“The Prank” by Rachel Villalobos
October 31, 1987 Halloween
This year was a big year for Todd, the first he had been allowed to go trick or treating without an adult. His mother’s permission hadn’t come easy and taken a lot of promises to be good, and even more reminders to be safe. He had spent the afternoon anxiously looking out the window for the first signs of dusk. When the shadows grew long and the yellow light more orange, he could not wait any longer. Todd put on his skeleton costume so fast he hardly knew he had done so. He stuffed the black hooded mask into his treat bag as he walked past his mom in the kitchen. She put a hand over the telephone receiver to yell a curfew reminder just as Todd shut the front door behind him. The cool porch air was filled with the smell of melted wax and warm pumpkin. Todd had always loved October; the whole town seemed to be buzzing with excitement as Halloween night drew near. Lifting his bike from the grass, he put one handle bar through the loops of his treat bag. The sun was setting as dead leaves crinkled under his tires. Peddling down the street, he headed to his friend Jim’s house.
He couldn’t wait to see Jim’s costume. Jim’s dad had brought it back from Europe, France or somewhere. His dad went to Europe a lot. The man had a funny accent. Came from one of those places there. He smelled weird, too, kind of like the Tupperware containers in the back of the refrigerator his mom called “science experiments.” Todd’s tires screeched to a halt in front of Jim’s front door. Jim was there, waiting, dressed as skeleton, but not just any skeleton: the same skeleton costume Todd was wearing.!
“Aw man, I thought you’d have something different,” Todd moaned.
“It’s cool. I have another costume in my bag. One for you, too.”
“Two costumes? Why?”
“Twice as many costumes means twice as much candy. We can visit the same houses twice,” Jim declared proudly.
“I knew I was friends with you for a reason.”
The first house on the list was the Monroe place. Mr. Monroe always seemed nice enough, but his son, Charles, wasn’t exactly one of Todd and Jim’s buddies. Quite the opposite, actually. He was a bully and the blood of the weak fueled his anger. Todd looked around nervously as they approached the house, but Jim grinned and opened his bag.
“Don’t worry. I have something in here for Charles, too.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just go ahead and ring the bell.”
Todd was unsure, but gave the lighted button next to the door a poke. The door opened and Charles’ stood revealed, wearing a Frankenstein’s monster costume. He sneered as he took in the two matching skeleton costumes, but the sneer broke into a grin as he recognized the pair.
He laughed and said, “Well, if it isn’t -“
That was as far as he got before Jim stepped forward and blew a palm-full of powder into his face. Charles coughed, choked, and … froze.
Todd watched in fear, sure Charles would punch Jim for blowing powder into his face. But he just stood there and did nothing.
“Step forward,” Jim said, a note of command in his voice.
Charles took one step, then stood and waited, hands at his sides. “Follow us,“ Jim commanded. Charles followed them as they walked back to Jim’s house.
“What was that stuff?” Todd was looking at Charles curiously.
“Corpse-powder,” Jim said. “My dad brought it back from Romania.” His voice lowered as he whispered next to Todd’s ear, “He doesn’t know I have it.”
“What does it do?” Todd was gently poking Charles’ cheek, trying to get a reaction. “His mind is gone…but only temporarily,” he added, seeing the look of concern on Todd’s face. “For the next hour,” Jim finished proudly, “he’s a human zombie. He’ll do anything we tell him!”
Thirty minutes later, Todd and Jim watched from the bushes as Charles walked stiffly up the walkway to the Mason’s house. Though he still wore the Frankenstein mask and oversized monster boots, the bottom half of his costume had been traded in for a pink ballerina skirt.
“Do you think he’ll actually do it?” Todd whispered.
“He has to,” Jim hissed back. “While he’s under this stuff he can’t tell us no!”
They’d ‘borrowed’ the ballerina tutu from Jim’s little sister. She was only five. To say it was too little would be a huge understatement. Todd had been amazed that Jim was able to squeeze Charles into the tiny skirt. But it was worth the hard work when they saw how ridiculous he looked. Todd laughed as he watched Charles walking along in front of them.
“Shhhh!” Jim scolded
“Man, this is going to be so hilarious!” Todd whispered and laughed again
“Will you quiet down!” Jim scolded “We’re going to get caught! Look – he’s at the door!”
They ducked behind some bushes and watched as Charles reached out a finger and rang the bell to the Mason’s front door.
Cindy Mason was Todd’s first real friend. They had gone to school together since kindergarten. Back then, it had never seemed strange to Todd that his best friend was a girl. It wasn’t until recently they had drifted apart. Cindy only hung out with her girlfriends now, and she rarely talked to Todd anymore. Just last week, for instance, she had ignored him in the lunchroom. Todd had said hello to Cindy, and she hadn’t even replied. Almost like she’d not seen or heard him, although he knew she had.
Even with all this, Todd still had mixed feelings about having Charles go to the Mason home. However, he had let Jim talk him into it. “It’ll be hilarious,” Jim promised.
Jim had ordered Charles to do a ballet dance when the door was answered. Even had him practice it a couple times. Then Charles would spray silly string in the face of whomever answered the door… Todd felt a little guilty about doing this to Cindy, but he did have to laugh at the sight of Charles dancing. Served him right and he would never live this down.
Cindy answered the door almost immediately once the doorbell sounded. She was wearing a fairy costume. Charles removed his Frankenstein mask. Then Charles grabbed Cindy roughly by the shoulders. Todd and Jim looked on in shock as Cindy screamed and tried fighting him off, but Charles was much bigger and stronger. Charles then bit into her neck. Cindy’s screaming was cut short. Blood spurted down the front of her fairy costume and all over Charles. Cindy’s body fell to the ground and was pushed aside by Charles as he entered the Mason home.
The two stunned boys remained in the bushes and listened in horror as they heard glass breaking and then screaming from inside the house. Todd guessed it was Cindy’s mom who was screaming. He gasped for breath and took a step back, He tripped over a sprinkler head and landed with a thud. Jim turned around, white as sheet, and blinked. Seeing Todd on the ground seemed to snap him out of it. He grabbed Todd’s arm and helped him up. But instead of letting go he pulled Todd closer to him and muttered, “We can’t tell anyone about this! My dad can’t know about this! We were never here! You got that? We were NEVER here. We never saw Charles tonight!”
Todd gulped. “But. What about Cindy? What he did to her?”
The screaming had stopped and they heard the leaves crunch behind them.
They turned and Charles was standing there, face and chest covered with blood. Behind him, Cindy’s mom lay on the steps of the porch with her throat ripped open. Todd looked at Jim. “No way. No way am I going to keep quiet! Jim, he killed them! This is all YOUR fault, Jim! “
Jim looked at Todd. His eyes narrowed. He turned towards Charles. “Kill Todd!!” he commanded.
The police found Jim crying on Cindy’s front lawn with the dead bodies of his friends, Charles, and Cindy’s mother behind him. They covered him with a blanket and put him in the ambulance. Jim sat in silence as the approaching sirens wailed and more red lights flashed. As the EMTs checked him over, he saw two police officers standing next to the doors of the ambulance, watching him. He heard them whispering something about shock.
One of the officers came over and asked him some questions about Charles. If he knew why Charles would do something like this? He asked Jim how he had managed to get away, and why was Charles wearing a girl’s tutu? Jim started to cry and the officer stopped asking questions. The second officer said that Jim was very brave for fighting Charles off and that his parents were on their way.
Jim stopped crying when they walked away. He saw his parent’s car pulling up. His mother looked worried, but his father looked annoyed. Jim’s his trick-or treat bag lay next to him on the gurney. He picked it up, shook it, and looked inside. Jim smiled. Next to the Licorice, Snickers, and M&Ms was the little brown pouch of corpse powder.
And it was still half full.
The end ?