These are true stories, they happened to an editor of mine
I woke up for school on Halloween in grade seven, and realized that I didn’t have a costume, but I refused to go to school without something amazing. My mom was a singer in a band, and the band had just invested in this elaborate cabaret style get-up. So my mom suggested I wear her full sequin suit—and I mean this was a fancy suit. It included the sequin silver pant-suit with flowing legs that flared at the bottom, the full (very heavy) evening coat with penguin tails, and, of course, a full silver sequin top hat. So I spent the whole day at school, walking down the halls with about 2,000 silver sequins blinding my classmates. The whole thing was twice my size as well, and I must have looked like a tiny pimp hustling about. When people asked me what I was, I told them I was an astronaut.
Halloween was never really about the costumes for me. The costumes were a means to an end, an end to getting free candy from our neighbours and strangers in my town. What was really important was the pumpkin carving on the evening of Oct. 30.
The whole ordeal had a ritualistic vibe to it, following the traditional steps to usher in the day of Hallows’ Eve.
Amidst the decorations of kleenex ghosts, construction paper cats and the felt-coloured witches we would wash the pumpkins we had selected from the muddy fields, sacrificing a boot to the pumpkin-field gods along the way.
Then scrawling outlines along the bumpy skin and sinking the knife into the pumpkin for the first time, juice welling up like beads of blood.
Using big salad-serving spoons to scrape out the guts, squishing our fingers through the tangles of seeds and tendrils. The smell of fresh pumpkin filling our kitchen, while we stood on chairs to be tall enough to carve.
A face slowly taking shape, painstakingly carving expressions of delight, of horror, of evil into the orange flesh.
Then rinsing the pumpkin once more before flouncing out to the back porch for some true Halloween magic.
Tealight candles gently placed in the gut of the pumpkin and being very careful not to burn ourselves with matches as we lit them.
And it was there, at the exact same moment every year that I would feel the buzz of delight, of excitement, of spooky magic.
Glowing Jack ‘O Lanterns, fresh born beneath our fingers, gleaming out into the night.
Simultaneously warding off evil spirits and promising candy, the perfect smell of candles and pumpkin amongst damp leaves.
Halloween was here.
Frédéric T. Muckle:
As a grown man, I love to be scared. There’s something about being helpless, afraid, and in danger that I weirdly enjoy. Without getting into the whole possible Freudian implications of this facet of my psyche, this actually started pretty early when I was a child. I recall at least one specific Halloween night spent in the long abandoned drive-in cinema close to a creepy forest (at 10 years old, any dark places are creepy). This once highly active social environment where people went to enjoy double-features was then a barren field inhabited by the theatre screen giants casting their shadows on the deserted buildings of this bygone theatre.
Glass and bottles smashed by bored teenagers, construction materials from another era lying around, high grass possibly hiding wild animals; all in all, a safe playground for young children. The only trace of life was the distant neighbour of this open-air theatre living in a mysterious small house. We had never seen this person, but a dim light always served as a reminder that someone was there, watching.
We were having fun, eating candies, making noise, simply being children until we saw “It”. A silhouette, wielding what appeared to us as a fork, slowly but steadily coming our way. A moment passed. From our attempt to rationalize the situation, I remember only the heavy silence that filled the air. Then, “It” yelled at us. No more rationalizing was needed. We ran Usain Bolt-style… straight into the woods. Thus followed an even scarier moment in which I realized that as a child, you’re pretty much vulnerable to anything.
Thinking about it now, I realize “It” was probably the old man living next to the theatre tired of having youngsters playing in his extended backyard, but I will always keep in mind the real-life horror chase that my friends and I went through on this Halloween night. Cause sometimes, a little fantasy is welcome to either embellish reality, or in this case, to make it a little more mysterious and scary.
My family has little things that we are proud of. We make a great spinach dip, have an adorable dog, and are (mostly) calm, law-abiding citizens.
And for a while, we were extremely competitive about Halloween. Or, rather — Halloween decorating. By Oct. 2 every year, the house would be decked up for the spooky season. I’m not talking cobwebs and jack-o-lanterns, ladies and gentlemen: I’m talking fear, and the one year we took it too far.
We liked elaborate sets, and it started with a simple, plastic gardening table. Then came the tablecloth, appropriately red. They were placed in the middle of our front-lawn, and then the skeleton came out — and his head was promptly ripped off.
Our plan: create a ritual sacrifice in the middle of suburban Montreal. The skeleton, covered in (fake) blood, with its head ceremoniously floating in a bowl of (still fake) blood. We surrounded him with tiki torches and hid a boombox in the bushes that played appropriately dramatic music, which of course, would not be complete without the occasion scream. Our job happily done, my Dad took me trick-or-treating.
It wasn’t until later, when I returned with candy, victorious, that my tired mother explained the problem with our stunt. Not a single child gathered the courage to walk to our door. In fact, the opposite happened: my mother, every so often, looked out our front window to see clusters of children crying and shivering in fear. She dutifully walked to the end of the driveway every time to give them their well-deserved candy — and promptly banned cult sacrifice from our house. Whoops.