It was Halloween, Norma’s favorite day of the year. She couldn’t wait for the night to come when there would be magic in the air. Tonight would even be more special since her parents said there would be a full moon. She loved to see all the scary costumes, and she couldn’t wait to snack on all the goodies after the tide of trick-or-treaters stopped coming.
Her parents had gone shopping, and she had nothing else to do but go to the attic and find the costume she would wear tonight.
Reaching the top of the stairs, she saw a group of boxes near the window with the words “HALLOWEEN” written in black Magic Marker. As she moved closer to them, the ceiling became lower, and she had to crouch to avoid hitting her head on the rafters. Several dead wasps littered the top of the insulation on the floor.
As she started to pull down the carton of Halloween paraphernalia, she noticed the familiar, but weird black box covered in a strange fabric labeled “GRANDMA WILLOW” beside it. Just like last year, the strange box intrigued her and since it was only early afternoon, she decided to rummage through it before selecting her Halloween costume.
Grandma Willow had passed away five years before when Norma was only eight years old. For most of her life, Grandma had lived in a small cottage at the edge of the swamps in Louisiana. When she became too senile to care for herself, she had moved in with them in New Orleans. Norma remembered all the wonderful presents she had given her when she was a little girl, and recalled how Grandma always smelled like cinnamon when she crawled up on her lap to listen to bedtime stories.
Inside the carton, she found a mishmash of souvenirs, old books, boxes of ancient photographs, and several Cabbage Patch dolls. And like last year, she picked up the old diary with yellow, brittle pages and opened it.
Norma knew the diary had belonged to her great, great, great, great Grandma Hecate who her mother said the Puritans burned at the stake during the Salem witch trials. Grandma Willow had told her scary stories about what happened to their beloved ancestor over three hundred years ago. She said it was a terrible time in American history, and very traumatic for the family.
This strange black book always fascinated Norma. She had never seen anything like it. Turning the yellow pages that had come loose from their binding, she marveled at the Satanic passages Grandma Willow said were incantations to various goblins and demons. Much of the writing written in dark red ink looked like blood. She remembered reading some of the passages when she came to the attic last year for her Halloween costume.
Putting Grandma Hecate's diary aside, Norma noticed a small ragged volume tucked vertically between the other books. Pulling it free in a cloud of dust, she began to browse through it. The condition of this book was much worse than the others. The pages were even more dog-eared, had turned almost orange in color, and it was coverless. She immediately assumed it was even older than the black book that dated back to the late seventeenth century. On the top of the first page, someone had written, “To Willow, for your eyes only. Simon.”
Norma didn’t remember seeing this book before and began reading page one with great interest. After a few pages, a strange feeling came over her, and she lapsed into unconsciousness and slumped to the floor.
* * *
When Norma awakened several hours later, she found herself dazed and disoriented with her head resting against the box of Grandma’s Willow's belongings. Night had fallen and turning to look outside, she saw the full moon framed in the window and gasped. She’d never experienced such an odd feeling. She wondered if she’d had an allergic reaction to something in the attic. Had a wasp stung her?
Immediately, she placed the old book on the floor, and struggling to her feet in a stupor, she scurried down the stairs in a panic.
“This was unbelievable,” she thought. She had somehow fallen asleep and had not done one thing her parents had asked her to do to prepare for Halloween, the most important night of the year.
Racing to the cupboard, she grabbed several bags of candy. The kitchen clock read 8:05. She grimaced at the thought she may have missed the entire parade of trick-or-treaters. Most parents would not allow their children to beg for candy later than eight o’clock in this neighborhood.
Norma trudged out on the front porch dejected and disappointed. She doubted anyone would come this late, but, to her surprise, a diminutive zombie dressed like something from the Walking Dead TV show shambled up to the picket fence. A shorter monster wearing a Freddie Krueger costume, complete with plastic knives on his fingers and a fedora hat, stood alongside him ready to spring into the yard.
As the zombie started to pull the catch to open the gate, both monsters spotted Norma sitting in the shadows and froze in their tracks. The zombie withdrew his hand like he’d touched a hot potato, and the two of them ran screaming down the street.
Norma couldn’t understand what had happened. Then, she realized she had completely forgotten to put on her Alice in Wonderland costume, which always lured unsuspecting humans right into her hands. She’d gone to the attic to get it, but forgot to put it on. She had never blundered so badly. The two children had seen her real face, which, understandably, had scared them out of their wits.
Suddenly, over the rooftops, Norma saw two shadows fly across the moon. She felt a sudden chill in the air, and detected the faint smell of brimstone. Then, she heard the familiar voice of her father as her parents swooped down in the front yard and dismounted their broomsticks.
Her mind seemed cloudy as she gathered her thoughts to speak, but before she could utter a word, her mother asked excitedly,” How many trick-or-treaters did you lure into the torture chamber for next year’s meal program?”
Norma continued to sit there looking into space and said nothing.
“Well, how many?” her father barked.
“None,” Norma said blankly.
“None?’” her father shrieked, slamming his chainsaw and hatchet down on the front porch, “I told you not to drink so much of that brew for lunch. You know how much it mellows you. You’ve squandered the most important night of the year.”
His face reddened as he stood fuming and waited for an explanation for Norma’s lack of follow-through. When she still didn’t respond, he continued to rant, “I can’t get over the way you teenagers let so many golden opportunities slip by to make something of yourselves. This was your chance to put your name on the leader board, and what did you do. Zero kills on Halloween. Pathetic. Worse than pathetic. Unconscionable.”
“I’m sorry, Dad. I found two dog-eared books in the attic, which sidetracked me. I think one belonged to great, great, great, great Grandma Hecate from 1683, and the other belonged to Grandma Willow, at least someone had written her name on the inside cover. When I started reading, a strange feeling came over me, and I drifted off to sleep. When I awoke, it was dark, and I felt woozy.”
“I told you the brew was potent. It contains eye of newt,” her mother piped in as a black cat crossed their paths.
“I don’t know, Mother.’ Norma said perplexed, “I’ve been drinking your brew every Halloween, but it never made me feel like this.”
“Well, don’t worry, darling,” the old hag croaked, “We bagged enough of the annoying little creeps for the whole family. We hid them in an abandoned graveyard. They’ll keep nicely until morning, and we can have one for breakfast. You can help us load the rest of their carcasses into the dump truck for cold storage. You’ll feel better after a good nightmare.”
“Did you chop off any of their fingers and toes?” Norma asked, licking her slimy lips, “You know I have a sweet tooth.”
“Yes, we knew you’d want something to snack on this evening,” her mother said, dragging a black sack from behind her back and putting it down on the front porch.
Norma picked out a thumb dog her mother had prepared with sauerkraut and mustard wrapped in a bloody rag and popped it between her fangs, wrapper and all. “Wow! she exclaimed, spitting out a sliver of bone. “This was one of her favorite snacks, but somehow, on this night, it didn’t taste as delicious as usual.
Her father selected a slice of cheek from the bloody stew of body parts in the bag and went inside the house to take a pee and find some salsa for dipping.“
Popping an eyeball soaked in chocolate between her black teeth, her mother knew something was very wrong with her daughter. Norma had barely touched the juicy tongue with some of the roots still attached that most witches would crawl into bed with the devil for, “You’re not yourself tonight, Norma. I’ve never seen you like this.”
“I don’t think it was the brew, Mother. Something came over me when I read Grandma Willow’s old book. Somehow for the first time in my life, I didn’t have my usual craving to butcher the two little trick-or-treaters that came to the gate.”
“For Satan’s sake,” her mother hissed, “ Don’t let your father hear you say that. If he knew a puny mortal came to our yard, and you let him live, he’d go ballistic. We’d be the laughing-stock of the coven, and never live it down.”
“I felt so different after reading that chapter from the book,” Norma swooned as more shadows flew across the moon.
“What was this strange book you found in Granny’s old box?”
Norma looked look up at her mother with a strange light in her eyes and whispered, not wanting her father to hear, “the cover was missing but the inside page read, “Holy Bible”.
This story is from Scary Stories: A Collection of Horror-Vol. 1. Like it? Download the book:
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