Ah, Halloween. October 31st. It is my favorite night of the year. Children and teens roaming, some unattended, through the streets, walking up to strangers' very doors. What a trusting society. Naïve and trusting. It's cute, really.
It has been raining all day, but finally lets up just before four thirty in the afternoon, which is nice. It means that the sky is already dark, so that when the sun finally sets, there will be no light. Oh, but it is perfect. My kind of night.
At five, the children dress themselves in their various outfits, some colorful and some gruesome. I see a fairy walking in a group with a robot made of cardboard boxes and a werewolf that reminds me of the old horror movies with men in furry costumes. A little seven-year-old zombie painted with green skin is trailing behind with his mother.
I walk the streets, smiling at the children passing me and at the parents who stare with a suspicious gaze. That only widens my grin until they can look no more. Who can blame them for staring, really, when I am the one walking through the streets, unabashedly watching their children? I feel the twinges of their…uneasiness. Not quite fear, but not quite a right feeling either.
Dark falls and older children come out to play.
I see a group of teens walking the streets, laughing to each other. Two pretty young girls, perhaps sixteen years old, and a boy of the same age.
One girl is dressed in a classic witch costume, complete with a wide-brimmed cone hat. She carries a foot-long stick in one hand and a plastic caldron in the other, already with a few pieces of candy rattling in the bottom.
The other girl is wearing a flowing green dress and brown boots, with flowery jewelry adorning her neck and wrists. Her ears are pointed. She carries a pillowcase in one hand.
The boy is in a black robe and cloak, carrying a fake scythe and wearing black gloves with skeletal hands on the backs and a skull mask over his face.
They interested me, this group. I begin to follow them. It isn't like they will be able to see me in the darkness anyhow.
They wander for hours, going from house to house until trick-or-treating itself is over, and then returning to the boy's home. Remaining in costume, though the boy sheds his mask, they 'hung out' in the back yard of the boy's house.
A field, almost a plain, is spread out before them as they sit beneath a tree on a picnic table. A few hundred feet out, the backs of other houses are visible.
The children sort out their candy by the light of a few flashlights, first throwing the sweets into two piles: safe and unsafe. When that is done, what they condone as safe is split between them, traded, and playfully fought over.
I like these children.
It is all so very tragic, then, that I must do what I do, and be what I am.
Willing myself, my material form that is, to dissipate, I remerge with the shadows of the night. My senses expand beyond anything a human could understand. I feel everything, hear everything, see everything.
I find a branch on the ground and break it, producing a loud, sharp, abrasive snap that seems to echo in the night.
"What was that?" the elf asks, head jerking surprisingly quickly to the location of the sound.
"Probably just a raccoon," the witch tells her. "You scared?"
"She's always scared," the reaper mocks.
"I am not," the elf returns defensively.
"Yeah you are. Look at ya!" the reaper says, then adds in a deeper voice, "But you know, it is Halloween. I bet there are werewolves out there right now, waiting to eat us."
"Stop it!" the elf says in a shrill voice. Her delicate little blond eyebrows had developed a wrinkle between them and her lip trembled.
I scoff at the boy's comment. Werewolves don't prowl around this close to human neighborhoods. At least, not if they're in control of themselves.
With a thin, black tentacle, I gently brush the elf's exposed ankle.
She lets out a shriek and nimbly jumps up onto the top of the wooden picnic table, legs pulled up with her.
"What's the matter?!" the witch asks in alarm, standing up. The reaper simply looks at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Something touched me!" the elf tells them.
"Like what?" the reaper asks.
"Like I would know!" she shouts and tentatively looks down, aiming one of the flashlight beams at the dark beneath the table.
Of course, she sees nothing as the shadows, my shadows, bend around the light.
"It felt like a snake or something," the elf says miserably, itching the place I'd swept the tentacle across her skin.
"Well, it doesn't look like there's anything now," the reaper says, also looking around them. "I bet it was probably just some wet grass."
The elf doesn't say anything further on the matter, but refuses to come down from the table top.
Oohhh, the fear. Her fear is now palpable in the air. I can feel it. I can taste it. A demon of lust, a succubus/incubus, relies on the energy produced by lust. I rely upon this. Fear.
I need more.
Hunger wakened, I begin my attack in earnest. They can't escape me.
"Hey, I think the flashlights need new batteries. Look. Do they seem…darker to you guys?"
"Weird," the reaper says, tapping one flashlight to the tabletop, "I just put new batteries in these before we left. I'll go see if my mom's got any extras."
"Um, Travis, I can't see your house."
The trio looks towards the general direction the house is in and nervously slide away from the table, grabbing up the dimming flashlights and pointing them the same way.
Of course, they can no longer see the house, or any other houses. Only my impenetrable darkness. They are in my territory now. And they will feed me well.
"I can't see anything, actually!" the witch cries.
"Me neither!" the elf shouts, head whipping wildly around, desperate to see something, anything!
"What the hell?" the reaper questions.
The reaper takes up a stick from the ground and hurls it at the dark wall of my shadows. Those same shadows consume it entirely. The group watches this with growing horror. What an enticing aroma.
"Let's get out of here!" the elf shouts, now panting heavily with fear and clinging to the reaper's arm.
"Okay," he agrees and they begin to walk, uncertainly, towards where they assume the house would be. But they would never find it.
I wrap one of my tendrils around the elf's ankle and pull her to the ground, screaming all the while, her friends whirling around and holding their flashlights like weapons.
I release the elf and she scrambles to her feet, still screaming, even when she securely has her hands clasped onto her friends' costumes.
They run now, into my darkness, deeper into my shadow world. The landscape is no longer all black. They can see the houses in the distance, the picnic table, the tree. But those things are grey and colorless, always far away no matter how fast they run, and the light is as though it is coming from within those unreachable objects.
"Oh, God, what's going on?" the witch screams.
"What pulled her to the ground?" the reaper nearly screams back.
"I don't know! I don't know! We have to get out of here!"
But there is nowhere to run. And with time, they come to understand. And I feed on that fear, that absolute terror of the inescapable.
Are you having fun yet? They all scream when I ask. I know I am. Your fear is so delectable.
The boy shouts a few more expletives and throws his nearly lightless flashlight spinning into the dark.
I grab him up with one of my tentacles, my true form now showing. I see that the elf has broken down into wordless sobs, covering her eyes with her hands. The witch, meanwhile, seems angry and rushes at me, raising her flashlight as a sword, shouting.
The reaper struggles against the strong grip of the black tendrils sprouting from my vaguely man-shaped form. The witch takes a swing at me with the flashlight, which I easily swipe aside with another of my 'extra' limbs. I grab her up as well.
I bring the reaper to me, pinning him to my front and enfolding him in my arms. He cries out as he feels himself merging with me. As my shadows fold him into my form, overtaking his own, he feels the most intense, wonderful fear. I know this isn't a painful experience, but the terror is enough for the panicked shrieks escaping his mouth.
When it is done, I hear the witch screaming and grin, doing the same to her as I had done to her reaper companion only moments previously. I bring her into myself and feel her soul shivering within my being, producing that life-sustaining, fear-filled energy I must have or die.
I walk to the shivering, wild-eyed elf. She doesn't even protest as I lift her from the ground. The fear in her is exquisite, even more so than that of the companions now dwelling within me, sustaining me for now. I sit her back down on the picnic table, shivering all over, with the three flashlights by her side.
She is discovered later that night, when the boy's parents come out to find them. By the next week, she is institutionalized.
She really is such a nice girl. No reason to let her go through this alone, right?
Taking her hand, I promise her that I will never leave her side again as she sits mutely in her too white room at the hospital.