Close Encounters of The Tree'd Kind

By Jonathan Crimmins 

I can still remember how excited my younger brother and I were when we learned that a mutual friend of ours was coming to visit us on Halloween. "Jay" (Due to privacy reasons, I won't use his real name) used to live a little down the street from us before my family moved to Massachusetts and we had always gone trick-or-treating together. Our parents had also gone with us back then, so this would be the first Halloween that we'd get to go trick-or-treating in a group without any parental supervision.

I think it speaks volumes that I can't quite recall what my brother or I wore that year, but I can easily remember our friend's mask. It was a big, bulky overhead mask based on the stereotypical "grey" alien made oh-so-popular in those days by the television series, "The X-Files." There was a clear, egg-shaped plastic dome over each eyehole and clear plastic tubes inserted through various parts of the exposed brain. We were all quite disappointed to find out that it wasn't possible to pump any sort of liquid through the tubes, but Jay had another idea. He had bought some fake blood to pour over the mask in order to make it look more horrifying. What he didn't realize was that fake blood (or at least the brand he bought) takes forever to dry. And, even though he arrived early enough so that we could let it dry over some old newspapers for a few hours, it was still a bit damp when we set off to go trick-or-treating. Although his mask was spectacular, his costume consisted of old, black clothes. It's not what you'd expect an alien to wear, but it was probably for the best considering there was a very good possibility that some of the fake blood could dribble onto his clothing.

We had gone a few blocks away from home over the course of trick-or-treating when something unexpected happened: Jay walked right into a small tree. It's not that Jay was stupid or accident-prone; we had grown up in a rural neighborhood where sidewalks and decorative trees didn't exist. He simply hadn't gotten used to the layout of the area like my little brother and I had. I forget whether or not any of the blood had dribbled over the mask's eyes or if the plastic eyepieces had fogged up due to his breath. The darkness in the area certainly hadn't helped matters, either. Now our friend had hurt his head and we couldn't tell if he was bleeding or if some of the fake stuff decorating his mask had dripped onto him. We quickly headed home, hoping that our friend was okay and that we'd be able to go back out for more candy.

Thankfully, Jay wasn't actually bleeding and the injury wasn't serious. Although I have no hard proof, I suspect that the mask's extra large rubber brain cushioned the blow somewhat. After a short time with an ice pack, he was ready to go out to get some more candy. Just to be extra safe, we borrowed some higher-powered flashlights than the ones were we previously using. Happily, the rest of the night went without incident and we all came home with bags filled with candy.

The lesson here is to always make sure you can see properly out of a mask, carry a strong light source, and to be aware of your surroundings. If you really feel that it's necessary to pour fake blood onto a mask, be sure to do so a few days before you wear it.