“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that until you’re older.” The trio of children made their disappointment known through moans and wails. After a moment, Susie spoke up.
“Grampa, we’ve heard all sorts of monster stories! We’re not afraid of your scariest story!” Her siblings agreed with exaggerated nods of their small heads. A mischievous smile peaked out behind the older man’s gray mustache.
“I don’t know…” he teased the trio seated around the small table. A new chorus of ‘please’ just made him smile all the more. The three children made for an overwhelmingly cute sight - each with a handful of wrappers that once held Halloween candy and a mug of half-drank hot chocolate (with marshmallows - their Grandmother made sure of that!) in front of them.
When the begging died down, the older man adjusted his glasses and leaned back in his chair. The three went silent to hear his verdict.
“Well,” he started, pausing to look each of them in the eye. He breathed out a theatrical sigh, then leaned in conspiratorially. “You gotta promise not to tell your parents.”
The table erupted in glee and promises. The trio hopped up and down in their chairs and it took the white-haired man a few seconds to get them to calm back down. After the feat was accomplished, he started in.
“Okay, one story while your Grandma cleans up. Then you have to go to bed.” He waited for the them to nod their assent. Then he continued, “Once upon a time there lived three little kids, much like you three. They liked all the normal things - puppies and kitties and swimming pool parties and cartoons and--”
“And CANDY!?” Pat, the youngest, saw an opportunity to jump in.
“And especially candy.” The old man nodded. “In fact, Halloween was their favorite holiday. What other holidays do you think they liked?”
“Easter!” cried Alex, the oldest.
“Birthday cake!” added Susie.
“Halloween!” Pat attempted. Susie glared at him.
“Grampa already said Halloween,” she scolded.
“That’s okay, it’s worth underscoring just how much they loved Halloween,” their Grandfather verbally bandaged the wound. “In any case, the three of them kept a calendar and everything. When October rolled around, they counted down the days until they could go trick-or-treating and get bags and bags of candy.”
With that, the older man made an imaginary square on the table in front of him and started mimicking crossing out boxes. The children all leaned in to watch for a moment.
“One year, as Halloween approached, their mom and dad decided to move to a new town. Instead of having neighbors real close together, like we do, the new town had them very far apart, like where you live. The children weren’t sure how they were going to go trick-or-treating.”
“Couldn’t they just go to their grandparents’ house?” Susie asked.
“They asked exactly that, but their parents said no. All of their grandparents lived too far away to visit for just one night. Their parents, thinking the kids just wanted to see their grandparents, explained they’d see one set for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas, just like you three do.”
“But what about Halloween?”
“But what about Halloween indeed! Their parents did their best to decorate and make new friends and even find a big party at the local fire station for them to go to, but it wasn’t enough. The kids were greedy and wanted bags and bags of candy. So, they devised a plan - they would wait until their parents went to sleep, then they would sneak out and go trick-or-treating on their own. Motivated only by greed, they didn’t care about the danger or how far they’d have to walk.
“The day came and they played along with their parents. They had fun driving around seeing decorated houses. They had fun seeing all the other costumes at the fire station. They even enjoyed eating the candy their parents had bought for them. But the night came to a close soon enough and the kids weren’t sated. They wanted more candy. Always more candy. So, when their parents went to bed, the kids put their costumes on and left the house.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?” Alex voiced his concern.
“Very. And very stupid. You see, as the three of them walked along the dark road in the middle of nowhere, the dark force of death tread on their heels.
“The youngest was the first to go. Having had a long day, she trailed behind the other two, and eventually sat down. The sitting down turned to laying down and, wearing only her costume, she froze to death on the cold night. The other children were too greedy to notice.”
With this the older man surveyed his audience. While attentive, they didn’t really seem to be biting. He pushed on with a glint in his eye.
“The middle child was next. It was dark out and he kept running forward and not watching where he was going. All it takes is one unlucky time and tonight was a very unlucky night. He ran, he tripped, and he hit his head on a rock, killing him.
“The oldest was snapped from her greed and, finding herself alone, began to run home for help. All was for naught though, as the parents had called the police when they found the children were not in bed. A police car speeding around a corner found the oldest with the front right tire, killing her instantly.”
“That’s it?” Alex asked after a pause. “We know better than to go out trick-or-treating by ourselves. We know to wear warm clothes and to wear lights and to not run around where we can’t see. That wasn’t scary at all.”
The other two agreed, disappointed.
“Oh, I see,” their grandfather said in mock surprise. “Would it help if you knew their ghosts were still out there looking for candy?”
“No,” Susie answered. “We’ve heard about ghosts before.”
“Would you be scared if I told you they were just here…” at this the old man shot his finger toward the counter his wife had just cleared. “AND ATE YOUR CANDY!?”
The above was an entry for this contest. It's not my best work ever, but I had fun writing it. I look forward to reading the other entries!