Little Anthony wandered down Pine Street, separated from the three other trick-or-treaters he had tagged along with. According to them, the house at the end of the road was giving out regular-sized Snickers bars. Two, if they liked your costume. Anthony couldn't pass that up.
He noticed that none of the lights on this block were on. He didn't even see decorations. Earlier, Anthony had told them he wasn't scared to go by himself, but that was the Power Ranger costume making him feel brave. Now the little breathing slots in the mask pinched his face.
The house at the end of Pine didn't have their lights on, inside or outside, but he could hear people-noises within. If they were trying to be spooky, they did the best job. But Anthony was the White Ranger. He couldn't stop now. Up three steps, creaking, and then, on tiptoes, he pressed the doorbell… and silence answered. The boy lifted a trembling hand and knocked.
Footsteps thumped out from inside. Anthony could stop himself running, but couldn't stop himself shaking. The door opened into shadow, and he couldn't see who it was… until she leaned forward.
The tenant at the end of Pine was a fat old hag, wearing a thick coat over a sweater worn to rags. Her face was all mangled on one side. It looked like it was healing up from a nasty wound. Anthony had seen his brother wearing scary makeup like that when he left for the high school party. This woman must have gone as someone real cut up.
"Trick… or… t-t-treat." The words made Anthony's nose sting and his freckles itch. He tried not to cry, but if he did start, at least he was wearing a mask.
The woman grinned. She must have made up her teeth, too, to get them so creepy. She held up a crooked finger (just one minute) as he walked back into the darkness of the house. There was a stifled cry, and then a hiss. The hag came creeping back to the doorway then and, with a jerk, pulled Anthony's outstretched bag close to her. She reached in, holding something he couldn't see, and then her hand came out empty. Then her smile returned, making her scabbed left dimple crack, as that filthy hand reached up over the mask and gently patted his head. The boy was petrified; the sickly sweetness of it was like every cheek pinch and wrinkled kiss from every old relative was rolled up together into a ball and had collected a layer of hair and dirt during the process. She backed into the home, and when the door clicked shut behind her, Anthony was already halfway up the block.
"Do you think we should go check on him?" Iron Man asked, as he sifted through his loot.
"It was your idea to ditch him, dummy." Katniss unwrapped a fun-sized Butterfinger.
"Yeah, but I wanted him to leave us alone for a little while, not get—"
The skeleton grabbed Iron Man's arm. "Quiet! There he is." They heard wheezing as he bounded, arms flailing, over the curb and nearly into the bushes.
"So, chomp, were they down there?" Katniss elbowed the skeleton so he wouldn't laugh.
Iron Man lifted his mask and stood up to inspect the baby of the group. "Shit, what happened to your head?"
Anthony rubbed his hair, and it was a little matted where the woman had touched it. His mask felt wet, too.
"Shut up, Peter." The skeleton turned to face the Power Ranger. "Seriously… did you get anything down there?"
"Y… yeah." Anthony caught his breath and swallowed. His trembling hands held up the candy bag, and he peered into it. "Just some money."
Katniss sat up. "Let me see."
"Alright… it's getting my candy all wet anyway." He held up the piece of currency, dripping and freckled.
"Give you all my Sweettarts for it."
Iron Man held up two Twix. "Or these."
Anthony scratched his chin. "I'll let you share it for both."
Carefully, Iron Man and Katniss pulled the currency apart. They cupped their hands to make sure none of it stained the sidewalk.
"What are you going to get?" Katniss asked.
Iron Man shrugged. "Maybe a tattoo."
"Shut up. You're way too young for that."
"Pffh. So I'll lie on the form. I can do whatever I want, you know. It's my money, and it's my skin."