Dinosaurs Ruin Everything-A Short Story for Halloween
The best time of year at Grandma Bellman's is Halloween. There are two reasons. First, she lives on a farm and it has old buildings, huge spooky trees and a gigantic pumpkin patch. And second, nobody puts together a better haunted house than my Grandma Bellman. She creates it in her basement. Her house is old so the basement is dark and cold and musty smelling; perfect for a haunted house. And last, something always happens on Halloween.
Three years ago, the mailman died; on Halloween, two farms down from Grandma Bellman. The rumor was that he'd been scared to death. An article in the newspaper said he'd had a heart attack. My cousins and I always wondered: what had caused the mailman to have a heart attack on Halloween?
Nathan, Hawthorne (who hates his name and would rather be called Haw), Judy and I are cousins. We get to spend every Halloween at Grandma Bellman's. It's a tradition. We think it's because our dads, who are brothers, always had such a good time when they were kids on that farm. On Halloween, we get to take the day off school so that we can help set up the haunted house.
Pumpkin pies were cooling on the counter in the kitchen early in the afternoon. Grandma Bellman had put a big jug of apple cider in a tub of ice to get cold and an enormous bucket of candy stood ready at the front door for trick-or-treaters. Even though the farm was a ways out of town, many people came to Grandma Bellman's because of the haunted house. Haw was sniffing the pies when he thought he saw something out the kitchen window, something that shouldn't have been there.
He got the rest of us and told us we needed to check out the backyard. Judy didn't want to because she was busy putting the finishing touches on her pirate costume. Nathan convinced her that it looked fine, so we all headed outside, wondering what the big deal was. Haw explained that whatever it was he saw, it was headed towards the potting shed. We were all glad that it was still mid-day, because on Halloween, you didn't want to go anywhere near the potting shed.
"You boys!" That was Grandma Bellman. She always included Judy in the "You boys," because it just made it easier than saying "You boys and Judy." She sounded upset, so we changed direction and headed back to the house. Grandma Bellman was standing at the basement door looking madder than a hornet. She herded us down the steps and pointed to the first station on the haunted house tour. It was covered in mud.
The first station was the headless corpse. Grandma Bellman used to be a dressmaker, and she had used one of her old dressmaker dummies as the dead body . But instead of being upright in the chair the way we had put it that morning, it was now on the floor, trampled and covered in slimy mud. It looked and smelled like the mud from the bottom of the duck pond.
We assured her that none of us was the culprit and she believed us because she had seen how horrified we were at the mess. Especially Haw because he had been very creative with his blood spatter patterns on the corpse's front. Grandma Bellman asked us to clean it up and to try to get the corpse looking proper again. Nathan noticed that the stairs were muddy too. It was pretty clear that someone had come down from the duck pond and did this awful thing. It took the four of us more than an hour to get it mostly clean and scary-looking again.
Haw suggested we follow the mud backwards to the duck pond. The footprints, if that's what they were, were very odd-shaped.
They were big, like a man's, but more round. The footprints did lead straight through the backyard, past the potting shed, to the edge of the duck pond. The ground around the area was all scuffed up and Nathan thought that whoever had messed up the corpse would have needed to carry mud back in a bucket. But, we didn't see any buckets. Haw said we should check the potting shed.
Judy refused to go in the shed saying she really did need to get back and finish her costume. We knew it was because she was getting scared, but decided in a silent agreement to preserve her dignity and not mention it. So Haw, Nathan and I headed to the shed. Haw reminded us that he thought he'd seen something come this way earlier when he was in the kitchen.
There was a problem with checking out the potting shed. It was starting to get twilight. From the time it had taken us to clean up in the basement, to tracking the footprints back to the duck pond, the day had waned. Shadows were lengthening and the wind was kicking up a little making the big old walnut trees creak and crack just a little. It was going to be hard to forget it was Halloween in order to check out the potting shed.
From the duck pond back to the potting shed we had to pass the oldest walnut tree on the farm. Grandma Bellman claimed it was over one hundred years old. This old tree was huge; its branches spreading out and creating a canopy under which anything could hide. Haw was leading the way, looking back at Nathan and I when he suddenly tripped over something on the ground. He hollered and jumped up. When Nathan and I caught up to him, we saw that what he'd tripped over was a big old bucket, and it was covered in dried, slimy mud.
"Oh for Pete's sake!" Nathan yelled this whenever he was scared. And he was scared. It was pretty clear now that someone, or something was on the farm creating trouble.
As it turned out, it was the best Halloween ever.
From where we were, under the protection of the walnut tree, the back of the potting shed was directly ahead. It had one grimy window, high up and dead center in the wall. We snuck up close and did "rock, paper, scissors" to see who would do the looking and who would do the boosting.
Haw, as luck would have it, would do the looking. It was hard to do this quietly so we were a little glad that the wind had gained in strength causing the walnut tree's branches to creak and crack more loudly. Nathan and I put our hands together and boosted Haw up the wall. He cupped his hands around his eyes and tried to peer in the window. It was dark but the potting shed wasn't built like a house, it's was full of spaces and places where boards had fallen out or had holes in them, so some of the remaining twilight filtered into the interior.
Suddenly Haw stiffened and made a strangling sound. Then he jumped out of our hands and started running. Nathan and I looked at each other and took off after Haw. None of us stopped until we got to the back porch of the house. We were wheezing and coughing from running so hard. I could barely get out the question to ask Haw what he'd seen. "Dinosaur." That's all he said.
Haw was babbling that he just saw a dinosaur in the shed. We tried to get him to get a grip, but he was adamant. "Dinosaur." We tried to remind him that dinosaurs were extinct and that they didn't go around carrying buckets of mud to pour on corpses. He didn't care.
Grandma Bellman called us into the house and told us to get ready for supper. We tried to tell her about the footprints and the bucket and were getting to the part about the shed, but she just shushed us and sent us to wash up. This looked like a mystery that was not going to get solved, and it was making it, in a funny kind of way, the best Halloween ever.
As it turned out, it was the best Halloween ever and the dinosaur almost ruined it.
The dinosaur was a costume my Uncle Roger had rented. Dad told him that Uncle Dave had worn it two years ago at a party and it got lots of attention. Trouble was, the dads tried to trick us kids, but their plan back-fired. Dad explained the next day, after revealing the costume, that Uncle Roger had put on the suit and had the idea of sneaking around trying to scare us kids. Uncle Dave and dad also thought it would be funny to add something to the haunted house by putting a bucket of duck pond mud in the "mad scientist" station. But their plan failed when Uncle Dave tripped at the bottom of the stairs, spilling mud all over the corpse. Haw was just glad to find out that he'd been both right and wrong about the dinosaur he had seen one in the shed.