Martin pressed the indiglo button and checked his watch. 8:38 p.m. He looked up to his two children as they walked down their neighbor’s sidewalk. “Okay gang, I think that about does it.”
Marcy, the nine-year-old, looked at him with her My Little Pony painted face. “Awwwww, do we have to?!”
“Yeah, dad, we haven’t even been to see Jacob’s house yet!” Matthew, the family called him Matty, stared down the street. His Captain America mask was just a little too big, slipping down his face so that he had to tilt his head back to see out of the eye slits.
“No-can-do, you have school tomorrow and Mom would not be happy if we stayed out any later.” The children both moaned, but didn’t put up a fight. Two hours of trick-or-treating was enough to wear out even the most excited children. “C’mon, we need to get you home and get that makeup off your face.”
The three of them trotted off down the block toward their home where Martin’s wife, Melissa, was likely tapping her foot by the front door. Martin figured she ran out of candy at least half an hour ago. As they passed the other families he took note of costume ideas for next year. Usually they made their own costumes, but couldn’t seem to find the time this season. He promised himself he’d make a calendar note at the office in the morning so he would remember to start in July.
A lot of the costumes seemed to have been purchased this year. Star Wars was all the rage. He gave a thumbs-up to a couple marching along with their children, all of them a character from the popular series. There were the usually thirteen-year-olds who simply smeared some makeup from their mother’s kit onto their faces, ripped a t-shirt and called it a costume. They don’t even try any more, Martin thought. He chuckled, thinking of Melissa standing at their front door, questioning each child about their costume and refusing to give candy to those that either did not say trick-or-treat, or were not wearing a costume.
With a few hellos and hand waves to other passing neighbors, the three finally made it down the block. Melissa wasn’t waiting, as Martin predicted, but still sitting on the porch with at least half the candy they’d purchased for the evening. “You’re still out here?” Marcy said to her mother.
“I don’t think we’re a popular house any more,” Melissa said.
“Word got out, no one wants to justify their costume to you,” Martin chuckled. Melissa shrugged.
“Alright kids, let’s get you cleaned up.” She stood and led her family inside, turning the porch light off after closing the door.
“Does that mean we get the leftovers?” Matty asked, jumping up and down.
“I don’t see why not,” Martin replied.
Both children jumped with excitement, spilling candy out of their plastic pumpkin buckets. “Alright,” Melissa said, “upstairs.” The kids bounced up the stairs leaving Martin to pick up the stray pieces of treats before the dog could gobble them up.
Later, after the children were in bed, Martin and Melissa began to prepare for the next day. Martin checked the clock, almost midnight. “I can’t believe we’re still up, tomorrow will be a long day.”
Melissa sighed, “Yes, but the kids had fun, right?” She reached to click off a light on an end table next to their couch.
“I think so,” Martin said. “For some reason it gets tougher each year. Most kids don’t even try any more.”
“All the more reason for us to try to make it fun for ours.”
“I suppose so,” Martin yawned. Walking up the stairs, Melissa paused on the landing, looking out the one window with the curtain open.
“Martin, look,” she said. He glanced out the window too. All of the street lights were off. “That’s weird, right? We still have power, why would all the street lights be off?”
Martin shrugged. “I’m not sure.” There was no moon, the neighborhood was completely dark. He leaned closer to the window where he saw two small red dots. “Are those eyes?”
Melissa reached over to grab his arm. “What?! Where?!” She leaned in for a closer look.
“I’m not sure, just over there,” he pointed, leaving a fingerprint on the window. “I think it’s just tail lights from a car down the road.” Melissa squeezed his arm a little harder.
“That’s eerie,” she said. “Are you sure?” The lights flickered once, as if blinking, then remained steady.
“No, I’m not sure, but I’m also a little too tired to care.” He leaned back and grabbed both curtains to pull them closed. Turning to walk up the other half of the stairs he could see Melissa was a little troubled. “Sweetheart, it’s just tail lights on a car, let’s go to bed.” Putting his hand on the small of her back he guided her up the steps.
“You’re sure?” she whispered back to him, so not to wake the children.
Martin yawned again and shrugged, “Sure.”