Trick or Trick

by Anais

I appreciate getting to come back again. Thanks to the Academy for hosting this yearly special! These are characters I created back in the special from 2001, Make a Wish, they continued in 2002 with The Hitchhiker and then again last year with MovieTime. It's better if you have time to read those first.

Splashes of coral and blue fought for dominance in the evening sky as the sun completed its daily meet with the horizon. The sound of the crisp autumn breeze was drowned out by swirling fallen leaves that were quickly multiplying on the ground.

A tall brunette lay across the floral printed loveseat too small to keep her feet from dangling over the armrest. Her head was in the lap of a blonde who was sitting up and flipping through the pages of the TV guide. A contented sigh escaped the brunette’s mouth as she snuggled closer to the warmth of the blonde.

A small grin started on the blonde’s mouth at the sound of her partner. She sunk deeper into the loveseat happy to be right where she was.

"Jessica." The blonde looked down as she said her partner’s name.

"Yes, Andi?" The prone woman replied, her eyes closed but her face still the very definition of contentedness.

"You think we’ll be ok here?"

"Yes, we’re gonna be fine. I know that we happened to have three years of weird stuff happen to us but honey, trust me, it’s going to be ok. Nothing and no one will hurt us." Jess’s face paled a tad then became resolute in its appearance. "We’ve just put ourselves in some bad situations in the past. But this year — it’s covered." Jess vaguely remembered they really hadn’t put themselves in the situations but rather the situations found them.

The response made Andi chuckle. Her partner had been known to come up with some very…unique…solutions for problems in the past.

"Ok, hotshot, just how do you think you have everything covered?"

Jess, being the athletic sort, jumped to her feet in a single bound -- her hair flying behind her, the smell of Head and Shoulders wafted to Andi and momentarily stunned her. The brunette walked to the kitchen table where a container the size of a very large shoebox sat. Andi had noticed it but hadn’t really questioned what it was. Jess brought the box back to the couch and opened it. It was amazing how many things could fit into a shoebox. She pulled the items out slowly one by one.

"Here’s how, honey." Jess was obviously quiet proud of herself. The first item was a large silver crucifix with the end of it coming to a sharp point. "In case of a vampire, we have this cross and this," she said as she lifted a small garland made of garlic. "The cross is made of wood but covered in silver. I think it works the same as a wooden stake but just in case, the point here," Jess turned the cross around to make sure Andi saw what she was talking about, "has some exposed wood. That should take care of that."

"In case of a werewolf, I have this silver bullet I can put in my duty gun." Jess raised it holding it like a magician holds the empty box to prove it’s real. "I figured this is easier than the whole chopping its head off and yanking out its heart," Jess paused then smiled, "but I’ll keep that option open."

She pushed aside some things and pulled out a bottle of holy water. "I went to a Catholic Church and got this. This is in case of a demon, or someone who is possessed and, I think, in the event the Chupacabra makes it up here. And this, this is my piece d' resistance." Jess lovingly cupped in her hand what appeared to be a small red propane tank with a gun-like nozzle at the end of a tube. "This is a Russian flame-thrower I bought off e-Bay. They promise me a distance of about 10 yards and 50 bursts of fire. Pretty much this will cover everything else from zombies to Frankenstein!"

By the time Jess was done with her show and tell, Andi was clutching her side because she could barely breathe through her laughter. Tears were flowing freely down Andi’s face. The amusement was contagious and soon Jess joined her partner in the glee. Every time Andi would get her laughing under control she’d look at Jess and would start up again. They continued that circle until a small knock at the door interrupted them.

Without thinking, Jess went to open the front door. Before her stood a small towheaded boy about six or seven years old. He was dressed as a hobo clown wearing a black and white striped shirt with big baggy pants held up by bright red suspenders that matched the color of his newly colored nose. Frightened big brown eyes looked up at the very tall woman at the door. At first Jessie thought he was shivering because of the cool air but then his shoulders trembled more, obvious he was holding in a sob.

"What’s wrong, little boy?" Jess put her hand on his shoulders to try and connect with the lad.

The boy stood and stared for a brief moment but when he opened his mouth to speak, the only thing that came out was a moan that grew into full-fledged blubbering.

"What’s the matter? Are you lost?" Jess stuck her head out to see if anyone was with him. After looking both ways twice she asked the boy to come inside. He hesitated but allowed himself to be lead in.

"Jess, who do you have here?" Andi slowly approached the boy as she would a skittish dog and knelt down. "What’s your name, son?"

The boy was still crying. He was crying so hard he started to hiccup. Andi rose and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

"Try and drink this, it’ll help, then you can tell us what’s wrong." Andi tried to soothe him with the quietness of her voice as she took her former position scrunched down at his side. She looked up at her partner, her eyes so expectant that Jess bent down to join them.

It took a couple of minutes but with the help of the water, the boy calmed down enough to try and talk.

Jess left the room but came back with a box of facial tissue. Not just any facial tissue but Puffs Plus. With Lotion.

The boy took the proffered tissue and wiped his reddening, button nose. For the first time of the evening, he presented a quick smile. It was brief but long enough to melt the hearts of the two women kneeling beside him.

"Are you ready to tell us what’s wrong?" Andi cooed to him.

The boy sniffled. He felt safe enough even though he was with strangers. These weren’t like those other people.

"They told me I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone again," the boy stuttered out.

The women looked at one another, eyebrows furrowed with confusion.

"Who is 'they', honey?" Andi took the boy’s hands, rubbing the tops with her thumbs. The blonde looked up at her partner whose face was etched with concern. The same concern the blonde was feeling as a sinking pit in her stomach.

The boy didn’t move his head but very deliberately looked side-to-side to make sure no one else was around.

"The big people." The boy’s voice quivered. "After those other people took me, the big people came for me. They said I had to wait. My grandma was getting things ready. That I came too early. They said I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone when I was waiting though." It had been many days since he’d attempted to speak; the words just tumbled out of his mouth.

"I tried talking to my mom but she’s in the hospital. They have machines hooked up to her. I can tell she’s really tired because she’s been sleeping for a really long time. Ever since that truck hit us."

The boy’s eyes migrated to a candy bar laying next to the couch in the living room. The women’s eyes followed along and keyed on what he was looking at. Jess rose to her feet and without a word got the Snickers Bar and brought it back.

"Would you like this?" she said even as she handed it to the boy. The boy’s eyes rounded in delight and awe.

"The- the whole thing?" he questioned, making sure that he understood correctly.

Jess chuckled and responded with a quick nod of her head. "Absolutely," she added just to confirm.

Andi took advantage of the gesture. "Can you tell us your name and what’s wrong now? We really just want to be your friends."

The boy nodded his head but had put so much of the chocolate bar in his mouth his cheeks resembled those of a squirrel readying itself for winter. As soon as he was finally able to swallow he responded. "My name is Billy. A couple of days ago my mom and I were walking to the bus stop. We don’t have a lot of money but mom says we can make it…just her and me. When we were going to catch the bus so she can go try and get another job a truck hit us. I remember a little. I know they said that guy driving was a holic or something like that. I remember the police lady grabbing him and showing him what he did to me and mommy. I don’t know too much after that until those people came and told me I had to wait till Grandma was ready. I snuck way and came back here because I had lost my lucky penny and I wanted to find it. I figured I would take that costume that was still in my mommy's bag in her hospital room and get dressed up because I heard the doctors saying it was Halloween. I haven't been really hungry but my mommy told me that I should always try and eat. Everyone gives candy on Halloween so I could eat something so my mommy would be happy. I tried talking to some of the grown-ups walking by but they were too busy to listen to me. "

"Oh honey, that must be really scary for you," Andi reassured him, "is there someone we can call to come pick you up. A kid your age shouldn’t be out by himself especially not at night."

"It’s ok lady. I can go back to the hospital and wait with my mommy. I sit in the corner and I’m really good like mommy always wanted me to be. No one even sees me." The boy took another bite of the candy then continued. "We just have each other. My granny said that we’d all be together, even with our old dog, Red." Billy’s eyes lit up at the mention of his dog.

"Billy, honey," Jess knelt back down to look the boy in the eyes, "we can’t have you walking out alone." Jess chewed on her lip trying to think of a plan. "I’ll tell you what…how about we walk you back there to see your mommy and maybe talk to a nice police officer to help us out?" she looked up at Andi to make sure she was in agreement.

Andi nodded, "That’s a good idea, Billy. We’ll do that and make sure you stay safe."

"You are nice ladies. I can walk myself. Mommy told me I’m not supposed to talk to strangers and I don’t want to get in trouble. I haven’t been able to talk to anyone though but I figured out a neat trick and I get places really fast now." Billy beamed with pride over his discovery. "Wanna see?"

He didn’t wait for either of the women to answer. His face took on the look of extreme concentration. After about a minute, the image of the boy began to fade. Before it was totally gone, he called out to the women one last time. "I might come back to talk again before granny has our place ready. I just don’t know why they said that I could only talk to dead people, do you?"

The End