Halloween Dreams

if you’re gonna scare, you might as well scare big

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Michelle Roberts

Let’s hear it for the good people of the Chippewa Valley going all out on Halloween decorations. I raise my cauldron of foggy potion to you, good sirs and madams, for you are out there frighting the good fright, and I want you to know this: I see you. I appreciate you. I salute your hard work.

You with the fake spider webs stretched across your screen door? I see you.

You with the inflatable dragon whose belly swirls with fire? I see you.

You with the headless man guarding the front door, with an axe in one hand and a pumpkin in the other? I see you.

You who bedecks their entire yard with mannequins dressed like monsters, ghouls, and insane ne’er-do-wells? I see you, too, buddy.

Halloween is one of our major holidays, but I wish it were even ... majorer. Candy, costumes, haunted houses, and scary movies? I love it.

Roadside pumpkin stands? The best.

Halloween episodes of my favorite shows? Those are the best episodes.

Little Halloween villages? Way cooler than little Christmas villages. 

Pop-up Halloween superstores? Keep poppin’. I love the little “tunnels of terror” you make with your creepy animatronic crypt keepers.

However, front lawn displays are the best – especially the homemade ones. Sadly, unless you’re terrified by un-mowed grass and overgrown hosta plants, my own yard isn’t very scary. But I have dreams. If given unlimited resources, I’d do big things. Like what? Well ...

I’d enclose my entire yard with a canopy of spooky trees imported from Transyl-friggin-vania. When kids walk up to the front door, I’ll swoosh down at them wearing a vampire-zombie-Harry-Potter costume via the roof-mounted hydraulic hoist I still need to design and build. But before the kiddies can even scream, “Holy crap, it’s a middle aged guy on a hydraulic hoist!” the trap door built into my front stoop will pop open, dropping them 30 feet into what appears to be an abandoned government research center. But is it really abandoned? (It’s not.) The kids – and any parents who were standing on the trap door – will need to unravel a Stranger Things-esque plot of intrigue and conspiracy as they desperately hunt for a way out. Along they way, they’ll come face to face with the most terrifying demons of all – the ones within their very own heart. If they make it out (of the hatch in my backyard) with their sanity intact, they’ll get one Fun-Sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup each.

BUT! As soon as they reach out for their chocolatey prize, I’ll evaporate into a wisp of smoke, blown right into their surprised faces by a cold, unnatural breeze to reveal a giant jack-o-lantern that explodes into unholy fire. Rotting hands will burst from the ground below and grab their ankles. They’ll suck air into their lungs to scream –

BUT! They suddenly wake up in a cold sweat. They are in their own beds. Their hands fumble across the nightstand for their glasses. They push them onto their confused faces and breath a deep sigh of relief as familiar sights come into focus. It was all a dream. As they climb out of bed, their bare feet squish something into the carpet.

It’s a Fun-Sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. A maniacal cackle echoes across Eau Claire.

So yeah, I’ve got some big ideas. I may not have time left this year to pull it off. I may need to just buy one of those things that looks like a witch crashed into a tree.

I guess we’ll see.