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Halloween Writting Contest Entry 06

The following story was submitted as an entry in The Wanderer second annual Halloween Writing Contest.
The winner will be announced in the October 30, 2008 edition.
Stories will be posted on-line as they are available in print.

The Curse of the Spirits of Foster

I didn't technically kill Joe Broxton.

Did I?

Hi, my name is Jimmy Glider. I'm 12 years old and I live in Foster, MA. Foster is a quiet, peaceful, seaside town. It has an arcade, a movie theater, a supermarket, a mini golf course, a beach, and my favorite spot, the library. I usually go there with my two best friends, Johnny Sandsa and Becky Brogioli. And one last thing you should know about my town -- it has a graveyard.

But before I talk to you about Joe Broxton, I think you should know about Halloween. Our town is Halloween City. People dress up in colorful, creative costumes and march around in the town parade every year. Then everybody meets at the city hall to participate in a costume contest. I've won in my division four times in a row. You also might think I'm a little old to go trick-or-treating, but I'm pretty young compared to the 60-year-olds who dress up in clothes from the 1970s (even though that is what they wear everyday) and walk around asking if they can have a candy that they can chew with their dentures without breaking them.

But there is one 60-year-old who everybody in town adores. Joe Broxton. Joe is the kind of person most people would walk away from if they had never met him. He wears an old, gray tweed jacket and goes cruising down the streets of town in his wheelchair. His hair is thinning and he always smells like dirty laundry. But other than that, he's a funny, generous, trustworthy, honest and thoughtful guy. He also loves to have fun. And this story begins and ends with Joe ...

It was October 28, 2009. I was walking out of the Foster Free Public Library with Johnny and Becky. As we walked down the street to Joe Broxton's house, a cold, crisp wind attacked us. Although we were bundled up in jackets and scarves, the wind sent a chill down my spine. We hurried down Elm Street and onto West Avenue. There we stopped at number 50, the smallest house on the street. It was Joe's house. We usually run errands for him on the weekends, and if we're lucky, he'll tell us a story and let us have a delicious chocolate chip cookie.

As we knocked we heard the sound of something rolling to the door. Joe had had a wheelchair ever since he took a nasty fall from his front steps. It caused serious damage to his bones and now he is in a wheelchair. He loves it. He actually wishes he had gotten it earlier in his life.

Anyway, he opened the door and we looked into his kind, old face. He invited us in and we sat down on his gray couch. He offered us cookies, and we all took one. He looked us in the eye.

"Have I ever told you guys the legend of the spirits of Foster?" he asked us.

"No." We couldn't keep the eagerness out of our voices.

"Well the first time it happened," Joe started looking at us with a smiling face, "was in 1958. Halloween night. It was a full moon and the stars were brighter than a dazzling diamond ring. As I was walking back from the costume contest, I had won first place in the 9-year-old division by the way, I was walking down Elm Street when I heard a peculiar scratching noise behind me. I turned around, thinking I was being followed, and saw a huge black cat walking sneakily behind me. I thought it was no big deal and I continued walking until I came upon the city graveyard. 'Ye Olde Graveyard' they call it. Anyway, I then heard the same scratching noise followed by a digging noise. At first I thought it was the cat again and it had grabbed hold of my candy bag and was digging it up. But I still had my candy bag."

"So what was it?" Becky said with excitement.

"Yeah, was it some zombie corpse?" Johnny said, laughing.

"Have you ever heard this story before, young man?" Joe said, curiously looking at Johnny.

"No," Johnny hesitated. "Should I have?"

"Never mind," Joe said, still looking at Johnny with a weird look on his face. "Anyway, I was turning around when a blood-curdling scream split the quiet night. I swirled around and saw dirt flying everywhere over the graveyard. Something came up and I saw it easily. It was a corpse. I sprinted home and I didn't know if I was hallucinating. Nervously, I went back the following morning to see that the spirits were gone. And ever since, on the full moon on Halloween, when the black cat goes to the graveyard, the spirits awaken once more."

We all looked at each other. An awkward silence occurred until Becky broke the silence saying ...

"Er, we have to go run an errand for Ms. Thomas. Thanks for the story and cookies, Mr. Broxton!" And she hurried out the door. We followed her, looking at her like we had never met her before.

"What was that about?" I asked. "You love Mr. Broxton!"

"I left because it is going to be a full moon on this year's Halloween," she replied, looking scared.

"Oh, come on it's just a legend!" Johnny cried. "It's not real."

They bickered for a few moments about who was right. I quickly changed the subject to Halloween costumes. I said I was going to be a saltshaker with real salt inside! That just shows how intense I am with Halloween. Becky was going to be a butterfly and Johnny was going to be a dragon.

"I'm going to Mr. Broxton's house when I go trick-or-treating. He always has the best candy. Twix, Milky Ways, Snickers, M&Ms," Johnny said. My mouth started to drool. As we were walking home I spotted townspeople hanging up decorations and carving pumpkins. That is why I love Halloween -- it's all for fun!

The next two days passed in the blink of an eye. It's like I saw the carved pumpkins, the creative costumes, the salty, wonderful baked pumpkin seeds, and my mother singing songs from The Wizard of Oz in a dream. She's been crazy since July because she had to prepare for Halloween. She decided to be Toto from The Wizard of Oz, even though she couldn't find anyone to be Dorothy with her. My guess is that she won't win her division.

At 6:00 pm, I started to walk with Becky the butterfly and Johnny the dragon down the streets of town stopping at the houses. It was 7:00 pm when I went alone to Mr. Broxton's house. Johnny insisted on going back to his house to fix up his costume (a two-year-old lobster snapped his tail off) with Becky.

As I reached Joe's house, the bright, full moon and the glimmering stars lit up the dark night. The sky looked like black velvet, all smooth and undisturbed. Joe answered the door.

"Hello, Mr. Glider. Or shall I call you Mr. Saltshaker?" he asked jokingly.

"Hi, Mr. Broxton. Trick or Treat!" I said happily.

"Of course," he replied. He basically emptied the whole bowl of candy into my bag.

"Thank you for stopping Jimmy. Watch out for that black cat," he looked at me completely serious. As I was walking back to the contest, I passed the graveyard on Elm Street.

"MEOWWWW!" a cat howled.

My heart froze. I had seen a piece of dirt flying from a grave. What I saw made my heart freeze. I saw a corpse. It mumbled something, and I was sure it said 'Mr. Broxton.' I didn't have time to figure out what that meant. I sprinted to the town hall, interrupting the whole contest.

"The spirits!" I screamed. "They're back, and they're ... going to attack Mr. Broxton!" Chaos reigned. I sprinted onto Elm Street and onto West Avenue, everyone following me. I ran into the smallest, dingiest house and saw Mr. Broxton, my hero, slumped in his wheelchair, killed by the zombies. He had died of shock seeing them.

"Jack O'Lantern," he whispered, and he closed his eyes, his mouth lolling open, and never opened them again.

At 10:00 we were on the outskirts of town. I had told Johnny and Becky what Mr. Broxton had said, and Becky had the idea of going to the outskirts of town. We had searched all of the pumpkins, but suddenly we realized that Jack O'Lantern was an old crackpot who lived on the edge of town. As we knocked on the door, a gruff voice came from inside.

"Who are you," a deep man's voice came from inside the depths of the house.

"I'm Jimmy Glider and Mr. Broxton, now dead, told me to come and see you to get rid of the Spirits of Foster!" I gasped. The door opened.

"Very well. Come inside and I will tell you how to get rid of them spirits," he replied. Jack O'Lantern had a heavy, brown goatee and his face was full of scars and bruises. We all sat on the floor and he said ...

"Scarlet tomatoes."

"Excuse me?" I asked uncertainly.

"Scarlet tomatoes!" he shrieked. "They're the only way to get rid of them spirits. Except salt, of course, but I prefer scarlet tomatoes."

"Of course," Becky cried. "Scarlet tomatoes were banned in Foster because they were inedible! They were poisonous to man!"

"That's how I got rid of them spirits in 1958. I threw some scarlet tomatoes at 'em," Jack repeated hoarsely.

"But where are we supposed to find scarlet tomatoes if they were banned from Foster?" asked Johnny.

"Lucky for you I keep a private stock right in this house. I am a monster hunter, you know," Jack said proudly. "Let me go get 'em for ya."

At 11:30 we were walking to the Elm Street graveyard with bundles of scarlet tomatoes under our arms. As we walked in the graveyard, we heard a swooping noise and a wind that was colder than icicles. All around me I saw zombie corpses. All we had to do was just stick to the plan.

"Okay, back to back. Ready, aim, fire!" I yelled.

Suddenly, all around us corpses were disintegrating as they got hit by the tomatoes. Some went crazy, others writhed on the ground, but most of them disintegrated with a puff of smoke. And before my eyes, I could see no more zombies. I closed my eyes in a silent prayer.

And that was my big mistake.

Because all of the disintegrating ash rose up and made a twenty-foot tall corpse. We all screamed and hurled the last plump scarlet tomatoes at it. But they didn't work.

Suddenly I remembered Jack's words. Scarlet tomatoes. That's the only way to get rid of them spirits. Except salt.

And I was a saltshaker with real salt.

I took some of the salt out of my costume and threw it at the monster.

It was November 2, 2009. Halloween had passed, and people were putting away decorations an costumes until next year. After I had thrown salt at the monster, he literally evaporated into thin air. It still felt weird without Joe Broxton in town, and everyone mourned for him. Johnny, Becky and I miss him as kids miss summer vacation when it's ended. But he needn't have died in vain. He helped us defeat the monster. In my heart, he was still a hero, and I will never forget him. How our town is recovering from his death, I don't know, but I am glad I really knew him well. The spirits of Foster will never awaken again, and all was well. And it was all because of Joe Broxton.