Albert stared out the window at the collection of orange Christmas lights he’d strung up over his front porch to celebrate Halloween. A plastic skeleton hung from the dead tree that loomed over his front yard, and a graveyard of fake tombstones had been erected to give his decrepit home an even creepier vibe than it normally had. He heaved a sigh as he watched the children go from house to house, costumes carefully done to receive the maximum allotment of candy from each amused adult.
He stood at the ready with his own bowl of candies, but no children walked up to his porch. Everyone in the neighborhood steered their children away from his home.
It was, after all, haunted.
Not haunted in a traditional sense, by some lost soul of the dead looking for closure. No, Albert had a demon. An inhuman spirit, something that’d never held a mortal form, that lurked in his home.
And he’d made peace with that.
It still tried to scare him, of course, but Albert had grown accustomed to the strange odors and bumping that occurred nightly. The old man slept during the day and stayed up at night, when the otherworldly entity was most active. It ran nails down his walls, knocked pictures down, turned on faucets, and whispered dark things in his ears. But he shook all of this off like a bad case of fleas and would sip his coffee as if it were any normal day.
A sudden knocking at the front door interrupted his musings, and he looked through the bay windows at the front door.
Three teenagers, no costumes. One was a red-headed girl, while the other two were short-haired boys in hoodies.
Seeing no reason not to answer, Albert shuffled over to the front door and unlocked it. Swinging it open, he gave a toothy smile and pulled the bowl of candy from the stand close by.
“Happy Halloween!” He chirped, voice rough from disuse.
“Yeah, right,” one boy, glasses perched on his nose reflecting the lights above. “We wanted to know if we could come inside?”
“What?” Albert asked, surprised.
“Yeah, we wanted to see the haunted house!” The girl gushed while the silent boy nodded.
“Oh,” Albert deflated a little. “Why do you want to see that? You should be out having fun with your friends.”
“We already did that, and the night is still young,” the third teen said. “We just want to see something happen, is all.”
“Do your parents know about this?” Albert asked, setting the bowl down.
“No,” the girl asked. “Should they?”
Albert sighed. “This isn’t a house to just come in and play around. I don’t even invite my grand kids over.”
“We’ll pay you!” The girl insisted, pulling out a fistful of dollars. The two boys did the same, earning a raised eyebrow from Albert.
“I don’t need your money,” Albert said, shaking his head. “I just don’t think it’s a good idea for children to come inside my house.”
“We’re not children. Lisa is seventeen, and Brad and I are eighteen.” Glasses said.
“Yeah,” Brad agreed. “Luke is right, we’re all adults here.”
“Hm… well, I don’t know…” Albert said.
“If we could just stay for a little while, we’ll get out of your hair,” Lisa said, clasping her hands together in front of her. “Please?”
Albert thought about all he’d gone through to make his house inviting for Halloween, and how he hadn’t entertained guests in years. Looking over the three, he frowned before opening the door a little wider.
“Come in, then. But only for an hour.”