1994

It was October 31st, and all through the town, creatures of dark prepared to go out. Goblins and gargoyles and golems and ghosts mixed among humans without causing a fright. These Others joined gangs of children and helped them raid houses, filling their bags with bounty seized from grinning adults.

Little Richie said to Beelzebub, "Your costume is awesome." Beelzebub grinned back and said he'd found it at a costume shop out of town. Little Richie tugged at Beelzebub's face which wasn't a mask and remarked, "Your mask feels really real. How's it come off?" Beelzebub shrugged and said he'd really rather not. Little Richie whispered, "It's not a costume at all, am I right?"

Horror struck Beelzebub. The child can't know! Indeed, mustn't know! The 31st of October was the one night each year that Beelzebub and his ilk was free to go out; he knew that just one human knowing their scheme could put Halloween in jeopardy for spirits all around.

Little Richie assured Beelzebub, "It's okay, I'm not scared and your secret is safe with me."

Beelzebub shared a look with his friend Asmodeus. Beelzebub inquired, "You're not scared of me? You know that's unusual." In fact, all children past who had come to suspect had denied and discarded the very horrific notion.

Little Richie smiled. "I killed hundreds of demons in Doom." He mimed revving a chainsaw and parting Beelzebub in two.

"Wait."

Little Richie said, "What?"

"What's Doom?"

"Well," pondered Little Richie. "It's like a scary movie, except you're the main character, and you've got lots of guns. Oh, plus a chainsaw. I guess it's not scary at all, after a little while."

Beelzebub turned and said quietly Asmodeus, "Azzy, can you get a load of this shit?"

Asmodeus chuckled. "A small child? Killing demons? Yeah, right. It's preposterous."

Little Richie said proudly, "No way. I shoot all the zombies and imps and demons dead!" He mimed loading a double-barrel shotgun and shredding Beelzebub's face, then Asmodeus'.

"Azzy," said Beelzebub, "I think maybe we should get out of here."

They heard ghoulish squeals. They saw some kids dressed as the Ghostbusters beating an onryō with their plastic proton packs. The demons turned back and saw Little Richie talking in hushed tones with his human children friends, pointing intently at Asmodeus and Beelzebub.

"We used to scare the children, Beelzebub." Asmodeus choked, "Now I think the children might be scaring me."

While the gang of children was distracted by their hushed conversation, Asmodeus and Beelzebub skulked away to find another, less frightful bunch of children to join. They moved along the sidewalks and evaded the silver pools cast by the street lights. Asmodeus reached into his bag of plunder and snarfed sweets while they skulked.

They came upon another gang of roving children. Beelzebub waved and said, "Hello!"

The children turned and looked warily at the two strangers. One muttered to his friend about how the older kids get all the good costumes. As if to prove the point, a teenager wearing a terrifying mask made from animal skins came from behind Beelzebub and Asmodeus and screeched at them while he revved a chainsaw.

Of course, the children were unfazed; this must be a more advanced Doom trainee here to safeguard the children from otherworldly demons such as themselves. Beelzebub knew he must defend himself and Asmodeus. He muttered an arcane invocation and the trainee was instantly incinerated. The chainsaw clattered to the ground and whirred down. Beelzebub's eyes glowed redder than Hell. The trainee dissolved into a cloud of ash and embers. One child screamed. One child fled. Several front doors opened to reveal concerned parents. The child wouldn't stop screaming.

Beelzebub fell to the pavement under the acoustic assault of the screaming child. Asmodeus tried to help him up. Beelzebub could take no more. He invoked the power of Lucifer against the child. It dissolved into embers and ash. A crowd of children, parents, and Others surrounded them and gawked.

Beelzebub rose. He shouted to his fellows, "The common children kill us for sport!" The Others looked around them at the children. Perhaps many of them had similar experiences this night. "We are doomed!" Beelzebub cried.

It was October 31st, and all through the town, creatures of dark cowered in the shadows. Vermin and vultures and vardøger and vampires fled from humans in fright. These Others had once joined gangs of children and helped them raid houses. Now, on Halloween night most of all, they feared for their lives.

Written by Sophie Kirschner