had logo

November 3, 2023

Lights Out

Miel MacRae

Lights out.

Is the porch light off? The curtains closed? Hunker down, don’t make a sound if you hear anyone near the front door.


Too much for an eight-year-old to grasp. Why can’t we have fun and dress up, too, Daddy? They really put needles in the candy?


I saw it on the news. A boy your age was X-rayed, they saw the needle sharp and present puncturing a way to his heart. We don’t celebrate the devil’s holiday.


But your best friend-next-door goes trick-or-treating. Is she evil? Does she know she’s praising the devil? Maybe she’ll go to Hell and you won’t and that’s not fair. Fire will eat her alive.


Are the pets in? Don’t let them out. They sacrifice cats in the hills.


Did you ever see it, Daddy?


I read there’s signs of ritual sacrifice. Sticks arranged as pentagrams and hung with carcasses — flayed cats and squirrels. Satanic.


A shiver gives you goosebumps. How could someone hurt Fluppy? She’s a mean cat, but she’s yours. You check she’s on your quilted bed curled into a dream. The word Satan crawls over your skin like roaches.


The dogs bark warnings of costumed mischief makers. Your heart beats too fast. If you’re spotted, it’s all your fault. Slink back down the hallway. Your breathing feels loud.


Shhhh! Shush now. If they know we are here and don’t feed them, they will hurt us. They will throw eggs, TP the front yard, or worse. 


They never do. Through gauzy curtains, they only look disappointed. But you sniffle scared into the arms of your father. The world is an evil place, and tonight it slithers into your imagination. The fear flings scratchy whispers across your active mind. If you leave this safety, you too will be pierced by the darkness, flayed in the night. Tonight, the devil is as real as Daddy tells you.