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Author Topic: The Halloween Mask  (Read 9670 times)

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Slimebeast

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on: 11:17:47 PM 10/06/13
It's been a year since I first set eyes on the Halloween mask.

It was a pumpkin. A white pumpkin. I'd never actually seen them in any color other than orange before that moment, and something about the pallid, drooping latex made it seem cold and bloodless.

I had become much too old to go out Trick or Treating, so instead I took my place at the front door of the house and handed the sweets over to a new crop of tiny ghouls. Thankfully, I had my iDevice on hand and the music pumping through the ear buds kept me from going insane out of boredom.

The house was nice enough. It was a suburban foreclosure my parents had snapped up almost exclusively for the extra bathroom. I guess living in such close quarters with an "adult child" had more than run its course... if you'll excuse the oxymoron.

I'm well aware that I've been reduced to an oxymoron. It wasn't supposed to turn out that way, but college did very little for my job prospects. I'd barely learned anything, as a matter of fact, due to equal parts partying and often absent Professors.

"Who're you supposed to be?" I asked the kid in an obvious Dracula costume.

"A Blood Guy!" was his disappointing response.

"Well, here you go," I tossed a candy bar into his bag, "Don't bite any strange necks. You don't know where they've been."

I got a face-palm. From a child.

The old cliché held true that night... Halloween had indeed become generic. I saw five more Draculas, a ton of Witches, and more licensed cartoon characters than I could name.

Worse yet were the kids, and even the teenagers, who threw on whatever they had lying around. Putting on your fancy Church clothes does not make you a "Mobster" or a "CEO" or "The President". Two tween girls showed up just in towels, which was all kinds of wrong.

It was around eleven o'clock when the stream of nougat-faced beggars finally began to dwindle. The candy was almost gone as well, proving my parents were great at planning just about everything. They probably factored in the ten pieces I would invariable steal over the course of the evening.

When I thought everything was done... when I put away the media player... when my hand reached to flick the switch and turn off the porch light... a loud, sudden knock jarred me out of my walking sugar coma.

It was more of a solid palm-strike than a knock. The frosted glass panes in the door rattled.

"SHIT!!" I shouted, startled. It took a moment to compose myself. "I mean... Sit... tight. Sit tight, kids! I'll be right there."

Whew.

I grabbed the barren bowl of candy and thrust open the door.

"Okay! Who do we have-"

There was no one. Not only were there no children at the door, but I couldn't see a family traveling anywhere in the neighborhood. Only the dim lights in the windows of my neighbors told me there were indeed other human beings somewhere out there.

"If you want to play Ding-Dong-Ditch, you're supposed to ring the doorbell!" I called out, careful to keep from bothering others in the quiet homes.

I shook my head with a smirk, remembering how Halloween used to be the one night I'd get into any and all trouble I could find. Only as I was about to close the door did I notice the gift that had been left on the doorstep.

Instead of a flaming bag of you-know-what, I saw a face staring up at me. Eyeless, toothless, expression stark and unflinching.

It was a mask.

The white pumpkin mask was created to look as if the facial features had rotted out as opposed to being carved like a normal Jack 'O Lantern. Something about this odd choice in design caused me a moment's pause. My brain took a jarring, stuttering half-step before it made the connection between "face on the floor" and "harmless mask".

"It's mine, now!" I called out again, looking toward the bushes. I scooped the jiggling empty head off of the stone step and closed the door.

Whoever left it there would have to come and ask for it back. At least that's what I figured.

"Weird kids tonight!" I shouted up the staircase, to the second floor where my parents had sat out the tradition. There was no response, and I reasoned they had failed to stay up at this late hour.

I finally turned off the porch light and made my way to the living room, darkening each overhead light as I progressed. I liked nights, for the most part, because it was a quiet time when I had full run of the house.

Plopping down on the couch, I tossed the white pumpkin face to the coffee table and turned on the television.

"With the Jar-A-Ma-Jig," explained the onscreen pitch man, "You can avoid these meal mistakes... and so much more!"

Late night television wasn't my thing, especially not infomercials. I cast a quick glance toward my game console and pondered a late-night session. Getting in a short, casual round wasn't really something I was up for, either. When I played, I was in it for the long haul. I'm not some ordinary gamer.

I jumped, flinging the remote control through the air, as another BANG echoed through the house. My surprise quickly turned to anger as I realized the kid must've come back for his mask. I grabbed the thing up again and contemplated the idea of tearing it in half.

"Coming!" I shouted, "Break the door down, why don't you?"

As I passed the sliding glass door that lead out to the backyard, I noticed something that stopped me in my tracks. It was a Jack O' Lantern, crudely drawn on the glass with what looked to be dog crap.

"You gotta be kidding me!"

I stormed over the door and peered out into the blackness. Someone, somewhere out there, was having fun with the wrong man-child.

It was then that the smell wafted to me. It wasn't the rank smell of animal feces. It was sweet... familiar... comforting.

Chocolate.

Somewhat relieved, I turned away from the back door fully intending to give the child out front a good piece of my mind.

It wasn't until I was nearly out of the living room that I thought about that smell and how strong it was. Going back quickly in my mind, I came to a distressing conclusion.

The crude drawing was on the inside of the glass.

I could've done any number of things at that point. I could've leapt out the back door and into the yard, calling for blood... I could've gone to the front and pulled that kid in by his collar, scolding all the while... in that moment, however, I took the third option.

"Mom! Dad!" I flung the mask down and ran upstairs screaming bloody murder, "Get up, someone got in the house!!"

When I opened their bedroom door, burst through it, actually... they weren't there. The bed was made, the lights were off, and the room was empty.

"Are you still up?" I shouted, wheeling down the upstairs hallway, "Did you hear what I said?"

I pulled open the door to Dad's "home office", fully expecting to see him hunched over some boring paperwork, brow furrowed.

When I entered, however, I found quite a different sight.

Dad was on the desk, seated, his knees pulled to his chest and wrapped with his arms. His papers were strewn about, torn and crumpled. Not a single photo on the walls was straight, and many had their glass broken out.

"Dad?" I whispered as he just sat there on the oak pedestal, shuddering.

He looked up at me slowly, like a child coming out of a dream. On his head, he wore the same pale, horrible pumpkin mask I had held in my hand.

"Oh, hi." he muttered, long strings of thick drool dangling from the mask's mouth, "I'm just finishing up the Schweitzer Report."

With that, he jerked his head to one side, face turned to ceiling, and let out a blood-curdling, agonized scream.

I backed out of the doorway, nearly toppling over the railing between myself and a nasty drop to the floor below. Propping myself on that railing, then the walls, I hurried to the bathroom where I'd last seen Mom going to prep for the night.

"Mom? Something really terrible is-"

Once again, my entry was halted by a disorienting sight. There she was, my mother, sitting on a stool in front of the bathroom mirror... a mirror that was now cracked from what looked like a straight-on head butt.

She sat quietly in her bath robe, its collar and shoulders stained with a touch of red, as she applied lipstick to the asymmetrical, gaping mouth of her white mask.

"MOM!" I screamed, my brain once again lurching along like a smoking jalopy.

She turned slowly, just as Dad had looked to me, and she threw the lipstick down with a crack as if she were enraged by my mere presence.

"Why aren't you in bed?" she demanded nonsensically, "WHY AREN'T YOU ASLEEP, MISTER?!"

In one smooth motion, Mom stood from the stool and wrenched a long, jagged piece of glass from the mirror. Her blood trailed down the length of that reflective blade as she raised it over her head and ran toward me.

"WHY AREN'T YOU ASLEEEEEP?!" she shrieked in a shrill, demented tone I'd never heard before.

I barely closed the door in time as she ran toward me. All at once I felt the same dread I'd experienced as a child when I was about to be punished... mixed with the terror that only comes from knowing your life is about to end in the most unpleasant way possible.

Sure of nothing, now, I looked to the screen of my phone and started dialing.

A blood-red hand came down hard on the phone, sending it to the floor. Quickly, I looked up to see my Father standing over me.

"No phone for a week." He groaned, sounding as if the words were cutting through a mouthful of something I didn't want to see.

A single fist rocketed toward me. I lowered myself just in time as my Dad's hand passed through the drywall inches away from me.

Moving to escape, I was instead caught by Dad's other hand. The letter opener clenched therein jabbed into my side as easily as if it were piercing a water balloon. When he cruelly withdrew that blade, the fluid that sprayed forth stained the far wall.

I screamed again, though this time it was a wordless, mindless howl that came from some primal place.

Clutching the fresh wound in my gut, I made my way down the stairs, stumbling and falling as I did so.

I landed at the foot of the stairs with a heavy thud. There, I was reunited with the strange mask that had been left for me. It remained where I had thrown it, and its empty unwavering gaze seemed to say, "Bet you're glad you went up there, huh?"

BANG!

Another palm-thrust at the front door.

"G-Go away!" I screamed, crawling away from the noise as best I could, "Leave me alone!!"

"Police Officer!" a rough, authoritative voice came from beyond the door, "We've gotten complaints about the noise. Open the door, sir."

"Oh God," I pulled myself to my feet and hobbled to the door, hunched over in pain, "Thank God..."

I turned the knob, my blood streaking across the shiny golden orb, and pulled the door open with my last ounce of strength.

Standing at the door was a tall man dressed in a dark green suit and pants, a black shirt, and a necktie that was little more than wound and braided vines. On his head, he wore the same mask I'd seen three times that night... though his was a vibrant green with jagged thorns set in its mouth.

"Trick or Treat!" he said, mockingly.

I couldn't run. I couldn't fight. All I could do was collapse with a soft whimper.

"Aw, looks like someone already tricked you!" the masked man said in a tone that was anything but empathetic, "Well don't worry. I'll take care of you from now on!"

From there, things became a bit foggy. I must've blacked out and awakened several times as the masked man went to work.

I remember blood... gauze... stitches... and the cold surface of the kitchen countertop.

I remember the basement... my head striking the wooden stairs as someone... that man... dragged me by my feet.

I remember the secret doorway in the basement wall... one that none of us had found in the months we'd lived in that house.

Most of all, I remember what the masked man said...

"Forgive me for not introducing myself properly," he dragged me to the middle of the stone floor and took a key ring off of a hook, "The name is Spooky Sam. Now, it may a moniker I gave myself, but it'll do."

The masked man walked over to a barred door and placed a key in the lock. As he pulled the door open, a cadaver... a human corpse... fell forward and landed almost face-to-face with my all but paralyzed body.

The corpse wore a white pumpkin mask.

"This is MY house, you see. The people down here were my friends. My Trick or Treaters. Oh, the fun we had together!" the man rolled the corpse to the side.

My Mother stepped into view, joining the masked man. I hadn't even known she was down there with us.

"Unfortunately, things got kind of... complicated. I had to go away for a while, and I couldn't really ask a neighbor come by and feed them."

The masked man laughed as he lead my now obedient Mother into the cell and closed the door.

I could hear the man opening another cell, though I couldn't turn my head to look. I heard the soft fall of another corpse, followed by the heavy footsteps of my Dad.

"I suppose I'll miss them, in a way." the masked man sighed.

He stepped into my view again, this time holding the same mask that had been left for me earlier in the night. He turned the mask inside-out and dapped a wet cloth against the interior... right where the wearer's nose would be.

"This probably doesn't make much sense to you right now," the man flipped the mask right-side-out again, "But then again..."

He slid the latex over my head. The smell of strong chemicals invaded my nostrils.

"...You're not in your right head."


I can see why it happened, now. I can see why it had to be this way. I was just a nobody, a 20-something failure with no future, when Spooky Sam came into my life.

It makes sense when I think about it. I thought the masks made people insane. Now I know it's the other way around. We're the only ones with a solid grip on reality... everyone else is bonkers!!

So, as I said, it's been a year since this all happened. What a long year. What a long wait.

Sam says it's almost time to come out and play with everyone.

Almost time for Trick or Treat!
« Last Edit: 04:25:08 PM 08/20/19 by Slimebeast »
If I should live until I wake, I pray the web my death to fake.



Silent_Mayan

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on: 03:10:37 PM 04/17/15
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the 'Jar-a-ma-jig' commercial from 'How much would you pay' yet.



Slimebeast

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on: 04:46:24 PM 04/17/15
XD True.
If I should live until I wake, I pray the web my death to fake.



Leila

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on: 05:30:30 PM 10/12/15
I actually went back to "How much would you pay" and came back. XD This just beat "100 hours", because I love Halloween and that ending! How fun would it be to trick people with Spooky Sam? (I'm going insane..... XD )