Sam, completely aflame, ran screaming in circles in the middle of the street. From the safety of the sidewalks, parents and children watched in horror. Cars swerved to avoid the burning scarecrow, brakes screeching and horns honking. Sam tumbled away from them, toward the far sidewalk, barrelling into a group of middle schoolers wearing the bare minimum of what passed for costumes. She grabbed one by the zippers of his hoodie.
“AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” she screamed.
“Nice Human Torch costume, dude,” said the teenager.
“Ha,” said his friend, “she’s not the Torch, she’s that guy from the Venture Bros. who was like a real life Torch!”
“Oh, shit, even better!”
“I AM IN TREMENDOUS AGONY!”
“That is baller!” said a third middle schooler.
“Way to commit to a costume!”
Sam, completely aflame, ran screaming down the sidewalk.
Mrs. Donovan picked up her borderline ancient telephone and rotaried in ten numbers.
“Hey, Mabel,” she said, “it’s Susie.
“Susie. Suzette Donovan.
“Look, sorry to call so late, I know you’ve got tons to do tonight — we all do — but, well, I’m pretty sure I just got made by some kids.
“I don’t know! I was trying to ignore them but they just kept ringing and ringing the damn bell. They obviously weren’t leaving so I finally just answered the door and gave them some fruit —
“It’s Halloween! It would’ve been more suspicious if I didn’t answer!
“You’re the one who’s always on our asses about ‘fitting in!’
“Oh, right, well… They, uh, they started mouthing off to me, and then…. and then I might’ve set one or two on fire.
“It was the heat of the moment! And they were being real jerks. Besides, they seemed to already know.
“I don’t know how they figured it out. I’d never even seen them before.
“All of us? Right now, tonight?
“Well, all right. You’re the coven leader.
“I’m not sassing you, Mabel. I’ll be there. It just seems like a little much is all, given the circumstances. I mean, they’re just kids. No one’s going to believe them. And it’s not like they can do any–
“All right, all right. I’ll be there in five. I just have to get my broom.”
Sam continued running and screaming and burning, stumbling through a family and setting a six-year-old wrapped in toilet paper on fire.
“AAAAASOOOOORRRYYYAAAAAAA,” she shouted, tripping forward.
The boy’s mother, swatting out the flames on his shoulder, turned with a sneer toward Sam as she continued bumbling down the street.
“I don’t think that’s a very safe costume, young lady!”
“Brian!” screamed Lisa, pulling back the hood of her costume and running up her driveway. “We found her!”
“Cutting it pretty close, aren’t you?” replied her brother, sitting on the front steps of their house, a half-eaten bowl of candy at his side. Brian was ten years older than Lisa and George, and five years older than their sister Roberta, who was currently confined to the toilet with a bad case of what-the-hell-did-I-eat-itis. He had been impatiently waiting for his siblings for two hours, handing out chocolate to passing trick-or-treaters and occasionally bringing Roberta a new bottle of Gatorade.
“We got it done, didn’t we?” replied the girl in the lion costume.
“What the hell is going on?” asked Tommy, walking up the driveway after Lisa, his axe resting across his shoulders. “You do remember that Sam was on fire, right? Shouldn’t we go find her? Help her?”
“Bigger fish, Tommy,” said Lisa.
“What could possibly be bigger than –”
“Our brother is a werewolf,” explained George, walking up behind Tommy. “He was bitten by another werewolf who was bit –”
“I can’t understand you with your mask on,” said Tommy.
“Oh, right.” George lifted his monkey mask onto his head. “Brian is a werewolf. He was bitten by another werewolf who was bit by another werewolf who was bit by another werewolf who was bit by yet another werewolf who was cursed by a gypsy who was cursed by a witch who we were pretty sure was Mrs. Donovan but we didn’t know for sure until tonight when she started setting everything on fire with magic. Now Brian has to feed on her heart on All Hallow’s Eve under a full moon to undo everything and be a real boy again.”
“I am a real boy, George,” said Brian, rubbing his forehead in exasperation. “Just cursed. That doesn’t make me not real.”
“This is insane,” said Tommy, shaking his head.
“Is it?” snapped Lisa. “Is it?! Do you have any idea what it’s like being six-years-old and coming home and finding your brother eating your parents like they were KFC takeout? Having to lock him up month after month, year after year? Moving to a different state every time you fall asleep early and wake up to news reports about grisly murders and missing persons? I just want to stay in one place for more than nine months and go to bed without worrying about being eaten, Tommy! Is that really too much to ask?!”
“Uh, no. No, I guess not.”
“No, it’s not Tommy! It’s not asking too much!”
“But… why tonight, though?”
“Because tonight’s the full moon and witches are at their weakest on All Hallow’s Eve! If we wait until tomorrow she’ll basically be superpowered and Brian won’t be anything. At that point we might as well not try to kill her at all!”
“Sorry! This is just… really new to me.”
“Well, maybe you should read a book every now and again, Tommy!”
“What book would –”
“How much time ‘til the full moon?” asked George, shoving a Reese’s into his mouth.
“Eight minutes,” said Brian, looking at his watch. “I’ll text the other guys.”
“There’s other guys?!” said Tommy.
“What is so hard to understand about this?!” screamed Lisa.
Sam continued running and screaming and burning until she collapsed and stopped screaming and kept burning on some old guy’s lawn. He was sitting on his front porch in his bathrobe, a bowl of candy on his lap — not in a creepy way, just an “I’m old and I don’t have to give a crap anymore” way.
With a sigh, he called into his house and said, “Honey, get the hose.”