Fiction · noise in the room upstairs

Entry X: A Halloween Rant

Mira installed a toy doorbell that releases a witch’s cackle when pressed. It doesn’t really alert anyone to a visitor’s presence. Instead it haunts the dream of the neighbors and serves as a constant reminder that death is only a knock away.

Time and sleep are the greatest thieves of the modern era. When you lack both, they’ve committed the greatest heist.

But seriously though, I felt like it was just yesterday that I was waving a small flag for Uncle Sam and now it’s Halloween. Where did all that time ago? I guess insomnia has a way of blurring the days together. The days become a hazy series of events tied together by a monotonous loop. I fear the next time I get a decent night of sleep, I’ll wake up to Christmas. I wonder how much time I could steal back if I drink a cup of coffee every hour?

But let’s focus on the here and now. Halloween is almost upon us and I couldn’t be any more underwhelmed by it.

Okay, I hate Halloween.

Halloween just happens to be one of those holidays that I have the worst luck with. Something bad always happens on that day.

Last year, while I was still in school, I was caught up in a campus scandal that involved a few serial streakers and a mascot costume. I won’t go into it. The year before, I was helping out one of my theater friends with a Halloween production of Sweeney Todd. She needed a techie that could actually fix something if it broke down. Everything went well despite all the red ketchup blood that would’ve suggested otherwise. It was when we were cleaning up that the lights went out in the theater and the bloodstained ghost of Sweeney Todd himself hovered over me with a blade to my neck asking if I wanted a shave. When the lights clicked back on, Mr. Todd was gone and so was my sense of security. I later learned it was prank by the theater staff but that stuff sticks with you regardless.

There are similar incidents that I could reference from my childhood but I rather not go into it. Just know, my track record with Halloween has not been the best.

So when I saw the initial signs like the tell-tale pumpkins in produce bins, paper skeletons hanging from store windows, neighbors’ doors decorated with ghosts and graves made of straw and glitter, I was halfway tempted to go into hiding for a month.

Honestly, I don’t really get everyone’s obsession with this holiday. There’s already so many things to be scared of in this world. Why would we dedicate a holiday to it? I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that we used to persecute the things people dress up for Halloween. It’s like everyone is mockingly wearing the corpses of people who died with such labels.

There are several other reasons why this holiday gives me the creeps. For one thing, pumpkins. Pumpkins pop up everywhere without much rhyme or reason. I walked to the store the other day and there were pumpkins lined up and down the sidewalk, almost as if they were trying to blockade the streets. When I walked into the store there were even more pumpkins. Pumpkins in food, pumpkins in barrels, pumpkins at the register. The whole town goes pumpkin mad. Even the cemetery across the street have pumpkins marking every grave. Each one of them moves ever so slightly when you approach a dead person’s resting place. I read somewhere that if you leave a pumpkin too close to a grave, a dead person inhabits it and stalks about the night. They peek in on the living in their homes, lusting after heads. When I see pumpkin shaped shadows on my wall, I’m tempted to take a hatchet to the whole lot of them.

Then there’s this whole obsession with the spooky and creepy. Skeletons, like pumpkins, pop up everywhere. They hang in front of doorways, find themselves plastered on places of business, and it’s hard to go anywhere without them getting referenced in some way or shape.  Why are people so obsessed with the image of their own mortality? When the worms and weevils have had their way with a decaying body, that’s all that’s left. Why do people want that image haunting their doorways, their living rooms, and their bedside table?!

Look, I’m just tired of Halloween. I would really, really, really like it if nothing spooky happened to me when the accursed day arrives. I’ll make a vow not to leave this apartment building on that night unless I absolutely have to and with that promise, what could possibly happen?

I made my wishes known to the Woman in the Television and she said that I shouldn’t have made any vows. She told me tradition was tradition for a reason though what happens on Halloween is the least of my problems. I asked her if she had any foresight in the events to come.

She was vague as usual. She said something like, “Bad things are bound to come your way, Mr. Harkin, and bad things have already happened. You don’t need much foresight to figure that out.”

I asked her to elaborate.

“Elaboration can be a killer, Mr. Harkin. I’m pretty sure you rather not know.”

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