The Driveway Monster — Halloween for Henry, Day 1
Henry woke up early on Thursday morning, and he couldn’t fall back to sleep. He knew why he was so restless, too: it was October 1.
For a 10-year-old boy in his last year of grade school, October was one of the best months of the whole year. He couldn’t say that he would rank it above the long days of summer or the pile of gifts that he got on his birthday and at Christmas, but, in his heart, Henry loved fall more than any other season.
Most of all, though, Henry loved Halloween. He loved the candy and the costumes and the parties and, now that he was a little older, he loved the scary movies. And the best part was that it lasted ALL MONTH LONG.
But he was worried about next year.
Next year, Henry would be in middle school, and he wasn’t sure if it was right for middle-schoolers to wear costumes or to go trick-or-treating or to bob for apples. He was pretty sure that there were no in-class Halloween parties in middle school, too.
So Henry was concerned about what would happen next year, but he was also excited about this October. If this was going to be his last Halloween as a kid, he was going to go out with a bang!
With that thought, he jumped out of bed and threw open his bedroom door. The upstairs hallway was dark and quiet, and Henry realized that his parents and sister were still asleep. He looked back into his room at the clock on the nightstand next to his bed. It was 5:00 am.
Henry had more than an hour before he normally woke up, but he knew that he would not be able to fall asleep again. Not with all of October before him!
Instead, he decided to go downstairs and read a scary book until the rest of the family got up.
Henry tiptoed down the stairs, careful not to make any noise. It must have been very cloudy outside, because the house was pitch dark, but Henry was not afraid. After all, he was 10 years old, and he had already read the entire Goose Bumps series.
No, Dorian Henry Garber may not have been the bravest boy in the world, but he certainly was not afraid of the dark.
As his foot touched the cold linoleum in the hallway just in front of the back door, Henry heard a low rumble off to his right.
It sounded like a growl.
“Mom?” Henry asked the darkness in a shaky voice.
Henry took a careful step toward the door. A floorboard creaked beneath his foot, and Henry gasped a little.
“It was just the floor,” he told himself.
Then the rumbling again.
Henry’s pulse began to pound in his ears, and he thought maybe he should go back upstairs and get his parents.
Then he remembered that he was 10, and that he would be in middle school next year, and he continued on.
Another couple of steps, and he was at the door. He held his breath and could hear a slow, low, oscillating snarl beyond his racing heart.
Grrrr … grrrrr … grrrrr … grrrr …
Whatever had been outside when Henry came down the stairs was still out there.
Henry took another deep breath to calm his nerves, then reached forward and flung open the door.
There in the driveway, against the blackest night sky that Henry could ever remember, were two glowing red eyes. Henry could not see the creature’s body or even all of its face, but those eyes were enough to give him nightmares for the rest of his life.
They skittered slightly, up-and-down, back-and-forth, as if the beast were about to pounce, and then a throaty roar broke the silence of the early morning.
Henry screamed, and the creature backed away from him, growling louder and louder even as its eyes grew smaller.
Henry turned and bolted up the stairs, not even bothering to close the door behind him.
“Dad! Mom!” he shrieked as he hurtled toward his parents’ bedroom.
His mother met him at the door, bleary-eyed from sleep. She grabbed him by the shoulders and looked into his panicked face.
“Henry, what is it? What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Mom! There’s a monster in the driveway! It has red eyes and it was growling at me,” Henry answered. Then he tried to look over and around his mother, searching for his father in the unlit bedroom. “Dad! Dad!”
“Shhh, shhh,” Henry’s mom shushed. “You’re going to wake up your sister. Your father had to leave early for work this morning, remember?”
She turned to look at the clock in her bedroom.
“In fact,” she continued, “he should have just left.”
“What? Oh, yeah, that’s right,” Henry said, remembering their conversation from the night before. He felt relieved, and a little silly.
“Well, I guess I’ll try to sleep for a few more minutes. See you mom!” Henry hoped his mother would let it pass, but was not surprised when she stopped him.
“Wait a minute, Henry.” His mother looked thoughtful, like she was trying to figure something out. That was always bad news for Henry.
After a moment, she continued: “I don’t suppose that ‘monster’ in the driveway could have been your dad’s taillights, could it?”
Henry shrugged. “Gee, I don’t know, mom. I guess it could have been. I’m sure it was nothing.”
With that, he turned and skittered back to his room and closed the door behind him, embarrassed that he had been spooked by his dad’s car. He suspected that his parents and sister would tease him about it, and he didn’t have to wait long to know for sure.
In the hallway, Henry’s mother suddenly realized why her son was acting so jittery. “Happy October, Henry!” she called through the closed door.
She chuckled, then said to the empty hallway, “It’s going to be a long month!”