Halloween Is Not for Kids

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Everyone in our little town celebrated Halloween when I was a child. No decorations were ever put up, nobody ever threw parties, but the stores would all be sold out of candy come the big night. It had been that way ever since the dead in our town started coming back on Halloween, years before I was born.

Corpses would claw their way out of their graves, wandering the streets and carrying makeshift bags fashioned from their burial clothes. Zombies always craved brains in the movies, but in our town, all they wanted was candy. My mother once told me that some of the townsfolk fought back when it all first began. Those families didn’t last long, and none of them remained. Ever since, people gave their candy to the restless dead, leaving none for us kids.

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I was eleven the year my older brother decided to go trick-or-treating. He crept into my room, and I would have screamed had he not clamped his hand over my mouth. His face was a horror show, his features a rotting mess. He seemed pleased at my petrified reaction to his makeup, and he smiled crookedly.

I asked him what he was doing, dreading the answer, and he told me he was going to get enough candy for both of us. Our parents were focused on placating the hungry dead, and they had no idea as my brother snuck out of my bedroom window while I begged him to stay. I watched him shamble away into the night, moaning convincingly as he mingled with a sea of walking death.

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I didn’t see him again until next year. My parents had fallen apart after my brother’s disappearance, and I was tasked with handing out candy at an age when my peers were still hidden safely away in their beds. The night seemed to be drawing to a close when I heard the telltale scratching of a corpse at the door. I opened it to find my lost brother standing on my front porch.

His makeup had washed away long ago, but his face was more gruesome than I remembered. Much of his flesh had been torn off in vicious mouthfuls, the ragged edges of the bites never healing. A dirt-caked lollipop was stuck in what remained of his hair. He held out his bloodied shirt and groaned at me, his cloudy eyes showing no recognition.

I said nothing as I dropped a handful of candy into his jerry-rigged bag. He turned and shuffled slowly down the driveway, and I watched him go with a pang of sadness. At last, I knew how his night of trick-or-treating went all those months ago. I closed the door softly and sighed, comforting myself with the fact that I would see him again next Halloween.

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