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They emerged from the night into Suburbia in flame-painted vans.  Piling out, they were full-grown men dressed as Trick-or Treaters in garish costumes: devils, ghosts, wizards, mad monks, killer clowns, goblins, trolls and skeletons.  They babbled and chattered as they capered around polished silver cars and neatly-trimmed lawns.

In groups of three and four they approached the small redbrick homes, walking right up to each front door.  In addition to the accessories of their type, e.g. pitchforks, brooms and axes, each carried an empty red bucket.

The leader of the group targeting number 36 wore an exquisite devil costume.  His mask was bright red, with yellow curved horns, black plastic eyebrows, forked beard and long pointed nose.  His breath was warm in the cold night air and smelled of rotting meat.

Number 36 had no Hallowe’en decorations, no signs to welcome child trick-or treaters, no carved pumpkin lit up to ward off evil spirits.  The same could be said of all of the house targeted by these night time visitors.  The only adornment on the door of number 36, if it could be called that, was a small handwritten stating: ‘We do not buy or sell at this door.  Hawkers are not welcome.’  The devil gestured to the sign and turned to face his companions, his fixed white grin beaming.  Their laughter was like a shower of glass.

The devil knocked three times.  A light went on inside the house, and a bleary-eyed man in his pyjamas opened the door.

‘Mr Timothy Potts.  Trick or treat?’ said the devil.

‘What time do you call this?’  the man spluttered.

‘Midnight,’ the devil laughed.  ‘Mrs Timothy Potts.  Trick or treat.’  He held out his pitchfork, propping the door open and threateningly close to the man‘s throat.  The man at the door could see it was no child’s toy.

‘How do you know my name?’

‘Mrs Agnes Potts sends her greetings.  Mr Timothy Potts.  Trick or Treat.’

Exasperated, Timothy Potts spat out ‘but I’ve got no sweets.’

The horde behind the devil laughed.

‘You’ve got no sweets, Mr Potts.  It’ll be Trick then.’  The devil reached into his cape  and pulled out a curved knife, he cut just underneath his mask‘s pointed chin.  He coughed and strained as he cut, apparently wincing in pain.  When he had finished, he cast the plastic mask aside.  Underneath, running with blood was a fleshy face that was in every other respect identical to the mask.

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