She places the bowl of sweets—candies, cakes, and other goodies—at the table with a smile. All the neighborhood children should be starting with their trick or treating pretty soon, and Mrs. Buckley wants to be ready for when they pass by her home. They’re apparently planning a good prank this year, in case the doors wouldn’t open fast enough—something to shock the adults when they finally did so.
Mrs. Buckley smiles; she remembers when she was that young and mischievous, especially for All Hallows Eve. She hopes her own children will have memories just as wonderful.
Speaking of which—
“Susan? John?” She calls from the stairwell. “Are you two ready yet?”
Silence. It is often the reply whenever she calls either of them—whether it’s for school, for supper, a dinner party, any little occasion really. Sometimes Mrs. Buckley is unnerved by the silence, but then, wouldn’t any mother?
“I hear that Mrs. Benjamin has made her famous pie,” she coaxes. “You better hurry, before all the little ones claim it first.”
Mrs. Buckley frowns, feeling concern pinch her chest, before she starts to ascend the staircase, intending to search her beloved children’s rooms. She hopes that nothing is wrong.
She pauses in her step and tilts her head to see Susan coming in from the backdoor. Mrs. Buckley smiles, exhaling deeply, and she goes back down again. She looks at her daughter and feels warmth in her heart. Susan is the eldest of the Buckley children, a lovely girl of fifteen. Many have said that she resembles her mother, but if you were to ask Mrs. Buckley, she would often reply that she often saw the late Mr. Buckley in her daughter. Even if it were for a moment, the idea of losing Susan (or John, of course) was frightening.
“Susan, darling,” Mrs. Buckley smiles as she embraces Susan. “I’m surprised that you aren’t wearing a mask, but then again, I suppose that isn’t really important. Where’s your brother? Is he still making his mask?”
“Yes, yes, he’s in the tool shed, putting on the finishing touches. He wanted to get serious with his costume this year,” Susan says, smiling. “Would you like to see it?”
As she turns around, Mrs. Buckley notices how Susan bites her lip, as if to stop a widening smile. Oh, John’s costume must be really good to get a smile out of Susan (lovely girl, really, but she is much too serious, sometimes). Mrs. Buckley can’t wait to see it.
Susan opens the door to the tool shed and gestures for her mother to go first, which she does with much enthusiasm. Mrs. Buckley hears Susan chuckle behind her as she closes the door, but dismisses it with a smile of her own. After all, she’ll be in on the joke soon.
“John?” Mrs. Buckley calls. “I hear you’ve been working on something. May I see?”
“Of course, mother,” she hears John say from her left. “It’s right here.”
Mrs. Buckley turns her head towards John’s direction, but that’s all she’s able to do before she is promptly knocked down to the floor. She registers the pain on her temple, even feels liquid running down it. Dear Lord, is she bleeding? She can’t really tell. Everything seems to look so strange…
“Hold her down,” she hears John say—it’s like hearing things while underwater, but Mrs. Buckley can still hear—but the feeling of her daughter pinning her down to the floor is strange, as if it’s happening to someone else. This just can’t be happening. It can’t.
“No…no, please,” Mrs. Buckley murmurs, shakily lifting her hands to stop whatever is about to happen, only to have them shoved down and held to her sides by a strong grip.
From above her, Susan giggles. Such a lovely sound. Why—?
With the light coming from the cracks in the wood, Mrs. Buckley can see a blurry silhouette of her son, with his hands raised up high. She squints. What is he holding—?
She can’t scream. There is pain, an immense pain that can’t be described, only felt. Blood is flooding her mouth, dribbling to her chin, and down to the blade now in her neck. When John attempts to pull the axe out, the pain worsens, and Mrs. Buckley is shocked that she can still do a bastardized version of breathing when it’s finally out. She just can’t move or speak.
Please, stop. I just want this to stop. Oh, God—
John scowls. “Damn it.”
“I thought you said it would be over in one blow, Johnny.”
“Seems I didn’t sharpen it enough.”
Susan sighs. “Let me do it then. You can hold her head out.”
Mrs. Buckley barely notices the switch of positions, barely feels her son, her precious baby boy, grab her hair and forcefully tilt her head back, completely baring her mangled neck. Her vision is starting to go dark at the edges, but she doesn’t look away from her sweet little babies, whom she bore and raised. Susan and John are smiling. They’re so lovely when they—