She knew she looked good. Her long dark hair was straightened as smooth as silk, her deep violet eyes ringed with black kohl. She wore a perfect little-black-dress – the type that hugs in all the right places, showing just enough of her milky cleavage to tantalise without looking provocative. A dark cape with deep pockets. Black tights, black lace-up boots… and at black velvet hat – not a witches hat, as such – but some might say that’s what it looked like.
It was Hallowe’en, after all.
She left home at seven, the night already dark but for the amber glow of the streetlights and the headlamps of the passing traffic. Almost every pub she passed by was advertising their spooky parties. Ghoulish decoration in the windows, face cobwebs and green fabric tossed over lamps. Nights of scary fun and drinks mixed to look like blood and ooze.
But she wasn’t going to the pub. She wasn’t even going to a party.
What she loved about Hallowe’en night was the anticipation – the costumes – the crowds of children with their long-suffering parents, carrying pumpkin shaped buckets to collect their trick or treat wares. The teenagers preparing to scare people in alleyways… and the older ones – the pub goers – all set for a night of drinking and dancing and apple bobbing. Witches snogging skeletons in doorways. Zombies smoking fags in beer gardens.
She reached the park, where it became darker, less lit. She hesitated, only briefly. Who might be lurking in the shadows? Not those out for Hallowe’en cheer… there were sinister people who hung around at all times of day any night, waiting to see what the darkness might bring them.
The first one was pretty tame. ‘Hey sexy, where’s your broom?’
She fought the urge to turn and look. Picked up the pace, just a bit.
‘Hello gorgeous, fancy a drink?’
‘Baby… where you going all dressed up?’
‘Nice hat, sugar…’
‘Nice tits, baby…’
She crossed her arms over her chest, irritated now. Felt the heat in her cheeks. She looked down at the path, kept walking, faster now, faster. Until…
She felt like she’d walked into a wall. Stumbled back, dazed. Felt arms grabbing at her.
‘Hey darlin’, you wanna watch where you’re going…’ she looked up into yellowing eyes, took a step back. ‘Fancy a coffee, sexy? You can come back to my place if you like?’
Low whispers. Sniggers from behind the trees. She felt a change in the air.
It was time.
‘You know what? That’s exactly what I’d like to do. Where’s your place?’
Yellow-eyes took a step back. She saw confusion flit across his face, before he smiled at her, revealing a row of rotten teeth.
She felt her heart thumping in her chest. She swallowed.
This is it.
She had to fight hard to control herself, the feeling was so strong. She slid a hand into her pocket. Took a deep breath, trying to steady her nerves. She’d been looking forward to this night for weeks… months even. Since the last time she’d walked around the park. Since the last time she’d had to listen to them calling her, beckoning her… luring her.
Yellow-eyes placed a hand on her shoulder, guiding her towards the other side of the park.
‘This way, gorgeous,’ he said.
She said nothing. Let herself be led. She took his hand, gripped it tight.
In her other hand, deep in her pocket, she gripped the carving knife.
‘This is going to be so much fun,’ she said, grinning.
Yellow-eyes grinned back, oblivious.
* * *
Published in Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women (ed Sophie Hannah)