“Wanna see a dead body?,” Nicki said, after Trick or Treating.
“No way,” I said. “Dead bodies creep me out.”
“I bet you’re just scared, Justin.” Nicki grinned through her skeleton mask. “Some Frankenstein monster! You’re a Frankenstein coward.”
I adjusted my Frankenstein mask and walked ahead. All I wanted was to go home and eat my candy.
To tell the truth, I don’t even like to look at dead animals on the road. All that blood and guts! And the expression. If I do look, it’s always the expression on the dead animal’s face that really gets to me.
“This is the house,” Nicki said. “Come on.”
Nicki guided me through the dark, musty hallway. Each stair groaned as we climbed to the top floor.
“In here.” Nicki opened a heavy wooden door. “Unless you’re too scared.”
My heart was pounding, but I followed Nicki anyway.
An eerie stream of moonlight glowed through a window. Was there really a dead body here? Some was under the covers.
Leaning closer, I saw the face of an old man.
“His eyes are closed,” I said. “Maybe he’s sleeping. We’d better get out of here.”
“No.” Nicki grabbed my arm. “We have to see if he’s dead. Touch him.”
“Touch him?” I stepped back. “That’s totally creepy.”
“So you are scared?”
“No.” Slowly, I stuck out my hand.
There was crusty stuff on the dead man’s eyes. His skin looked gray in the dim moonlight from the window. What would it hurt? I could touch his face, then run downstairs.
I extended my index finger toward the sunken gray cheek. His wrinkled skin felt creepy, like a slab of raw beef.
The old man’s eyes flew open and he began to laugh. “Happy Halloween!” he roared, as I flew down the stairs.
Nicki caught up with me outside. “Well, what do you think of my grandpa?” she asked. “He always has me pull that trick because he’s too stingy to buy candy for treats!”
This short story for children originally appeared in the October 31, 2002, edition of the Athens Banner-Herald and on their website: www.onlineathens.com. It was part of a group of “spooky stories” compiled by then staff writer Mary Jessica Hammes. The original photo illustration was by R.C. Rique/Staff. This story is copyrighted 2002 by Donny Seagraves and Gail Karwoski. No reprints without permission of the authors.