It was far well into October- the spooky season. Rows and rows of houses stood decorated with carved pumpkins with creepy grins, toilet paper, and skeletons. Endless pranks and jumpscares wherever you go and kids, all dressed up, trick or treating all around the neighborhood. Although a fan of Halloween, you’d had your fill of the usual costumes this time, Draculas, Frankensteins, zombies, pumpkin heads, and the whole circus of cosplay from every R L Stine and Stephen King book. What angered you the most were the amateur vampire or werewolf costumes. It’s not that you did not believe in such creatures but the inaccuracy of the costumes and the injustice is what disappointed you.
“I swear I’ll kill myself if I see another Superman or a Flash” you let out a sigh as you complained about endless minor inconveniences to your best friend miles away.
“Oh, come on! Remember that we used to dress up too, okay? Our costumes weren’t exactly award-winning.”
“Yeah? Well, we have good taste!” You scoffed as you made your way through the third group of children dressed as pirates.
“Oh my god…” a voice whined and chuckled through the phone in your hand.
“What? I’m serious! You should see the–”
“… werewolf costumes? The vampires?” your companion completed the sentence for you.
“Yeah, I mean they’re so wrong. I don’t think vampires are so pale. What if they have evolved through time and have found some way to live among us, unnoticed?”
“I know where you’re going with this.”
“What if there was a werewolf among us? I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have so much fur all over them. I think they’d have better eyesight in the dark and better senses, you know what I mean?” You motioned vaguely with your free hand, excited about the topic.
“You and your theories. Give yourself a break, would you?”
“You don’t believe me?” You sighed.
“Hey… I just don’t want nightmares”. He crooned.
“Yeah yeah,” you hummed.
“Look, I’ve gotta go. Make sure you eat something and get some sleep, alright?”
“Don’t go werewolf hunting or anything. Bye, Happy Halloween!” a click at the end of the line and silence.
You walked into the convenience store at well past midnight. The thump of music, laughter, and screams echoed down the streets. Your stomach grumbled and your mouth watered at the thought of eating chicken nuggets or at least a decent sandwich. It was the least you could do for yourself. It was only when you reached halfway down the aisle of the store you realized how deserted the place was. The faint buzz of the tube lights was all that prevailed inside the place. Your eyes darted to the register and found it stranded. The eerie emptiness didn’t perturb you, rather it comforted you. Picking up the bread, you trotted down to the frozen foods section for your favorite ready to fry nuggets. A clink of glass made you turn your head.
You waited in anticipation for the source of the sound to show itself. A pang of curiosity was building up in your stomach now. You walked towards the faint rustling coming from the meat and seafood section in uncertainty. “Hello?” you asked.
A massive dark figure crouching over scraps of meat slowly poked its head up. A dog? No. It can’t be. The figure slowly unraveled itself. Towering above the aisle, its ears perched up attentively, the long snout sniffed the air, while golden yellow eyes gleamed passionately at you with nothing but a sense of primal hunger. Its whole body seemed to be covered in a thick gray fur. Specks of blood here and there. The menacing claws, the fangs snarling, drooling made your feet stick to the floor. Your breath was raspy in response to the heaving breaths and growls you could hear from the creature that stood before you.
You swallowed hard before you asked in a shaky, hitched voice that sounded nothing like yourself, “Happy Halloween?”
About the Author: Anupama Varma is a first-year master’s student at Manipal Institute of Communication.