For little Billy this Halloween was just like any other Halloween. Or maybe it wasn’t?
“This time it’s going to be epic!”, thought the 9-year-old boy with dark coffee brown hair, almost in contrast to the eyes. ” Those weeny little kids, dressed like stupid pirates and table cloth wearing ghosts and shit…They think they’re so scary, when in fact they’re all lovely and cute. When these rats go “Trick r’ Treat” in their thin, measly, adorable voices and all the grown ups go “Awwwww…..” as they throw in those cheap candies in their pouches. NO! Absolutely not! No sir, whatsoever!”
“Halloween is not cute or adorable or like a…a… a Harry Potter book! It’s dark and haunting and like those ‘Saw’ movies. YES! It’s bone chilling! And we won’t let these weasels turn it into some fancy doll show. No! Not this time. This time it’s going to be some real scary shit and I’ll make sure people have the real ‘Halloween experience’!”
“Now, to begin with…” said the well fed Billy boy as he lowered his trousers to reveal his blue underwear, “It’s all about the planning” He then took off his t-shirt revealing his bulging belly. “It takes patience and perseverance, yes! ,” He then wore a long white frock that stretched all the way upto his knees stopping a little above his feet. There were thin red outlines along the frills in the neckline and an untied red satin belt along the waist “But, it’s the end result that matters”
He tied the belt into a bow and let the sides hang. He took some white paint from a tin can and applied it to his face with a paint brush. After covering his face white, he painted two red circles on his cheeks. He then took and a thinner brush and dipped in some black paint, carefully outlined his eyebrows and then grooved them downwards a little towards the edges. He outlined the corners of his eyes and then outlined the corners of his lips.
“Let me introduce you to moi friend”, he reached for something inside his bag. It was hard to tell if the doll looked exactly like him, or if it was the other way around.
“Say hello to Annabelle”, said Billy. Fe then faced the doll. “We must get going, Annabelle. It’s a long night ahead….”
They moved down the street and took the first left. Three girls, one dressed as a witch, another as a Goblin and the third as what seemed like a rather awkward looking Frankenstein, passed them by, giggling to themselves at Billy’s costume. There were face carved pumpkin lanterns that lined the streets outside the houses, stopping only at what was a yellow, brick lined house that was similar in architecture to all the other houses in the lane.
“Now there are some site inspections which have to be kept in mind before we proceed”, said the boy. ” We choose our target very carefully. The house should have like a lawn or a small garden around it so as to have space for hiding. There should be no steps that lead to the door, this would make the switching more easier. The house should be isolated and less visited, a place with a frightful or publicly loathed owner would be more suitable. There should be no carved pumpkin lanterns outside the house, which indicates the owner is in no mood to celebrate”
He then went towards the door and looked around as to check if he was unnoticed, which he was. “So let’s get started!”
He knocked on the door thrice and scurried towards the bushes at the side of the house in the lawn. A middle aged woman wearing a brown coat, smoking a cigarette with one hand while holding a bag of candies and opening the doorknob simultaneously with the other came out and went “All right you nutbags! Here’s your-” She stepped outside and looked around for a while.
“Fucking mongrels!” she said closing the door behind the door. ” Wouldn’t let go off their antics even on a Halloween!”
Billy waited for her faint voice to dissolve in a distance and then placed the doll carefully in front of the door, knocked thrice and then disappeared behind the bushes.
This time the woman had no candy pouch in her hand. “I swear to god, I’ll kill these-“, she mumbled as she opened the door. She stared below at the doll on the floor, picked her up and then looked around for a moment. “Yeah, real funny, you guys!”, she blurted out of sarcasm. “As if we haven’t seen the films! Ooh! Annabelle knocked on the door. I’m petrified!”
She then closed the door behind her as she mumbled the same slurs against the children and Billy again carefully listened to the sound of her footsteps fainting away.
“Now, till this point, it’s all predictable”, he whispers.”It’s what I’d like to call ‘The Foreplay'”
He then stepped in front of the door and whispered “This one is what I’d like to call…” He then knocked thrice “‘The Prestige'”
The woman opened the door mumbling some atrocities.
“Trick r’ treat?”, said the large Annabelle doll in front of her. She froze for a while, all her anatomy shivering at the sight in front of her. She screamed at the top of her voice, a howl that could even scare away the Hyenas, dropped the doll to the ground and ran inside the house, slamming the door close behind her.
“So you see what I mean when I say real Halloween!”, he says picking up the doll. “It’s not about the candy!”
He moved a few blocks ahead and stopped at an old, tattered house, with a creaky, termite-fed front door.
“This house belongs to the grumpy old Mr. Hinzelmann”, he says carefully stepping inside, without making any noise. “He’s this retired war survivor and shit! Nobody’s ever seen him step outta the house. Everybody says he’s gone nuts and thus nobody dares to go ‘Trick or treating’ him”
He looks around and checks for bystanders, “Which makes him the perfect target!”
Again, he knocks thrice, hides behind the bushes and waits for the old man to arrive. There’s this stern looking aged man who steps out with a walking stick after a while.
“Wha-?”, says Hinzelmann. His voice as thick and guttural as that of a bear. He steps outside and looks around for a while, his other arm supporting his slightly hunched back.
“Hmmm”, he exhales as he steps inside the house and closes the door behind him.
As per the next step, Billy again places the doll in front of the door, knock thrice and sprints away into the bushes, waiting.
The old man again steps out of the house. His face a little flushed and a few tinkles of sweat run down as he looks around and then looks below at the doll. He picks it up, steps outside again, introspecting the surrounding and hurries back inside.
Billy steps in front of the door again and whispers, “Now it looks like our old fella is not so much into cinema.”
“Also since he’s old, our target might be a believer into the ancient myths of ghosts and demons and the Armageddon and shit, so this should be eezy-peezy!” He knocks thrice and this time the door opens at a relatively quicker pace.
“Trick r’ treat?”, says the 9 year old boy, with a grin the size of a T-rex. The old man freezes at the door way and stares at him almost as if his eyeballs might jump out of their sockets. He gasps and inhales a deep breath for what seems to be an eternity.
The little boy smiles and awaits for what was to be his ‘Prestige’.
But not a single ounce of voice comes out from the old man’s mouth.
Hinzelmann exhales out the air, his eyes still staring at the devil in front of him. Inhales again and then pants out of breath, his breathing quicker with each passing second.
He drops his stick and the doll to floor and his hand comes to rest on the part of his chest which concealed his rapidly pacing heart under it. He lurches and staggers and falls to the ground, face first.
His panting stops, his previously trembling body now becomes inert and his flailing arms come to a stand still….
What was first a smile of victory on Billy’s face now changes into bewilderment. All the colour drains from his face as he falls to the ground on his knees.
“HOLY SHIT!”, screams the young boy. “HOLY SHIT!” He tries to press the old man’s chest, something which he saw in the movies.
“Oh man!”, he says constantly pressing his chest with his arms. ” Wake up old man! Wake up!” He looks around and drags the body outside and the door closes behind him, leaving the doll and the stick inside. Streams of tears drip down his cheeks. He sits against the door and buries his face in his hand. “What have I done!”, says the boy. “Oh man!”
Just then, the old man in front of him chortles out. He sits up and chuckles, his laugh as hoarse as his voice. He holds his stomach, tears of joy trinkling down his cheeks as he laughs out of breath.
“Oh boy!”, says Hinzelmann, gasping for air, still chortling a little. “You should’ve seen your face! Oh man!”
Billy stares at the old man in front of him. A hurricane of emotions from fear to agony to embarrassment revel inside him. He breathes a sigh of relief.
“Trick or treat?’, says the old man, still chuckling at the 9 year old boy, dressed as a doll.
Suddenly, a sound from the inside, sets the old man silent! He stared at Billy, who looked as terrified as him. The sound continued and a shiver ran down the old man’s spine. His mouth trembles, but not a single sound comes out of it. He’s scared, the old man. So scared……
Our story ends like all stories end, with a question. If the old man lived alone and he and Billy were outside the house, then who is it (or what is it) that knocked on the door?