It’s been three days since you boarded up the windows and jammed all the furniture haphazardly in front of the door. Even your aunt’s priceless antique grandfather clock. Anything heavy to keep them out.
It started with some crazy stories out of South America. Disappearances, mutilations. Demons and gargoyles. Real George Noory stuff that nobody, save a few frantic “Coast to Coast” listeners, really believed. There was even a blurry Youtube video. You watched it at work, forwarded it to your friends. The CG was obviously fake, but it was a pretty good fake.
Then Sao Paulo went dark, like someone pulled the plug. The Brazilian government denied anything was seriously wrong. Just a glitch in the power grid. Satellite photos and seven minutes of grisly camera footage shot from the back of a speeding pickup truck told otherwise.
Reports of mass murders and unexplained disappearances were taken seriously after that. It was all there was in the news. All there was on television, for that matter, despite the blackouts that were steadily creeping north. You could tell which city was going to be next just by looking at a map. Every day, like clockwork, another town was consumed. Every night another city screamed until the microphones cut off.
A churning wave of panicked refugees preceded the front as it moved northward toward Panama. There the advance seemed to stall.
Relieved authorities announced that everything was going to be okay. Yes, the southern continent was teeming with monsters, but they had stopped at Panama. We were safe, you see, because they were there, and we were not.
It turned out that there was wherever the food was. And the food was running north.
Panama City took longer to be devoured because the mass of fleeing refugees coming up from the south ran smack into the backs of those trying to get out of the city, creating an enormous bottleneck. And a feast.
It didn’t end at Panama, no. And we watched it all play out like a miniseries on television. The horror that became the Pan American Highway. The failed evacuation to Moyogalpa on Lago de Nicaragua. The San Salvador firestorm. The twin bloodbaths of Oaxaca and Veracruz. Mexico City.
The brutal violence was televised around the clock until one government or another shut down the satellite feeds. But there was always video tape, so we watched that, transfixed. Network ratings skyrocketed.
Maybe we were literally frozen with fear, or just lazy and desperate to believe that the government, the military, someone would step in and put a stop to it. Call it mass hypnotism, but even with weeks of advance warning, we weren’t prepared. Who knows why.
“The army’s gonna whoop ass!” said your next door neighbor, Dan, planted in a lawn chair on his front porch, anchored to a leaky cooler of beer. “But if any a’ them things show up ’round here,” he added, stroking the shotgun on his lap, “we’ll take care of business. Ain’t that right?” His sweaty palms smeared the oiled metal. You just nodded.
“Maybe,” you thought to yourself, “I should toss a couple of blankets and water bottles in the car. Just in case.” Then the storm hit, and it was too late.
Despite everything, you didn’t think it would actually come to your town, your street. You couldn’t imagine the inhuman screams from the television echoing outside your front window, or the loud popgun noises next door, or the image of Dan’s madly twitching legs, his shocked expression staring up at the sky from the puddle of spilled beer where his head had rolled. The sight of a thing standing in the driveway, sucking greedily from Dan’s gushing neck, was your last clear memory for a day or two.
You vaguely remember ripping shelves from the garage and nailing the boards across the big picture window in the living room. You barely notice when the power goes out until, at some point, you find yourself huddled in a corner, every stick of furniture is piled across the front door or nailed over the windows, and it’s pitch dark. Far off thunder, or muffled explosions thump in the night. Artillery? Somehow, you fall asleep.
Mercifully, you don’t hear claws scraping the door jamb.
The Moth Brothers, our garrulous gourds, guarded the entrance to Halloween Hall this year, each perched atop his own corn shock.
Despite the smoldering smiles, neither shock nor squirrel caught fire, though you might’ve caught a whiff of freshly popped corn when the breeze was just right.
These full-sized punkin-shocks were popular, and simple to make, but the guys have begun to suffer a bit of collapsing jaw syndrome over the years. A consequence of too few paper mache layers and too many soggy nights. I wonder if this ever happens to Stolloween.