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Subject: A Halloween Story (Bill Richey modification)

Before show: black cauldron with dry ice; scary music playing; dimly lit room; room is set up with 2 large plastic pumpkins glowing; flicker lights and lightning sphere; blacklights; skeletons; arm and leg hanging out from trashcan, 2 tape players are needed - one for sound effects and the other for mood music; jack-o-lanterns, etc.


It was the eve of all hallows and as the last glimmer of twilight vanished, a group of friends gathered at Shawnee Park. On recent evenings, the group had visited the haunted trail and cry-baby bridge. But tonight would be the culmination of their Halloween trilogy. This was the night of beggars and they decided it was time for their final rite of passage, a visit to the Gritchy estate. Everyone in town feared old man Gritchy, but the courageous few that had visited his house on past Halloweens were rewarded with the biggest and best treats. Tonight this group decided to make their initial visit. [End info]

As the friends walked to the outskirts of town, they pieced together bits and pieces of the Gritchy legend. Adults rarely spoke of the old man, and when they did, it was in hushed voices. Supposedly, the old man had at one time been an eccentric science teacher at Xenia High School. As he aged, he became increasingly odd. One day, while trying to devise a new diabolical way to destroy marshmallow peeps, he created a cloud of noxious gas that vented out of the exhaust hood of the chemistry lab. As this purple haze drifted over Xenia, it settled above Taco Bell. Within seconds, this fine eating establishment began to glow and vanished without a trace into a big cloud of methane gas. {Whoosh Bottle} Although no charges were ever filed, rumors spread like wildfire. Old man Gritchy, devastated over the loss of this favorite restaurant, was inconsolable. He became increasing strange and reclusive - why some would even say he was twisted or that his elevator only went up halfway. When he retired to a century-old desolate house on the outskirts of town, no one was surprised. Some were even relieved.

As the friends reached the lane leading up to the Gritchy estate, they noticed some mysterious signs posted on an old tree {two message sign - "Beware" and "Turn Back'} They experienced a chill but laughed it off. They noticed that the wind was blowing but no leaves were moving. [sound effect: wind]

Ahead they saw it - the Gritchy estate. Backlit by the rising moon, they understood why the the Gritchy estate word estate was a misnomer. High above the estate they saw a shooting star {Flash paper cannon} which seemed to be an early warning to turn back now before it was too late. Old man Gritchy's house was in a disastrous state of disrepair. With broken windows and hanging shutters, it looked sinister at best. After only a moment's hesitation, everyone in the group, except one, began to walk up the long lane. They had hardly noticed that Tommy stayed behind. They were focused on avoiding the thorny brambles and ground cover that encroached on their path. As they drew closer to the house, they saw the vine - laden wrought iron fence. The dead leaves of the vine moved independently of the wind, beckoning them like bony fingers. The porch was decorated with strangely illuminated pumpkins and shrouded with an evil purple haze. Their pulses quickened but Michael mustered his courage and boldly rang the doorbell. [sound effect: ring doorbell] After what seemed an eternity, old man Gritchy slowly opened the creaky door. [sound effect: creaky door] He silently dropped and object into each bag. The beggars turned and retreated down the long, dark, twisty lane. Only Sarah and Brian remembered to mumble a weak "thank you" before they dashed off.

When the friends regathered at the street, they looked into their bags to see what they had received. To their amazement, each got their favorite king sized candy bar. "How did he do that?" they wondered.

Tommy was astounded and slightly embarrassed that he had chickened out. But he was still reluctant to venture up the hill until his friends promised to wait for him at the end of the lane. None of them dared accompany Tommy because old man Gritchy had threatened "I'll knock your socks off if you come back!" {calcium carbide cannon firing old socks}

Taking a deep breath, Tommy started up the hill. As the wind howled in the night air, he noticed a strange black cauldron bubbling and the purple haze around the house. {dry ice bubbling in black cauldron} As he approached the decrepit porch, he experienced a surge of panic and a wave of nausea came over him. A sinister pumpkin mocked him by spewing its vile contents. {elephant toothpaste in pumpkin} But Tommy couldn't turn back now. He tiptoed to the front door and could see into the house through a gap in the dusty velvet drapes. He peeked into a window and saw old man Gritchy reading a strange book [prop: flaming book] and drinking and even stranger drink. {chemiluminescence or instant light} Tommy edged over to the front door, stood for a second, and finally got the nerve to ring the doorbell. [sound effect: ring doorbell]

At that very moment, flames shot out of the face of the pumpkin. {lycopodium demo in pumpkin} Tommy was terrified and his knees began to shake uncontrollably. [prop: clapping hands toy] Tommy tried to turn and run but he was frozen by fear. Suddenly the door opened. [sound effect: creaky door] Old man Gritchy was standing in the shadows and said in a deliberate voice: "Tommy, I knew you would come. For you, a special gift."

Gritchy dropped a heavy object into the boy's bag. The old man disappeared into the dark house almost as quickly as he appeared. Tommy ran as fast as he could back to the street screaming the whole way [sound effect: screams] and noticed gunshots in the distance. [prop: throw snap-n-pops] Upon hearing the screams and the gunshots, his friends scattered, leaving him behind. When Tommy reached the street, a safe distance from Old Man Gritchy's house, he ducked behind a tree to catch his breath and see what he had received. He reached into the bag and pulled out a note from the old man and a large, dusty, beautifully ornate bottle. He struck a match to create some light and began to read the note. It told him to treat the bottle with care or strange things would happen. {flash paper: light it} Tommy began to rub the bottle gently to wipe away some of the dust. In an instant, a genie emerged. {genie in a bottle demo} The disturbed Genie informed Tommy that now he must solve the riddle. If he solved it correctly he would be granted three wishes. If he solved it incorrectly, he could lose his life, or yet worse - be transformed into a giant marshmallow peep. The disturbed genie set a time limit of four hours to solve the following riddle:

Conquered by a little light,
A flame will take away its might.

The genie then gave Tommy a map that would lead him to two special solutions. When mixed together, these potions would provide him the key clue to the answer of the riddle. Time was ticking away. [sound effect: ticking of old clock] The Genie offered a final warning. He told Tommy that he must burn the map after he found the two solutions, but before he mixed them together. With that, the Genie vanished. Slowly Tommy opened the map and examined it. Then he muttered, "not the old woods on the other side of the graveyard." Tommy recalled how he used to play in that old woods when he was younger. But since that time several people had disappeared from those woods and were never heard from again. Drawing a hesitant breath, Tommy set out to find the solutions. He ran through the graveyard but tripped suddenly and fell. It felt as though something or someone had grabbed his ankle as he was running. He quickly got back up and continued to run without looking back. Hearing what sounded like gun shots in the distance [prop: throw snap-n-pops] he continued sprinting until he finally reached the edge of the dark and mysterious woods. According to the map, the first bottle was to be found near the old oak tree where years ago it was rumored that an former co-worker of old man Gritchy was found dead hanging from a branch of the oak tree. Arriving there Tommy looked up and found the first bottle. To get to the second solution, the map directed Tommy to the other side of the woods to a big elm tree. Up in a crook of a branch was the second bottle. Having both solutions, Tommy thought he was about to finally solve the riddle. Tommy combined them. Nothing happened. {Halloween colors demo - only mix solutions B and C} Tommy couldn't understand why nothing was happening. He began to panic! He realized that the clock was ticking away. Time was running out. If he didn't solve the riddle soon, he could lose his life, or worse yet - turn into a large, yellow marshmallow peep! Without the key clue, he couldn't solve the riddle:

Conquered by a little light,
A flame will take away its might.

Tommy, cold and shaking, put on his gloves. As he began to run back home through the graveyard, he looked down and noticed his hands were bleeding for no apparent reason. {bloody picture demo} He suddenly remembered that he was to have burned the map before mixing the two solutions. He stopped, rolled up the map, and lit it. {mysteriously rising napkin demo} Only 2 minutes remained, enough for one last try. He added a bit more of the solutions to see what would happen. His hands trembled and his heart pounded. {Halloween colors demo - add solution A to the already mixed B & C} Tommy then recognized the clue needed to solve the riddle. Do you?

Conquered by a little light,
A flame will take away its might.

The answer to the riddle? DARKNESS!