“The Trick or Treaters covered their faces and went house to house, demanding treats, razing tricks, their daily route of terror amplified with candies, emboldened by masks, and highlighted by the horror of the holiday.”

(The Trick or Treaters: Nightmare Before Christmas Lock, Shock, Barrel Story.)

The Trick or Treaters


The trio was trouble all year, torture and torment their fun and games, bullying their pass time. Two brothers and a tall middle sister, their parents the absentminded masterminds of the trio’s terrible behavior.

Autumn fell red & chilly, grey & damp, piles of leaves and walks home from school were to torment anyone the trio encountered: the older brother cut pigtails, the sister to outsmart, outmuscle, out mean, the younger brother’s dastardly smile hid his head of maniacal marbles.

“I’m going to be a devil for Halloween,” said the older brother, his laugh a menacing, rabid growl.

“I’m going to be a witch” said the sister, whose constant frown resembled a dumped trash can.

“I’m going to be a skeleton,” said the youngest, licking an all day sucker, his sunken eyes a ghost ship on the bottom of the sea, flickering like endless hours of television.

The Devil, The Witch & The Skeleton made masks from rubbish didn’t win any prizes, didn’t participate in any parades. They covered their faces and went house to house, demanding treats, razing tricks, their daily route of terror amplified with candies, emboldened by masks, and highlighted by the horror of the holiday.

The moon rose black, wings fluttered unseen, lit pumpkins smashed: sparks, seeds & flesh flying.

“Trick or Treat”, demanded the trio to a girl dressed as a Princess, framed by the crown moulding of her home’s warm incandescent glow.

“You rotten 3 don’t get anything from me,” said the little Princess, closing the door.

“Trick it is,” said the Witch.

“And boy what a trick it will be,” said the Devil to the Skeleton, whose grim grin was bleached like bones in a dessert in a TV with a broken tube.

The Princess’ house was windows open, glowing, a jack o lantern alive with light and music, a Monster Mash party with neighbors dressed as ghosts & cats & clowns drinking spooky punch and getting into the swing of the thing.

The Devil, The Witch, and The Skeleton walked up to the warm party, their masks affixed to their mean faces, both mutating and mirroring, highlighting and shadowing, hiding their horrible identities, heightened and becoming top tiered terror.

The Princess sipped punch, surrounded by the giggles of friends, and when she skirted away, the trio popped out from behind the kitchen’s corner, startling her.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to shock you,” said The Witch unapologetically, “It’s time to bob for apples. Let’s go out back.”

The mums were orange, yellow, and merlot shadows dotting the path to a bobbing barrel, stately, away from the house, in a moonbeam that was neither bright nor glowing.

“Here, let me lock your hands,” said The Devil, binding her wrists together with the snap of a handcuff.

“I’ll hold your hat,” said The Witch, snatching the pink pointed hennen hat off The Princess head.

The Skeleton got down on all fours, “Step on me to reach the barrel.”

The Princess’ dainty feet on his back, the apples floated and bobbed mackintosh red, water shimmered deep, deep black in the tar covered barrel.

The Princess splashed her pretty face into the midnight water and quick as a knife, The Devil flipped her ankles up and over into the water, splashing apples, feet kicking and sticking out into the night, locked hands twisting shoulders, head upside down, underwater gravity forcing water up her perfect nose and pink lungs.

The Devil, The Witch & The Skeleton watched The Princess stop kicking. The party in the house masqued-on, unaware of the apple red death blooming.

“Push her legs in, put the top of the barrel on & lets get out of here,” said the Devil to The Skeleton, and they rolled the round coffin up the street, alongside the fall breeze leaves and dim street lamps.

Their yard was full of rusty boats, old projects and unfinished business. The door and window screens in their house hung like unglued eyelashes on a smudged face.

The terrible trick or treating trio lugged the barrel over the side of a moon-light ceramic claw foot tub, and pulling the barrel upright, The Skeleton pried the lid off and asked, “Do you think she’s dead?”

“Of course she’s dead, but if she wasn’t she will be now,” said The Witch, dropping a transistor radio into the water, sizzling, sending sparks that caught the wood, tar, burning hot and fast, tar smoke dripping fire, wood bursting, burning tulle, hairspray, hair, water drained onto the ground with melted fat, the tub the fire pit of The Trick or Treaters who admired the inferno of their ghoulish Halloween handiwork.

The Devil’s smile pointed with rapture, his eyes shimmering red and yellow with the growing blaze.

The Witch’s princess hat warped under the heat of the fire, burnt from floating, dripping tar , melting disfigured, black and ugly.

The Skeleton’s shoes burned together, molding his feet into a monstrous shape.

The body, costume, and barrel burned until nothing but soot remained.

The trio climbed back into the tub with a puff of human ash.

Deep, dark creaking sounded, like bridges sobbing and the ceramic crackling of the china cabinets of 100 fighting widows. The tub’s claw feet became leg mobility and flexed; the evil trio jostled, stumbled, soot of the dead princess misting up, shadowing their faces with the gray of the girl’s death as the tub took off running, behind the house, into the forest, around the creeks, through ancient wooded ways as the trio peered over the edge, evil awe on their maniacal faces.

“If it tries to kill us, I’ll kill it first,” said The Devil, eyes glowing.

“Is it taking us to hell?” asked The Skeleton, smiling the face of the glorious dead.

“No, somewhere better,” said The Witch, as the bathtub entered a clearing in a circle grove of trees, to a trunk with a door like a jack o lantern, that swung open and a voice filled with soulless bass & congenial mutilation called up from a rusty pipe that appeared in a room where The Trick or Treaters in the tub were now standing in a place where shadows shadowed other shadows: ”Well Well Well, what do we have here? The Trick or Treaters everyone’s been talking about; I’m The Boogie Man & you should be scared.”

“We’re not scared of you,” said The Devil, backed up by by his kindred cronies.

“Ah, you’re joking!” menaced Oogie Boogie, coming from the black, his eyes the absence of color, his skin the first discarded sack, his soul clicking exoskeletons; Oogie Boogie’s plans always self-serving, a maggotted self whose unbridled cruelty was unnerving.

“You’re the joke, Mr. Big Bag,” said The Witch pulling a string on Oogie’s foot, unraveling a stench of creepy crawlers.

Oogie danced around The Trick or Treaters and tied them up with the string from his nasty body bag, and like a growl from a pit in a vacuum above a spit on top of a shaken die on a mouldy craps table, the twisted sack said, “Trick or Treat, I don’t like the odds, so I’m changing the game. You work for me now & I tell you who to trick, and I get the treats. And now, I’ll give you some parting gifts. To tie YOU to ME.“

“Lock the Devil gets a tail, cause I’ll always be on his back

Shock the Witch gets the nose for trouble, to hijack, bushwack, attack

Barrel the Skeleton the smile of an all bone, full blown, maniac.”

The Trick or Treaters all agreed, with greasy fingers crossed behind their backs.

The Trick or Treaters