Saturday, October 16, 2010

"The Halloween Tree" Chapter 4

What a chapter I read today!  I knew yesterday when they headed into the dark ravine that things were going to get a lot eerier.  The boys have left the comfortable circle of their cul de sac and have entered into the unknown.  And what do they find out there?

A haunted house of course!

No Halloween tale would be complete without some sort of  mutilated mansion.  From Dracula's castle to Psycho's Bates Motel, it's just a known fact that neglected-looking houses in the middle of nowhere can be quite scary.  Heck, even the television show Hoarders knows how to exploit a horrifying house to get our skin to crawl.

The fourth chapter of The Halloween Tree begins with the boys running through the night, Tom in the lead, until he suddenly stops and points into the distance.  "There's the only house in town worth visiting on Halloween!" he says.  And all the boys agree.
The house was special and fine and tall and dark.  There must have been a thousand windows in its sides, all shimmering with cold stars.  It looked as if it had been cut out of black marble instead of built out of timbers, and inside? who could guess how many rooms, halls, breezeways, attics.
With so many chimneys, the roof seemed a vast cemetery, each chimney signifying the burial place of some old god of fire or enchantress of steam, smoke, and firefly spark.
Tom, who seems to be the leader in Pipkin's absence, is the first to step foot onto the porch.  All the other boys follow suit and they huddle together for safety.  Here we find out that the Witch is really named Henry-Hank Smith, and he notices there is a knocker on the door shaped like Marley from A Christmas Carol.  He tells Tom to knock, and when he does the entire house shakes and the front door flies open!

As if the house is breathing, the boys are almost blown off the porch before being sucked right back in.  They cling to the porch rails until the wind suddenly stops.  Everything is still for a moment, until...
An evil smile came and hung in the doorway before them.  Behind the smile, the tall man hid in the shadow.  They could see his eyes now, small pinpoints of green fire in little charred pits of sockets, looking out at them.
Not sure if Tom is brave or just stupid or both, but he says "Trick or treat?"
The tall man shut up his smile like a bright pocketknife.  "No treats," he said.  "Only -- trick!" The door slammed!
I was quite surprised that the boys didn't run away in fright.  Lord knows I would have.  But instead they just sort of stand there, blinking stupidly, wondering what the man meant.  That is, until they start to hear lots of strange, whispering noises.  They round the corner of the house and discover the most mesmerizing and haunting tree.
And this tree rose up some one hundred feet in the air, taller than the high roofs and full and round and well branched, and covered all over with rich assortments of red and brown and yellow autumn leaves.
For the Tree was hung with a variety of pumpkins of every shape and size and a number of tints and hues of smoky yellow or bright orange.
"A Halloween Tree," said Tom.

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