If Wishes Were Horses

by Brett Anningson © 2002

Thomas took off at a dead run. Slamming the car door shut he bolted across the street, almost slipping on the slick pavement. Usually he didn't mind having to park on the street; it was a quiet neighborhood, or it had been. His wife was standing in the hall, a dead look in her eyes.

"Where's Gabriel?" he asked.

"He never came back from trick or treating." Her voice was so calm it seemed manic, if only this wasn't happening. "What's going on Thomas?" Becky pleaded.

"I wish I knew, Babe, but I have to find Gabe. Do you know where he was going?"

"He said he was meeting up with Sue and Becky... I don't know!" The last was almost a shriek.

"Okay, okay, don't panic, we don't know anything is wrong, but I have to go out and find them, okay?"

Tears welled up in Becky's eyes and she wiped them absently on her sweater cuff. Thomas had no idea what to do, he was an investment counselor for God's sake, and this was way beyond him. Staring blankly at her, he tried a wan smile, and turned towards the door.

"No" she called softly, but he was already stepping out.

"Lock the door!" he ordered and ran back to the car. On the seat beside him was the lug wrench he had taken from the trunk as he left work. Tom didn't know what he would do with it, but he felt safer somehow with it there.

He locked the door, shaking with fear. The street was empty, but that meant nothing. He leaned forward in his seat, craning his neck for a glance up between the branches. A dark shape skimmed by and he let out a shriek despite himself. 'Damn, damn, damn" he muttered as he ground the engine to life. Tires squealed as he popped the clutch and sped down the road, loo king desperately from side to side in hopes his son was all right.

Windshield wipers thwacked uselessly along their track, his vision instantly blurring as soon as they passed. He jabbed the button and the radio blared to life.

"I don't believe what I am seeing." A somewhat calm voice that sounded eerily like Howard Cossell spoke through his tinny speakers. "Now, I don't want to cause more panic, but I am sure I just saw a woman go by the window on a broom."

"Yeah yeah," Thomas answered peevishly back, head swinging from side to side "Wait for the were-wolf."

It had started just shortly after lunch. Reports had flooded the news desks of a very strange nature indeed. It would seem that random wishes were being granted. Great news at first: A man was praying for his wife's remission and bang - no more cancer. A poor single mother had discovered a whack of money that she could not explain. Now this was news, and it spread like wildfire. It wasn't long before the real nature of these miracles was found out. People's thoughts were becoming real. Not everyone's but a lot of people found that if they thought hard enough... Well, even that was interesting. Then someone pointed out it was Halloween.

A lot of people, a lot of kids, were having thoughts that no one really wanted brought to life. Nightmares had taken over from dreams. As soon as Thomas realized the extent of what was happening he had left the office, but it seemed he was too late.

Wait, was that Jimmy, from the National Guard? He rolled down his window as the Guardsmen pointed a rifle at him.

"Oh Tom, what the Hell are you doing out?"

"Gabe's not come home yet."

"Not good."

"What is happening Jim?"

"No idea, but I just mowed down a zombie or something. You ought to get home"

"Not without Gabriel."

Jim nodded and waved him through the intersection. There wasn't another car to be seen.

He was at Becky's house, and he drove up the lawn this time. Running to the door, he pounded and pounded till he head the dead bolt slide and then he rushed in. Becky, her Mom and Gabriel were all standing there like deer caught in the headlights. Gabe had a butcher's knife.

"Dad!" he called out as he rushed to embrace his father.

"We've got to get back to your mom! Man, am I glad you are okay. Becky, Sue, you should come too!"

They nodded and threw on coats. Opening the door Tom was confronted with a black cat, just sitting and staring. He turned to look back at the gang and it was then the cat leaped for his throat. With a rush of wind the cat fell backwards onto the porch, blood spilling from the knife embedded in its throat.

"I don't even want to know," he yelled as they ran for the car "But thanks for that." He said as he slammed the door shut with his son in the back. "Lock the doors!" he yelled and once more the engine raced and the car shot forward.

Howard Cossell was back on the radio. Reading a government report, which he sounded like he only half believed. "Well folks. Now there is a report of a UFO landing in Nevada, and another in Alberta. These things are huge. And it doesn't look like they're just people's imaginations run wild, cause their both identical."

"Mother of..." Thomas started.

"What Dad?"

"The perfect plan. How to defeat us without even trying..."

"You're babbling Mister Jones." Becky interjected.

"Okay think," he said, half-turning to speak while skidding down the street "Make our thoughts come true. Might not do too much harm, but choose the day carefully, and we would all be sitting ducks, defeated by our own worst nightmares."

"Halloween." Susan meekly added.

"Halloween." Thomas answered as he gunned the gas and ran down what for all intents and purposes seemed to be the Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood.

x x x

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