The Weaver brothers' Halloween takes a terrifying turn.
Eve Mercer lost her husband two years ago in a car accident. She had since locked herself away in her home on Raven Lane. She was, as Adam explained to his friends, the Boo Radley of the street. The neighbors rarely saw her, and when they did, she gave them a nasty glare.
Most of the kids would taunt the woman. Once, David Canter even broke a window by throwing a rock through it. When nothing happened afterward, he thought he was safe.
A week later, David died by falling off his bike and smashing his head on the sidewalk. From then on, Eve Mercer was known as the Witch of Raven Lane. And because several people believed that she had somehow caused David's death, they either moved away or signed a petition to get her exiled from the neighborhood.
Adam didn't think that was fair. He didn't think an old woman was capable of murder. Some of his friends suggested that she didn't even need to be there to have committed the act, that she just needed to think about what would happen and it would.
“Do you think she did it?” Adam asked, as he ate dinner.
His older brother, Alex, looked over at him from the kitchen table. He was reading a magazine and drinking tea.
“What are you talking about?” he said.
“Old widow Mercer,” Adam replied. “Do you think she killed David Canter?”
Alex sighed. “Little brother, that happened so long ago, I can't believe you're still thinking about it. Don't do that to yourself, alright? I know it's hard, because Davey was a friend of yours, but it was an accident.”
“Maybe,” Adam muttered.
Alex shook his head. “Please. You're fourteen, it's time to stop believing in witches and evil things.”
“It's Halloween, I know. But it's just a day. It doesn't mean anything.” Alex stood up, emptied his cup in the sink, and turned around. “Now get dressed. It's getting late and mom wants me to take you trick-or-treating before dark.”
This year, Adam dressed in a bloody shirt and pants, and carried an ax. His parents had reservations about using an actual weapon, but he assured them that he wasn't going to accidentally kill anyone. He laughed at his joke. They didn't.
Alex came downstairs to find his brother staring at himself in the hall mirror. “What are you supposed to be?”
Adam turned around and grinned. “I'm a killer. Cool, huh?”
“Your fascination with that shit creeps me out,” Alex said. He opened the front door. “Hurry up, punk.”
Adam nodded, walked over to his brother and looked at him, his blue eyes hard. “Don't rush me or I'll have to kill you.” Then he cackled and left the house.
Alex Weaver never dressed up for Halloween anymore. He stopped doing that when he was fifteen. But, he supposed, some fourteen-year-old’s still liked to be someone else one day a year. He waited for Adam at the gate of an old house.
“Let's go to Raven Lane,” Adam said, coming back with his pillow case full of candy.
Alex's eyes widened. “Are you serious?”
“Are you scared?” Adam challenged.
“No way,” his brother said. “Let's go.”
The Mercer house looked like it was built for a horror movie. It stood on a hill and overlooked the rest of the homes. As Adam and Alex walked up the dirt driveway, an owl hooted somewhere, as if signaling for them to turn back.
“I can't wait to tell the guys we did this, they won't believe it!” Adam declared with a smile. “They always think I'm too scared.”
“You are,” Alex pointed out, looking around at the darkened yard. He wondered, as they got closer to the front porch, if the old woman was lurking somewhere. He swallowed hard. “Come on, just get it over with.”
Adam raced up to the porch and knocked on the door. He turned to Alex and grinned. When the door burst open, he jumped back. The old woman stared at him, her gnarled hands holding a bowl of assorted candy.
“Adam Weaver,” she said softly, “I've been expecting you.” She smiled with her crooked teeth and held up the bowl. “Choose wisely. You will become what you pick.”
Adam stared at the bowl, transfixed by all the shiny candy wrappers. He chose the red and white wrapped one. He thanked widow Mercer. As he stepped off the porch, he glanced back at the closed door and put the piece of candy in his mouth, chewing it all the way home.
Thunder rolled lazily overheard as the Weavers arrived home to find several police cars in their driveway, sirens flashing. They rushed to their front door and inside to find a trail of blood leading to the kitchen.
One of the officers met them in the hall.
“Please, you don't want to go in there,” the man said.
He tried to shield them from what was beyond. When the paramedics came with a stretcher and ushered them out of the way, they saw what looked like a hand sticking out from beside the couch. Mrs. Weaver shook her head and cried.
“What's happened?” Mr. Weaver demanded, his voice trembling. “Who is that?”
The older man frowned. “It's your son, Alexander. I'm so sorry.”
“No,” wailed Mrs. Weaver. “Who did this to him? Tell me!”
Her husband held her tightly as the officer told them what happened. It was terrible what occurred here tonight, but what was worse — much worse — was the person behind the murder.
Outside in the squad car, handcuffed in the backseat, was Adam. He had blood splattered across his face and clothes, and he was staring at his parents with empty eyes. The change he had undergone was like a dark invasion to the bloodstream.
Many years later, when new residents moved into the Weaver home, they would be told the story of that fateful Halloween night when fourteen-year-old Adam Weaver killed his older brother with an ax. The strange thing, though, was what was left beside the body.
It was a red and white candy wrapper covered in blood.