Cary had to blink at least fifteen times before he became once again capable of speech. "Huh??" was that speech.
"Oh, where are my manners," the boy smiled. He extended a hand; Cary shook it automatically. "My name is Simillifercisites. I guess you might say
I'm... well, it is
Halloween. Call me a demon."
"Cary!" Simillifercisites snapped at him. He snapped his fingers at him next. "Snap out of it!"
Cary quelled his quivering, then swallowed hard. "Wh- wh- wh-"
"'Why me?'" Simillifercisites guessed. "Because you're in a good position to make good use of such powers. Vanquish your enemies! Crush your
foes! Be invincible!
"N-no," Cary said, shaking his head jerkily. "Not 'why me.' Why are you doing this at all?
Giving this, that, to anyone?
Simillifercisites smiled knowingly. The boy was smarter than he'd thought; so much the better. "Ah. Let's say, I like watching vengeance. Give
those evil little bastards what they deserve and I'll be happy. I'm sort of a... violence voyeur. So! Ready for some instructions, a little
superpower tutoring? You wouldn't want to do anything accidentally, trust me."
It felt like a dream, but at least it was a dream come true. "Do it," Cary nodded.
"Where the hell have you been?" Sally demanded when Cary walked up to her slowly. She knew it was him because he'd taken his hood off. The haunted
house had acquired quite a few more customers in the past hour, several of them Batmans. "I wanted to watch you fall over in fright some more."
Cary was still too numbed and in shock to think up a good retort. "Just... wandering. Great place, huh?"
"The school library is spookier than this
lame place," Daryl told him. He'd removed Thor's facial hair, but it was fairly warm in there.
"You guys ready? I can hear my brother's beer stash calling me."
They all agreed and beat a hasty retreat for Daryl's pickup truck. It was the only transportation any of them had, and was actually his dad's work
truck. There was enough space in back for two people, but not much more. Toolboxes are quite uncomfortable to sit on. Cary, who usually volunteered to
sit in back, ended up in front instead. He decided on some small talk to keep his mind off his new... whatever. "So, uh, how's band going?"
Daryl snorted. "I'm eighth chair sax," he said. "All I do is play one note over and over sometimes. The fun notes always end up with guys a lot
better than me. So, uhhh, 'boring,' I guess is the answer."
"Oh. I wish you luck with practice, then." Wait... wish...
"I practice all the time. I just suck, is all."
Just wish for it, he said...
"Can't move my fingers fast enough."
Cary looked over to where Daryl was driving. He licked his lips thoughtfully, then concentrated. Nothing happened... visibly. "Well, keep trying,"
Cary said momentarily with an enigmatic smile. He put the Batman hood back on. It felt like less of a lie now than when he'd first put it on.
They dropped Sally off without incident, then it was Tom's turn. That wasn't without incident. "Oh, crap," Daryl muttered as they pulled up in
front of his house. "Tom's dad again."
The truck's suspension adjusted with a groan, then Tom was at Daryl's window. "Thanks," he said morosely as his dad yelled at his dad's current
"girlfriend" on the front lawn. He was waving a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels around; it was capped, at least. "I'll tell the cops you said hi
when they get here."
"Sucks, dude," Daryl said sincerely. "Sure you wanna go in there?"
Tom nodded with a sigh. "Yeah. If he's goin' at her he won't go at me. Probably won't even notice me go by. Later." Tom walked around the front
of the truck as Cary again concentrated. He'd finally decided what to do. It was the only thing he could think of.
This was fun.
The school was filled with monsters, heroes, and villains of all types. That, Cary had expected. In previous years, in fact, he'd counted on it. His
Freshman year, Halloween had fallen on a Sunday, so he hadn't benefitted from having one day where he could walk around the halls unmolested by
bullies because they couldn't recognize him. But every other year, including his Senior year, it had been on a weekday. He always wore something that
required a mask, but he'd already used the Batman costume last year and needed something new. And this year, he suddenly and quite unexpectedly had
no need to hide who he was. So he'd wished one up, one that Sally would like. Once she saw past the makeup, which was perfect, she'd actually
squealed in surprise.
"The Crow! I love the Crow!"
Cary smiled. "I know. I picked it for you."
"Awwwww, that's sweet, isn't that sweet, Thor?"
Daryl smirked. "Yeah, I'm gettin' diabetes just lookin' at him. Nice witch outfit, by the way."
Sally adjusted her pointed hat. "Why, thank you. Where the hell's Tom?"
Cary and Daryl both shrugged, their mouths full. Then Cary realized he could just wish to know where Tom was, and did. He turned and looked at the
cafeteria entrance as he began the countdown. "Four... three... two... one."
His friends boggled at him as Tom walked in at that precise moment, not wearing any costume. "How the-"
"Goat entrails," Cary told Sally.
Tom plopped into a chair and smiled at them. "Hey!"
"Hey, cheerful, where's your Wookie outfit?" Sally asked him.
"Didn't feel like it. Too hot today."
"Yeah," Cary said. "So how'd it go with your dad?" he added casually.
"Weirdest thing. He passed out as I walked up, the girlfriend helped me carry him to bed before the cops came, which they didn't, and he woke up
right at seven, late for work. He just rushed out without yelling at me or anything. I wish every day was like that."
Cary smiled, feeling a warm glow inside. Exactly as I planned.
"Yeah, 'bout time you got a break from him that wasn't in a bone," Sally said.
"Aww, he's never broken anything," Tom said, opening his brown paper bag of lunch. "Close..."
Despite everything his dad did to him, Tom didn't hate him, Cary realized. He simply regretted him. Perhaps they regretted each other. Tom, too, was
in his Senior year and would be free come summer to move anywhere he wanted, as long as it had fast food places to work at. With his rather poor
grades, college simply wasn't an option for Tom. Cary, at least, had a chance at a scholarship somewhere. So did Daryl. Sally, well... no. She and
Tom would never get more than a high school diploma, and why? Because of where'd they'd been born. Because they didn't have enough money to satisfy
the greediness of higher education establishments. It wasn't fair. The world needed more fairness in it...
Cary thought. It was a perfect superhero name... which made it too cheesy to use. Oh, well.
He got his dove out of his locker after school and admired it there in the deserted hall. He'd already corrected Karen's sullying of his name on it;
it looked perfect again. It was as easy as wanting it to happen. And then he dropped it as someone bumped into him quite hard from behind. And it
shattered on the tile.
He gaped in the direction of the bump and beheld Joey Arnold's evil toothy grin. "Oops!" Joey sneered. "Sorry 'bout your fairy-bird, Fairy!" And
then he simply waddled away, still laughing.