Copyright©2006; by Carl Cox
Did you know that Halloween has pagan roots? Ok., lets move on to the continue of the story…..
Marcus made a snort of disgust, then threw the mask back on the counter with the other ones David had rejected. “Well, you’d better decide pretty soon. We only have a couple of hours, and I still need to get home and change into my own costume.”
David could feel the panic beginning to build. The sun was already going down, and the shop would be closing soon. If he didn’t find something quickly, he would have nothing to wear to the party, and no chance of winning the contest.
Until the beginning of the new school year, David had had only one opinion about girls: they were awful, stupid things, and spent all their time talking about the most ridiculous topics imaginable. But something had happened over the summer: somehow, the girls in his class had changed from objects to be ignored, to fascinating, if slightly frightening, creatures. And the most fascinating and frightening of them all was Jessica Taylor; when he looked at her, he felt a strange sort of nausea swirling in his stomach. Unfortunately, he had never had the courage to even talk to her since school began. He was neither popular nor particularly talented, and had no way of getting her attention. Until now.
“Look, I’ve got to win that contest,” he said. “It’s my only chance to get Jessica to notice me. If I win, I’ll have the confidence to invite her to the big dance next week.”
Marcus sighed heavily. “Well, we’d better think of something fast.” He brightened, then said, “Hey, why don’t you go as a clown?”
“Hey, why don’t you shut up?”
“No, I’m serious,” he said. “You could go as, like, a dead clown. You know, some make-up, a little fake blood, maybe one of these protruding eyeballs… put on some floppy shoes and a red nose, and you’re good to go.”
David glared at him. “That may very well be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. There’s nothing even remotely scary about clowns.”
“Why don’t you just go as yourself?” Marcus said. “With a face like that, you’ll be plenty scary.”
“Very funny,” David said.
Marcus laughed, which made the proprietor focus his attention on them.
“You boys planning on buying anything today?”
The man looked as if he hadn’t shaved in several days, and although he was mostly bald, the little bit of hair that he did have stood up at various odd angles around his head. One of his eyes appeared not to be under his conscious control, and pointed off disturbingly toward the far wall of the shop. His ugly smile revealed a set of yellow teeth.
Marcus turned towards David and whispered, “Ask him if he has my masks that look like him.”
“Shut up, Marcus,” David hissed through clenched teeth. He approached the shop owner.
“Excuse me, sir, but I’m looking for an especially ugly mask. Do you have anything that’s really, really scary?”
The man shook his head and grunted.
“What you see out here is what I’ve got.”
The look of disappointment on David’s face was clear. The man studied him for a moment before reluctantly asking, “This mask you’re interested in, what do you need it for?”
David explained the party and the contest. At the mention of Jessica, the man nodded, and stood in thought for a moment. “Well,” he began, “I probably shouldn’t do this, but…” He trailed off, rubbing his chin, and then said, “Come on in the back.” He lifted a section of the counter to allow the boys to follow him into the back of the shop.
An old blanket covered the doorway, and the man pushed it aside to allow the boys passage. The backroom was much larger than David would have expected, with masks and novelty items stuffed onto shelves covering every wall of the room. Marcus poked a finger at a disgusting looking pile of rubber.
“Hey, look!” he said. “Fake vomit!”
“We’re not here for vomit,” David whispered.
“Now”, the man said, “I don’t let just anyone see the stuff back here. Most of it is for professionals, you know, people who only use the very best.” The boys looked at the dusty items that filled the room, but made no comment. “But I think I have something that will work for you,” the man continued. He pulled a wooden box off one of the shelves, blew the dust off the top, and then opened it.
The boys looked into the box, gasping in unison.
“Whoa, cool!” Marcus exclaimed.
The mask that sat in the red velvet interior of the box was a masterpiece of ugliness. The head was almost completely bald, the rubber crisscrossed with tiny purple veins. The nose was smashed to one side, as though it had been broken by a particularly violent blow, and the cheeks were red and wrinkled. The thick, rubbery lips were pulled back over broken teeth made brown from years of decay. The most striking feauture were the eyes: they appeared to be made out of some kind of translucent material, and protruded from the blood-shot sockets, the milky irises pointing in different directions. A pair of thin slits had been made in the dark bags under the eyes, from which the wearer could look out of the mask. It was perhaps the ugliest face that David had ever seen, and he felt his heart racing as he turned to the proprietor.
“It’s perfect,” he whispered. “How much does it cost?”
The man hesitated. “Well,” he began, “you see, I can’t actually sell it to you. It’s been in my family for as long as any of us can remember, so I can’t really let it go. But,” he continued, noticing the look of disappointment on David’s face, “I can lend it to you, just for tonight. After all, “he said, favoring them with a yellowish grin, “it’s Halloween.”
David broke into a broad smile. “Great!” he said.
“There’s just one thing,” the man continued. “I can only let you have it if you promise to bring it back before midnight.”
“What?” David said. “Why?”
“Never mind about that,” the man said brusquely. “You just make sure it’s here before twelve. Those are my terms. So, do you want the mask or not?”
“Yes, of course I want it! Thank you very much!” David said.
Why the mistery? What do you think would happen after midnight? Do you think this mask would make the trick? We would see later on…..