Mount Creative Writers
How I discovered my next-door neighbor
MSM Class of 2015
(10/2012) Who knew I would be sitting in the middle of a bamboo forest, soaking wet, blood running down my right shin, and a rip in the knee of my black sweatpants where the barbed wire tore a hole. It was a nightmare becoming
reality. When was Halloween ever this scary?
The clock was ticking down the minutes and seconds to when I was able to leave dreadful Geometry class. I wish someone had warned me that high school sophomore math would be this painful. I also wish that someone had told me that my teacher would be so boring and mysterious. Mr. Riderwood was a strange man, to say the least. He was a
typical math teacher, like the ones portrayed in movies: a little shorter than most men, older and with glasses, and he sounded like he had a cold all the time with his raspy voice. I stared at the hand on the clock; it was slowly inch by inch pushing time forward.
"Pssst, Ellie," I heard whispered from behind me as a note was thrown onto my desk. I slowly opened it without making too much noise. As I unfolded each wrinkle in the paper, I got so excited that I could feel my foot beginning to tap vigorously. I already had an idea of what it was going to say. It read, "Meet after class near the water
fountain by the back steps of parking lot B for tonightís game plan. ĖCole" This meant one thing and one thing only: Halloween shenanigans were about to begin inÖ"Dinnngg!" Finally, the bell rang, and I was able to leave.
I trotted through the hallways, passing the crowds on the side. I was hitting people left and right with my big backpack as I ran by them. "Sorry, Ďscuse me. Sorry, uh yeah my bad." I kept repeating myself. I eventually could see the red double doors leading to outside of these hallways. Ah! Freedom at last as I took in the fresh fall air.
I slid down the railing, hands in the air and anxious to see what Cole had planned for us. I spotted him by the water fountain; his big brown curly afro-looking hair made him stand out. As soon as my feet hit the ground, I ran over to him. Teddy was standing with him, too.
"Hey guys! Whatís the game plan? What are we doing tonight? Where are we going? Trick or treating, anyone?" The questions began to pour out as I gasped for air through my panting.
"Whoa, whoa, letís hold on there for a second, Ellie. We have a plan. Just breathe," Cole reassured me.
I inhaled slowly, "In and out. Deep breaths. Okay, Iím ready."
"This is the plan. We are going to head to White Marsh Mall, pick up our costumes, get pizza, and then go trick or treating," Cole explained.
"Oh, sweet! Trick or treating in my neighborhood or one of yours?" I asked eagerly.
Cole glances over at Teddy, back at me, then back at Teddy, then back at me. Uh oh, I had a suspiciously bad feeling about this.
Teddy begins to stutter, "Well, y-ya, ya see, we, um, were thinking of..."
"Okay just spit it out already," I demanded.
"We decided we are going to the corner houses on the west side of your neighborhood in the cul-de-sac a few blocks from your house," Cole blurted out.
"Um, you guys know that we have to cross private property to get there. We canít drive. How are we going to get there? And do we have to go there? Iím not up for going to that last corner house on Masquerade Lane. I heard some man who lives there is creepy and mean," I argued.
Cole tried to reason with me. "Oh come on El, we will walk. It will be so much fun. Teddy and I have been talking about this ever since we were younger and we want you to come with us. You love scary movies, and you claim that nothing ever scares you. I promise we will be fine. We just want to explore the neighborhood."
"Half of the houses are abandoned and haunted so it isnít like we will get caught. The people who live in the other half donít ever really come out, so they wonít know we were there," Teddy chimed in. I was not up for this at all. I hated peer pressure. Especially by my two and only best friends.
"Ugh, fine. Iím in," I reluctantly agreed to this new Halloween adventure. I noticed Coleís mom off to the left in the parking lot waiting in her gray Honda Accord. "Alright Cole, letís go. Your mom is here," I said. We hopped into the car and on my way there, I began to let my head wander. I mean, why couldnít we just do what we did every
Halloween? Trick or treat, prank calls, scary movies, scare little kids when they came to the door; but not this year. We had to play our own version of ghost hunters. I guess there was no backing out now. As I thought of all the possible reasons of how to get out of tonight, I also thought about what we were going to do when we got older. What do older people,
like Mr. Riderwood, do for Halloween? Do they even give out candy or do they just sit around watching the news until they fall asleep? Either way, I couldnít imagine what Mr. Riderwood would be doing. Maybe some geometry problems. He just seemed so dull.
"Weíre here Ellie, you can stop day dreaming about whatever teenage girls dream about," Teddy nudged my arm jokingly.
"Do you know what you want to be yet for tonight?" Cole asked.
I had barely thought about what I was going to be because I was awkwardly day dreaming about what my goofy, old, four-eyed, professor was doing on Halloween. I think they could tell I hadnít given it too much thought.
"Itís ok El, we got you covered. Wait here and we will come out with your costume," Cole yelled as he was already halfway out of the car. I couldnít decide whether I was happy with them picking the costume because I didnít have to think of an idea, or nervous that they would dress me up as something odd. Fifteen minutes later, after Iíve
practically chewed off all my fingernails, the boys came back with black costumes in hand. The car door slammed behind them.
Cole turned and looked at me, wide-eyed like a puppy. "Ellie, close your eyes and put out your hands," he said energetically. I closed my eyes, put out my hands, and I began to feel the mysterious, unknown costume being placed into my palms.
"Okay open up," Cole said. I almost jumped out of my seat when I saw it, "I cannot believe you guys got these!" It was a black ninja costume with accessories: a headband, sword, and glow-in-the-dark gloves. Although I wasnít looking forward to going to Masquerade Lane, I was definitely looking forward to wearing a ninja costume.
We drove to my house after pizza, and when we got there, I made sure to tell Coleís mom that we would most likely be home from trick-or-treating around midnight. Unfortunately, Halloween just happened to fall on a school nightÖjust our luck.
"Alright, Iíll see the boys then. Donít have too much fun!" she shouted from the driveway.
"Ellie, are your parents working late again?" Teddy yelled into the kitchen from the family room. He and Cole were already sprawled out on the couch, shoes off and flipping the channels. Typical boys.
"Yes, they are, but letís get our costumes on and get on with this exploration or whatever you want to call it," I replied in a sarcastic tone. We got ready in the fastest amount of time as possible.
"Iím so anxious to see some haunted houses tonight," Cole kept saying. "Me too," Teddy would add.
After a few snaps of photos, we locked the door and were on our way. It was a rather chilly night and quite rainy. I noticed some kids trick-or-treating, but not many. We hung a left and walked up the huge hill on my street, then took a right, then a left, and then went into the back path behind the elementary school until we reached the
end of the cul-de-sac on the west side. There was no escaping it now.
"Okay, I think we should go to the Ďscariestí abandoned house first," Teddy suggested.
"Can we just get this over with please?" I moaned.
"Fine, letís go," Cole said firmly. We opened the front door to the house. Was this considered breaking and entering? I wasnít quite sure.
"Did you guys hear that?" Cole whispered.
"Are you sure this house is abandoned? There is furniture everywhere, andÖ" A light coming from upstairs suddenly caught my eye and I couldnít formulate words anymore. I tugged on Teddyís jacket behind me, and as we approached the stairs, the floorboards kept creaking below our feet. We pushed the door open and, "Oh. My. Gosh," I muttered
under my breath.
A man stood there, his back facing us. He saw our reflections in the mirror, turned around and screamed at us. "RAWWRRRR!" My toes went numb. He was wearing a deformed purple and orange mask with bright blue feathers. We were out of there so fast! We went down the stairs, through the door, and back to the elementary path. Teddy took a wrong
turn and we ended up hopping a barbed wire fence and getting lost. I cut my knee and it started to storm. Was this actually happening?
"Two hours later and we finally made it back here," Cole said as we frantically ran into my house. His mom eventually came and picked the boys up. I could not sleep that night. What was that mask anyway? The image of the man in the mask was still so vivid.
The next day I went to geometry class. Mr. Riderwood was usually there before any of us got there. He walked in a little late and shut the door behind him. When he turned around, I instantly noticed the purple feather on his shirt, and I felt a huge gulp form in my throat. It suddenly became hard to swallow. Mr. Riderwood smiled at me, and
somehow I knew that his smirk was saying, "Nice to meet you. Iím your neighbor on Masquerade Lane." I looked behind me at Cole and could see he recognized the feather, as well. Mr. Riderwood started to teach class. "Iím sure you all had a great Halloween last night and stayed out of trouble, I hope," he glared directly at me and spoke in his old croaky voice. If
only the class knew his real mask. From that day onward, I never think about how older folks spend their Halloween night. As he stared at me, I started to sink down into my chair. All I could think about was, who really was Mr. Riderwood and where did he get that mask from?
Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski