10.31.2008 | By: Alisa Callos


A restless wind rustled the leaves as Jonah and I crept down the dark street toward Mr. McGregor’s house. Clouds covered the moon and then skittered away creating deep shadows that drifted and crawled ahead of us. On the next street over, we could hear laughing children run door to door with delighted cries of “trick or treat!” Mr. McGregor’s street was empty.

Mr. McGregor’s house sat back from the sidewalk, across from the cemetery, and all of us children knew that it was haunted by the ghost of Mr. McGregor’s dead wife Jennifer, who came out every Halloween night to walk among the graves. Mr. McGregor, we knew, was not far behind, being the closest thing to a walking skeleton that we had ever seen. We would watch him from across the playground next to our school as he tended the graves in the cemetery. On sunny days, we would sneak into the graveyard through a hole in the fence to play tag or read the headstones, but always with a watchful eye for Mr. McGregor who took a grim view of children.

That Halloween night, Jonah and I were on a Scavenger hunt. It was hosted every year by our best friend Michael’s mother. Our list of items was almost complete. We had a dead spider with web, a feather, a pebble from the lake, a purple leaf, a broom, a piece of candy—the easiest one, a cross we’d made from two twigs and a piece of straw, and a head of garlic. The only thing left was a picture of a haunted house thus the reason we were sneaking past the graveyard to the only ‘genuine’ haunted house in town. Jonah had gotten a digital camera for his birthday last month and we knew no one else’s list would be as complete as ours—if only our courage would hold.

Walking past the cemetery, shadows from the moon, made the stones seem to shift and shudder. We walked a little faster. Neither of us would dare to speak for fear of attracting unwanted attention. The sound of our feet on the sidewalk seemed unnaturally loud. We paused briefly as a low growl came from up ahead, it was followed by a spate of barking. A cat yowled to the right—a short screech and then silence. The trees that lined the street menaced, branches taking the shapes of skeletal fingers with long black nails. The house ahead loomed, growing taller and more sinister the closer we came.

Jonah had his camera out and ready. Just a little closer and we could run for it. The house was dark. Deserted. We stopped at the end of the sidewalk, and Jonah raised his camera. Screeeech…the front door began to open. Was it the ghost of Mr. McGregor’s wife? Hurry up Jonah! My heart racing, I grabbed his sleeve. We have to get out of here! The words stuck in my throat. Suddenly, a sound behind us. “Booo!” A flash of light. Not waiting for my friend, I turned and ran.

We were right of course—the picture clinched it—but forever in my nightmares, I will hear Mr. McGregor’s laughter following us all the way down the street.


Valerie Geary said...

hehee.... loved it! But ack! Did they get the photo? Did they win the scavenger hunt? :)
PS- I loved your description of the branches...

Alisa Callos said...

Good question...see revision. Better?

Valerie Geary said...

Much! Now it feels resolved... :)
Nice job!

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