by Ali Seay

Trevor came through in his long dark gown with his articulated spooky fingers waving. His glowing LED mask currently showed the leering face of death. Shaking his head, he said, “I told you not to have your party on Halloween. The doorbell’s ringing again.”

Anette grinned at him, fluffed her bouffant wig, and winked. “No worries. They’re just kids. It takes two seconds to hand out candy, Trev.”

“Trevor. You know I hate Trev.”

“And you know I hate spoil sports. Hunt down that cauldron full of candy. I think I saw Patrick take off with it. He’s drunker than drunk which means he’s snacking on about sixty bucks worth of candy.”

The doorbell rang again and Anette hurried toward the front door. “Coming!” she yelled over the din of the guests and the spooky Halloween sounds someone had started streaming at top volume over her speakers.

She bounced off a counterfeit Elvira and her date Slender Man. Someone called Anette’s name but she held up a finger. “Hold that thought! There are children to feed.”

Trevor came just as she was sweeping the door wide, expecting a bunch of rowdy cheeky teenagers at this time of night. It was going on eleven already. Halloween was almost over.

Instead of teenagers, she found a diminutive two foot creature staring up at her with big eyes. Eyes so big they reminded her of those vintage paintings from the seventies.

“What the fuck is that?” Trevor growled.

She elbowed him none too gently.

“Hi there,” she said, bending down.

The kid was a mess. A soupy swirl of gore and scar tissue matted its face. Yellow fatty tissue and white bone color shone through the pulp. When they smiled the exposed tendons crinkled and the jaw moved. Anette swore she saw a swirling, dancing tongue within the ruined cage of the face.

“What the…fuck?” Trevor said.

“Your mask is insane!” she squealed. “Who did this?”

The kid looked at her curiously, cocked their head. Then held up a pillow case. “Trick?”

“You have to say or treat,” said a voice from the shadows just off the porch.

From somewhere behind her someone set off a noisemaker and then a jostle worked through the cluster of party goers and bumped Anette.

“Sorry, it’s so noisy. Are you their mom? Dad? They’re adorable. What’s their name?”

“Bunny,” said the small creature before her. It shook its bag and said. “Or treat?”

“Sorry about the hour,” the voice said, not answering any of her questions. “It’s one of the few times of year Bunny can go out and be Bunny.”

“Here,” Trevor said, pushing past Anette. He shoved two great handfuls of candy into the sagging sack and snapped, “There’s your treats. You can go now!”

Something in the small figure brought out her maternal protective side. “Trevor, stop being such a horse’s ass.”

“I don’t like that thing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bunny was staring down into the bag of candy with a melancholy look.

Anette just barely heard the dark chuckle from the shadows beneath the tree.

Inside the house, Monster Mash came roaring to life and everyone cheered. Something wet splashed the back of her leg and she’d no doubt smell like cheap beer until she had a shower.

The little one sagged with defeat.

“What’s the matter, Bunny? You don’t like any of that candy?” she asked.

“Hungry,” Bunny said.

“I’m sure if you eat some of that you won’t be,” Trevor snapped, trying to push the door shut.

Bunny’s small foot shot out and blocked the door’s swing.

“Hungry,” Bunny said again. But louder. And the tongue behind the empty cheek walls danced.

Anette took a step back then searched the shadows with squinted eyes. “Um, maybe you should get—”

But the voice cut her off and said, “Go on, Bunny. You’re safe here. I’ll keep watch.”

The hair on the back of her neck stood up just as the small figure burst through the doorway. It caught Trevor by the calf, yanked, and pulled him down.

Trevor hit the floor with a thud and shrieked as small sharp teeth slid through vulnerable skin and into his neck. Blood jetted and some partygoers cheered, thinking it was all good Halloween constumed fun.

Anette scrambled to the door, screaming, but it was firmly shut and immune to her tugging. As if someone were holding it shut on the other side.

A clump of people roiled through the room, the music grew louder, and somewhere someone was operating the beer funnel as oblivious people yelled “Chug, chug, chug!”

As Bunny jumped at her and took her down easily, she wondered briefly, as a mouth latched onto her neck and tore and sucked, if maybe Bunny thought they were chanting for them.

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