My plans for Halloween were always the same: to stay locked in my house and away from the supernatural crazies unleashed for the night. Unfortunately, for the past few years, Nikki always came by to upset those plans. She would come by dressed up, and drag me to her Halloween party or some other celebration. And, I had to admit, I didn’t mind so much with some of her costume choices. The dancing was fun, too.
So I was a little perplexed when the time of her party rolled around, and I hadn’t heard from her. Still, it wasn’t like we made plans, so I loaded up a sci fi movie to pass the time. My lights were off, like always, which discouraged the trick-or-treaters, even when the two space fleets began blasting each other. But just before the climactic battle, I got a knock on the door.
There was Nikki, but not. She wasn’t dressed as an angel, or Elvira, or in a ball gown, or as Jessica Rabbit. She wasn’t in one of her normal slinky dresses, either. Instead, she wore jeans and a t-shirt. She also wore no makeup, and her hair was in a simple pony tail.
“Hello, Matthew,” she said with a hint of a smile.
“Hey, Nikki. I certainly didn’t expect this.”
“Would you come with me?”
No outfit, no party. At least I don’t think so.
“Sure.” I grabbed my jacket and hat, and went with her.
She drove us out of the city, swinging south, through a logging road in the woods before getting to the coast. Not far from the beach was a single cabin.
“I trust you’re not going to murder me out here,” I said, getting out of the car.
She rolled her eyes at me. “As if I would need to bring you this far for that.”
“I’m guessing this is one of your safe houses. The ones that you never, ever tell anyone about. This would make the second one you’ve shown me, though I wouldn’t be surprised if you had abandoned that first already.”
She didn’t say anything. She walked the wooden path out to the cabin, then took off her high-heeled sandals, and left them there. She walked out to the beach, a rare stretch of sand outside the bays; most places were mud or rock.
I was about to follow suit, but touched the sand. It was pretty cold, which was not a surprise this close to November.
Vampires and their tolerances.
I walked out to her, shoes still on. I was about to ask what I was doing here, but something about her mood made me want to stay quiet. And, for once, I listened to the mood. She settled on a spot where the waves came in. I studied it for a few minutes, too, but then quickly moved on, taking in the scudding clouds, the stars, and even the moon. Some of those clouds looked like they would begin to rain, but then that was almost always the case.
Nikki sat down on the sand, legs out in front of her, and watched the waves. I sat down cross-legged beside her.
“Nikki?” I left the rest of the question unspoken.
“I needed a change, Matthew. I couldn’t stand the artifice of it all. The party was no different than it always is, and I didn’t feel like being part of it longer than I had to. I didn’t feel like going to any of the masquerades, either. I just wanted to be for a change, without any of the tedious demands of others.”
“Well, good, because my demands are never tedious,” I grinned.
She gave me a sidelong look, then smiled.
“In the days before I wised up and avoided Halloween because of the bloodsuckers like you—no offense—”
“My brother Paul and I would play some pranks, usually on our friends. Like the time we added a bottle of helium to the air conditioner in Jimmy’s car. For about three days, whenever he got out of his car, he squeaked like one of the chipmunks. Then there was the time we got our hands on one of the reels at the drive-in. We actually took the film off the reel and ran it backwards. The guys running the place took half an hour to realize what happened, then another twenty to get the film the right way on the reel.”
She chuckled for a few minutes. “Any more stories from your misspent youth?”
“Oh yes. Tons. One of my favorites is about when we were going to build a treehouse. . . .”