My son drank apple cider during his lunch at school on Halloween last year. When I picked him up from school, his third grade teacher warned me that all the children had eaten one sweet too many. She also warned me the apple cider only quickened the transformation that children undergo after eating Halloween treats. I knew this meant trouble. There is only one method known to cure the Halloween transformation from darling to devil. The parent – or beast master – must lead the child-creature on a feeding frenzy that ultimately quenches the little devil’s desire for more treats. I knew what I had to do.
It was twilight by now and my son was a fully transformed creature. His blind addiction to sour gummy worms made his stride bumbling and awkward. To make the young beast heed my call, I stopped him before his feverish claws rapped the neighbor’s door. His stare only widened as I pulled an empty pillow case from my jacket. “Use this,” I said. The creature’s toothy smile gleamed from beneath the matted mess.
“More candy!” The little beast howled and our pace quickened to the neighbor’s door.
All the goblins, little devils, princesses, ghouls, and goons became a festering and pensive mob waiting for First Call. First Call is an instinct built into all cider-fed creatures. First Call is the collective response triggered by the very first door opened to furry beggars during Halloween twilight. Just think about dogs in the dark. When one starts, the others join in. Whenever the first handful of candy is given to a creature, the little ones hear the ceremonial signal and shriek in delight. In concert the creatures scurry about in frantic pursuit for the next trick or treat. If one were riding a broom above the village just within earshot, an otherworldly chorus filled with cackles, maniacal laughter, and curdled cries would be heard rising in the full-moon wind.
Other beast masters walked wearily behind their young gargoyles as I walked behind mine. First-out and last-in is the rule. This makes the transformation, from ghoul to girl and vampire bat to boy, complete. Being first-out gets an early start in collecting the sweets and being last-in signals the neighborhood doors no longer open to the creatures. The inhabitants behind the doors have run out of sweets or surrendered to demons unknown. This helps fill a pillow case with enough tonic to transform the young creature back into human form.
As my boy-creature and I walked back, the sounds drifted farther away while the wind picked up pace. A slight chill caused a cat to stand on all fours while arching its back, the moon silhouetting its profile. The breeze, carrying the fermented apple scent from an abandoned orchard next door, signaled the end to our nighttime outing. Leaves rustled slightly while screeches, howls, and moans grew fainter. The dogs took their cue and announced their rightful return among the creature order.
My son consumed just enough from his hoarded stash to transform back to his original state. After he fell asleep, I made sure not to stir the boy-creature from his healing sleep while taking my share. If the beast master wakes the child-creature at this critical stage, they risk the wrath of the latent creature still within the child.