There was once a girl who came from a land where Halloween wasn’t celebrated very much, but she knew many things about it. Like trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving and dressing up. So when she found herself in the Land of Halloween, many years later, she took every opportunity to celebrate. Her mother had warned her about talking to strangers though. About taking candy from them. But the girl didn’t listen. Because everyone did it, so why should she worry? She wasn’t worried at all. In fact, she was too excited and felt her mouth water and teeth ache for the sugary sweetness of chocolate and candy.
She decided to dress up as Little Red Riding Hood. Not a sexy Red Riding Hood — just plain ol’ Red. She would use her basket for trick-or-treating, and instead of filling it with things to take to Grandma’s house it would be full of candy to bring home by the end of the night. Her teeth ached even more now at the thought.
Finally Halloween arrived. She rushed through her chores and errands so she could get into her costume and out into the streets. It was a cloudy, chilly day and the wind blew dead leaves all around her. She made a game of stepping on as many as possible to see which ones crunched the loudest. Everyone was out. All dressed up and chasing candy from door to door as she did the same. Running from one house to another, ringing one doorbell, then another.
Eventually she made her way to a secluded street. The crowd was thinning now and the little kids had all gone home. She had been trick-or-treating for hours but her basket wasn’t full yet. It was weird, actually. All that candy but every time she looked down at her basket there was still room for more — and she had only sampled a few herself. It was almost as if her basket was gobbling up the candy. But that was impossible.
She slowed down her pace, tired of running now. Jack-o-lanterns lined walkways and glowed bright orange in the dark. Some of them had smiles on their faces but most were wearing sinister grins or downright frightening scowls that almost made her want to turn around and go home. But her teeth still ached and those burning lights called her forward.
The houses on this street weren’t like the others. They were quiet and dark and she wasn’t sure if their inhabitants were dead or alive. Many of the other trees in the neighborhood still had some leaves in tact, but all the trees on this street were bare. And the bare branches seemed to be peeling. And yet, she made her way from house to house. Ringing one doorbell, then another. Chanting trick-or-treat like a broken record as her basket was weighed down with more and more candy.
Finally she made it to the very last house. The house at the end of the street. The biggest and darkest house of them all where one lone jack-o-lantern sat at the top of the steps and glowed. She paused for a moment, making eye contact with the orange face. Her basket was so heavy now. She was just about to set it down when she heard someone speak.
“Oh, you don’t want to do that.”
“No.” It was the jack-o-lantern talking.
“You want to ring the doorbell.”
She wanted to ring the doorbell. Her tooth ached. Her basket was only… half full. She needed more candy.
Slowly she approached, practicing the phrase she’d been saying all night in her head now. In case she forgot it. In case they wouldn’t give her the candy she needed. Trick-or-treat… trick-or-treat… trick-or — she was at the door now, hesitating for only a moment until the jack-o-lantern urged her with a cloying sweetness to “Go on, ring the bell.” So she rang the bell and she waited. She listened to the wind howl. To the birds cry. To things scurry across the dark grounds that she could not see. And finally the door opened.
“Why, Little Red Riding Hood.”
The girl looked up and into the glowing eyes and snarling grin of an old woman dressed in black. “Grandma! My… what big teeth you have!”
“Yes…” said the old woman, stepping aside to let the girl in. “And what have you brought for me today?”