Short Scary Story: The Dead Winds of Halloween Night
A Haunt in the House
It was an old house, maybe even the oldest house in the neighborhood. Someone had moved it there from the city years ago--they had actually uprooted it, loaded it up on a trailer, and dropped it on a new foundation. Now it was home for the Brooks family.
Jeffrey Brooks was sick. He had caught some bug at school and now he had a temperature of 100 degrees. He felt better today; the fever had receded this morning. Now it was Halloween night and his friends and brothers were all out having the time of their lives. It wasn’t fair.
He glanced at the television and saw that Night Gallery was about to start, a show that he wouldn't be allowed to watch once his mom got home.
Jeff got up, went to the front door, and turned on the porch light. A plastic pumpkin loaded with candy rested on a TV tray beside the doorway. His mom had left it there for his oldest brother to pass out candy. He hadn’t returned, so it would be up to Jeff to feed the tiny beggars who would come calling.
He looked out into the lightless street and sighed. The sun had receded and left a chilly autumn twilight. A gentle breeze blew against the aluminum outer door. He went back to the couch.
The show had started. He had missed Rod Serling’s take on whatever painting was being featured tonight. Now a man and a lady were talking to each other. Jeff wondered what his brothers were doing. They were too old to be out begging for candy.
The phone rang in the kitchen.
It was his mom. She would be home a little later than expected, and she wanted an explanation concerning his two absent siblings. He had none. He told her he would be fine (he was almost ten) and that she shouldn’t worry. He hung up the phone.
Stopping at the refrigerator to grab a bottle of Welch's grape juice, he made his way back to the living room. Just as he was about to settle in, the doorbell rang, followed by the sound of four or five elated voices. “Trick or Treat!”
He went to the pumpkin and grabbed a handful of tootsie rolls, suckers and small candy bars. Impatiently waiting on the porch were a little ghost, a vampire with too much makeup and two badly-disguised boys dressed as some strange hybrid wild west cowboy/superhero. Each stood formally with a white pillowcase spread open before them. Jeff dutifully dropped a generous amount of candy into each one.
“How come you aren’t out trick-or-treating?” It was a girl ghost.
“I got the flu, I guess.”
The parents who had been standing at the bottom of the porch steps and within earshot of what he had just said, anxiously moved forward and grabbed their ghost, vampire, and cowboy-batmen. And off to the next house they went.
A half hour passed with a fairly steady stream of visitors. The candy in the pumpkin grew sparse. He decided to turn off the porch light and save the rest for himself. He would eat it tomorrow when he felt a little better.
Just as he was pushing the front door shut, a powerful gust of wind blew against the front of the house. The aluminum door banged until it latched. He had to push hard on the big wooden door to get it shut. As if to punctuate his victory, he threw the bolt, too. The wind blew again, even harder.
From upstairs came a strange noise. Jeff looked at the ceiling and stood still, waiting. The wind subsided, paused, and then blew again. And again came a loud thud from upstairs.
Jeff tried to think what it was that could be making that sound. Had some shingles gotten ripped off the roof, or had a tree limb fallen onto it? The thing was, it didn’t sound like it was coming from way up there; it sounded like it was coming from directly upstairs.
Something moaned on the TV and with a start, he looked at the screen and saw a zombie’s hand tearing up through the topsoil of a fresh grave. A lady screamed as the dead man's head broke the surface. Jeffrey Brooks shuddered.
He told himself to relax. He sat down on the couch to think. His mom would be home soon and his brothers were in for it. He would just curl up in the warm blankets his mom had brought out into the living room for this night.
He would wait for somebody older to come home.
He hoisted his bottle of juice and drank.
His heart jumped in his chest. He was sure the noise had come from upstairs, maybe from one of the bedrooms.
Someone was up there!
He slowly got to his feet and walked the few paces to the bottom of the wooden stairs that led to an upstairs landing. Pausing for a moment, he flicked on the light.
His voice sounded strange in the empty house. The wind again roared outside.
He put his foot on the bottom step and started up. Halfway, he stopped. His heart was pounding in his chest.
The landing at the top of the stairs had a door to the left and a large room off to the right. The door led to his brother Billy’s room, and it was shut.
This time Jeff could feel the stairs shake slightly at the fearful noise. The noise was definitely coming from the right. He raced up the final few steps and reached into the darkness for the light switch. He found it and turned it on.
The large room was really a hallway. It ran parallel to the stairway so that one needed to continue turning right until traveling in the opposite direction they had been going when ascending the stairs.
At the end of the hall was the doorway to his own bedroom. His mother’s bedroom door was opposite. Both doors were open. The hallway was otherwise empty.
Maybe the noise was coming from the roof after all, he thought.
He began to advance down the hall when the doorbell rang. Embracing this chance to be relieved of his mature undertaking, nine year-old Jeff Brooks turned to flee down the stairs and make a thankful connection with humanity again. But as he passed a forgotten wooden hatch to his immediate right, he was stopped dead in his tracks by a low growl, a growl that sounded like no animal he had ever heard of.
It came from inside the attic and was followed by what sounded to the boy like slow, heavy footsteps.
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For whatever reason, the house was built so that the top of the upstairs hallway rested just underneath the roof. The spacious attic was built alongside the hallway and extended away toward one end of the house. The hatch had been cut at some point in time later to provide access to the storage space.
He didn’t run but walked robotically to the landing and then calmly descended the stairs. As he neared the front door he lunged for the door handle and yanked.
It didn’t open.
Whining, he turned the bolt and threw open the door.
“What the hell? Why’d you lock us out?’ His older brother stood there on the porch glowering at him and Jeff could have hugged him.
“Mike. Billy! There’s something in the house. You have to go look!”
His two brothers stared down at him, then looked at each other, and then laughed.
“Little Jeffy, scared of our own spooky old house on Halloween night.”
Billy made like a ghost. “Wooooo!”
Jeff didn’t care. He was too scared to care right now.
“Fine. I’m scared. So now will you go look in the attic? I heard something in there, I swear!”
They brushed him aside as they entered the living room. Mike went and sat on the couch and grabbed a piece of candy out of the pumpkin bowl.
Jeff tugged at Billy’s shirtsleeve. “Please go look.”
“Aw, you baby. There’s nothing in that attic but dust. But if it’ll make you shut up, I’ll go look.”
Billy had always treated Jeff all right in Jeff’s book.
“Let’s go”, Mike said and stood. He grabbed a flashlight out of a desk drawer.
“Wait here”, Billy told him, and the two older boys started up the stairs. They got to the landing when another gust of wind blew, and just as the two were turning the corner and out of Jeff’s sight, he heard the expectant thud from the attic upstairs.
“What is it?” he cried.
He waited a full minute there at the bottom of the stairs, straining to hear his brothers, listening for another noise from the attic. No sound came from upstairs. He walked up the stairs silently and turned to look into the hallway.
Mike and Billy were at the hatch, Billy kneeling and unscrewing the screws holding the plywood in place. Finally, he got the last one out, and Mike grabbed the plywood and slid it to one side.
A putrid odor washed over the three. Billy turned to one side and gulped, trying not to vomit. Jeff was really scared now. Mike was laughing at Billy through the T-shirt he had pulled up from his belly to cover his nose and mouth.
The opening into the attic was about four feet high. It was pitch dark inside. “What died in there?” Mike joked.
Suddenly, a pallid and thin face appeared out of the blackness. Its flesh rotted and it smelled like death itself. It growled softly and backed away from the light, keeping its hateful eyes locked on them as it retreated.
Mike dropped the flashlight and backed away until he hit the opposite wall. Billy turned just in time to see the creature disappear into the dark, and turned a ghostly white himself. Jeff screamed with all his might and ran for the stairs. As he turned the corner he saw the creature dash out of the hole. He heard it hit the wall where Mike was. His oldest brother's scream made the hair on the back of the boy's neck stand on end.
He managed to get to the bottom of the stairs without breaking his neck. He was planning to run out the front door, but his mom was coming in through the side door and into the kitchen.
"What in the world is going on in this house? What's all the screaming for?" She paused to sniff the air. "And what is that awful stink?"
Just then Billy let out a hoarse shout and then it was quiet upstairs. The wind blew and the house shuddered.
His mom was looking down at him with her hands on her hips. She had just worked a long day and was in no mood for games. He did the only thing he could do to get her to listen and act quickly. He bawled.
He tried to tell her what happened but most of it was unintelligible. He had apparently been reduced to an infant again. He was in a state of shock.
She softened her gaze and reached down to give him a hug. "Don't be afraid. Its probably just your brothers having fun with you, Jeffrey Brooks."
The only noise coming from upstairs was the sick moaning of the wind blowing through the attic. His mom grabbed Jeff by the hand and made for the stairs. She gave him a reassuring smile and they went up to the landing together.
"Mom." It was Mike's voice, only it wasn't. It sounded old and ghoulish, and the word was drawn out like some evil incantation. "Mmm-oooo-mmmm."
Outside, the wind bellowed and the power went out in the Brooks residence. Now Jeff could hear both boys calling their mother, and she tried to see them in the dark. She called their names, too. In the end, they found her, and they found Jeff, too, and the family stayed together in their attic forever.