“What are you supposed to be?” Pete asked.

Johnny sighed. He’d been getting that question a lot today. Nobody had recognized his costume at school, either, not even the teachers. He figured the green clothes weren’t terribly recognizable, but he thought somebody might have noticed the rose and put it together.

Pete was dressed as a scarecrow. He had straw sticking out of his sleeves, and orange paint on his face.

“It doesn’t matter,” Johnny told him. All the kids from the neighborhood were meeting up to go Trick Or Treating together — well, all the ones who were old enough. The little kids still had to go with their parents. From what Johnny understood, this was Pete’s first year with the big kids.

Johnny also understood that several of the teenagers, who just happened to be older brothers and sisters of some of the kids in the group, were conveniently hanging around nearby. He was fairly certain that, when their group set off, the teenagers would, by sheer coincidence, of course, start their own way down the street.

“Let’s go,” Ryan said. Ryan was the leader of the group, by virtue of being the loudest and the most stubborn. He was currently dressed as Batman, which Johnny thought was a little funny. Batman was a loner, but Ryan loved attention.

Things went well. The Masons were giving out full sized candy bars, and the Warwicks had caramel apples. The other houses might not have been quite as good, but their bags quickly filled up with various sweets, even if most of them were “fun-sized” (Johnny always made sure to put mental quotation marks around that, since it seemed clear to anybody that there wasn’t anything fun about having less candy).

“Stop!” one of the girls hissed. It was Cindy, who was wearing a witch costume. “You can’t go there!”

Johnny looked at the next house on the street, then back to Cindy. “It’s lights are on. Why can’t we go?”

“That’s the witch’s house,” she whispered.

“Well, you’re dressed as a witch,” Johnny said, “so I don’t see why that’s suddenly a problem.” Miss Tokar had seemed quite nice to him. Admittedly, he could understand why many of the kids thought she was a witch, but he didn’t see why that made her a bad person.

“She’ll put poison in the candy,” said Eric, also dressed as Batman.

“That’s stupid,” Johnny said. “If a bunch of kids start dying, they’ll check the candy. They’d find her almost immediately.”

“She might put a spell on the candy,” Pete said.

“Then you can give it all to me,” Johnny told them. “She gave me candy when I was in there the other week. If she wanted to put me under a spell, she’d already have done so.”

He figured she might be giving out that flowery candy again. He’d found that after a few days of Halloween candy (he was one of those kids who rationed out his candy, although it still never lasted as long as he planned), you sometimes got a little sick of chocolate, so it was a good idea to have a few non-chocolate candies just in case.

“I’m not going in there,” Eric said.

“Well, I’m not giving up my candy because you’re all too scared,” Johnny said. He looked at Ryan as he did so. Ryan never backed down from a dare, even an implicit one. And he thought they’d better get a move on. The teenagers were going as slow as they could, but if they kept arguing, the two groups would run into each other, and that just seemed like it would be awkward.

Ryan glared at Johnny, then said, “Come on,” and marched down the walkway to Miss Tokar’s front door. The rest fell into line behind him.

The three large pumpkins were in front, now, lining one side of the path. The evil-looking faces seemed to follow them as they walked by.

Miss Tokar was dressed like a witch, but not like Cindy. Cindy had a pointed hat, and green face-paint, and a fake nose. Miss Tokar just wore a black dress with long, sleeves that trailed after her whenever she moved her arms.

“Trick or treat!” they called out, although not nearly as loudly as they usually did.

“What delightful costumes,” she said. She did indeed have small boxes of the strange candy she’d given him before. “A scarecrow, and the Batman, and another Batman…” She named each costume as she dropped a box into each of their bags.

“And Le Petit Prince,” she said, as Johnny stepped up. She winked at him and slipped two boxes into his bag. He was just happy that she had recognized his costume.

“A-all right,” Ryan stammered, “we’ve got more houses. Let’s go.”

“Have fun,” Miss Tokar said as they left. Then, in a wicked voice, she added, “Be careful of the pumpkins. They bite.”

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