Dakota walked down the street avoiding the large puddles whilst the cape swirled around his legs. The front doors and gardens he past where mostly decorated with cobwebs, fake gravestones, glowing lights and hanging ghosts. Grinning Jack O’ Lanterns followed him with flicking eyes as he went by their windows. The voices of costumed people, doorbells and theme music crowded the air. However, it was the houses that lay in darkness which drew him the most.

Everyone knew not to visit those houses. It was drilled in by over protective parents and ghost stories. Trick or Treat haters, religious believers and old people against anti-social behaviour, whom might open the door stating they didn’t take part and gave you leaflets instead of treats. Or else there were none-door-openers or those that would go out of the night, making it seem their houses were abandoned.

Turing the corner, Dakota sidestepped some Disney character dressed up children and their grumpy guardian. They, like him, clutched bags weighed down by money and food. They were at the right age to be, whilst Dakota fresh out of his teens probably shouldn’t be pretending he was too.

Rubbing a gloved hand over his makeup face, he got rid of that thought. Tonight he could be whoever he wanted to be and no one was allowed to judge him. He walked up to the next house. A pumpkin carved as a howling wolf and other cut as a flying witch flanked the door. Ringing the doorbell, he took in a deep breath. He smelt warm cinnamon and ginger.

The door opened, a tried middle-aged woman held out a green bowl of lollypops. He took one, thanked her and quickly moved on. It had become a habit now and away to keep the embarrassment and anger from flaring up.

The next few houses went by, though numbness was starting to creep in and before he could do the last few, he gave up and walked to the cemetery. Halloween was much more exciting as a kid. Not that he’d ever known that feeling. Going through the gates and following the twisting pathways, Dakota realized that the dead were not the only ones in the cemetery tonight. Loud music and voices floated to him as well as the heavy stink of other things. He could easily have found a group to hang with, but instead he went to the back and oldest part.

A large crypt loomed from the darkness, standing guard over crumbling headstones. Dakota sat down on the steps and pulled two candles and a lighter from his pocket. Lighting them, he rummaged through the bag and pulled out a chew bar. He could hardly hear the music and voices from here. A feeling of calm came over him and he ate more chewy bars.

He’d delay going back he decided. The apartment would only increase his loneliness.  He felt thirsty and put his hand to the bottom of the bag where he’d put into some Coke cans before setting off. A lolly was stuck to the side of the can as he pulled it out. Removing it, he popped open the can and took a drink.

The smell of burning wood swept through on a breeze and was then gone. The candle flames flickered after it, but became still again. A girl screamed somewhere, the sound cutting through the quietness. Dakota looked around even though there was nothing to see. Laughter rose and fell like waves, signalling the results of a harmless scare. He wanted to leave, but willed himself to stay longer.

Taking another drink, he reminded himself why had wanted to take part in tonight. That didn’t help how he was feeling right now, though he was as sure as ever that demons and devils weren’t going to get him. He didn’t believe in any of that anymore and now he’d experienced All Hallows’ Eve for himself, Dakota couldn’t grasp the things he’d been convinced to stand against.

He unwrapped the lolly and started sucking on it. Giggling and a hushed voice had him searching through the gravestones. A teenage couple appeared on the path and before he could move, they had seen him and come over.

‘You got a light?’ the boy called.

Dakota pulled it out and held it up. He woke up the flame and the boy lit a hand roll. The girl, who had been staring at him asked if he had any chocolate bars. With a shrug, he dug around in the bag and handed her one. She seemed grateful for it and then they were on their way back through the gravestones. He watched them go whilst he finished his drink. He blew out one the candles and waited for the wax to harden. Putting it and the empty can in the bag, he picked up the other one and walked home.

The streets seemed quieter now. Though music still drifted on the cold air and voices reduced to whispers and echoes trailed after it. He made it home without any trouble. The apartment felt as if someone had died in it. Which Dakota guessed could have been true. He placed the candle in the pumpkin he carved before and left the bag beside it. Only two doors led off the living room-kitchen and he went into the bathroom first to wash off the makeup before taking his vampire costume off in the bedroom.

Sitting down on the broken sofa, he watched the candle flicking in its orange lantern. He felt like his whole life had been one big lie. He wanted to believe that escaping it all had been the best thing to do, but a part of him had never been completely sure.


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