"Don't forget to carve the jack-o-lanterns, guys. Halloween is only a few days away."
"We'll do it later tonight, Mom. First can we please go over to Patrick's? His family is setting up a haunted house!"
"Don't be too long, Dave. It's a school night."
"Alright, we just wanted to see it, and maybe help them set up."
"Well that's fine. If they need help be sure to call me if you and Conrad plan on being late." said the attractive single mother as she set two large pumpkins on the porch.
"We will, but don't worry. I plan to be home early to get started on those pumpkins, they look perfect!"
"I'm glad you are in the Halloween spirit." laughed Mom. Secretly she had been worried that it would be a rather sad Halloween. It was too bad that Vern had insisted on moving to New York right away, she mused.
As the two children got on their bikes, she looked at the pumpkins. Vern had always helped the kids with them.
She went back to the car to get the rest of the groceries, and her phone rang. "Hello Megan, I'm in a real bind. My car's in the shop, and I have to be at work in forty-five minutes. Are you busy?"
"Let me put my groceries away, then I'll come get you."
Once she had completed her unexpected errand, it was past time to prepare dinner. The boys would be home soon, and hungry.
"Oh my, they got back sooner than I expected. I hope they can hold off until I can throw something together." she said, surprised. Both pumpkins had been carved into incredible jack-o-lanterns, with a skill that she had never seen in person. They looked like the ones on the news, done by artists for the Fall Fright Festival.
"Dave, Conrad! I'm so impressed by your jack-o-lanterns! You should enter them in the Festival."
She didn't receive a reply, so thought perhaps they had gone back out. It was still early enough. But how had they carved those works of art? And in such a short time. The faces were eerily lifelike.
"Hi Mom, I saw the jack-o-lanterns! Did you do that?!?! They look awesome!" exclaimed Dave, walking into the kitchen. His mouth was smeared with what looked suspiciously like chocolate. Conrad was close behind, holding half of a large chocolate chip cookie.
"Well I needn't have worried about your dinner being late, at least you won't starve while you wait." she scolded while laughing.
Both children pretended to be ashamed, making her laugh even harder.
"And very funny, Dave. You know full well that I can't even cut a proper triangle, let alone create whatever those are out there. They look like they could start talking."
"Yeah... I wonder who carved them?" he said, suddenly serious.
"You did, of course. Wash up, dinner will be ready - eventually."
"But we were at Patrick's. We wouldn't have had time to do anything that cool with them even if we had stayed home."
"Great prank boys, you almost had me. But I'm not falling for it. I would love to know how you did it though."
Her two sons looked at each other and shrugged. They then went to wash up, and wait. She tried to laugh it off, but they were right. And if they had come right back, where did the cookies come from?
"Maybe someone else is playing a prank, but who and why?" she asked herself. It bothered her more than she wanted to admit. Deciding to forget it, she made dinner.
"It's time to go boys, if you want to get the best candy! Trick Or Treat waits for no man.
"Are you sure you want to stay home, Mom? You could dress up and come with us." asked Dave, concerned. He and Conrad had been going trick or treating alone with other friends from school for several years now, but they didn't like leaving her alone on a holiday.
"I'm looking forward to greeting the trick or treaters. Especially with those awesome jack-o-lanterns. They're going to be a real hit."
Convinced, the boys left. Their Ghostbusters costumes would be the best on the entire block. After all, they helped Mom make them.
Once her two sons were out of site, Megan Tilner began to weep. Her tears fell on the jack-o-lantern on the left side of the door. Trying to pull herself together, she turned around to check the candy dish on the right side. But her vision was still blurry. A few tears fell on the other jack-o-lantern too.
She decided it might not be a bad idea to put on a costume and mask. Especially a mask. As she went upstairs, a dark shape in a cloak peered out of the bushes.
It was about three feet tall, and had round ears the size of dinner plates. When it gave the open door an evil grin, needle sharp teeth were revealed.
"Fresh meat..." it croaked, grinning even wider as it sniffed the bottom step. Climbing the steps in much the same way as a toddler would, it reached the top step. Suddenly, it was launched off of the porch, as if from a catapult.
The would be intruder landed hard on the sidewalk across the street, and bared its teeth. In response, the two jack-o-lanterns glowed like glass globes. First blue then red, before returning to their normal appearance.
Megan returned to the porch, now in a black cape, with a plastic witch's mask covering her face. The strange creature was gone, and the neighborhood quiet.
But soon it was anything but quiet. Trick or treaters came and went. As predicted, the twin jack-o-lanterns were a huge draw. The candy ran low.
During a lull in the activity, Megan made a quick trip to the kitchen. Again she left the door open, only going in for a few seconds.
A black mist rose up from the lawn, and slowly took the form of a tall, lanky person. It confidently floated up the stairs. The second it was on the top step, it burst into a dark fog, which was blown away by a strong breeze. The jack-o-lanterns glowed like green fire.
The breeze was gone before she returned, but there was still a hint of green to the pumpkins. She blinked and they were normal.
A family with young children came to her door. All were dressed as Addams Family characters.
"You have Guardians?!?!" Exclaimed the children's mother. Her eyes were wide with surprise.
"Guardians?" asked Megan curiously.
"Those two pumpkins have been carved in a very specific design. It's ancient, and I thought it was a lost art. From what we know, the Druids were the only ones able to create active Guardians. But these are incredible replicas!"
"How do you know so much about Halloween? Is it a hobby?" asked Megan, more curious than ever.
"It's part of my job. I study ancient mythology at U of W."
"Ah. Do you know of anyone else who might know about the design? Is it common?"
"No, it's very rare. That's why your wonderful replicas surprised me so! It was a pleasure to meet you, I would really love to stop by tomorrow for a better look at them if you don't mind?"
"Be my guest. It was a pleasure to meet you and your lovely family. Come by any time!"
"Hi Mom, did you have a good night?" asked Dave, walking up to the house. He and Conrad were loaded with candy.
"Yes... It was different, but good. I see you two had a very good night!"
The small family looked at each other, then hugged joyfully. After they went inside and closed the door, both Guardians glowed a bright white.
Cover Image is from Canva, using their gallery. Heavily edited by me to include my original fractal art