by Aaron Rodriguez
“Okay, Serena, what good is hiding inside a closet going to do?” Bailey, my younger sister, says over the phone as I smile at the tv screen in my living room. A frantic Jamie Lee Curtis crouches inside a closet as Michael Meyers finds her in Halloween. I reach out to my coffee table for a skull sugar cookie.
“She’s playing Laurie Strode, it’s not like she’s not going to make it.” I say between bites and push my witch hat back to get it out of my eyes.
“True, they need her for Halloween 27. I don’t know how you takes these movies seriously.”
“We should do this more often.” I say.
“What? Watch the same movie at different locations?”
“No! I mean take the time to talk more. I know you’re busy with studying interior design and nursing school on my end equals no social life but we should try anyway.”
“I should be free next weekend.” Bailey says.
As Michael Meyers breaks through the closet door on screen, my doorbell rings.
“Hang on, I think I have some trick or treaters.” I reach for a plastic cauldron half-full of candy corn and licorice.
“This late? You kept your Jack-O-Lantern on, didn’t you?” I can almost hear her pursing her lips.
“Excuse me for being festive.” I roll my eyes. “Happy Hallow-” To my surprise, there is no one there when I open my front door. I look down the walkway and either side of the porch. No one in sight. The Jack-O-Lantern sits on the first step, most of the candle inside it has melted. Across from us I can see my neighbor Evan dressed as a wolf on his patio, flirting with a girl in a cat costume. He holds his door open when a guy in a skeleton costume and a top hat walks up. I close the door.
“False alarm.” I say and slump onto the couch.
“What do you mean?” Bailey yawns. Jamie Lee Curtis whimpers on screen.
“No one there. Probably a prankster. Although there’s a party next door that looks like it’ll run late.”
“You should have just gone to that. Instead of handing out candy by yourself.” Bailey huffs.
“I wasn’t alone, Jen was here earlier but she had to give her brother a ride. She made these delicious skull cookies. Besides, I’ve spoken to my neighbor maybe twice. I barely know the guy.”
The doorbell rings again. I look back at the door.
“Someone just rang again.” I take a second to look at my living room window.
“Do you think it could be some stinker from the party?”
“Maybe. Hang on.” I walk over and look through the peephole. No one. I lock the security chain and open the door. All I can hear is a faint breeze and some laughing coming from the party.
“There’s no one there, Bailey.” I close the door.
“That’s odd. I’m sure it’s someone who’s messing around.”
“Let’s hope so.” My blacks boots clack on the wooden floor as I walk back to the the kitchen and look out the window above the sink.
“It’s too dark to see out in the back.” I tell Bailey. I try the knob of the kitchen door. I gasp when I notice it’s unlocked.
“What?! Did you see something?” Bailey tries to hide the bit of panic in her voice.
“My kitchen door was unlocked but I don’t remember if I locked it to begin with. Shoot. I’ll call you back.”
“Don’t forget, Serena! Otherwise I’ll think something bad happened. That Megan girl that disappeared last summer after that metal concert. Her body still hasn’t been found.”
“Thanks for the reminder.” I sigh and click END. I slowly open the kitchen door. An orange envelope sits on the square of pavement in front of me. It’s too dark to see anything else. I pick it up as fast as I can and pull out a white square that says “BOO!” in sharpie.
“This isn’t funny!” I yell into the darkness and turn on the flashlight on my phone and I gasp when I see a tall man in black, wearing a skull mask.
He lunges toward me from the darkness.
I scream and rush back inside.
I swing the kitchen door closed and try to lock it with my shaking hand but he shoves it open. I push over a chair behind me before reaching for a knife from a wooden cutlery block and run out of the kitchen as fast as I can. I reach my front door and can hear the running footsteps coming behind me. I’m unlocking the security chain when I see him coming at me, a butcher knife in his hand.
I scream and I bolt for the stairs as his knife dives at me, and I feel a fiery sting when the edge slices into my forearm.
“Stop, please!” I yell as I’m running up. He’s right behind me and he grunts as he grabs my black dress and pulls me back before I can reach the second floor. I land on his body, and stab violently with my knife. The blade punctures his hand. As he reels, I kick him in the chest, and he lets me go for the quickest of seconds. I run back upstairs, and don’t dare look behind me. I shove through my bedroom door, slamming it, and locking it. The blood running down my arm paints the wall as I turn on the light switch.
I look for ways to escape. I see the window, but it’s too late. I hear footsteps outside my door. I throw myself into the deepest corner of my closet. I adjust blankets in front of me and crouch as much as I can.
I dial 911.
“911, what’s is your emergency?” The operator says.
The door bursts open. I’m afraid to utter a word. If I risk saying something out loud, would it matter if it got me killed? The closet door opens. Why is this happening to me? I don’t want to die like this.
My body shakes. My eyes water.
“Serena, what good is hiding inside a closet going to do?” A familiar female’s voice says.
The blankets in front of me topple down. I look up and gasp at the sight of a girl in a black spandex jumpsuit and a black mask that only covers her eyes standing before me. She taps an orange envelope against her leg and takes off her mask.
“…What’s going on?” I say between gasps.
“Happy Halloween, big sister.” She smiles.
“What is this?” I wipe the tears from my eyes and clutch my legs tight, still seated in the closet.
“It was a prank,” she replies. “I sent my friend Eric before me to drop the envelope on your back door. He rang your doorbell.”
“…A prank? Your friend Eric?” I stand slowly.
“Yes, the guy with a matching mask,” Her eyes look concerned. “He’s about this tall.”
Bailey holds her hand up above her head to show Eric’s height.
“You do know the difference between me and a boy, right?” she prods.
“The one here… he… He wasn’t wearing a mask like yours…” I shake my head, climb to my feet–still shaking–and step out of the closet.
“Serena, you’re bleeding!”
I look down and watch the blood drip off my arm and onto the carpet beneath me. There’s a damp, crimson pool where I huddled in the closet. I feel a little woozy.
Suddenly, there are footsteps running up the stairs and I raise the knife in my hands.
As another figure steps into the doorway I hold the knife out like a defensive scorpion.
“Serena!” Bailey yells. “It’s only Eric!”
A young man, out of breath, stands in the doorway rubbing his head. He is wearing a similar getup to Bailey and a matching mask.
“Eric, she’s bleeding, the plan was to scare her not get her killed. I mean what were you think–”
“Bailey, I didn’t do this.” He takes off his mask and his widened eyes are filled with alarm. “I dropped off the orange envelope in the back like you told me but someone hit me. I couldn’t see who it was but they came from behind me and all I felt was someone hit me on the head before I blacked out. When I came to I saw the kitchen door was open and everything was trashed.”
“It wasn’t him, Bailey.” I say.
“What are you talking about, Serena?”
“It wasn’t him,” I whisper, dialing 911 again. “This monster was taller, was built differently, and he had a skull mask.”
“911, what is your emergency?” A male operator says.
“Hello, I have to report an intruder. A man broke in and tried to kill me. I’m afraid he might still be nearby.” I say into the phone. I clutch the knife close to me.
“If it wasn’t you, Eric…” Bailey trails off.
“4345 Cedar Street,” I tell the operator. “Please hurry.”
I put the phone down and walk into the hallway.
I gaze at the stairs before I place a foot the first step. The doorbell rings and I jump. Bailey and Eric come out of the bedroom.
“That’s the police, I’m sure,” Bailey says. She walks ahead of me and opens the door.
“Bailey, be careful,” I plead as she looks into the peephole.
“Yes, it’s them. Thank God!” She opens the door and lets two policemen in. As she begins to explain what happened, I slowly walk into the kitchen and scan the scene that the kitchen has turned into. I can’t help but feel as if someone is staring at me. I look out the kitchen window. My heart races, and I jump back.
The skull mask is out there, looking right at me.
“Officers, in here!” I yell. I turn around to look for a new weapon with which to arm myself. The policemen rush in with Bailey and Eric following cautiously behind them. By the time I turn back to the window again the mask is gone, and the only thing visible is darkness.
Aaron Rodriguez is a writer, fashion stylist, and horror movie addict in Denver, Colorado. Whether he’s working on pitches at 303 Magazine, drinking coffee around the city, or shopping for anything in black, you can follow what he’s up to on Instagram @BlankCanvasFashion