During my senior year, we lived at the end of a cul-du-sac, near the edge of some deep woods. Across the street, was a family with two young boys. The Kelsens. I'd sat for them several times. Every time I came over, their mother reminded me that I wasn't allowed to throw parties while they were gone. I don't know what kind of teenager she'd been, but obviously, she held some dark secrets. I on the other hand would never have thought to do such a thing. I didn't mind her strange attitude toward me because her kids were hilarious.
On Halloween that year, their parents were invited to a party. They asked me to watch the boys. I had been looking forward to hanging out with my friends, but I really needed the money, so I agreed.
The boys and I watched some mildly scary movies, and then we carved jack-o-lanterns. They'd gone out trick or treating before I'd gotten there, so there was an abundance of candy which we nearly overdosed on. As the night grew later, the boys fell asleep on the couch. They'd wanted to wait for their parents, but after midnight, I decided to finally lead them up to their bedrooms.
By three am, I'd fallen asleep on the couch myself. I was woken by the sound of knocking on the front door. At first I wondered if it was more trick-or-treaters... LATE trick-or-treaters, but when I saw the boys' parents peering through the window beside the door, I realized my job was just about over. I thought it was weird that they were knocking on their own door, but I answered it anyway, figuring they'd forgotten their keys or something.
When I opened the door, I realized they looked odder than when they'd left the house earlier that night dressed as Sonny and Cher. Now they appeared to be undead versions of the same. Their skin was caked with pale makeup, and fake blood dripped down their chins. I guessed that they'd picked up creepy contact lenses along the way, because their eyes were now milky white. They smiled at me, and I laughed.
"What the hell happened to you guys? Rough night?" I said.
The Kelsens laughed too, but the sound was odd--empty, as if they were humoring me. "You could say that," Mr. Kelsen answered. "We had a makeover once we got there."
"Looks like it."
"You didn't have any of your friends over, did you?" asked Mrs. Kelsen, glancing past me, as if she were hoping I actually had a house full of teenagers hiding in her closets.
"Uh, no." I stepped out of the way, so they could come into their own house. But they continued to stand on the front steps. It suddenly dawned on me that they were playing a game. "Oh, right. I get it. I have to invite you in."
They laughed again. "Yeah," said Mr. Kelsen. "Vampires now." He gestured at his wife and shrugged.
"Ha ha." I moved farther into the hallway, heading toward the living room to grab my jacket and bookbag. But I soon realized they weren't following me. I turned around to find them still waiting on the doorstep. Now they looked angry.
"Uh, Dan, you have to invite us in," said Mrs. Kelsen sharply.
"Okay!"I joked. "I will on my way out." Remembering how she'd treated me earlier-not trusting me-I didn't feel like continuing the joke. I just wanted to get home, and maybe catch the last few minutes of Carnival of Souls on PBS. Besides, I thought what they were doing was just weird. If they didn't want to come into their own house, that was their own prerogative. "The boys were really good tonight. They didn't throw their dirty socks at me this time."
When I came back to the hallway, the front door was closed and the Kelsens appeared to have gone. I wondered if they'd simply entered the house. But I hadn't heard them and hadn't seen them sneak by me. "Hello?" I called, softly, trying not to wake the kids upstairs.
Too late. I heard voices in their bedrooms. I figured their parents had gone up to say good night. I would have just left, but they hadn't paid me yet. I crept up the stairs. I heard the two boys speaking full voice, behind their closed bedroom door. I knocked and the voices stopped. I heard someone say, "Shh."
I opened the door and was struck by a blast of cold air. Between the twin beds, the window was open, the gauzy curtain blowing in the breeze. The children were sitting on their mattresses, facing the window. The older one, Brian, 7 years old, glanced at the younger one, Kyle, 4, as if telling him silently to keep a secret.
All of sudden, Kyle exclaimed, "Mommy and Daddy are outside."
Brian just looked scared. "They told us to let them in, but not to tell you."
"Not to tell me?" I felt my stomach shrink. "Why not?"
"Mommy says you'll make her sleep outside," Kyle answered.
"I wouldn't do that."
"How can they climb up here from down there?"Brian asked. "Why don't they come in the door?"
I rushed to the window and glanced outside. The parents stood in the grass just below the window, staring back at me. Even though I couldn't see their faces, I knew they were smiling those empty smiles. All I could think was that this was a big joke; the whole family must have been in on it. I began to laugh. And simply to end it all, I called out into the darkness, "Alright, come on in!"
I blinked and Mr. and Mrs. Kelsen were gone. From downstairs, I heard a crashing noise, glass breaking. Kyle screamed and scrambled over to his brother's bed. I closed the window and crept to the open door. "Everything okay down there?" I shouted. But no one answered. "I really have to get going. This has been fun and everything, but... do you have my money?" I was actually freaked out, and I figured getting straight to the point would help me work up the nerve to walk home across the street. "Stay here," I whispered to the kids, shutting the door behind me.
Slowly, I made my way down the stairs to the foyer. "Hello?" I said. Still no answer. I peeked into several rooms only to find them empty. Finally, at the back of the house, I noticed that the large sliding glass doors had been smashed. Glass lay on the carpet just inside. Had the Kelsens done this? And why? I suddenly regretted inviting them back into their own house, but then I remembered: there's no such thing as vampires! I reasoned, sure, it was Halloween, I was babysitting, and I was by myself, the perfect reason to go all Jamie Lee Curtis, but come on!
I heard something behind me and spun, but there was no one there. All reason was sucked from my brain. I felt incredibly vulnerable with the night at my back, so I stepped away from the broken glass.
Suddenly, from the living room at the front of the house, I heard voices. It took me several seconds to realize it was the television. Telling myself I had nothing to be afraid of, I peered into the living room and found Mr. and Mrs. Kelsen sitting on the couch. They were watching an informercial. Together, as if they'd been practicing, they glanced at me and smiled, the fake blood glistening red on their teeth.
"Thanks so much, Dan," said Mrs. Kelsen. "Your money's on the table by the front door."
"What about the broken glass?" I asked. "What happened?"
Mr. Kelsen's head lolled. Mrs. Kelsen chuckled. "My husband's had a little too much to drink. Can you show yourself out?"
I certainly could, and I certainly did. I practically ran home.
Safe in my own bedroom a few minutes later, I watched as the light turned off in Brian and Kyle's bedroom. I figured their parents had finally come in to kiss them goodnight.
I got in bed myself, totally freaked out, but I couldn't fall asleep. I kept thinking about what had happened upstairs. Who had opened that window? Why had they woken their children simply to play a practical joke on me?
Eventually, I dozed off, but a couple hours later, a strange noise woke me up again, or so I thought. It was the sound of skin squeaking on glass. I turned to the window closest to my bed and nearly screamed. Brian and Kyle were staring at me from the darkness. "Let us in," they said. "Mommy and Daddy are scaring us." I leapt from my bed and closed the curtain, shutting out what must have been a nightmare. I turned on the lights and hid under the covers. I closed my eyes trying to fall asleep again, but it didn't happen.
The next day, I told my mother what had happened. She didn't believe me and wasn't amused. She called over there, but no one picked up. The car wasn't in their driveway.
A few weeks went by. One day, a for sale sign appeared on the front lawn. Word spread through the neighborhood that the family had packed up and left in the middle of the night.
I never saw them again.
**** MWAH-hahahahah! Real? Fake? Does it even matter? It's Halloween! And this contest is soon to be over... Leave your vote in the comments. I'll be sending an update in the next few days with a list of which stories actually happened... and which I embellished. Stay tuned... xo Dan****