Oct 27, 2009

Trick or Treat – A Nightmare for Westerners

Dressed as Witch, Patriot, Hobo, and Ghost, the wee ones sheepishly approach the awesome house. Everyone in the neighborhood had told them what incredible treats were provided there. They ring the bell. The door opens slowly.

“Trick or treat,” plead the little beggars.

A silent and powerful hand reaches forth and drops curiosities into open sacks: Stimulus, reduced carbon emissions, free health care, and a fair media.

Trick or treat, wonder the wanders. Are these gifts what they seem? Or are they something else, something that exacts a price their little minds cannot quite recall?

“Trick!” cry Ghost and Patriot. “Treat!” counter Hobo and Witch. They quarrel, shattering the camaraderie that helped make this night so magic.

A sound interrupts them. They stop and listen. Laughter. A single laugh, high, mocking, and impossibly loud, coming from inside the awesome house.

Cold. Witch, Patriot, Hobo, and Ghost shiver violently and suddenly realize they are no longer in costume. In fact they are completely naked. The wintry wind nearly steals their treat sacks, and they find that they are now empty: bereft not only of the offerings of the awesome house, but of all gains they had made thus far.

The laugh grows louder.

They run, each to their homes, but their homes are empty, as if no one had ever lived there at all. Neighbors, friends, strangers, all houses are now dark and empty but one – the awesome house.

Cold, hungry, and tired the little ones approach the awesome house again – without mirth, without mischief, without choice. They ring the bell. The door opens slowly. They stand shivering without speaking. The silent and powerful hand reaches forth and presents each of them a massive candied apple, then ushers them inside.

The house is warm and spacious. Everyone from the neighborhood is there but no one speaks. All are naked and cowering, gnawing voraciously on massive candied apples. Witch, Patriot, Hobo, and Ghost do likewise, the intense sweetness making their empty stomachs sick. But there is nothing else to eat. There is nothing else to do. There is no where else to go.

Another door opens. The silent and powerful hand beckons. The naked mass obeys and passes through the door and down a massive stairway. Down, down, down, the darkness grows thicker as a stench begins to rise. They are down now, at last, on solid ground. Their eyes adjust to the living darkness and they begin to see – more. More naked people, hundreds of them, thousands, millions, not dead but hardly living, stretching back to the beginning of history, an ocean of humanity standing silently, miserably, resignedly.

Terror rises in the minds and throats of Witch, Patriot, Hobo, and Ghost. They turn to run and scream, but they cannot, there are too many bodies in their way and their voices too are gone. They struggle futilely against the herd.

The high, mocking laugh returns from atop the massive stairway. Witch, Patriot, Hobo, and Ghost look up to see the silhouette of a man against the open basement door. He turns, climbs the last few steps back upstairs, and slams the door.

The darkness takes over now and obliterates all distinction between Witch, Patriot, Hobo, and Ghost; those they once called neighbors; and the ocean of silent humanity.

Patriot summons all his strength and utters one final word into the suffocating blackness: “Trick!”



P.S. Our apologies to Mr. Bradbury.