Three Little Skeletons
As dusk approached and the air turned cool, the winds began to swirl, ushering the electric atmosphere with cool gusts of autumn that engulfed the neighborhood. Carved gourds glowed and flickered, inviting the ghouls and goblins up to dimly lit porches with promises of sugary treats and chocolate bars.
The streets began to fill, as creatures of all shapes and sizes gathered outside, some knee high to their escorts, others tall and lurking. Screams of delight and devilish laughter alerted those not participating to douse their lights, hunker down and stay away from their windows and attempt to ride out the storm of activity festering outside.
A knock here, a ding there, if an offering was left on the porch, peace was upheld, but the treats were always confiscated.
Under the street light, near the woods at the end of the street, three youthful skeletons considered the Do Not Enter sign that hung crookedly on the weathered post at the end of the driveway. The post, part of what used to be a fence line, was in the midst of being swallowed whole by the thick Ivy’s grasp.
The Holcomb house sat under the large Oak trees, the first house built on the long street many years ago. A canopy of large, outstretched tree limbs covered the unlit drive that snaked and weaved its way through the darkness, leading to a sagging carriage house behind the large forlorn house that sat under the shadows. The abandoned house sat at the end of the street, it's gruesome tale scaring off potential suitors who came calling over the years.
The fable, passed down from elder brothers and sisters to their younger counterparts, had interchangeable details, but only one ending. Over the years, with each retelling the story took root every October until the mere mentioning of the Holcomb name carried with it ominous images that would forever be linked to the hair-raising story that accompanied its impious existence.
The particulars varied depending on who was telling it, but the essentials were as followed: Years ago, over two lifetimes ago for our three skeletons, Old man Holcomb was found hanging from the large staircase in the foyer of the old house, his wife was found near his feet, her head resting in a pool of blood, a large iron fire poker lay beside her covered in blood and malfeasance. Little was found to give reason to the abhorrent act, and due to the dearth of details, neighbors began to speculate.
It in a fit of rage and an absence of sanity, Old man Holcomb murdered his miserable wife with an iron fire place poker...
The infamous house became an annual attraction to the high school kids as the leaves turned a fiery orange, until a serious of unexplainable events occurred. A bon fire was held in the yard on All Hallows Eve one year; a few kids had claimed to see a shadow in the upstairs window, presumably old man Holcomb himself, watching over things. Another year, a girl claimed that she was grabbed by the throat in the darkness, dragged into the woods until she was able to claw free from the dark figure.
Jake, the tallest skeleton and the orchestrator of the group, spoke first.
“I say we go up there and knock on the door, if there’s no answer, we throw some eggs.”
“Are you crazy?” Logan replied, remembering the stories his older brother had told him throughout the years, he would just assume to leave the place alone.
Jake wasn't listening; instead he kneeled to the ground, squinting through the trees as if he saw something. He jumped suddenly, startling the others with his excitement.
“Did you see that?”
“See what?” Josh asked, barely audible.
"I saw a light in the house!”
"Shut up, you did not.” Logan retorted.
“I’m going in, come on.”
A chorus of crickets enveloped the dark woods behind the house as the small platoon cautiously made its way up the battered driveway, stopping in front of the imposing house, the moon as their only source of light.
Josh, already regretting his decision to follow the older boys, looked back at the driveway, wondering what was lurking behind the vast darkness of the trees.
Jake whispered into his ear:
They say that Old man Holcomb and his wife still roam the house….
“Stop it Jake, you're not funny.” Josh cried out, before noticing that Logan was missing. He turned again, and Jake was gone. He stood alone in the darkness, terrified.
“Josh, the door’s opened, come on!” Jake yelled in an excited whisper.
Josh thought about saying no, but the older boys were going and he couldn't wuss out now. He forced his legs forward, fighting the trepidation with each step.
He approached the back of the house, the screens were torn completely out from the years of neglect; he carefully opened the flimsy screen-less door.
"Where’s Logan?” He asked quietly as he entered.
“He’s already inside, come on.” Jake answered, before slowly walking inside to the kitchen, pulling out his phone and casting its bluish light into the quiet house.
"Lo-gan?" Jake yelled out melodically, almost singing his name. “Where arrre youuuu Lo-gaan?” He turned back to Josh, laughing. The humor missed its mark.
“Jake, let’s wait outside, I---“
“Shhh! Did you hear that?” They were in the hallway, leading into the foyer when they both froze, hearing footsteps slowly coming down the staircase. Jake turned back to Josh, who was unable to speak at the moment.
The two skeletons stepped into the foyer just as a violent banging filled the house, Jake jumped as the heavy projectile bounced down the steps, clanging loudly while narrowly missing his leg as it came to rest on the floor, the deafening sound echoing throughout the house.
Jake pointed the phone down at towards his feet, revealing an iron poker, the tip glistening wet in the artificial light, dark, thick droplets splattered on the floor. He turned back, hearing the back door shut as the small skeleton made his escape. Smiling in the darkness, Jake was satisfied at how his plan had played out. He put his hand on the rail, craning his neck up the stairs.
"Logan?" The house was silent.
“You almost hit me with that thing!" He yelled up to the top of the stairs. "Nice touch with the blood, too!”
His hair stood and his skin tingled as he felt a presence behind his shoulder. Not quite a touch, but a faint murmur in the darkness. almost as if someone was breathing on his neck. He whirled around to find he was alone, his brash smile vanishing in the dark house.
“Logan?” He took a step back, fumbling with his phone and jumping at the sound of his feet kicking the fire poker on the ground. Through the light from the window he noticed the lump on the floor.
Outside, a small audience gathered behind the overgrown boxwoods in the front yard. The older kids had joined the fun, as Logan’s older brother had come up with the plan. Josh joined the gathering as they waited quietly just outside the driveway stifling laughs and excitement as the show was under way.
The battered door flung open,banging harshly against the wall as the gangly skeleton shot out of the porch, darting across the yard and through the leaves while oblivious to the small gathering in the yard.
The skeleton dashed out of the driveway, spilling candy from his pockets as he shot up the road, stopping only when he was safely at home, bagless and scared, too frightened to speak. His mother, upon seeing him, his costume torn and his make-up smeared, commented that it was as if he had seen a ghost.
The following day, and for the next few weeks, Jake's friends noticed quite the change in his demeanor. He never spoke of what he saw in the house, and the mere mention of the Holcomb name sent a chill up his spine and rendered his skin pale. The boy who was once so fond of pranks and mischief seldom took part in Halloween antics in the following years, preferring instead to stay inside and ride out the storm from the safe confines of his mother's home.