In between handing out treats, Harry heard the bangs and screams four more times throughout the evening. The last three were preceded by a long mournful wailing as well. He hoped it wouldn’t continue too late into the night,and he fully expected to hear reports of mischievous tricks and pranks the next day.
It was a bleary-eyed, slightly grumpy Harry who reported for duty in the morning. Without a full eight hours of sleep, he needed at least three cups of coffee to wake up properly, and he’d only had the first one yet.
“What’s the matter, Hogan?” his partner asked as he walked in. “Trick-or-treaters keep you up past your bedtime last night?”
“Ha-ha,” Harry replied. “It was the blasted firecrackers and the revellers screaming. Have any complaints come in?”
“What firecrackers? What screams? I didn’t hear anything.”
Harry sat down at his desk, coffee mug in his hand. “Come on, Bruce. You had to hear it. Two bangs followed by an ear-splitting scream. Happened six times, last one was just after midnight. I mean, I know it had to be fireworks of some sort but it sure sounded like gunshots.”
“They were gunshots,” Bruce said.
“Okay, so what happened? Where’s the…?”
Bruce was shaking his head, his face serious. “What you heard were the Ghost Shots,” he explained.
“Say what?” Harry sputtered and grabbed a handful of tissues to wipe the coffee from his chin. “Did you just say what I thought you said?”
“Legend around here says that several hundred years ago, on October thirty-first, a local man with six kids lost everything he had. After a week with no success in finding work and their last few dollars were gone, his mind snapped. They say he took the kids outside to the barn one by one and shot them. The poor mother screamed with each shot.”
“What happened to them after that?” Harry asked.
“After disposing of the kids, he locked his wife outside and set fire to the house, burning himself along with it. The grief-stricken mother never recovered and spent the rest of her life in a mental institution, screaming and wailing for her babies.”
Harry refilled his coffee mug. “So why didn’t you hear those… ghost shots?”
“Ahh,” said Bruce. “It seems that every year on Halloween the tortured soul of this poor man is doomed to repeat his horrific crime, from now until eternity. But there’s only ever been one person each year who hears it.”
“Ghost shots, my foot,” Harry scoffed. “Tall tales and legends made up by someone to tell around the campfire, that’s all.”
“If that’s true,” said Bruce, “then what exactly was it that you heard last night?”
“Firecrackers, nothing but firecrackers,” Harry mumbled to himself as a shiver ran down his spine and goose bumps rose on his arms.