What he doesn’t want is to get caught. Last Halloween he had almost been caught – that had been no fun, no fun at all. It was supposed to be “trick or treat,” not “trick, treat and trial.”
He tapped powder into the last of the tubes and added it to the bouquet of pixie sticks that bristled out of the grinning plastic pumpkin. He cleaned up, careful not to breathe in any of the residue.
Dominic worked through his departure checklist, wiping down the last few surfaces he may have touched, loading his gear, crossing through the garage/kitchen door repeatedly, the heavy sigh-whump of the pneumatic door punctuating his work. He triple-checked the house for personal belongings, then peeled off the plastic gloves that had come in the box of hair dye.
He looked around one last time. He would miss this house, he thought. It had been a good 12 months, living here. The neighbourhood met his requirements perfectly: a nice little suburb with nice little houses full of tame, nice little “sheeple.” All with easy access to a major Interstate Highway, so within 8 minutes, Dominic could be heading anywhere. The next house wasn’t quite as nice as this one, but he would only be there for a year. Unless he was caught, of course.
He would stop soon, he supposed; he could stop any time he wanted. But this sweet ride, this festive fun Halloween-y trick wasn’t going to end without his say-so. People needed him, anyway, even if they didn’t seem to think so. Like the song said, they needed a hero.
Honestly, he needed them, too.
He placed the loaded pumpkin on the porch with a little hand-printed sign, “Since We’re Not Home to Give You a Scare, Please Help Yourself to ONE Treat… if You Dare!” and turned on the porch light.
Adjusting his uniform, he grabbed his binoculars and headed out to his vantage point. One year, his line of sight had been obscured by unseasonably late leaves clinging to usually bare tree limbs and he hadn’t even seen the kid take the poisoned bait. Dominic felt bad about that one; he had almost arrived too late to resuscitate, hadn’t noticed the trap was sprung until he saw someone in a dinosaur costume writhing on the sidewalk. Not exactly his most heroic moment, but he had come through in a pinch, hadn’t he? No one had died. He still saved the day, still earned the glory. That had been in Boston, though, where it was milder than this small Colorado town. Fall lasted longer in Massachusetts. Or was that the time he had used strychnine, in Maine? Somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard. He could check his scrapbook later. He checked through the Bushnell’s binoculars; his view was clear.
He settled in to wait, watching the day begin to turn grey, it’s colors running west before the moon’s advance. The first of the kids materialized in groups of Disney characters and ghosts, pirates and robots, shepherded by parents who shooed them up front walks calling out reminders like “Ring the doorbell, sweetie”, “Say ‘Trick or Treat’!” and “Just take ONE!”
Every year, the same. Every place, the same. Dominic often marvelled at how similar people could be, from one subdivision to the next, one Halloween to the next. The same but different, like the “This Man is a HERO!” social media posts he earned. Restored his faith in humanity, really, their gratitude. Kept him going.
Thirty minutes passed, then 40. Dominic watched through his army-supplied Bushnell’s as the crowds changed and the costumed kids grew taller, the adults fewer. One group of kids approached the house’s gate, and then another, both chivvied past by their adults. He sat forward, arms resting on the steering wheel, senses tingling as he saw some likely candidates.
They were the right age – and, even better – no parental satellites encircled their group. It was always the older kids that fell for Dominic’s bait. The ones who were too big for trick-or-treating, but went anyway, wearing last-minute costumes, in slouching groups of poorly-disguised greed. They saw the darkened porch as an invitation, and the “… take ONE Treat” sign easy to ignore.
Dominic dialed his binoculars in, watching closely as they opened the gate and walked up the path in a loose clutch of jostling teens whacking each other with their partially-filled pillowcases. Perfect.
He saw hands reach out to grab fistfuls of pixie sticks. He watched, holding his breath with excitement, until he saw one boy in a bedsheet rip the ends off a bunch of the paper candy straws and pour them into his mouth. Bait taken, trap sprung!
Dominic dropped the Bushnell’s on the jump seat, flipped on the lights and, siren wailing, floored the gas. “Yes,” he yelled, his triumphant whoop filling the empty ambulance, “Time to be a hero!”
R.D. Girvan writes suspense and other fiction. She lives on an acreage in Western Canada with her family.
The SHALLOW CREEK Short Story Competition
Mallum Colt, proprietor of Colt’s Curiosity Shop, invites authors to explore the sinister shadows and crooked streets of his once splendid town of Shallow Creek.
Guests are gifted a Shallow Creek visitor pack consisting of a map of Shallow Creek, a character profile, a specific location, and an item of interest.
These items shall act as a source of inspiration as Mallum Colt guides his guests through Shallow Creek and reveals the secrets and stories of a town bereft of sleep.
For more information and full terms and conditions click here…
Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.
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