Ben Kinslow threw the balled up paper into his wastebasket, causing an explosion with the other paper balls comedically overflowing. He put his head into his hands and sighed. The screams and laughs of children seeped through his bedroom window into his ears, making him shudder. He looked out into the pitch black, illuminated only by streetlights and mothers putting reflective tape on children’s costumes. Halloween. Ben would rather stay inside that night then go out trick or treating. His best friend, Matthew Sumner, always made fun of him for it. Aw you’re afraid of a little spooky stuff? He would taunt. We’re almost high schoolers, be a big boy little Bennie Wennie.
He teased him all in good fun, however. They have been friends since the first grade, when Ben gave Matthew half of his sandwich since he left his on the bus. They have done basically everything together, except trick or treating because Ben wouldn’t participate. Matthew would just go with other friends, come back to Ben’s house, split the candy with him, and watch him struggle to write a novel. And that’s how it went every year. It was their tradition.
Ben lifted up his head and turned to a new page in his blue striped notebook, the one Matthew called “Ben’s Dumpster Fire of Story Ideas.” He no sooner touched the pencil to the paper when his phone rang. He let out a lengthy groan and picked it up. Matthew, who else would it be. He answered.
“Hey what do you want, I’m trying to write.”
“BEN BEN I NEED YOUR HELP. I HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
“If this is another one of your dumb pranks I swear to G-”
“BEN IT ISN’T, YOU HAVE TO HELP ME. I WAS TRICK OR TREATING AND SOMEONE GRABBED ME AND PULLED ME INTO THEIR HOUSE. THEY LOCKED ME IN THE CLOSET AND WENT DOWNSTAIRS I NEED HELP.”
“Wait if this was the case, why would you call me and not your parents?”
“THEY’RE AT A PARTY AND BECAUSE YOU’RE A LOSER WHO NEVER HAS PLANS SO I KNEW YOU WOULD ANSWER RIGHT AWAY.”
“First of all, ouch, and second of all HOLY COW WHERE ARE YOU MATT??” Matt lowered his voice in reply.
“It’s THE haunted house on Barton Street. You know.”
Ben was familiar. No one knew who actually lived there, for the house remained desolate until this holiday where it seemed to come alive. Last year, a little bumblebee kid dared to explore all the way up to the front door, and was never seen again. The very thought of that house sent chills down Ben’s spine.
“A-are you s-sure it’s that one?”
“Yes you frisbee disk, I think I would know what house I got kidnapped into. Just come help me! I have no idea how to get out of here.”
“Alright alright, I’m coming!”
“I don’t want that guy to hear me on the phone, here I’ll text you clues of how to get here from your house.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.”
Ben stuffed his phone into his back pocket and flew down the stairs. Before he bolted out the door, an idea came to him. He ran into the kitchen and starting rummaging through the drawers until he found what he needed, a wooden spoon. No sooner had he grabbed it, his mother walked into the room.
“Benny Bear, what are you doing?”
Ben slowly faced her, spoon in hand. His eyebrows furrowed together in determination, and he took a deep breath.
“Mom,” he started, then turned to the window. A gust of air came through, filtering through his hair and giving the moment some extra drama. “I must go save Matthew.”
“Right…well have fun sweetie!”
Ben held the spoon behind his shoulder like a baseball bat, and crab stepped to the front door. He kicked it open, causing him to almost topple over.
“Watch the paint, Benjamin!”
“Sorry mom!” Ben looked straight into the darkness, facing his fear. “It’s go time.”
A text from Matt lit up his phone as Ben used it as a flashlight.
“Ben! Tak left after u leave ur hous”
“Matt, your grammar is bad. Okay.”
Ben carefully walked down the road, spoon poised, ready to swing at anything that threatened his existence. He snapped his head to the side every few seconds, to observe his surroundings. Mostly, he just received weird looks from parents and their children.
“1nce u git 2 Sweetbriar Court, keap going strait bc Barton is next”
Ben could see that autocorrect threw him a bone on the street names. Hastily he replied “okay” and picked up the pace. His confidence rose a bit since he made it this far out without getting scared. Barton Street was in his line of sight, along with a creature that looked like a ghost? A melting candle face? Whatever it was, it seemed to target Ben and head straight for him. He froze, mouth agape, similar to the small figure with the open mouth face that stared back at him. It had no eyes and its mouth drooped in a large, soulless scream. It carried what looked like a witch’s cauldron. All of a sudden, blood came pouring out of the face and colored it bright red. Ben screamed hysterically, swung, missed, and booked it away as fast as possible. He heard laughing behind him, and his face felt hot. He pulled out his phone once he was safe.
“MATT, SOME CREATURE ALMOST ATTACKED ME!!”
A minute passed.
“Dude if its dat kid in the Scream costume evry year im gonna freak”
Ben sighed and slipped his phone back into his pocket, humiliated. He looked up and discovered he was in front of the house that contained his best friend. Had he really sprint that far in total terror?
The house was even more horrifying up close. Clowns, ghouls, and dolls stood randomized all throughout the lawn. The air was filled with the sound of chainsaws whirring and screams of other children. He couldn’t even see the entrance, how did Matthew even get trapped in there? He took a deep breath.
“Well, here goes nothing.”
He broke into a dead sprint towards what looked like the front of the house. Everything was hard to see through the rich darkness that blanketed all but the lit up monsters. Ben suddenly miscalculated his steps and tripped, hard. He went sailing into the arms of a very vicious clown and they both toppled over onto the grass in a crumbling heap. He looked into its eyes and they stared back at him unforgivingly. Then there was a crunching sound, and the light in the clown died. Ben put his hands up to his mouth.
“Oh boy, this isn’t good.” The front door loudly creaked open a little ways in front of him and a large vampire stepped out. He ran over to the crime scene of the demolished clown, and threw his hands up in exasperation.
“What the hell kid? Why’d you go breaking my best decoration?”
“Uhh I’m s-s-sorry sir I didn’t m-mean to.”
“You didn’t mean to scream and football tackle it to the ground? Real convincing kid.”
As he started to drone on about the cost of his precious decoration, Ben looked behind him and noticed something. The front door was propped wide open. This was his chance. His best friend was trapped inside there.
Ben sprung up and dashed into the house, all while screaming. He ascended the staircase directly behind the door, and started searching for Matthew. Then his phone vibrated.
“BEN I HERD U SCREAMING IM IN THE CLOZET NEXT 2 THE BATHROOM HERE ILL HIT THE DOR”
Immediately following the message, loud bangs sounded from the right. Ben swiveled around and located the door where Matthew was trapped. He ran over to it and shouted to him.
“Don’t worry Matt! I’m here, I’ll save you buddy!”
He grabbed the knob and gritted his teeth as he turned it. But much to his surprise, the door swung open with absolutely zero hesitation. Matthew stood there speechless, and a big grin spread across his face.
“Yes…you did save me.”
“Why did you say it like that? What are you waiting for? Let’s get out of here!”
Footsteps sounded on the stairs, leading to the boys’ location. Ben faced Matthew, eyes wide.
“Now we’re too late. He’s gonna k-kill us now.”
As soon as the vampire-dressed man that scolded Ben outside ascended the stairs, he and Matthew simultaneously burst into laughter.
“Why are you laughing? Matt, what is going on??”
Matthew paused his laughter for one moment to wipe a tear off his face.
“It was a prank! It’s not real! Oh my gosh I would pay to see the look on your face again when you opened the unlocked door.”
Ben stared in shock as the man and Matthew continued cackling mercilessly.
“W-why did you do this?”
Now it was the vampire-man’s turn to speak.
“I’m Mr. Wentz, a good friend of Matthew’s dad. He told me about how he wanted to help you get over your fear of Halloween so we set up this trap for you. It worked brilliantly! However, dude you owe me money for the destroyed clown.”
“So Matt, you just pretended you didn’t know who lived here?”
“Yes siree, I wanted to plan the perfect way for you to stop being a soggy loser and actually have fun.”
Matthew gave Ben a good slap on the back and turned to Mr. Wentz.
“Well it’s best I get the wittle baby home now, it’s past his bedtime.”
“Hey I am not a wi…”
“Bye, Mr. Wentz! Thank you for your help!”
Matthew teasingly put his arm around Ben and helped him down the stairs and out of the house. Ben threw him off as soon as they arrived outside.
“So did you have fun today, Bennie?”
“I guess you could call it that. Thanks for helping me I guess, you’re a good friend.”
Ben’s face glowed red from what looked like leftover shock, but it was pride.
“I can’t believe I actually saved you! Me!”
“Yes you did Bennie, I’m p-proud of you. Wow, my mouth isn’t used to saying those words.”
“You better watch your back Sumner, I’m gonna get you for this.”