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So, I don’t normally do those writing prompts and Friday Fives because I AM A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE but this just seems right: One of Mama Kat’s writing suggestions this week is “the biggest Hallowe’en trick or prank you ever pulled”.

Now it just so happens that not only did I, in my ill-spent youth, pull one of the most awesome Hallowe’en pranks EVAR, but my Bestest Buddy, who was my partner in crime, is paying me a surprise visit. The Navy flew her out to Victoria for a few days, so she changed her flight back and is coming to stay with us til Friday, so she can finally meet her new nephew!

So, in homage to one of my best friends coming to see me months and months before I could ever have reasonably hoped to see her again, I want to share with you the memory of the Great Hallowe’en Caper.

Now, Bestest Buddy lived in an old Nova Scotia home. It was a large house, with a servant’s stairwell and a dumb waiter, and her parents had turned it into a bed and breakfast. And folks, weird stuff happened there.

Now, I’m a bit of a ghost agnostic. I find it very hard to believe in ghosts but at the same time, I kind of do. And believe it or not, I have to trust my friend when she tells me the creepy things that happened in her home.

Bestest Buddy never liked being left alone in that old house when we were kids. She said that she could hear footsteps running through the hall upstairs, and sudden bangs. You know, the kind of stuff that parents tell you is “just the house settling” but sounds scary as hell.

There was also her touch-lamp. Remember how those were all the rage, once? Well, she had one, and it used to go on and off unexpectedly and inexplicably. It would cycle through quickly, dim, medium, bright, off, dim, medium, bright, off in the middle of the night without warning. She would get up to go to the bathroom and it would turn on. She would go to bed and it would turn off. Perfect Girlfriend swears she saw this happen a couple of times when she was visiting. Bestest Buddy’s father is an engineer and he looked at the wiring and couldn’t find a damn thing wrong with that lamp. When they finally moved to Ontario, the strange activity stopped forever.

And there was the B&B guest, who stayed for a week and every night she was there she dreamed that an old lady was standing at her baby’s playpen, looking down at the sleeping child and smiling.

The lady who had lived there before them was an old lady who died.

So weird stuff happened in that house. Even if there’s no such thing as ghosts, it was a damned creepy house.

So… Bestest Buddy and I decided to scare the bejeebers out of all of our friends on Hallowe’en night.

For you to fully appreciate our evil plan, you need to know the following about the house:

  1. There was a main stairway, and a back stairwell which led to the kitchen.
  2. From the kitchen, you could access the basement, and from the basement you could access the outside through the old wooden cellar doors.
  3. In the old, Blair-Witch-style basement, full of creepy recesses and bare light bulbs dangling on strings, was a disused school room. The last day’s attendance could still be seen on the ancient chalkboard. The support beams were scrawled with children’s carvings. Above this room was the living room, including a little trap door under the fireplace that servants could open to remove the ash and soot from below.
  4. The fuse box was also in the basement.
  5. The guests all knew the history of the house – the thumps, the bangs, and Perfect Girlfriend had even seen the touch-lamp phenomena, and swears she had seen some other creepy things as well – shadows that moved when no one was there.

Bestest Buddy threw a Hallowe’en party and we were all invited.

This is what happened:

When the teenaged guests started to arrive, Bestest Buddy’s parents met them at the door, invited them in, and told them that Bestest Buddy had been sent down the road to help a neighbour move some heavy objects, but would be in half an hour or so. They (the parents) were going out now, but people should make themselves at home.

The guests settled into the living room, chatting nervously, as it feels a little weird to be at a party with no host, especially a house that sort of scared them all a little. It was starting to get dark outside, and without warning, the power suddenly went out, not an uncommon occurrence on a gusty October night, but still an unpleasant experience in a strange, old house with no host to fetch flash lights or candles for you. Shortly after, they heard scratching noises at the windows, but when they turned, nothing was there.

The doorbell rang, and they screamed. They went to the door and saw me there, and they pulled me in, explaining that the power was out and there were “weird noises” outside. I laughed at them, told them that Hallowe’en must be getting to them, and we went back to the living room. It was almost dark out, now.

Suddenly, there was a banging noise in the kitchen, and everyone shrieked. I reminded them that the dogs were probably in the kitchen, and we went to investigate. The dogs had gotten loose and almost ran us down in their excitement at being free. We put the dogs back, and started rummaging for flashlights or candles, because the power was still out. One friend hypothesized that Bestest Buddy was playing a trick on us, and so the basement was tentatively investigated, but there was no one down there… Which is when we heard another thump – coming from upstairs. Everyone went still.

“Did you hear that?”

The thump was followed by the distinct and unmistakeable sound of someone RUNNING down the dark, deserted upstairs hallway, footsteps pounding over our heads.

That’s when the terror really set in.

Several guests were brave enough to explore the upstairs, looking for the cause of the footsteps. They didn’t find anyone, because Bestest Buddy and I had already identified the one place they would never look: her parents’ bedroom closet. Would YOU snoop through someone’s parents’ bedroom? Nope. The parents’ bedroom is sacrosanct in the world of children.

When the searchers reported that they had found absolutely no one upstairs, everyone’s anxiety levels went up another notch. Then it happened again, going back the other way -THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP – more heavy running footsteps from the upstairs that they KNEW had no one in it!

Another search, and this time they DID try the parents’ bedroom, and even the closet, but Bestest Buddy was safely down in the basement, having gone down the back stairwell to the kitchen and down to the cellar.

Everyone huddled in the dark near the windows of the living room, whispering nervously. One of the guests, a cynical atheist, was near tears and began talking about calling her mother. It was great.

Especially when the ghostly child made its appearance.

The sound came wafting up from the old school room in the basement; a tiny child’s voice, softly lisping a childhood ditty, echoing eerily as it rose up through the grating in the fireplace.

“Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac…

All dressed in black, black, black,

With silver buttons, buttons, buttons,

All down her back, back, back…”

That’s when everyone broke down. The cynical atheist did run and call her mother, and Perfect Girlfriend just hugged the smallest dog and screamed.

The hoax was revealed soon after. One of the guests recognized the tape recording of Bestest Buddy at age three playing “radio” with her tape deck, and it all fell apart.

But damn.. it was awesome.

I’m not sure they have forgiven us yet, and that was 13 years ago…