Every year he would escalate his message until the word Halloween became synonymous with death.
David loved Halloween. He loved it more than his Birthday or Christmas. Halloween had always been more than dressing up in a costume or eating candy. It was a celebration of the unknown, the unexplained and of course death, blood, and gore. Over the years he had watched Halloween become more and more commercialized until it was not about being scared. It was about money, a merchandising blitz, something to set the table for the big three beloved holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and The New Year. It made him sick.
When David turned thirty eight last Halloween and he found out he was terminally ill, he decided to teach the world to respect his favorite holiday. His plan was to dress up every Halloween and trick-or-treat in different neighborhoods around America, make the non-traditionalists pay until he was dead. He aimed to cloud the holiday with fear, make the unbelievers remember. Every year he would escalate his message until the word Halloween became synonymous with death.
His first victim was an old lady, “Go home you piece of shit child molester! Halloween is for children!” she screamed, slamming the door in his face. Later, he watched her through the outside window making a sandwich. He could see a ‘slasher movie’ playing on TV, the spirit of Halloween was with him. He found the back door open, another sign, carefully waited till the old woman’s back was turned. He then dragged her outside and forced a garden hose down her throat! David turned on the faucet and pumped water into her stomach until he saw it swell, then he stabbed her with a pitchfork, turning the old bag into a human garden sprinkler! So began his twisted reign.
He continued every year and the body count rose, the punishment was therapeutic to him and this new life’s work had put his cancer into remission. The spirit of Halloween saved him. It was his destiny. He had never been approached by the police and every year his legend had grown. He was more than Freddy, Michael, or Jason. He was real, a human killing machine, a fucking ghost and he made sure to do his homework. Besides watching and collecting every slasher film ever made, he took college level classes in forensic science and police procedures. He considered police involvement inevitable but was confident he could conceal his identity and minimize his losses. Eight years later, Halloween was synonymous with terror and everyone wondered, where would Mr. Halloween visit next?
Darcy Delessio hated her mom and Halloween. Joyce Delessio had volunteered her daughter to baby sit for the McKenzie’s so they could all go to a party together.
When Darcy started to protest, Joyce used Darcy’s own words against her. “You told me you were staying home tonight. You said you hated Halloween, you don’t even have a costume!” Now Darcy was on her way to the McKenzie’s by foot. She had refused to let her mother drive her and now regretted it. She could barely carry the large pumpkin, let alone lug it uphill four blocks. To make matters worse, it seemed every trick-or-treater in town was trying to get her to drop the pumpkin. Darcy employed every curse she could think of but none seemed to do any good. “Life sucks”, she thought.
Just up the street, a man in a black sedan watched Darcy. Mr. Halloween knew she would be his next test and he sincerely hoped she would pass. It was impressive the way she held onto the pumpkin. He imagined her, a lovely nymph protecting the holiday spirit, as he watched her approach a nearby house.
When she was safely inside, he got out of his car and pulled his ‘Mr. Halloween kit’: a pair of latex gloves, his self-styled stocking mask, a pair of butcher knives and a crowbar. Let’s not forget his costume, a large white sheet with two eye holes cut out in the center. The sheet was the only thing he changed regularly because it got bloody. In time zones where Halloween was celebrated an extra hour, he found himself covered in blood still visiting houses. It often surprised him how people assumed the ‘blood-covered sheet’ was a fake. It wasn’t until he was on them and they could smell the gore that they knew it was real. He could see it in their eyes, the final understanding… death.
Detective John Gacy hated his name every time he met someone. His California-born parents had been huge fans of the silver screen legend John Wayne but having the last name Gacy killed it for him as soon as he moved to the Midwest. Every new acquaintance asked him if he was of any relation of the notorious Chicago serial killer.
A light rain began to fall on the rental car’s windshield. He wished he was at home handing out treats to kids but instead he was on his way to a crime scene. Mr. Halloween had struck again. John had been tracking the killer for the past six years, since he visited John’s neighborhood and left five dead. After interviewing numerous neighbors, on his own time, he found many remembered seeing a large man dressed as a ghost ringing doorbells in the neighborhood. John Gacy began to publicly theorize that the killer approached the front door in a costume to judge his victims. If they failed his test, he killed them. No evidence left behind has ever lent any credence to this theory, but Gacy has since been considered an expert on the killer. Every year he takes off Halloween, flying all over the country on his own dime trying to pick up the killer’s trail. The FBI considers him an asset and welcomes his involvement.
John pulled onto the block and was dazzled by the amount of police vehicles running their lights. It looked like the whole block was under arrest. Over the years, Mr. Halloween’s murders had gained more and more attention but this was ridiculous. John knew the killer often targeted small towns, ones that where ill equipped to deal with the media attention of a murderer of this notoriety. He quickly dumped his car and started up a driveway towards what he assumed was the murder house. A group of uniformed cops approached him before he got inside the doorway.
“Hey buddy, you got business here? Let me see some ID.” said a fat patrol cop.
John pulled out his badge with a sigh “Detective John Gacy, Old Hollow Mill homicide”. The group of cops laughed like old cackling hens. “Say again? Any relation to that piece of shit John Wayne Gacy?” another cop giggled but John cut him off. “No! I’m hear to see Pete Dixon, is he around?” The giggling cop seemed to sober up.
“Yeah, he’s inside. Look, I didn’t mean any disrespect, my brother’s best friend is a plumber and his name is Jeff Dahmer, no kidding.” The cop put his hands up as if to say no foul. John knew Pete Dixon had a lot of clout around here but this bordered on royalty.
“I heard you got a Mr. Halloween murder?” he asked. The cops filtered out of the way allowing John to see inside the front door for the first time. There was writing on the walls, it looked like blood. The fat cop got serious. “It was a teenage girl babysitting, the boyfriend found her. The killer left a note in her blood, ‘Happy Halloween’ but the real mess is in the kitchen, you’ll find Pete there.” John nodded to the man and stepped into the house. The fat cop called back. “They still haven’t found the little girl she was babysitting. Kidnapping would be a new one for Mr. Halloween, right?”
John found Pete Dixon in the kitchen examining a large pumpkin. The heavily muscled FBI agent looked younger than his forty years but the man had a set of black bags under his eyes that could only be matched by a president. It seemed he never slept.
John knew the stress levels would probably be high, as this was the agent’s home town.
“Got another one Gacy,” he muttered, “What do you suppose is inside?”
John approached the table and gave a quick nod to his friend “Knowing this sick fucker, something twisted enough to bring more attention to the case, a human body part?”
Pete looked up with eyebrows raised. “We found her head.”
He took off the top of the pumpkin. The girl’s head had been stuffed inside, face up.
“Her eyes were pushed in and filled with these.”
Pete showed him a couple pieces of bloody candy corn.
“We found the rest of the body in the garage, stuffed inside a garbage can. As far we can tell the corpse is complete, except for four fingers off her left hand.”
John shook his head in disgust, “That’s him, did you identify the girl?”
“Her name was Darcy Delessio, seventeen, this will make the Sunday news in China. I’m flying people in just to handle the media but it’s just going to get worse.”
Now it was John’s turn to raise an eyebrow, he looked Pete Dixon dead in the eye.
“You mean the little girl?”
Pete nodded. “Five years old. Parents are on their way home now.”
“This would be a first for Mr. Halloween?” John asked, thinking about the parents.
“Yes and to be honest it perplexes me, Mr. Halloween is what we refer to as a lesson killer. If someone fails his test, they become a victim, end of story. He uses their death to fuel his agenda, his twisted Halloween propaganda but kidnapping? That’s a whole new ball game and I shudder to think where that falls in his motives.”
John Gacy glanced back at the pumpkin then at the parents of the missing child who had just arrived home. Dread was on their faces, their skin as white as a ghost.
“We had better find out fast as I have a bad feeling this new pattern will not end well for this child.”
Emma McKenzie believed in the boogeyman. Darcy said, ‘he was just a thing made up to scare kids on Halloween’ but she was wrong! Darcy hadn’t expected the boogeyman to break through their patio doors. Emma didn’t know what happened to the baby sister but was sure she was dead. Emma had fully expected to be killed herself but the boogeyman had been kind. He ordered her into his car with a soft but firm voice and hadn’t spoken to her since. He reeked faintly of stale cigarettes and beer. She knew from her surroundings that she wasn’t far from home. Maybe she would have a chance to escape.
The man turned on a street named Division and pulled in front of an abandoned house. He left her sitting in the car as he went into his trunk to pull out a bunch of pumpkins. He arranged them all in front of the house to make it look inhabited then took Emma inside and handcuffed her to a dirty sink in an upstairs bathroom. Emma started to cry, would she ever see her parents again?
“I’m calling the cops you skinny bastard!” yelled the old man but Johnny just smashed the pumpkin in the street and laughed. He slid across the top of his black Dodge Charger, got inside and peeled out in the old geezer’s face, who raised a fist as the Charger raced away “I’ll get you Johnny Pumpkin!”
That was his nickname and every town around dreaded it. Johnny Pumpkin was an asshole but it wasn’t his fault. Back in the ‘80s when this whole area was nothing more than open plains, Johnny’s parents owned a pumpkin farm. It was a prosperous venture up until ‘89 when a group of teenagers overran the farm and smashed all the pumpkins. Little Johnny, five years old at the time, was the only witness to the act. The teenagers, led by Pete Dixon, were never charged with the crime because he refused to testify. A lawyer acted on the child’s behalf and the circumstances of the case were never known.
When Johnny turned thirteen, he started hitting the streets every Halloween, terrorizing neighborhoods throughout New Jersey, smashing pumpkins. Every year he would be brought up on charges of vandalism and every year Pete Dixon would have those charges dropped. People whispered it had something to do with the ruined pumpkin farm long ago.
Johnny took a right on Division and lit a cigarette. He hated Halloween. Smashing pumpkins was his way of getting back at those neighborhoods, the people, who never lent a hand. He hated those fucking pumpkins because they made him remember. When he was young it was fear, a teen humiliation, now it just made him angry.
Johnny pulled over to the curb. The house before him was littered with pumpkins, carved masterpieces, depicting scenes of Halloween. They were all lit and arranged in order by size. Johnny stumbled out of the car. He knew this house was abandoned. He had partied here many times before, inside a gutted spray painted mess.
Whoever was in there was definitely uninvited he thought, as he went into his trunk. He always kept a costume and bag in the trunk. You never knew when you might need a disguise. He really wanted to smash those pumpkins but the curiosity to discover their creator made him abandon the ‘smash and dash’ approach, probably a bum he thought.
He could smell the candle wax burning as he knocked on the front door.
The front door swung open. Johnny held out his bag and said, “Trick or Treat”.
Out of the darkness appeared a figure dressed in a bloody white sheet.
Johnny took a step back “Those are some great pumpkins.” he stammered.
“What’s the trick?” the bloody ghost asked with a hiss.
Johnny was scared shitless, “I’ll smash those pumpkins.” he replied in a whisper.
The sheet grunted, “Here’s a treat for you!”. A pair of hands shot out from under the sheet, stained red and dirty. There was a faint aroma of blood and rotten pumpkins. The font door slammed before Johnny realized it was over. He had escaped with his life.
He ran back to his car and started it up. He realized there was something wet between his legs. Johnny looked at the trick or treat bag in his lap. It was leaking something red. He reached inside the bag and pulled out four severed fingers!
Johnny felt the nausea sweeping over him but forced his mind to focus. He thought of his old nemesis Pete Dixon and decided to give him a call. There was something going on, time to bury the hatchet. He needed to get the fuck out.
He was about to put the car in drive when a knife was jammed into his neck, blood spurting his final thoughts into blackness. His head hit the horn just before he was dragged out the driver’s side window. Johnny Pumpkin was no more.
Alan Pickerman had been on the force for eighteen years. He was what you called an ‘old-timer’ but a typical old-timer would be considered wise. An individual who had seen or done it all, highly respected by his brethren through hard work or a heroic act.
Alan Pickerman was not that man. He was an overweight lazy sack of crap who had the nasty habit of picking his nose whenever he was nervous. For that reason, Alan was known at the police station as ‘Al the Picker’ or ‘The Picker’.
The Picker sat in his car picking his nose. His assignment was to drive around local neighborhoods and check up on the children out trick-or-treating but The Picker hated confrontations with angry parents and violent teens made him weary. The last thing he wanted was to be verbally assaulted on Halloween. That’s why he chose Division street. He knew the block was abandoned, he deserved a quiet night.
When he woke up and saw Johnny Pumpkin out on the prowl, he thought nothing of it. The teenager often entered the abandoned houses to party but when he saw the teen murdered, The Picker was torn. He wanted to help but there would be questions. Why was he there? Why was his radio off? Why didn’t he approach the suspect earlier, call it in, anything? He hoped picking his nose would provide the answer. He was sure the killer had noticed his car. It was only a matter of time before he tried to come after him. Maybe he was hiding out right now. Suddenly, a shadow fell across the windshield of the automobile. The Picker started the police cruiser. He used his cell to dial 911.
An operator came on the line. “911, what is your emergency?”
Sweat built on his brow, it was hotter than hell so he put down the window.
“Hello?” the operator asked.
“There’s trouble on Division Street!” he gasped. The next sound the operator heard was Al getting his throat cut.
Pete Dixon closed his cell phone and looked at John Gacy.
“We’ve just got a call from 911; trouble on Division Street, eight blocks away.”
John perked an eyebrow. “What kind of trouble?”
“Don’t know, the caller got cut off, there was a gurgling sound.” said Pete “Division is a quiet street, lots of abandoned houses, great place for a kidnapping.”
John nodded. Mr. Halloween hiding out on an abandoned street a few blocks from the crime made sense. He most likely wanted to be nearby to watch the circus.
John headed towards the door. “My car is right outside, show me the way,” he said.
On the drive, John couldn’t keep his mind off the new development, he had to blurt out his new theory. “It’s some kind of a test Pete. I bet we’ll find him… tonight.”
To Be Continued…