The 100% True and Completely Factually Accurate Story of Hallowe’en
By Ben Walker
One lukewarm afternoon in 1964, in the sleepy American town of Old Marginton, a former doctor by the name of Halloran O’Weenesburg decided to embark on what he would eventually describe in court as “just a bit of a giggle.” His neighbours, Gordy and Molly May Larch, doted after a happy home filled with eleven children. Their youngest, Blarchfield Larch, named after a field where Gordy had once seen a five-eyed pig, was a boisterous two-year-old with a penchant for strawberry bonbons. And those bonbons stuck in more than just young Blarchfield’s wobbling baby teeth; they stuck in the candy-crazed mind of Dr O’Weenesburg too.
The doctor was notorious in the Old Marginton General Hospital for having a sweet tooth. Staff there dubbed him Doctor Sweetliker, because they were very clever doctors, but not much for imaginative nicknames. He had been known to lick patients’ spoons after they refused their rice pudding, a dessert just as notoriously sugar-laden as the good Doctor’s colon, due to disagreements between kitchen staff over how large a measuring cup was. O’Weenesburg had also been spotted chewing on empty lollipop wrappers, and was once caught lapping at a maple tree as if its gnarled old boreholes were nipples .
Times were hard for Dr O’Weenesburg in the fall of 1964. Following a minor scandal involving a retired wrestler, two greased paddling pools and a bag of foam peanuts, he was struck off without notice or pay. Rather than resorting to a blood-soaked rampage, he instead consoled himself with sugar, growing ever more desperate in his attempts to satisfy that sweet tooth. On October 10th, he was found haranguing the owner of the local More 4 Less, begging for the chance to run his teeth over the slushie machine nozzle. On October 12th, janitor Bertie “Bert” Bertrand at the Pyramid Mall reported the doctor to security for approaching abandoned tables, where he would lick at the remnants from spilled soda cups. Bertie eventually shooed him away, with O’Weenesburg reportedly hissing at him like a cat before hiding behind an ornamental fern.
Before long, the locals of Old Marginton armed themselves with tiny bells, which they would ring on seeing the Doctor approach. This served as a warning to others, so they could hide any confections they may have about their person, or dump them down the nearest sewer grate. What became known as sugar belling is still practised in Old Marginton to this day, where you might find the local seniors ringing a bell at indifferent raccoons. Residents of New Marginton still refuse to speak about this unusual tradition, with their Mayor famously deriding the practice by responding to all questioning with a trouser-ripping fart.
Harangued by bell-ringers and increasingly desperate to fill his belly with sweets, Dr O’Weenesburg grew jealous of the Larches next door and their well-fed offspring. Gordy would return home most evenings with a duffel bag full of famous confections: Chocolate What-Have-Yous, Golden Jenkins, Clod Bars and Sugar Swirled Oopsies. He would leave the bag on the front stoop, allowing his offspring to take their pick. With the kids distracted, Gordy would usually take Molly May upstairs, where they would busy themselves making more mouths to feed.
On the ill-fated evening of 20th of October, Dr O’Weenesburg crept from his home after hearing the familiar sound of Gordy’s ass cheeks being slapped (it was a very quiet neighbourhood). Knowing that the time was right to strike, he covered his face with a slapdash mask fashioned from wet toilet paper scraps, and made his way next door. Finding baby Blarchfield there on the front porch, sucking on a strawberry bonbon, O’Weenesburg yelled the now-infamous Hallowe’en phrase: “out of the way and give me those sweets.” Without waiting for the infant’s permission, he grabbed a sugary handful and crammed them into his salivating maw. Blarchfield raised the alarm and soiled himself in perfect unison, and Gordy was soon there, one hand fastening his jeans and the other holding the only weapon he could lay his hands on at such short notice – a dry baguette.
The hapless doctor’s disguise failed, and he was made to spit out the partially-chewed wad of toffee and accept the stale bread in exchange. Young Blarchfield and the other Larch children were made to avert their eyes as Dr O’Weenesburg was beaten repeatedly with that stale French stick, and made to chew on the crust in a rather undignified fashion. Gertie Larch, the eldest daughter, was so sickened by these events that, once she became Mayor of Old Marginton, she enacted two laws. The first involved a mandatory screening program for new doctors, ensuring their food tastes were mostly savoury (a program which, to this day, severely limits the number of doctors willing to work in the town), and second was the introduction of a public holiday which soon came to be known as Hallowe’en, after the residents decided naming a day after a crazed doctor was in itself a little bit peculiar.
Mayor Larch’s new law, dubbed New Law #187 according to official town documents from 1977, made provision for a pair of plain-clothed police officers to be sent to every home each October 20th, where the officers would demand any and all uneaten candy. All collections would then be donated to the children’s ward of Marginton General, where Dr O’Weenesburg was still barred. That way, all the candy was deemed safe, while also rubbing the demented doctor’s nose in it. While the law didn’t account for any candy the residents decided to hide away, the uneaten candies left over when patients were sent home, or any goods for sale in the town’s 18 separate specialist sweet shops, Mayor Larch was quoted as saying “oh yeah,I never thought of that.”
As satisfied as the Mayor and most residents were with this cruel and unusual punishment (polls at the time showed a 50.5% approval rating for the new law), the officers who were made to go door-to-door were quite vocal in their disapproval. Wearing casual garments was meant to make them seem less threatening during this sugar shakedown, but officers would still cover their faces with embarrassment, or dress garishly to express their distaste. As the years went, on the costumes became more elaborate, and the occasion suffered another bump in the road as budget cuts began to bite. Laying off more than a dozen officers, Mayor Larch instead recruited her younger siblings to go door-to-door and collect the goods. Their payment was candy, and so an annual tradition was born, after kids visiting the town returned home and whined at their parents until they let them do it as well. The date was eventually moved to October 31st as it was after payday for most parents, which meant they could slap more money down for plastic hands and chocolates shaped like dead things.
As for Dr O’Weenesburg, he eventually decided to go on that blood-soaked rampage, but that’s another story for another time.
Ben got a taste for terror after sneaking downstairs to watch The Thing from behind the sofa at age 9. He’s a big fan of extreme & bizarre horror and well as more psychological frights, and most things in between. When he’s not reading, he’s writing, and when he’s not writing he’s on twitter @BensNotWriting or reviewing books on his YouTube channel, BLURB.