Alice Potter leaned on the front fence and Julia found herself wondering if it would support the weight. She’d been hoping to get down to the village shop and back without encountering anyone she knew. Oliver’s condition still seemed so utterly improbable that it was a source of deep embarrassment to her. Not to mention her anxiety regarding some of her ten-year-old son’s proclivities since his unfortunate affliction had become manifest. “Yes, Doctor Goody has contacted the Head. It’s all in hand. I’m sure they’ll be able to do something about it quite soon, and then he’ll be right as rain in no time.”
Alice gave her a somewhat hard stare. “That’s as may be, but I’ve been hearing one or two rumours lately and it all sounds a bit… you know…”
Julia glanced nervously back at the newly constructed shutters that blocked off all daylight from little Oliver’s bedroom. “I… I’m not sure I know what you mean, Alice.”
“Well,” said Alice, delighting in Julia’s discomfort. “I don’t want to mention bats, but… there’s been some quite peculiar sightings in the village these last few nights…”
Julia straightened her back and, posture adjusted, spoke as assertively as she was able. “Alice Potter, that is utterly ridiculous, if you don’t mind my saying. It is true that we were completely unable to remove the costume after Trick or Treat night, but we are firmly of the belief that a simple surgical procedure will entirely eliminate the problem.”
“I’m only saying. I just hope you’re right, Julia. We don’t want anyone else complaining about bite marks on their necks, do we?”
Julia hastened to the village shop, her mind in turmoil. It was her husband Adam’s fault. He’d insisted they buy the costume. “Now that is serious value for money,” he’d said, but she’d felt from the start that such an elaborate costume should have gone for a much higher price. Oliver had been thrilled when he’d put it on. It was only when he’d started speaking in a strong Transylvanian accent that they’d suspected anything was amiss.
The ‘bite marks’ to which Alice had referred had indeed been inflicted by their son, on at least two villagers who had refused him the requisite treats. He’d made surprisingly quick use of the rather fearsome set of fangs that came with the costume. At this point Adam and Julia had stepped in quite firmly and informed him that Hallowe’en was at an end as far as he was concerned. They’d tried to get him to apologise, but all he’d done was hiss loudly at his victims. It had all been quite disconcerting.
More so when they found that the costume, along with the fangs and the black and white body paint, appeared to have fused to his body. They’d had to put him to bed, dressed as he was. Then, next morning, they’d had to search for him when they found the bedroom empty. He’d eventually been located cowering timidly in a large trunk down in the cellar. He seemed to be under the impression that, exposed to any form of sunlight, he would be reduced to dust particles. It was at that point that they called for the services of Doctor Goody.
Julia was conscious of suspicious eyes watching her as she purchased a litre of milk and a few pounds of frozen beefsteak for Oliver to suck at as it defrosted. No doubt the likes of Alice Potter had been spreading unpleasant and malicious rumours. The sooner Oliver could undergo the required medical procedures and have himself extricated from that shroud of obscene cloth and shiny plastic, the better. Then and only then would the whole business blow over. At least, she reflected as she left the shop, it was a blessing that they hadn’t gone for the werewolf costume. All that matted, blood stained fur. Very unhygeinic.
As for ‘Vlad’s Morphsuits’, they’d be hearing from Adam’s solicitors in due course.
Meanwhile, at the rear of the The Bullshitter’s Arms, there appeared to be something of a carpentry and outdoor crafts workshop under way, as two burly men took turns to carve a piece of four by four into a large and very sharp stake. A number of the remaining gentlemen were preparing burning torches to ignite, as dusk came to an end. Whilst indoors several women distributed crucifixes and garlic.
It was distinctly possible that Julia’s blithe optimism was built on somewhat shaky foundations.