Sandra feels her breath stop and get caught in her throat as she balances on the steep bluff between consciousness and sleep. A soft snore startles her and she opens her eyes. Her bloodhound puppy, Fannie Mae is sprawled out across her bed, deep in a dream, belly up, with her tongue dangling out. Sandra licks her chapped lips and sits up. Fannie Mae rolls over onto her side and continues snoring. Sandra looks over at the alarm clock which would normally have a red digital time displayed, but is blank. The dimming dusk glows through the venetian blinds in her room. She stretches and exhales before slowly stepping out of bed. Sandra tries to flip up the light switch to illuminate the room, but it is to no avail.
“Darn electricity is out aginn!”
Children in costume begin pouring out into the streets. Crisp autumn leaves crunch and crumble under their feet. Street lights at the end of Sandra’s block flicker on as door bells begin ringing in the neighborhood. Sandra squints out of her bedroom window, then sits back down on the bed and looks down at her puppy.
“Neighbors’ lights are workin’. Did I furget ta pay the light bill aginn, Fannie Mae?” She caresses Fannie’s soft, floppy ears. Children knock on Sandra’s door.
“Trick er Treat!”
Fannie wrinkles her nose, jumps up into a standing position and stares into the darkening hallway that leads from Sandra’s room to the living room, where the Halloween guests wait patiently at the front door. She growls deeply and tenses her tail into a straight horizontal line.
“They’re jus’ sum children out trick or treatin’. Simmer down there, Miss Fannie Mae!”
Fannie jumps off of the bed, looks up at Sandra and starts howling.
“I said simmer down there, Miss Fannie Mae!”
The puppy turns and runs out through the hallway to the front door. She jumps up and paws at the door. A little girl dressed as a fairy turns around and looks down the driveway at her smiling mother. Her older vampire brother looks down into his bag as he picks his nose.
“I hear her puppy, Momma! Why she takin’ so long to get to the door?”
The blood stained vampire boy knocks on the door again. Mrs. Carroll walks slowly up the driveway.
“Come on, maybe Miss Sandra is taking her late afternoon nap. We can come back later.”
Sandra runs quickly into the kitchen and frantically searches for the bowl of candy.
“Shoot! Where’d I put that darn candy?”
Fannie backs away from the door and starts growling fiercely; her fur stands up straight on her back. A dark shadow passes in front of the door and catches the corner of Sandra’s eye as she paces through the hallway. Fannie barks loudly and backs further away from the door. Sandra kneels and touches the top of Fannie’s head.
“They’re jus’ sum trick er treaters , Fannie!”
Fannie cowers, ducks her head, tucks her tail between her legs and runs back into the bedroom. Sandra feels something staring at her from the edge of the front door. She slowly stands and looks up as a dark, expanding shadow moves towards her. Mrs. Carroll and her children get to the edge of the driveway before they hear Miss Sandra’s door slowly open; the rusty hinges squeal and startle the fairy. The vampire grabs and shakes his mother’s hand.
“Look, Momma, she is home!”
The children skip up to the door way and Mrs. Carroll follows closely behind. The three of them stop at the thresh hold and peer into the darkness. A cold burst of air hits them in their faces and goose bumps form on their arms. The sound of heavy breathing and claws scratching at the hardwood floors make the hearts of the children pound in their chests. Mrs. Carroll pushes her children behind her.
“I want you two to go get yer Daddy, O.K.?” The frightened children don’t ask any questions and run away from the house obediently. The breathing and scratching get closer to the front door. Mrs. Carroll reaches for the door knob as the blood rushes up into her head. Sweat rolls down from the back of her head and tickles the top of her neck. Fannie Mae comes running out of the darkness and jumps up onto Mrs. Carroll as she lets out a startled scream. The children come running up the driveway, now holding tightly to the hands of Mr. Carroll. Mrs. Carroll reaches down and rubs the puppy’s ears.
“Oh my God! Fannie Mae, you nearly gave me a heart attack!”
“What’s a matter, Honey?”
Mr. Carroll leans down to pet Fannie Mae and smiles up at his wife.
“I’m not sure . . . but I think that there might be something wrong with Miss Sandra. Will you go in and check, please?”
“Sure, Hon. You stay here with the kids and I’ll go check. Sure looks dark in here, lemme turn on some lights.”
Mr. Carroll steps over the thresh hold and turns on the first switch he can get his fingertips on.
“Miss Sandra, you O.K.? Hello- Miss Sandra, I’m comin’ into yer house to see if yer O.K.!”
Mr. Carroll walks slowly through the hallway and into Miss Sandra’s room. He turns on the light. Mr. Carroll tiptoes over to the edge of her bed and peers down at her.
He touches his fingertips to her cold, stiff neck. Slowly, Mr. Carroll backs away from the bed, presses his palm to his forehead, and calls out to his wife.
“Honey, call 9-1-1!”
Mrs. Carroll comes running into the room with her cell phone.
“Keep the kids outside and call 9-1-1, looks like Miss Sandra is dead!”