Russets and golds and browns. The leaves were gathering at street level like members of a massive suicide cult. Some of the corpses skittered in the wind, made to dance like puppets on currents of air. Jimmy hurried to the shop; his hood was lifted off by the wind but Jimmy didn’t mind. It was good to be outside after being cooped up for so long. A young boy shouldn’t be shut inside. He should be free to run and skip and jump and laugh and enjoy the fresh autumnal air. The air was brisk on his face – not cold exactly; it wasn’t thick scarf and gloves weather just yet.
The local shop – a kind of mini-supermarket – was the most brightly lit building in the street. Jimmy could hear the twee music from several yards away as someone emerged with their fingers curled into claws around carrier bag handles like talons and their raincoat flapping as the wind snatched at it, spreading like pterodactyl wings.
Jimmy hurried through the door before it could close again. The warmth and stillness of the shop air struck him right away. It was bright in there – too bright after his isolation in the darkness. Jimmy frowned, screwing his eyes tight.
The display filled the front of the shop. Orange and black: the colours of the season. Skeletal figures were draped from the shelves. Luminous skulls grinned, toothy and benevolent. Chocolates and cakes, with specially redesigned packaging to make them look like pumpkins, were stacked high like bounty, like tributes to a pagan god.
Jimmy took in the sights with hungry eyes. But there was no time for treats. He had no money for sweets. He had a task to perform and a trick to play.
Behind the counter, the assistant thanked the last customer as he handed her a few coins in change. The woman left the shop. the assistant’s customer-service smile dropped from his lips. Then his eyes met Jimmy’s and he paled. He backed away involuntarily, elbowing packs of cigarettes to the floor.
“No!” he cried. “It’s impossible!”
Jimmy levitated off the floor until his blank eyes were level with the assistant’s. At the same time, tridents of lurid red plastic flew from the display and pinned the assistant to the wall. The assistant whimpered in terror. Piss ran down the leg of his jeans. Jimmy cackled as the acrid smell rose to his dormant nostrils.
“You stink worse than me,” he laughed.
A headband with devil horns hovered in front of the assistant’s face, taunting at first, before ramming its plastic spikes into the assistant’s eyes. When the screams had subsided, Jimmy floated down to where the man was cowering and sobbing and clutching his bloodstained cheeks.
“I reckon even without your sight you’ll be able to tell them where you buried me last Halloween.”