Dare you Enter? (Or: The Importance of Reading Newspapers and Flyers, Often)
She thought it was a friendly town when she passed through. As she ate a quick breakfast in a local restaurant, she read the newspaper. Not her usual choice of breakfast companionship, but she needed something to do and had no friends in the area. What she saw within impressed her: expressions of concern, affection and healthy pride; talk of volunteers and the good they did in so many ways; plans for the future and celebrations of students progressing into new grades or out into the world.
That’s why the place stayed on her mind as she continued her travels, and the more she saw of other places, the more she felt a desire to see the place again. Finally, in the autumn, she was able to fulfill this longing. This time not to pass through, but to stay and become a part of such a fine community.
A truck laden with fond memories and basic necessities of civilized life came long with her. All that first day’s morning she unpacked her belongings and placed them within her new home. In the afternoon she had done enough for the now, so decided to take a stroll through some part of her new hometown.
While not intending to do so, on that day she created a tradition. Every afternoon or early evening thereafter she went out for a stroll, with varied directions. One day, after a long stroll all the way out of town and back again, she stepped into a store to get some necessaries. As she entered the nearest clerk looked up and smiled as he always did. Yet, instead of calling out the usual sort of greeting he barked out, “I suppose you are also seeking the needed things to enter in?”
Taking a step back, she looked around nervously. “I am already in!”, she squeaked. He looked at her quizzically. “Oh? I didn’t know you had entered. I drove by your place and saw no sign on yard or door.”
“Excuse me?” she asked. Then, thinking better, she made it a goodbye, instead. Hurrying away from the store, she made her way home. On the way, she noticed several strange objects in various yards, hanging on doors, even twined around mailbox posts. None of these things had been there when she left in the morning!
Various neighbors popped out of their homes and shouted after her. “I hope you will join us in our festivities!” “Wait! Come in inside and sit a SPELL … hahhaa .. I will make you some tea and read your fortune …”
As she went along, they continued their mocking cries. “My yard is sprouting skeletons! I hope yours’ is at least as bountiful!” “We will judge you fairly! “Your home was haunted before and it can be again!” “You must enter into our fun to be judged and not left wanting!” Many cackled madly. She hurried all the faster home. Hurtling herself inside, she slammed the front door and hurriedly turned the deadbolt, shivering when she thought the name.
“Oh, what have I gotten myself into?” she fretted. Just then something rapped on her window pane. What could it be? She took a deep breath to still her panic and turned, stepped, looked out. A person in a cowled hood peered back at her. “Oh dearie!” they cried out. “Let me in! Let me in! I want to help you get ready for the celebration!”
No matter how she protested and attempted to assert herself, this person persisted in their demands and she didn’t know what else to do, so she opened the door but stood firmly in the frame. There would be no entrance for them and plenty of witnesses if they tried to force the issue. “What do you mean help me get ready?”
“You need to be ready for the ghouls, ghosts and monsters! They’ll creep up on you from all sides with their demands, don’t you know? With cajolery, they will strip you of your goods, if you don’t plan well and use your right words. See how I have brought sweets for you? See how I have lit the light which cackles … err .. crackles through Jack’s teeth? All for you … all for you … For it is time! It is best that you enter, if you want to be one of us! Let me guide you!”
When she woke from her faint, she was in her bed with no idea how she had gotten there. Perhaps it was all a bad dream? She made her way downstairs. Oh no! On her coffee table was a Jack O’ Lantern, previously burnt candle snuffed out and clipped to it was some printed note.
“We of the Legion beseech your entry. It would be good for all to have new blood. It is the way of things in this dark time. Here is your beginning. The rest must be finished by you.” So, not a dream. What sort of terrible place had she moved to? Tossing the paper down, she wept in fear. Redoubled crying and shaking ensued when she happened to look down and see that on the back of the note there were arcane dark drawings piqued out in lurid colors, which included the words DARE YOU ENTER? , and others she couldn’t quite make out.
Her hands trembled and she felt she might just faint again, but not knowing seemed worse than the alternative. So she picked up the paper to examine it more closely. Taking it all in, she rose, filled with knowledge of what all this mysterious business meant and set off on her own private journey. She felt changed now, calm, ready to face the Legion and submit to their will. Making her way to the place designated, she went through the motions required and entered into the festivities of the dark time, now and to come.
Then she gathered what was needed to show her allegiance to her new community, strewing cobwebs and skeletons in her wake. She was changed and with it her home. Now, all that was left was to wait for the coming judgment.
And you? Do you dare enter?
American Legion Post #17 presents “Home Is Where Your Haunt Is” Halloween Home Decorating Contest. 1st Prize will be $100 and there will be something for a 2nd and 3rd prize, too. Judging will be from Friday, October 30 until Monday, November 2.
The contest will have two zones, the north and south side of U.S. Highway 60. To enter the contest and vote for your favorite houses and businesses follow American Legion Post # 17 on Facebook. For more information, contact Mike Montiel by calling 480-272-3786. or emailing GMMONTIEL@GMAIL.COM.
Story by Arletta Sloan.