's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Henry’s Haunted Halloween Page

Submitted by Gareth Barsby

Have you ever wished your favourite holiday lasted longer than it did? Did you ever wish for it come sooner or more often? When I was young, my favourite holiday was Halloween, so much so that I would be thinking of the holiday all throughout the year. I would be planning what to dress up as in June, and sometimes, after 1st November, I would suddenly get a good idea for a costume and wish with all my heart that Halloween would come again.

In fact, I used to pretend that it was Halloween when it wasn’t. When I was allowed on the family computer, I would often visit “Henry’s Haunted Halloween Page”, a webpage filled with pictures of haunted houses and grisly ghouls, animated gifs of dancing skeletons and hopping pumpkins, all scored by a midi of “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas (an appropriate song, I thought, since I often visited the website in December).

There was so much on that little page. A brief history of Halloween itself, famous ghost stories and even recipes and instructions to create cheap and easy costumes. Reading that website, no matter the time of year, reminded me of the joy I felt during late September, when the leaves would turn pumpkin-orange and shop windows would be filled with skeletons and Jack-O-Lanterns.

Eventually, I gained other interests, found other websites and didn’t go to Henry’s Haunted Halloween Page for about fifteen years or so.

I visited it again, but completely unintentionally.

I woke up one morning, and before even having my coffee, I went over to my laptop, turned it on and opened Facebook. Well, I meant to open Facebook, but when I typed in the address and pressed Enter, I was greeted with a familiar midi, a familiar website logo and a familiar set of dancing skeleton gifs.

Despite the pang of nostalgia I got from hearing that music paired with those images, I typed the address into the address bar again and pressed the Enter key, only to hear that midi and see those skeletons all over again.

I tried to go onto Twitter. Henry’s Haunted Halloween Page.

I attempted to log onto Tumblr. Henry’s Haunted Halloween Page.

All my favourite webpages, all the places where I shopped, read the news and interacted with my friends, all replaced by Henry’s Haunted Halloween Page, gifs and all.

I shut off my computer, thinking it was some bug I hadn’t heard about and planned to phone someone about it when I got back from work. Though I was quite certain I hadn’t used my laptop to visit Henry’s Haunted Halloween Page, I rationalised it by telling myself I had visited it a couple of times for nostalgia’s sake, forgot about it and it was the result of some bug that made all URLs go to a random page from the user’s history.

On my way to work, however, I picked up my smartphone and tried to read the news, only to land on a certain webpage, with a certain midi hammering through my headphones. My only response was to turn off my phone and pretend I hadn’t seen that.

I tried to, at least. I tried to ignore the tingle of dread that built up in my gut.

You see, I worked in admin. I used the internet frequently, to read and write e-mails, to keep the company’s records up to date. As soon as I walked through the doors of the office building, I felt my stomach twist. When I turned on my computer, my hands felt like they were going to freeze.

A reaction completely justified when, after trying to open the company’s e-mail folder, I was greeted instead with those animated skeletons. Though the computer was muted, as per usual, the entire building was filled with the sounds of the midi, distracting my colleagues and causing them to even gang up on me, demanding to know what I was doing.

Though I showed them that every address I typed led me to the website, they continued to believe that this was a joke I was pulling, that I was deliberately trying to annoy them. As they hurled their accusations at me, the midi grew louder and louder – no, it multiplied.

All computers, all computers now bore the Henry’s Haunted Halloween Page logo, with the midi blaring from the speakers.

At that point, I just ran out of the building.

When I had managed to catch my breath, I realised the most bizarre element of this incident.

I looked at my phone again. It was the 12th June.

I walked down the street and looked at the nearby park. The trees, green while I was coming to work, now sported pumpkin-orange leaves fluttering off the branches.

Shop windows that, when I walked to work had beach balls and seaside pictures in the windows, were now filled with skeletons and Jack-O-Lanterns.

Even I underwent a transformation. My fear and confusion slowly eroded away, replaced by the joy I felt as a child during late September.