“Did you do this?” said Jake, surveying the diagonal crack across his son’s bedroom window.
Billy shook his head.
Jake sighed. “I’ll get some glass at the weekend. For the moment I’ll just tape it up.”
Next morning there was a crack in the glass patio door, running top to bottom.
“He wasn’t home yesterday,” said Billy’s mother, “he played over at Joshua’s house all day.”
“Can you order me another piece of glass, Tom?”
“What the hell’s going on round here? You’re the fifth person to come by looking for glass today.”
Jake toured the house, checking the walls for cracks and testing floorboards.
“What are you looking for Dad?”
“Nothing son, just wondering about subsidence. This used to be a mining town; maybe there’s been some kind of shift, a tunnel collapse, way below.”
Billy’s already pale face blanched even more.
“I don’t know what’s got into the kids,” said Janie Watts, “Josh says they’re not planning to do ‘trick or treat’ this year.”
Billy’s mother frowned. “I asked Billy if he wanted me to make him up an outfit, and he nearly took my head off. He’s always nagged at me to think up something for him, but not this year.”
“Perhaps they’ve grown out of it,” said Janie, draining her coffee cup, “seems kids get more like little adults every year.”
“Maybe we should board up the windows?” said Billy anxiously, as yet another crack appeared, this time in the kitchen window.
“Maybe I should put a boot up Tom Robinson’s ass,” growled his father, “that glass should have been here days back. Some bull about lorries breaking down once they passed over the county line.”
Down in the woods, a group of young boys gathered in a clearing, their faces pale and worried.
“We never should have done that,” said Billy, kicking at a pile of dead leaves. “We’ve really stirred something up now.”
“Maybe we should go see the priest?” suggested one.
“And say what? Tell him we messed around with a Ouija board down by the entrance to the old mine? You gonna tell him that, knowing how he feels about Hallowe’en? He’ll go way out of his tree over this.”
“It was just a game …” protested another.
“I’m going home, it’s getting dark. You coming round tonight Billy?”
“I’ve been grounded, Josh” he lied. “Maybe tomorrow.”
Billy thought he’d prefer to be home with his parents on Hallowe’en.
At eleven o’clock on Hallowe’en, the lights went out throughout the town. Some people tried to ring the power company, but the phones went down halfway through dialling.
The mild October evening turned suddenly bitter cold, and those who were out walking were dragged quickly home by their howling dogs. Inside the houses, cats paced up and down windowsills, staring out intently at the gathering mist.
On the outskirts of the town, birds fell silent as a new sound carried on the still night air, getting closer with every second that passed.
And in the distance, dim lights bobbed up and down in time to the rhythmic tramp of miners’ boots, advancing towards the town.