The next person to cross the yard was a grown man—a parent, perhaps. He wore a plain black mask covering only his eyes and nose. A sparse, scraggly growth of a reddish blonde hue adorned a weak chin. I glanced past him in search of his child, but none was in sight.
I shivered with foreboding, then scoffed at my fear. His kid was probably just lagging behind. A group of children in the next yard laughed and chased after each other, the contents of a small witch’s bag tumbling onto the lawn. None of them appeared to be connected to the masked man.
I shook off my premonition. Surely the general eeriness of the holiday was working on my imagination. When he showed no sign of slowing his pace, I took a step backward and started to close the door. The man caught the door with his foot and shoved it open.
A scream froze in my throat as he pushed inside. He was broad-shouldered and strong. My heart banged in terror. I found a voice, though it didn’t sound much like my own. “What do you want—who are you?”
“I just want to talk to you. Give me a little cooperation and you won’t get hurt.”
Like a nightmare where my feet felt glued to the floor, I found myself unable to move or even scream. The din of happy children sounded farther away.
“All right.” My voice came out in a raspy squeak. “I’ll cooperate. Do you want money? We don’t have much, but—"
“I don’t want your money. I just want you to stay out of my life.”