This story originally appeared in the Estronomicon e-zine a few years back, as part of a Halloween trilogy of flash fiction under the general heading ‘When Children Come Calling’. I’ve updated it to retain the topicality.
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They were about to get ready for bed when the knock at the door came, at least an hour after all the other children had finished their rounds. Simon Peabody looked at his wife Ethel and smiled. She picked up the big bowl that was still a third full of candy and followed him through into the hall. They could make out shadowy figures huddled together on the porch.
All night long there had been a procession of zombies, witches, vampires and other assorted monsters to the Peabody residence and Ethel, who mourned her own lost children, gone off to college or with homes of their own, had been happy to send them away with their tiny hands filled with chocolate and other treats, but these children were different. These children were…
‘People,’ screeched Simon Peabody. ‘You’re people.’
Not just any people either. The boy directly in front of him was dressed in a grey suit, with white shirt and tie, on his head a Mitt Romney mask. Standing to his left was Sarah Palin, a goofy look on her face, and to the right a smirking Paul Ryan lookalike. Hovering in the background was Osama bin Laden, with bristling beard and turban, another child masquerading as that British Prime Minister whose name nobody could remember, and a third who looked just like a TV evangelist who’d got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
‘Why on earth are you wearing such ridiculous get-ups?’ demanded Simon, the indignation obvious in his voice. ‘Why aren’t you dressed as zombies and vampires and monsters, like all the other kids?’
‘Our mother says people like these are the real monsters,’ answered the Mitt Romney lookalike. ‘The monsters just want to be left alone to get on with their lives, but people like these won’t leave anyone alone.’
Simon frowned. It sounded like something the child had learned by rote. It was sickening, parents bringing their children up to spout political rhetoric, making a travesty of what should have been an innocent celebration. And as a staunch Republican he took it very personally.
Ethel, who had never voted Republican in her life, though there was no reason for Simon to know that, stepped in front of her husband before he could make a scene.
‘Well now dear, I’m sure your mother is very wise.’ She held out the bowl. ‘Why don’t you and your little friends have some candy?’
Mother was waiting for them just inside the cemetery gates.
‘Did you have a nice time, darlings?’
‘The people were mean, said Sebastian. ‘Most of them wouldn’t give us anything.’
‘I don’t think they liked our costumes,’ said Matilda.
‘Well now,’ said mother, ‘people can be mean. They get scared of the things they don’t understand, and they act mean to hide the fact that they’re scared.’
‘How stupid,’ said Sebastian.
‘Stupid,’ repeated Matilda.
Mother smiled. ‘Now then, why don’t you all take off those horrible costumes and go down into the crypt. Father will be home soon and I want you all safely tucked up in your coffins so that he can give you a good morning kiss.’