I had this mask, smelled terrible–put it on and it was like you were pulling yourself through a wormhole to some sort of hot, rotting planet. Great look though. The absolute snarl of a werewolf about to decapitate a villager in just a bite or two. Spent a lot of time that October working the word “lycanthrope” into my everyday conversations. If someone mentioned the head of the trailer park, I wished a lycanthrope would tear his ass up. I’d overhear the kids talking shit about who had the strongest dad, and I cut in saying that it didn’t matter because a lycanthrope could kill both at once. I was dangerous. I could eat people.
So, my plan was this. I’d join my friends for trick-r-treating and make a haul on the first neighborhood. Drop off the pillowcase-full at my place on the way to our own roads. That’s where I’d really have my wolf moment. See, the plan was for me to go on a little rampage, run around like a dog on the loose, spill some candy, maybe even scare some of the younger kids. It was Halloween. It was gonna be great.
And the fun part was that I didn’t let anyone else in on the plan either. There were about six of us, the usual little coven, grabbing criminal amounts of candy out of all the plastic bowls. None of them knew. And none of them noticed when I ducked behind a double-wide that sat between a clearing of tall grass and the rest of the trailer park. The grass around it threatened to over take and reach through the windows, growing even taller the further you looked into the clearing.
I pulled my mask up to take a breath, and listened out for whatever else may be around. And I could hear the family on their front porch, swirling around in their costumes, the call to say “cheese,” and the flash of a camera. They were off to the races; the kids ran ahead and the two parents walked not far behind. And that’s when a fucking cricket hopped down from the grass–that’s how tall the grass was; it was hopping down, not up–and it landed right on my teeth. So, of course, I’m all “Fuck this, and “fuck your six-legged mother,” and on and on and on.
And of course the dad heard me, so he started walking my way. I could tell he couldn’t see me, wearing a big stupid necromancer cape over a tank top and blue jeans. With each step his arms would emerge from the cloth around his shoulders, showing all these swollen, water-logged tattoos of barbed wire and scorpion tails. There was something inside me–I couldn’t really tell you where this came from–but I loathed this man. The way he slicked his hair back against his skull, his expression snarled all tough at the corner of his mouth, the half-ass costume. It was like a switch had flipped in my brain as soon as I saw him and thought he must have been the biggest fucking degenerate in our park, or really any other for that matter.
But I wasn’t going to wait around until we could make eye contact. So I turned around on my belly and army-crawled through the grass. Less like a wolf, and more like the first little slime tube that crawled out of the ocean and onto the earth. But, I was moving. The dad was calling out “who’s there,” and demanding I come out of there. But I could tell by the sound of his voice that the distance between us was growing. All until I knocked the hell out of my forehead. I was dazing, rolled over and saw that I’d run into a shed.
The dad’s voice was getting closer and I could hear that slight scraping sound of walking through really thick grass. My head was absolutely killing me, but there was really nothing to do but keep crawling. So, I sort of made my way round the corner and saw there was a loose sheet of paneling on that side. Just big enough for me to slime tube my way inside.
I hadn’t realized how much the bugs and the grass had been getting to me until I was in such a dark, wet place. It was like an old cave was breathing all over me. It was nice, cooling off, listening to that dad get further and further away, giving up and moving on. It felt old, like this mud was from somewhere…else. Not really sure what it was about it. No form to it, just a bunch of muck under the shed. Except for this one small shape. A perfect little square. When my hand ran over it, I picked it up and shook it. Something was inside. Something with edges on it. The sound was crisp and it almost sounded like the steps of someone running, or beating a door down.
So I pulled myself into the long grass to look at what I’d found. It was a brand new box of razor blades. A little one, just a handful of blades inside. So, of course, my first thought was that this was going to take my rampage to the next level.
It took some doing, but I was able to secure them between all my rubber teeth. Shook my head a few times to make sure they didn’t fly out. Even burrowed my face deeper into all that tall grass, cut even better than I expected.
I waited behind some trash cans at the side of the double-wide for the next group of trick-r-treaters to pass by. When they finally did, I only heard them coming because they were all talking so much shit about each other’s costumes, kicking dirt and gravel up at each other with some fuck-you’s thrown back and forth. The mummy wasn’t wrapped up enough. The witch’s hat was too short. Frankenstein didn’t even have the bolts sticking out of her neck. They were a good twenty feet ahead of me when I tore out from behind the trash cans, growling, spitting inside my mask, nearly breaking my neck because I was shaking my wolf’s head around so damn hard.
Easy target. I went straight for the mummy, tore the gauze to absolute shreds. Didn’t cut him or anything, just left him only a couple ounces of his costume remaining before Frankenstein pulled me off of him. I kicked around in the air so the witch wouldn’t come at me and that sort of broke me free from Frankenstein too. Next was the nearest trailer.
Empty porch except for one lonely Jack-o-Lantern and a birdhouse with moss growing on it that read “GOD BLESS”. Still remember, it had a big smile of terribly carved sharp teeth. Rapped at the doorknocker all the way to hell, howling through my human teeth and everything. A friendly couple opened the door chuckling about how eager this kid was to get some candy. But I just threw my face into their bowl.
Shredded all the wrappers and all the chocolate inside. Got their knuckles too. I noticed it, the blood spraying onto the floor as they dropped the bowl. I heard them scream, but I didn’t let myself think anything of it. I just ran out into the street howling.
My friends were at the end of the block. Their pillow cases were absolutely slammed with candy, just begging to be cut open. And was visualizing how I’d pull my mask off and laugh, they’d see it was me and punch me in the shoulder, maybe even the gut, and it’d all just be a hell of a prank. But there were too many others to pass up in the small stretch of dirt road between me and them.
I tore up a cardboard robot costume with my hands and rubber teeth with my blades. Made a few parents shriek as I tried to gnaw at their dog leash. I shredded the cloak of a plastic reaper and left slashes across the name on a styrofoam gravestone. There was a lot of cackling and some of the older kids who were babysitting their little siblings cheered me on. So I was howling–from the absolute bottom of my stomach. That’s when I caught up with my friends, but before I could latch on to one of their candy loads, one of them screamed out, “Netti! Fucking stop it!” They all sort of held their pillow cases back with a hand out in front of them to push me back if I came at them. The others I was able to see through the eye-holes in my mask seemed to be ignoring the standoff, probably happy that the wild kid was being dealt with by his peers. As distance between me and my friends was starting to feel more and more tangible, I crouched down, hopping side to side, growling, snarling. They asked me what the hell I was doing, why I had to be this way. But it was too late for answers. I was one with the unrisen moon.
I went mask-first in one of their arms, grabbed their wrist and elbow, and started shaking. All the sounds blurred together, but the smell of it was perfectly divided. Blood. Rubber. Rust. I can feel it stinging my sinuses now. Still burns when I think about it. Then, one of them clocked. Knocked the hell out of the side of my head and I was on my ass. Someone ripped off my mask and asked me what the fuck was my problem.
My friend, Sharon–I couldn’t see her during my little escapade–was the one holding her arm, collapsed on the gravel with a big splatter of blood all around her. That’s when I felt the cuts on my own face, ran my fingers along the lines; they went criss-crossed along my cheek and mouth, deeper than I would have guessed they would go. I was aware of the pain for the first time and I started to wail right there in the middle of the road.
There were a few parents around who came over to see about all the blood on Sharon’s arm and the cuts on my face and what we were all screaming about. But I slapped their hands away. A pang of guilt lodged into me, not for Sharron, or even for my own face. The expression of the dad in the cape loomed in head. I felt awful for hating him off the bat like that. For thinking he must be some kind of backward asshole like I was that night.
And I was off. Fucking blood running down my shirt and I was still bawling, hauling ass again down the street. And you know how kids are—no way I was going home to tell my mom about what I did. Didn’t have a plan; I was just running. Until I passed the double-wide with the shed.
I figured I could stay under the shed a while; it was completely dark and the grass looked white under the moon. No sign of the family inside either. It’d be a safe hideout for a few hours. And that’s how long it felt like I was crawling through the yard. I was on my belly again, inching my way through in case the family came back at any time. But it’s like the grass was getting thicker, and taller too. Until I could eventually stand up, completely hidden by the growth around me. And I must have been walking in circles or something because I was getting nowhere. And it started to set in—the feeling that I was lost. Bugs hopping down from the grass, landing in my mouth and in my ears. And it was right when the panic was starting to really show itself I saw a slight path. Where someone else had walked through the yard before, the grass parted just slightly. And for all I know, it might have been my own trail. But I’m not so sure, considering where it led me.
I followed it to the shed, to the loose panel at the bottom of its construction. And, with how the night had gone so far, it felt familiar and safe. Like your favorite hiding spot as a little kid, where there’s no fucking way anyone could find you. Like you’re so hidden away that it’s cheating. So I left the moonlight behind me and crawled inside.
It was cold by then, which was great news for me because the heat of the blood seemed to be burning its way across my face, neck, and chest. Stuck to my skin like it was just another layer I was born with, something they’d have to cut me out of so I could be like the rest of them. So, I just crawled real slow through the mud, letting it cool me off. And with each movement, I would sort of splay my fingers out. I was curious about what else I may find down there. And there wasn’t a box. But I did grab a handful of cloth. It was heavy, like the dad’s necromancer cape, but shredded. And it was weighted, tied to something heavy. So I inched forward, letting my hand feel its way up. Until my fingers got tangled in the hair. My face burned all over again. But, I kept feeling around, and the hair disappeared into the forehead. And then the nose and eyes. Then the mouth–all cut up to hell. Crisscrossed, deeper than you’d think. The remaining skin was loose, and cold, not enough left to snarl. And there, in the lightless black of under the shed, I could hear myself smile. It hurt like hell.