Short Story
                                        Halloween Trainwreck
                                                            By Shirley Napoleone


Monday, November 11, 2013. 2:48 p.m.

    My most prominent memory of Halloween was when I met a dead man. A 200-year-old dead man. I was
with my two best friends. We had been together since 2nd grade. We have been through some pretty
weird things together.  But I think that moment in the haunted house was our best bonding moment out of
all of them. I know, I know. This could never happen. But I swear it's true. All those stories might tell you
otherwise, but the true retelling of that event is right here. On your screen, in your hands, however you got
ahold of this thing. After you finish reading, look up "Elmer McCurdy." Maybe then you'll believe me.
Nothing tells you you're best friends like bumping into a random dead guy on Halloween.

Monday, October 31, 2013. 7:54 p.m.

    “Come on! At this rate, the line is going to be three blocks long!”

    “Hold on to your hair, I’ll be right down.” I called to my friend Breanna. I brushed sparkly black
eyeshadow onto my eyelids and fixed spiky eyelashes over my own. Black lipstick, and some curly-ques
around my eyes and my gothic fairy costume was complete. I grabbed my bag, adjusted my wings and
corset, and clomped down the stairs in my thigh-high platform boots to meet my friends, Frankenstein and
Bride.

    “You guys look cute together,” I told them when I arrived at the bottom of the stairs.

    “Thanks,” Nathan said. “It was kind of last minute, but I think we pulled it off.” As he put his arm around
Breanna’s shoulders, I could see the fake bolts at his neck slip, then clack to the hardwood, rolling to a
stop at my feet.

    I picked them up, green make-up staining my fingertips. “Maybe not as much as you think.” Nathan
snatched the bolts from my outstretched hand. “My mom has some left-over FX putty in the kitchen from my
brother’s zombie costume. Use that and they’ll last ‘till tomorrow.” He smirked and left the room.

    I turned to Breanna. “Who’s the slow-poke now? Your best friend or your boyfriend?”

    She shoved my shoulder. “Lay off him? He put a lot of effort into his costume. It’s homemade you know?”

    I held my hands in surrender and sat at the bottom of the steps. “Seriously though, both of you look
great. How long did it take you to do your hair?”

    “Three hours and seven cans of hairspray.” She patted the towering black tresses. “But it’ll hold… I
hope. You don't look too bad yourself, Ms. Beautiful Dark Fairy.”

Monday, October 31, 2013. 8:09 p.m.

    We pushed our way down the crowded street towards a house on the corner all decked out with
demons, skeletons, mutants, and even a victim in an electric chair that screamed and struggled whenever
someone strolled by. Luckily, there wasn't too big of a line yet and my group didn’t have to wait long to go
through. After about ten, fifteen minutes, we were in.

    We pushed through the heavy black-out curtain and were greeted with spider webs and pulsing strobe
lights. I blinked against them and lead the pack through the maze. We turned a corner and saw vampires,
ghosts, werewolves in mid-transformation, decapitated humans, ghouls, goblins, trolls, banshees,
mummies, onis (a Japanese version of the devil) the list goes on. And yes, it was as gruesome as you can
imagine it. It was quiet at first... but we didn't get used to it. We had learned, the hard way, that this haunted
house was NEVER easy. But we continued (cautiously) to walk down the aisle with monsters.

    The scenery changed into that of a house, the living room and the kitchen. We stopped when the lights
on the walls started flickering.

    "Get ready to run," Nathan whispered, and no sooner than the words had dropped from his mouth than
an axe murderer jumps out of the dark closet, the weapon dripping with blood and a smeared clown grin
on his face. Breanna screamed as the axe swings toward us, and the lights went out. We back away, only
to find another clown behind us, the classic chainsaw in his bloodied hands. Both guys laughed. We ran
down the hall and through the "back door" in front of us and found ourselves in a laboratory-styled room,
split in half, the left side of the room a control-type area and the right side of the room sectioned off into an
operating room with a chopped-in-half alien bleeding out onto the white table, a man holding a scalpel and
a six-inch needle hovering above the alien's chest.

    A blare of screeching noise, and we turn to see the door slamming shut behind us. We look back to the
right as we hear screaming to see the scientist and victim coming toward us, the alien inching forward on
torso and arms, streaking blood in its trail. The screaming came from its mouth. The man throws the
scalpel, which imbeds in the wall, like, twenty feet from us. The wood behind it swings open and we run
through to find ourselves in the iconic fog-covered graveyard. The door behind us thuds shut and we take a
breather from the fast-paced action that chased us up to this point.

    “They’ve got some great effects this year,” Nathan panted. “But you’d think they would do a better job of
pacing everything. They started pretty early."

    Both Breanna and I let out a whispery “yeah”, too out of breath to speak properly.

    A moan echoes through the space. “Please tell me that was you, Lexus,” Brianna breathed. “I really don’
t want to run again.”

    I shook my head. “Too bad. It wasn’t me. Get your track suit on. I have a feeling we're gonna need a fast
getaway from this one.”

    “Nathan?”

    “Nope. Sorry.”

    “Well, at least this place gets us into shape every time we go.”

    I looked around when the moan came again, looking for the source. All I could see was fog, moss,
gravestones, and more fog. I see, or think I see, the silhouette of a figure through the fog in front of me, but
when I start walking toward it, I hear:

    "Lexus behind you!"

    Someone, or something, grabbed me in a bear hug before I could spin around and lifted me off my feet.
A squeal escaped my lips as I struggled to free myself from its grasp and the monster behind me laughed,
a gruff, cliché, evil laugh. Nathan ran up and shoved the guy off of me. I dropped to the ground and backed
towards my friends. It was a zombie, decked out with rotting clothes and moss, flesh hanging from his
face. He was missing a foot and walked with a limp. Everything about this graveyard was cliché, but that
didn't mean it was any less horrifying. Being chased by the impossible is a lot different when you're sitting
on your couch and watching it. The zombie groaned again and got clumsily to his feet. Answering groans
echoed around us.

    We didn't wait for anyone. Not exactly running, but not walking either, we quickly took the twisting path,
then actually ran as more zombies popped up from the ground and behind gravestones and grabbed as
ankles, legs, and arms. Swinging our way through the vines and stumbling over roots and stray arms until
we felt sure it was safe to stop and slow down for a bit. By the looks of it, the rest of the house was a
graveyard. The haunted house was always fun. No matter how much you complained you were tired from
running away from everything, the adrenaline rush is great and it is a bonding experience with your group.
Nothing says friendship like running from zombies and saving each other from mutants.

    Then I heard Breanna scream and saw her scuttling backwards towards me on her hands and butt,
away from a still figure resting on the floor. Nathan ran up to her and, after a pause, we heard him laugh
nervously.

    "It's just a prop Brianna. A hanged man. It's in pieces now after your tangle with it." In the dim light, I
could see he was right. The noose was swinging behind him. Nathan picked up a fallen hand and started
waving it in our faces.

    "Ahhhhhh! It's got me!" He managed to coax another scream from Breanna, then moved over to me.
"Help me Lexus. The dead man's got me. The dead man's got me!" I snarled and slapped the limb from
his grasp. It hit the floor with a dull thud. Breanna and I stared at it while Nathan laughed his head off. I
picked the hand up and inspected it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Breanna get up and go over to the
rest of the prop. But we weren't so sure it was a prop. Plastic makes a sharp sound when it hits the floor
and it doesn't flop around. Feeling it, the outside was leathery and there was something hard inside.

    "It's a body! It's an actual dead body! And it's naked!" Breanna shrieked.

    I dropped the hand.

    "No it's not, what are you talking about?" asked Nathan. He walked over to the body. "Umm... Maybe
we should get out of here."

    Breanna squealed. "Why is there an actual dead body in the haunted house?"

    I joined them at the body's side. Nathan was right, after Breanna's snarl with the body, it had fallen to the
floor and separated into pieces. The head, torso, right arm, and left leg were in a jumble. The body was
shriveled, all of it, the skin tight against the bones. It looked like whoever it was died of starvation.

    "I think that they thought it was just a prop, like we did." I said. "But I don't understand why they didn't
realize what it actually was when they were carrying it in here."

Monday, October 31, 2013. 9:01 p.m.

    We didn't call the police, the owners of the house did. We exited the house and went straight up to Mr.
and Mrs. Bureau and they called the police. They arrived within minutes. Detectives were with them. They
taped off the whole house and everyone was forced to leave. We, along with everyone who had entered
the house, were questioned. We were talked to a lot longer than anyone else. When they finally got all the
answers they needed, we were free to go.

    "Who was the dead guy? I asked the cop who interrogated us.

    "The man was named Elmer McCurdy. The on-site autopsy tells us he was from the nineteenth century.
Our researchers have discovered that he was a train robber who was killed in a shootout with the sheriff
during a theft. We know that his body went to a mortician, who embalmed the body and put it on display to
help his business. How it came to be in a Halloween store, we have no clue. We think that some men who
ran a sideshow managed to convince the mortician that they were relatives of McCurdy and the mortician
handed over the body, but the sideshow disbanded and the body was sold to a pawn shop, who then sold
it to a props maker. The props maker gave the ‘prop’ to the store where your neighbors bought a dead
man. Literally."
About Shirley Napoleone

Shirley Napoleone is a
freshman at the Orange
County School of the Arts
in Santa Ana,
California. In her free time,
she enjoys hiding in her
room with her computer
and music. She is a
major bookie, and a nerd
at heart when it comes to
fangirling. She lives in
California with her
parents, two younger
siblings, two dogs, and a
fish.
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