I round the corner, the street signs of ElaRue and Manchester coming into view and my pulse begins to hammer. Parking my bike, I secure it to a lone light pole before slipping the rope of my shining friend over my wrist.
In the distance, a brilliant orange glow leaps and dances against a wall that stretches up into blackness. A dirty newspaper tumbles past my feet down the deserted street and an unearthly howl of laughter screeches into the emptiness. I freeze.
“Whose ready, boys?” Another shrieking scream.
Straightening my back, I swagger and let the cleaver waltz at my side. Rounding the corner the heat of a towering bonfire crashes into me. I clear my throat and puff out my chest. “Don’t tell me I missed the party.”
Three darkened outlines turn to face me, each one falling silent. The tallest of the group slithers toward me.
“Party’s private,” comes his low hiss.
“I’m here for the children,” I say with a flash of my teeth.
After a beat, he turns, halfway skipping back to the blaze. I follow.
In the light, their faces come into view. White streaked with black tears dotting their cheeks, lips haphazardly smeared in red. Tattered purple and black wigs threaten to dislodge with each lap around their inferno. Their leader, the shortest of the group stops and grabs the closest man by the back of the neck he pushing his face toward the flames.
“How many treats you going to get?” The leader says.
The man nearly falls in but manages to catch his balance by widening his stance. “Ten or twelve.”
“You got fifteen last time,” their leader hisses.
“I’ll get twenty!” The third clown says.
The leader turns to me.
“How many parent’s tears you be collecting?”
I catch the handle of my shining friend, turning the blade in the light. “Depends on the area. Where are we trick-or-treating tonight?”
Pulling a switchblade from his pocket, he opens it, eyes locking on me. “Upper east side.”
The other two whoop.
“We follow the path that hasn’t been stained. Go to the neighborhoods that don’t know tears.”
Tilting my head, I watch him. “But you’ve been there before, haven’t you?”
“Tell me you’re smart enough not to have us go in blind.”
He pulls himself up to his full height and still I tower over him. “I been there before.” His lips curl back. “Heard of me, eh?”
He nods, clearly pleased. “You’ll learn from me.”
I catch sight of a single red tear in the field of black ones dotting his cheek. “What’s that stand for?”
“Rich white dude’s daughter. Some lawyer. He thought he had power,” he flips his knife into the air and catches it, “turns out he didn’t.”
My hands begin to shake.
“So, how many treats you gonna get tonight?”
“Oh, I think three will do it.” As I raise my friend into the air, the smirk vanishes from the leader’s face.
Thank you so much for reading! I have a prequel planned but will be posting my usual character interview next Monday. If you have a question you’d like to ask the main character of this story, please leave it in a comment below.