A strong, biting wind sent vibrant yellow leaves and candy wrappers flying. The gray mansion with peeling paint appeared to be abandoned but muted lights appeared in the windows every night. The neighborhood children hurried by the old magician’s house with their lit pumpkins. Nobody dared open the rickety gate, and venture to the front door. If only they knew the real story…

(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)

Katie pulled up to her house and turned off her car. Laughing giddily, she looked at the box sitting in her passenger’s seat that read, “Horror Haven.” Although Katie had inspected the contents of the box before making the 3-hour trip home, she was compelled to pull the miniature Halloween house out of its box again.

The dim lighting of dusk could not hide that this collector’s piece was in mint condition. The porcelain house was immaculately painted to be a dilapidated Victorian, with sporadically placed tiny hand-painted porcelain pumpkins lining the stairs leading to the boarded up front door. Beside the door was a large, cracked, frosted window.

The worn-down miniature house in her hands very much reminded Katie of the questionable man she had bought her unicorn piece from, who, when she handed him her cash, had smiled as though there was some inside joke Katie had not been privy to. No matter, Katie thought; she had paid one-third what the piece was worth. She thought even if he had wiped an old booger on it she still would have taken it.

Once inside, Katie went straight to her collection of displayed miniature houses. The houses were indeed dazzling. Twelve assorted miniatures, each with their own theme. Some had strobing lights, mimicking lightning, while others had pulsating green and purple lights, casting eerie shadows on the walls. Each house was sitting on a large mossy styrofoam platform, sculpted and painted to resemble cobblestone walkways and stone. Miniature trees were strategically placed about, along with small figurines of kids Trick-Or-Treating along the paths, or zombies wandering aimlessly.

Katie gingerly set her most prized piece on the platform and plugged it in. Horror Haven lit up a burnt orange. She stared at the piece for a long time, thinking about how she wished her late Mom, who had collected many of the pieces, could be there to see it.

Suddenly, Katie saw a shadow behind the frosted glass of the window. Frowning, she bent down and attempted to peer into the miniature house, but after seeing nothing, shrugged. Thinking perhaps a dust bunny had gotten into the piece, she blew forcefully into the crack of the window. Satisfied, she turned off the whole lit up scene with a switch and went to bed.

In the early morning, Katie awoke in a cold sweat. She had a nightmare of walking the cobblestone paths in her village, seeing no one, yet hearing whispers all around her. Groggy, she made her way to the kitchen to make herself some coffee, but stopped short when she glanced at her village.

The tiny figurines of Trick-Or-Treaters and zombies had moved. And not only had they moved, but they seemed to have all moved away from her new Horror Haven, all clustered together on the opposite side of the platform, as if trying to escape. Katie stared in disbelief, also noticing the light to Horror Haven was on.

She bent down, checking the power strip. All the outlets were as she had left them, all operated through one single on and off switch. Yet, only the Horror Haven was lit. A chill ran down Katie’s spine as she placed the figurines back where they belonged and turned off the house’s light.

Later that evening, Katie returned home from work, having completely forgotten about the mysterious happenings in her village. But as she set her keys down, she noticed the burnt orange light, once again, was glowing brightly from Horror Haven. The figurines were again clustered on the opposite side of where Horror Haven rested. A jolt of fear struck Katie, and she quickly went to the display, turned off the light and assembled the figurines back. For the rest of the night, she left the display off.

That night, the nightmares returned. Once more, she was in her village, except this time she was standing on the path outside the Horror Haven. The grey Victorian looked eerily massive from where she stood. The whispers were louder, and Katie could see a shadow in the window, moving unnaturally, pacing. The indecipherable whispers were getting so loud, Katie couldn’t think. She covered her ears, unsure what to do next.

All at once, the whispers stopped, and the shadow halted in the middle of the window, turning towards her. The front door swung open, the orange light blinding Katie. A wave of what could only be described as evil; a wave of dread, fear, anguish, suffering and pain all mixed into one horrendous bundle, washed over her.

She awoke, screaming. Throwing off her blankets, she ran to the room where her beloved collection was displayed. To her horror, the burnt orange light of the Horror Haven glowed brightly in the darkness. Katie grunted and marched towards the house, but the whispers returned, stopping Katie in her tracks.

Louder and louder they whispered, until Katie could take no more. Grasping the Horror Haven with her hands, she ripped it from the platform and smashed it to the ground, shattering it into pieces. The whispers ceased.

Katie stood silently for a few moments, waiting. But her house was silent, and dark. She sighed loudly before returning to bed.

As she finally drifted off into a dreamless sleep, a ghoulish, green light in the Horror Haven’s neighboring miniature house switched on.