“Jim can take Annabeth Trick or Treating while we hunt for these Whisper people.”
“Really? Annabeth says, eyes lighting up a bit in excitement.
“Really?” Victoria adds, her own expression one of severe concern.
“Really?” Jim tacks on, though you’re not sure if he even knows what’s going on or just wants to be part of what everyone else is doing.
“Yes, really,” you tell them all, already questioning your choice but too scared to back out of it now. “She clearly likes him, and if we want them to blend in with the other kids making the rounds, can you think of anyone less likely to be aware of anything, supernatural or otherwise, than Jim?”
“Truth be told, I’m only half sure all of you aren’t hallucinations from a weird hash I took freshman year,” Jim says, in what you’re pretty sure is a form of agreement.
“What’s hash?” Annabeth asks, looking up at Victoria.
“A foolish endeavor of the mundane, and something that will not be discussed again tonight.” Victoria shoots Jim a look that would melt steel, and is so powerful even he seems to get that he might have messed up. “Merlin does make a point though. What the Whisper family takes is far more potent in adults than children, who haven’t lived long or deep enough. So long as Annabeth seems like nothing more than a normal kid, she shouldn’t be a target, and there is nothing about Jim that would put people on alert, unless those people were narcotics officers.”
“Fuck! Where?” Jim slams himself to the living room floor, head darting around anxiously. Both of you choose to ignore him until he gets his shit together.
“Annabeth, listen well to the mortal while in his charge. This outer world is theirs, and they know best how to blend in. But use your own judgement as well, because Jim is kind of an idiot,” Victoria tells her sister.
“I understand.” Annabeth walks over, helps Jim off the floor, and the two of them stroll out the front door of the house that you all broke into. Wow, maybe you should wipe your fingerprints or something. This is some pretty blatant crime committing, well-intentioned or not.
“So what do we do?” you ask her, completely ignoring my advice like an asshole.
“We hunt.” Victoria looks over the scarecrows once more, licking her thumb and rubbing it against one of their carved pumpkin heads. “These people are fresh, turned within the hour. The process is not a laborious one, but getting into the houses to strike would take some time. I’d wager that we’ll find one of them on this cul-de-sac or the next.”
She takes off through the front door, not bothering to re-lock it behind her, which you’re actually not even sure those claws can do. You hurry to catch up as she strides down the sidewalk, a sense of purpose rarely seen in her movements. This whole thing has really chapped Victoria’s ass, and you’ve almost died enough as her friend to definitely not want to be an enemy. After several minutes of walking, she pulls up short in front of a non-descript house with five jack-o-lanterns lining the porch. Taking a deep sniff of the air, she grabs your hand and pulls you around to a gate at the side, leading to the backyard. Victoria extends one dark clawed finger to her lips, signaling you to keep your yap shut for a change, and then soundlessly opens the gate and slips through.
By the time you catch up to her, trying to keep your cheap duster from snaring on these people’s bushes, Victoria is crouched by a rear window, peeking through. She points to the pale light streaming from the kitchen, and you take a look at what’s happening.
At first, all you see is the child, dressed in a cheap, somewhat tattered ghost costume. The people who live here, a man and woman in Frankenstein and Bride costumes, are talking to it, asking questions that seem concerned. The man reaches for a phone just as Victoria reaches over and slips her hand around your forearm. Thankfully, her other hand quickly throws itself across your mouth, muffling the scream that tries to leap from your throat.
The moment she touched you, the scene in the kitchen seemed to warp and spasm, until you saw that it was not just the child and the couple in the room. There was another entity, this one swathed entirely in sheets and bandages, but unlike the child there was nothing “somewhat” about the tatters of this ensemble. Stains, mostly brown like the color of dried blood, were splashed all over the threadbare garments, so torn up that only the multitude of layers prevent you from seeing what lurks underneath. Before the man dress as Frankenstein could get his hand on the phone, the ghoul in rags grabbed him behind and turned his face toward the area where its own would be. Things began to spasm again, and when they clear the rag-covered fingers were holding a jack-o-lantern, resting atop a scarecrow that was dressed as Frankenstein.
You have no idea how much of this the woman saw, but the terrified expression in her eyes as she opens her mouth to scream tells you it was at least a little. Oddly, no sound escapes her mouth, nor does she make noise as she back-pedals and bangs into the counter. It’s like the whole room has been dipped in silence.
Whirling on Victoria, you see her eyes burning even through the contacts, but she makes no movements as the child and ghoul both converge on the woman.
“We have to go help her!”
“What is stolen can be returned,” Victoria tells you. “But these two are only a piece of the whole. We need to find the head of the family, who will be collecting the tributes from his runners. Just stay put, and we’ll tail them back to their home base.”
“Are you shitting me, I can’t just sit here and watch someone get turned into a scarecrow! We have to get in there and help those people.”
“You are free to do as you wish, Merlin. But I cannot risk the chance to save all for the comfort of aiding one, so you will have to interfere without my aid. Rest assured, when you are turned, I will do my best to restore you to human form before the sun rises. As always, however, there are no promises.”
Cold, but sort of what you’d expected after knowing Victoria for this long. If you want to help, you need to do something soon. You can charge in and try to stop them from attacking the woman, or maybe just knock on the door and make them think they’re about to be caught in the act. Of course, you could always just wait it out with Victoria, trusting her judgement over your own. Whatever you do, do it fast, because they’re closing in on that lady by the second.