Arthur watched them bitterly through narrowed eyes. The woman stared into the mirror, turning this way and that, the deathly pallor and the blood that trickled from her eyes was belied by the plump, healthy cleavage prominently displayed through her bandaged chest. The child was flapping the corners of its sheet excitedly and moaning. It waved a loofah with pipe cleaners stuck on it like spider legs.
“Bloody ridiculous, if you ask me. Look at the pair of them.” grumbled Arthur. Mary didn’t look up from her knitting. She knew what was coming, best sit back and let it wash over her. He did it every year.
“It’s an American thing. I don’t know when we all started losing our heads over this Halloween nonsense. Trick or treat my foot! Just another way to con more money out of us poor working folks. Like Valentines Day and Easter. Made up holidays. And it’s not even until tomorrow, anyway.”
“The children do enjoy it Arthur, and where’s the harm? A couple of tasty treats, a bit of dressing up? Hmm?”
“Well what about their teeth, for a start? All them sweets, I ask you. Slice of bread and a pickled herring was good enough for me. And the wandering around at night? None of that for my kids, thank you very much."
“Arthur, you haven’t got any kids.”
“That’s besides the point. And another thing -”
Here it came. Breath deeply Mary, count your stitches, let him have his rant then he’ll wear himself out.
“ - these people haven’t a clue what they’re about. It’s all stereotyping. It’s not like we’re all the same, you know, because we’re not. I’ve never moaned or rattled a chain in all my life, though I’m sure there’s some that do.”
“You’re having a bloody good moan now, though, aren’t you?” muttered Mary under her breath.
“Fifteen years I’ve been dead and not once have I worn a bedsheet, or said ‘boo’. No, I’ve just sat quietly, minding my own business, waiting patiently for the End Of Days.
"It's not like I've not done my share of scaring. Remember that time, Mary, remember when i knocked that woman's pot plant over? She jumped out of her skin."
He chuckled fondly at the memory.
Poor Arthur, thought Mary, he didn't have the imagination to be creatively dead. Halloween was such a hard time for him. Death was what made him interesting to himself, how dare the living encroach on his patch?
" ...and these people come along and have the audacity, the temerity to pretend to be us for one day of the year? Picking and choosing their favourite bits of dead culture to show off? To parade in front of their friends? It’s cultural appropriation, that’s what it is and I’ll not stand for it.”
Before Mary could stop him Arthur slid through the wall and into the bedroom. The child stared, open-mouthed, unable to speak, unable to comprehend what it saw.
Mary saw the woman continue to primp at the mirror, obliviously, though if she’d looked behind her reflection, she would have caught the palest glimpse of a tall, thin man with a straggly moustache and a neck twisted horribly out of shape standing just over her shoulder...