By JUSTIN JONES
Hey there! I’m going to hollow out a piece of fruit, carve a face into it, shove some fire inside it, and name it after you. Gather ’round, kiddies, and let me tell you a story about a boy named Jack who had this very thing happen to him.
Before we begin our story, let’s slip into our ghost jammies, grab a slice of warm pumpkin pie, a sheet and chairs to make a fort, and a flashlight. Plus a few liters of vodka. Also Tylenol. And you might as well use the bathroom while you’re up. There. Now twe’re all Halloween-cozied up.
Once upon a time, in a cozy village, there lived a boy named Jack. His brother, whose name I cannot say (because I didn’t make one up), took from Jack everything he owned: His toys, his pets, his food, his clothes, and even his chores. There was nothing Jack had that his brother didn’t want. His brother would have stolen Jack’s soul, too, had he lived through his decision on Winter to steal Jack’s pneumonia.
By the time Jack was a teenager, he was a skinny, joyless youth. People knew him simply as “Jack,” an empty boy without a personality, home, education, blah, blah, blah. He looked like crap, and smelled like it, too. And the townspeople wanted nothing to do with him. So he left.
Jack left the village, but he didn’t know what to do. His brother had stolen his passions and his dreams, so he had none to pursue. He wandered. And wandered. And wandered some more. He wandered so much, in fact, that he wandered straight to Hell.
Jack would have been shocked at the atrocities in Hell, but his brother had stolen Jack’s shock-ability, too. Upon seeing Jack’s apathy, the Devil asked him, “Why aren’t you scared? Do these tortures, these damnations, these infernos not strike fear into you?” And Jack couldn’t respond because his brother had stolen his voice, so he just shrugged.
The Devil, so used to seeing people suffer and scream, was struck by Jack’s silence. (“A breath of fresh air,” the Devil later called it while chatting with Pat Robertson.)
The Devil and Jack struck up a friendship: The Devil would complain, and Jack would listen. So good was their relationship, in fact, that the Devil fell in love with Jack.
On October 31—the anniversary of Jack’s first wandering into Hell—the Devil did something that astonished the Damned: He, who had never done a nice thing for anyone in all the history of forever gave Jack a gift, a mask to hide Jack’s always uninterested, plain face (so that he would fit in a little more and maybe make some other friends).
There was a problem, though: The Devil didn’t have anything with which to make a mask, so he sent out a demon to fetch something appropriate. It was round like a head, and orange like fire. It was in season, and it had a cute vine thing coming out of the top, like a little hat. It was, in fact, a pumpkin. The Devil emptied-out the pumpkin, carved a face into it, and put it on top of Jack’s head. Jack didn’t like the mask, but he didn’t dislike it, either (because his brother had stolen Jack’s passion). So Jack wore it. The Devil rejoiced.
And then Jack—who, despite being in Hell, was still human—died from some weird bacteria in the rotting pumpkin. During his mourning, as a tribute to his “lost” love, the Devil kept Jack’s memory alive by illuminating his mask with fire.
He’s done it every year since. Happy Halloween, lovers.