"Hey, Chief! Look at this." Jason Campbell, Sgt., Cannonville PD, handed his boss a BOLO fresh off the telex.
The chief took it and read it through. It wasn't long. It read: Be On The Lookout for John Moonman, aka Moon Freak, aka The Freak. 6"3", anglo, brown and brown, 340 pounds. Tat on the back of his left hand of a tiger's head with the mouth open and teeth bared.
The kicker was his record. He was a violent pedophile. And he'd just escaped from the state prison. He'd overpowered the guy who brought in the groceries, strangled him, stolen his ID, pasted his own picture over the one of the ID, put on the guy's jacket and driven his truck out. The guys on the gate were newbies and didn't know The Freak from Adam.
The chief dropped the BOLO on his desk and looked up. "The intel says he's probably headed this way; he grew up here and knows the area. Well, this is our busiest night of the year, and we've already assigned all available men to be on the street watching all the trick or treaters anyway. Get the word to all officers: look for a huge freak, expect him to be armed and extremely dangerous. With all those kids out there as a target, he won't be able to stop himself. He'll be out looking for a kid to take, and we'll be out looking for him. And Campbell," he said, his voice growing stern, "no fuck-ups. I want this guy."
"I'm on it, Chief," Jason said, but privately, he thought the chances of a man that recognizable prowling around with all the policemen that would be out and about, all of them making themselves seen, was maybe one in a thousand. The BOLO said the man was fat, not stupid.
Bobby Randall scrunched up his face. He always got a frustrated scowl on his face when he was concentrating hard, and Bruce Conroy loved seeing it. Well, to be truthful, he loved all the expressions Bobby managed. It also wouldn't have been stretching that truth to say that Bruce not only loved Bobby's expressions, but that he also loved Bobby himself. The sentiment was mutual. Both boys were still 12; both would become teenagers within the next two months. A few months ago, they'd surreptitiously watched Bruce's mom's DVD of Friends with Benefits when she'd been out of the house, and Bobby, the more risk-taking of the two, had suggested afterward that's what they should be. Friends with benefits. Bruce was startled but delighted. They'd been undressed and in Bruce's bed only a few minutes later, and were thereafter indeed friends with benefits. They were boyfriends, too, but unannounced ones to anyone but themselves.
Now, watching Bobby scowl, Bruce grinned. "What's the matter? Even my little sister can sew."
"Then get her in here and let her do it. Boys aren't supposed to sew anyway!"
"When did you become a macho sexist pig?"
"Hey! I just know women's work when I see it."
"Women's work! You're just upset because you aren't any good at it, that's all. And you're dumb, too. I bought a costume already made so I wouldn't have to do any sewing."
Bobby's scowl grew fiercer, so Bruce called out, "Hey, Suzy! Can you come in here?"
A moment later his 11-year-old sister came into the room.
"Suzy, Bobby would like to ask you a favor. Wouldn't you, Bobby?"
Bobby tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to change the scowl to a pleasant smile. "Sue, do you think you could show me how to sew these wings on this shirt? This just isn't working! I can't seem to get the needle and the thread and the wings and the shirt to cooperate all at the same time." He broadened his smile, which changed its appearance from that of a constipated orangutan to a seasick kangaroo.
Suzy laughed. "What do I get out of it? You don't want me to show you, you want me to do it for you. So, what do I get?"
Bobby thought, then his grin became real. "I'll let you see me naked!" He wiggled his eyebrows in a manner intended to be sexy.
Suzy scoffed. "I've already seen that. Not much to see, either, and it isn't worth a first-rate sewing job in any case. Have to be something better."
"What do you mean, you've seen me?"
Suzy managed to put on a bored look. "The other night you two were playing strip poker, and the door wasn't all the way shut. I saw what you did after, too. But I'm saving that for when I want something big."
Bobby looked at Bruce, and Bruce looked back, then shrugged and said, "Sisters!"
Suzy ended up sewing Bobby's bat outfit, and Bobby ended up doing her weekly chores, almost all of which she'd left undone till that day. But it took her longer to sew the costume than it did for him to do the chores, so he figured he'd got the best of the deal.
While she was finishing up the costume, Bobby asked Bruce if she'd tell on them. Bruce shook his head. "We used to do that, but don't any more."
"I'd tell on her," Bruce said, "and she'd get spanked. I never much liked hearing that. Then she'd tell on me and I didn't much like my spanking, either. But she didn't like hearing me get whacked any more than I did her. We talked, and decided we'd both be better off with no tattling. So we don't do that any more. It was funny; after that we began treating each other better, and got to liking each other better, too. We're closer now."
"Good," Bobby said, uninterested in Bruce's family dynamics and still thinking about why he'd brought this up. "If your parents ever found out…" Then, thinking back to what Sue had seen, he said, "You know, you should have made sure the door was closed. Her seeing us was all your fault for not doing that!"
Bobby was only half serious, which Bruce knew from his tone of voice, but it didn't stop Bruce from acting outraged. "Me? You were the one with your hand down my pants, pushing me toward the bed. I wasn't thinking about doors just then."
Bobby grinned. "OK. Maybe some of it was my fault."
"Trick or treat!"
Bruce and Bobby were in a group of kids who'd all arrived at a front door on their street at the same time. The porch was brightly lit and contained three candle-lit jack o'lanterns and a fake witch to add atmosphere to the house.
The door was opened by a middle-aged woman holding a large bowl of mini-sized Snickers bars. "Oh, my! What do we have here?" And she began to identify the costumes as she was dropping candy into each bag to the standard 'Thank you' accompaniments. "A goblin; a Spiderman; a princess — oh, how adorable you are; a cute white mouse, a…"
The two boys, among the oldest in the group, were in the back and got their candy last. As they were walking away, both carrying heavily laden bags almost full to the brim, Bruce asked, "You almost ready to call it a night? There aren't that many kids out this late, and we have enough."
Bobby looked down into his bag. He didn't want the night to end. He was thinking they wouldn't have Halloween to celebrate like this that many more times. Maybe next year would be the last time. Or maybe even tonight. A lot of kids in the class above them were going to parties now and giving up trick or treating altogether.
He looked up at Bruce. "Let's just go one other place. Over on Adams, where the houses are bigger. I've heard they give better candy, full-sized candy bars and like that."
Bruce looked around. They were at the end of a cul-de-sac. There was a small woods behind the houses where they were standing, and there was an access path between the houses leading into the woods. Adams Street was on the far side of the woods, just a short walk. Bruce was ready to go sort out his candy with Bobby, trading with each other to suit their individual tastes. Bobby would be spending the night with him, and there was no rush to get back home.
"OK, let's do it," he said. "But just up and down one block."
They walked side by side into the woods. They'd have only about 50 yards of trees to walk through, and the path was well used. However, as they entered the woods, the small moon that was out slid behind some clouds, and the night became darker. The woods was darkest of all.
They'd gone past the point where they could see back to the lights behind them. All around them was darkness, with only the faint outlines of the trees closest to the path visible. Instinctively, they moved closer together, so close that Bobby's batwings were rubbing against Bruce's black robe.
Bobby suddenly stopped. "Did you hear that?"
"I thought I heard something. Like a footstep."
Neither spoke, both listening. The woods were silent.
"Come on," said Bruce, and reached out for Bobby's arm. Grasping it, he began walking faster.
Then he stopped. "I heard it!" he said.
Then there was a crashing sound, the sound of something breaking through a bush, and suddenly both boys were slammed to the ground. They looked up but it was too dark to really see much. There appeared to be a very large figure looming overhead. Then it spoke.
"Ah! Boys! My favorite." The voice was deep and scratchy and altogether terrifying.
Both boys were plucked from the ground and tucked under two huge arms. The Freak had fared well. He'd only been looking for one victim to satisfy his cravings, and had doubled his score. What he said next curdled the boys' blood.
"I'll have one of you tonight and save the other for tomorrow. Neither of you make a sound. If either of you do, I'll kill you both immediately. One sound, and you're both dead."
He carried them effortlessly. He'd spent the last two years in prison lifting 300 pound barbells every day. Two 100-pound boys didn't even cause him to break a sweat. He was thinking as he walked about the fun he'd have when he got them to the vacant house he'd discovered, just outside the woods.
He could see himself with them in the deserted house, stripping them bare, making them strip him. The things he'd do…
He stepped out of the woods. This was into a different neighborhood entirely from where the boys had entered, or where they'd been headed. Here, the streetlights were spaced far apart and many didn't work. The dwellings were more shacks than houses, and many showed only a single blue glow from a TV set inside. There was no one on the streets.
As dark as it was, The Freak wasn't worried about being seen, and the house he was headed towards was only a short distance away. He crossed in front of a dark house on his right and was in the front yard he was aiming for when he heard a voice.
"Police! Stop right where you are! Drop the two boys and put your hands in the air! Do it! Do it now!"
The Freak paused and turned his head. A single policeman was five steps behind him, in a half crouch, pointing a weapon at him. The Freak smiled. He knew he wouldn't be shot at with the boys in his arms.
His safest place was in the house. Get inside and they'd have to call a SWAT team, and that would take some time. This was only one man. Once he was inside with the two boys, this single policeman could only watch from outside, and at best could only see two sides of the house at once. The Freak would have plenty of time to escape, taking one of the boys with him as a hostage. He was wondering if he had time to have a bit of fun with the other before running for it.
He'd started running the last few steps toward the house when his whole world exploded.
Jason Campbell had been staking out houses in this area. He'd made sure all his men were looking for The Freak. He'd been making the rounds and no one had seen the man. It was now getting late, and Jason felt some urgency. If he was going to find The Freak, which they'd all though possible because of the many kids out on the streets, it had to be soon. Just for something to do, desperate as it was, Jason had driven to the worst neighborhood in town, an area where some of the houses were deserted. This might be a place where The Freak would try to hole up. Jason was well aware of the small woods in the area, too. He'd noticed that one of the empty houses stood near the woods, and he'd been paying special attention to it. He'd hardly been able to believe his luck when he'd seen a man matching the description of The Freak come out of the woods. Then he saw he was carrying two boys.
He waited till The Freak was past him, then called for him to stop. He wasn't surprised when the man broke for the house. He didn't hesitate: he fired his Taser at the broad back, and its darts nailed The Freak.
"You guys OK?" Luckily, his forward momentum had caused The Freak to fall face first onto the lawn. The kids had hit the ground, too, but The Freak's fat stomach had taken almost the entire force and they hit rather gently, still cushioned in one pudgy arm each. Jason had quickly pulled them loose, and now was about to get his handcuffs out. The Freak was starting to move, but 50,000 volts at two-hundredths of an amp had incapacitated him for the moment.
The two boys looked at each other, then, speaking together, said, "Yeah, we're OK."
"OK, well, stick around, I've got to take care of this." He got his handcuffs from their pouch, hoping they were large enough to go around The Freak's immense wrists. He opened them and found they'd be tight but that he'd be able to make them work. He slid one on and got it locked, but by then The Freak was showing signs of recovery. Jason grabbed the still loose wrist and bent it behind him. The Freak began to struggle, and momentarily Jason was afraid he'd have to zap him again, but just did manage to get the second cuff closed.
"Whew!" he said, then turned to speak to the boys.
They were long gone.
"You sure about this?" Bruce said, really not wanting to go back into those woods.
"I'm not leaving two almost full bags of candy lying on the ground. Come on! What are the chances of that happening again?"
"It's only candy," rebutted Bruce, but by then they were already in the woods.
"No its not. It's Halloween candy. That's the best kind."
Bruce normally would have argued. They loved arguing with each other. But now, he had something else on his mind. "Bobby?"
"When that cop used the laser, did you feel anything?"
Bobby saw the bags of candy lying ahead and went a little faster. "Yeah, it made me tingle all over. You too?"
Bruce nodded, then realized Bobby couldn't see him. Bobby was leaning down, scooping up the two dropped bags. "Yeah, it did. I wonder if that guy hadn't been so fat, maybe we'd have felt it more."
Bobby stood up, then turned to Bruce, a grin on his face. "Did that tingle do anything to you?"
Bruce then grinned, too. "Yeah. It gave me a boner."
Bobby laughed. "Hey," he said. "What say we skip Adams Street and just go home?" He reached now and squeezed where his Darth Vader robe was tenting out.
Bruce didn't even bother to reply. Grinning, he simply grabbed Bobby's arm, turned and started walking.