Happy Hallows’ Eve! I have about 24 hours to decide on a costume. I love making costumes with materials that I already have on hand, something relatively easy and ideally, clever. I happen to have a lot of cardboard and paper, so my idea yesterday was, “I could be Hillary Clinton’s emails!” I would just wear a piece of cardboard and write mock emails all over it. I think I’d have way too much fun making up those emails. I’m still pondering it.
Now, I have a story for you! This piece of mine is a parody of an Amelia Gray story, “Christmas House,” which is from her newest story collection, Gutshot. The collection is so weird, and bold, and imaginative, I can’t get enough of it. Just to be clear, the concept of this story is based on Gray’s story, all the content is my own.
Halloween House is a spooky and festive holiday residence. It is a home to ghouls and goblins, DIY costumes, a giant orchestrated Thriller dance, and standard goblets full of spiked glow in the dark punch and a bubbly concoction that will have some unlucky guests farting all night. A man wearing a Jack-O’-Lantern on his head always answers the door at Halloween House, charming trick or treaters alike.
Halloween House invites their guests to celebrate in whatever fashion feels appropriate to them. If a guest asks to have the balcony kept off limits for two minutes while she howls at the moon, then so be it. If someone wants to beat on a drum with a pair of leg bones that he doesn’t feel up to explaining, then that is his prerogative.
Halloween House is home to forty-six pumpkins. It is one staff member’s duty to decorate the House with these pumpkins in a manner that exudes the Halloween spirit. The staff member must not carve any two pumpkins alike, if he decides to involve carving in the decorating process. If the staff member makes a mistake and carves the same triangle eyes on one or more pumpkins, then he must gather these pumpkins, grind them to a pulp, lather his body with it, and roll in a pile of Laffy Taffy.
Halloween House stays awake 24/7. A shift runs until a staff member reports a ghost sighting in the House and can provide evidence of that sighting, usually by a bite mark or photograph, then a new shift begins. When a staff member is not on shift, then he or she is permitted to partake in one of the numerous Halloween-y activities in the House, or catch up on sleep. Coffins and beds can be found in the attic. Only Rosemary’s baby may sleep during his shift.
Halloween House sits at the far edge of a mega church that draws approximately 3,000 members. At times, a word of Scripture may come flying through an open window, striking a Halloween House guest in the face or chest. When this occurs, one of two things usually happen: the guest makes a run for the church, or the guest clutches their body and sinks to the ground screaming, “I’M MELTING!” at the applause of the House staff.
Halloween House is not responsible for lost souls. If a guest believes that the House has damned them for all of eternity, then that guest must be removed from the premises so they can cry about it to someone else. Staff members can offer tinctures and potions to treat the guest’s condition, for example by boiling zombie blood and monster snot together and spoon feeding it to the guest, but this rarely happens.
In the true spirit of Halloween, guests and staff members of Halloween House must balance treats and tricks. The caramel covered apples are tooth cavities, and the pumpkin fields are monocroppic scars on the earth. It’s fun to play Ghostbuster, but Proton Packs are not real. All who enter the Halloween House uphold this equilibrium. Whoever seeks to undermine the magic of the season will most surely be buried alive.