The streets were lit by a clear starry sky and a nearly full moon. Four neighborhood children skipped door-to-door trick-or-treating.
Mary the Fairy led her friends; Fred the Ghost, Peter the Scarecrow, and Carla the Witch, along paths lined with lit jack o’lanterns, which was the tradition in the company small town where it was assumed that everyone knew everyone, except in the one dark Gothic-styled home.
The house was never lit. The uncovered windows reflected only darkness. No one ever crossed the door at 666 Portal Way, except during one late afternoon four years ago when the police escorted an old man inside.
It was rumored that a serial killer was sentenced to be imprisoned in the home. But no one really believed it, as the western town of Tombstone was one of the safest mining towns in Arizona, and the old man was never seen again after the police locked the convict inside.
As the four approached 666 Portal Way, the Fairy twinkled, the Ghost whooshed, the Scarecrow froze, and the Witch shrieked. The smell of fungi and overturned earth was pungent and putrid, yet sweet and so unrecognizable that Fred, Peter and Carla gagged, wrinkled their noses and grimaced, “OOOUUU!” They turned to continue to the next home, except for Mary. Mary’s curiosity was peaked.
“Y’all go on ahead. I’ll get some treats from this house for all of us and meet you in five.
“But no one lives there,” the Ghost foreshadowed.
The Witch advised, “Here, take this glass jar. It is filled with Himalayan salts, star bugs, and moon water. Should someone come to harm you, crack the jar and a protective shield will envelop you.”
The Ghost, Scarecrow, and Witch wandered off to the next home to demand a Treat.
The Fairy in bare feet stealthily trod over moist algae along the north side of the house over the spongy fungi path. Heavy rains from the day before had not fully drained. This dampness was not typical in a desert town built on sand.
“Someone must have recently gardened.” The smell of newly turned composted earth became stronger. “Someone must live here,” she thought.”Perhaps occupying only the back of the house?” There were no jack-o-lanterns to guide her, so she lit her wand which sparkled and sizzled. The sizzle was the only sound and curiosity propelled her forward.
At 672 Portal Way, the residents were getting ready to leave for a Halloween costume party. Mrs. Krueger was dressed as an alien and Mr. Krueger wore street clothing and a life-like old hag face mask with fangs.
Ding Dong! The doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it!” Mr. Krueger rang out as he strode to the door. He opened it and bent low to look into the faces of the Ghost, the Witch, and the Scarecrow who jumped back and screeched seeing his face and hearing his eerie laugh. What a Trick!
Mr. Krueger laughed again as he took the mask off and filled their bags full of candies. Mrs. Krueger came up behind him as he feigned a fearful surprise, with one arm and hand up he yelped, “Run before the alien points her magic ray gun at you and freezes you to this spot!”
The Scarecrow was so frightened he could barely move his sticks and had to be dragged to the next house by the fleeing Ghost.
Meanwhile, at 666 Portal Way, Mary’s curiosity is further enticed by a smoky-sweet odor coming from the back of the house. As she tip-toed into the backyard, a smooth tickle was felt around her ankle. She bent to look but was distracted by seeing apples on the ground. Looking up she saw the outline of what appeared to be a small orchard in the backyard. This was atypical as all of the neighboring yards were xeri-landscaped with cacti and succulents.
She heard whispering but could not make out all of the words. “K–p stirring the -pples. — — bu—-g — sug-r.”
The thought of a possible sweet caramel apple treat was so irresistible she disregarded the feeling on her ankles and focused on hurrying to the back door.
At the back stairs of the house, Mary turned to face the porch and caught a glimpse of movement flowing across the window. “Ahah,” she thought, “indeed someone does live here.” Suddenly, from inside, a figure turned to stare out of the window, looking directly at the Fairy. The person had wide big eyes, fangs for teeth, and greyish skin barely hanging on a skeletal face.
The Fairy stiffened in place when again a smooth tickle was felt around her ankles. She relit her fairy wand looking down as gnarly long fingers encircled her foot. No time to waste, she swatted the fingers with her sizzling wand, burning them as they quickly retreated into the algae and loose soil.
Freed from the grip, she ran out to the street to meet her friends who were a few houses away.
“Heh, guys! You will never believe what I saw. The house is haunted!”
“Yeah, wait till you hear this. Mr. Krueger is actually an old hag. He transformed right in front of us and his wife, De Vil, is an alien sorceress!”
And with this discovery of identities revealed, everyone in town now believed that they knew everyone.
Heather Hawk enjoys writing the long and the short of it. A few of her personal essays are included in an anthology: "Tales From A Writers' Circle" which was released in May of 2023. An expanded personal life storybook, including many of the adventures that she has lived through was released in August of 2023. Her short flash fiction writing will appear in "50 Give or Take" Vine Leaves Press November 2022. Heather Hawk lives with her husband and whatever wildlife happens to move in.