I’ve always enjoyed Halloween. It’s a great holiday, it’s fun, and above all, I like getting scared. All these reasons make it like Christmas for me and my family. My parents actually like it as much as me. Besides trick-or-treating, they’d watch horror movies with me and take me to all the local haunted attractions. Even when I got older, my parents still practiced the same traditions with my little brother Jamie. And I gladly joined… for the most part.

But at a certain point, I wanted to do something different. I was now seventeen and about to turn eighteen in February. My senior year was passing me by, and I was still awkward. I didn’t have much experience dating, I didn’t have any cool friends. There was no partying or wild drunken nights. I was Cassie Mercer. Your future valedictorian. And a complete nerd.

I guess I was pretty. Even with glasses and anxiety, I knew I could attract guys. But it didn’t seem to matter much at Stanwyck High. I was too smart, too different. Too weird. All the other girls made fun of me. Guys never paid attention to me. All I could really do was seek attention on-line. And even then, I never got the nerve to meet anyone in person.

And so most of my Halloweens were spent with my family. I mean I’m not complaining. They’re awesome and love the holiday just as much as I do. And Jamie is so awesome! Even with the ten year age difference, we were always very close. After all, my loneliness gave me plenty of time to babysit. And I did my best to be a great older sister. Plus, he can thank me for getting him into horror!

But deep down, I wanted to participate in those really wild and crazy Halloweens I’d seen in the movies. You know, the costume parties, the booze, the fun… the sex! So yeah, there’s nothing wrong with me chilling with my family every Halloween. Taking Jamie out trick-or-treating, seeing all the decorations, indulging in our horror movie marathons. It’s nice to spend time with them… but not every year. Not when I was seventeen and still a damn virgin.

And this year, Halloween was gonna be on a Friday night. Everyone at school had all these sick parties going on. And I wasn’t invited to a single fucking one. What a shock.

However, there was a difference this year. I finally had someone. Yes, Cassie Mercer finally got a boyfriend. Okay, we’d only been dating a few months but still! David was something, man.

He’d moved to Stanwyck over the summer. And once I laid eyes on him, I gladly became his study partner. As we got to know one another, he saw through my glasses and geekiness. He complimented me on how pretty I was. And did I mention how pretty he was! His bright blue eyes, that long brown hair. We even wore equally dorky clothes! Band tees, skinny jeans, thrift shop finds. And oh yeah, he loved horror movies!

David even put up with my parents and Jamie. He really liked us. Regardless of dad’s watchful eyes and mom’s enforced curfews, David enjoyed being around them.

My frustrations only stemmed from us not having the time to be intimate. I mean yeah, we sexted and talked about doing it on the phone. But David’s parents rarely let me come over. And well, you know how my folks were. They wouldn’t let us out of their sight for more than a few seconds. Like I said, I love my family to death, but they could be overprotective af. No wonder I was still a virgin.

But this Halloween was gonna be different. My parents were going trick-or-treating with Jamie like always. Only this time, I was staying home. At first, I was surprised they didn’t question my decision. Maybe the realization their daughter was seventeen made them ease off for once. Plus, they knew David was helping his dad with their thrift-shop-turned-haunted-house. He’d be working way too late for him to pay me a visit… at least, that’s what they thought. You see, me and David had this mapped out. Mom and dad always left at seven. And they wouldn’t be home till close to midnight. Around seven-thirty, David would show up on my doorstep like the knight in shining armor he was. And then the hot Halloween sex would begin right then and there!

I hated lying to my parents. But come on, this was me and David’s big chance! Two virgin horror fanatics on Halloween night. The timing was too perfect!

Besides, it’s not like I hadn’t spent the previous two weeks celebrating the holiday with Jamie anyway. We’d watched *Scream* the previous night, and I even went with him and the folks to Pope’s Haunted Farm last Saturday. So yeah, I could afford to share the Halloween joy with someone other than them. Especially with David…

We lived out in the country, so there’d be no trick-or-treaters interrupting us. No distractions other than a Netflix-fueled horror movie marathon. Just me and my lover alone in the house.

On that Halloween evening, my parents stayed busy helping Jamie get ready. This year, he was Ghostface from *Scream*. The mask was a little big for him, but overall, he had a kick-ass costume. Growing up, I’d been everything from Jason to Samara, so I was glad to see Jamie carry on the Mercer family tradition of dressing up as scary shit.

Throughout the evening, I got to see Jamie get his jack-o-lantern bag ready for action. Dad set up his phone’s playlist of Halloweens jams. And mom fill up her travel mug with red wine.

They were all so excited. And as I sat on the couch watching *Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood*, I wondered if maybe I was making a mistake by skipping the journey.

But then my phone vibrated, and I saw that text from David: You ready baby? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yeah, I wasn’t making a mistake. Fuck Randy’s rule about never having sex to survive a horror movie. Tonight, I was getting laid.

I texted David back: They’re about to leave. Be here at 7:30.

I got a quick reply: 4 sure.

My body was lit with excitement. I looked up at the T.V. just in time see Jason shove a party noisemaker into a woman’s eye. Nice timing.

“Getting your Halloween fix, Cassie?” a voice erupted.

Startled, I jumped back and saw my dad enter from the hallway.

Behind his own huge glasses, he smiled at me. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said, recovering from the scare. My gaze shifted to my phone as I sent David another message: Get here soon, boo.

“Well, your last chance to come with us,” dad said.

I looked out a living room window. Here it was not even seven o’clock and our front yard was shrouded in darkness aside from the glowing Halloween decorations. With trees as our only neighbors, our property resembled an exhibit from Pope’s Haunted Farm. Say this actually was getting kinda spooky…

I looked over and saw mom lead Jamie into the room. “Okay,” she said, flustered. She held Jamie’s pumpkin bag and her travel mug.

Jamie struggled to keep his oversized Ghostface mask from sliding downward. “It won’t stay on!”

“I got it,” mom told him.

Amused, I watched her lean down and place her drink on the ground. With motherly devotion, she re-did his mask, positioning it just right.

“Hang in there, kiddo,” dad comforted Jamie.

I smiled at the sight. With that huge mask on, Jamie resembled a Funko-Pop-doll Ghostface.

“I’m ready to go,” Jamie pleaded.

In the living room, we all looked like a Halloween cult congregation. Our house’s decorations weren’t as flashy as the figurines and fake graveyard outside, but they were still impressive. Old movie posters, plastic severed limbs, a giant rat, and a mechanical ghost that would go off anytime a loud noise was heard. The decorations proudly accompanied all our family photos. Only during Halloween and Christmas, did mom dare let anything steal the spotlight away from me and Jamie’s framed school pictures.

Bowls of candy conquered the coffee table. That and a Digiorno pizza had been my supper.

Mom looked over at *Friday The 13th VII*. A weed whacker death made her wince. “Oh boy.” She faced me, concerned. “You sure you’ll be okay here by yourself?”

“Yeah,” I groaned. A vibration distracted me. David’s latest text: I’ll be there soon. Wait 4 me

“You sure you won’t get too scared?”

“No, mom!” I stated as I worked on a reply.

“Alright, don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

“Y’all already did.” I sent a text to David: You better not be late! Or else.

Wrapping his arm around her, dad gave mom a kiss on the cheek. “Come on, she’ll be fine.”

With cute sassiness, Jamie threw up his hands. His mask tilted to the side. “Are we going yet?”

Laughing, Dad straightened Jamie’s mask. “Yeah, time to trick-r-treat.”

I saw them walk toward the entryway. As I heard Jamie yell with glee and my family get closer to the front door, my sentimental side won out.

Even when I got another text from David, I ignored it to follow after my family. “Hey, wait!” I called to them.

They opened the door, and the cool October breeze swept in like an invading force.

On the porch, we stopped next to a jack o’lantern. There, I said goodbye to my parents and Jamie. I lifted Jamie’s Ghostface mask up and gave him a kiss on the forehead.

“Get some candy,” I told him.

“I will!” was his enthusiastic response. “For me and you!”

I felt another text arrive in my pocket, but I ignored it. For now. I wasn’t gonna let my family leave without telling them I loved them. That was like a compulsion for me. I guess it’s hereditary.

*(Don’t Fear) The Reaper* blared through the quiet night.

My mom jumped, spilling some of her wine. She gave my smirking dad a light punch on the shoulder. “Really!”

Dad silenced his phone. He’d already kicked off his Halloween playlist. “Alright, it’s seven o’ clock,” he said. He wrapped an arm around Jamie.

Dad gave me a kiss on the cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” I told him.

Mom hugged me. “Lock the door.” She looked into my eyes like an authoritative cop. “And please. Be safe, Cassie.”

“I will. I love you.”

“Come on, let’s go!” we heard Jamie calling.

Grinning, mom gave me another quick hug. “Just call us if you need anything!”

“Okay,” I said. Smiling, I watched her follow dad and Jamie to the SUV. We always had problems saying goodbye. Or maybe we just weren’t used to it.

After they drove off, I went back inside. The house was so quiet without them. All I heard was the *Friday The 13th* theme. Honestly, I was kinda hoping to see Jamie run out and scare me in that *Scream* outfit.

My phone buzzed me back to the present. I checked it and saw an incoming phone call from David.

Excited, I answered. “Hey, babe,” I said.

“Hey, what’s up?” I heard his sexy, deep voice say.

“Nothing much.” I walked back into the living room. Just in time to see the battle between Jason and Telekinetic Tina. “Just waiting on you…”

“I know,” David said, his voice awkward. “I’m sorry I’m running a little late…”

I groaned. “You said seven-thirty!”

David sighed. “I know, babe, but dad’s got me doing shit out here. I-” Static and commotion broke him up. Like the sound you hear off a broken radio feed. A disc jockey’s white noise.

“I can’t hear you, babe.”

The static straightened out. As if David had just hopped into a steadier zone. “My bad. Everyone’s talking to me. Can you hear me?”

“Yeah.”

“I was saying I can’t get anyone to help till eight.”

I shook my head. Couldn’t his dad release him? It was fucking Halloween night…

“Look, I’ll be there by eight-thirty,” David tried to reassure me.

I could hear the subtle desperation in his voice. “Eight-thirty?” I asked.

“At the latest!” David pleaded. “I promise.”

“They’re gonna be back by midnight.” Still pissed, I grabbed the remote and accessed Netflix. My queue was filled with horror flicks we’d planned to watch at some point. Specifically, we were supposed to watch *Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers* and *H2O* tonight. Two of my personal favs.

On the other end, I heard David’s weary sigh. “I know, baby,” he said apologetically. “I’ll make it up to you.”

I couldn’t help but smile. For all his sexiness, his sensitive side was pretty cute. “Hmm, will you now?”

“Yeah,” he said with a sly chuckle. “I’ll rush over there and take my time with you.”

The cold October air melted off my tingling flesh. This was getting hot. “I won’t,” I replied, keeping my voice steady. “As soon as you get here, I’m pouncing all over your sexyass.” I let out a mock growl.

David laughed. “You can pounce on anything you want, Cassie.”

A beaming smile overtook my face. “So you want me to save Curse for you?”

“Naw, go ahead and start without me. I’ll be there soon.”

“Alright.” I mashed play on *Curse*. “But you better get here.”

And then I heard the weird static again. David’s voice was breaking up. His deep voice resembled a distorted monster.

I pressed the phone closer to my ear. “Babe, I can’t hear you! Where are you?”

After a few seconds, the reception got better. I heard voices and shouting in the background. I figured his dad’s haunted house was hopping in this All-American town. Hell, mom and dad were probably heading that way right now.

“I’m still at the store,” I finally heard David say.

“You sound busy?”

“Yeah, but I’ll be there at eight-thirty!” David promised. “I love you!”

“I love you too!”

“Let me text you.” I heard a loud male voice hollering at David. “Dad’s calling me. I love you, babe.”

As I heard David lower the phone, I could hear more static and yelling. David’s loud footsteps blared toward my ears. I though I even heard a kid scream. And then David hung up.

Smirking, I lowered the phone. That place must’ve been a madhouse.

I glanced toward the flatscreen. Michael Myers had just stuck a doctor on a sharp spike.

They better let David off, I thought. Those trick-or-treaters can let someone else scare them. David was mine.

Determined, I sent David a new message: 830, babe.

I leaned back on the couch. Armed with my candy corn, I got ready to watch Michael Myers hack up more motherfuckers.

Ninety minutes later, I reached the movie’s confusing ending. Here it was almost nine o’clock and David still wasn’t here. Michael had killed off over ten people during that same time. Yet David had not gotten off work and made the fifteen trip to see me. I knew he cared about me but still… what was the hold-up, man?

As the end credits played, I checked my messages. Sure, David had kept in touch. He’d sent me all the usual I’m almost done, gimme a few more mins, I love u babe, etc. He’d also made a slow crawl from promising to be here at 830 to 835 to 845 to 9 to his latest message: I’ll be there soon.

Fuck, he couldn’t even give me a number now.

I was also worried since mom and dad hadn’t been responding to my texts. I figured they were busy. After all, Jamie on Halloween night could be a handful. Plus, he had that huge mask that needed to be constantly straightened. Mom was also probably drunk by now. And dad was busy with his epic playlist. Oh well… at least, I knew I might have more time with David when he finally got here.

The flatscreen shifted back to my queue. And with John Carpenter’s scary score over for the time being, all I heard was silence. At first, I felt lonely. Here it was another Halloween night and there were no parties for Cassie. No sex. And I’d eaten over twenty pieces of candy corn… ugh. If I’d gone with mom and dad, at least I wouldn’t feel like utter shit. I’d be having fun with them.

Clutching my phone, I glanced out a window. Nothing but darkness lurked outside. No headlights. No sign of my knight in shining armor. I was all alone out here in the country.

I looked at our decorations. They now morphed from cute and quirky to creepy. The hovering ghost stared down upon me like an imposing statue. All the figurines’ eyes seemed to follow me as if they were haunted paintings. I was trapped in this Halloween museum. And the exhibits looked ready to take over. Fear overtook my loneliness. I needed a welcome distraction from the isolation.

Right before I could hit play on *H2O*, I heard a faint noise shatter through the silence. Or faint noises, I should say. I heard shuffling and movement.

Uneasy, I stood up and listened closely. The noises remained low and faint, but I could hear them. I heard a slight sliding noise. Like a box was being pushed along the floor. I thought I heard a murmur as well. And all of this was coming from behind me. Like someone was living within the walls.

What the fuck! I thought. I looked toward the hallway. The noises may have been low, but I could trace them there. Our basement door was the closest door to the living room.

With cautious footsteps, I walked up to it. Through the deafening silence, I listened to those noises. I could hear faint scratching… maybe it was a mouse?

As I stopped at the door, I no longer heard anything. No more shuffling or whispers. But that didn’t ease my fear any. My frightened eyes gazed upon the tall wooden door as if it were a gateway to Hell. I forced myself to reach for the knob.

A strike of a vibration made me jump back.

“Fuck!” I yelled. I looked down at my buzzing phone. David was calling. And all of a sudden, all the tense fear I felt vanished. His call may as well have been a squad car pulling in. My excitement returned.

Grinning, I answered. “Hey, where are you?”

“I just pulled up,” his cool, deep voice soothed me. Ooh, that voice… I couldn’t wait to hear it while we did other things.

Eager, I walked toward the entryway. “Okay, I’ll meet you out front.” I didn’t wanna sound too giddy, but fuck it, I’d been waiting all night. All high school for that matter.

“Sweet.” Somehow, David made that one word reply charming. I figured he was hiding his excitement like I was. But we both knew we wanted the same thing.

I hung up and opened the front door. I couldn’t help but grin.

David stood out on the front porch. He wore a blood-stained mechanic’s uniform, his pretty face hidden by a hokey werewolf mask.

My chuckles echoed through the cool night.

Feigning confusion, David raised his gloved hands. “What? I can’t scare you?”

I reached toward him. “Come here,” I said. With authority, I pulled his sexyass in.

In the living room, David revealed a bottle of wine he had hidden behind his back. The booze was more classy than most of the cheap ones I’d seen my classmates drinking when I creeped on their Facebooks.

I grabbed it, impressed. “Not bad.”

David tore off his mask. “Yeah, I stole it from dad.”

Sweat dripped off the mask. Hell, it was all over David’s face for that matter. Even with the chilly weather, David looked like he’d just run a marathon. Then again, chasing after kids was no joke.

Laughing, I felt on his chest. “I can tell you’ve been working hard.”

“Yeah.” He wiped sweat off his brow. “I’m sorry I’m late. Fucking dad had me running everywhere.”

“No, you’re fine.” I felt along the uniform’s fake blood stains. Mostly the ones covering his crotch and ass. “Nice costume.”

Smirking, David held my hands back. “You got a towel?”

“Yeah.” I placed the wine on the coffee table.

“We were fucking packed.” David pulled off his gloves, revealing sweaty palms. The red-spattered gloves leaked more sweat than a football player’s.

I put my phone in my pocket as I stepped toward David.

He gave me that sexy smile. “Sorry I’m sweating.”

I wrapped my arms around him. “It’s okay.” Seductive, I caressed his face. “We’ll be sweating more anyway.”

David chuckled. “For sure.” He gave me a sweet kiss. Even with the sweat and blood stains, I didn’t care. That costume would be coming off soon enough.

“I’m not afraid of the big bad wolf,” I teased.

Playful, David let out a howl.

I laughed. I was lost in his bright, piercing eyes. And that body…

Holding up the gloves and wolfman mask, David stepped away from me. “Let me put these up real quick.”

“Clean yourself up, sexy.” I stood there and admired that booty as he walked toward the bathroom. My huge smile couldn’t be suppressed. I hadn’t been this excited since I saw *It* opening night.

Moments later and there we were. Me and David on the couch. Glasses of wine in our hands. The lights turned off. *H2O* on the T.V. Talking about my kind of romantic evening.

We had a blast over the next hour. Laughing. Holding hands. Getting scared at *H2O’s* best scenes.

With all the fun, I’d lost track of my parents. I never once bothered to check my phone to see if they’d called or texted me back. I was too preoccupied with my boo. And I knew we still had several more hours together…

We started making out. I could tell he was awkward. How I’d managed to intimidate such a hottie, I’ll never know. So, for once, I took charge. Maybe the alcohol made me brave, I don’t know and I don’t care. All I know was I was compelled by my sexy boyfriend.

I pulled David in close for the ferocious yet seductive kiss. And from there, we were off…

I’d awakened a beast inside each of us. Serenading me with kisses, David felt all along my body. I moaned as I placed my glass on the table, spilling some of the booze. After all, I wanted to feel on him too.

The *Halloween* theme played on as our make-out session got steamier. Fueled by an unleashed sexuality, I pushed David back and leaped on top of him.

I could see in David’s eyes he was impressed and even nervous. I knew he was a virgin too, so maybe I was being too extra? But fuck it, like I cared!

“You like that?” I whispered in my best attempt at a sultry tone.

Judging by David’s smoldering stare, my attempt must’ve been hot enough. “Oh yeah, baby.”

I felt along his “costume.” All the way down to his bulge. I leaned in closer toward that cute face. “Time to take off the uniform, wolfman.”

“Go right ahead.”

With frenetic hands, I looked for his belt or the zipper or anything. I groaned. Why the fuck was his costume so complicated?

David laughed. “I got it.” He started to unbutton his shirt.

Right before David could reveal the sexy body under the ugly clothing, the shuffling I heard earlier echoed toward me once more. I heard the same muffled groans. The same sliding noises. Even some vague footsteps.

Startled, I looked over at the basement door. Even with the movie’s soundtrack playing, I could hear those noises. They interrupted the intimacy with more sudden abruptness than my parents ever could.

David looked at me, confused. “Cassie, what’s wrong?”

I stared on at the basement as the sounds persisted. They were getting louder. “Did you hear that?” I asked him, my eyes glued to the hallway.

“I don’t hear shit.” David leaned up and followed my gaze. “What is it-”

Trying to focus, I shushed him.

Out the corner of my eye, I noticed him shaking his head in frustration.

But I didn’t care. Something was making strange noises in my basement. And it wasn’t just a mouse either. Listening more intently, I thought I heard more boxes tumbling down there.

Even with my own boyfriend next to me, I felt uncomfortable. The sheer joy of the night had plummeted into an atmosphere of lingering unease.

David grabbed my arm. “Babe.”

“Hold on!” I pulled away from him and muted *H2O*.

“What are you doing!” an agitated David demanded.

Confronting him, I pointed toward the hallway. Toward the basement. “Listen!”

The noises were so damn loud. I knew he had to hear them. The shit was a chorus of rustling. Who the fuck was down there… or what the fuck was down there?

I heard the groans. The scattered footsteps. The sliding. I thought I heard shit being kicked and bumped around. It almost sounded like someone was making these noises on purpose. Like someone was trying to bait us to go down there…

I saw the terror strike David’s face as well. His sexy grin and the glint in his eyes evaporated right before me.

“Holy shit!” he said in a trembling voice.

“I heard it earlier.”

David stood up and marched toward the hallway.

Now what the fuck was he doing! I got up and chased after him. “David!”

Even with the unsettling sounds swirling all around us, David entered the hall. I don’t know what he was thinking. He was a prettyboy. Not a tough guy.

“David, wait!” I pleaded. I stopped him in the hallway. Right in front of the basement door. “Fucking stop.”

Behind that door, I heard the basement’s wooden floor erupt in creaks.

David yanked his arm away away from me. “I’m just gonna go check!”

“Are you fucking stupid!”

Amused by my heightened paranoia, he flashed me that sly smile. “What?”

I shoved him back. “Don’t go in there!”

Still smirking, he caressed my shoulders. “Look, Cassie, I’m just gonna go check, alright.”

“No, David! That’s fucking crazy!”

“Look, it’s probably nothing, alright.” He motioned toward *H2O’s* chase scene playing on the flatscreen. “All these scary movies just got you worrying, babe.”

Upset, I swatted his hands away. “And you’re acting like the assholes who get killed in them!”

In the heat of our first fight, I realized the noises had stopped. But I still didn’t want David going down there. Especially when I’d be left by myself.

Like the soothing boyfriend he was, David held his hands out toward me, giving me my space. Like a reassuring counselor. “Look, they’re just movies, babe.”

I avoided facing him. To think an avid horror movie fanatic like me was about to do something this stupid…

“I mean it’s probably nothing,” David continued. “Just let me check, and I’ll come back up.”

Holding back frightened tears, I confronted the basement door.

“I don’t even hear anything now,” I heard David’s calm voice tell me.

But it didn’t comfort me any.

“Let me go with you,” I pleaded. I faced David, my quirkiness replaced by a stern seriousness. The same look I had when I tutored him in the library or helped him on his papers. “Please, David.”

David hesitated. “Babe, just stay right here.”

“But you said it’s safe-”

I felt his strong grip squeeze my shoulder. A strong yet supportive grip. “It is safe. I just wanna be sure.”

His radiant blue eyes always convinced me. I realized David was just trying to protect me. He cared.

And so I relented. I let my boo go down into the basement by himself. But not before I handed him my mom’s butcher knife. No way I was letting him go down there empty-handed. Like he said, I’d seen too many movies.

David opened the basement door and made his way down the creaky steps.

There was a dim light at the bottom of the stairs. But I couldn’t see shit from where I stood. All I could do was watch David descend into that crypt of a cellar.

“I love you,” I cried out to him.

David turned and gave me a reassuring smile. “I love you too, babe.”

And with that, he disappeared from view.

I waited a few tense moments. Whether it was him crying for help, those mysterious noises, or even David just hollering that everything was okay, I wanted to hear something. But I got nothing. Just the unnerving silence of a Halloween night.

I had to take my mind off the dread. Turning, I looked back at *H2O*. Even on mute, the movie’s eerie scenes weren’t helping. Much like how hearing the noises distracted me from David stripping down, not even the wine was tempting me at this point. What a night… and I knew by the time this shit was settled, mom and dad would be home.

Thinking of my family, I saw my phone laying on the coffee table. I snatched it up. For once, I wouldn’t mind an intrusive call from them right about now. Just to hear their voices. Anything to distract me from this fucking long and agonizing wait.

Clinging to my cell, I staggered back toward the basement doorway. My steps slow and cautious. I listened for anything. Any sign of David. The silence was so deafening. Not to mention painful.

I stopped inches away from the open door. Trying to control my nerves, I took a deep breath. I looked down at my phone. There were still no calls or texts from the rents.

I looked back at the basement. “David,” I said aloud.

Nothing. No weird noises and no response from David. If this fucker was gonna scare me, I’d break up with his ass right then and there. Maybe after we had sex though…

Panicking, I started to scroll through my recent calls. Naturally, dad’s name was right near the top.

Before I could mash dial, I heard a shelf topple over in the basement.

Upon impact, the sound sent our mechanical ghost into a frenzy. With stilted speed, it floated back-and-forth in a living room corner. Its spooky moans echoed through the house like the cries of a tormented inmate. The ghost’s red eyes aglow with detached evil.

Startled, I backed into a hallway wall. I locked eyes with the ghost for a brief, eerie moment. Their painted glare seemed to mark me. And then just like that, the ghost came to a sudden stop.

Terrified, I looked down the basement stairs. “David!”

There was still no response. Just the disturbing silence. I now knew what I had to do.

I went ahead and grabbed another knife from the kitchen. Then I called dad. With his voice on the phone, I figured I could handle whatever lurked down in the basement. After all, I wasn’t leaving David down there. Not by himself. He needed me.

As the call rang and rang, I rushed down the staircase. “David!” I yelled. Worried thoughts ran through my mind. What if he was hurt? What if whatever had been making those noises attacked him? I just hoped I could get David then we’d get the Hell out of there! Dad could call the police.

But my call kept ringing. More unease hit me. Dad wasn’t answering. Hell, it was already past eleven. Trick-or-treating never lasted this long, even on a Friday.

And then I heard music. Rock music in the basement. With each step I took, the rock song only grew louder.

Trembling, I reached the basement. I could hear the music as I searched the small room. The basement’s one swinging lightbulb didn’t help much. All I could see was the debris of all the shit that’d fallen over. All the shelves and boxes.ย 

Our Christmas decorations were scattered everywhere.

I recognized the tune. *(Don’t Fear) The Reaper*. But it wasn’t playing off a stereo or any impressive speakers. Blue Oyster Cult sounded like they were being relegated to bar background music.

A dim glow in a corner of the room caught my eye. The glow was moving ever so slightly along the floor. The haunting chorus of Reaper drifted from the device’s tiny speaker.

The horror that’d been building up inside me now reached a violent crescendo.

I lowered my cell phone and ended my attempt to call dad. I knew there was no need to. He wasn’t gonna answer. Not when he couldn’t hear his *(Don’t Fear) The Reaper* ringtone.

In the corner, the device stopped glowing and moving. Blue Oyster Cult’s brief performance was over. And I now realized my dad’s cell phone had been there the entire time.

“Oh God…” I cried. Tears welling up, I rushed toward my father’s cell phone.

I heard my feet splashing on the floor. I could feel a slimy substance stick to my shoes like gum.

Desperate, I tried to keep going. A few feet away from the phone, I almost slipped until I balanced myself against a shelf. Had shit started leaking in here?

I flashed my phone’s light toward the ground. Through the fear running in my veins, I could make out that it wasn’t water I’d been slipping on. Just a huge river of blood. Or better yet, a red lake.

Crying, I forced myself to pick up dad’s phone. I mashed the home button. There on his background was a photo of us. Me, mom, dad, and Jamie. A picture of Jamie’s costume trial run from last night. We were all smiling. Even with the oversized mask slouching down, Jamie wore his Ghostface costume with pride.

But what caught my eye were the red stains scattered across the screen. Horrified, I tried to wipe off the blood, but it only smeared across our faces like finger paint. I’d given the picture a grisly filter.

Too scared to scream, my eyes shifted around the basement. I didn’t see anyone. Just an open back window.

The steady breeze from outside swept against me, but it didn’t give me chills. I was already shivering with terror at this point.

“David!” I yelled. I took a step back and lost my balance. “Oh God!”

Dropping my dad’s phone, I fell against a bookcase. I felt the cheap wooden structure rattle in my grasp. Dozens of old children’s books splashed into the blood below.

I saw their pages open up. Dozens of those illustrations suffered the same crimson filter my dad’s background photo had. *The Berenstein Bears* and *Winnie The Pooh* Halloween images looked so much scarier now than they ever did to me or Jamie. My childhood literature had been morphed into blood-soaked nightmares.

Wiping away my tears, I looked over and saw what I’d tripped over. Then all my tears came roaring back.

That wasn’t a box or shelf I’d stumbled into. It was dad. He was bound-and-gagged in duct tape. His clothes bloodied and littered with numerous stab wounds. His eyes forever open in fear. His throat slit and still leaking more crimson for the basement’s blood drive.

Messy footprints were right below his feet. The spots where his feet had kicked around in terrified desperation.

Dad’s dead eyes looked right at me. As if me bumping into him had given him brief life. Brief hope that I could save him.

“Oh God! Dad!” I cried. I leaned down toward dad. And then, under the dim lightbulb, I saw mom lying right next to him. She was bound-and-gagged as well. Her clothes drenched in blood. Her face sliced and hacked beyond belief. As if whoever did this attempted to give her an impromptu facelift… and they’d almost succeeded.

Her splattered footprints in the blood could also be seen. Like dad, she’d attempted to stand and escape.

I felt nausea accompany my immense sadness. “Mom!” I yelled through the avalanche of tears.

Turning away, I locked eyes with the most terrifying sight of all.

Jamie wasn’t spared. Still wearing the Ghostface costume, he too was tied up in duct tape. Even on his dark clothing, I could see red spots on his deep gashes and his costume’s torn cloth. A giant circle of blood surrounded his heart. His fatal wound.

His mask was gone, showing me my brother’s dead face in all its horrific glory. Thankfully, his eyes were closed. His pale face reminiscent of a young Angel lying on his deathbed.

I tried to avoid looking at the gut-wrenching scene. But there was no way. Dad, mom, and Jamie’s corpses surrounded me like a family plot.

Sobbing, I covered my eyes. “No…” I whimpered. “I’m sorry…”

Then I heard footsteps right behind me. Not the noises from earlier. These were loud, confident footsteps.

I whirled around.

David emerged from behind the bookshelf. That sly, sexy smile on his face.

“Happy Halloween, Cassie,” he told me in his deep voice.

I just stared at him. How could my boyfriend be smiling right now? My eyes ran up and down his body. Even more blood stains were now on his uniform. Fresher stains.

Smirking, he strutted up to me. The butcher knife dangled from his hand. Blood covered the knife’s sharp edge like decorative paint.

“You look scared, Cass,” he teased.

I staggered back, terrified.

With a cryptic smile I used to find so sexy, David followed me. Each one of his methodical steps splashed through the pool of blood. But he didn’t care. He only had eyes for me. “It’s okay, babe,” he said in a mocking sensitive tone. His deep voice was no longer arousing, it was eerie. The voice of an apathetic psychopath.

He cornered me against the wall.

More confident than he ever was on our date nights, David stopped right in front of me. “On Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”

“David,” I pleaded. “Don’t fucking do this!”

Chuckling, David put the knife to my face. The moist blood slid along my skin. The blood a disgusting barrier between my flesh and the sharp blade. “It’s our Halloween, remember?”

And then he slid on a mask he had pulled back the entire time.

I looked on at the iconic Ghostface mask. Jamie’s mask. And for the first time since I was a child, that fucking mask terrified me. And unlike with Jamie, the mask was a perfect fit on David.

Trembling in fear, I realized David had killed them all. He brought them here. I don’t know how, and I don’t know exactly when… but all along, those strange noises were coming from my helpless family. Just like how those blood stains that were on David’s uniform had come from them.

David let out a ferocious battle cry as he pulled the knife back to finish off the last Mercer.

I glared at that Ghostface mask. The one Jamie was so excited to wear. In this shit lighting, David actually did resemble a ghost. All I could see was the pure white face. And the blood-stained blade that came hurtling at me.

I’d seen scary movies all my life. I knew what this Final Girl had to do.

Before the knife could strike me, I ducked and kneed David where it hurts. One swift blow to the crotch.

Crying out, David staggered back. Like the clumsy killers in Scream, he too was human.

For a moment there, I stood stunned by my own clever ingenuity. Thirty minutes earlier, I figured I’d be doing all kinds of things to David’s crotch… but certainly not kneeing it. My God, the irony. I was the Final Girl.

I watched David lean against a shelf and recover. He raised the knife once more.

Unlike those Final Girls, I had no movie to pad the runtime for. I wasn’t gonna let this villain recover time and time again. Nor was I gonna run away.

Using my huge iPhone, I came charging in and slammed the device straight into that fucking mask.

I heard David yell out in pain. His hands flailed about wildly, dropping his knife to the sticky floor.

My next hit sent him on his ass. Right into my literal bloodlines. He collapsed into the blood like he’d fallen into a fountain.

But I didn’t stop there. My dad had always hated how big my iPhone Xs was. He just never realized it made for a solid weapon.

With it, I beat the Hell out of David. With even more fire and vigor than I’d planned to use on our Halloween sex.

He kept screaming in agony. Nothing pleasurable about it.

“Fuck you!” I hurled at him. I threw the phone down next to his quivering, beaten body.

“Cassie,” I heard him stumble out, his deep voice down to a low tremble. “Please, don’t…”

Leaning down, I scooped up the knife.

Out the corner of my eye, I saw David sit up. More blood coated his uniform. “Cassie, look just listen-”

I plunged the knife into the mask’s gaping mouth, silencing him forever. All my pent-up sexual hysteria had powered that one thrust.

David collapsed into the blood. His body completely still. The butcher knife stuck straight out of the mask like a victory banner.

After completing my vengeance, the tears returned. I cowered in a corner and wept. With blood-stained hands, I covered my face. I couldn’t look at the massacre. Not at the grotesque remnants of my family.

The police arrived soon after and took David’s corpse away. I told them everything. Well, except for how I’d overpowered him…

It turned out David had started losing it over the past month. He had a Halloween fantasy built up in his fucked-up mind. He even killed several people in the “haunted house” before tracking my family down. The police wanted to blame horror movies, but I was quick to call bullshit. They asked me why. All I said was just look at me. I wasn’t a psychopath lunatic.

People try to tell me it was a Godsend or I was lucky that I didn’t go with my family that night. They believe David would’ve gotten me with them, and then he would’ve killed us all. But what did it matter? I could’ve saved them. I had my chances after all.

As the police escorted me out the basement, I stole one last look at the crime scene. I noticed all the fallen boxes and my parents’ messy smorgasbord of footsteps. They were the ones who’d been making the noises I heard throughout the night. Had I gone down there earlier, I could’ve saved them. I could’ve helped them before I sent my boyfriend down to investigate those strange noises. And with a horror that haunts me to this day, I know I inadvertently sent him down there to finish the job. I even gave him the knife.