Saturday, October 29, 2005
The House at 24000
It was half past six on the night of Halloween. Dana was in her room, putting on the finishing touches to her Pirate costume.
"Hurry up Dana, its already dark!" yelled her brother Danny (Daniel) as he burst into her room, flourishing his Batman cape.
"I'm ready, lets go" replied Dana, with a sigh of resignation.
Dana, who was fifteen, had to take her nine year old brother Danny and his ten year old friend Matt trick-or-treating. She didn't mind her brother Danny, who was usually well behaved. But Matt was a born trouble maker and brought out the worst in Danny. And today, dressed up as his hero Freddy Kruger, Matt was anxious to get started.
"Be back home by eight thirty, Dana," said her Mother as she waved them off at the door.
Time passed by very quickly and soon it was eight o'clock. They had each collected a knapsack full of goodies. Matt and Danny had successfully scared 17 kids and 6 adults with their Pop Snappers (miniature fireworks that explode on impact) and by jumping out from behind cars and dark spaces. Tired from the night's work, Dana was now dragging them both back home. They were walking past the Montecito Memorial Cemetery, when Matt suddenly took off and ran straight into the graves.
"Matt! Come back here right now!" Dana screamed at the top of her voice.
But Matt didn't stop and soon disappeared among the graves. Dana looked at Danny, who just shrugged. Muttering under her breath, she walked towards the graves and Danny followed her. Almost halfway into the graveyard, Matt leapt out from behind a grave with a wild scream, scaring both Dana and Danny. Taken completely by surprise, Dana jumped back, tripped and fell onto a grave that had a shallow depression. Suddenly, she felt as though insects and worms were crawling all over her. A shudder ran through her body and she scrambled out of the grave.
“Matt, you stupid idiot!” Dana yelled, glaring at Matt.
“Look!” said Danny suddenly, “There’s a house over there.”
They looked in the direction that Danny was pointing and saw an old house adjacent to the graveyard. It had bright Halloween decorations out on the front porch.
“Wow, what is that house doing in the middle of nowhere?” said Matt and started walking towards it.
“Matt, stop! We are going back home. Right now,” said Dana.
“Come on, just this one more house and then we’ll go back. Please?” said Matt.
“Yeah, lets just check it out,” pleaded Danny.
Suddenly, Dana felt a shiver run through her and she shuddered involuntarily.
“Okay fine and then we go straight back home,” said Dana, against her better judgment.
There was a young woman sitting out on the porch and she greeted them. She gave them some candy corns and then held up a box.
“You can each pick one item that you like,” she said.
Dana picked out a charm bracelet and wore it on her wrist. It had silver hearts and stars that shone in the moonlight. Danny found a dog whistle on a silver chain. The young lady smiled and helped him put it around this neck. Matt picked out a chain that had a tiny shrunken head for a pendant. They thanked the lady and started walking back home. Matt was talking excitedly about how cool his shrunken head was and Dana was examining her bracelet. Danny was blowing on his whistle.
“Danny stop! We don’t want any stray dogs running up to us now,” said Dana and then suddenly, she froze. Matt and Danny’s eyes widened with fear and they grabbed each other. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. All around them, everywhere, were ghosts. And crawling everywhere on the ground, especially on the graves, were thousands of tiny little black bugs. The three of them stood rooted to the spot.
“Okay… just… stick together… they don’t seem to notice us…,” said Dana, breathing hard and trying to calm herself down.
Suddenly, Dana shuddered as a cold shiver ran through her spine; a ghost, from behind her, had passed right through her body.
Then Matt lifted his hand trembling, as he pointed to their left. There was a huge black dog with glowing eyes staring right at them. It snarled and ran towards them.
“RUN!” yelled Matt and he took off screaming.
Dana grabbed her brother’s hand and they ran behind Matt. They didn’t look back or stop running until they reached Matt’s house, which was a block away from the cemetery. They ran inside and shut the door. They stood gasping for breath and looked around, their eyes wide with terror. They seemed to be safe inside the house. For almost thirty minutes, the three of them just sat on the couch, staring into the empty air. Finally, Dana summoned up her courage and looked outside. There were no signs of ghosts or the ghost dog. She sighed with relief and convinced Matt’s mother that she and Danny were too tired to walk the two blocks back to their own home.
After Matt's mother dropped them home, Dana and Danny were very quiet for the rest of the night. Danny decided that he didn’t want the whistle anymore and threw it in the trash. Dana decided to go to bed. She stood at her bedroom window and looked outside for signs of anything out of the ordinary. After a while, satisfied that nothing seemed amiss, she went to bed. She took off the charms bracelet and put it in her jewelry box.
The next morning, Dana awoke feeling very tired; she had had nightmares throughout the night. She went downstairs to have breakfast. The phone rang and she jumped up, startled. Her mother answered it and seemed worried as she spoke.
“Dana, that was Matt's Dad,” said her Mother, “He says Matt is missing. They’ve looked everywhere and he’s not at home. Do you have any idea where he might be?”
“No,” said Dana, “When did they see him last?”
“Just before he went to bed,” said Dana’s Mother,” His Dad says the security system was still activate when they found he was missing. So he couldn’t have left the house without tripping the alarm. I’ll go wake up Danny and ask him if he knows anything.”
Dana felt a chill run through her body. She ran up the stairs, past her mother, into Danny’s room and pulled back the blankets.
“NO! Leave me alone! I wanna sleep some more,” whined Danny.
Dana let out a sigh of relief and dropped the blankets back.
They spent weeks looking for Matt, but sadly, never found him. The charms bracelet that Dana placed in her jewelry box also mysteriously disappeared.
Neither Dana nor Danny told their parents or any other adult about what happened the night before Matt went missing. Many months later, Dana visited the cemetery again. She didn't see any ghosts, but she did shiver involuntarily every now and then, inspite of the fact that it was a warm afternoon in March. She also found out that the house near the graveyard, that they visited on Halloween, had been deserted for over six decades. The Montecito Memorial Park is located on 24145 Barton Road, Loma Linda, California.