My older brother and I had a Halloween tradition: every year, we would spend the night TP-ing the town and causing generalized mischief. The past two years had been different, however. My older brother, Jason, had gone to college and had not been home much since then. But this year, Jason surprised me two days before Halloween, sending me an email telling me he was coming home and not to tell the parents. I figured he had some crazy prank planned and I certainly didn’t want to ruin it. I was looking forward to a little old fashioned mayhem myself.
The morning of his arrival, both of my parents left for work and I figured I’d skip school to welcome Jason home. When Jason finally arrived in the afternoon, I felt all hyped up just like a kid. But one glance at his face wiped away the excitement. He wore an expression of malice and his eyes were like stone, hard and cold. I swallowed hard. This was not the Jason I was accustomed to; this was a dark shadow of his former self. “Hey, are you feeling okay?” I ventured weakly. He looked me squarely in the eyes and sneered, “Sure, buddy.” I had never seen him sneer before. It was disturbing. I followed him silently upstairs to his old room and stood in the doorway. For the first time ever, I was uneasy around my brother. I struggled to find something to say. “Uh, so what do you have planned for tonight, bro?” I asked hesitatingly. “Something truly epic, little bro, the likes of which you’ve never seen before.” His answer made me shiver but I tried to hide it as best I could. I decided it might be best to give him some space. A short nap would improve his mood, I reassured myself hollowly. Sure enough, about an hour later, he emerged. He was smiling. “So what is this super secretive epic hush-hush plan you’ve got brewing, Jay?” I asked again, my curiosity renewed. He grinned and said in a hushed whisper, “It’s a surprise, little bro.” Even though he was smiling when he said it, I shuddered.
Jason went out for a while, saying he was going to go visit some people and left me alone with my misgivings. I hadn’t voiced my concerns to him but I sensed that he had somehow known that his behavior was making me nervous. As he had left, he had clapped a hand on my shoulder, just like he used to, and apologized rather mournfully for his previous attitude. “Bro, I’ve just got this killer class this year that is kicking my ass. I didn’t mean to take it out on you,” he added. I wanted to believe him, with my whole heart, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that he was not the same person I had grown up with. As the front door swung shut, I wondered vaguely which people he was going to visit because I personally knew that all of his close friends had moved away after high school. With my heart in my throat, I went upstairs and stood at the landing, looking at his door. I’ll just have a look around, I rationalized silently. Once I am satisfied that all is as it should be, this feeling will go away. In my head, the rational tone of my voice gave me strength and propelled my shaky legs forward. As my hand reached for the knob, I thought of all the times we had come in here to play Xbox till the wee hours of the morning. All those good times had ceased since he left for college. In fact, he had only been home on vacation twice in the last two years, citing his busy course load and work schedule. With that thought, I grasped the knob resolutely, only to pull it back immediately, cringing in pain. “Shit, what the.. - ?” I muttered, examining the knob more closely. There was nothing out of the ordinary about it except that the damn thing was white hot. My hand had the angry red burn to prove it. I backed away warily from the doorknob, half expecting the thing to lash out at me and hurried down the stairs.
When he returned, he brought the foul mood with him. He slammed the front door and stalked up stairs. After a brief moment of silence, I heard him stomping down the stairs again. “Do you like it?” he growled. I turned and caught a glimpse of him standing at the bottom of the stairs and froze. He was dressed all in black, save his mask. The mask was a stylized face with a rather malicious sneer, covered in a metallic blood red. The eyes were nothing but two black orbs in that shiny face. A black cloth covered the back of his head, making the face the only thing that distinguished him from the shadows. The overall effect was creepy. “Um, it’s…,” I stammered. For Jason, it was low-key. His style was overt. Our last Halloween adventure featured him as a very bloody zombie football player. This was subdued for him. And what’s more, it was subtly unnerving. The shiny metallic paint on the mask gave the impression of moving facial muscles, thanks to the way light and shadow played across the countenance. “Well?” he asked, sounding more than just a little impatient. “Jay, it’s great, it’s just… that it’s different from what I am used to.” I said with some effort. “We’re leaving soon,” he stated gruffly. Dusk was falling rapidly and I sat on the couch as Jason moved around the house silently like a ghost, collecting various items here and there. As I waited apprehensively in the growing gloom, my mind was doing crazy things, and I was having trouble not giving into the panic. This is your brother, I reasoned. He is not going to hurt anyone. He just likes a good scare. He’s probably going to pick up one of his friends and scare the shit out of him, I thought. After all, Jason was the biggest prankster this town had ever known. All these sane thoughts made sense to me, but did little to alleviate my fears. It was just then that my internal argument was interrupted by a sound. I strained to listen. I realized it was humming, and it was coming from Jason. This was not a song I was familiar with. The melody was strange and lilting. I was now officially freaked out. “Jay, what are you doing? What is all that stuff for?” I asked him gently. He turned that mask face to me and said, “Don’t worry, bro, you’ll find out soon enough.” I could almost hear him leering at me from behind the mask. “Jason, look, I don’t really feel like going out tonight. What if we just stay home and watch the horror movie fest on cable? I can make some popcorn, we’ll order pizza…” I suggested, trying to keep the pleading sound out of my voice. He paused, as if contemplating the idea, and then acquiesced. “Sure. Why don’t you go toss the popcorn in the microwave?” I headed to the kitchen, breathing a sigh of relief, but just as I got to the kitchen door, I felt an intense pain in my head and the world went black.
I could feel darkness beyond my eyelids. My head was swimming. As my brain slowly focused, I found that my hands and feet were bound. My heart started racing when the truth of the situation dawned on me. I was tied up and I could hear people chanting. And it was my brother who had knocked me out. Fearfully, I ventured to open one eye. It appeared that I was in the woods. Five hooded figures were nearby chanting and lighting a fire. I decided to feign unconsciousness for a while. Moments later, I was being moved. Strong hands held my shoulders and legs. I did not dare open my eyes. They set me down. From the sudden heat, I figured I had been set close to the fire. I listened as the intensity and volume of the chanting increased. My mind seized with terror. My eyes flew open and I started jerking around. A dark, cloudy night sky met me from overhead. Hands reached out and held me down. Panic infused me with Herculean strength as I fought against my captors. “JASON, THIS IS NOT FUCKING FUNNY! LET ME GO, YOU ASSHOLE,” I bellowed between grunts and growls. Suddenly, a face filled my vision. Jason’s gleaming crimson mask looked down at me, animate and corporeal. He smiled widely, the expression on his crimson face positively orgasmic, eager with bloodlust. “Sorry, little bro,” he sniggered. “Jason isn’t here anymore,” said the red lips with two voices. And then the scythe, alight with white fire. Searing pain faded to black.