It was a beautiful fall day. Some trees had leaves left on them still, while others did not. It was getting colder, but it wasn’t cold yet. The smell of burning leaves mixed with the odors of the last of the year’s BBQs during the evenings, which were coming sooner and sooner every day. When the sun got around to setting, it had extra purple bits in it, no one knew why, but they didn’t need to in order to enjoy it.
Sally was sitting on her front stoop carving a pumpkin with a steak knife. She was halfway through the second eye when Jimmy came up her walkway.
“Hey Sally, you stupid bitch. What kind of dumbass thing are you doing?”
“Suck my dick Jimmy, you soul-less piece of shit.”
“Hey now, those are big words for such a little whore. Where did you learn them? Bitch School?”
“That’s exactly what an uneducated twat-waffle such as yourself would say,” Sally spat back, her eyes gleaming with joy.
“Takes one to know one you ignorant slut.”
“Your mom fucked my dad and my dad told my mom your mom’s a dead fish.”
“What does that even mean?”
“I’m not sure. I heard my cousin say something like that about his girlfriend.”
“You have weird cousins, dick-breath.”
“You don’t know the half of it, cock-sucker.”
Halloween was the one thing both Jimmy and Sally loved more than being bad. They were rotten, nearly evil, ultra-violent children, but they weren’t monsters. The only real monsters are the children who hate Halloween. So they were taking a break from knife fighting and killing each other in order to focus on more important matters, namely Halloween preparations. In order to maximize the time available to enjoy the creepiest of days, they decided to make the switch from physically assaulting each other to verbally attacking each other. They both agreed that emotional abuse was off the table until puberty. Once Halloween was over the children would reassess and decide whether or not to return to physical violence, stick with the verbal assault, or combine them somehow.
Jimmy pulled out his switchblade and asked Sally if he could help her carve the teeth. She said yes, but only if she could carve the teeth on Jimmy’s pumpkin. He said that would be fine and they signed a contract to avoid confusion further on down the line.
“What are you going to be for trick-or-treating?” Jimmy asked as his switchblade carved out a few fangs.
“Witch. My Aunt is going to give me her dress and hat from when she was in witch school.”
“Oh, I was going to suggest just being yourself because that’s some crazy scary ass shit.”
“You would say that. What are you being? I hope it’s not someone who has a brain because you’ll never pull it off.”
“Nice one. I’m going to be a wizard. My Uncle lent me his robe, hat, and beard.”
“Can I wear the beard??”
“Maybe we can trade beard rights for candy. Do you have a broom?”
“No. She says I’m not old enough to drive a broom yet. Is your Uncle letting you borrow his staff?”
“No. He says that’s way too personal.”
“Magic is weird.”
“It’s half as weird as you are ugly.”
“Man, I walked right into that one. Shut the fuck up and put some more fangs on this bitch.”
The children whittled away the afternoon carving pumpkins, calling each other’s mothers dirty cunts, and discussing their trick-or-treat policies and strategies. Sally was of the opinion that they could get the most candy by waiting until later and stealing trick-or-treat sacks from children who were smaller than them. Jimmy vetoed this plan on the grounds that kids younger than they were, were often not allowed to be out alone after dark. Sally conceded the point and withdrew her plan.
“So that was my idea,” she said. “What’s yours?”
“I don’t have ideas or plans. I just keep going and don’t stop until the cops make me.”
“I hate to admit it, but you’re right, that’s the only way to do it. There’s no way to scam Halloween, you have to just suck it up and not be a bitch,” Sally said, more than slightly disappointed at the prospect of not stealing candy from smaller children.
Jimmy produced a map of the neighborhood from his back pocket and laid it out in front of Sally. Some of the houses were circled in red ink. Others were crossed out in black.
“What’s this?” Asked Sally.
“It’s a map of the neighborhood. All the good houses are circled in red. The cheapskates and non-participants are crossed out in black. It’ll save us some time. At home, I have a spreadsheet of what each house has been handing out for the past 10 years.”
“But you’re only six? How can the spreadsheet go back ten years?”
“I got it from the big kids at school. Traded them my dad’s picture magazines for it.”
“Sweet. If you email me the spreadsheet I can ask my Aunt to help me turn it into an itinerary and plan the most efficient route,” Sally offered.
Jimmy took out his phone and poked the screen for a bit before saying, “Is your email still email@example.com?”
“You should have it. How long will it take your Aunt to plot everything out? Halloween is in two days, is that enough time?”
“I guess so. She said she’d be over tomorrow to drop off my costume.”
“Hello there, wee ones!” Said Jimmy’s Grand Father who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. He didn’t of course, the children were so involved in their trick-or-treating preparations that they failed to notice Grand Father Slam and his friend walking towards them. Grand Father was dressed in his fall coat and a fancy new hat. His friend was an ancient looking dark skinned man in a red shirt and skinny black tie. A pipe poked out of his shirt pocket and his hat was half black and half red. He looked like he liked jokes and smiling more than Grand Father did, and he liked both of those things more than just about anybody.
“Grand Father!” cried both the children.
“How did you sneak up on us? Was it magic?” Asked Sally with a serious look in her eyes.
Grand Father smiled and replied, “No. Not magic. You and Jimmy were so absorbed in whatever it is you have there, that you didn’t notice us sneaking up on you, is all.”
“Makes sense, Who’s your friend?” Sally asked as she looked the stranger up and down, giggling at his two-toned hat.
“Jimmy, Sally, I want you to meet Mr. Ba, an old friend of mine from the Society.”
Mr. Ba squated, so he could be on the same level as the kids and said, “Hello Sally,” while shaking Jimmy’s hand. “Hello Jimmy,” he said to Sally as they shook hands. The children looked at each other and giggled.
“You’re silly, Mr. Ba. It’s nice to meet you,” Sally said, giggling.
Mr. Ba reached behind her ear and pulled out a candy bar. Jimmy’s eyes widened. Sally nearly fainted.
“Have I been full of candy all this time and didn’t know?” she thought.
Jimmy was thinking that maybe Sally’s head was full of candy bars and instead of trick-or-treating they could just pull candy from her head all day.
Both Mr. Ba and Grand Father chuckled.
“The thoughts of excited children are louder than sirens,” Mr. Ba said while shaking his head and laughing. His laughter was deep and echo-y sounding. Like it was coming from a loudspeaker at the very bottom of his belly.
Grand Father was laughing like a much younger man. When his laughing fit was over he said, “Children, Mr. Ba is a Grand Magus in the Society. Do you remember the proper greeting?”
Sally stood up straight as a rod and extended her right hand, palm down towards the ground. Her left hand covered her heart. Jimmy glanced over at Sally for a few seconds and did what she did.
“Very clever, Jimmy,” said Mr. Ba. “You forgot the greeting, so you waited for Sally to go first and then did what she did.”
Jimmy’s face grew red and he seemed, for a second, to be upset with himself.
Mr. Ba noticed and said, while grinning ear to ear, “I’m serious Jimmy, that was a good move. A future Magus must be on their toes and open to the fact that things get forgotten. There’s no shame in it,” He turned to Sally and continued, “Sally, that was excellent that you remembered the proper greeting. I’m very proud to meet you. It was also nice of you to help out Jimmy.”
“We have a deal to help each other when it comes to this Society stuff Mr. Ba,” Sally said, proudly.
Mr. Ba smiled and stood back up, turning to Grand Father he said, “You were right about them, Magus.”
“Thank you, sir, I’m glad to hear you say so.”
At this point, you may be wondering what all this talk of the Society is about. As you may or may not know, Jimmy and Sally were recently the victims of a Whammy meant to make them stop killing each other and start behaving. Neither child was afraid to die on account that they each had a relative capable of raising the dead. As you might imagine, this led them and their families through some pretty sticky wickets.
The Whammy went sideways, and as a result, Jimmy and Sally were exposed to things children had no right or need to know. Jimmy’s Grand Father stepped in and, with a bit of a struggle, managed to fix most of the situation. He couldn’t undo what happened to Jimmy and Sally so he did the next best thing and pulled string after string until they were allowed to join his secret magic club, known among its members as The Society. Non-members didn’t refer to it as anything since they were unaware it existed.
Jimmy and Sally were the youngest members ever of The Society and have been systematically impressing every elder member they meet with their dedication and potential since they were admitted.
Mr. Ba had heard the tale of Jimmy and Sally and was curious to meet them. After having met them, he was glad he did and looked forward to spending more time with them in the future.
Mr. Ba glanced at his watch and said to all present, “My, My, how does time fly? It doesn’t even have any wings. I’m afraid I must be going.”
Jimmy stood straight as an arrow and extended his left-hand palm down, his right hand made a fist and covered his heart. Sally glanced sideways at him and made the same gesture.
Mr. Ba and Grand Father did the same. All four then bowed their heads and mumbled a short phrase in Latin. Afterwards, Grand Father gave each of the children a hug and a handful of candy and Mr. Ba shook Jimmy and Sally’s hands again- this time he shook both at once and kept at it, saying that he must have been made of glue and couldn’t let go, until the kids were nearly crying with laughter. He, of course, was not made of glue but that did nothing to make the ordeal less amusing.
Jimmy and Sally Watched their guests walk away and turned back to the map.
“Time’s a wasting,” Sally said.
“Sure is. I have to get back to my preparations.”
“Me too. Meet here tomorrow after dinner? I should have the route from my aunt by then.”
“Rodger that, shit for brains,” Jimmy said.
“Dodger it to, ass-breath.”
One would think that the day before Halloween, or ‘mischief night’ as it’s commonly known, would be more appealing to Jimmy and Sally than Halloween was. This was not the case. Jimmy and Sally were nearly mischief personified and saw no reason to set aside a special day to behave as they normally do. Halloween proper, on the other hand, was a chance to dress up any way they wanted and get their weight in candy legally and for free, which is something they couldn’t figure out how to replicate the other 364 days of the year.
Jimmy stood in front of his mother’s full-length mirror and assessed his costume for the big day. He was wearing a purple robe covered in gold moons and silver suns. His wizard hat, which resembled a witch hat- but without the rim- was of the same color and design as his robe. He was fiddling and fretting over his long gray beard, which didn’t seem to want to look right on his tiny face. After fiddling for way longer than a person has a right to, Jimmy felt satisfied with his artificial whiskers. He made some markings on a pad of paper and removed his costume. The clock told him it was almost time to meet with Sally to plan tomorrow’s candy heist, so he went back to his room and re-dressed in his everyday clothes. He finished his dinner in record time and went to meet Sally at her front stoop, as they planned. He found her there dressed like a witch and reviewing Jimmy’s special map from the other day.
“How did the stuff with your Aunt go?” he asked.
“Good. We made a pretty solid route that should maximize candy acquisition and minimize dilly-dallying,” she started.”Turns out, according to your intel, Mr. Ba’s house is the number one best candy giver in the neighborhood. He’s first on our list.”
“No way? He was super cool! I can’t wait to trick-or-treat his place.”
“Me either. Remember when he pretended to be made of glue?”
“Yeah, it was the best.”
The two spent their time refining and discussing their plan before the streetlights flickered on and they had to go inside. Before they parted ways, they both gave each other the official salute of The Society. They had all but forgotten to verbally assault each other this time.
An old man and an older woman climbed to the top of the biggest hill in the neighborhood. They formed a circle with stones and built a fire in the center of it. When the fire was at its height they began chanting and tossing bundles of herbs into it. They chanted some more and began a strange dance, listening only to the music in their heads. When they finished dancing the fire died down. They threw some more dried herbs and chanted again for good measure. When the fire had nearly died out, the man peed on the embers. The woman said, “It is done. Tomorrow all the children dressed as monsters will be turned into their costumes and we will laugh as the town is destroyed by tiny monsters.”
The less-older man nodded. Watching the town get destroyed by tiny monsters was all he ever wanted from life and after many years of waiting, it was time for him to get what he wanted. Why they wanted to do this is anyone’s guess. Those of an evil persuasion hardly ever have a sensical reason for their behavior. A hundred or so yards away, Mr. Ba was hiding behind a tree taking photos of the night’s transpirings. When he was finished, he melted into the shadows and snuck home.
The school day was unbearable. Jimmy swore he saw the clock move backwards at least twice. Sally confirmed this. They weren’t the only kids in school who couldn’t wait for darkness. The entire student body was already wishing it was sunset and that they were dressed as monsters, aliens, and super-people. This feeling of suspended animation wasn’t limited to the students, the teachers couldn’t wait to get the heck out of there, either.
Eventually, the clock struck half past two. Bells rung and children screamed with joy and exited the school building like Romans being vomited out of the Coliseum.
Jimmy and Sally rushed home and prepared themselves for the coming evening. When the sun finally began to set and dinner was finished they applied their costumes and met out front.
Both of them were pretty impressed with each other’s costumes. Sally really wanted to try on Jimmy’s beard and Jimmy was kind of interested in Sally’s tights. They had skulls and spiders all over them. Skulls and spiders were his two main spirit animals. They agreed to trade beard for tights after collecting 100 pieces of candy, which was projected to be roughly at the halfway point of the night, according to their itinerary.
The first stop was Mr. Ba’s house, located at 3721 21st street, on the corner of a crossroads. Sally rang the bell and both the children waited. Mr. Ba answered the door and smiled.
“I was hoping you would come!” He said.
“Trick-or-Treat!” The children yelled.
“Come in, come in,” he said and then went on.” I have candy for you…or you can have a mystery treat.”
“Mystery treat!!!!” they screamed in unison.
“Very well! Uno no-mo-men-toe!” Mr. Ba said with a chuckle. He disappeared into the kitchen and returned to the doorway holding a broom and a wizard’s staff.
He handed the broom to a saucer-eyed Sally and the staff to a wide-eyed Jimmy, neither of them could muster a response due to an overload of excitement.
The children vibrated up and down in place as their tiny hands reached out to accept Mr. Ba’s gifts.
“Good luck children! This is no ordinary Halloween,” He said as he made the parting gesture of The Society.
Jimmy and Sally returned the gesture and said, “Thank you Mr. Ba.” before retreating from the doorway and walking away from the house.
“What do you think he meant by ‘This is no ordinary Halloween’?” Jimmy asked.
“I’m not sure, but I think he means things are going to get weird in a little while. My Witch Hat is trying to tell me things but I can’t really hear them yet.”
“Takes a while to tune in, just like the clouds,” Jimmy said while stroking his beard, “Hey, does your broom fly?”
Sally straddled the broom and tried to fly up to the moon. Nothing happened.
“Guess not,” she said with a frown.
“Bummer,” Jimmy said.
The first part of the evening passed in a typical Halloween sort of way without any trace of unusualness being noticed by either Jimmy or Sally. When the full moon had finished rising, things started to get a little weird. Just a little. Not really noticeable at first. Sally noticed her broom got a little bit lighter, meanwhile, Jimmy’s staff was shooting off sparks now and then. Neither child mentioned anything to the other about it.
The trick-or-treating continued unabated. They were carrying nearly half their body weight in candy when out of nowhere a tiny werewolf tackled Sally. Instinctively, Jimmy pointed his staff at it and a lightning bolt shot out, reducing the lilliputian lycanthrope to ashes.
“You didn’t get bit, did ya? ‘Cause if ya did, I’d have to end you before you turn.”
“No,” Sally said as she stood up and dusted herself off. “I’m pretty unbit. That was really weird.”
“I know…” Jimmy said but before he could finish a tiny mummy hit him on the back of the head and he slumped to the ground. Sally yelled and pointed her magic wand at the monster. Flames spat from the end of it and engulfed the mummy, it screamed and ran away but fell over, smoldering, shortly after.
The old couple’s hilltop enchantment had begun to take hold of the town. The trick-or-treaters were turning into their costumes. Dozens of tiny Draculas, mummies, ghosts, aliens, and all kinds of other monsters, creatures, and abominations were roaming the streets destroying everything they could.
The children dressed as heroes and good guys didn’t change; there were no packs of little Wonder Women or gangs of Batman kids meting out justice. It seemed only those dressed as monsters or villains were affected.
By ten o’clock, Sally had mastered flying her broom and working her magic wand. A few minutes later Jimmy figured out how to shoot lightning, fire, and ice blasts out of his staff. By midnight, the streets were littered with the bodies of child-sized monsters and monstrosities.
“That was weird,” Jimmy said, fishing a pack of candy cigarettes out of his robe and offering one to Sally.
“Thanks. What was weird? Real monsters?”
“No,” Jimmy said. “I mean killing more than one thing at a time. Usually, I just kill you and I’m done, but tonight I killed a bunch of stuff.”
“I know what you mean,” said Sally. “I liked it. I don’t care if I ever get to kill you again as long as there’s more monsters.
“Me either, killing monsters is way more fun.”
The two newly-forged monster slayers wandered the streets, cleansing them of this Hallow’s Eve Curse. Monster sitings became less and less as the night went on due to their brutal and efficient methods.
Around two in the morning Jimmy and Sally made their way to Jimmy’s Grand Father’s house. Jimmy opened the door and held it for Sally, who said “Thank you,” as she walked into the living room. Grand Father and Mr. Ba were sitting in big leather chairs, smoking pipes in silence. They all made the sign of greeting towards each other and Jimmy and Sally plopped unceremoniously on the couch.
“What the heck is going on out there?” Jimmy asked whichever adult wanted to answer.
“Exactly what you think happened,” Mr. Ba said. “You don’t need tall folk telling you that all the kids dressed like monsters turned into real monsters and you fought them to death using your wits and my mystery treats, do you?”
“No. We don’t,” Sally answered. “But it sure is nice to get some confirmation. It’s weird as hell out there now ’bouts.”
Mr. Ba and Grand Father exchanged glances.
“You both did excellent, tonight,” Grand Father said. “Are you sure you got all the monsters?”
“We haven’t had to kill one in like an hour,” Jimmy said.
“Good enough,” Mr. Ba said.
Jimmy’s Grand Father stood up and went into the kitchen. When he returned, he was holding a tray which held a steaming teapot and cupcakes.
“Who would like some hot chocolate and cakes?”
Everyone said, “Me!”
When they were finished Mr. Ba presented Jimmy and Sally with gold star pins.
“These are for bravery in the face of supernatural horror,” he said as he affixed a star to the brim of Sally’s Witch hat and then one to the sleeve of Jimmy’s Wizard robe.
“How do you two like fighting monsters?” Grand Father asked.
Sally and Jimmy looked at each other and nodded. Jimmy turned to his Grand Father and replied, “We really like it.”
“It’s as much fun as knife fighting and killing each other, but without the weird coming back from the dead stuff,” Sally added.
The children sat up late into the night, drinking hot chocolate and talking to their elders about their next mission until they decided they were tired and went to bed.
In the morning the town’s people were relieved to find that the monsters from the previous night were gone and horrified to find them replaced with the bodies of normal children strewn about the street like road kill.