TRICK OR TREAT • by M O Bishop

As Amanda skimmed over the rooftops and trees, she cursed for the umpteenth time that she must do so on a broomstick. She could fly equally well without sitting on a damn piece of wood. But no, public perception said she must travel on a mode of transport that could put splinters in her arse.

That was not her only beef. In her trade one often worked late so one got used to strange hours. It was still a pain to have to do tonight of all nights and so miss one or other Halloween parties.

On spotting her mansion shining in the moonlight the witch came in to land. As she did so she spotted a scourge of the festive season coming down the drive, its little legs pumping away. A trick-or-treater.

Naive to the ways of the world, it was attempting to call on her. No doubt its siblings had told it not to bother, that the old bat (which she was not) would not give it anything. However, on probably its first outing it did not know any better so had taken their words as a challenge.

Good advice or bad, the tiny form in a skeleton outfit still should not have been there. There is magic that can be used to stop its kind from paying a visit.

Yet it was.

Shit (much pithier than, say, By a Thousand Demons from the Infernal Realms), she must have forgotten to touch up the Evil Eye before going out. When fully charged, a sure defence against all manner of denizens. The skeleton would not have then got past the gate let alone halfway down the drive.

Some see trick-or-treating as a harmless seasonal custom as well as a bit of fun. Amanda, though, knew the activity as what it really is, begging with malice. Kiddy mafia, if you like.

Still, what goes elsewhere was in her view none of her business. Unless paid to, if you did not bother her, she did not bother you.

Something had just broken that rule.

She landed near the front door and put the broom behind the wheelie bin just before the skeleton arrived. No point alerting it as to what she really was.

On seeing her it stopped in its tracks. No doubt on previous doors it had had the backing of its siblings. This time, though, it was on its own. Moreover, whilst she did not bother with crap like a pointy hat or cloak, she knew that she looked formidable.

Time metaphorically stood still as the two looked at each other then summoning up courage it said, “Twick or Tweat.”

“And what sort of twick, I mean trick, do you have in mind if I don’t say treat?”

Her reply completely flummoxed the skeleton. That did not surprise Amanda. It could not have imagined that anyone might issue a challenge when it tried to shake them down.

It thought for awhile then said, “Wing bell lotta times.”

“Make my day.”

Obviously the skeleton did not recognise the quote. Still, it walked up to the door then standing on tiptoe pressed the button. Then pressed it again.

To no avail each time. A simple spell blocked the sound.

For a moment the skeleton thought again. “Bang knocker hard”.

The witch signalled it to go ahead. Again no sound. Evil? Probably, but you could also call it part of the job description.

She had to give the skeleton credit because it countered her move with “Go wap on window.”

“You step on the flowers and I will turn you into a frog.” There were beds under each one and she did not want some pest trampling on them.

The warning stopped it in its track and it looked as if it was about to cry.

Looking at it, the witch had to admit that the skeleton had guts. In spite of her attempts to browbeat it the little mite had kept going. 

In doing so it had earned a break.

“I have changed my mind. Treat. Wait here.”

A few minutes later the skeleton was heading back down the drive with a couple of fairy cakes added to its loot. At the last minute Amanda had thought of giving it a few dog chocs. She had not though. A deal is a deal whatever the size of either participant. She watched it disappear out of sight then went in to get a box of paint. An Evil Eye needed touching up before any more of the little monsters appeared!

M O Bishop lives in England. By day he works in a large life assurance company. By night he reads sci fi and alternative history, rings church bells and writes a range of fiction.

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