very Halloween, my mom and brother and I build a haunted maze in our front yard. Most years, it's just yarn and bedsheets and a few jump-scares, but one year, it was an experience my friend Keira and I will never forget.
I went trick-or-treating with my friends that night, and we went back to my house afterwards, as was tradition. My mom texted me as we were on our way back: "Help w/maze?" I sighed, but this, too, was tradition.
My cousin was Freddy Krueger, lurking outside the entrance of the maze, making sure there were only four people inside at a time. He kept dashing to the back to hiss at the people leaving, "Don't tell anyone what to expect! Don't do it!" and threatening them with his claws.
We took his place at the front of the maze, regulating the flow of costumed friends and neighbors and curious passers-by. One by one, my friends drifted off, bored and eager to consume their sweets. All but Keira were gone, finally, and the amount of people visiting the maze had dwindled.
I called my cousin back to the front and Keira and I stood in line to see what would happen. My cousin told us, in a low voice, what to expect. "The fake body's in a bathtub this year," he said. "Everyone's been screaming."
Keira and I locked arms and went right, passing the zombie clown, the dropping spiders, and a few more trivial scares. Nothing had made us jump yet; we were quite proud.
We rounded a corner, and there was the body, settled into the grimy bathtub.
"How'd it get brown?" Keira asked, wrinkling her nose.
"We painted it, and I think my cousin put glue on it to make it look real." I was disinterested; I'd seen it in the basement before.
Keira started shaking.
"H-h-how did you get it to t-t-turn its head?" she stammered. "And..."
Its eyes were glowing and eerie yellow-red. Its head was slowly swiveling to stare right at me.
We started screaming.
More people were coming up behind us, and probably thought it was all part of the joke, so they started screaming, too. But my screams were real, and my mom, who had been inside the house, could tell. She came running.
I pointed wordlessly at the body.
She looked at it for a moment, and then put her hands on either side of my face. "Sam, honey, what's wrong?"
"The b-body," I managed.
"It's real," Keira said next to me.
My mom frowned at the body for a moment. Then she sighed. "No more mazes for you two."
She dragged us out of the maze, and as we passed the tub, I dared to look at the body again.
Its eyes had returned to their black, empty state.