A story I am working on for Halloween . . .
Damon and the Forbidden Neighborhood
© 2015, Greg Gildersleeve. All rights reserved.
Note: This story takes place after False Alarm™ but before The Power Club™.
Damon stared at his costume in the mirror. The costume was a simple black suit with the body of skeleton painted on it. He twirled the skull mask in his hand, its eyeholes making a good place to stick his finger and spin the plastic mask, which, when worn, would cover only his face, not his entire head, as he had wanted.
“I don’t see why I have to wear this stupid costume,” he said. “I’m a super-hero.”
Nearby, Damon’s mother tailored an identical skeleton costume for Eldon, his younger brother, who fidgeted while his mother adjusted the black suit to his shorter height. “You’re not a super-hero,” she corrected Damon. “And I told you, all the good costumes were picked over at the district costume shop. That’s what you get for waiting until the last minute to go shopping.”
“Not a super-hero, huh?” he said, studying his mischievous grin in the mirror. “But I can do this.” He exhaled sharply. Within seconds, the entire upstairs bedroom he shared with Eldon had been plunged into darkness. Damon’s “night vision” immediately activated, and he marveled at how strange the twin beds, the dresser, and the posters of racing cars (his brother’s idea) on the wall looked in black and white.
Damon’s mother and brother, who could not see in the darkness, stopped what they were doing and looked angrily in Damon’s general direction.
“Mom! Make him stop!” Eldon wailed. "Make him turn off his darkspace!"
Almost at the same time, Damon’s mother snapped, “Damon! I told you not to do that in the house.”
Damon reluctantly inhaled, and the darkspace vanished as soon as it had appeared. “But I can’t do it in public, either,” he complained. “What’s the use of having a power if I can’t use it?”
Damon already knew the answer. It was because of his power that he and his family had to live in the district. He had to go to the district school, where teachers taught him and other powered kids how to control their powers, whereas Eldon—who had no powers at all—was bussed to a regular school outside the district. Having a power could be fun, but Damon envied his brother’s freedom.
“Never mind,” his mother said as she finished hemming the cuffs of Eldon’s costume. “That ought to do.” She leaned back on her heels and admired her handiwork. “Now you’re both ready to go trick-or-treating with your friends.”
Damon ran across his back yard and the alley to reach the neighbors’ house. He ran as if he were being chased by a zombie, but, in truth, he just didn’t want to be seen by other kids who might be out trick-or-treating. He knew they would take one look at his and Eldon’s identical costumes and burst into laughter.
Eldon ran behind Damon. “Hey! Don’t go so fast!” he shouted. His smaller legs had trouble keeping up.
For a moment, Damon thought it wouldn’t be so bad if he “lost” Eldon while they were out trick or treating. Perhaps Damon could run ahead and visit different houses before Eldon could get there. But Eldon would just complain to Mom and Dad when they got back home. Besides, they had been given strict orders to stay with their group.
Their group would include Vee Evans and his sister, Denise, who lived just across the alley. Damon and Eldon reached the porch and rapped on the door. When it opened, Vee stared at them in a spider costume. “What are supposed to be? Twin skeletons?” he jeered.
Damon was glad to be wearing his facemask so his embarrassment wouldn’t show. He looked at Vee’s costume and said, “Why are you going as a spider? With your power, shouldn’t you go as a tornado or something?”
“A tornado!” Vee shouted. “How would I go as a tornado? Besides, I’m a super-fast spider. Watch me weave my web around you.” Faster than Damon could see, Vee ran around the two boys, the wind generated from his speed chilling them in the October air.
“Vee, stop that!” called his older sister, Denise, who appeared in the doorway. She was dressed like a space princess with a sequined costume and a mask that covered only her eyes. Instead of carrying a wand, as Damon might have expected, she sported a toy blaster gun.
Vee stopped running. “Sorry,” he said.
“You know we’re not supposed to use our powers in public,” Denise scolded him, and then looked embarrassed. “I mean you aren’t supposed to use your power in public.”
Damon had caught her slip of the tongue. He knew Denise had started attending the district school, but this wasn’t unusual. Kids with powered brothers and sisters sometimes attended the district school so the teachers could watch them and see if they exhibited any signs of developing a power, too. But, so far as Damon knew, Denise was an ord, just like Eldon.
“Hey, Denise,” Damon ventured, “do you have a power, too?” Damon secretly had a crush on Denise, so he liked the idea of her having a special power, just like he did.
But she looked at him sharply. “Damon, that’s not a polite question.” Before Damon could apologize, she turned back to Vee. “Mom and Dad said we could go trick or treating without supervision only if we agreed to obey the rules, so that means you and Damon can’t use your powers.”
Damon felt crestfallen, but he didn’t know what bothered him more, the notion that he couldn’t use his darkspace on this night—Halloween, of all nights—or that Denise had appointed herself the one in charge. Perhaps that just came with being a space princess.
“Now, let’s go pick up Kyle,” she said, but as they started to leave the porch, the air in front of them shimmered. Then with a pfft! Kyle Powell stood before them.
“Not you, too!” Denise scolded him. “No powers!”
Kyle, whose mother had painted his face so he looked like a wolf, and who sported plastic claws taped to the backs of his hands, looked taken aback. “Oh, come on,” he said in the casual tone of someone who, as the oldest, didn’t feel like he really had to follow directions. “It’s Halloween, the one night we can get away with doing things. Now, are we ready to go trick or treating or not?”
They went down the street, hitting every house with porch lights on. This was a signal everyone knew that indicated which houses were open for trick or treating. They skipped the houses with no lights on.
Vee ran ahead—as usual—and banged on each door. The others would catch up with him just as the door opened, and then Damon and the rest would yell “Trick or treat!” The person who opened the door always pretended to be scared of their costumes and dump a few pieces of candy into their Halloween bags. Damon and the rest would yell “Thank you!” and then go on to the next house.
At the end of the block, they paused to decide which street to go up next. Several other trick-or-treaters were out, and Vee complained that all of the best candy would be gone, no matter where they went. Kyle suggested they go back to his house and play video games.
Damon glanced across the wide boulevard which separated his neighborhood from another. In all the time he had lived in the district, Damon had never crossed the boulevard to visit that side of the district. He noticed that none of the houses had their porch lights on, which he thought was odd because he knew kids lived in that neighborhood. Why, he wondered, weren’t they out trick-or-treating?
“Hey,” he suggested, “why don’t we go over there?”
Kyle, Denise, and Vee looked as if Damon had asked something stupid.
“That’s the Forbidden Neighborhood” Vee explained.
“Why is it forbidden?” Damon asked.
“Zombies and werewolves live there,” Kyle explained.
Damon rolled his eyes. “Those things don’t exist!”
“Oh yeah?” Vee challenged him. “Then you go over there.”
Damon had been dared before. He knew better than to fall for it. “After you,” he said.
Vee looked as if might consider it, but then demurred. “Nah, I want to stay on this side.”
But now Damon was curious to see what was on the other side of the boulevard and why no kids appeared to be over there trick or treating.
“I’m bored!” Kyle said suddenly. “I’m going to keep trick-or-treating for awhile, but I’m going to make it interesting.” He raised his plastic claws in a animal-like stance and then—with a pfft!—he vanished. He reappeared across the street, and taunted the others to catch up with him.
“If he can use his powers, so can I!” said Vee. He stuck his tongue out at his sister and then ran at super-speed across the street.
Almost at the same time, Denise and Eldon took off running, too. Damon was alone.
“Hey! Wait for me!” he called. Then he thought if Kyle and Vee were going to use their powers, there was no reason he couldn’t. The trouble was, his darkspace didn’t help him travel. It was just a cloud of darkness that covered him and his immediate surroundings. Still, it was a power, and he didn’t want to be left out, so he exhaled and the darkspace came.
From where he stood, the world turned into a darkness in which only he could see. Objects around him—a bush, the base of a streetlight, the sidewalk—all appeared in black and white—a beautiful and strange site. Damon knew it would be hard for him to walk inside the darkspace, without being able to see more than a few feet in any direction, so he started walking slowly. He was sure the others would wait for him.
Stay Tuned . . .