The setting sun was beating down on the friendly Texan neighborhood as the laughter of young children clothed in their costumes filled the streets. They ran excitedly from house to house, ahead of their parents, screaming "trick-or-treat" at the top of their lungs while their younger siblings, toddlers barely able to walk, held fast to their parents' hands or sat sleepily in their wagons and strollers. Reba smiled to herself as she plugged in the Halloween decorations for later that night. She could remember taking the kids out early like this back when Cheyenne was five and Kyra was just a baby.
She grunted as she tried to push the crooked prongs into the receptacle. Next year she'd need to buy some new decorations. Scarier decorations. With a final forceful shove, the plug went in snugly and the front of the house sprung to life. The tape started playing the sounds of cackling witches, screams of terror, claps of thunder, and other spooky Halloween noises. Big blow up Frankenstein started inflating and began groaning, and the flying ghost contraption Brock had made years ago started to send a ghost from one big oak tree to the one on the other side of the yard and back. Once the sun went down nobody would see the pulley system and the ghost would seem as though he were soaring eerily over the front yard. Mock candles flickered along the path and the flower beds, shining a dim light on the plastic bones Reba had strategically scattered throughout the flower bed and over the lawn.
Stepping back with her hands on her hips Reba smiled happily at the set up. Cotton cobwebs clung to the brick on the house, giant spiders appeared to make their way up the siding, and a witch was stuck in the tree. One of the bloody handprints she'd stuck on the window, though, was coming loose. She reached out to stick it back on and as she touched the window the curtains parted and a masked face appeared. Yelping as she jumped away, wide eyed and breathless, the mask lifted to reveal her daughter, Kyra, who was laughing. Kyra pointed teasingly at her frightened mother and mouthed "I got you".
With her hand over her heart, Reba veered toward the window. "Kyra!" she hollered and hit the pane with her fist. Reba shook her head and glared as Kyra continued to laugh as she closed the curtains and waltzed away. She fixed the hand print then turned around to look at her front yard turned graveyard. A couple of the headstones had blown over and Reba grumbled. "Styrofoam decorations. I should've ordered real headstones that's what I should've done."
"Mommy, I don't wanna go past that house. It's scary."
Reba looked up. Her house wasn't that frightening. Her eyes followed the girl's voice and then she knew exactly which house the young girl was referring to and tugging her mother away from. It was the house at the end of the street. The only one in the entire neighborhood not decorated for Halloween.
The house itself must've been beautiful when it was first built, but now it was old, run down, and falling apart, board by board. It was well hidden from the street but perfectly visible from Reba's. A large oak front door, much like the ones that graced the front of Reba's place stood out though. The paint was peeling and the windows were shattered, but it was secure. Nobody lived there, there hadn't been any movement from the place in years. It looked exactly like a haunted house you'd see in a horror film. Perfectly suited for Halloween. The windows were boarded up, the siding was falling off, shingles were missing from the roof, the foundation was crumbling, and the rotting wooden gate creaked in the wind, hanging on by a single hinge.
"Hey, Reba! Your mail is blowing away!" One of the young mothers who lived down the street called. She left her two small children in their wagon in front of Reba's lawn and jogged over the grass to hand the getaway envelope to Reba who took it in her hands.
"Thanks a bunch, Sandra." she said.
"No problem." Sandra smiled.
Reba looked over at the two toddlers and her eyes brightened. "Oh, now aren't they just adorable! A little Frankenstein and his bride." she gushed.
Their mother beamed for a moment before Frankenstein's Bride began to wail and she sighed.
Reba laughed. "Oh, I've been there. They'll be out cold by the time you get halfway through the neighborhood."
"I'll talk to you later, Reba." she said and jogged back to her children.
Reba waved to the two kids then looked down at the envelope. She turned it over and on the front, her name was beautifully handwritten. Pulling the card out, she read it. It was an invitation to a Halloween party tonight. The feeling that someone was watching her drew her gaze back to that house and her heart stopped. If nobody lived there, then who was standing in the upstairs window?
Chills rolled over her body and she looked over the invitation again. The address of the party was the address of that house. Who'd sent it? She dared to glance back at the house, the figure was gone. The wind picked up and Reba rubbed her arms to rid herself of the Goosebumps and watched in annoyance as another of her gravestones started to blow across the grass. It blew down the sidewalk and she chased after it. She yelped again as she rounded the corner of the neighbor's hedges and came face to face with an axe murder.
"I believe this is your headstone." The muffled voice said as the figure handed her the decoration.
Reba chuckled and took it with shaking hands. "Thanks, so long as you're not going to put me six feet underneath it, that is." she half joked.
Seeing that she was visibly shaken, the masked individual laughed and lifted the mask. "Halloween is really getting to you this year, isn't it, Mrs. Hart."
She knew that face and that voice. "Frank." she sighed with relief. Cheyenne's friend, from one of her twelve step meetings. "My nerves are just shot."
He laughed and leaned on the handle of his axe. "Yeah, we really got you good last year. didn't we? "
"I guess I've been a little jumpy since that whole thing, and Kyra's gettin' a real kick out of it. Say, what are you doing in the neighborhood?"
"I came to ask Cheyenne and Van if they had plans tonight."
"I don't think they do, but you're welcome to step in and ask 'em." Reba said and then laughed. "Look at me, inviting a murder into my home."