She wasn’t too comfortable letting the children go trick or treating by themselves but her son was almost 11 now. Surely he could keep an eye on his little sister, right? She heard them laughing as they stepped into the chilly night, with the crackling of orange and red leaves under their feet. Less than an hour later, she heard someone at the door once again, and expected to see ghosts and goblins from the neighborhood. However, it was her children. Back so soon? The children silently walked past, handing her their candy bags for inspection. She walked to the dining room table, and dumped the contents of her daughter’s bag on the table. And, that’s when she saw…

(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)


Tony and I are staking out the Calvira place, huge house, Mediterranean, crib for a kingpin. Big front lawn, but not too big to discourage Trick or Treaters from trudging up the walk past the fake plastic tombstones to the oak door. I raise the glasses again when a fresh troupe of super heroes and princesses rings the bell. The same attractive woman wearing cat’s ears bends over, distributing candy, smiling, and addressing the youngsters.

“Damn, what a babe,” Tony says, glances at me, and says, “Sorry, Janie.”

“You can’t help being a pig, Tony. It’s all right.” I kid him all the time. He’s a good detective, has my back, a seasoned veteran a few years from retirement.

After the children leave, she steps out and looks up and down the street. Stares right at us in our unmarked Ford, and waves.

“She made us,” I say. We reflexively sink down in our seats and she shivers, goes back in. The kids skip the colonial next door even though the lights are on and there’s a big blow-up Halloween thing on the lawn, headless horseman on an orange motorcycle.

“Let’s see where those kids go,” I suggest.

Tony looks at me. “What for?”

“Something odd. Why didn’t those kids go to the house next door for candy? And they’re familiar, think they’ve already been at Calvira’s.”

“Ach, all the kids look the same. We musta seen a thousand Spider-men.”

I think of my kids going out, other side of town, with my husband. I was supposed to join them, but have this crap duty keeping surveillance on drug cartel wholesalers. It is my three-year-old’s first trick or treat, Katie going out dressed as an alligator, big tail swishing in the air, playing havoc with her balance. Cutest thing. My older two are pros now, know how to maximize candy production, spare candy bags in reserve.

Tony starts the car, I turn the heat on to take the chill out of the autumn night and we ease away from the curb. We round the corner, tailing a bunch of eight-year-olds like perverts. Leaves are drifting from big trees lining the block, glowing yellow in the streetlight. The kids pass the first three houses without stopping, ignoring other Trick or Treaters in twos, and threes, and fives with parents, running up to every door. The group of seven we are idling after — pirate, Spider-Man, princess, witch, green monster, baseball player, and skeleton — move on to the fifth house, For Sale sign prominent on the unkempt front lawn.

The door opens and a drug cartel soldier stands there as the kids file past him into the house.

“Jesus,” Tony says. “You see who that is?”

“Tommy the bug Mortano, isn’t it? This looks bad.”

We park three doors down and watch, discussing what to do, take down the number of the Mercedes in the driveway. A few minutes later, Mortano comes out, lugging a bulging candy sack, gets in the Mercedes, and drives away. We’re calling it in when the same kids come back out and walk toward us on the sidewalk. None of them talk, none of them smile, give me the creeps as they pass by, like ‘children of the damned,’ you know. Their candy bags still hold candy but not as much.

I roll down my window, smile, and say, “Getting a lot of candy?”

They all turn, and march up to my window. “Yes ma’am,” skeleton girl says with a strange smile. “Sweet Tarts and Skittles and many good things. Wanna see?”

They all stand beside the car, and open their bags. A lot of candy. I hesitate, shine my pen light in Spider-man’s bag. My eyes focus. I gasp, and shout, “Tony, bo…”

The last I remember is a cracking white flash and then nothing.