12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN: A NOVEL: On Halloween 1980, three young friends go out for "one last Halloween" in a suburb that becomes a surreal landscape of terror.
Even from a distance, something seemed unnatural about the girl who was sitting in the tree swing.
First of all, there was the situation itself: Here it was, Halloween night; and although this section of the neighborhood was without trick-or-treaters, we knew that it must still be within the scheduled hours for the activity. Despite all that had happened, we had not been gone for much longer than an hour, we estimated.
Why would the girl be sitting in a tree swing in someone’s front yard on Halloween night?
And then there was the dress: Girls hadn’t worn dresses like that since before my grandparents were born. No—scratch that—since before my grandparents’ grandparents were born. It was a dress not from any point in the twentieth century, but from much earlier.
The tree swing hung from the branch of a large tree in the middle of someone’s front yard. The house was a simple one-story ranch house. We were in the older part of the neighborhood now, on one of the streets that conjoined with Shayton Estates. The houses on this street dated back to the immediate postwar era, when builders throughout the country had scrambled to provide housing for all those returning GIs.
But this girl would have looked out-of-place even in that era. Her white dress extended nearly to her ankles and it billowed at the bottom. This was a dress from back in the days when women wore full-length undergarments.
As we approached, she continued to swing in the dark, her hands gripping the swing’s thick ropes, her long dark hair cascading down her back.
Her skin was pale. And it might have been my imagination, but it was faintly glowing in the moonlight.
We stopped in front of the house. The girl was a sight to behold. It wouldn't do to simply walk by her without comment.
“Don’t talk to her,” Bobby said. “She’s a ghost.”....