Night comes like a curtain dropping on sunshine’s stage, but it doesn’t matter; I can’t see the sun. I haven’t seen the sun in fifteen years. Gazing at the wall, that’s what I do. I know every element; the nail markings, the crayon drawings of deformed stick figures and illegible writings, the chipped paint and what lay beyond the threshold: freedom.
They say I did it.
I didn’t do it.
But I’m going to find out who did. Somehow. Eventually.
He’s supposed to be coming. I don’t know when. They never tell me; I just know this is the day he comes. It’s always the same damn thing: He comes in, props that same stained brown chair in front of my fucking face and just stares. Right at me. Like he’s daring me to blink. But I never do. And I never look directly at him. Because fuck him. Always the same questions too.
“When are you going to speak to me?”
“You’re never getting out of here, you know that, right?”
Then he leaves, just as quickly as he comes. I go back to staring at my wall.
Something is different tonight, though. My door was open. It’s never open. I step through and peer around. Danny, a kid younger than me, wearing nothing but a toilet cover on his head, runs by me screaming, “THE END IS NIGH!” Christy, a chirpy, petite, strawberry blonde sits in the corner running a nail file across her knuckles. There’s Blake, licking the wall; he’s always licking the wall. Don somehow had gloves on – never seen those leather gloves before – and he was just standing there, cackling. What the fuck.
I made my way down the corridor and pushed through the door we’re never supposed to go through that says, “Exit.” I exit. The darkness envelopes my eyes and rain is the first thing I notice; it’s cool on my hot skin. I see more and more of us wandering around outside. Some have the typical white uniforms on and others are like Danny, naked; their ass cheeks flapping in the dark, as they frolic in the wet grass.
I see headlights coming around a bend in the road ahead and I dodge behind Jimmy, a seven-foot motherfucker with the biggest head I’ve ever seen and I pretend to be analyzing my toe hairs. It’s cold in only a thin white shirt and white pants and it doesn’t take long for them to become drenched and stick to my skin. I push my tongue to the roof of my mouth to bite back the clattering of my teeth.
The car stops, its headlight beams spraying over all of us. I lower my shoulders down as best I can to avoid detection. I see him get out. He’s here, but he looks confused and then terrified and then panicked. He runs to the gate. Thunder ripples across the night sky, making the seven-foot motherfucker jump and run away. I’m exposed, but I don’t care, as I make a run for the car. I need to get out of here. Someone’s sitting in the car; it’s a woman. I shimmy up the back. I guess I could have just gone for the driver’s side door, but the titter-tatter of the rain was messing with my head. And I hadn’t been outside for fifteen years. I am disoriented. I need to get in, but that damn lady was still there. I bring my hand back and then forward smashing it into her window. I didn’t want to hurt her – just scare her into getting out of the car. She does. I slide in.
Danny was the one that told me about driving. He said it was simple. “You just put this foot” – he pointed to his right big toe – “on the right pedal and you VROOOOOM!” – he pointed to his big toe again – “And when you want to SCREEEEEECH to a stop, put your foot on the left pedal.” Sounded easy enough. But wait, what was the different letters for? Oh, yeah. “If you want to go backwards, ROUND ROUND ROUND, the R…THE R one…and then you go back and back and back and back and back and back and back and back…” I shift the gear into the R and the car lurches backward. I jump.
Whoa. I shift it into D and go back around the bend and then right and I am on the main road. It is just me and nobody else.
I am free.
My mind is racing. Where should I go? I didn’t know where “go” is. The only place I know is home, so I will go home. My eyes droop and I slap myself to keep from drifting. Normally I would be chomping on some bullshit sleeping pills or whatever was in those blue capsules they gave us and lying down on a hard mattress staring at my wall until it faded from view, but now I trained my eyes as hard as I could stand on the sleek black road with the rain hitting the windshield. I figure out the wipers. It takes blasting a loud song on the radio and accidentally hitting the left pedal until I find the right lever.
I need clothes. Mine are damp and make me cold. It looks like heat is supposed to come out of the vents of the car, but nothing is happening. Maybe I am doing it wrong. I also need to change because wouldn’t he be looking for me? Surely, he realizes I am gone by now? And with his car. He is going to be fucking furious.
Then, I stop. Right there in the middle of the road. A blue car swerves past me, honking and the driver shows me his finger. I get out of the car and look. It hurts, but I keep looking. There it is, coming up over the hills: the sun. I stand there as a few more cars pass and keep looking. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The rays feel good on my still-wet clothes.
A red truck pulls in behind me. Its driver gets out. He is wearing blue work clothes it seems like.
“Hey mister, are you alright? What happened?”
I can’t find my voice. It is like someone had buried it, but within me and I had to dig it out. I dig and I dig and I dig…
“No…no…I’m, I’m okay. No, I need help. I’m cold. Wet.” I shiver for dramatic effect, even stomp my teeth together.
“I have an extra pair of work clothes in the truck, if you…?” The man says, as his forehead creases with concern.
“Yeah, that…that’d be great, if it’s no trouble?” I rub my hands on my arms to really play it up.
He comes back with clothes that look just like his folded up and a pair of black boots. He hands them over to me and I take them, my hands shook and place them on the front seat.
“Thank you…thank you.”
“Are you having car trouble too?” The man says, fingering a bald spot at the top of his head. He has wrinkles on his hands that made his skin look like it’d shed off right there and then. Or that it would rip with the slightest touch. I extend my hand, anyway. Christy taught me that. “It’s always polite to shake someone’s hand,” she had said.
He takes it, even pats me on the shoulder. Then he turns around and leaves. I turn back to my car, shift in D, right foot on right pedal and take off, VROOOOOM.
Back at that place, before all this happened, they were decorating the play area. Pumpkins with carved faces, colorful leaves strewn around the walls, and they even had these little candy pieces that looked like bite sized pumpkins. They were sugary and my mouth waters thinking about them. It was the first year that I had been there where they did this. And the last year, now that I think about it, if I can avoid him.
Some of the staffers had even worn costumes. I didn’t really get why, but then I remember Scotty. He was always nice to me, gave me extra grape juice from time to time. One day, I was flipping through a coloring book when a large shadow ensconced me in my red armchair. I turned around and there was an ape. Frizzy hair, large arms and a wide mouth with sharp teeth; he beat his chest and roared. I fell out of the armchair and instinctively put my arms in front of my face. Then the ape took his head off and it was Scotty. He had tears streaming down his face he was laughing so hard. I had no idea it was him. That’s what I needed to do. Disguise myself – blend in, so that he could never find me.
I see the sign welcoming me back home. Finally. I thought cars would have gotten me here faster. I stop at the first place I see and pull into a parking lot. I change clothes in the car; I don’t want anyone to see me. The dry clothes felt much better. I pull out of the parking lot and go right. Because right was all I knew. Right foot on the right gas pedal. Right it is. When I go down a ways, I see a line of buildings on either side and they too have those decorate leaves and a lot of those smiling pumpkins, but the smiles didn’t look so friendly. On the left at the end of the corner, I see a sign outside of the building advertising “Halloween masks.” I stop. Get out and walk to the door. Locked. I need to get in there and get one of those masks to disguise myself. I go around to the back. I try the door there. Locked. I put my weight into my shoulder and slam myself against the door. I get in. That was easy.
Then the a wailing noise almost brings me to my knees. I put my hands over my ears to try to soften the sound, but that doesn’t work. It sounds similar to the alarms I have heard back there. Shit. I run into the front of the store and am shocked to see one of those apes Scotty was right in the middle of the store. I jump, like back then. I start grabbing masks I see. I don’t like them. One has a big red nose; another has a pointy hat attached to it. I would look stupid. Then I see it. It’s a simple white mask. It looks almost human. I try it on and it’s smooth. I take it off and as I run back through the door I came, I see a glint of silver. Knives. I need to protect myself against him and whoever else he brought along. I grab a couple of the big ones and some rope because Don had talked about hanging things with rope and that makes sense to me. I stuff the knives into the pockets of the work clothes the man in the red truck had given me, toss the rope over my shoulder and put the mask over my head again. I can see fairly well, so that isn’t a problem.
I slide in the car and admire my disguise in the mirror. And I remember something, then. Something he had said to me every time he came in and sat in that stained brown chair across from me, staring at me.
“You have the blackest eyes; the devil’s eyes.”
Huh, I kinda do.
(If you didn’t catch on, this is John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) reconstituted as a catch-me-if-you-can thriller/mystery with Michael Myers as the protagonist and Dr. Loomis as the villain.)