Flash Story: “A Party for the Dead”

On a cool day in the September of an ordinary election year, cities all over the country saw men and women in their best suits present themselves to clutches of reporters and announce their candidacies for offices both local and national. They eschewed the traditional two majority parties and all of the independent ones. Instead, their press conferences and campaign literature proudly professed, “We are the Halloween Party. Join us to make every night Halloween!”

So it was a joke, agreed Twitter.

Many Halloween Party candidates booked appearances on podcasts and local AM radio to discuss their platform of second-amendment rights and dismantling environmental regulations. They also favored a return to prayer and offerings at shrines both public and private. Others were guests of late-night talk shows, where they shared their passionate support for an open border and free migration for all. Ears on both sides of the aisle listened intently to what they already believed. Pundits of every persuasion went on the record with their disbelief that such outright pandering would convince anyone, yet the mailings and calls for donations only increased.

So it was an expensive joke, grumbled the establishment candidates.

No matter the location or the policies, all the Halloween Party candidates ended their spiel the same way: “We are the party that speaks to the living for the wishes of the dead. And like death itself, we are coming for all of you.”

So it was a sick joke, cried the parents’ groups.

At first it seemed the only people really excited about the party were those jaded and disillusioned enough to vote for the promise of eternal Halloween. The owners of local pop-up costume and decoration shops were enticed by permanence even as their inventory was bought up and stores emptied faster than they could be restocked.

But the unusual party didn’t disappear, its candidates even gaining slim leads in major cities. Faced with accusations of grand anonymous donations, or plans to cast fraudulent votes in the names of the deceased, they simply smiled and said, “The dead do not vote, despite persistent rumors to the contrary. As for the living, the breadth of our support might surprise you.”

September faded into October. Candidates from the major parties ran their usual attack ads against each other, ignoring the smaller fry. October blustered to its end, actual Halloween yielding a blizzard of campaigning and candy. Then the fateful day arrived. The polls opened. The polls closed.

It wasn’t even close.

The Halloween Party kept its promises. Sales of guns increased, as did the frequency and fervor of public prayer after the sun sank into the horizon and did not rise again. The border between the land of the living and the realm of the dead was dissolved, allowing ghosts and ghouls free rein through cities and countryside alike. The world became a revenant’s playground, and every night was Halloween.

Because it turns out that what the dead really wanted, more than anything, was company.

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