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Empty Candy


by chocolateisamust

--------

Also by extreme_fj0rd

The house on 298501997 Bread Street in Neopia Central was a frightening one. Three stories tall, it had a ghostly white exterior and a tiled, dusty gray roof. The windows were all cracked, and the great wooden door was splintered; the yard was overrun with weeds. One would probably assume that no one lived there, and yet, someone did. This fact was present with the ever-bright light bulb, the one in the front, downstairs room, and the shadows that sometimes lurked behind the door.

     Though, the resident of 298501997 Bread Street never left the home. He or she was a hermit with no visitors. Not even solicitors or deliverymen even bothered to come by.

     Until Halloween Year 12.

     That's where our story begins.

     --

     "Do you think Breanne's coming?" Kian asked anxiously, peering up and down the block. His ninja hood slipped over his face, and the Kyrii pushed it back impatiently.

     "There she comes!" Gloria said happily, jumping up and down and waving a yellow paw to the approaching Moehog. The Faerie wings attached to her back fluttered in the draft.

     "I wonder what she's dressed up as?" Kian wondered, but it was merely a reflex. They could all see that the strawberry Moehog was draped in a sheet, clearly imitating a ghost -- though badly.

     The third member of the group, Jetta, shrugged. Her gaze wandered down the street, past the groups of trick-or-treaters getting an early start, and to the house sitting along at the end of Bread Street. She shivered, and not because of the chilly October wind that rattled dry leaves enticingly in the gutter. After a few moments, the white Ruki glanced back at her friends, who were deep in conversation about which side of the road to start trick-or-treating on, and then again at the house. Trembling, she stepped nearer to the group and joined in the argument -- though somewhat halfheartedly.

     Just as Jetta began to contribute to the banter, Breanne finally neared the group. Shoving herself between Kian and Gloria, she interrupted, "How does everyone like my costume?"

     Kian smiled wryly and said, "It's perfect, Breanne."

     At this, Gloria gave the faux-ninja a sharp punch in the arm. "Tell her the truth, Kian! The truth! Everyone loves the truth!" the Kacheek chirped.

     "The truth?" Breanne frowned and struggled to adjust the poorly-fit bed sheet.

     Gloria nodded energetically and began to speak, but Kian cut her off with a curt, "I think what Gloria means is that she really likes your costume."

     As if Kian's quest to not destroy Breanne's self esteem suddenly dawned upon her, Gloria grinned daftly and squealed, "Yup, I love it, Breanne! But let's not get carried away with costumes - we have trick-or-treating to do!"

     Jetta audibly grunted and fingered the strap of her bright pink leotard (she was dressed as a ballerina); then, she frightfully glanced into all of her friends' eyes. Softly, she said, "Let's go on the other side of the street, guys." For the side they currently stood was where the creepy house towards the edge of Bread Street was located; on the other side, the near-end house was a pathetic thing with a stingy human who only gave one bite-sized candy per group.

     "Awww, but we always go on that side, Jetta. Let's try this side this year - I hear they give more candy," Kian stated.

     Jetta squirmed in her costume. "Please?" she asked.

     "Come on, Jetta, let's go on this side!" Gloria said enthusiastically. "More candy is the best!"

     Jetta eyed the decrepit house warily and shuddered. "Let's do the other side first," she said at last. "If there's extra time we'll go on this side." And there wouldn't be, she promised herself -- even if she had to trip and tear her costume to make sure of it.

     "Awww..." Gloria said.

     "Let's vote," Kian suggested. "All in favor of going on this side, raise your hand."

     One Kacheek paw and one Kyrii paw shot up into the air; Breanne glanced around at the others and slowly raised her hoof.

     "And..." the ninja Kyrii said, dragging the word out, "all in favor of going on the other side."

     Jetta sighed. "Guys, let's just go on the other side, okay?"

     "No way! We voted!" Kian said, laughing. "C'mon, Jetta, it'll be fun."

     Gloria nodded. "It will be," she asserted. "Please?"

     The Ruki glanced down at the creepy house and nodded reluctantly. "Fine," she said at last. "See if I care."

     Gloria gave her friend a grin, turned, and bolted off into the darkness. Breanne trotted after the Kacheek; with a cry of "Wait for me!" Kian ran after them. Jetta followed them slowly, still hesitant to go anywhere near that house. But it looked like there was no choice.

     --

     To Jetta's displeasure, many of the houses were empty - about every other one. This meant they would arrive at the creepy house sooner, and they did. Only one hour later, they stood before it, Gloria and Kian grinning enthusiastically, Breanne looking slightly nervous, and Jetta flushed and faint.

     "Let's go," announced Kian after a few moments, and he began down the long, uneven stone pathway that led to the front door.

     "Wait!" cried Jetta; everyone turned to look at her, and Kian stopped dead in his tracks. The Ruki babbled on, "I don't think anyone's home."

     Gloria frowned and furrowed her brow. She said, "How do we know if we don't ring the doorbell?"

     "Yeah!" chorused Kian.

     An awkward silence settled between the friends, and it was interrupted when another group of pets paused briefly at the creepy house, exchanged some words between each other, and then continued striding right on. In the back of her mind, Jetta wished she was with them. But no, no she wasn't. She just had to be with the daring Kian and the fearless Gloria, and the Breanne who went with them regardless of her true feelings.

     "Please, let's just skip this one," Jetta mumbled; the Ruki knew she was defeated but had to try just one last time.

     However, her efforts proved to be in vain when Gloria grabbed onto her arm and began to tug her up the pathway. "We're going, Jetta. And that's final."

     Jetta struggled feebly against Gloria, but the Kacheek was too strong. Kian and Breanne followed them up the path, and Kian slipped around the front two to ring the bell.

     To his surprise, there wasn't a doorbell. Jetta, peering over the Kyrii's shoulder, said, "Well, you said we'd ring the bell, and there isn't one!"

     Kian and Gloria glared at her, and Kian knocked firmly on the door. They stood back to wait; Jetta struggled again, fearfully. Gloria released the Ruki's arm, but Jetta didn't run. She was too scared to even do that; she stood as if frozen in place, shivering. Then, the door began to creak open. Kian, who hadn't really expected anyone to be home anyway, jumped back, crashing into Gloria. The Kacheek fell backwards into Jetta, and the Ruki stumbled from the weight, knocking Breanne over, too. None of them tried to stand, or even to yell at Kian; they all stared up in horror as the door opened wider, revealing an old blue Lupe who wore just a creased leather jacket and loose slacks.

     "S-sorry to interrupt you, sir," whimpered Kian as he scrambled back up to his feet; Breanne, Jetta and Gloria followed the action.

     The Lupe just stared at the group of dressed-up children and then turned around. The foursome expected the door to be thrust shut in their faces, but to their great surprise, the Lupe turned back around - and presented them a full bowl of candy. "Take as many as you like," he murmured softly. "No one else will come by. They never do."

     In a form of shock, Kian and the others hesitantly reached into the opaque bowl and scooped a generous helping of candy into their half-full, plastic, trick-or-treating pumpkin baskets.

     "T-thank you, sir," said Breanne, shaking slightly.

     The Lupe smiled in a gentle manner and said, "You're welcome." He glanced towards the still quite-full bowl and added, "Take it all. As I said, nobody else will come by."

     As they reached out to pile more candy into their baskets, Kian said hesitantly, "Why will no one else come by?" The Lupe turned to look at him, and the Kyrii hastily added, "Sir."

     There was no answer for a moment. Then, Gloria, Breanne, and Jetta -- who had apparently recovered from her earlier terror -- finished piling all the candy into their buckets, and glanced up at the Lupe as well.

     "They avoid my house because they're afraid of me," the Lupe suddenly murmured, staring down at the empty candy bowl in his paws. He flipped it over, ran his paw along the edge, then looked up at them again.

     The four trick-or-treaters stared back.

     With a somewhat sheepish smile, he continued, "I... am unable to take very good care of my lawn and gardens." His gaze went beyond them, to the weedy lawn and overgrown shrubs. "I was injured in the second Meridell war... there is little I can do, save putter around my house." There was silence, interrupted only by the laughter of another group of trick-or-treaters as they passed the house without even pausing.

     "The second Meridell war?" Breanne tested out suddenly.

     The Lupe nodded and sighed. "Meridellian side... I fought many hard battles."

     "Battles?" asked Kian in awe.

     There was another nod, and the Lupe set the candy bowl down onto a grimy end table that stood solitary beside him. "Many battles. Too many battles."

     Gloria gulped and said, "W-what happened in the war anyway? Who won?"

     The Lupe laughed bitterly and shook his head. "You're not learning these things in school anymore, eh? A shame… an important part of history. Then again, it was so long ago. Perhaps there is no need for history anymore."

     "Y-you never answered her question," whispered Jetta, gazing distantly down at the porch.

     "Oh, well it seems that I haven't. Well, then the answer is yes. Yes, we did win." He smiled, as if remembering the victory over the enemy.

     "That's good," said Kian, clutching onto his candy basket.

     There was a small period of silence, but Gloria broke it when she announced to her friends and to the Lupe as well, "It was nice to meet you, sir, but it's getting late. And Halloween only comes once a year. So I think that maybe we should be on our way."

     The Lupe's expression saddened, but he did not go against Gloria's words. "I understand, child - but do come back next year, will you?"

     The four nodded, and Breanne said, "Thank you for the candy."

     The Lupe bobbed his head up and down. "It was no problem, er uh -"

     "Breanne," said Breanne. "And these are Jetta, Kian, and Gloria."

     "I am Jeran," said the Lupe.

     "Again, a pleasure to meet you." Gloria smiled, not recognizing the veteran's name, then turned around and walked away; Jetta, Kian, and Breanne followed.

     Once they were gone, out of eyeshot, Jeran closed the door and stared at the empty candy bowl.

     And as he had said before, no more trick-or-treaters came that night.

The End

 
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