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Halloween Writting Contest Entry 04

The following story was submitted as an entry in The Wanderer second annual Halloween Writing Contest.
The winner will be announced in the October 30, 2008 edition.
Stories will be posted on-line as they are available in print.

Socrates' First Halloween

Halloween night was filled with the usual sights and sounds: children dressed as heroes and villains, with the occasional vampire thrown in to spice up the mix. The stream of costumed children moved up and down the sidewalk, accompanied by their parents who stopped every few feet to admire an outfit, or to make small talk about high school sports.

The children were all smiles and laughter, shaking bags of candy and excited about all the candy that was to come over the course of the evening. It could have been any year, there was nothing unusual to make this Halloween stand out, but for one creature it was very interesting.

That creature was a tiny rabbit, about a year old, covered in brown fur with long whiskers and tall ears that moved in all directions so that he could listen to everything going on around him. He stood on his hind legs, craning his head to look at all of the people walking around. He felt relatively safe hidden in a group of shrubs, and took his time trying to understand what was happening. He was used to seeing people walking around, but never this many at one time, and he'd certainly never seen them looking so odd.

This rabbit was a clever rabbit, as many of them are, and he was determined to figure out what was happening tonight. He nibbled a leaf from the shrub he was standing under, and squinted his eyes in such a way that his face was transformed into that of one lost in thought. This habit of using reason to make sense of what was going on around him had earned him the nickname Socrates. He wondered if the humans had all gone mad, but quickly dismissed this idea. They were interacting with each other normally, they just looked odd. He finished nibbling his leaf and hopped away to get a better view of what was happening.

Socrates moved close to the porch of a giant house. He pressed himself flat against the ground and hid in the shadows so that he could better observe what was happening. A small boy dressed as a goblin walked up the steps and knocked on the door. The door opened, the boy yelled "Trick or treat." For this he was rewarded with a handful of treats. Socrates couldn't quite figure out what was going on, but he was excited by the possibility of getting some treats for himself.

Socrates watched the ritual of knocking on the door and receiving rewards a few more times. He didn't fully comprehend Halloween, but he did know that the children who wore costumes and knocked on doors ended up with treats. That was all he needed to know. Now it was time to get some of these treats for himself. Just as he was trying to figure out how he could make a costume for himself, a group of children walked by. Socrates froze with fear. The children walked by without even noticing the tiny rabbit.

"All I got was this stupid apple," one of them said, throwing the apple over his shoulder. After the children were out of sight, Socrates hopped over to the apple, sniffed it, and then held it with his front paws while taking hungry bites. Normally, this would have been more than enough to make him happy, but Socrates wanted to experience Halloween. So he cleaned the apple juice off of his face, licked his paws, and hopped away so that he could get started working on his costume.

A short time later, he was gazing at his reflection in a puddle of water. "Not bad," he thought to himself. Socrates had bitten a hole in a piece of black garbage bag that he had found lying on the ground, and stuck his head through the hole. Looking at his reflection he thought that he resembled one of the children who had been dressed in a black cape with big white fangs. Feeling very pleased with himself, he hopped away to get some treats.

Socrates stood on a porch in front of a giant door. He was nervous about being so close to people, but told himself that as long as he was wearing a costume the people couldn't tell the difference between him and the children who'd come knocking all night long. Socrates took a deep breath and thumped his hind paw against the porch. He stood waiting for someone to open the door and hand over the treats, but the door remained closed. He thumped again as hard as he could, but still the door remained closed.

Socrates stood on the porch feeling defeated. He wondered why the door didn't open for him when it had opened for all the other people. He didn't have long to think about it because he heard the unmistakable sound of approaching children and ran into the darkness. He sat in the shadows on the side of the house and watched as the familiar knock then treats scenario was acted out before him. He knew then that he just wasn't able to make enough noise to get the door to open, and even if he did then what? He'd be lucky if they didn't try to eat him.

Socrates decided to go back home. He hopped into the woods and past the familiar holes where his friends lived. Just for fun he decided to try Halloween out on them. After all, he was still wearing his costume. He stood in front of one hole and thumped his paw. A second later a rabbit head popped out. It was Whiskers, who was named for his exceptionally long whiskers. "Trick or Treat," Socrates said.

"Socrates, what are you doing thumping outside my hole at this time of night?" Whiskers asked, wriggling his nose and twitching his whiskers as he was fond of doing.

"It's something I saw the people doing. You're supposed to give me a treat now." Socrates sat waiting for his treat.

Whiskers looked at Socrates in his ridiculous outfit and chuckled. He'd always liked Socrates and decided that he did deserve a treat, so he wriggled into his hole and came back with a piece of carrot. "Here you go."

Socrates was so happy he couldn't contain himself. He ran around in circles and jumped into the air before nibbling the piece of carrot. "Thank you," he managed to say between bites.

Socrates tried this out on all the holes he knew. Some rabbits gave him lettuce, and others gave him pieces of tasty bark to nibble on. Pretty soon all of the rabbits were out, thumping in front of holes and looking for treats. They decided that this was so much fun that they would have to do this every year.

By the end of the night Socrates had eaten so many treats that it was difficult for him to squeeze into his rabbit hole, but he did, and went to sleep with a full belly; the way all happy rabbits do.