Pumpkin patches are writhing with fall enthusiasts, jacked up on spiced lattes—and they’re ready to squash someone if they’re not scared witless in the corn maze. Nate, Alex, and I have been these enthusiasts, and after spending a lot more than we thought we should, we decided we could scare ourselves witless for free. We may not have a corn maze, but this year, we do have a hot tub. So the hot tub will be the setting for a Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks Family tradition—since 2017? 2018? I can’t remember—but the tradition is thus: we create a ghost story using our own names, but the story is fictional. At some point, Nate usually loses his shirt, but we all triumph in the end.
Without any further ado, rub a dub dub, sometimes it’s scary in the tub. Enjoy!
The Haunted Hot Tub
(Smoke pours from the oven in the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks kitchen headquarters. Also, the family cat has just eaten a jalapeño-flavored Goldfish cracker and is making unappetizing cat noises and smells next to the television set in the other room.)
Cecilia: Pesto fire! Pesto fire! This is not a drill—it’s also not a craft alert—it’s just as dangerous maybe, but also, a little more dangerous.
Nate: That’s the fifth pesto fire in a week. Pesto on Saltines, broiled in the oven, just tends to catch on fire—no matter how you prepare it.
Cecilia: Do something!
Nate: Could just let it burn out, with the oven door closed?
Cecilia: The smoke is overwhelming—we need to wave it away—with something—I don’t know what.
Nate: We could turn the fan on.
Cecilia: No—I’ve got it: Take your shirt off and wave it around like Thor’s hammer. Go!
(Nate shrugs his shoulders and gives into the moment, waving his Sriracha Hot Sauce graphic T-shirt like a superhero—smoke circling his arms, glistening in the glow of the pesto fire.)
Nate: Whew! That was close—Now that I’ve already lost my shirt for the night, let’s just order something and wait for it in the hot tub.
Cecilia: Good thinking.
(Alex comes down the stairs with his electric guitar.)
Alex: In between physics problems, the pesto fires, and the smoke, I’ve still managed to practice the first few lines of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”—and it never gets old.
Cecilia: Indeed. It never gets old.
Alex: Also, I heard the hot tub’s open—I could go for a break.
Nate: It’s the perfect night—let’s go!
(Nate struggles with the sliding glass door. The trick is to pull down on the handle, while simultaneously pushing, slowly, in a completely straight line—parallel to the Earth’s equator. Steam rises from the hot tub, which glows in green.)
Cecilia: Ah! Someone put the lights on already—looks great!
Nate: Wasn’t me.
Alex: Wasn’t me.
Cecilia: Well, that’s strange, but oh well.
(Nate, Cecilia, and Alex step into the tub. Bubbles roar on the highest setting.)
Cecilia: Alex, turn the bubbles down, they’re a little rough at the moment.
Alex: I didn’t turn them on.
Nate: Don’t look at me—I didn’t turn them on, either.
Cecilia: Again, strange, but who cares? This is so relaxing.
Alex: Hey, Mom—weren’t you the one who said that hot tubs attract space aliens?
Cecilia: I did—but don’t say it out loud—if you say it out loud, it’ll happen.
Nate: No more talk of space aliens—just look at the stars. See the Big Dipper? And that planet over there? And someone’s drone?
Cecilia: Well, crap. Hot tubs attract all types—and stop kicking me, Nate—it’s really annoying.
Nate: I’m not kicking you—you’re kicking me.
Alex: I’m getting poked in the ribs—what’s going on?
Cecilia: Well, I didn’t do it.
(The bubbles kick into high gear and the lights begin to flash.)
Nate: What’s going on?
Alex: I’m not doing anything—it’s not me.
(Cecilia gets pulled down under the water, occasionally rising to the surface to cough and sputter before being pulled back down.)
Nate: Quit fooling around, Cecilia—it’s not funny.
Cecilia: (Between dunks) I-I-I’m-not-doing-it-on-purpose
(Alex suddenly disappears below the water and thrashes around, like he’s fighting or struggling with something solid.)
Alex: (Rising back up) Dad! There’s something under here—it’s pulling us under—it wants us dead!
(Nate gets pulled under and the bubbles rise over the top of the tub, spilling over. The green lights glow ominously. All three manage to pull themselves back up on top, but something keeps pulling at their feet and legs—trying to drag them back under again.)
Nate: Is it space aliens?
Cecilia: No. My guess is ghosts.
Alex: How many are there?
Cecilia: There’s no way we can be certain. My guess is hundreds.
Nate: How did hundreds of ghosts get into our hot tub?
Cecilia: Don’t know. My guess is there’s a correlation somehow between the neighbors’ drones and ghost activity—I think ghosts are following the drones.
(Alex is suddenly pulled under. He’s fighting for his life—punching and kicking under the water.)
Cecilia: We have to do something—we can’t just let ghosts drown us alive in our own hot tub. How long can Alex stay under there?
Nate: He swam in high school. His lungs will remember what to do. In the meantime, I’m going to climb out of this tub and find something to send these ghosts back to a watery grave—hang on just a while longer.
(Nate and Cecilia gaze into each other’s eyes and kiss, while Cecilia kicks underwater ghosts in the head. Meanwhile, Alex surfaces for a moment and Cecilia, using an incredible sense of balance gained during a few yoga classes—and from years of lifting one-pound weights while marching in place for “exercise”—manages to flip Alex out of the tub, and he lands swiftly on his feet.)
Cecilia: Go! Save yourselves! I’ll hang on!
Nate: You kick those ghosts for the both of us—we’ll be right back.
(Nate and Alex return with beach towels.)
Nate: Hear me out. The plan is to strangle the ghosts with the towels.
(Nate and Alex lean over the sides of the tub with towels rolled tightly lengthwise. They submerge the towels and pull hard, but nothing happens.)
Alex: Dad, this isn’t working.
Nate: If there was just some way to displace the water—the ghosts might slip out with it.
Cecilia: I got it! I have a water aerobics routine that will send the water out of an Olympic sized pool—especially if we all do it together.
Nate: You mean, get back in the tub? All of us?
Cecilia: It’s the only way.
Alex: Let’s do this thing!
(Alex and Nate jump into the hot tub. Cecilia leads them all in leg lifts, jumping jacks, hip twists, and marches. Water flies everywhere. Bubbles churn. The lights sizzle and fade. A stubborn ghost grabs a hold of Alex’s legs and pulls him under, but Cecilia kicks it in the head.)
Cecilia: Run, Alex! Run! Dad and I will be okay—we’ll see this thing through.
Alex: I love you, Mom and Dad. Also, I think the pizza driver is here, so I’ll let make sure I get it, so we can eat tonight.
Nate: Good thinking, son.
Cecilia: Now—we need to displace more water. Let’s do it, Nate. Let’s finish this last ghost off.
(Cecilia and Nate launch into the greatest jumping jack fitness routine the world has ever seen—in water. Every last drop of water sloshes onto the deck, just as a drone passes by overhead. A monstrous groan bellows from below, as a green, blobbish form gets sucked up into the drone.)
Nate: Ah, so that’s how it’s done. The drones attract the ghosts, but they also capture them. Didn’t come with the hot tub instructions.
Cecilia: Nope. That did not come with the hot tub instructions.
Nate: The tub’s going to need more water and chemical treatments. Might as well get started now.
Cecilia: You read my mind.
(Nate lifts Cecilia into his arms and carries her towards the sliding glass door, where he struggles a bit because it doesn’t want to open at first. Then, they head to the laundry room, where they keep the hot tub supplies and fire extinguishers.)
Your Turn: Do you like to tell/listen to ghost stories? If so, what’s your favorite?