Gavin Hetherington || Jack-In-The-Box

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Jack-In-The-Box by GavinHetherington

‘She’s coming for you,
On Halloween night.
She’s gonna scare you silly,
Give you quite a fright.
Nowhere to run,
Nowhere to hide.
You’re not gonna live,
Even though you tried.
Can’t call your mum,
Can’t call your dad,
If you try to run,
Then she might get mad…’

Nothing scared 12-year-old Jack Langston – not spiders, not ghosts, and especially not silly little Halloween rhymes. They were for scaredy-cats and babies. Jack was all grown up now, and what better way to mark his journey into adulthood than going trick-or-treating all by himself.

It was Halloween night, of course. The air was frosty, the night was dark, yet Jack could not feel the cold, nor fear the shadows on the street. He was brave, braver than his mother, who didn’t want to let him out by himself, but he begged and pleaded for months. All Hallows’ Eve has always been his favourite holiday, and trick-or-treating by himself was the most important thing in the world.

The street he lived on was tucked away in a secret little suburb. Orange orbs of light poured down from streetlamps. Jack passed them one by one. They briefly surrounding him with light, providing him with an odd warmth. The cobbled street was uneven beneath his feet yet he still managed to walk with determination.

Every house in the street was decorated extravagantly – ghosts hung from stone windowpanes, black and orange banners streamed the frames of every house, and pumpkins lay proudly at the foot of every garden. The pumpkins were accompanied by tiny garden gnomes that barely reached the full size of the fruits they stood next to.

For the most part, the street appeared empty, with each house as a willing conquest for Jack’s trick-or-treating adventure. But from the times he went trick-or-treating with his dad, he knew which homes were good with their candy.

He floated through the street, rushing to get to the one house he knew would give him the best candy. He passed several parents with their children. Jack realised the parents were terrified to let them out of their sight. The poor kids – they only want to go off and have fun. He wondered if his dad ever kept that close an eye on him. Do the grown-ups not trust them?

The end of the street soon came and Jack turned onto the next one. More houses and less people, all too wrapped up in their own sweet-collecting to notice a very determined boy on his way to score the Halloween jackpot. On this street, he kept near the small stone walls and away from the road. This area was less familiar to him, and he didn’t want to admit that he was getting scared, just a teensy little bit scared.

More Jack-O-Lanterns appeared, all lit up with candles to respect the spirit of the spooky season. Their faces were all different, from happy and silly-looking, to downright terrifying. Jagged teeth were carved into them, with hollow eyes that appeared so deep that they could have been portals to Hell.
Happy pumpkin. Scary pumpkin. Happy pumpkin. Scary pumpkin.

And so the pattern continued until little Jack bumped into a woman at the very end of the street. It was dark here, with barely any streetlamps or Jack-O-Lanterns to lit up the cobbled path. Still, he could see her, and she could see him.

She was robed in black, from head to foot, that he couldn’t tell what shape or form her body took. All he could see was her haunting face. She was crying; her whimpered and frantic moans were loud enough to be heard from his home street. With her eyes scrunched and her nose wrinkled, she allowed the tears to drench her cheeks.

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