Be careful when you act brave and make fun of others for being scared of something because there could come a day of humility. My day came many moons ago on Halloween night, courtesy of my friends who were tired of me telling them there was no such things as ghosts.
I was summoned that evening to a friend’s home to hang out with them and other friends since their parents were gone. The hosts that evening had long claimed eerie things had gone on in their historic plantation-style home, going to the length of saying it was haunted.
“There’s no such thing as ghosts,” I scoffed as we all convened around a table in the large upstairs living room to do a séance. Word of warning kids. I was young and dumb. Don’t meddle with the occult.
“If there’s anyone here, make yourself known,” I laughed as we sat around the flicking candle, the unbeliever in the group.
Feeling silly, I looked at friends, all of whom were sitting nervously around the table, their eyes darting around the darkened room.
I shook my head. “This is just …” I began, my words drowned out by the loud static of a big-screen TV that came on by itself, making everyone, including myself, jump out of their seats.
“Unplug it!” I directed, clearing my throat after my voice went up an octave.
One of the guys did as I directed and cautiously pulled the plug and returned to the table. It was at that instant I began feeling a trembling in the table where we were sitting. It was a buzzing under our fingers. I was about to check the table when we plunged into complete darkness. A sudden rush of wind extinguished the candle in the middle of the table. I stumbled from the table, hitting my knees against furniture as I ran over and slapped on the lights.
“Who did that?” I accused as I walked across the room, instinctively reaching out to open the curtains to see if anyone was outside.
I caught my breath. The curtains opened by themselves! I jumped as I saw my reflection in the glass just for an instant as the lights again went out. Then, even as I heard the yells of my friends, the TV that had just been unplugged, came on again.
“That’s it,” I yelled as I ran for the door. “I’m out of here.”
I burst through the door, my friends rushing out behind me. As I ran down the circular staircase of the old mansion, I heard a shrill scream, almost like a woman’s or child’s scream. As I made it to the landing at the bottom of the stairs, I realized what I was hearing. It was my own screams.
I bent over to catch my breath once I got a good distance from the house. The guys ran up beside me. However, instead of terror in their voices, I heard only laughter. I looked up to see their smiles.
“Happy Halloween, tough guy,” they laughed.
I’d been played in one of the most elaborate Halloween hoaxes ever.
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191.