By noon on Halloween day, the shops had sold out most of their supply of horror costumes, creepy masks, and artificial blood. The items reappeared in the late afternoon, when the town’s younger generation showed up as giggling ghosts and hopscotching witches. Later in the evening, more serious and experienced mummies and cadavers took to the streets, which turned into an exhibition of frightening characters.

Every now and then, screams were heard, sometimes with the intention to scare and sometimes as signs that the intention had succeeded. Everybody was enjoying the free adrenaline rushes.

Suddenly, a different scream was heard. This scream, however, sounded genuinely desperate and didn’t stop. Like a stubborn fire alarm it kept sounding, causing irritation and anger. When people looked for its source, they saw a person with a tormented face and a twisted mouth, expressing agonizing pain.

It was obvious that that face and that scream didn’t belong in the family friendly celebration of death and terror. Make-up hadn’t painted those hollow eyes or those greenish cheeks. The appearance was simply inappropriately human.

As the scream continued, people started muttering that it was disturbing the peace; that the screamer needed a tranquilizer or a straight jacket. Responsible mothers pulled their children closer and brave fathers considered to shut the screamer up with a good whack.

Before that happened, though, a little boy broke out from the crowd and approached the annoying person. Without a word, he gently wrapped his arms around the screamer in a long, warm, generous hug. Immediately, the irritating sound metamorphosed into soft crying which gradually quieted down. The face turned calm and peaceful, with clear signs of beauty and serene peace.

There was an unspoken agreement that the Halloween celebration now was over; that it was time to return home. A strange thought had come to people’s minds which they needed to ponder alone.

Something told them that outer sights and sounds sometimes are deceptive; that they might hide something invisible but very important, maybe even holy.  Reluctantly and secretly, some of them admitted their need for a similar, transformative hug.

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1 year ago

Sweet/Scary RunnerUp: An absolutely beautiful story, and one that speaks to each of us deeply. We all present one face to the world, but within most of us is something invisible, important and indeed holy. A very moving story that warrants many readings.

Last edited 1 year ago by Voice-Team
Paul Lewthwaite
Paul Lewthwaite(@paul-lewthwaite)
1 year ago

Powerful story, Christer. Liked that description of a human face as being thought of as totally inappropriate for Halloween. Your story shows the power of unconditional hugs/selfless human contact. (only bit I did wonder was why was the person screaming like this? A true supernatural encounter? The mind boggles!)

Reply to  Paul Lewthwaite
1 year ago

I don’t think most of us would have to go far to find a similar scream within ourselves. The supernatural is the least of our challenges! I’ll take a ghost over politicians any day.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

Even those of us who are screaming on the inside need the occasional hug. I loved the progression of this story Christer. Very nicely done.

Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
Reply to  Carrie OLeary
1 year ago

Carrie, I was about to say something similar but I like the way you put it instead. I would say those that scream on the inside need a hug the most.

Great work Christer! I love this story.

1 year ago

This is one of your most beautiful stories, Christer – perhaps the most beautiful. I love the way you bring the reader into the world of Halloween night, where screams are not uncommon, and are mostly for fun. As you said, we delight in the flow of adrenaline. But that… Read more »

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
1 year ago

Hello Christer. Many years ago, as a divorced mother of two young boys, the three things I longed for continuously were a long hot bath, a nap, and a good scream. I was raised by two ministers – we did not scream. We didn’t even complain. We did our duty… Read more »

Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
1 year ago

As someone who read your story after most others, I can only agree with all the comments and compliments on your story, Christer. A very thought-provoking piece and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Heather Chrzanowski
Heather Chrzanowski(@heather-chrzanowski)
1 year ago

Wow, nicely written. Yes, yes, yes…we are all screaming inside at times, behind our masks and costumes. Great theme.

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
1 year ago

I woke up screaming with terror in the middle of the night after reading your story yesterday. Awesome!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

I have never experienced a Halloween celebration like yours, Christer because we have a different way of celebration here in our area than yours. But I am grateful that you share your kind of Halloween with me. I loved it. I think your celebration was fun and a bit creepy… Read more »

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
Reply to  Lotchie Carmelo
1 year ago

Hello Lotchie – Your comment made me curious. Could you tell us how you celebrate Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve in the Philippines? It’s so interesting to hear how holidays differ around the world. Christer’s description is very similar to the customs in the United States – dressing up in… Read more »

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Christer Norrlof
1 year ago

Thank you for asking, Julie and Christer. Our celebration of Halloween here in our area is very different from yours, particularly here in our province. We just visit our loved ones who have passed away in the cemetery and offer flowers, candles, food, and prayers. And if we have an… Read more »

4 months ago

What a delight to read this story again, Christer, after it was featured for this year’s scary contest. It is very beautiful, one of your best, and becomes more relevant with each passing year.

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