There are eight trick or treaters and there have always been eight trick or treaters.
The moon shone above, a silver light only covered by clouds. The darkness is held back by only the soft glow coming from jack’o lanterns and house lights. Eight joyful costumed children march in front of me, gathering the most precious of loot, candies sweet to rot their teeth. I walk in lockstep behind them, joyful too. My encasement of metal moves freely, my touch constantly shaping it. Some people stare, but they know my name, despite the fact I am from a different state. Next to me appears a man with a large cane, who comes and goes as quickly as the wind.
There are seven trick or treaters and there have always been seven trick or treaters.
Sometimes the tree branches block the moon’s light. The huge trees reach up as if to harvest its silver light. But I don’t mind, nothing scares me in the night. I keep on marching on, a shepherd for a group of seven kids. They act sheep-like, their joy is forgotten as they mindlessly walk. None of them talk, the only sounds being the knocking of shoes on the ground. And the man with a cane comes by again, his joy plain to see. A thousand red vials were held by straps, with a cloak that whispered in the wind.
There are six trick or treaters and there have always been six trick or treaters.
A Man called from the PRT. It was the captain in charge of the operation. He asked after my position and grew annoyed when he heard it. He reminded me to return to route, no matter the kid’s desire for bounty. I softly agreed and went on my way. He asked after the kids and was surprised by the number. I told him it’s only natural, for I have always had 6 children with me. He ordered me to stay still while he inquired. And as this happened, a man with a cane beckoned me onwards with a grin.
There are five trick or treaters and there have always been five trick or treaters.
Water was still in the lagoon as I shepherd the trick or treaters. The night could not have asked for a more perfect reflection. Insects of all kinds danced around me, but without the guiding intelligence I was used to. The night air was still, leaving only the slightest of breeze to make the grass whisper into the night. Moonlight guided our way, as even the light of passing cars disappeared. The man with a cane strolled up and knocked on the ground with his cane.
There are four trick or treaters and there have always been four trick or treaters.
The captain came back to call once more. He told me to stop doing anything, and we were entering master stranger protocols. He asked how many children were with me and again was angry with the number. The captain informs me that a squad is coming to pick me up and to stay on the line. I stand there and watch my breath puff up in front of me. I describe to the captain the beauty around me. The dancing insects, shifting grass, bright moonlight reflected in the water. The only thing that avoids description is the man with the cane.
There are three trick or treaters and there have always been three trick or treaters.
Ultimately the captain has no control. All he can do is sit there and listen as I talk. Frustration leaks from his voice as he learns the correct number of trick or treaters. All I can do is continue to describe everything around me. The man with the cane returns earlier than normal. He takes several vials of red from his cloak and slots them into his cane. The cane tip was pointed at me and red mist sprayed out.
There are two trick or treaters and there have always been two trick or treaters.
Most people forgot I could fly, or at least fling myself across the sky. Normally I hated doing it. My power allowed me to toss myself a great distance, but it never gave instructions on how to land. But right now I have no doubt, fear feels like a distant memory. The landing point now was a van, which currently holds the PRT squad coming to contain me. I land right before it and grab the grill, forcing it down into the concrete. An officer tries to get out the back door, but I smash them down and crimp the door together. I do it to all the doors, and I bar the windows. And then I got to fly again to see a man with a cane again.
There is one trick or treater and there has always been one trick or treater.
I returned to the kid I was supposed to escort, but at this point, I don’t know to what. The night is still silent, and the bugs still dance. The moon shines, and grass whispers. The trees try to drink the moonlight, and two children still wear costumes. I can hear a man distinctly shouting in my ear about protocols and the right thing to do, but I don’t care. All I do is wait, and wait, and wait for the click-clack of a cane on the concrete. Finally, there were no tricker or treaters, and only a man with a cane remained.
Cuff was later found comatose about a seventh of a mile up north forest way near the village of Winnetka. When she awoke several days later, she had no memory of the event and passed all testing. All the children with her were found dead on the coast of Lake Michigan, drained of blood. The cape who caused this was unknown until it was later ascribed to Mesmerize, a villainous tinker who used the blood of people to create master effects. He was captured trying to take a school hostage in exchange for the blood of royalty. His place of current residence is the birdcage.