I watch them as I watch everything here in town.

They skip, scamper, and shout at one another — little “boos” in training. They’re nothing like their parents, who were nothing like their parents, who were nothing like their parents, who were… Well, you get the idea.

There’s nothing real behind their masks. At best, I could find a few half-breeds I’m sure, but most of them don’t even have the tiniest drop of bloodless in them. Too many “immigrants” to town in recent generations.

Watching their silly attempts at creepy and supernatural makes me laugh though. Their pretense of bloodlessness is always betrayed by the super rosy cheeks of their excitement. (That’s the easiest way for beginners to tell, by the way. Just look at the cheeks; it’s a dead giveaway.)

Ringing doorbells fill the night and “cute” is the word I hear a lot to describe them — exactly what we all aspire to, no? They eagerly hold their bags and buckets out for candy and crinkle their noses at the treats offered by those of us who’ve been here for generations. Poor dears wouldn’t know what to do with those treats if they bit them in the nose. Some of them do.

It hasn’t always been this way here in the Gap. Halloween used to mean something. This town was always one of the last remaining places in this new world where we could truly celebrate the reason for the season.

And there are only a small handful of us left who remember that. Who remember the need to put aside our differences and conflicts and learn to stand together united. Who remember the holiday of giving and sharing.

But I suppose our town is blending in as well as we, its residents, are. So at least the purpose was achieved. We share our blending rituals and tricks to fit into society with one another. We treat ourselves for yet another year of successful “passing” as the living and remember fondly (or not-so-fondly) those who have passed beyond this world.

Some of us don’t have to disguise as much as others to blend, but Halloween has always been a night where we could party in our truest forms, the night we’re expected to look like the freaks and monsters we are. It’s the one day of the year that the rest of this world embraces and even idolizes who we are, instead of just running scared. They still have no idea.

And we respect them for that, and let them live in their ignorance. No one stirs the waters on this night. We party with them, giving them the thrills they crave, even if this young generation doesn’t understand why. All the while, the unspoken rule that everyone understands is, “no death on this night.” The penalty is too great for anyone who dares break that pact. Ostracism from this town for the bloodless means nearly certain obliteration.

I watch as the little girl trips up my sidewalk. Her fake talon nails colored in the same black as her floor-length gown and lipsticked mouth. She clicks her little fangs in and out of her mouth with her tongue, her cheeks turning bright red under the faux-whitened skin. These are my favorite, the stereotypes. If she only knew the reality of what un-lives behind this door.

As my doorbell rings, I choke back my first responses and put on a fake smile to play my part in this facade. Coalescing into solid form (I have to hide this from even my own family – it’s not yet time for them to know who they really are), I get ready to offer her my famous midnight “punch” with its secret ingredient. The years have taught me to disguise my treats, but the children will sleep well – even with the added sugar of the treats from the living.

After all, this innocent child doesn’t deserve my frustration; she’s only acting her part the same as everyone else tonight.

“Good evening, Miss Sandra.” Her bashful, dark eyes look up at me. “Trick or treats?”