I decorate for Christmas every year, it’s almost a ritual. Halloween passes just about unnoticed. Sure there are advertisements that adorn the local convenience store windows, expounding the exhilaration caused by a visit to the local horror venue or corn maze. Pumpkins and gourds spring across the walkways to many homes, flying sheets permeate the trees, fluffy webs of white stuff speckle lawn furniture, eves and lanterns. But I think we may be doing this wrong. Thinking a little about holidays (at least in the U.S.) each one appears to celebrate a specific human emotion. Valentines Day glorifies love, St. Patty’s Day revels in luck, Thanksgiving has much to do with gratitude, and on and on. Which I believe leaves Halloween with fear. There’s nothing very frightening about children roaming the streets asking neighbors for candy, nothing very chilling about grinning jack-o-lanterns, nothing spine tingling about sexy nurse costumes.
Where has the blood curdling stench of terror gone? Remember the last nightmare you had? The one when you were hiding. The one when you were panting hard, but had to be quiet, had to be silent. The one when it was chasing you. The nightmare when the dark smells from the wet tool shed crawled up your nose. A dim light shines from a street lamp a hundred yards away that you can just see through a crack in the broken door you just ran through. You listen, straining to hear movement from outside, but the rain and wind confuse the sounds. Huddled under a desk, knees to your chest, you can feel your hot breath scape over your hands still grasping the rusty blade you snatched from the table. Your thoughts race about being trapped in the shed now, second guessing the decision to hide and not to keep running. Breathing, panting, huffing, you tighten into a gripping ball of twitching flesh, waiting, wondering, not knowing what is coming, if it’s coming. The heart beats swell like a rapid drum and the ringing in your ears becomes deafening. You are straining to hear. Yearning for this to be over, wondering if the blade will be enough, where to strike, listening, crouching, gripping your only hope tighter… fear.