The house sat back from the street a little way, and was surrounded by trees and well tended shrubs. It was painted white with green shutters and always was well maintained. To look at the place, no one would have given it a second thought but the parents in the neighborhood had always warned their children to stay away from the place.
Randy had spent his entire eight years on Hanover Street. He and his gang of pals had played up and down the few blocks where they lived and each and every one of them had been warned by their parents not to play on the grass of the house with the green shutters. Mostly, they had obeyed their folks and had lots of fun doing what small boys do, riding bikes, skateboards, and making their sisters lives miserable.
It was October now and Randy and his best friend Scott were excited about Halloween. It was the first year their parents had decided to let the two boys go out and trick or treat alone, without them tagging along and they couldn’t help but feel all grown up. Besides, Randy knew his dad would be just down the street with his little sister, Becka, if he needed anything, which he was sure he wouldn’t. With both boys, it was all about the Transformers. They had watched both movies over and over again, and were arguing, again, about who would get to be Bumblebee, and who would be Megatron. Randy was slightly taller than Scott, but Scott was a little huskier than Randy, so they were evenly matched when it came to physical strength, but the lifelong pals had never come to blows during an argument. They usually managed to settle their differences with words.
By Halloween night, they had worked out their differences and Randy was going as Megatron and Scott would be Bumblebee. Scott had come over to Randy’s house a little early so they could get ready together. They had plans to meet up with the rest of their friends as soon as it got dark enough, and then they were going to hit every house within the six block line their parents had given them. It was almost time to go and costumes were on. Randy had a large flashlight his dad had loaned him and they both were carrying large bags for the sweet loot they planned on collecting.
Randy yelled a quick goodbye to his parents as he and Scott rushed out of the house. “You both be back here by 9.00 PM.” He heard his mom yell after him.
“We will.” And off they went.
Scott spotted the rest of the boys standing on the corner under the street light and they hurried off. They spent a few minutes admiring everyone’s costumes and trying to guess who was who, and then set off for a night of fun. There were seven boys in the little group and they made a lot of noise as they went from house to house yelling “Trick or Treat” as soon as the front door was opened. They made it to the end of the sixth block and raced across the street to come back up the other side, laughing and having a great time.
Randy looked over and saw his Dad and his sister slowly taking their time coming up the street. Becka was only three and she was already getting tired of walking from house to house. He figured his dad would be taking her home, soon. He gave him a quick wave and hurried after his pals.
Scott was the first to notice where they were. “Hey, look you guys. It’s the house with the green shutters. We better pass this one.”
Phillip was fairly new to their neighborhood and asked, “Why? We don’t want to miss any good stuff, and it looks alright. The lights are on. Somebody must be home.”
Randy replied, “Well, our parents have always told us to stay away from this house. We just always have.”
The other boys nodded in agreement and echoed his statement with a chorus of yeses.
Phillip looked confused. “But why? Did they ever tell you why?”
“Um, not really. My dad just told me to never play on the grass and to avoid going on the property at all. We all just figured it was some mean old man who doesn’t like kids. We have lots of other places to play, so it never mattered before.”
Phillip looked around and the other boys were nodding in agreement. “Well, I don’t see why we can’t go up and at least ring the bell. We may be passing up a big haul here. I’m going. Any of you chickens coming with me?”
He started making chicken noises and headed up the sidewalk to the front door. Randy just shook his head and said, “Well, I’m not going. He can call me a chicken all he wants. You guys know we will get into deep trouble if we go, and I’m not losing my candy over this.” He turned to head on up the street. Most of the boys went with him, but he was surprised to see that Scott hesitated. “I think I’m gonna go with Phillip. I’ve always wanted to see who lives here, Randy. I’m going.” He turned and trotted after Phillip.
“Scott, no! We’ll get in trouble.”
Scott ignored his warning and caught up with Phillip. The two boys continued up the sidewalk and were soon standing on the porch. Randy and the rest of his friends were hiding behind some of the shrubbery, waiting to see what happened. Randy was so scared, he just knew the other boys could hear how loud his heart was beating. He watched as Phillip reached out and pushed the doorbell.
Nothing happened for a minute and Scott pushed the button again. Nothing. The two boys were just about ready to turn and leave when the front door opened just a crack. Randy and the boys could not hear what was being said. Scott and Phillip had moved closer to the door as if they couldn’t hear very well, either. All of a sudden the door opened wider, a pale arm snaked out, grabbed the two boys, yanked them inside, and slammed the door shut.
Randy and his friends just stood there, staring, with their mouths hanging open for what seemed like minutes. Finally, reality sunk in and Randy started screaming. He took off to see if he could find his dad. He wasn’t at the last place he had seen him, so he assumed Becka had gotten tired and his Dad had taken her home. With his friends hot on his heels, he raced for his house. They kept looking over their shoulders at the house with the green shutters, but it just sat there, looking innocent and menacing all at the same time.
“Dad, Dad, where are you? Randy screamed as he rushed into the house.
“I’m right here, Son. What’s wrong? His dad took him in his arms and held him close. Randy didn’t care if his friends saw or not. “The house got them, Dad. We saw it. A hand came out and just took them inside.” He was sobbing by now. His friends weren’t far behind him. Sniffles could be heard from most of them.
Randy’s dad took a minute to think about what he had said, then had the boys all come in and sit down. He called Randy’s mom and had a quick, whispered conversation with her. Randy watched them as they talked and saw his mother’s face go completely white. He got even more scared, then. His dad came back and told the boys he was having Randy’s mom give all their parents a call and they would come get them. They were to wait here.
Randy followed his dad when he went down the hall to his office. He watched as he picked up the phone and made a call. “Chief, this is Dave. It’s happened again. Yes, that’s right. My son witnessed the entire thing. Yes Sir. Five of them are here. Only two this time. Uh huh. Ok. Thank you Sir. I’ll tell them.” He hung up and turned to find Randy staring at him. He ran a shaking hand through his hair and motioned for him to come on into the room.
“Son, I guess we parents should have told you the reason we asked you not to go onto that property. You see, we don’t know who lives there. No one has ever seen a living soul in that house or on the grounds, but the house always has looked like it does, and the lawn is always mowed and the shrubs are always well taken care of. Ten years ago, a boy was taken into that house on Halloween, just like your friends were tonight. The police went into that house and looked for him. He was never found. In fact, there was no one in that house at all. Just furniture. My parents told me not to go anywhere near that place, and their parents told them the same thing. People have tried to burn it down. The fire just goes out and there is no damage to the house at all. A wrecking ball was brought in, once, and it didn’t make a dent. Whatever is in that house is evil and we try to keep you safe by keeping you away from it. But every now and then, someone doesn’t listen and it gets one of you.” He broke down and cried, holding his son in his arms.
Randy wasn’t the same after that. Phillip and Scott were never found. The police searched that house from top to bottom and not even a shred of clothing was found. Even the bags of candy they had been carrying were gone. Both families moved away shortly after the incident.
Once again, the town tried to destroy the house with the green shutters. They brought in a demolition company from upstate. Explosives were planted in all the right places and people came from miles around to watch the house get blown to smithereens. The man pushed the button and the explosion was huge. The dust cleared and the house stood untouched, gleaming in the sun, its green shutters intact.