What was this place that I had found?
I am sitting in my car dwelling on my anxiety and guilt, trying to nurse my nerves into submission. I take a heavy sigh and finally push open the car door - it feels heavier than usual. I loosen my tie and stagger into the house. Instantly an aroma of sweet, savory foods hit me like a brick. She cooked dinner for me. My guilt rose to the forefront of my mind with excited intention.
I throw my briefcase and jacket by the entryway table and continue to pull off my tie. I throw it down on the floor as I walk into the kitchen.
“What are you cooking? It smells great,” I whisper, walking up to her now. She turns around at my voice and smiles at me. She reaches in for a kiss and pulls me into her. Being this close I can smell her lingering floral perfume pushing its way through the overpowering smells of the cooking food.
“I’m making beef pot roast, your favorite.” She runs her hands through my hair and I keep my grip loose on her hips. Of all the nights for her to decide to be home and cook dinner…. I can feel the cowardly part of my brain telling me to choose a different night but my guilt and anxiety are louder and I knew I had put this off too long. “Do you want me to get you a beer or fix you a drink?”
I smile weakly at her.
“No, I’m doing okay, babe. I’m just going to go change,” I answer as I move away from her and head upstairs.
“Dinner is just about ready, don’t take too long,” she calls out after me. I sigh again as I start to undo the buttons on my shirt.
Maybe I should just let go of it all, quit my job, too and go live on that boat with Ben. I think to myself. I continue to let thoughts of just living on the water, fishing and relaxing alone consume my mind as I lazily undress. As I pull the t-shirt over my head I pause for a moment wondering if I should pack an overnight bag to take to Ben’s. Though I am certain one of us will leave tonight I am not sure it will be me. Instead I just head back downstairs.
She had set the table in the dining room beautifully, with two simple candles and the dishes my mother had gotten us for our wedding. I know my mother will support any decision I make but I also know this is going to crush her when she finds out about this.
I sit down in my usual chair as my wife brings me a plate almost overflowing with beef pot roast. My mouth salivates at the smell of it, maybe I can wait until I am mostly done eating. A little selfish but as is all of this.
She sits down with her own plate, smiling at me and I start eating, making sure to keep good eye contact with her. Making sure she is truly as happy as she seems. We had been fighting, hadn’t we? I can’t be the only one unhappy in this marriage.
As I start eating - delicious - she starts peppering me with small talk chatter about my day and work and blah, blah, blah. She knows I detested small talk which makes me wonder if she, too, has something more important to talk about that she’s afraid to say.
I take another bite and decide to swallow my fears along with it.
“Honey, we need to talk,” I say in a sort of whisper. She puts down her fork and looks at me with a curious expression. “I can’t stay here anymore. I can’t keep pretending everything is fine.”
She sighs but her facial expression doesn’t change.
“This is it? You’re leaving? You’re not even going to try to save our marriage?”
I’m not sure what I find more irritating: her calm and collected demeanor or her insinuation that I have not up to this point been trying to save our marriage.
“I didn’t come to this decision lightly, we have been struggling and fighting for months. I have nothing left to say, I’m not happy,” I bark back at her. I do my best to control my anger and keep this civilized. Divorce is going to be painful enough, I didn’t need to make things more difficult by hurting her now.
“You don’t love me anymore?” Again her face stays even, more as if she’s curious rather than hurt.
“Of course, I love you. I’ll always love you but -”
“There’s someone else. I know. I might not have nailed down who she is, but I know there is, you can stop just denying it,” she interrupts. I cover my face in my hands. I do not want to have this argument again.
“Can you just not imagine that I would want out of this situation with you unless there was someone else? Is that the only explanation you’ll accept?” I ask through my hands, refusing to look up at her.
“You coward, you’re asking for a divorce and you can’t, even now, own up to you cheating on me?” She takes a sip of wine and for a moment it looks like she is going to spit it back at me.
“I can’t admit to something I didn’t do. I may be many things with a lot of faults but I’m not an adulterer. There is no one else. I don’t want anyone else and I no longer want you. I just need out of this,” I answer as calmly as I can. She nods and I hope for a moment that I finally got through to her.
Before I can say anything else I feel a strong pain in my heart as if someone was squeezing it inside my chest. It suddenly becomes difficult to breathe and my vision begins to blur.
“It doesn’t really matter if you admit the truth to me, I know the truth and you’ll have to answer for your sins in hell,” she said, standing up and walking over to me now with her wine in hand. I double over and fall to the floor.
A sharp pain shoots through my shoulder where I hit the ground but I only feel it for a second before the suffocating feeling of poison takes over once again.
“What did you do?” I barely choke out.
“You really think I was going to let you leave me? Disgrace me and move on to be happy with another woman? Fuck you. Enjoy hell.” She sips her wine as I close my eyes into sleep.
* * *
Everything is gray as if all the colors have been muted down. Everything looks unreal, like someone on drugs depicting an insane asylum. I slowly meander through the street I landed on, the entire place seems abandoned. It seems like a city built within a graveyard. Bones hang from tree branches and carved pumpkins lay scattered about. Up ahead I can hear voices, part of me wonders if I even want to meet the type of people that inhabit this strange place I’ve landed into. I keep walking hesitantly.
I follow the curve of the road to see what looks like the town square. There’s a giant fountain in the middle but instead of water flowing it looks like blood. A taller than average skeleton is standing on top of it preaching down at the rest of the community. I hide myself behind the stone wall for a moment and examine these ‘people’. Everyone here seems to be in some ghoulish costume but much more life-like (well dead-like) than I have ever seen.
What’s happening to me? I question to myself. I try replaying what had happened to bring me here: my wife and I were arguing, the pain, then nothing. Is this death?
“You must be new,” a sweet voice calls from behind me. I screech a little and jump. I turn to see a woman who looks like the bride of Frankenstein. Sewed pieces of different bodies patch her up together. Her face, though sort of eclectic, is beautiful.
“Um yeah,” I manage to choke out as my voice cracks a little, “I’m new. I just got here like a few minutes ago. Where am I? What is this place?”
I can see the sympathy rising in her eyes. She reaches a hand up and brushes my cheek. As she pulls her hand away I notice blood - my blood. I reach up and touch my face and realize streams of blood have been pouring from my eyes and nose.
“What happened to me?”
“This is Halloween Town. The place where all unfortunate souls whose lives were taken from them end up. From the looks of it I’d say you were poisoned,” she answers.
“What?” I stumble back from her. This has to be a dream.
“I assure you, this is real. Yes it is frightening but everyone here is very nice and you’ll get used to it.”
“So you, you were murdered too?” I ask, trying to wrap my mind around this situation. She lowers her head.
“Yes, I was in a mental hospital. I was being taken for a standard procedure, the lobotomy, it was supposed to cure me. But I was left unattended for a moment and another patient came in - he was very disturbed. He completely dismembered me.”
“A lobotomy? They haven’t don’t that in … decades. When did you die?”
“1938,” she whispers. “How long has it been?”
“About 80 years….”
I can see she’s crying a little. Instinctually, I want to reach out and hold her but I maintain my distance.
“What’s your name?” She asks through silent tears.
“Logan, what’s yours?”
“Sally,” she replies. “That is my husband. The real leader of Halloween Town, Jack.” She says point toward the talking skeleton man.
She takes my arm and starts to pull me towards the crowd. I swallow all my fear and walk with her through the square. People are starting to move along and anyone who sees me gives me a polite welcome. One man, who looks as if he’s covered in tar with a few scattered feathers, lifts his hat to me.
“Jack, this is Logan. He’s just arrived,” Sally says to her husband as he jumps down from the fountain.
“Logan! Welcome! Let’s give you a tour and get you settled!” Jack exclaims excitedly.
“Um sure,” is I can reply. The thought of staying here and ‘settling’ disturbs me.
I turn quickly at the sound of children screaming, they suddenly brush past me. All of them are wearing Halloween masks. One of them is soaking wet, one of them looks like he stuck his hand in an electric socket and the third, the only girl looks like she froze to death. Continuing to play and scream they run along without a word. I turn to look at Sally. Fortunately, she seems to know what I’m asking without me speaking a word.
“Yes, we have quite a few children here, more than one might like to reasonably think. Those three siblings were victims of their delusional mother. She feared her children would be taken from her so she murdered them to save them. I have my suspicions she intended to follow them into death but she was discovered and put away before she could do so,” Sally whispered to me.
“Where are you from, Logan?” Jack questions with the same excitement in his voice.
“I’m from Portland, Maine,” I stutter out.
“The New England colonies? Wonderful! What brought you here?”
“Um apparently death….” My words disappear in my throat. As I lose my voice Jack bellows out a laugh.
“Obviously! We’re all dead here!” He laughs, slapping me on the back.
“My wife, I think she poisoned me,” I answer, trying to fill in the gaps of missing time.
“Oh dreadfully, sorry, son,” Jack replies, exchanging a glance with Sally.
“Well there will be no more of that nonsense here! Halloween Town is a place of friendly respect, and everyone is dead so what more harm could anyone possibly do to each other?” Jack explains again with a laugh.
We walk through a haunting neighborhood and I shutter to myself. There are a few other dead people walking around and I do my best not to think of their cause of death.
“This is where you’ll be staying, Logan! Sally and I live just at the end of the road in that old tower, if you need anything,” Jack adds pointing towards a crooked, wobbly looking tower. It’s amazing it remains standing upright.
I look back at the dark house he said was for me. The windows are cracked and there are cobwebs through the edges of the window frames.
“Rest well, Logan and we’ll continue the tour tomorrow!” With that Jack and Sally wander towards their home hand in hand. I heave a heavy sigh of fear before walking up the steps to the front door.
“Home sweet, haunted, home.”
About the Creator
Hello. Welcome to my page. I have been writing for over ten years & have been published in several different formats including magazine articles, poems & full length novels. I have a BA in English Literature & a Masters in Psychology.
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