Riley had never celebrated Halloween. For her, Halloween was the most boring day of the year. She had always asked her parents if she could dress up or go trick-or-treating or something. But they always said the same thing. “We do not celebrate Halloween.”
This year was going to be different. As an eighteen-year-old college freshmen, she planned to do Halloween right. She had had her costume picked out for months and was looking forward to attending several Halloween parties on campus. Riley had also purchased a pumpkin to carve and candy corn to eat and a few scary movies. It had all the makings of a wonderful day.
On Halloween, Riley woke up feeling disoriented. Something felt wrong. Riley could hear her roommate, Mara, in their bathroom, blow-drying her hair. But it was too dark. She checked the clock. 10:00 AM. Yet the room was still pitch black. Riley turned on her lamp and glanced around the room, making sure everything okay. She walked into the bathroom. Sure enough, Mara was standing bent over, drying the underside of her hair.
“Hey, Mara. What’s up with the darkness?”
Mara made an odd growly sound, but did not actually answer Riley. Riley shrugged. Her roommate could be moody and had a mean streak. Riley preferred to stay out of Mara’s way, at times.
Riley left her dorm and stepped outside into total darkness. Where was the sun? She double-checked her iPhone, confirming it was daytime.
There were no other students around. Her own footsteps sounded loud, echoing in the stillness.
Suddenly, Riley heard another set of footsteps. Her heart started racing. Don’t be silly, she told herself. It is just another student, probably just as freaked out as I am.
Riley looked over her shoulder, nervously and saw fog coming toward her. Not natural fog, but fog that seemed to take shape and move as though it were alive. As the fog came closer, surrounding her, she could make out faces in the fog. Scary faces. Pointy teeth and grimacing grins. All eyes watching her. Evil eyes. She felt the hatred the fog faces felt for her. She heard cackling laughter, as the fog swirled around her faster and faster.
Through the fog, she could see someone approaching, his footsteps growing louder. He wore a long black robe and stood over nine feet tall, with red skin and eyes. His hair was black and grew up into pointy spikes.
“Riley HainWarrior, behold your doom!”
Riley screamed and ran. She pushed through the fog, hoping the faces couldn’t hurt her. It stung a bit as she ran past them, but she did not stop. She ran back to her dorm room, fumbling in her bag for her key. She opened her door and locked herself in.
Riley tried to think clearly. What should she do next? Call the police? No, they wouldn’t believe her. Get back in bed and pull the covers over her head and hope it was all a bad dream? Appealing. But she knew it was not a dream. Riley suddenly noticed Mara studying at the desk. Riley knew she should warn her roommate.
Riley walked over and placed a hand on Mara’s shoulder. Mara’s shoulder was ice cold and burned Riley’s hand. Mara turned around to face Riley. Mara’s pretty face was no longer pretty. She had the face of a dead person. Colorless skin, with blood dripping from the corner of her lips. Her eyes were completely white, no pupil or iris at all, yet it was clear she could see Riley perfectly well. Mara growled and came toward Riley. Riley panicked, but did not run. She grabbed the closest thing she could reach- a pointy high-heeled shoe and rammed it at Mara again and again, until Mara was still.
Riley felt horrified at what she had done and what Mara had become.
Then, someone knocked on her door. She didn’t want to answer it. Yet, it was ridiculous to hide. Better to face whatever was out there than to cower in the darkness.
Still clutching the bloody shoe, Riley opened the door. Someone was standing there, holding a giant sword, shining with light so bright it hurt her eyes.
“Riley? Let me in.”
Riley knew that voice. It was her father. Riley had never been so happy to see him. She stepped back, allowing him to enter, carefully re-locking the door.
“I am so glad you’re here. Everything is awful…What are you doing with that sword?”
“Our family is different, Riley. We are HainWarriors. You see, all around us are invisible forces we cannot see. Evil is real. On Halloween, the borders between our world and the otherworld become fuzzy. As HainWarriors, on Halloween, we can see evil forces clearly, both evil of the otherworld and people who are evil in our world, such as your roommate, apparently. We battle evil and destroy it.
HainWarriors do not get their swords or join the battle until age eighteen. We stand in the gap between good and evil. It is a big responsibility. That is why we do not celebrate Halloween. It is not a day to celebrate. It is a day to fight. Fortunately, we do not remember. 364 days of the year, we have no memory of being HainWarriors. You will wake up tomorrow, ignorant of what happened today until next Halloween.”
“Where is my sword?”
Her father drew his sword and brandished it toward Riley. Riley’s eyes grew wide with fright, as her father stabbed her in the heart. But she wasn’t hurt. She watched a sword appear in her hand. It felt right. Riley and her father went out boldly to battle the forces of evil.
The next morning, Riley woke up to find her roommate dead in the living room. The police investigated, but never solved the case.Riley never celebrated Halloween. For her, Halloween was the most boring day of the year.