In the other world, where the light is always as bright as noon in a desert and night had never been invented, shadows stretched slowly.
Every creature in the other world is a mere shadow, but even a shadow can have some substance when it is surrounded only by other shadows. In this way, a hierarchy had been formed millennia ago. It worked well for those who were on top, and less so for the others. Once every human year, though, every shadow was looking forward to the same thing: the collision of their world with the human one.
Well, almost every shadow was. One, way down even beneath the hierarchy's basement, was not very happy with the prospect of visiting the human world; it found the change from shadow to flesh and bone irritating. There was also something else, something that it was very scared of... But creatures from the other world are never scared, say the rules.
In the human world, a woman in her early thirties named Suzie left work late and hurried home to get dressed for a Halloween party a regular to her favourite coffee shop had invited her to. They had never really talked before, but she could not say no to his bright blue eyes, or to the prospect of a date with a handsome stranger.
In the other world, the air was almost as dense as the shadows with anticipation. The moment they had been waiting for was coming. Finally, after a well-defined crossing-over process, they were all the same and they were all allowed to have fun.
tock tock Tock Tock TOCK TOCK.
The staccato of high heels hurrying through a narrow lane grew louder and louder. They were almost there.
Only one shadow quivered for another reason than anticipation.
In the human world, Suzie wished that Dave, her date, would let go of her doorbell. She pressed the door opener and then carefully lowered the fake tree trunk that was her hat onto her head. Rumpling her clothes and the long silver hair of her wig a bit more, she went to open the door of her flat.
There, on the other side, stood what was presumably a pirate (he did have a silken eye patch) in a tailor-made grey suit, polished shoes and purple tie. She stared.
In the other world, the light faded slowly as shadows spread out and up. They thronged and surged like the sea, pushing each other out of the way.
Up in the sky, a blood-red dot appeared. Only one shadow did not reach towards it, but let itself be trampled down by the rest.
Suzie hesitated only for a second, and then closed the door in his face with more force than necessary. For her, Halloween was more than just an eye patch. She went back to the bathroom to finish her costume.
Blood-red light, emitted from the blazing fireball that was the setting sun, flooded through the window and played tag with the shadows on her face.
In the other world, the first shadows lost touch with the ground, flying towards the growing red hole. One by one, they were sucked from their world, to be disgorged into another one.
As the transition process took up speed, turning the shadows into one spinning grey spiral, even the only unwilling creature was caught in the eddy and dragged away from home.
It hit the pavement in the human world rather hard and fell flat unto its scaly stomach. Two of its heads crashed into another. It blinked, looking around wearily. There was an old witch, sitting not too far away. Her eyes were as sad as it felt.
It got up sluggishly, fighting for control over its newly created muscles. The witch lifted her head and stared back at the monster. She seemed to be frightened, too.
The monster looked around. They were in a small, dark alleyway, apparently alone. It went over to the witch, who sat quite still, and got down to its knees beside her. Then it tried to find its vocal cords and remember how they worked.
"You're not happy here, too, are you? Personally, I don't see why we have to come here once every year. I don't see where the fun lies in having a body, or in scaring humans. Do you?"
The witch stared at him. "I... no…?"
"Having difficulties with your vocal chords as well?"
Suzie stared at the three-headed creature, which had appeared out of thin air in her alleyway. Had it really just asked her if she had problems with her vocal chords?
"Y-yes, it's difficult at first, isn't it? But it's already getting better..."
All three heads smiled down at her in what she hoped was a friendly way, but it was difficult to say in the semi-darkness of her hiding place.
The monster's three noses woke up and started work on their own accord, as usual. They noticed something the brains they were attached to had not. The noses contemplated this for a moment and then asked the eyes for proof. All three pairs travelled across the shape before them.
The monster jumped back. "You have a shadow! And that smell! You must be human!"
Suzie ducked. This surely was the end of it, of everything... But the blow she expected didn't come. She looked up, surprised, into three frightened lizard-like faces.
"Yes, I am human," she said slowly. "This is a Halloween costume, nothing more. Just a costume..."
The monster continued to stare at her. She stared back defiantly, and noticed that it did not have a shadow.
"How come you don't have a shadow?"
Light was spreading slowly over the city. It was blood-red.
'How fitting for the end of the Halloween night,' thought Suzie. And what a night it had been!
She was leaning back against a wall, her tree-trunk hat next to her on the floor. One of the three heads of the monster was resting in her lap; it was fast asleep. No wonder, they had spent most of the night wandering through the city, laughing at the scared faces of people, and talking about their worlds. It hadn't been the party Suzie had hoped for, but she wasn't sorry that she had missed out on a night with Dave-with-the-eye-patch.
The weight on her legs lifted slowly, and as she looked down she saw that the monster was dissolving into nothingness without waking up.
"I will miss you," she whispered. "Maybe you'll think of me in your world of daylight sometimes. And then we'll meet again next year. I will teach you not to be afraid of shadows, or humans, or anything."