Jay had a problem. Of course Jay always had a problem, it never went away. The specific aspect of his problem tonight was that Mrs Bracken, the headmistress, had latched onto him and was going to wait with him until his parents came to collect him from the school’s Halloween haunted house event. Seeing as it was a full moon tonight, his parents shouldn’t even be leaving the house tonight and if Mrs Bracken called them, they wouldn’t be able to answer the phone. What he needed was for something to happen to distract her so he could slink off and make his way home. He was eleven years old and he didn’t live that far away, if he could slip off then getting home would be easy.
The smell of…something was getting stronger. The odour had been around all evening, a whiff wafting on fits of breeze, but now it was a definite smell. Jay’s eyes narrowed when he realised that the source of the smell was coming closer and that he didn’t like it. It was musty like enclosed spaces, furry and with a hint of wee. It was, he realised, rat. Very big rat.
It was jarring then when a tall, thin man with blond hair came up the pathway from the teachers’ car park, particularly as he smelt of rat.
“Excusse me,” he spoke to Mrs Bracken with some sort of speech impediment, “but can youu tell me wherre the young ladyyy teacher withth the blue haatchbackk might haavve taken the Grimolochinn and hiss sson?”
Mrs Bracken put a protective hand on Jay’s shoulder. “I have no idea why she might have taken them anywhere,” she replied stiffly, “and I don’t see why I should violate their privacy and tell you.”
“Wee dissabled the Grimolochinn’ss caar aand shee hass takken them away. Wee caan maake youu tell uss.” The tall, thin man grabbed at Jay but Jay’s dad had taught him some things you could do when you were still human-shaped, things that weren’t weird, so he lunged forward at the stranger and did exactly what Dad had shown him. Then, when the stranger was on the ground, he kicked him in one of the places Dad had told him about.
“I know what you are,” he said, panting. “You’re a rat and you’re not very good at being human are you? Well, guess what I am?” Then he howled without changing. “Do you want to hang around and see if anyone comes?” The stranger scrabbled to his feet and ran away.
“Jay,” asked Mrs Bracken carefully, “what did you just do?”
“Some stuff my dad taught me,” Jay answered truthfully.
“Ah,” was the thoughtful answer.
“Mrs Bracken,” Jay spoke in a much quieter voice, “I think we should get you out of here too, because of the noise I made. In case someone does come.”This would be concurrent with Trick or Treat.