Valli opened her front door excitedly. The Draik let the
crisp, night air wash over her, tingling her orange scales. Looking up at the
dark sky, Valli saw that Kreludor was covered in wispy, silver-gray clouds. She
grinned as she pushed her pointed black hat out of her eyes. It was the perfect
"Mom! I'm heading out!" Valli called.
A tall golden Draik came to the door. She was
dressed up as a royal Draik, carrying a purple bowl of candy. She smiled at
her daughter and asked, "You've got your pillowcase?"
Valli nodded and held up the red case. "I've
got a lantern, too," she added, holding up a green paneled lantern. A single
candle flickered inside.
"Good," Valli's mother said, rearranging her
headdress. "Now remember, follow all the trick-or-treat rules. Stick with your
friend. Don't wander off. Try not to stay out too late. And don't eat any candy
before I've got the chance to check it!"
"Okay," Valli said impatiently.
Glancing at the clock, her mother said, "Aren't
you supposed to pick up Barron at eight forty-five?"
Valli nodded. "Yeah, I'd better go. Bye mom!"
She ran out the door, an excited grin spreading over her face. She was dressed
as a witch this year, wearing a black, pointed hat, a long, midnight colored
robe with an equally black belt, and tall black boots. In the robe's massive
pockets were a wooden 'potion-stirring' spoon, a fake wand, and an old spell
Valli rounded the corner, breaking into a trot.
She stopped at the third house on the left. It was a two-story house, painted
gold and blue. Running up the porch steps and pounding on the door, Valli looked
around at the street's decorations. Fake tombstones, ghosts, pumpkins, and ceramic
heads of Neopian bad guys dotted the lawns. The Draik's grin widened. She loved
The door opened, and a Lenny peered out at Valli.
Valli's best friend Barron was pretty weird. He wasn't much of a reader, like
the rest of his species. Barron preferred doing things as opposed to reading
about them. Unlike other male Lennies, who wanted to be Mutant or Darigan, Barron
wanted to be painted Faerie.
That fact showed more than ever tonight. "What
d'you think?" Barron asked, stepping onto the porch and spinning in a quick
circle. He smiled, orange beak shimmering in the faint moonlight.
Valli laughed. "It must've taken forever!"
Barron was elaborately dressed as a faerie Lenny.
Almost all of his normally red feathers were dyed bright green. Long, fake feathers
were attached to the real ones on his tail with bits of wire.
Barron nodded. "I spent over an hour just getting
the tail feathers on."
"Ready to go?" Valli asked.
"Just a sec." Barron opened the door, and grabbed
a dark green pillowcase from the front table. "Hey Dad!" he called. "Valli's
A teenage human appeared in the front room. Unlike
most of the pets
Valli knew, Barron lived with a human.
"Don't stay out too late," the boy warned.
"We won't," Barron assured him. "C'mon," he said
With a quick wave to Barron's owner, the Draik
and Lenny ran off the porch and back to the corner.
"Which way, Val?" Barron asked, eyes wide and
Valli pointed to a street past Barron's. "They
give out good candy over there."
Barron licked his beak. "Sounds good!"
The first house on the street was strung with
fake Spyder webs. Small, comic Pant Devils and Money Tree ghosts were propped
up with metal stands. Barron almost tripped over a fake tombstone. Two poorly
carved pumpkins sat grinning on the front porch. Valli knocked on the door,
while Barron moved his pillowcase from his wing to his beak. The door opened,
revealing a smiling purple Yurble.
"Trick-or-Treat!" Valli shouted.
"Ick-or-Eat!" Barron called around his beakful
The Yurble reached into her blue candy bowl,
and dumped some candy into the awaiting pillowcases. "Enjoy!" she said, before
waving and disappearing into the house.
Barron spit his pillowcase out. "Bleh. We shouldn't
use so much soap on these!"
Valli rolled her eyes. "You knew you were gonna
carry it in your beak! Why didn't you rinse it out?"
Barron made a face. "I didn't know my owner used
"Then just take out a wire and string it through
"No way!' the Lenny cried.
"Then deal with it!" Valli said exasperatedly.
About an hour later, Valli and Barron had trick-or-treated
several blocks to the left of Barron's house. As they passed Valli's street,
they saw a mutant Tonu limbering toward them. Valli and Barron slowed as he
approached, and recognized him as Spike, one of their classmates.
"Hey guys," Spike said, grinning. "Nice costumes."
"Where's yours?" Barron asked.
Spike's smile widened, revealing all of his sharp
teeth. "Don't need one. When ya look like this, no costume's gonna make
you look scarier." His eyes suddenly lit up.
"Hey, didja guys go down to the old house street
Mystified, Valli shook her head. "Why would we?
Nobody there gives out candy."
Spike winked knowingly. "Someone is tonight."
"Really?" Barron asked.
"Really," Spike confirmed. "Go on down if you
want. Me, I've got more T-O-Ting to do."
Once the Tonu had left, Valli turned to Barron.
"Should we check it out?"
Barron shrugged. "No reason not to."
So Valli and Barron headed toward the place called
Old House Street.
As its name suggested, the street was famous
for its old, mostly abandoned houses. Enormous houses complete with rattling
doors and crooked windows, sprawled across vast, weedy lawns. The few trees
that were there never had any leaves, even in the summer. When Valli had first
trick-or-treated there, she'd gone all the way down the street, finding only
empty houses and old pets who didn't give out candy.
Tonight, the street was filled with more Neopets
than Valli had ever seen on a single street. "Looks like we weren't the only
ones Spike told about the candy," Valli remarked.
"Probably someone else told him," Barron suggested,
looking around at the crowds.
"That's where everyone's headed," Valli said,
stopping and pointing at one of the houses. She and Barron ran forwards, stopping
in the middle of the lawn.
A large, tan chair was on the porch. Inside the
chair was a shadowy, blurred figure that looked like a human. A silver bowl
sat on the figure's dark lap. With a quick glance at each other, Valli and Barron
ran onto the porch.
Without a word, the figure dropped a large candy
bar into each of the pillowcases. Curiosity overwhelming her, Valli moved her
lantern forward. Her eyes widened, and Barron had to tug at her robe to get
the Draik off the porch.
As soon as they were far enough away form the
figure, Valli yanked Barron into the bushes bordering the path leading to the
"What?" asked Barron in surprise.
Valli whispered, "I moved my lamp forward to
get a better look at him."
Barron blinked. "What?"
"It was still a shadow! My lantern was about
five inches from his face, and he was just as shadowy as before!"
Barron shook his head. "Oh, come on, Val!"
"I'm not kidding!" Valli growled. "And it wasn't
my imagination, either!" She opened her pillowcase and dug through it.
"What're you looking for?" Barron asked.
Valli emerged from the pillowcase, clutching
a candy bar. "This's what he gave us," she said, reading the label and frowning.
Barron shrugged. "Never heard of them."
"What's weird," Valli said slowly, "is that the
label has no decoration. Just 'SHADOW BAR' in plain old letters."
Barron took the candy bar and studied the white
"It's not like other candy bars!" Valli snapped.
She leaned forward to snatch the bar. The large, brown spell book fell out of
Valli picked it up, absentmindedly turning the
pages. "I'm telling you, Barron," she said, "Every candy's at least got the
company's name on-"
Valli gasped, staring at a page in the book.
"Barron!" she said. "Look at this!"
The Lenny frowned, but moved behind his friend
and peered over her shoulder. He blinked, then looked from the porch to the
"No…" he said at last.
"Yes," Valli said firmly, leaning forward.
The page Valli had turned to had a drawing of
a shadowy, human shaped figure sitting in a chair. Just like the one on the
porch! Above the picture, in large, fancy cursive, were the words "HALLOWEEN
Valli ran a claw along the text beneath the
picture. " 'Halloween Shadows'," she read, " 'Are among the most obvious dangers,
but one of the most easily dismissed. They are, however, fairly easy to get
rid of. The Shadows sit on the porch of an abandoned house on Halloween nights,
with a silver bowl on their lap. The figure remains shadow even when light is
placed very near it. The treats Shadows give out, however, are the most dangerous
aspect of the Shadows. If the Shadow isn't defeated by midnight, all who eat
the candy will become Shadows themselves. The name of the candy is…"
Valli stopped. "That part's been washed away.
Looks like someone spilled water on it." She looked at Barron. "Wanna bet it
says 'Shadow Bars'?"
Barron let out a shuddering sigh. "It's not
Valli glared at him. "How can you believe that?
It all adds up! You want me to read the description again?!"
Barron rolled his eyes and sighed. "Fine," he
admitted. "So it does sound like a Shadow. What's it say about getting rid of
Valli turned back to the book and read, " 'To
defeat a Shadow, you must do the following: light a…a…"
"A what?" Barron asked anxiously.
"It's blurred again!" Valli said angrily. "There's
a 'T', but that's all I can make out!"
Barron clacked his beak in annoyance. "What's
next?" he asked.
"Wait until Kreludor is completely uncovered.
The Shadow will be weakest then. Take your weapon and throw it into the…"
"Another missing word?" Barron groaned.
"Yep," Valli confirmed, tail thrashing angrily.
"Just a 'B' and I think a 'C'. And there's an 'rs' at the end."
Valli's frown deepened. "Remove your weapon and
throw it at the Shadow. These steps must be done in the right order and before
midnight, or the candy bars will turn all who eat them into Shadow." She smacked
the book angrily. "That'd be way more helpful if we knew what the weapon was,
and what we're supposed to do with it!"
"The time'd be helpful, too," Barron added. "Too
bad nobody's invented a clock that fits around your wrist or something."
Just then, a voice from the street behind Old
House floated toward the two pets.
"Mo-om, I was only late by ten minutes!"
"It was twenty!" a woman's voice snapped. "It's
"Don't say anything," Valli advised, not wanting
to ruin their good luck.
"All right," she whispered to Barron. "We've
got a half hour to figure this out."
"Okay," Barron said nervously. "Let's try and
figure out 'T'."
"Thick? Trick? Tail?" Valli suggested.
"Tree? Tire? Tornado?"
"Wait," Valli said. "It has to be thrown, remember?
We can't throw a tree or tornado."
"Oh. Yeah," Barron said.
Valli thought for a moment. "Starts with a T…you
set it on fire…a torch?"
"Yeah!" Barron said excitedly. "A torch!"
"How about BC?"
"Maybe it's not a C…" Barron suggested.
"Then what could it be?" Valli asked.
Barron thought a moment. "An O," he said at last.
"The bowl of Shadow Bars!" Valli finished in
an excited whisper.
Turning back to the book, Valli read, " 'To defeat
a Shadow, you must do the following: light a torch. Wait until Kreludor is completely
uncovered. The Shadow will be weakest then. Take your weapon and throw it into
the bowl of Shadow Bars. Remove your weapon and throw it at the Shadow. These
steps must be done in the right order and before midnight, or the candy bars
will turn all who eat them into Shadow."
"That's it!" Barron said. His face fell. "But
what're we gonna use for a torch?"
Valli plunged a clawed hand into her robe's pocket.
She pulled out the wand.
"Light this with the candle," she instructed.
Barron blinked, then grabbed the lantern, opening it carefully. Valli began
to stick the tip into the lantern, but Barron held out a wing.
"Wait," he said, looking up. "The moon's still
got some clouds on it."
Valli sighed and pulled back. They waited as
a small cloud floated across the sky.
"It's almost gone," Barron reported. "But we've
lost at least twenty minutes."
"Let's hurry then!" Valli hissed. She stuck the
wand into the lantern, and it immediately burst into flames. Running out of
the bushes, she shouted, "You throw, I'll pull it out!"
Barron nodded, grabbing the torch in his beak
and hurling it toward the bowl. It landed inside, and the Shadow leapt up, hissing
and screeching as the candy in his bowl burned. It tried to pull the torch out,
but couldn't get close enough to the burning 'wand'.
Valli leapt up the stairs and plunged her hand
into the bowl, pulling the torch out and leaping away from the Shadow as it
swiped at her. Claws were growing from the creature's shadowy hands.
Barron clambered up the stairs behind Valli,
ready to take the torch and throw it. But the Shadow lifted the heavy chair,
and hurled it at Barron. Barron drew back, but not before his right foot became
trapped in the chair's heavy leg. There was no time to help him; the Shadow
was advancing on Valli.
Aiming carefully, Valli hurled the torch at the
Shadow. She grinned as it headed right toward it. The smile faded to a horrified
expression as it veered to the left, missing the Shadow and striking the porch
The wood burst into flames. The Shadow whirled
around, shrieking as flames landed on it's body. Valli ran over to Barron, and
helped the Lenny move the chair leg.
"Let's go!" Barron shouted, darting off the porch,
Valli inches behind him.
They turned around to watch once they'd reached
the street. The house was covered in flames. Several shadowy shapes appeared
in the sky; Shadow Bars, and the Shadow itself, immobile now.
Before Valli and Barrons' amazed eyes, the many
Shadow Bars vanished in wisps of smoke, followed by the Shadow, whose form hung
in the air for several seconds before dispersing.
After a moment of stunned silence, Valli said,
"You know what? I don't think I'll complain when Mom checks my candy this year."