On Halloween, young people seem to flock to the dark, in search of either candy or a house to 'trick.' Matt and Sally were no different, except they were a bit older, nearly in their teens. Matt talked Sally into going to the house widely known as haunted.
Sally said, "Are you sure we want to go there? It must be called haunted for a good reason."
Matt laughed. "Sure. Things go bump in the night there. It's just an old house."
"Then they won't have any candy."
"We got enough off Mr. Sterling to rot our teeth already. This'll prove we've got guts too. Wait 'til we get to school and tell everyone where we went! They'll envy us and know how brave we are. C'mon, Sally!"
Sally sighed. "I don't know how you always talk me into these dumb ideas."
"I'm smart. And I know you like to hang out with me anyway."
"You're not as smart as me, and this may be the last straw as far as hanging out with you goes. I just think old houses are all haunted. By the past if nothing else."
"This is the driveway. Are you coming with me or not?"
"I'm with you."
The driveway was a long one, arched over with trees the moon could barely peek through. The trees' bare branches striped the driveway with shadows that looked like jailhouse bars, like the driveway could hold people and never let them go. Even Matt was getting nervous, though he never let it show. At least, not yet.
The house sat on a little hill, every window dark. Every wall of the house looked like chipped silver, the wood was so old. Most of the windows were broken out, jagged teeth of glass poking up like they were each a trap.
Sally wanted to go home by then, and she held Matt's hand.
Matt liked holding her hand, and insisted that they at least look inside.
"I'll take care of you. Don't worry."
They approached the house slowly. Matt showed Sally that he had a flashlight and played its beam over the wide porch and firmly closed front door.
"Shh!" Sally said. "Did you hear that?"
Matt didn't hear anything except their breathing.
Sally was sure she heard "Go home," a ghost of a whisper against her ear.
She again asked Matt to stop, but he wanted to open the front door. As soon as his hand touched the glass doorknob, the door slammed open and the two people were met with a cacophony of clicks and clacks. Matt lit the floor with his flashlight and there were hundreds of mouse traps, many used years ago. The mice were in various states of decay, all unsavory. One trap held a mouse by the tail and this live mouse set off any traps near it. Sally's squeak of terror matched that of the doomed mouse.
There seemed to be water flowing between and under the traps. Black water. Was it water? Matt looked closely and it looked like something alive, something awful. He didn't know what it was, but it was something horrible.
When a chandelier dropped from the roof and scattered the traps, old and new, everywhere, Sally and Matt both bolted from the haunted house and ran down the steps and away. Under the stripes left by trees across the driveway, Matt stopped and caught his breath. When he leaned over, he saw the biggest, ugliest bug on his shoe he'd ever seen or heard about. He whimpered and hit at it with his flashlight to dislodge it. It worked, though it left a dent in the flashlight. Matt looked behind them and saw a trail of moving shadows. Were they all bugs? Would this haunting never end?
Matt grabbed Sally's hand and simply said, "RUN!"
They both did until they were on an ordinary street again. Nothing was behind them anymore and they had nothing to say about the haunted house to anyone else. Haunted by mice and bugs? No. No, no, no. But Matt and Sally never could abide either for the rest of their lives.