We were in a part of the maze that had a series of rapid lefts and rights in succession, which was making me kind of dizzy. Out of the darkness we heard the big Golder Retriever yell. I knew at once something bad had happened to Lucas.
“What’s that Cindee?” Daisy asked.
I opened my mouth to answer the older dog, but stopped when the cats began to cry out in jarring shrieks of terror. My heart leapt into my throat, and instinctively I turned to look over my shoulder to make sure there were no scarecrows behind us. Daisy screamed in front of me.
Before I even had a chance to turn my head to see what happened to my friend, the ground opened and swallowed me whole. My feet slipped out from under me, and I began a rapid descent on my back. Terrified, my eyes scanned all around me. The blackness descended above me, blotting out the night sky. There was nothing left to do but scream with every fiber of my being. I was careening in a downwards spiral deep into the belly of an inky pitch-dark void and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
It was an odd yet familiar experience. I felt as though I were speeding through a dark tunnel with my head hanging out the car window and was traveling at such a rapid speed that I could feel the wind whipping through my hair, which in an odd sort of way was very comforting, but still, it didn’t stop me from screaming.
“Heeeeeeeeeeelp!” I shouted with the sensation of having twisted around a curve followed by a sudden drop, leaving my tummy several feet above me. Beneath me a strange smacking sound had begun, like that noise you hear at the bowling alley when the ball slams into the pins and they go flying everywhere. It was happening more rapidly now, coming within seconds of each other, and it was growing louder. Closer too.
Without warning, the metal that I had been traveling on gave out from under me and I dropped the remaining foot to the ground making the bowling sound myself when I landed.
Hundreds of smooth clammy bodies flew out from under me when I landed. They were everywhere. The creatures quickly engulfed me and began to pull me under them. I could hear them communicating with each other via weird popping noises, but this was quickly drowned out by the booming in my chest and head.
“I want my Mommy! Daddy where are you!” I shrieked in horror.
“Relax Cindee, it is just a ball pit,” Lucas’s comforting voice reached out to me through the darkness.
“Weeeeeeeee!, see balls,” Rapi exclaimed before making a giant leap into the pit. The balls skittered everywhere trying to escape the cat’s twenty-something pound body when it splashed into the lake of plastic orbs.
“Balls,” I breathed out a sigh and just lay there for a second.
I heard the chubby orange cat burrowing beneath the sea of orbs and smiled when I felt the familiar warmth and shape of his furry body cuddle up next to mine. I snuggled into him for a second, just to let my frayed nerves relax.
“C’mon, we need to get going,” Daisy’s voice cut through the gloomy pitch with urgency.
“Those scarecrows might still be looking for us,” she reminded us.
Rapi and I quickly scrambled out of the ball pit and glanced around trying to get our bearings. The darkness seemed all consuming until we saw a pinpoint of light flickering off in the distance.
“Towards that light?” I asked.
“I think that’s our best option,” Jaspar said,
I turned my head in the direction that the tabby’s voice had come from and put all my effort into trying to see him.
“I agree,” Lucas added.
“Let’s all line up nose to tail and gently keep the tail in front of us in our mouth so we don’t get lost,” Lucas suggested.
“Good idea,” Callie and Yehudi agreed at the same time.
“No biting,” Bella insisted.
“No biting,” everyone agreed in unison.
Now that we had a plan that everyone could agree on, we set off towards the tiny spark of light, lined up from smallest to largest. It was kind of nerve wracking to have Yehudi leading the way, because, well you know, the little black cat can get erratic if she goes too long without her laser dot. Even though there was some concern about the black cat up front, everyone took great comfort in knowing that Lucas was in the back protecting us from anything that tried to sneak up from behind.
The journey to the light was quick, taking only a minute or two, but I must admit, it felt like it was hours.
It wasn’t until we drew closer that we discovered we were following an electric light in a wall sconce with one of those bulbs that mimic the shimmer and tremble of a candle’s flame.
“Now what?” Yehudi asked.
“I don’t think we have any choice, we need to go forward,” I answered.
“We could always go back,” Callie groaned.
“No, we need to go forward,” Jaspar added, and Lucas agreed overruling the large calico.
“So… forward,” Yehudi asked, not a hint of fear in her voice.
“Forward,” Lucas said brimming with confidence.
Still in formation we inched ahead a couple of steps. To our surprise a set of electric lights just like the first one sprung to life, one on each side of the corridor. For the first time we were able to see just how narrow the passageway was.
“Motion sensors!” Jaspar yelled excitedly.
“Shhhhhh, keep it down,” Callie scolded him.
“Your right, it is motion sensors,” Lucas added.
Just inside the circle of light we could see two more sconces sitting in darkness, just waiting for someone to set them off. Moving onward, the bulbs came to life in a soft glow, confirming our suspicions. Looking around into everyone’s face I could see smiles and relief. Now that we could see where we were going, we changed our formation with Lucas leading the way, the cats clustered together in the middle and Daisy and I bringing up the rear.
With the gift of light, we were able to pick up our pace and soon found ourselves zig zagging through a series of tunnels. We seemed to be traveling on a moderate incline, which could only mean one thing, we were slowly making our way back to the surface.
After quite some time of wandering in the subterranean passages we began to smell the distinctively familiar odor of decay that can only be found in the autumn air, then a few feet further up we felt the cool October breeze for the first time in almost an hour.
Shafts of silver light filtered in through an opening in the ceiling. Once we drew closer, we were able to see a staircase that lead up and out of the tunnels. The sight of it brought cheers and a celebration from the cats in our little band of ex-party go-ers.
“We did it,” I whispered hoarsely to Daisy, desperately trying to hide my tears from her.
“We did,” she answered with a smile.
The tunnel exited into the middle of a large, wooded area with trees as far as the eye could see. There was a well-worn path that led straight ahead and away from the tunnel opening. I closed my eyes and squinted into the darkness and was able to make out a faint glow in the distance.
“Do you smell smoke?” Daisy asked
“I do,” Lucas answered.
“Look a light,” I said pointing in the direction of my discovery. Daisy squinted.
“Oh yeah, I see it,” she said.
“Me too,” Lucas agreed.
“Should we go towards it?” Jasper asked.
“I think …” Lucas started to answer but stopped short at the sound of branches crackling and moaning behind him.
“Scarecrow!” Rapi shouted.
I turned to look and saw old pumpkin head stumbling towards us.
“Run!” I yelled.
As if manifesting out of nowhere two apparitions appeared one on our left, the other on the right, cutting our options down.
“Go towards the light,” Lucas barked out.
We didn’t give it a second thought, like a ball fired from a cannon, we all darted off down the path towards the light with ghosts and scarecrows in tow. The path weaved between the bushes and trees. We dove into a thick patch of brush and took a few moments to catch our breath.
Lucas, having a great idea, sent our two stealthiest members, Jasper and Yehudi, out to scout around the area. While we waited for our friends to return, we peered out between the branches and spotted the source of the light.
Directly ahead of us was a small clearing in the woods. At the far end stood a wooden cottage, kind of like the one in the story books that Mommy reads to us, and right in the middle was a large bonfire. My body ached from the cold and fatigue. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be drinking cider and roasting marshmallows and snuggling up to the warmth right now.
I was stirred back to the moment by a rustling in the brush behind us. Every hair on my body stood on end. I was afraid to turn and look.
“See anything guys?” Lucas asked.
I exhaled all my fears. It was just our two friends returning from their reconnaissance mission.
“We didn’t see any ghosts or scarecrows,” Yehudi reported.
“Yeah, I think they gave up,” Jasper added.
“Did you see the cottage,” I asked.
“We did,” Yehudi answered.
“And we looked around. There was a fire out front with an old-fashioned pot cooking on it,” Jasper said.
“It smelled very familiar,” Yehudi added, a little perplexed because she couldn’t place exactly what it was about the odor that she recognized.
“Inside there was just one cozy room, and it appeared empty. I think we should go there to warm up for a few minutes,” Jasper finished his report.
The group fell silent for a minute, everyone letting Jasper’s words sink in.
“What do you think,” Callie squeaked.
Nobody answered right away. Rapi looked first at Lucas, then Dasiy before his gaze finally settled on mine. I could feel his eyes search my face, desperate for an answer to Callie’s question. My mind was empty though.
“If we are very careful it should be okay right?” Daisy’s voice was filled with trepidation. Lucas looked at me, waiting for me to say something.
“It seems like it would be okay, but just for a minute don’t you think Lucas?” I asked, putting the golden retriever on the spot.
“Okay, but we all stick close together, and we all need to be super vigilant,” he explained before tip toeing out of the brush. We all followed close behind the big Golden Retriever, letting him lead us across the opening and up to the fire where we stopped for just a minute.
“Everyone take a close look around and report back if you see anything, and I mean anything, at all that looks suspicious,” Lucas barked out quietly.
I looked out into the darkness but didn’t see anything, though I did smell something. Yehudi was right, it did seem familiar.
“All clear,” Daisy reported.
“Everything good,” the cats hissed under their breath.
I sniffed and sniffed again.
“Daddy’s Chile?” I whispered.
“Huh,” Lucas looked at me with a puzzled look.
“That’s it, it smells like Daddy’s chile,” Yehudi cried out.
“Shhhhhhh,” we all hushed him.
“Sorry,” the little tuxedo cat squeaked.
“Okay, let’s move forward gang,” Lucas said, dropping to his belly and crawling to the door. We all followed suit and soon there were eight fur friends slinking across the forest floor on their tummies.
We reached the door and kept low. Lucas signaled for us to be silent. I watched the big dog place his ear against the door and close his eyes so he could focus all his attention on listening. Rapi looked at me and shrugged. I shook my head at him scoldingly.
“I don’t hear anything, it seems safe to go in,” Lucas whispered.
The golden retriever reached up and put his paw against the door and pushed. The wooden portal creaked and groaned like it was in agony. A soft golden light from a dozen or so lit candles spilled out through the opening, inviting us in. One by one we crept into the little cottage. Once we were all inside, I closed the door behind me. We collapsed in the middle of the room and lay there silently for a few minutes letting our tired bodies rest.
“Nobody go to sleep,” Daisy reminded everyone of the importance of being alert.
I was scared to death, but extremely exhausted all at the same time. I was not used to all the running and worrying, and it was taking its toll on my body. I was struggling to keep my eyes open. What I wouldn’t give to be at home in my warm bed.
For the first time it dawned on me, Mommy and Daddy would come to pick us up in a few hours and we wouldn’t be there. We didn’t know how to get back to the house and they didn’t know where we were. We were doomed. We were going to be orphans.
My head popped up and snapped towards the door. The floorboards moaned and complained from the other side. I looked at my friends. They too had heard it.
“Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with furbaby blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.”
The voice sounded like it was almost singing a song. Suddenly the door flew open, and a woman with black clothes, a black pointed hat and a green face looked at us and cackled loudly.
“Good evening my dearies,” she clucked.
“W …w … witch!” Rapi screamed in terror.
We all began to race for the other side of the room.
“Where is the back-door Jasper,” Lucas barked out.
“Oh shoot,” the cat called back.
“There isn’t one,” Yehudi whimpered.
“You are trapped,” the witch laughed a hearty full laugh and pointed a crooked finger at them.
We all fell to the floor on our tummies and began to beg for our lives. The witch took a step towards us. The two scarecrows that had been chasing us filtered in behind her, their eyes still glowing bright orange.
The old crone took another step forward as did the scarecrows allowing the three ghosts to float into the room.
“Oh, my dearies,” the witch stopped to cackle again.
“Don’t you know what evening this is?” she asked, tilting her head to look at us.
“Please Mrs. Witch, don’t eat us,” Rapi pleaded.
“This is a night of tricks and treats my dearies,” she furrowed her forehead and scowled at us.
“Here are the tricks … ” she said motioning to her cronies.
I watched in horror as the scarecrows grabbed their heads and began to pull them off. The pumpkins came free with a pop.
Lucas stared at the scarecrows dumbstruck.
“Mom? Dad?” he said puzzled.
The ghosts reached up and pulled what was a glittery white sheet from their heads. Standing before us where Mommy, Daddy and Robin!
“Trick or treat!” They all cried out at once.
“This was just a hoax?” I asked, mystified, and confused by what was happening.
“But … but … the witch?” Rapi asked, his little body trembling.
The crone reached for her hat and tugged on it, removing not just the conical head covering, but the wig that was attached as well.
“It’s just me, Aunt Mary,” she said in her normal voice.
Jasper and Callie jumped into the air and dashed into her arms.
All the fright of the evening had worn off and we were sitting around the fire listening to Halloweenie music and enjoying yummy snacks that our humans had brought.
“You can’t have tricks without the treats,” Daddy had said.
Rapi curled up next to me and began to purr.
“This has been an awesome night, right,” the orange cat said, still not able to contain his excitement.
“It sure has. Can you believe that Aunt Mary knew the person that owned this old amusement park,” I said, still in disbelief.
“And that everyone went to all that trouble to plan this,” he said shaking his head.
“They sure do love us!” I barked with a smile.
“What better way to spend Halloween than getting tricks and treats with the people you love,” I said snuggling up to Rapi.
We watched as our friends, both human and four legged, danced in the night. I glanced up at the sky and smiled at the stars who twinkled above us. Then, out of the corner of my eye I caught a shadow sweeping across the moon. I quickly shifted my gaze to the big silver ball but saw nothing, however, I thought I heard something in the distance.
Friends, I cannot be certain, but I believe I heard the voice of someone calling out …
“Happy Halloween, ah hah hah hah hah!”