The town had once been called Hill Haven, but it had been changed to Hallow Hills for a very good reason. Every day was literally Halloween.
Every morning parents bought fresh bags of candy, new costumes (or made them), fresh pumpkins were carved (or plastic ones used, if not in season). Every night the children went out trick-or-treating, or bobbed for apples at the fire station Halloween party.
The “Monster Mash” Halloween dance had become the stuff of legends, and the foundation of the local economy. Every night a different band would play: and everyone from Alice Cooper to Rob Zombie has graced the small stage in the center of Pumpkin Patch Park. Acts such as Insane Clown Posse and Marylyn Manson had featured their performances from the event in music videos.
Tourism was of course a major industry; people came from all over the world to see the famous “Halloweentown”, take the haunted house tour, stay at the hangman’s hotel, and local artists made all kinds of “spooky” souvenirs for people to take home.
Despite the wealth and prominence it brought to the area (or perhaps in some cases because of it) there were those who protested the idea of a town that celebrated such a morbid holiday every day of the year. Most of these protesters came from the religious right, who found the whole concept to be an affront in the eyes of their lord.
There had been organized protests, acts of vandalism, impromptu blockades set up in main entrances to the town, even death threats to the mayor: but the biggest obstacle to Hallow Hills’ daily celebration was without a doubt one Reverend Jimmy Jackson.
James Jackson had grown up not thirty miles from Hallow Hills, and had learned from an early age to think of the place as the Devil’s town; more so than any far off city like LA, Las Vegas, or even New York. He had been raised to think to think of the place as Satan’s own foothold in the great state of Washington, and had vowed to either cleanse the town of the evil influence, or see it wiped from the map.
To this end, James had dedicated to his life to theology, and, in his early thirties, had become one of the most famous (and richest) televange
lists of his time. Though famous on an international level, The reverend continued to rail against the Hills, using phrases like “Devil’s Den” and “Pacific Purgatory” with alarming frequency.
geneva;">Of course, his constant campaigning also had the unintended consequence of bringing even more attention on the town, and increasing its notoriety. This only made Rev. Jackson fight harder, sending letters of protest to the governor, secretly financing some of the more extreme protestors, and running a smear campaign against the town.
After nearly a decade, and billions of dollars spent, after all of the national media exposure, The Reverend Jimmy Jackson had finally found a measure of victory. That year, for one day, the daily Halloween celebration would cease. December 25 was of course chosen, and the reverend himself would broadcast a special Christmas sermon from the very stage where every major (and many minor) shock rock acts had played.
In return for these concessions, the reverend had promised to cease all harassment of his northwestern neighbors, and instead focus his ministry in other directions (aiding third world children was suggested, among other causes).
Upon reading of these events in the Hallow Hills Herald, Old Man
Withers (who’d once been mayor, and now carved and painted wooden “pumpkins” to sell to tourists) shook his head and spat.
“Damn fools,” he said to no one in particular “they’ll break the pact.”
Mayor Richard Handle (NOT “Dick” he’d suffered enough of thatin school, thank you) sat in his office, and looked with increasing dismay at the man across the desk. He wasn’t “Old Man Withers”, to Richard, he was simply “Uncle Artie”. Arthur Withers had taken a young Richard Handle in at a young age after the death of his parents; and had raised the boy as his own.
More importantly, the old man had been a tremendous influence on the boy. His time as mayor had been looked upon all as a time of unequaled happiness and prosperity for the town. He was considered a beacon of hope and a pillar of the community in his day. Richard had based much of his policies upon what he’d learned at his uncle’s knee, and his respect and admiration ran deep.
Which was why it saddened him so much to see him now, saying the crazy things he was saying. Was the old man starting to slip into dementia? That would be bad for him, but worse for the town.
“I’m sorry, Uncle Artie. But the Christmas Day Celebration and sermon is going to happen. It’s been in planning for months, and a lot of money has been invested. More importantly, it’s the only way to get that damnfool preacher off our backs. At first the publicity was good, but anymore, it’s getting too crazy. Some of these freaks make even the right to lifer bombers look sane!”
“Ricky,” the old man began, using his old nickname from childhood, “I know it sounds, crazy: but if you let even one day go by that isn’t Halloween, then religious protestors and TV preachers will be the least of your problems. The town’s problems. There’s things you don’t know. Things no one but old coots like me know. There’s a reason we do things the way we do in the Hills, and if we don’t…then it won’t be pretty.”
“What won’t be pretty, Uncle Artie,” Richard asked, rubbing his forehead and sighing, “What are you saying?”
“You’ll just think I’m crazy, if you don’t already. Mark my words son, if you don’t send the young’uns out for candy on the 25th, then that’s it for this town. I wish I could say more, but maybe I said too much already. I just hope you listen.”
With that, the old man rose from the seat and left the office, leaving Handle to wonder. He just hoped it wasn’t Alzheimer’s, he had enough to worry about these days..
It was recess at Hallow Hills Elementary, and as usual, seven-year-old Billy Handle and his twin brother Ricky had found something to argue about:
“Mom says we can’t go trick-or-treating next month, on account of Christmas Eve. That’s gonna suck!”
Both were on the teeter-totter, and as normal during these disputes, each would speak when the other was in the air: almost if a great scale were balancing.
“No it won’t dumbass, because Santa will bring us presents the next day!”
“Nuh uh! Santa isn’t even real! And if he was, Dracula would suck out all his stupid blood for trying to enter his territory! And you’re the dumbass!”
“Oh. Santa isn’t real but Dracula is? That makes sense! Besides, even if he was real, what makes you think he’d live here?”
“All the monsters live here, dummy! It’s Halloweentown! If Santa sets foot in the Hills, then he’ll get his holly jolly ass kicked!”
“No way! Santa could take ANY vampire, even Dracula! Anyway, he doesn’t need to set foot anywhere! He’ll just fly over our houses and drop the presents down the chimneys!”
“So? Dracula will just turn into a bat, and fly up there to suck his get him!”
“Are you mental?” Ricky asked his brother, “A bat can’t fly as fast as eight reindeer! And Santa is magic! If Dracula was dumb enough to suck his blood, he’d explode! Just like if he went out in the daytime!”
“No he wouldn’t!”
The bell rang before the argument could descend into a chorus of “nots” and “sos”, signaling the brothers back to class. But Ricky couldn’t resist a parting shot as they walked down the hall towards class:
“Anyway, getting all those presents will be worth a night off from candy!”
"Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens Genesis 19:24. Turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly" II Peter 2:6.”
The Reverend Jimmy Jackson looked up from his bible, pausing for dramatic effect, and letting the camera linger on his soulful expression. He then slowly closed the book and continued.
“This is important, brothers and sisters. As you know, our Lord God is a just and merciful, God, but he can be vengeful to those who scorn him. This is not something we want to see happen in our time. That’s why we’ll be doing a special live broadcast Christmas night, from Hallow Hills. I want you to know I didn’t make this decision lightly. I thought on it; I prayed on it, and I discussed it with my wife, Tammy. This is a necessary sacrifice, to bring the light of the LORD to our friends in Hill Haven, to bring them the word, and to save them from their sins and iniquity.”
“I’ll be missing Christmas dinner this year, but I know that this is my mission. The Lord our God has revealed unto me that the best way to celebrate the birth of our savoir Jesus Christ, the ONLY way, is to bring this wicked practice to an end, before God must visit his holy wrath upon our friends and neighbors. I know Christmas is a time for families, and togetherness above all else, but I hope our brothers and sisters can spare the time to watch this special sermon.”
“I hope to, that our members will remember it’s their donations that allow us to
do God’s work, and keep our sacred ministries rolling along this great land; bringing the word of the Lord to those who would otherwise be deaf to it. Remember that a donation of twenty dollars will get you a gold-plated cross and chain, while a gift of fifty dollars will earn you our deluxe bible, just like the one I read from every night on our show. It’s bound in genuine leather, with gold lettering on the cover, and some of the most beautiful art in creation. Can we get a close-up please? Just look at the detail on the face of baby Jesus! And , this is new, but my brothers and sisters, for a donation of five-hundred dollars or more, we will fly you out here in Shelton, Washington, and you can attend a taping of our sermon. Afterwards, there’s be a dinner just for our members of the congregation who donate this amount. Now brothers and sisters, this IS a limited time offer, so please give what you can. I’d like to close with a prayer…”