"How's it going?" Sheriff Joshua Barnes asked his deputy, Sheldon Forster, at one of the many food booths inside the Festival Of Samhain.

"So far, so good," Sheldon replied. "Everything appears to be orderly. Lauder and Templeton checked in a half-hour ago out by the Lost River, and Gonzalez out on Old Reservoir Road."

"And the east quadrant?" Barnes questioned, turning away from the tent with an apple dumpling and a cup of coffee.

"Um, Tolliver checked in from Chestnut Street an hour ago, but I haven't heard anything since. And O'Neil was out near the mall as of 45 minutes ago."

"Good, nice work," Barnes complimented. "You want a dumpling?"

"No, thanks, sheriff, my wife has me on a diet," Forster responded. "But I will have a coffee. It's getting chilly out here."

"Hun, would you be a saint and get Deputy Forster a coffee?" Barnes asked the young girl in the tent.

"Sure, sheriff," the girl cheerfully replied, turning her back to them to prepare his drink.

"Thank you," Barnes exclaimed.

As the sheriff turned back around, he almost immediately smiled, as he recognized his adopted daughter Sherry walking nearby with her friend Sienna.

"Excuse me one second," Barnes said to Forster as he stepped away from his lead deputy.

"Sherry!" Josh called out.

"Heyyyy!" Sherry gleamed, genuinely happy to see him. With the rain pouring down, the girls rushed to his side, more to get under the safety of the tent than anything else.

"Hi, Sheriff!" Sienna echoed. "How's it goin'?"

"Pretty good, actually," Barnes answered. "All things considered. You ladies having a good time?"

"Golden," Sienna responded. "Sherry won 50 bucks playing poker with a bunch of bikers."

"Bikers?" Josh inquired, immediately throwing up a caution flag in his mind.

"I don't know, a couple of big hairy fat guys at the poker tent," Sherry informed him. "They were really nice, though. How's your investigation? You sounded really worried earlier."

"Oh, we wrapped that up a few hours ago. It's just been a long day, that's all," Barnes stated. "You ladies have any big plans tonight?"

"Not really," Sherry said, trying to maintain peace. "Brandon and I passed out candy earlier, and we might swing by the rave a little bit later. But other than that, we'll probably be home early watching some of the classics."

"Nightmare Before Christmas?" Josh asked.

"What else?" Sienna interrupted, sarcastically rolling her eyes.

"Yeah, well, don't stay out too late," Josh ordered. "And keep your eyes open, okay?"

"Sure thing," Sherry agreed. "Is one o'clock too late?"

"Come on, Sherry, you know midnight is the bewitching hour in our house," Josh reminded her. "As long as you're home by then, you can watch movies as long as you want. I might even join you for a few."

"Deal," Sherry smirked, hugging her pseudo-father.

"Hey, Sheriff, did you guys find Logan yet?" Sienna questioned.


"Logan Dean," Sienna replied. "He was roaming around town in a Michael Myers costume earlier tonight, and we just saw him out on the perimeter about an hour ago. I think he was drunk."

"Is that so? Well, no, I haven't seen him," Barnes stated. "But I'll let my deputies know. If he was drunk, he's probably passed out by now."

"Sheriff!" Forster called out from the next tent over. "You got a second?"

Barnes didn't respond. He just nodded in agreement and pointed his index finger at him to signify he'd be there in a minute.

"Duty calls," Barnes said, turning back to the girls. "I'll see you at the house later, okay? Have a good time. And be careful. Nice seeing you, Sienna."

"Thanks, Josh," Sherry concluded as Sienna simply waved goodbye.

"And Sherry?"


"Your dad would be proud."


"WINNER! Nice job, big man!" the carny called out.

Standing nearby, Brandon Farson, holding a large croquet mallet, gleamed with pride as he'd just maxed out the strong man tower. After hitting the base pad with all his might, the electronic sound effects kicked in and the laser lights went all the way to the top, to the perfect number ten. Almost immediately, a fake bell went off, sending out a repetitive, annoying peal, but one Brandon was never happier to hear.

After a brief period of a steady downpour, the rain had tapered off and most of the crowds had picked back up again under the dark autumn sky.

"Dude, that was bad ass!" Connor Lowe celebrated, exchanging a high-five with his friend. "What do you win?"

"I don't know," Brandon answered, turning his attention to the carny. "What DO I win?"

"Any of the medium-sized stuffed animals from the middle row," the greasy, toothless female carny informed him. "You can try your luck again for a larger prize."

"I'll take the big pumpkin thing," Brandon stated. "Sherry will get a kick out of it."

With a toothless grin, the carny fetched a large stuffed pumpkin from the shelf and went to hand it to Brandon. However, Connor intercepted it and held it up for all to see.

"Look, it's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" he joked, dry humping the pumpkin before handing it to Brandon.

"Boy, somebody sobered up quick," Brandon stated, matter-of-factly.

"Puke-n-rally!" Connor exclaimed. "I'm getting ready for round two. Right after I totally kick your ass in this game."

Reaching down, Connor grabbed one of the two mallets next to the tower, handed the carny a dollar, and took a mighty swing.

With the same electronic sound effects, the laser lights started out fast, then began to slow down at the last minute, settling on the number 8. Not quite maxed out, but a notable effort.

"Fuck!" Connor complained. "This shit's rigged."

"It is not!" another voice called out from behind them.

It was Sienna St. Clair, who along with Sherry Robinson, joined them at the tower.

"What the hell would you know about it?" Connor asked, clearly still angered with his girlfriend.

"Um, I know you have to be STRONG to win the strong man tower," Sienna piped back. "Like Brandon."

"Here ya go, Sherry," Brandon said, handing her the stuffed pumpkin. "I won this for you."

"Aww, thanks, hun," Sherry gleamed, hugging it like it was a pet. "This will look great with the other decorations."

"I have to warn you, though, Connor already fucked the shit out of it."

"Connor did what?"

"Nothing. Nevermind."

Just then, a familiar face tapped Sherry on the shoulder and immediately got the attention of the entire group.

Unrecognizable to them all, Dayna Jordan had arrived on the scene, dressed as Ginger Fitzgerald from the cult film 'Ginger Snaps'. She had her hair dyed red with a silver stripe on each side of her bangs, along with a very revealing blue-gray top that left little to the imagination. Below that, she had on an entirely-too-short black skirt and leather heels that ran halfway up her leg. On top of it all, she sported a gray hoodie, covering up only part of her look.

All of their jaws dropped.

"Um...hi...Dayna," was all Sherry could say to break the awkward silence. "Great costume."

"Thanks," Dayna replied, tugging at the witch's charms she wore around her neck. She was clearly uncomfortable getting this kind of attention and praise, but it was good to know someone actually appreciated her efforts.

"Let me guess...Angela from 'Night Of The Demons'," Sienna pondered.

Dayna didn't even acknowledge her. She just rolled her eyes and looked instead to Sherry for vindication.

"No, Sienna, she's Ginger," Sherry informed her. "You know, from 'Ginger Snaps'?"

"Ohhhhh yeahhh," Sienna replied, pretending to finally get it although she was still clueless. "I think I saw that once."

"It's a cult did well, Dayna," Sherry praised. "I thought maybe you would have went for the wolf look."

Behind them, they heard the strong man tower light up again, this time striking the 10, releasing the familiar peal of the bells.

"HELL YEAH!" they heard Connor exclaim. "Finally! Give me my prize, bee-otch!"

Connor, choosing a plush vampire bat, joined the group feeling redeemed.

"What's up ladies?" Connor asked. "Look, Brandon, it's the three Moirai...Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest. HAHAHA."

"Shut up, asshole!" Sienna fired back. "You're such a dick. Just like Logan. But at least he knew who the Moirai really were."

"Oh, please," Connor argued. "You know Logan just googled that shit on his phone during class so he could get brownie points with Miss Moulson."

"Whatever!" Sienna yelled, turning away from him and toward Sherry. "Come on, let's get out of here. I can't stand him anymore."

"Fine! GO!" Connor shouted after her. "See if I win you anything EVER again."

Sienna turned back around for a second, and saw he was holding out the stuffed vampire bat. A small glint of guilt showed on her face for a moment, but she quickly turned and walked away with her friends without saying another word.

As they strolled back past the strong man tower, they overhead the dirty old carny complaining to her assistant, yelling, "Where's that other mallet?"

Proceed To Chapter 19
Back To The Lair Of Horror