This year, Oblivia wanted to go to a real Halloween party: not one where people made half-hearted attempts in wearing cheap costumes and decorating the cafeteria with toilet paper pretending to be ghosts, but an actual, genuinely spooky Halloween party. One where fake blood runs down the walls, all the food choices are labeled as gross body parts, and the guests look like they are either from a movie or they are dead. So she was thrilled when she saw a random flyer buried at the bottom of a public trash can that read “Super-Secret All Hallows’ Eve Gala! October 31, 9 PM Until Sunrise! 13 Elm Street! Come As Your True Selves!! Tell No One!!!”
Oh boy, she thought, this’ll be AWESOME.
On the night in question, she dressed up as her go-to character, Creepy Clown With Creepy Child – she liked the horrified reactions she usually received from the coulrophobes. Cruel, she knew, but this was the one night of the year where mild cruelty was socially acceptable.
She arrived at 13 Elm Street fashionably late at 9:10 p.m., carrying a bottle of champagne and a bag of candy corn: no uninvited guest should ever arrive empty-handed, that is just bad manners. A ghoul answered the door.
“Hi!” Oblivia greeted the door ghoul. “I’m here for the revels; where can I drop these off, kitchen?”
The ghoul stared at her with dead eyes and groaned in incomprehension.
“Perfect!” Oblivia walked past the ghoul and deposited her gifts in what she assumed was the kitchen. She could not tell which room was which because the entire house had been decorated masterfully: black light, creaking floorboards, holes in the walls, no everyday furniture in sight, real cobwebs, nesting bats, rattling chains, bubbling cauldrons, and the sudden sounds of moans and screams filling the air as a soundtrack. At last, she thought, somebody got Halloween right.
She was surrounded by bodies swaying asynchronously to the night music: they appeared to be in mourning, yet somehow having a blast at the same time. Sure, it was not exactly music you could dance to, but it stirred the soul, and that is all that matters. She swayed to the rhythm as best she could, eyes closed to the alternating glares of resentment and apathy that were sent in her direction.
At the cauldron labeled “Essence of Suffering,” she grabbed a glass and ladled some of the steaming concoction in, letting the smoke bathe her face for a moment since she was uncertain whether that was a sign the beverage was too hot or too cold. It was the former, so she blew on it a bit as a man in a lab coat walked over to her.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he said without preamble.
Oblivia coughed on some steam before answering. “I know, I’m crashing, but I couldn’t resist, it sounded so good!” She blew on the drink some more: why was it not cooling down like any natural drink would? Oh, right, because it was super-natural.
“It’s not just that, which is – rude, by the way,” the man said as she grinned sheepishly. “It’s that you don’t belong here at all. You’re not one of us.”
“What do you mean? You’re not exactly in full-out costume, so I don’t see how you get to criticize me. At least I made an effort to be horrific.” The With Creepy Child part of her costume briefly wailed in agreement; she patted its head. “Hush, now.”
“Well, I only appear ‘normal’ because I’m Dr. Frankenstein,” the man replied. “And I don’t think you want to be my next experiment, if you know what I mean.”
“Brilliant!” Oblivia clapped her hand holding the glass in glee. “And are those skeletons you’re dragging around some of your victims? I mean, projects?”
He glanced at the bodies she mentioned; he had them tethered to him with a long rope. “Oh, these I got from a friend who found them in her dead aunt’s closet,” he said, then leaned in and winked conspiratorially. “I told her they were fake.”
“Interesting.” Oblivia was not quite certain whether this was still part of the gag.
Frankenstein returned to a social distance. “Really though, for your own sake you should leave now. You may find yourself on tonight’s menu.”
“Ha, ha, ha, ohhhh…..” She trailed off as she finally noticed the other guests had ceased their aimless swaying some time ago and were staring at her intensely.
“Oops,” Frankenstein said in the way that meant he actually was glad at this turn of events, then slung the skeletons over his left shoulder and strolled to the mashed brains bar for some protein.
Oblivia, at long last, was aware of her surroundings and of the actual danger she was in as the ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves, witches, warlocks, and all the rest closed in on her from every side, including above from the ceiling and below through the floor…
TO BE CONTIN –
“HOLD IT!” Oblivia held up her hand, halting the guests’ forward momentum. She knew running would only allow them to finish the job quicker: instead, she had to make them change their minds about destroying her.
As they stared at her, allowing a few moments before they would continue their advance, she said:
“Would you like to hear a scary story?”
They looked at each other, then slowly sat down in the ring they conveniently had formed around her. Frankenstein stared in disbelief as he munched on his dinner, then sat down where he was.
“Very well then,” Oblivia said as she grabbed a nearby stool and sat, facing the crowd. “Let’s begin at the most unpleasant beginning: ‘Once upon a midnight dreary –’”
“No one likes The Raven, it’s been done to death,” a zombie said ironically; others grunted.
“But I had to recite it in grade school and the only narratively acceptable reason it would be necessary to memorize all 100+ lines is so that it would save my life at this very moment!” Oblivia argued.
“No The Raven!” A vampire yelled.
“Oh all right.” Oblivia could switch gears with the best of them. “Then I will simply begin with: Once upon a time…”
TO BE CONTINUED (FOR REALS)