October 1997

"What are you doing here?"

Jared looked up to see classmate Noah approaching while accompanied by the smaller Zach and a tiny girl who looked like she was still in preschool.

"I should be asking you that." Noah responded impatiently with a cross of his arms. "It's three against one. Think you can take us?"

Jared nudged the football on the ground while a staredown unfolded between all four children. Zach gave a cough before a faint rustling was heard in the wind.

Noah was the first to turn around and see the hideous creature scuttling rapidly closer. His eyes widened in horror as he quickly grabbed Zach and the girl so that they could make a getaway.

Jared was somewhat slower to notice the danger, which resulted in the crab-like monster quickly catching up. It extended a spindly leg to make him trip and fall, before looming forward menacingly.

He screamed and clawed at the ground in desperation as the creature forcibly rolled him over. The revelation that it possessed the head of a young man whose face was permanently twisted in agony, paralyzed him with fear to the point that he could only whimper.

A stream of corrosive acid then gushed from the creature's disfigured mouth. It settled all over Jared's face and melted his flesh away with a loud hiss.

Karen set the container of weed killer down in excitement so that she could comb the grass for something that had caught her eye. Jared watched intently for a few seconds before she rose and presented the furry bug resting upon her hand.

He flinched, which prompted her to offer reassurance.

"It's a huntsman spider. They may look scary, but they're actually pretty harmless. Would you like to hold it?"


Jared reluctantly extended his hand and she let the spider crawl on to his palm. The feeling of it's legs touching his skin made him feel a prickly sensation all over.

He swallowed to compose himself before trying to release it into the grass. It would not budge however and stubbornly clung to him, much to his fear and awe.

"I think he likes you. You could keep him if you want."

"Bye, Beelz. Gotta go trick or treating." Jared said affectionately as he turned the large jar around to get stsre at the pet that had kept Michelle away for over a week.

He gave the spider a little wave before draping a white sheet over himself and shifting it until he could see through the eyeholes.

Michelle called his name impatiently while she waited by the stairs and he hurried out to meet her. He blinked upon noticing how the so-called vampire makeup only emphasized her dark blue eyes, making them seem entrancing in a way he'd never expected.

"Wow..." He uttered dumbly before she took his arm and lead him downstairs.

Karen made them promise yet again not to venture two blocks beyond their street and to return by eight, upon which they both loudly agreed in frustration.

"I just want you two to be safe, that"s all..." She said with a sigh while watching them hurry outside.

"So, what was that about meeting Kyle?" Michelle asked somewhat mockingly, swaying their basket as they went on to the fourth house. "I think he's bailed on you."

"Shut up. You're just a pansy who's scared of Beelz."

"No, you're a freak for thinking that horrible thing is cute."

"Well, Kyle thinks he's cool. What do you say about that?"

He fisted her in the arm for extra measure before boldly charging straight across the road without looking. She gasped and went pale with shock at such apparent foolhardiness, though his making it safely to the other side filled her with relief.

She rejoined him a minute later and they trudged through an overgrown frontyard to get to a dilapidated front door.

Jared stretched up to ring the bell while she protectively grabbed his other hand.

A young man with dishevelled long hair and beard soon came to greet them. His voice was a lazy drawl as he looked down at Michelle's expectant face.

"What brings you little dudes here?"

"It's Halloween." Michelle replied calmly, despite a strange smell wafting out of the house and making her feel uncomfortable.

"Oh. I forgot..."

The strange young man wandered inside and returned moments later with a transparent bag of sugar covered gummy bears.

Jared smiled in delight beneath his white sheet while thinking it fortunate that nobody could see his expressions. He took the bag and decided to keep it to himself against Michelle's protests.

His energy began to wane after an hour and gave into temptation by popping two of the bears in his mouth when nobody was looking.

Street lights became remarkably bright a further thirty minutes later, prompting him to stare down at the ground for relief.

That was when tiny shadows began to dance on the pavement before his very eyes. They morphed and changed shape until there were a dozen little arachnids crawling around his feet.

"Pretty spiders..." He remarked with insane glee while tugging on Michelle's sleeve to get her attention. "Pop pop..."

She spun around in exasperation, only to realize that he was acting in an even more worrying way than usual.

"What's happening, Jared? Are you okay?!"

"They're everywhere, Michelle..." He replied monotonously whilst gesturing at nothing. "Even Beelz is with them..."