Eighteen-year-old Mason was stoic, handsome, and imposing for a high-school senior. Because of his size, nobody dared cross him at school. His short, dark hair and big brown eyes made him impossible to miss. Although Mason had muscular arms and a broad chest, his striking looks made him intimidating. A sweet, kind, and innocent young man were underneath his commanding exterior. Mason had a lot of friends and even more admirers. He was comfortable with his sexuality and was often offered a free sample “of the other side” from the popular girls in his class. Mason always chuckled, finding it flattering and sweet that they wanted to hook up with him, but he wasn’t interested in them in the least. Mason was a strict six on the Kinsey scale and a proud, gold star gay. Several guys in school shamelessly flirted with him daily, but none interested Mason either. There was only one man in town that he lusted after… Thad Thompson.
Thad graduated three years ahead of Mason. Their paths first crossed when he was a freshman. Thad was the school’s badass. He wasn’t a bully; he was too cool for that. Like a young Jensen Ackles from the show “Supernatural,” he was quiet, strong, and confident. Mason was instantly smitten and hadn’t been able to get his mind off him ever since.
Mason walked past Thad’s house every day on his way to school, hoping to catch a glimpse of him outside working on the engine of some kind of car or motorcycle.
Mason knew Thad would be in the driveway tinkering if he made his way down Ravenwood Road at seven-thirty sharp. At first, Mason would just hurry by and steal a quick eyeful of his favorite hunk, but eventually, Thad started waving hello at Mason as he passed, and Mason was happy to return the greeting. Now, in his final year at school, the two young men exchange a daily pleasant “what’s up” or “good morning” as Mason strolled past the garage.
As much as Mason enjoyed seeing Thad in the mornings, he dreaded walking down Ravenwood Road.
The large manor on Ravenwood Road was famous for a series of gruesome murders and terrible things that took place in the 70s. It was so infamous that there were YouTube videos of people going in and never coming out.
The old house sat on a vast plot of land. It was overgrown with weeds and trees, so it was perpetually dark. It had rusted old gates that used to be locked with a chain, but that chain had since been cut off, and now the creaky old iron gates reluctantly grant access to anyone foolish enough to dare enter.
It was an odd shade of murky green, and the shutters were in disrepair. Dark drapes covered the windows that somehow defied breaking. On Halloween night, students threw rocks at the house, but the glass somehow refused to break as if defiant of their taunting. As if that wasn’t odd and scary enough, shadows could be seen moving within the structure through the dark, drapery window dressings. Banging, rattling, and other weird, blood-curling sounds had been noted down the street, making the old estate even more terrifying.
Mason was a huge fan of horror movies but, ironically, a big scaredy-cat. His fear of everything, including his own shadow, was so well known by everyone in town that he had been given the unfortunate nickname of ‘Scooby-Doo,’ a boy.
He attempted to confront his fear of ghosts, demons, and ghouls by forcing himself to walk past the famed Haunted House on Ravenwood Road. As much as Mason hated the place, and it truly terrified him, he knew that if he could face that fear, a prize awaited him the next door; that prize was seeing Thad Thompson.
It was now the end of October, and Halloween had finally arrived. It was Mason’s favorite holiday. He anxiously waited for all the horror films that came out that month and watched them faithfully with all the lights on as he remained safely tucked into his bed.
He also relished the ghoulish decorations adorning the homes in the neighborhood, along with the pumpkins, gourds, plastic skeletons, and fake spiderwebs. All that thrilled him, but Mason’s favorite Halloween activity was dressing up to trick or treating.
This year, he had worked hard on his costume. He’d spent extra time in the gym for the last four months, so he was more pumped than usual. His goal was to be perfectly ripped, so he could be THE INCREDIBLE HULK when trick or treating in the neighborhood. Mason’s hair was naturally dark, and with his new shaggy cut, he perfectly matched the character. Now with his beefy build, tight purple pants, and green make-up, he’d be a hit when out with his friends.
Mason was excited that Halloween fell on a Saturday this year because that meant that Friday would be a big party day. As Mason grabbed his books and headed down Ravenwood Road to return home, the old haunted Karloff estate creeped him out more than usual. Mason made it a point never to look at the house or dawdle as he passed by the majestic manor.
He made it a point just to keep looking forward as he walked by, not to stop until he passed it and reached Thad’s house.
That’s when you can take a break. Mason would remind himself, not a second before you’re clear of that property.
As Mason rushed past the creepy old house, Thad could be spotted shirtless beside an old Harley Motorcycle in the distance. His worn, grease-covered jeans were tight when he leaned forward to adjust the bike’s carburetor. Thad wore motorcycle boots and silver jewelry. Mostly leather wraps and beads around his wrist and neck. His long hair was pulled back and up in a rubber band. He was the epitome of the ‘sexy loner biker bad-boy,’ and Mason loved it!
Mason’s heart raced as he daydreamed at the image of holding tightly onto Thad’s shredded, shirtless body and pressing against him as he sat behind that roadster motorcycle. Because his mind was elsewhere, Mason didn’t see the giant stone next to the sidewalk where he was walking. His foot hit the rock hard, causing him to stumble onto the street. With a mighty thud, Mason hit the pavement.
Thad immediately rushed over. “Dude, are you okay? That was a nasty fall. I could hear you hit the cement.”
Mason was stunned and embarrassed. “I think I’m okay. I didn’t see that rock.”
“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to move it. My bad, I knew that someone would trip over it one day. Let’s make sure you didn’t break anything.” Thad helped Mason to a seated position and took his leg in his hands. “Carefully, slowly, move it. Let’s make sure it’s not broken.”
Oh, man! This stud holding me, cradling my leg? I’m so turned on right now!
Mason was too busy looking into Thad’s green eyes to pay attention to his pain.
“Well? Does it hurt? Can you move it?” Thad asked emphatically. Mason was too distracted by how sweet and caring Thad was being. He had forgotten he was hurt. “Yeah, I guess I’m okay. I think it just sounded worse than it was.”
Thad insisted, “Let me grab you some crutches. I have a set from when I broke my leg a few years ago. You’re welcome to have them. Hang on while I run inside and grab them.”
Mason quickly replied, “I’m fine—honestly. It’s very nice of you but unnecessary.” Was Mason really fine, or did he just want to steal a few more minutes cradled in his dream man’s arms? His head pressed against Thad’s powerful chest; he lay comfortably between his legs and didn’t want to move.
Thad insisted, “Try to stand. Let’s see if you can put pressure on it.”
Just a few minutes more of this was all that kept racing through Mason’s head, but his mouth replied, “Okay, let me try to stand and see just how bad it is.”
Although painful when pressure was applied, Mason didn’t want to make a big deal of this. He was already embarrassed and nervous about being around Thad. The butterflies in his stomach were more distracting than the ankle.
“I’ll drive you home. That’s the least I can do.”
“Please, no. I’m okay. I can easily make it. I only live around the block. You’ve already been too kind.” Mason did his best not to show anything wrong with his ankle as he stood and applied pressure to it. He knew it was badly sprained, but there was no way he wanted Thad to know just how bruised it was.
“Thanks again for your help. I’m good! See you later.” Mason turned and walked away as quickly as he could without limping.
Once home. Mason’s mom insisted he apply ice to his ankle and have it looked at by a doctor. A quick visit to urgent care confirmed that it indeed was sprained, and just taping it tightly would be fine so long as he didn’t walk on it.
Fine, Mason thought, everyone’s making a bigger deal of this than necessary. It’s just a sprain.
Mason’s parents insisted he not trick or treating the next day. As devastated as he was by this request, he knew they were right. Rather than going out in costume to trick or treat, he hid away in his bedroom to try on his Hulk costume instead. Besides, the Incredible Hulk limping around was just plain lame.
Mason dropped to the floor and began doing pushups to get swole. He could feel his arms and chest getting bigger as he strained to get a good pump on. Once satisfied that his abs, arms, and pecs popped, he stood in front of the mirror and posed shirtless with his tight, purple hulk pants. Mason wasn’t vain in the least. However, his new muscular physique pleased him. His ridiculously small, tattered purple pants showcased the impressive equipment God had gifted him. Even he had to admit, as he posed and grunted in front of the mirror, he looked pretty damn hot with his biceps thick like softballs and his torso fanned out like a cobra in relation to his slim waist. The now golden daylight coming in from the setting sun, each ab muscle cast a distinct shadow on his stomach, clearly defining his mid-section and square-chested pecs. Yup. All that time at the gym really paid off. Sorry, Hulk. Maybe next year, he lamented. Still, Mason was proud of his accomplishment as he gleefully grunted, GRRRRRR! in the mirror with a modest chuckle.
A text from his buddy, Bob, brought him back to reality. The text read, “Picking you up in an hour for the party tonight. Be ready.” Mason knew now he needed to rush to make it to the party since he hadn’t even showered yet.
Mason’s buddies, Bob and John, were on the wild side. As much as Mason enjoyed hanging out with them and talking about his favorite horror films and sports, they were interested in other things–mainly girls and getting laid.
It was dark when Bob’s car pulled up in front of Mason’s house. A text on Mason’s phone let him know they were waiting for him outside. It simply read, “Scooby, we’re here. You better not puss out when you find out that we’re partying at the cemetery tonight”. Mason hated being called “Scooby.” He also hated that everyone thought of him as a chicken. He was bummed that he wasn’t wearing his Hulk costume tonight.
Damn. I wish I had put on that costume. If everyone could see how big and badass I look like the Hulk, they wouldn’t call me Scooby anymore.
Mason hated that the party was at the cemetery tonight. Other than the old Karloff manor on Ravenwood Road, there was nowhere else he’d rather not be on Halloween eve!
As Rob, John, and Mason pulled down the long, dark, quiet dirt road towards the abandoned cemetery, an eerie mist rolled in.
Oh, heck no! Mason thought, eager to turn around and go home. Before getting too worked up about the scary, thick, grey mist, John exclaimed, “Awesome; they’ve got the fog machines running. How cool is that?”
It was true. Upon closer inspection, fog machines were strategically hidden behind mausoleums to create a thick, rolling mist through the headstones. A DJ had set up a makeshift booth near the old, deserted church, and kegs, cups, and assorted snacks were placed throughout the ancient graveyard.
Mason had to ask because it was just too obvious not to mention, “Guys, don’t you think this is sacrilegious and disrespectful to the dead?”
John wasted no time in shutting him down. “Dude. Really. Don’t be a bummer. This place is ancient. Everything under the ground has rotted and is long gone by now. The dead are now dirt. Let it go.”
Mason didn’t feel any better about drinking and partying on people’s gravesites, but it was a party, and he was with everyone he knew from school. He was determined to have a good time and not live up to his Scooby Doo nickname. Plus, if he had to admit it, it was pretty cool what they did here, and it was the perfect place to celebrate Halloween.
The night grew later, and midnight approached. A queasy feeling grew stronger and stronger in the pit of Mason’s stomach.
Maybe It’s the beers, or perhaps I am a chicken, but this is too creepy. I don’t want to be here at midnight. I’m going to slip out and head home before twelve o’clock.
Mason quietly headed towards the cemetery entrance without saying anything to anyone, attempting to slip out unseen.
Mason thought as he exited the party; I’ll feel better on the other side of those old gates, at home, and in the safety of my bed. He could hear the laughter and taunting of a group behind him.
“Scooby’s leaving! I told you he wouldn’t last until midnight!” Bob and John howled with laughter.
“It looks like you won the bet! I can’t believe he actually made it until 11:30! “Some girl yelled out loud and clear enough for Mason to hear.
What bet? What is she talking about?
Mason now needed to know why everyone was so tickled by his departure.
Bob fessed up to what was going on. “We took a collection to see who’d guess what time you’d try to split. Everyone’s money was that you’d be too chicken to stay till midnight.”
A deep baritone voice shouted above the crowd, “Scooby…dooby…doo!”
Waves of laughter erupted from the crowd so loudly that they drowned out the thumping dance music from the DJ.
As if Mason were the Hulk himself, he could feel the rage building inside him.
“Screw you guys; I’m not chicken! And don’t call me Scooby-Doo!”
John stepped up from the group. “Dude, if you say you’re not a chicken, I believe you.”
Mason felt better having his buddy by his side. John continued, “It doesn’t matter what I think. All these people don’t believe you. You need to prove that you’re no chicken to them!”
Mason was done with the group and wanted just to go home, but he knew that if he left now, things would only get worse for him.
“Fine. I’ll hang out till midnight. I’ll prove I’m not afraid of being in a graveyard on Halloween.”
“Oh, no. That won’t do it,” a voice from behind called out. Behind a nearby headstone, a girl named Rebecca stepped forward. She barely made eye contact with anyone in the group as she glanced down at her black-painted fingernails and casually stated, “Spend a night in the old Karloff mansion, and then we’ll stop calling you Scooby.”
All Mason could think of was that it was like a scene out of an old Frankenstein movie, where the local townsfolk gathered in the cemetery to antagonize the monster. He needed clarity as to what she proposed, so he slowly repeated what he had just heard.
“So, you’re saying that if I spend a night in a haunted house, I’ll prove to all of you I’m not afraid.”
Without flinching, Rebecca stared Mason in the eyes and replied loudly, “I FREAKIN’ DARE YOU.”
The group erupted in clucks and chicken sounds.
Mason’s heart raced, and his head felt flush. Before his brain could come up with a reasonable reply to the ridiculous challenge, his mouth answered: “FINE. I’LL DO IT!”
Cheers exploded from the crowd as if Mason had just won the Superbowl. Pats on the back and congratulations came from seemingly everywhere.
Mason instantly felt better. Challenge accepted. He’d won for now. Somehow, when the time comes to spend a night in the Karloff estate, he’ll figure out an excuse why he can’t do it. But as of tonight. He’d enjoy his victory.
“Let’s do this. Everyone, let’s all head to the Karloff house!”
Mason froze. TONIGHT?! NOW?! He felt sick to his stomach. He wasn’t planning on doing it TONIGHT-ON HALLOWEEN!
The crowd mobilized, and everyone jumped into their cars to head over to Ravenwood Road.
What was he doing? It was nearly midnight, and he was now going to enter a haunted house.
This couldn’t be happening. This was his biggest fear and his nightmare among nightmares!
Mason was sure he’d faint or die. Either was okay with him now.
“END OF PART 1”
Don’t tell me that Mason’s going into the old Karloff estate? I can’t look! Please, tell me how it ends! Oh, that’s MY JOB! Yup, Part 2 of this special STEAMY STORIES is up next. I promise I won’t keep you in suspense much longer, so let’s keep this fright fest going and climb under the sheets… with the lights on, of course, and I’ll tell you what finally happens with Mason and the Haunted House! But I’m warning you. I’m going to need to cuddle… I’m a bit of a Scooby Doo, myself!
till later, bro!
< MUSIC CUE>
“Beginning of part 2.”
Welcome to – PART TWO of THE HAUNTED HOUSE.
I’m glad you’re back and ready for the rest of our STEAMY STORY. What’s that smell, you ask? I smudged. Yup. A little sage to protect us from the evil spirits. I don’t know about you, but I’m sitting here while Mason goes into that haunted house without a bit of protection. Here, put on this garlic necklace. I know there are no vampires in this story, but you can never be too careful. So, if you’re ready, Let’s pick up where we left off… When MASON, the town “Scooby Doo,” is about to head into the old haunted Karloff estate to spend the night. Hopefully, old One-Eyed Carl isn’t waiting for him inside!
< SFX: Creepy wind sounds >
A procession of cars had arrived at the Karloff house. The old estate was eerily quiet for a Halloween night. Often kids would pass the house and taunt the spirits that resided there, but it was dead silent tonight, perhaps because it was late.
The house was dark and recessed from the streetlamps. The great lawn caught precious little light on its path. An impenetrable stone wall protected the old manor with wrought-iron gates at the entrance that freely swung in the breeze. The house was an odd green color, the color that Mason imagined the ghosts within were made of, and the dead trees that lined the path ominously dared anyone who entered to get closer to the estate itself.
Mason was all too familiar with the Karloff house’s extensive and disturbing history.
The home was the site of the Karloff killings in the late 1970s. It was when an escaped serial killer named One-Eyed Carl, on the run from authorities, attempted to find refuge in the large manor. The story has it: he found the front door of the home left carelessly open, and soon the owner, Brendan Karloff, an esteemed statesman, and his family would lie victim to the madman on the run.
It’s a tragic and terrifying tale that kept Mason up at night as a child. The chilling account of the horrors that had transpired in that house was as follows; Carl would come out of the attic through the crawl space at night, eat the families’ food, and then go out in the town looking for townspeople to murder. These strange and random killings baffled the police since they had no leads to who it was or where the killer’s hideout was. It wasn’t until noon on Halloween 1972 when Mr. Karloff went up to the attic to put a jack-o’-lantern in the window and found One-Eyed Carl sleeping. He attempted to retreat quietly from the attic to call the police, but the creaky floorboards of the old house gave him away. One-Eyed Carl woke up and chased the entire family throughout the house with an ax. He threatened to cut them up into pieces, but rather than chop them up like his other victims, he left the family tied in the basement to die. Old One-Eyed Carl continued to live in the house for weeks without anyone suspecting foul play until the utility man came to check the meter on the side of the house. The screams from the mother were blood-curdling, and the smell of the rest of the decomposing family was horrendous. The city worker finally got the police to the house, but it was too late for Brendan and the rest of the Karloff’s; they had all died by the time the authorities arrived.
Although the police sent out a county-wide search for the escaped convict, One-Eyed Carl was never found. Legend has it he hid in the attic while they searched for him, and he still lives in that house to this day. People say that if you look in the window at dusk, you’ll see his one eye peering out from behind the dark, tattered curtains at passersby.
Now it was Halloween Eve. The night that One-Eyed Carl killed the Karloff family. Mason needed to go into the house to prove he was not a scaredy-cat and forever to rid himself of his terrible nickname, Scooby Doo.
As half the town teens gathered in front of the old estate to cheer him on, Mason became more and more terrified and sick to the stomach about the fate that awaited him.
Bob placed a soberly concerned arm around his shoulders. “Dude. If you go into that house, we’ll never call you chicken again. Damn, dude. It takes some cajoles to walk up to that house, let alone go into it. Mad props to you, bro.”
More than a dozen cars were parked in front of the haunted house; it was dark, and a dense mist filled the chilly night air. The rusted gates faintly whistled from the wind gusting through them, and the dead branches of the trees echoed distressing sounds like distant screams.
The crowd chanted. “Do it. Do it. Do it” at first, then as Mason hesitated to enter, they clucked like chickens, repeating, “Scooby, Scooby, Scooby.”
He knew that this was a do-or-die moment for him. He tried to convince himself that the One-Eyed Carl story was fifty years ago.
Carl can’t still be alive; if so, he’s surely not still living in the house. There had been no murders in the town in Mason’s entire life, so obviously, a serial killer wasn’t living there anymore. Mason felt better about the house being abandoned. As for ghosts, even if the Karloff family haunted the house, who was to say they weren’t friendly?
Mason convinced himself that it was nothing more than an old house with a terrible past. He fortified himself with the idea that just walking in and spending a minute inside the front door would be a big gesture to prove that he was not chicken. That would surely rid him of the nickname he’s loathed since childhood.
“FINE. I’m GOING!” Mason yelled to the blood-thirsty crowd.
A hush fell over the group as Mason pushed open the rusty old gate at the street’s edge. The old metal hinge screamed for grease as it swung open with a heavy heave. As Mason hesitantly walked toward the gloomy house, he could feel his heart pounding in his chest. With each painful step, his dread and fear grew more crippling as he repeated, “It’s just a silly old abandoned house. There’s nothing to be frightened about.”
As misfortune would have it, it was now midnight. The witching hour and the exact moment that Mason’s hand reached for the doorknob. He again quietly pleaded, “Please, God, make this door locked. Everyone will see that I tried but couldn’t enter the house.”
Mason had barely touched the door. In fact, he may not have even touched it when it slowly and menacingly screeched open, as if daring him to enter.
A lump formed in his throat. A scream seemed appropriate, but no noise would come from his mouth. It was no matter, since no sound could have adequately expressed the terror in his heart.
A collective gasp from the group on the street could be heard. The encouraging chant, “Scooby followed their gasp. Scooby. Scooby.”
Are they taunting me or encouraging me to muster the courage to go in? Mason wondered.
Either way, he knew he was at the point of no return. All that was now required of him was to enter the estate, then turn around and leave. That simple, quick act would make him a hero. Indeed, no one would challenge his courage then. Who among the group would even dare come this far? No one, Mason brazenly surmised.
A deep breath accompanied his proclamation and rationalization. “It’s just an empty old house. There’s nothing to be afraid of!” Mason closed his eyes and stepped into the doorway of the old estate. Once inside, he slowly, carefully, took a peek. The darkness made it almost impossible to see, but soon, his eyes adjusted to the big, empty room, now vacant, cold, and desolate. He nervously chuckled to himself.
Not so bad. It’s pretty cool in a macabre kind of way.
He again attempted to convince himself that everything was fine and took a heavy series of breaths to lower his heart rate. Immediately, a heavy, cold gust swept through the rafters of the home. Instantly, the front door slammed closed and locked behind him.
HOLY CRAP, WHAT THE!? Mason screamed loud enough to wake whoever may have been sleeping or dead nearby. Instinctively, he grabbed the doorknob tight and furiously attempted to exit. The steely old doorknob wouldn’t budge. The house was intent on keeping him hostage. On cue, the wind howled like a sickly laugh throughout the room.
Oh, hell no! I’m not staying in here for another second!
The windows were covered in dark, heavy fabric. Mason was quick to attempt to open them and climb out. Was it the years of paint that cemented them shut or the crusty old locks that refused to relent? One thing was evident as he ripped at the window frame; he needed another way out.
An eerie purple glow illuminated a long, foreboding hallway across from him.
There’s got to be another exit here somewhere. Possibly a back door?
Mason made haste down a long corridor that seemed to lead towards the back of the house.
Out of all the possibilities given to him, this seemed the most reasonable in finding an escape route. There were terrible, horrific shadows cast on the walls as he stumbled through the entry. At first, Mason didn’t notice them. He dismissed them as innocent silhouettes cast through the trees as the wind blew, but upon closer inspection, he realized there was no light coming in from outside. The dark shapes were sinister and alive! He quickened his pace, but then felt the floorboards shift below his feet.
The wooden planks under his feet taunted him. From the far end of the corridor, a room was clearly within sight. Mason prayed he had reached the back of the house and a door that provided an exit. He darted towards the space, eager to escape the hallway that taunted him.
Once inside the room at the estate’s rear, he noticed the space was filled with antique medical apparatuses. Although not originally intended as objects designed for torture, they looked threatening and painful. It was then that it occurred to Mason that he was now in One-Eyed Carl’s hideout. Perhaps the old psychopath was still alive? Could Mason have walked into a trap he had set to capture trespassers? Mason quickly turned to head back down the hall he had just escaped from.
Returning to the front of the house seemed the only way to go since there was no way he’d allow himself to remain in One-Eyed Carl’s lair. As Mason turned back down the hall, a menacing shape manifested in the distance. It was enormous, imposing, and carried an unwieldy weapon.
Mason panicked and retreated. As he stepped backward, he stumbled over a footrest in the center of the room. With his compromised balance and his weakened, sprained ankle too tired to hold him up, his leg buckled underneath him. Mason hit the floor like a bag of sand.
Mason knew standing would be impossible, let alone escape, laying on the floor like a bag of sand. The dark, daunting shape quickly approached as it held what was clearly an ax in his hands. It was impossible to see his captor’s face. But he knew it was One-Eyed Carl coming for him as he wielded the same weapon of death that he killed all the local townsfolk with thirty years prior.
Mason emphatically crawled backward, away from the shape. He looked desperately around the room. Perhaps these old tools from yesteryear could provide him with a weapon so that he might protect himself? Mason knew it was futile, but he needed to try.
He instinctively called out, pleading with the killer, “Please, don’t kill me. I shouldn’t have entered your house. I’m only a student.”
The screams and cries seemed only to excite the ghoulish shape. It now approached faster and became more menacing. “Please, let me live!” Mason wailed one more time in desperation.
The hulking figure was now upon him. The ominous identity loomed over Mason, seemingly about to overtake him as he lay helpless on the floor.
The terrifying, massive creature spoke loudly, “Dude. Don’t be afraid. Chill. It’s just me. I’m here to help you.” Mason’s eyes were now closed as he was sprawled out on the floor in terror. What did I just hear? Is One-Eyed Carl sparing my life? Cautiously, Mason looked up to see the demon showing him mercy.
Again, the figure spoke. “I’m so sorry, man. I tried not to scare you.”
Not only was Mason confused, but he knew he recognized the voice. Could it be that the figure standing over him was not a ghoul? As Mason peered through the darkness, he was shocked and relieved to see that it was Thad standing by him. Rather than brandishing an ax or weapon, he held crutches for his ankle. He kneeled next to Mason. “I told you to stay off that ankle. What are you doing in the house? Were those kids in front who dared you to come in?” Mason was ecstatic to see Thad but was confused about why he was there and what he was talking about. He knew he lived next door; perhaps he’d heard his classmates out front and came into the house to rescue him?
“Let’s get you off the floor and out of this place. I’ll explain everything once you’re out of here.”
Mason could feel his heartbeat lowering. He was now breathing easier, and his mind was growing clearer. Thad reassuringly smiled as he lifted Mason in his muscular arms. “Let’s get you next door and off that foot.” Thad effortlessly lifted Mason and carried him out the rear of the house.
The two young men made their way through the bushes until the passageway became more groomed and manicured. Behind the trees and bushes, far away from the view from the street, was a path that connected the Karloff manor to Thad’s home next door. It wasn’t more than one hundred feet until they entered the large, beautiful backyard of Thad’s parents’ home.
Thad and Mason entered the back door as he called out to his father and brother. “The coast is clear; I’ve got Mason out of the house now. You can reset the house and do what you want with whoever enters tonight. We’ll be in my room. Try not to bother us, please.”
Thad sweetly looked Mason in the eyes and whispered, “Mind if I bring you to my room so you can rest?” Mason certainly was okay with that suggestion.
Thad’s room was on the outskirts of the back area of the house. Besides being unusually large, it looked like any young man’s room, except for motors, lights, engine parts, and various mechanical devices strategically placed on shelves.
Thad gently sat Mason on the edge of his bed. He knew more explanation of the house next door was needed to satisfy Mason’s curiosity. “I know my family is weird. We got it from my grandpops. My mom’s maiden name was Karloff. He loved a good ghost story, and when my grandmother died, he moved in with us. People started making up stories about the house being haunted since no one lived there anymore, and it got kind of worn down. Pops found it hilarious that folks thought it was haunted, so he leaned into it. Now it’s kind of an inside joke for my family. Plus, it’s something we all love doing together. We tinker with making devices to scare anyone who trespasses into the house. We made all those things with the front door slamming, the shapes on the wall, and the floor moving. I love anything mechanical. My dad and I created all those effects to scare off the kids who came here wanting to trash the place.”
Mason was shocked. He then asked about One-Eyed Carl.
Thad laughed innocently. “My brother made up all that stuff about One-Eyed Carl. He wanted to see just how crazy of a story people would believe. We all find it fun. I think the kids in the town like it, too. It makes Halloween even more exciting. Who doesn’t love having a haunted house in their town? Right?”
Mason had never thought about it quite like that before. It was true he grew up terrified of the house and its stories. He realized the myths around old One-Eyed Carl and the Karloff estate were probably where he developed his love for scary movies and why he’d walked down Ravenswood Road well before he knew Thad lived next door.
Now that he knew the haunted house was no longer occupied by ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and serial killers, he was a bit saddened to know the truth. Discovering a haunted house wasn’t haunted on Halloween was kind of like finding there is no Santa Claus on Christmas.
Thad slid closer to Mason on the bed. “I’ve noticed you walking by my house every day to go to school. That’s the reason that I’m always outside, tinkering with something. I’ll admit it’s my lame excuse to say hello. I can’t tell you how happy I was when you fell over that rock the other day.” Mason laughed. “That’s an odd, but sweet thing to say. But I know what you mean.”
Thad sat closer to Mason and leaned to whisper in his ear, “Hey, that ankle looks pretty bad; I’d suggest staying off your feet. What do you think about lying down for a bit?
Mason leaned forward and gently kissed Thad. Their lips touched softly, tenderly. It was sweet and honest. Mason didn’t expect this macho stud to be so thoughtful and compassionate. Thad pulled off his black tee shirt, revealing his chiseled, sculpted body.
Now it was Mason’s turn to show off how much effort he had put into the gym the last few months. Although he wasn’t in his Hulk costume, he felt proud of how defined his body was and was eager to share it with Thad. Mason flirtatiously teased. “I think I need to elevate this foot.”
Thad breathed heavily, clearly turned on. “You just suffered a traumatic experience. Especially after all you’ve been through. Best to stay in my bed and let me look after you.” Mason agreed he should remain in the care of a strong, caring man tonight.
The two men kissed, cuddled, and made love throughout the night. It wasn’t the Halloween Mason expected, but it was undoubtedly the one he had fantasized about for the last several years.
When morning time came around, Thad gently woke Mason with a nibble on his earlobe. He leaned over and said, “Your friends are still in front of the house next door. I think they’re waiting to see if you exit this morning. They’re probably worried sick. Maybe now’s the time to prove to everyone that you no longer should be called Scooby Doo. Should we prove to them you’re not chicken?” Mason smiled as he agreed and made haste to get dressed.
Thad escorted Mason through the backyard and into the back entrance of the house. Now, the once terrifying place looked oddly beautiful and majestic in the light. The two young men made their way through the house and prepared for Mason’s triumphant exit through the front door.
“Before seeing your friends, would you be available for dinner tonight? I know an amazing little restaurant nearby. It will be a proper first date if you’re up for it,” Thad asked.
Mason kissed Thad deeply and answered, “I’ll be by at eight. Thank you for last night. It was the best Halloween I’ve ever had… for a lot of reasons.”
Thad smirked humbly. “I enjoyed it, too. See you tonight.”
Mason opened the front door of the estate and stood for a minute. He took a long, leisurely breath and began a confident stride across the porch, through the front lawn to his friends’ cars.
Rebecca was the first to spot Mason exiting the house. She started yelling, “It’s Mason! He spent the night. He did it! Here he comes.”
Mason strutted with a hobble across the dry, dead grass and through the rusty, squeaky gates towards the smattering of students who spent the night waiting for him.
Bob excitedly called out, “I can’t believe you spent the night in there! Dude, you’re the boss. What brass balls you’ve got!” Rebecca was equally impressed. “I have to admit; I never thought you’d enter, let alone spend the night. You’re easily the bravest guy in town.” Mason casually stated, “No biggie. A few creepy ghosts, goblins, and a serial killer… I managed.” Without another word, he strolled away, strutting towards his house, leaving his friends bewildered and amazed.
The word soon spread around town about how Mason braved the dreaded Karloff estate, despite all the terrifying, otherworldly threats the haunted house had taunted him. Mason was undoubtedly the bravest guy in town. He wasn’t frightened off by the terrifying demons and goblins within.
Besides the good fortune of never hearing the nickname Scooby again, Mason found an additional reason to love Halloween. Every year, he and his boyfriend, Thad, watched the neighborhood kids attempt to do what Mason did that infamous Halloween night–spend an entire night in the haunted Karloff estate. The few who dared never seemed to get past the front room before running out terrified. They know that deeper inside that old estate, One-Eyed Carl and his army of ghastly ghouls and demons awaited them.