It's October, and in America that means it's time for Halloween. I searched my brain for an appropriate tale to share this Storytelling Sunday. I considered a story from my childhood about running around our neighborhood collecting candy in a pillow case because a paper bag just could not hold all that candy (and the one family that gave out full size candy bars). Or a story from my adulthood about almost winning a costume contest at a Halloween Party when Paul and I dressed as Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein (realizing too late that we would have been a shoe-in for first place if I had been the monster and he had been the Bride). I considered a poignant story about watching the last elementary school costume parade of my children's lives or a funny story about trick-or-treating with out kids (which we do as kindof a rolling party, drinking wine and beer and visiting with friends along the way) and the year we stumbled upon an "eyeball" themed party.
Finally, I have settled upon a story about a Haunted House and the year Henry got his rodents mixed-up. The after-school program at the elementary school puts together a Haunted House each year. The students paint their faces as ghosts or zombies and build scenes of cemeteries and witch houses before dimming the lights and leading children through a variety of eerie vignettes. When Henry was in fourth grade (about 9 years old), I asked him what role he was going to play in the Haunted House, and he replied matter-of-factly "a hamster." I was confused and pressed him, asking for more details about what he would be doing, and he said "some zombies will be eating me." I was still confused, but he grew frustrated with my questions, and continued to insist that he was going to be a hamster.
On Halloween, I went to the Haunted House, waited in line, made my 25 cent donation, and followed the teacher through the door into the interior of the classroom, illuminated now by green strobe lights and eerie fluorescent blacklights. Our tour guide was dressed as a witch. She spoke in hushed tones and carried a flashlight, which she used to illuminate her face from just below her chin for maximum spooky effect. As we walked through the various scenes, with fog from dry ice blowing about us, I kept looking for my son, the hamster. We finally arrived at the last scene and there was Henry, laying on a table, has face painted green and a bowl with spaghetti arranged on his torso to look as if his belly had been opened and his intestines had poured out of his body. He was surrounded by "zombies" feasting on his internal organs and a fellow student dressed in a lab coat and fright wig. I listened as the teacher said, "And here is our final scene. It's the laboratory of the Mad Scientist. I guess he is done experimenting with that unfortunate human guinea pig."