I walk along the street towards the next house. Fake cobwebs drape across the porch, and several grinning pumpkins light my way up the path. Further down the street, giggling children run from house to house. They stop to compare candy collections on the sidewalk. I chuckle to myself, a deep rumble inside my hood.
I ring the doorbell. Moments later, an elderly woman with rollers in her hair comes to the door – Mrs Phelps, if memory serves. Horror crosses her face as she takes in the black cloak and scythe.
“Trick or treat!”
“Happy Halloween, dear!”
“Thank you. Likewise, I’m sure.” I dip my head in greeting since she can’t see my face inside my hood.
I turn to leave. Before she closes the door, I hear her tell her husband how lifelike some of the costumes have been this year. A smile erupts on my hidden face.
I visit more houses, collecting candy from smiling grandmothers and truculent fathers. The old man in the rickety old house on Claymore Street can’t afford candy so he gives me an apple instead. I make a mental note to postpone my next visit to him.
I reach Winchester Street and head for the first house. Two small children stand on the porch. The girl is dressed as Princess Fiona from Shrek and the boy is dressed as a werewolf. This house bears no Halloween decorations, and a couple watch TV in an upstairs room. They ignore the children ringing the doorbell.
I head up the path to tell the children to try another house. Before I reach them, the front door flies open and a woman stands framed in the doorway. Fury burns in her eyes. Ms Wakefield.
“Trick or-” begin the children.
“Go away! Every year it’s the same, you all descend on the neighbourhood like locusts, demanding we hand over whatever you want or you’ll play some kind of vicious prank! It’s nothing but begging, so no, I won’t give you candy! Now get off my porch!”
The little girl bursts into tears. The little boy stares at the woman, frozen halfway between leaving and staying.
“Oh stop your whining and piss off. Go and beg from someone else!”
She catches sight of me hidden in the shadows at the bottom of the path.
“You can f**k off as well! Aren’t you a little old to be trick or treating, or do you just do it for the kids?”
She slams the door so hard one of her insipid plaques falls off the wall. The crash prompts a fresh wave of tears from the little girl.
The little boy leads her down the path. I hunker down and hold out my skull of sweets. They stop a few feet away, the girl hiding behind the boy. The boy stares at my skeletal hand. His name is Greg, but I forget his surname.
“I’m sorry she was so mean.”
“She made Bethany cry,” says Greg.
“I know, and that was horrible of her. Take a couple of my sweets, and head on home.”
“Mom says we shouldn’t take candy from strangers,” says Greg.
“Mom is quite right but just think of this as the candy the nasty lady could have given you.”
Greg still hesitates but Bethany darts forward. She grabs the apple and disappears behind the boy again. She mumbles something about not wanting to rob me of candy.
“Are you sure?” asks Greg.
Greg chooses the smallest piece of candy in the skull. They nod their thanks and run away down the street. I turn back to the house and stalk up the path. The moonlight glints on the blade of my scythe.
Looks like the lady of the house chose a trick after all.