All Hallows Eve
It was Halloween, and Patrick had been handing candy out to the neighborhood kids for about three hours. He had seen Avengers, Power Rangers, Disney princesses, Batmen, Supermen, ghosts, and zombies. The smaller children were adorable. The teenagers were obnoxious and often high or drunk or both.
The groups of kids began to thin out and the streets were nearly empty. Just when he was about to turn off his porch light and go watch a scary movie, he saw a boy of about five or six walking alone in the dark. He thought it was odd that the boy didn’t have a parent with him. Hopefully the boy knew his phone number or address; that way Pat could take him home.
As the boy approached the walk to Pat’s house, his costume came into view. It was the creepiest costume Pat had seen the whole night.
The boy wore dirty, old-fashioned clothing that could have come straight out of a World War II-era photograph, and his pumpkin candy pail had a more sinister smile than the usual jovial Jack O’Lantern that he’d seen that night.
Creepiest of all was the boy’s mask—or was it face paint?—the seams were so smooth that Pat couldn’t tell. It looked like the face of a skeleton, complete with gaunt cheeks, empty eye sockets, and a wide, empty grin.
“My, what a scary skeleton you are!” he said to the boy as he climbed the porch steps. “Where are your mommy and daddy?”
The boy said nothing.
“I suppose you want some candy.” Pat scanned the street. No more kids. This was his chance to unload the rest of the junk food. “I have lots to give you, but you have to say the magic words.”
Still the boy said nothing. Pat began to feel uneasy.
“What’s your name little boy?”
Nothing. The boy held his empty bucket up for Pat to fill with candy.
Patrick knelt down so he was closer to eye level with the boy. He inched his hand towards the boy’s face to remove the mask, wanting to look the boy in the eyes but not wanting to startle him. When he touched the mask, he found that whoever had made it had done an excellent job. It felt like real bone. However, the mask would not come off.
Neither would Patrick’s hand.
Pat watched in horror as his skin melted into the bony mask, then began to fall away entirely. His finger bones fused to the boy’s skull as skin, muscle, and sinew sloughed off.
The last thing he saw before his eyes joined the rest of his soft tissue in the puddle on the porch was the boy’s lower mandible moving in silence. Having no more eardrums, he couldn’t hear what the boy said, but he knew what it was.
“Trick or treat.”