.