Jack had always hated his name, too many nursery rhymes to be used against him, however he had taken on a new moniker as of late.  Jack the Pumpkin King had a nice ring to it as well as a lovely visual as he often felt that he cleaned out the houses he visited as quickly and easily as he did carving pumpkins.  Now what made the name so appropriate was that he only struck at one time of year, Halloween.  He had never called undue attention to his work taking only the small portable electronics that people might just consider miss placed rather than the larger things that would always bring police interference.  His favorite things to take were GPS devises because of the additional satisfaction that not only had he taken their property he had also taken their way.  Jack had never left any signature cautious to avoid detection however this had started to annoy him, and so he had been toying around with something that would mark the outside of the house without tipping off the inhabitants that anything was amiss.  The prevailing idea was one that made him giddy and filled him with a sense of danger making it perfect especially as tonight was the big night itself.

He dressed and dark loose clothing, donned his favorite grim reaper mask, swung the large though currently empty potato sack over his shoulder and was off.  Jack worked in  a north to south then east to west pattern starting as far as he dared and ending as close to his home as he dared.  The addition to his general plan added a heady buzz of excitement to the night.  This year he had the good fortune of Halloween falling on a Saturday, meaning that party goers would be away late into the night giving him more than enough time to make his rounds.

The first few houses had been slow money makers and had Jack in a foul mood as they sported only electric pumpkins on their front stoops.  However halfway through his night he hit the jackpot as a small two story provided him with a GPS, an iPod shuffle, and a calorie counter’s dream watch.  As he walked out the front door he leaned down and tipped the mask just high enough to blow out the candle in the scowling faced pumpkin before turning towards the back of the house where he would then alley cut to the next mark.

As the night grew darker and his bag heavier a sense of dread seemed to wrap around him, causing Jack to forgo a stop assuming someone must have eyes on him.  Instead he hopped a bus and headed to his final destination; a rambling ranch not two blocks from his own home.  What made this one so special was that the family had five children in high school and college and as such would take forever to fully discover if the items were lost or stolen and should be brimming with desirable electronics.

As the bad feeling still lingered he decided to blow out the candle on the way in rather than chancing anything by resurfacing at the end.  Jack took his time savoring the finds making sure not to take too much, which he was sure would be a dead giveaway.  Then headed out the back door hopping the fence and working his winding way back to his well-lit abode.  On the way Jack started listing off the different pawn shops and clients who would love to get their hands on the items bouncing against his back and who would not question the lack of instruction manuals.  Deciding that he would travel the additional 20 minutes to try his luck with the city’s market he rounded the last corner just as the street light blew.

The sound alone had caused every hair on his body to rise and in the sudden darkness a low howl could be heard rolling towards him turning his bowls to liquid.  While calm and slow had been his pace all night long without any hesitation he broke out into an outright sprint for his front door.  As he reached the first step on his porch he tripped sending the potato sack sailing into the door and him sprawling full length up his steps; causing the grinning jack-o-lantern to slip and smash to the ground below.  Snuffing out the candle.  His ears pounded as the slight sense of danger Jack had chalked up to the excitement of his hunt turned to fear as the night pressed in upon him.

Samantha exited the bus same as always with the exception being that tonight rather than a tired waitress she was resplendent in her BatGirl cape and boots.  She turned on the spot hearing the electric fizzle of the street light one block down burning out and her hand shot to her mouth as a guttural shriek cut through the night only to be covered by the pressurized hiss of the breaks being released on the bus.  She shook her head slightly cursing her nerves just because it was Halloween night did not mean that murders lurked under every busted street light.  So she pulled out her trusty flashlight which doubled as a weapon when she walked to the bus in the city, and walk-jogged the dark block and a half before she reentered the street light safety and continue home ignoring the half-formed though in the back of her mind that was shouting that the house with lights but no pumpkin had fake blood and gurgling sound effects that seemed all to real.  As she stood at her front door she could not help but look one more time at the pumpkin-less house shaking her head and thinking, I thought everyone knew to leave a jack-o-lantern burning through the night to keep them safe from the vengeful spirits.

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