Part II

She must have spent hours searching for a Halloween costume. No matter where she looked, it seemed that her parents had gone out of their way to make sure they lived a pathetically ordinary life. When Thomas and David finally showed up, Cleo had managed to throw together a halfway decent hippie costume, using old cloth and a bunch of clothes she had found locked away in a chest.

After one last glance in the mirror, she ran to the door, knowing that the two of them could only wait so long. Upon seeing Thomas, she flushed, looking away on impulse. Thomas was dressed as Aladdin, apparently ignoring the cold wind gathering outside. He looked even more handsome than he usually did. Where he had gotten such a perfect representation of the costume, she would never know.

David, on the other hand, couldn't have looked more ridiculous. Either he was dressed as a monkey, or he had managed to pick out the worst John Lennon costume on market. He grinned, pointing at her. "You look dumb." he scoffed.

"You're no beauty queen either, genius." she said, glaring at him.

Thomas stood between them, flashing his perfect smile in Cleo's direction. "The longer you fight, the more candy I get before you." He slipped his hands in the pockets of his Arabian pants, calmly walking away without them.

Cleo was the first to react, chasing after him breathlessly. "Wait, butt face!" she shouted, finally tagging him down. David was considerably slower to notice what had happened, and caught up sometime later.

Because of the limited competition, the trio managed to score nearly a bucketful of candy in only the first hour alone. It was an unwritten law that everyone still keep candy out on Halloween, despite the fact so few people came to collect it. Because of this, David was stuffing his face with as many sugary treats as he could get his hands on, still insisting they go out for more.

"Oh, come on" he whined, the crunch of jolly ranchers between his teeth. "We still have like half the town left to visit."

Cleo looked at him with disgust, grabbing the bucket away from his sticky hands. "Quit acting like a pig. You're going to make yourself sick." Despite this, she looked over at Thomas for a final response. She didn't want to be seen as a coward- she would stay out as long as he did.

The taller boy looked at her curiously, then shrugged. "I-" He paused suddenly, looking up at something in the distance. There was a gathering of boys too far away to make out. It seemed that there was three or four of them. "I think that's the pack." Thomas declared, running ahead.

Though it took her a while, Cleo finally managed to figure out what he was talking about. For some reason, Thomas had always referred to a certain group of Indian boys at their school as 'the pack'. He had never made it official, nor asked them what they thought of it. It was just something he always said. Thomas caught up to them not too long later, Cleo and David not far behind.

It was the same boys as earlier: Zack, Aaron, and Akira. They were just outside, boredly tossing rocks into the street. Occasionally, Akira's gaze would wander up to the gray sky, seeming to search for something. "Hey!" Thomas shouted, panting as he stopped in front of them.

Zack and Aaron looked up at him, both absently grinning. "Didn't know people still came out on Halloween." Aaron commented.

"Well, we do." David declared proudly, wiping some chocolate from the side of his face. Cleo said nothing; she didn't much want to be associated with anyone that stored more than eight pieces of candy in their mouth at one time.

Akira looked up slowly at them, his black eyes blanker than usual. There was something abnormally misty about his expression, something Cleo couldn't quite place. "You should go," he said softly. It was then that she realized that he was looking at her. "It's not safe here."

Thomas and Akira's friends just laughed it off, and soon they were talking like old friends. For a moment, Cleo thought better of shrugging off his warning. It was the way he had said it- it frightened her. But after ten minutes of the boy's chatter, she soon forgot all about Akira's quite counsel.

After a while, the 'pack' agreed to go around the streets with them. Since they didn't have a costume, Zack and Aaron gathered a couple of twigs from the ground, tying them around their head. "Look." Zack chuckled, pointing to his head. "We're twig elves."

As much as Cleo tried to enjoy herself, she couldn't help but notice Akira's sight always following her, trying to warn her of something. It gave her a horrid sense of foreboding, but she chose not to mention it to her friends.

When it seemed that the night would entirely engulf them, Zack and Aaron went back to their homes, leaving Akira the last one alone with Cleo, Thomas, and David. Again, his gaze went from Cleo to the cloud-covered sky, then back again. "I'll…be going now." he said finally, walking away.

Thomas stopped him, giving him his usual, wide grin. "Hey, you should show us where your house is. Maybe we can hit that street next."

Akira looked away, a dark shadow falling over his face. For once, it seemed nothing to do with the blackening sky. "No. I'll pass."

"At least let us walk you there." Thomas pestered, clapping him on the back.

With some persuasion, Akira looked away, nodding in a silent agreement.

The path to the boy's house was shaded with trees, the low hoot of various owls keeping them company along the path. Finally, a large, foreboding, gray house rose over the others, and it didn't take much for them to realize that this was the object of their journey.

"I'm home." Akira said quietly, looking back at Thomas. "Thanks…for walking me." They made a slight move to step on his pathway, but Akira shot out a hand to stop them. "No. Stay here." he said sharply. Without letting them get a word in edgewise, he walked along the stone pathway to his front entrance.

For a long time, Cleo stared after him, unable to think. All of this was just so strange. For as long as she had ever known of him, he had never snapped at anyone or anything. It was rare if he said anything.

"We should follow him." Thomas said finally, snapping Cleo from her thoughts.

She looked at him with alarm, her eyes widening. "Are you serious?! This place is beyond freaky!"

Thomas gave her a sly smile, purposefully walking past her. "It's the perfect last stop for Halloween night." He looked back at her, his eyes wide in mock-hurt. "Unless you're chicken."

She glared at him coldly. Fortunately for Thomas, this inspired his desired response in David. The younger boy walked up to Thomas, following him with unquestionable loyalty. "I'm not chicken" he remarked, grinning.

This was the last straw for Cleo. She stormed past them, knocking on the front door. "Trick or freaking treat." she growled back at them.

Suddenly, a low, thick fog filled the yard, enveloping them in a gray cloud. She looked around, trying to remember seeing a fog machine in the yard. Cleo felt a strange wave of dizziness enclose her. Her knees locked under her, a thick cloud engulfing her mind. The last thing she saw was the clouds in the sky part to reveal a perfect harvest moon.

When Cleo awoke, she found herself in a dark cellar, the thick smell of blood almost choking her. Beside her lay Thomas and David, still out cold. For a minute, she couldn't see anything but a thin stream of light from the cellar doors, and the room was shaking. "Hello?" she called weakly, frightened. It took her a moment to realize that she was the one shaking.

Without warning, she was staring into the face of a withered old woman, her stark white hair wild around her wrinkled, russet face. Her electric blue eyes bored into Cleo's, and a frightening smile curled her lips around her gums. Cleo screamed, pressing herself against a wet, stone wall. "Who are you?!" she cried. The girl's eyes were wide with fear- her heart pounded in her chest, only causing her trembling to worsen. For once, her brave front had been entirely shattered.

The old woman paid her no attention. She gathered her dust-ridden skirts up from her ankles, dancing a wild dance around the room. "She's awake, she's awake!" she cried, her eyes wild. "Come, prince, come!"

Cleo had never felt such fear. This woman, though she could not have done any damage by herself, represented something far more frightening than she could realize. She pressed herself closer against the wall, feeling the water from it seep into her loose costume. The girl cast a desperate glance at Thomas, only to find him still unconscious.

"See? See?" the woman cried, now looking at something Cleo still couldn't see. Slowly, something stepped into the small stream of light from the moon. Its fur was a color as black as night, and its eyes glinted red with blood. This was the Blood Wolf. And he had come for her.

She opened her mouth to scream, but heard no sound escape her. Cleo knew it was over for her. There was nothing more she could do. Her face was pale as ice, and tears had begun to fall down her cheeks.

But the wolf didn't attack her. Instead it shrank back, its eyes shifting as he whimpered in pain. The old woman prodded him, a desperate look in her eyes. "What's wrong, Prince?" she whimpered. "Why won't you kill her?"

The animal shrank further back from Cleo, its eyes slowly changing to black. At once, she knew those eyes. The wolf threw its head back and howled in pain. Not her. it cried, its voice soft and clear in the room. Not her.

The old woman struck him harder, a wild flash in her eyes. "But you must! You have to! We'll both be doomed!"

Cleo looked at the wolf with wide, disbelieving eyes, the tears continuing to fall. "A-Akira?" she whispered, her voice cracking.

The wolf threw its head back in another howl. I won't be a monster.

Again the old woman raised her hand to strike him, but this time, he reacted. Without warning, he turned on her, his lips pulled back to reveal his shimmering white fangs. He snarled, advancing towards her.

She snapped her head at the sound of a low moan, seeing Thomas and David slowly coming to. The wolf growled deeply, his gaze on Cleo Go.

The minute the two were up, she grabbed them and ran towards the cellar entrance. "Huh…?" Thomas muttered, only half conscious of her dragging him. David wasn't in much better condition. She paid them no attention. They ran into the forest as Cleo tried to leave behind the image of that great wolf. As another cloud settled over the moon, she heard a wicked, agonized scream, and then all was silent.

Cleo never again saw Akira, at school or elsewhere. The memory of him had left her scarred. Thomas and David couldn't remember anything about that night. David had immediately asked for his bucket of candy once she had pulled them onto a lighted street. The experienced seemed to have changed her alone. She could now only look at Thomas as ordinary. He hadn't come to her rescue; maybe he never would. But when she closed her eyes, she could sometimes see Akira's black eyes.

And on Halloween nights, she could hear the howl of the Blood Wolf.

Surprisingly, this won my high school writing contest. Weird, but ok. Please review and tell me what you think. Remember, this was written in kind of a hurry.