TDTO: Trick or Treat
"Ah, Gilbert M." Helen A stopped at the bottom of the staircase, and
struck a pose. "I see that the Kandyman has been as obliging as ever. Do
tell me, what delicacies are those?"
Her majordomo gave a half-bow, and looked at the jar in his hand. "Blood
oranges, I believe, ma'am."
"Splendid. I do so hope we get some visitors. Tradition should be
encouraged." She softened her voice. "And it is for the children, after
From the outside, Helen A's residence resembled a smaller version of the
White House, painted pink. Its garden sported a collection of statues of
clowns, which seemed to leer at passers in the orange glare of the
streetlamps. Between beds of plastic flowers stood playground equipment that
looked to have been salvaged from the Chernobyl exclusion zone. It was no
wonder that the inhabitants of Nameless gave it a wide berth. Most of the
time, anyway. On this particular night, half-a-dozen eleven-year-olds from
H G Wells High School, wearing occult-themed costumes and carrying pumpkin
lamps, were preparing to storm the citadel.
"Seriously?" Danny Pink asked. "You're going in there?"
Courtney Woods tossed her head, taking care not to disturb her zombie
makeup. "Thought you was gonna be a soldier? You can't be a soldier if
you're scared of a stupid house."
"Soldiers spy out the land first," Danny said seriously. "The people
here've got a dog."
Danny turned to Clara Oswald for support. "Tell her she's being an idiot."
"Courtney," Clara said. "You're being an idiot." She straightened her
pointed hat. "Right, let's get in there."
Before Danny could protest, the group had marched boldly up the drive.
Clara pressed the doorbell, which played an off-key version of 'Happy Days
Are Here Again'. A few moments later, the door opened, and Helen A looked
down at the group.
"How nice of you to call," she said, and bestowed a politican's smile on
"Trick or treat!" the children chorused.
"We got plenty of eggs to throw if you say 'trick,'" Courtney added.
Helen A's smile didn't crack. "What a delightful little scamp," she said.
She reached back into the building and produced a paper bag. "Here are some
sweeties for you _dear_ children."
She dropped the bag into the outstretched hand of the nearest child, a
fragile-looking blonde girl dressed as a mummy, and closed the door firmly
in their faces.
"There you are," Courtney said. "Result. How easy was that?"
"Let's get out of here," Danny muttered.
Courtney shook her head. "I wanna see what she's given us first. Hand 'em
Maisie obligingly held the bag out. Sugary spheroids glinted red and
orange in the light of their lamps.
"Are you going to try one, then?" Journey Blue asked.
Courtney had been reaching for one of the sweets, but drew back.
"Nah," she said. "Not really my thing."
"You didn't say that when you were scoffing all that sherbet Ms Lundvik
gave us." Clara smirked triumphantly. "I think you're scared now."
"Of a stupid sweet? No way. I'm not scared of anything."
"Bet you are," Danny said. "I'd eat one."
Courtney rounded on him. "All right, then. You eat one and I'll eat one
"You don't have to..." Maisie began. But too late. Danny and Courtney had
both already picked a sweet from the bag.
"Give us a count of three," Courtney said.
Clara folded her arms. "OK. One. Two. Three!"
The two children popped the sweets into their mouths.
"Courtney?" Maisie asked nervously. "Are you all right?"
Courtney, it was clear, was far from all right. Her hair, naturally curly,
was standing out around her head, with sparks crackling across it. A red
light was shining in her eyes, and an orange glow was beginning to suffuse
"Danny?" Clara turned to see that Danny had fallen to the ground, his
flesh glowing in the dark like Courtney's. "Danny!"
"They killed Danny again," Journey said. "The bas--"
Abruptly, the glow cut out. Courtney, her skin and hair now orange in hue,
dropped to her knees, gasping for breath. At the same time, a similarly
orange Danny managed to rise onto all fours.
"Come on," Clara said. "Let's get out of here."
Supporting their afflicted friends, they made their way to the gate at the
best pace they could. Once safely outside, they paused to catch their
"I knew it was a trap," Maisie moaned.
"I don't care." Courtney seemed to have recovered from her experience far
more quickly than Danny had. While Danny was shivering and subdued,
Courtney's burning rage was evident through her zombie makeup. "I'm gonna
egg that evil old bat's house. Who's with me?"
Journey and Clara both raised their hands.
"OK. You two, with me."
"The rest of you, look after the sweets," Clara said over her shoulder.
Eggs at the ready, the intrepid trio marched up the drive.
"I think they're coming back to ask for an explanation, ma'am," Gilbert M
called down from the landing.
Helen A nodded. "Let me know if they perform any acts of mindless
thuggery. I think darling Fifi deserves to enjoy tonight as much as
"Take that!" Courtney shouted, hurling an egg. It smashed against the
front door. "No-one turns me orange and--"
"Courtney," Journey interrupted. She had an egg in her own hand, but
hadn't begun throwing yet. "Can you hear something?"
Courtney hurled another egg. "Like what?"
"Like something growling," Clara said nervously.
"There!" Journey pointed into the darkness. Something was bounding towards
them, its eyes two points of red light.
"The dog!" Clara tensed, ready to run.
"Don't run!" Courtney caught hold of Clara by the sleeve. "You got to show
it who's boss." She tried to stare down the approaching creature. "Sit! Good
dog! Stay! Aargh! Get it off me!"
"Journey, run!" Clara shouted. "Courtney, hang on!"
Courtney sounded as if she'd been dragged to the ground. "It's the one
hanging on to me!"
Clara dashed forward and thrust with her broom at the furry shape. With a
howl, it released its grip on Courtney. Its jaws closed around the
broomstick, and yanked it out of Clara's hands. Clara pulled Courtney to her
feet, and the two ran back to the gate. As they slammed it behind them, they
heard the dog's furious barks and growls, its running feet, and the thud of
its body against the far side.
"Did it bite you?" Maisie asked.
"Not me," Clara said. "Courtney?"
"Don't think so. Anyone got a light?" Courtney bent down and examined her
legs. "Look at what it's done!"
Her trousers, as befitted a zombie, had previously been ragged. Now,
'shredded' was a better description. Her trainers, too, had a chewed look
"She'll regret setting that horrible rat thing on me," Courtney snarled.
"Just wait till I get my hands on her."
"Don't!" Maisie protested.
"I'm not scared of her."
Journey put her hands on Courtney's shoulders. "Maybe that's just what she
wants us to do. You reckon she's really evil, don't you? Even more than Ms
"Of course she is!"
"Then she'll have something ready for you if you go back. Something worse
than the dog. Like old Karabraxos and her maths detentions."
"Yeah," Danny added. "The dog nearly ate you this time. Next time she'll
get you for sure."
"Look, she gave you stuff that turns you orange," Journey said. "That
can't be allowed. We should tell a policeman."
Gilbert M was still at his post on the landing when he heard Helen A's
quiet footstep behind him.
"Do tell me, Gilbert M. Have the little hooligans learned the error of
their ways?" she asked sweetly.
"I don't think they're coming back, ma'am."
"Excellent! Antisocial louts reformed into well-behaved children. Just
think what good we've done to society. And we didn't even have to use the
fondant surprise." She indicated a large vat, balanced on the balcony above
the front door of the house.
"We may have other visitors this evening, ma'am," Gilbert M hastily
"I do hope so." Helen A smiled again. "It would be a pity if the
Kandyman's hard work were to be wasted, after all."
"Have you seen the police in this town?" Danny asked. "That copper they
sent to teach us about road safety was crackers. He kept talking to his sock
puppet all the time."
"You mean Sergeant Moggie," Maisie said. "I liked him."
"No police," Courtney said firmly. "They wouldn't believe me. Let's
just... go somewhere else, OK?"
"OK." A thought struck Clara. "And we'd better make sure no-one eats any
more of those sweets. Who had them?"
The youngest member of the group held up the bag.
"Well, make sure not to eat any of them."
"Why not?" Ashildr said. She popped another blood-orange into her mouth,
with no visible effect. "I like them. They've got a bit of a sting in their
[ "Doctor Who" characters belong to the BBC.
This Time Round created by Tyler Dion.
Then Do That Over by Paul Gadzikowski.]
Thinks: This is what a nice clean life leads to. Hmm, why did I ever lead one?
-- Bluebottle, in the Goon Show