It was a crisp autumn night.
The wind whistled through the trees, filling the silent night with the mad quivering of leaves. Only the soft glow of the street lamps guided Mellie along her path home. The light of the full moon looked ominous in the sea of black clouds in the sky.
She looked around at the rows of residential houses that lined both side of the street. The lack of light at this late hour made them all looked haunted. There was barking in the distance that Mellie had trouble convincing herself were just that of domesticated dogs and not the wild coyotes that her mother constantly warned her about.
The sky overhead was thick with bare tree branches that hung over the street like an archway. Mellie avoided the shadows of the skeletal limbs reaching out for her on the sidewalk. The exercise kept her mind focused on something other than the ominousness of this dark night and the deep gloom that assailed her on all sides. But when Mellie look behind her, she couldn’t help but notice her shadow could never escape the tangle. It sent a chill up her spine that she tried to ignore.
This was the curse of the overactive mind on a dark night. She didn’t know why she decided it was a good idea to walk home alone so close to Halloween. That’s just asking to be the victim of some supernatural evil. If not that then at least a cruel prank.
Mellie’s heart jumoed out of her rib cage and her pace quickened. She was being followed.
This time the noise came in front of her. She stopped and took a step back.
Okay. No. She is not being followed. She was being silly. It was obviously the wind. There’s absolutely no credence to those spooky stories about ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. They’re just stories. Folk legend. Words passed down and ink on paper. But not actually real.
Mellie told herself this as she continued to pace forward.
Nothing spooky really happens on Halloween.
Mellie stopped and stared about her wildly. She gripped her handbag as she willed her heart to slow down. It’s only the wind.
There was that whisper again. No, it was just a very distinctive wind. She should just walk and keep calm.
A fog filled in around her. The houses and trees became nothing more than hazy silhouettes. Mellie tried to keep moving forward but it was becoming difficult to navigate through the thickness.
Then the air fills with a scratching sound. It started out soft and discreet but the sound grew closer.
She couldn’t believe this was happening. There was absolutely no way she was getting caught up in the set-up of some crappy horror story.
She looked through her bag for some possible weapons. Okay. She had a book, her house keys, an umbrella, and some chap stick.
“So how do you plan on surviving this?”
Mellie screamed and nearly jumped into some nearby bushes. The inner critic was standing apart from the fog, his arms folded with his usual look of condescension.
“Bram! Where did you come from?!”
“Really? You’re seriously asking that?”
Mellie tried to get back her bearings. She took deep breaths and then stared at him accusingly.
“Was it you?”
“You’re going to have to be more specific.”
She gestured about her. “Did you cause this? Were you making the noises?”
“Do you think I want to be here? I have far more important things to do than participate in this badly written horror plot.”
Mellie was befuddled. “Badly written–?!”
Bram held up his hand. “No, we don’t have time. How do you plan on surviving this?”
The scratching noises started again. They sounded close but Mellie couldn’t see through the thick veil of fog. She looked through her bag again. She doubted her keys would break too much skin if she was forced to use them for protection.
She pulled out her only viable weapon and held it out to the inner critic. “I got an umbrella.”
Bram cocked an eyebrow. “You’re going to beat back a possible hatchet wielding homicidal maniac with an umbrella.”
“Why hatchet wielding?!”
“Do you expect a blunt object to make those sounds?” Bram asked matter-of-factly.
Mellie threw up her hands in despair. “Then what do you suggest I do?”
Bram considered this for a few moments, stroking his finger against his chin. He then shrugged his shoulders.
“How about dying?”
“Is that the most helpful suggestion you can make?”
He smiled. “I’m not really good at helpful suggestions during the first run through. Perhaps after this version is all sorted out I could offer more helpful critique in the revisions.”
“You can’t really go back and do everything over once you’re dead.”
“That’s a matter of opinion.”
The scratching noises suddenly stopped. A dark silhouette came into view through the fog. The form looked bulky but was undeniably human. As the fog cleared away, Mellie could tell it was a person in a full body suit with rubber gloves, boots, and a full face mask. In the mysterious figure’s right hand was a hatchet that reflected the light of the moon and contrasted against the black pavement.
Mellie felt the urge to run but she was frozen in place. She tried to lift up her umbrella to defend herself but it offered poor protection. She didn’t know if she could parry off this assailant and felt the shallow breath of death over shoulder.
The figure reached out a hand towards her, slow and eerie.
She took a step back.
“Mellie,” the figure whispered.
“H-how do you know my name?” She demanded in a shaky voice.
“Are you ready?”
Mellie swallowed hard. “Ready for what?”
“Halloween!” The figure squealed.
And suddenly the tension in the air was broken but Mellie wasn’t prepared for it. She raised her umbrella higher.
“Halloween!” The figure repeated with a jump. The figure took off their mask in one motion and revealed themselves to be manic-eyed Aria.
Bram yawned. “Well, that was a predictable twist.”
“Halloween?! Twist?!” Mellie screamed. “What the hell is going on here?”
“Don’t you realize it yet?” Bram asked. “You’re trying to write a spooky Halloween story and a bad one at that.”
Aria bopped Bram on the head with her mask. “It’s not bad. It’s a work in progress.” She turned to Mellie. “This is a good initial outline but it’s going to need some work. It’s a bit boring as it is but we could probably spice it up if we added more ghosts and zombies. Oh, and the action could’ve lasted a lot longer if you actually ran a little when you suspected someone was following you.”
Bram snapped his fingers. “Right, running?! Running would’ve increased your chances of survival especially since there was a sudden and gratuitous amount of fog on the scene. You could’ve easily gotten away if you written your character smarter.”
Mellie clutched her heart. She was too scared to get offended at the last comment.
She couldn’t believe that she brought herself so close to death for a freaking Halloween story.