The Halloween Party Guest
by Gary Davis
The Halloween party was going full blast. Matt was surprised that his
church had finally permitted a Halloween party to be held on its
premises. Of course, the party was not taking place in the church
sanctuary itself but within a “fellowship hall” annex. This celebration
was chiefly intended for single adult church members of all ages. The
minister and deacons apparently felt that a church party would at least
keep their single members away from spooky and less savory places on
A local rock band was playing up on the stage at the front of the hall.
It played songs from different time periods, including the 1960s
Halloween classic, “Monster Mash.” “They did the monster mash...It was
a graveyard smash.”
At the beginning of the party, there was a Halloween costume contest.
Matt had always liked the Universal “Mummy” movies; the mummy was his
favorite monster--slow but scary. For the contest, he hand-wrapped his
head and left arm in “mummy” gauze. He slowly limped around the room
proclaiming, in a deep voice, “The mummy’s gonna get
you...sometime...maybe!” Everyone laughed. Matt won a third-place prize
for his outfit.
The music started right after the costume contest. Matt unwrapped his
mummy bandages. They felt hot in a crowded hall, especially the head
wrappings. Matt walked over to the food table and helped himself to
potato chips and a soft drink. He also noticed lots of big sugar
cookies slathered in black-, yellow- and orange-colored icing. He would
check those out later.
Lots of people were dancing now, both in and out of costume. Music,
talk and laughter filled the large room. Matt noticed that the door at
the back of the hall had just swung wide open. A new party guest
entered. It was someone tall and dressed in a long, black, hooded robe.
The hood fell way down over the head, so that Matt could not make out
what mask the person was wearing, if any. The stranger’s outfit
certainly looked scary. If he or she had shown up at the beginning of
the Halloween party, the new guest might have won a prize in the
Matt noticed that the stranger did not go to the refreshments table.
The visitor walked swiftly towards a young lady standing alone along
the far side of the hall. The two began having an animated
conversation. Matt looked at them very intently while munching at the
food table. The lady looked back and forth between the stranger and her
smartphone. She appeared to become increasingly displeased or disturbed
at whatever the new guest was saying and also at what she was reading
on her phone. Finally, after a few minutes, she abruptly walked out the
back door of the party hall. The hooded stranger followed her out the
door a few seconds later.
Matt wondered about what had just happened. Was the new visitor just
bothering the young lady, or was he or she actually threatening her?
The stranger’s dark and gloomy costume was certainly not cause for
optimism. Matt recalled other Halloween parties he had been to in the
past. There was almost always somebody at these events who dressed and
acted a little weirdly, who didn’t fit in with the other guests. This
person often kept the costume on for the entire party, walking around
the room but not talking much.
Matt decided to leave the food table. He felt the need to work off his
consumption of potato chips, onion dip and soda. Also, mummies were not
known for being fat. He quickly found a woman who accepted his
invitation to dance.
As soon as he began dancing, Matt noticed that the stranger with the
long robe had reentered the party hall. The young lady he had talked to
earlier was not with him. Matt never saw her return to the party. This
time, the visitor walked over to a middle-aged man sitting by himself
and drinking at a small table. Once again, the new guest seemed to be
initiating a vigorous conversation. The man at the table quickly took
on an agitated facial appearance. He looked down at his phone and then
back up at the stranger. A few seconds later, he stood up, appearing
very distraught. The man then shrugged his shoulders and quickly exited
the hall through the back door. The stranger followed him out a few
Matt could see that this whole sequence of events was almost exactly
the same as the earlier encounter between the hooded visitor and the
young lady. Was the stranger going around insulting or harassing party
guests? When the stranger had first entered the hall, Matt had simply
assumed that he or she would want to socialize with other party guests
in a friendly manner. What actually happened was totally different.
Guests were getting upset and leaving.
Matt’s dancing partner, Susan, was facing away from the stranger. She
was wearing an attractive black cat costume. Matt told Susan that her
Halloween outfit reminded him of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous short story,
“The Black Cat.” “I read a lot of Poe horror stories years ago,” Matt
said. “I read some too, including ‘The Black Cat,’” Susan replied. “I
liked the ending. The black cat exposed the murderer. Don’t mess with a
Susan had noticed that Matt looked distracted while dancing. She asked
him, “What are you looking at? It’s not just a black cat.” “You’re
right,” Matt said. “I’ve been observing this weird party guest who’s
also dressed all in black, with a long robe and large hood over the
head. He or she seems to be angering some of the other guests, and then
they leave the hall. Have you noticed this person?” “Yes”, said Susan.
“I’ve noticed that person a few times. A strange guest at a Halloween
party should not really be that surprising, however. The guest might be
trying to cover up his or her natural shyness with a scary costume.
People are different.”
“Well, you could be right about that,” replied Matt. “I’ve thought the
same thing myself. Except that this person is not shy. The hooded
stranger immediately walks up to someone and starts talking right away.
Judging by the latter’s visual reaction, it’s always a negative
“Hey, let’s go back to the refreshments table,” interjected Susan.
“Dancing made me hungry again.” Matt and Susan each picked up a soft
drink and then sampled the Halloween cookies. Matt turned around and
scanned the hall once again. The black-robed visitor had just returned
to the party. The middle-aged man who had left a few minutes before was
still gone. This time, the stranger walked up to an elderly lady who
was standing by herself. Matt noticed that the two of them appeared to
go through the same set of exchanges he had seen before with the young
lady and the middle-aged man. The old lady became increasingly upset as
she looked back and forth between her phone and the stranger. The two
of them quickly left the hall.
Matt felt really angry this time. The weird party guest was now
harassing an old woman. Matt decided that he would confront the
stranger outside the church hall. “I’m going to have a talk with this
hooded visitor right now, before he or she bothers someone else,” Matt
told Susan. “OK”, said Susan. “I understand. Just be careful and don’t
get into a fight.” “Don’t worry,” Matt responded. “I’ll be back soon. I
just need to find out what’s going on here.” Matt walked briskly
towards the back door of the hall. As he left, he noticed that Susan
had a very concerned look on her face.
Matt found the stranger standing on the grass next to the church
parking lot. The old lady who had just left with him was nowhere to be
seen. Matt shouted, “Hey, you there!” The visitor turned around and
faced Matt directly. He pulled his deep hood back a little bit. Matt
could finally see the stranger’s face. Matt’s jaw dropped. He had seen
nothing like it before. It was the face of an extremely old man. He was
almost completely bald. The skin looked very thin and was stretched
tightly across the bones of the head. The eye sockets were deep and the
eyes small but piercing. The nose was flattened. The cheeks were
hollow. The lips were drawn back, exposing dark gums and yellowed
teeth. The visitor’s face looked totally unreal to Matt, but it did not
appear to be a mask. This person was indeed the strangest of Halloween
Matt felt intimidated by the old man’s stare. He could hardly summon up
the nerve to speak. Finally, the visitor said, “What do you want?” Matt
replied, loudly, “What do I want? The question should be, what do you
want? You have been repeatedly harassing guests at this party. I’ve
seen the look on their faces. They leave and don’t come back.”
“Well, allow me to explain,” the old man stated. His voice was deeply
resonant, despite his obviously great age. “I conduct souls to the
Other World when their time is done on Earth. I’ve been doing this for
centuries. Obviously, I don’t look out of place at a Halloween costume
It dawned upon Matt who he was dealing with. “Aren’t you supposed to be
carrying a long scythe with a big wooden handle?,” Matt inquired.
“That’s what all the pictures show.”
“I don’t need to carry the scythe on Halloween,” the old man replied.
“The barrier, or veil between this world and the Other World is
thinnest on Halloween. That’s what all the Halloween history books say.
My work is easier on this particular night; only a little push--ha,
ha--is necessary.” Matt trembled at the visitor’s morbid sense of humor.
“I’ve also modernized my technique the past few years,” the old man
continued. When I’m talking to people, they see the same message on
their smartphones. People always believe their phones nowadays.
Furthermore, at a party like this, held for members of a church, I
assume that everyone is a true believer. They should be ready to go at
a moment’s notice.”
Matt was speechless. He was afraid to look at his phone again. The
eerie guest resumed speaking. “Do not be concerned for yourself. Your
time has not yet come, and likewise for your friend Susan. My work is
done here for tonight.” He abruptly turned around and walked away from
The robed visitor headed towards a thick line of trees on the far side
of the church parking lot. He approached a path in the woods that Matt
had never seen before. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck the
entrance to the path directly in front of the party guest. This seemed
strange to Matt since there were no clouds in the sky; he also heard no
thunder. Matt assumed that the lightning strike would fully illuminate
the old man’s approach towards the dark path. Instead, Matt saw no one.
The Grim Reaper was gone.
© 2019 Gary Davis
Bio: Gary Davis loves all things classic horror and Halloween. He
has published Halloween stories in Alban Lake’s FrostFire Worlds in
November 2016 and November 2017. He has also published horror poetry in
Tales of the Talisman, Bloodbond, Illumen, Scifaikuest, Star*Line,
Aphelion, in two Lester Smith Halloween anthologies and in a sci-fi
anthology, Kepler’s Cowboys (2014-2019).
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