Halloween night routine. Sit down at computer. Hear the telltale shriek of trick-or-treaters as they pass through the maze. Stand up. Hand out candy. Smile and make polite conversation with the parents. Complement the kids of cute or unique costumes. Sit back down and set the laptop desk back into place.

Rather. Rinse. Repeat.

From sundown until the last brave souls head home.

I feel like Pavlov’s dog, trained to jump at a sound.

Ah, the joys of being an author during Halloween in a household that runs a rather large haunted house. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween. It’s my favorite of all holidays. Even better than Christmas.

But when you’re spending every weekend from mid-September until minutes before the chains drop to open the graveyard setting up props. Making costumes. Testing lights and sound effects. Finding practical zombies and replacing the fog machines that burned out last year.

Somehow the magic wears thin. As do tempers.

But when you see the face of a little princess light up because the scary witch from Snow White stirred her bubbling pot. Or when you hear the girlie screams of teenage tough boys as they get chased by the lunatic wielding the plastic chainsaw.

It’s all worth it.

So maybe my costume wasn’t the best this year, and maybe the bottle of fog juice got misplaced. Maybe we could have had a few more zombies.

But the scare is the thing. And the laughs of relief when the wary travelers realize it’s all make believe.

We love to be frightened. That rush of adrenaline. That chill down your spine. Proof that behind every corner, and in each shadow, lurks the unknown. Fear keeps us alive, and now it becomes a form of entertainment.

Which suits me just fine.

So tuck your covers around your chin when you jump into your bed tonight. Who knows what hides in the dark?