Hey everyone! I'm recuperating from the writing whirlwind at the Muse Online Writer's Conference. It was spectacular. I presented the workshop Sacrificing Your Novel to the Editor Gods? which I plan to available as a PDF on this blog soon. I took some great workshops on author promotion, making book trailers, and quick plotting. All of this is excellent info at any time but especially now, just before NaNoWriMo starts November 1st. Any one else doing NaNo this year? Please friend me! My id is Karen McGrath.
I've also been hostessing at the company blog for Muse for our Masquerade Festival in October. I posted a number of ghoul things, lol, and here is one of my free reads for the Tween Set. The next installment will publish tomorrow so stay tuned...
Shadow Trick or Treating
(the real reason parents accompany their children on Halloween nowadays...)
Instead of the usual sheet with holes cut for eyes, I decided to wear black and a pointy hat Mom picked up from the local drugstore. The better to hide from the Shadows, I thought. My siblings were far more inventive with hobo outfits. The big day was here. We drooled for hours waiting for the sun to set and the moon to rise. Candy time!
We slipped the cases off our pillows and lined up at the back door for last minute instructions from Mom. Don’t go past Hope St., don’t go in the other direction past Main St. And only one street on either side of ours, Rochambeau. I tabbed it in my head. Seven blocks east to west, three streets north to south, counting both sides of the streets at ten houses a block, it was a little more than four hundred houses altogether! Maybe I should have grabbed another pillow case, just to make sure I could carry all the loot.
“And visit the William’s…” Mom was saying bringing me back from candy heaven. “They want to see your costumes. If anyone invites you inside their house, be polite but don’t wear out your welcome and stay together. I won’t be able to find you in the dark if you get separated.”
“K, Mom, bye,” we called.
“Watch out for the Shadow Men,” She yelled. Yeah, yeah, stupid legend. I saw one once but he ran when I yelled. That was two years ago. Supposedly they came here every Halloween but you know, that’s just one of those grown-up tricks to make you go home on time.
I walked a lot faster than my baby sister and brother, leader of the motley pack that I was at twelve years old to their eight and nine. They beseeched me with dirty hobo-smeared faces as soon as we got out into the night.
“We’re going to the street behind the Temple. Do you want to go?” They asked, eyes shining with candy greed. Granted, Mom’d never know.
“Yeah, let’s go!” I said, racing to the first house next to ours.
The William’s loved our costumes and told us to stop in on the way back home to show them our haul and have a cup of hot chocolate. We said yes, but the minute we hit the streets again, the idea vaporized as thoughts of chocolate danced in our minds.
“Look, that house has no outside light but the living room one is on. Whaddya think?” Michael called.
“Yeah, ring the bell.”
We breathed heavy. I felt the sweat through my grease make-up. No answer. Drat… We trudged to the next house. No light. The next one, no light. The next one, a score – a handful of jawbreakers, yes! And a popcorn ball each, gross.
The next one had a light, too. We fidgeted, banging on the door. My tunic was itchy.
“Trick or Treat!” we screamed in unison as loud as we possibly could. A nice old lady handed us each an Almond Joy bar and we drooled into our pillowcases.
“Are you goblins?” she asked in that baby voice all kids hate.
She acted surprised that we weren’t. What is it with adults anyway? She even had her glasses on. We scrambled by some other kids pushing us on the way down the path to the sidewalk again. My brother fell in the leaves and the older kids laughed. Ava kicked one of their shins before the nice old lady distracted them with her goblin question. We heard the snickers.
Our regular route took hours it seemed and my feet hurt. By the time we got back to the Temple, our half way marker, most of the neighborhood kids were long gone, there were just a few teenagers running around boo-ing at stray kids. Michael was panting and Ava whimpered but we pressed on. We dragged ourselves to the extra street. This was where the rich people lived where the candy was always better.
Then I saw them.
Just out of the corner of my eye, mind you.
Three of them in long black trench coats and top hats, faces whiter than the moon. They floated along and I held my breath. They spotted us and ducked behind some trees.
“Look you two, we should go home. The shadow men are here.” I whispered huddling them together.
“What?” My brother asked incredulously, his eyes like saucers.
“Yeah, keep it down, they’ll hear you! They saw us and hid in the trees, maybe they left. I don’t want them to catch us.”
“For crying out loud, they’re ghosts, they can’t touch us,” my sister said, stomping her feet.
“I’m not so sure… and I don’t want to find out. They’re probably out ‘cause everyone will think they’re kids like us. They can get away with it, you know? I never heard of them actually taking a kid but we better hurry home.”
My brother shook in his sneakers and my sister pouted.
“Alright,” I said giving in. They’d never agree to call it a night. “I’ll wait here in the bushes for you, ok? If they follow you, I’ll run around the other block and meet you at the end and we’ll take the other way home, got it? If you don’t see me, come back here and get me before you head home.”
Two little hobo faces nodded quickly with gleaming eyes. I saw candy dancing in their eyes, I was sure of it. And I was left alone to guard.
“You guys owe me.” They double scout promised me extra M & M’s before I let them take off.
They looked both ways and tore into the new street. I found a small bush and set up camp behind it. I would have loved some of that hot chocolate from the William’s right about then. The wind whipped through my hair and my sweaty tunic making me colder by the minute. I hunkered down rubbing my sore calves that felt like aching lead weights.
Then I heard them...
Part two will publish tomorrow at noon so stay tuned!
photo credits: morguefile.com