For the last 10 months, I’ve been preparing my house to be the scariest house on the block.
My commitment to this project is absolute. First, I have been actively cultivating spiders by refusing to clear the rotting leaf material out of the flower beds and corners of the house. Not only do these areas encourage the kinds of creepy crawlies that consume the decaying vegetative matter to thrive, it attracts spiders to eat those creepy crawlies, and *BOOM* authentic spider webs all over the place.
The general air of decay does actively contribute to the general sense of disrepair on the property, which has been simmering for months. Peeling paint and shutters missing slats gives it just enough a sense of abandonment to make all the neighborhood kids give the place a wide berth.
To give the place a further “air of despair,” I’ve started to keep the lights turned out, even when I’m home, so that people think there is no one living here. To help the illusion, I use the back door to come and go.
Just to make sure that everyone in the neighborhood knows that my house is the scary house of the neighborhood, I’ve started a few juicy rumors about discovering a Native American burial ground in the unfinished crawl space under the house, and a scrapbook of old newspaper clippings with tales of multiple murders and mysterious deaths on the premises. Adding in a few well-placed stories of doors closing by themselves, bleeding walls, and strange noises in the middle of the night, and we’re a shoo-in to be the place all neighborhood kids fear above all others. If I work it right, I might be able to convince them that there’s a monstrous shut-in chained up in a closet or non-existent attic.
I am committed to taking this the whole way forward. There are no short cuts in modeling Halloween houses that are actually frightening. The backyard is now completely taken over by weeds and bits of old, rotten furniture, and I’ve hidden a few ominous trinkets in the yard for people to stumble upon and draw their own horrifying conclusions.
Naturally, I hope that the weeks of dedicated neglect necessary to achieve a true house of horror keeps kids away, or, at the very least, causes a few sleepless nights for would-be trick-or-treaters. Perhaps I can successfully traumatize the next Stephen King, or become the stuff of neighborhood legends for decades to come.
Cultivating the mystique of a derelict building is starting to conflict with my desire to be a conscientious homeowner, but I can say that the realization of how much work there is to “undecorate” is enough to re-affirm my devotion toward making a model spooky house in our neighborhood.
So, the next time someone complains that your weeds are too high or your hedges are out of control, just tell them you are making an important contribution to the character of your community. You are providing the neighborhood with its very own haunted house.