There's only one day out of the year that Immortals are allowed to scare the pants off regular people, and that's Halloween. It used to be on winter solstice, but then Christmas was invented. All that jolly holiday spirit kills the killing mood.

So Halloween is the day we monsters come out to play. That big beefy bully who terrorizes helpless geeks at school? Bring back the belief that there really is a monster under his bed. Be sure to laugh maniacally as he runs out of his room screaming for his mommy. Those dumb punks who steal, do drugs, and think they're so gangsta? Chase after them while in werewolf form. Better yet, wait 'til they're totally stoned and then chase after their sorry asses while in werewolf form. The jerk down the street that is really awful yet hasn't made the hit list? Make him think his house is haunted by a Poltergeist. Throw stuff, write freaky things on a fogged up mirror or window, nail all his socks to his bedroom wall in a cryptic pattern while he's at work... Just be creative. As long as no one innocent suffers death or a serious injury, you won't get in trouble. It'sawesome.

Sadly, I might have to skip the Halloween merriment this year. I can't ditch Henry just so I can scare a bunch of mortals; it wouldn't be responsible.

They've decided to hang out at the Bartlett house. Jasper and Maggie must want to keep Henry from finding any adventure tonight. I don't blame them; that bat-plague thing happened less than a week ago, and it's too soon to deal with something like that again. At least for Jasper and Maggie. People almost died.

Anyway, Uncle Bryan is at a thing for work, so the kids agreed to pass out the candy to trick-or-treaters. The big candy bowl is sitting on a little table by the door, and I've already stealthily picked out all the Reese's when they weren't looking.

The other thing about Halloween is the candy. There's a lot more of it, which is good for Immortals. Because of our inability to make body fat (our metabolisms are insanely fast) we usually go for the food with the highest calories. And it is all about the calories: nutrition is a complete nonissue. So that basically means junk food. And candy is the yummiest junk food. My favorite is Reese's, because chocolate and peanut butter are meant to be together.

4th Kind plays in the living room. I watch intently and every once in a while I reach behind my head to get another Reese's cup from the hood of my leather jacket. The kids seem pretty into it, too. I smirk every time I see Maggie jump. After a while I try to ignore her, though, because it makes me wish I could sit on the couch with my arm around her so she can hide her face in my shoulder during the scary parts. I push away the stupid thought.

I'm comfortable where I am, my back against the wall like usual. And pretty content, too. The kids are safe, I've got candy, and this movie isn't half bad.

The doorbell rings. More trick-or-treaters! It's Maggie's turn to answer the door and I follow her excitedly. I love seeing those little munchkins in costumes, especially the really young ones. The last time Jasper answered the door, there was a toddler dressed as Minnie Mouse. She was SO CUTE! I had to resist the urge to take the bowl from Jasper and dump the whole thing into her little plastic pumpkin.

Maggie opens the door and there aren't any adorable kids in costumes. It's just a bunch of teenagers, the disrespectful kind who probably smash pumpkins. They're all wearing ugly rubber masks and dark clothes... and they smell like alcohol. These aren't Marked Ones, but they're definitely not decent, either. I hope Maggie has the good sense to close the door on them.

But she doesn't. Instead she lets them take candy from the bowl. She asks them to only take one piece, but they take handfuls. Still, she's not reacting. She's probably hoping they'll just leave after taking the candy.

Apparently not. A guy to the right lifts up his demon mask: lots of piercings, and an arrogant smirk. I glare at him over Maggie's shoulder. "I don't think I've seen you around before. Do you go to Arlington?"

"No." she answers curtly.

Okay, now close the door.

"Well then where do you go?" The zombie takes a few steps forward and removes his mask; long greasy black hair and a look that suggests he thinks he's actually attractive. "You in college, baby?"

I want to yell at them all to get off the damn porch, and I can tell Maggie wants to do the same. But she keeps a steady tone. "I'm in high school. Have a nice night."

She starts closing the door but another guy, a werewolf I think (I know a lot of Werewolves who would find that mask insulting), puts out his hand and stops her. For a second I consider breaking his wrist.

"Where you going? You haven't even told us your name yet."

I can hear all four of them laugh a little. Where are Jasper and Henry? I bet these hooligans will leave if Maggie had some backup. But the living room is towards the back of the house, and the TV may be too loud. I don't think they know what's going on.

Maggie tries to close the door again. Werewolf won't let her. These guys are starting to remind me of a pack of hyenas.

All right, that's it. I'd hate to leave Maggie by herself, but I've got to get Henry and Jasper.

I noiselessly walk to the living room. I can't very well use the remote to turn off the TV, because it's right next to Jasper and he'd notice if I did anything to it. I go to the TV and unplug it. The boys can't see the cord taken out of the wall; all they see is the screen go black. They're stunned for a moment, and a little confused. Then they hear the commotion at the front door and rush to Maggie's rescue. I follow after them and watch as the ruffians get uneasy at the sight of more people. Henry quickly forces the door shut and locks it. Maggie insists that it wasn't a big deal, that they were nothing to be afraid of, but I know better. She felt cornered, and maybe a little scared that they would try to get in the house.

They go back to the living room and try to figure out what happened with the TV. Turns out the plug came out of the socket. How did that happen? The movie starts back up and they continue watching it.

But I don't. I can't shake the anger I feel towards those guys who harassed Maggie. Maybe I will get to scare some people tonight.

After checking on them one last time, I go upstairs and jump out a window. Once I hit the ground, I start hunting for the hooligans.

I find them and I trail them for a while, contemplating what to do. Then they enter a condemned building. There's beat-up old furniture and a bunch of discarded beer cans. They sit down and the gargoyle starts rolling a joint.

Oh, this is perfect.

While waiting for a hit, the jerks start talking about their night: defacing property, stealing snacks from a 7-11, egging their teacher's car... my. It's only 8:15 and they've gotten so much done.

Then they get to the Bartlett house.

"Dude, that snobby bitch was so hot! Too bad she wasn't wearing a slutty Halloween costume like a normal girl..." says Zombie.

"Ah, man," drawls Gargoyle. "She was so uptight."

"I bet I could loosen her up," claims Demon. His lewd, idiotic statement is met with whistles and cheers.

"Can't believe those damn guys had to come along and ruin the fun." Werewolf puts his feet up on the battered coffee table. "That bitch looked like she wanted me."

The annoying little bastards laugh at his half-joke, and I have to fervently remind myself that none of them are Marked.

I wait impatiently until they've all had a few hits before I throw the first beer can. It hits Demon in the nose and he curses. He starts looking at the others and demands to know who threw it. Then I throw another, this time at the back of Zombie's head. This causes more confusion.

"Who the **** is doing that?!" snarls Werewolf.

My, such language! I stand right in front of him and slap him hard in the face. As he clutches his bruised, stinging cheek, the rest of them stare in fear.

For a moment I think they'll run out of here screaming for their mommies, but dude, they're high and half-way to hammered. Common Sense is just kickin' back waiting for a show right now.

"There's something in here, man!" squeaks Gargoyle from his place on the dirty brown (once beige?) sofa.

I emphasize his point by banging my fist against the wall a few times. All four of them jump, but they're not leaving. They're scared, yeah, but also pissed off.

"Show yourself, mother****er!" yells Demon as he springs from his chair and whips out his switchblade.

Bitch, please. I rip his mask off him and throw it across the room. Then Demon totally loses it and starts slashing at thin air while his stupid buddies watch in terror and confusion. That's when I snatch his blade away and give him a swift kick in the pants. You know, before he hurts himself.

They all get really freaked out when I grab him and push him up the wall a few feet, plunging the knife into his hood. He hangs there on the wall, screaming his freaking head off, clearly too scared to realize he can easily slip out of his hoodie. Now the other three have decided they want to leave, but I run over and slam the door shut seconds before they reach it. Very, very quickly, I carve a simple message into the door with my four-inch carnassial claws:

RUN

They do. They run like scared little bitches to the window and throw themselves out like lemmings off a cliff. Thankfully it was open already. Unfortunately, it's only a few feet above the ground. As Gargoyle, Werewolf, and Zombie go tearing down the street like madmen, I wonder what to do with Demon; pathetic, lonely Demon, too stupid to wiggle out of his hoodie. Crying like a baby, begging for mercy. Promising he'll be good from now on.

Well, hot damn. He said the magic words.

I take the knife out of the wall and Demon clumsily drops to the floor with a k-k-thump. When he looks up he's able to just barely see me in the glowing lights from the streets, holding his knife and giving him a tsk-tsk-tsk look.

"You're... you're just a teenager!" he says with more disbelief than indignity.

I close the knife and drop it next to him. "You better have meant what you said, or the next time I see you I might not be able to show you mercy."

He nods fearfully.

"And you and your friends will stay away from that house you went to before coming here."

Slightly confused this time, he nods again.

"Good. Now get your punk ass out of here."

Well, that was a nice warm-up. But seriously, I need to stay at home with the kids.

They're fine, by the way. Nothing bad happened to them while I was gone, except for whatever caused popcorn to be spilled all over the floor.

My cell phone rings and I leave the scream-filled living room to answer it.

"Hey D, me and Carl are heading your way."

"So he's trick-or-treating this year?"

"Of course. All the Shapeshifters do it. I even heard the Alpha is going as a three-year-old dressed as Eeyore."

She's right. Most Shapeshifters disguise themselves as children and go trick-or-treating, mainly for the free candy. And usually the cuter you are the more you get, so toddler is the age of choice. And apparently after the trick-or-treating is over, they go hunting for Marked Ones and Infernals... still looking like toddlers in cute costumes. It makes for the most bizarre hunting pictures, let me tell you.

"How's he been doing so far? Has he gotten a lot of candy?"

The squeals of small children precede her answer. "Tons. He says he's saving all the Reese's for you."

"Aw, how did he know I liked those?"

"Because I told him you did. He wanted to know what your favorite candy was."

"That's precious."

"He also said he really wanted you to take him to the Bartlett house."

"Why me? He's trick-or-treating with you."

"It's just one house. We're two houses down so you have time to get out and meet us. Oh, and then take him hunting. I'll keep an ear out for the kids."

"Alright." I huff. "What's he going as?"

"A five-year-old boy."

"Dressed as what?"

"...I'm going to let that be a surprise."

I cross the neighbor's lawn and spot Virva on the sidewalk. If she's going as anything, it's "a young hot mom": tailored black leather jacket, fitted black t-shirt with a little bed-sheet ghost on the chest, skinny jeans tucked into knee-high leather stiletto boots, and long wavy blond hair in a ponytail.

"Aren't those shoes killing you?" I ask as I move to stand beside her.

"I'm sure they would if I were mortal."

I survey the lawn in front of us, trying to figure out which one is Carl. Is he the pumpkin? Elmo? The adorable giraffe running clumsily in front of the pink teddy bear?

"Come on, Virva! Which one is he?"

She cracks a smile. "Just you wait. He'll be running back to us any minute."

The kids (and a few parents) are all crowded at the front door, waiting for their turn at the candy bowl and their chance to be complemented by the middle-aged lady doling out the goods. Soon they begin to disperse, and they all head to their respective parents on the sidewalk. The strange thing is, the only one heading towards us is the pink –

Oh, ****. Are you kidding me?

"Hi, Dimitri!" says the super-cute kiddie voice of the toddler-sized teddy bear with two hearts on its tummy.

I stare at the small grinning boy (… girl?) and realize it really is Carl. He kept his same blue eyes and he's giving off that tell-tale Immortal vibe.

"Hi... buddy. That's a cool costume." It is, actually. He really does look like an actual teddy bear, with the fake fur and the stuffed look and everything. The whole body is one piece with a zipper in the back, and the detachable head kinda looks like it was cut off a big teddy bear. The only difference is that his little freckled face is peeking out of the wide-open mouth, so it looks like a plush toy ate a small child feet first.

"It's Immortal-made," Virva answers. "We got it in 1985, back when Care Bears were really popular."

"I even got a teddy bear paunch! " Carl says, turning to the side so I can see his convex teddy tummy.

"So... he's a Care Bear?" I thought that immediately, but I was hoping I was wrong.

Carl(y) nods enthusiastically, making his massive Care Bear head wobble slightly. "I'm Love-a-Lot! She's my favorite!"

"She?"

"Love-a-Lot is a girl." Virva says in a tone that suggests I should play along.

"I thought you said he was a five-year-old boy?" I whisper to her.

"I am." Carl says confusedly a couple feet below us.

"Well then why are you a girl Care Bear?"

"I told you, it's because she's my favorite." he says condescendingly, like I might be a little thick.

"And why is she your favorite?"

"Because I believe in the power of love!"
Oh, gods.

I look at Virva. "Do I really have to go with him?"

"Yes."

"I can't argue my way out this?"

"No."

Tiny Carl is attempting to hold my hand, but his paws make that impossible. They're a little like Ken doll arms: the only way he can hold his candy bag is by putting the straps on his wrist and holding his arm out at a ninety-degree angle.

"Come on, Dimitri!" whines Carl, squishing my hand between his big paws, "I wanna go see the kids!"

Bless his little heart. He's really excited about this.

I take his candy bag and gently push him in the right direction. "Let's go give them something to laugh about."

"Wait up," We stop and Virva click-clicks over to us and hands me a small red drawstring bag. "Daisy wanted me to give this to you. 'Said even Shrouds should wear some kind of costume on Halloween."

I open the bag and inside is a simple black half-mask made of molded leather.

"It's Venetian," says Virva, taking the mask from me and securing it to my face with the black satin ribbons on the sides. "Not exactly ornate, but..." She turns me around and smiles. "It sure looks great on you. Fits you very well."

"Thanks."

Carl huffs impatiently. "Can we go now?"

We had taken long enough that the surge of small children had passed the Bartlett house before we got there, so it's just me and Carl on the porch.

"Okay, my name is Sterling and your name is Logan." Carl says as we ascend the stairs.

"What? Why can't we use our own names?"

"This is more fun."

Oh, whatever. "Fine, but why those names? Why am I Logan?"

"You look like a Logan."

"... Okay. And Sterling?"

"I think it sounds manly." says the boy wearing a Love-a-Lot Care Bear costume.

I ring the doorbell and hope they don't laugh at us too hard.

When Maggie opens the door, Carl smiles like the Cheshire Cat. I think he's about to put me through hell.

"Wow, you're pretty! Logan, ask her out on a date."

Oh, the humiliation. I'd kick his little teddy-bear ass if he wasn't five years old right now.

Maggie's blushing and half-way to laughing.

I can't believe I can even bring myself to look her in the eye. "Uh... sorry about him. He's five."

"And Logan's single!" Carl quips.

Dammit, Carl! I'm blushing now. The mask I'm wearing probably isn't hiding much of it.

"Your costume is so cute!" she says to Carl, clearly trying to ignore all the stuff he said before. "Are you a Care Bear?"
He smiles and nods. "Uh-huh. And Logan has a cool mask on. I don't know if you can tell, but he's really handsome under there. Really. Ladies swoon when they see him. And he can color inside the lines good too. Did I mention he's single?"

I'm going to hurt him so very, very badly.

Maggie clears her throat and attempts to ease the tension. "He can color in the lines, huh? That's impressive."

"And he makes a good grilled cheese. Do you like grilled cheese?"
Now she's having trouble not laughing at my pink teddy-bear wingman. "I sure do."

"Sterling," I say in a totally non-lethal tone, "please get your candy so we can go."

"But I'm about to close!"

Maggie drops a few Snickers and a Milky Way in his bag.

"Are there any Reese's? They're Logan's favorite." Carl says as he surveys the candy bowl.

"Uh..." She rummages around in the bowl. "No, I guess we ran out."

"That's too bad. Can you give him your number then?"

"Time to go!" I interject as I sweep him into my arms. He wriggles around as I attempt to hold him like an oversized prize from a carnival game.

"No!" he cries obstinately. "You don't have her number yet!"

"I am so sorry about him." I apologize as I walk backwards towards the porch steps.

Thankfully, she's smiling. "Don't worry about it."

Just as the mortification is about to end, Jasper and Henry appear behind her.

Carl gasps. "More people! Hi!"

The guys exchange a furtive look before waving at the huge pink bear in my arms.

"I don't want to go yet, Logan! I want to sing them a song!"

Oh, no.

"Boop ba doop ba doop!" Crap! "Boop ba doop ba doop! Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, banana phone..."

Before he can continue, I twist his bear head around so it's on backwards. Carl protests loudly, his voice muffled by this costume head.

"Bye!" I say as I turn and hurry to the sidewalk, the big pink bear and his candy bag thrown over my shoulder. They're all too busy laughing to reply.

Once we're out of sight, I set him down and turn his bear head the right way.

"How was that helpful?" I ask angrily. "You were way too straightforward and we didn't even use our real names!"

He stares at me like the answer should be obvious. "That wasn't meant to be helpful. I was just having fun. Why else would we use fake names?"

You've gotta be kidding me.

"You did wonderfully, by the way." he continues. "You make a great straight man."

"Thanks," I reply, my anger waning. It wasn't that bad, and we did made the kids laugh.

Carl begins to rock on his heels. "So... can we go hunt Marked Ones now?"

I quickly text Virva, telling her we're going hunting. "Sure."

Carl insisted on wandering aimlessly, so it's a quarter 'til ten and we still haven't found anything. And I've had to walk around in public with a small child in a Care Bear costume who won't stop singing "This is Halloween".

"Dude," I nudge his head. "If you don't want to go invisible, then we might need to get you home. People are probably wondering why you're up past your bedtime."

He ponders this as we reach an intersection, then delays his response by checking out the back of a van sitting two cars ahead of us. It looks like one of those rocktastic, mural-covered vans that hippies or hard rockers drive. There's a blue dragon on the back doors.

Carl and I hurry along so we can see it from the side before the light turns green.

Dude. It's so absurdly epic. A scantily-scad warrior-princess-sorceress is riding a black, two-headed dragon. "Indigo Children" by Puscifer blares from the stereo.

One step closer, and suddenly we realize we'll be hunting after all.

There are four Marked Ones in the van, and they plan to sacrifice their unwittingly kidnapped virgin to the devil. Clearly they've seen Jennifer's Body, but they must not have watched the credits, which is why they think what they're doing is a good idea.

"Yo," I call to the driver as I get closer to the door. "Sweet ride."

At first he freaks a bit, but then he decides my bizarre cat eyes are part of my costume. He finds it harder to believe about Carl, though.

"Thanks." He tosses his stringy mane. "It's for my band."

The light turns green and he gives me a quick nod.

Once he's off, I glance at Carl. "You game?"

He gives me a sinister, un-Carl-like smirk. "Dibs on the front man."

We turn invisible and I sprint after the van, Carl in one arm. They eventually end up in Glover Archbold Park, far from the city. Carl and I watch patiently as they hand out flashlights before ushering out and leading a pretty, innocent-looking teenage girl up a dirt trail. She's dressed as a slightly slutty version of Alice from Alice in Wonderland. The spiky-haired guy from the passenger seat keeps reassuring her that they're going to have fun. A guy with drumsticks tucked into his belt keeps adjusting the straps of the heavy-looking backpack on his shoulder.

"We're almost there," says Front Man.

But it's late, dark, and cold. Virgin is beginning to worry. "It might be dangerous out here." she says.

Drummer flashes a smile. "That's what makes it so fun. Don't be such a downer."

The guy with the big purple mohawk, whom I'm assuming is the bassist, backs him up. "Yeah, babe. That's your problem. You need to learn to relax."

Peer pressure and the need to be liked by the opposite sex wins out and she follows them in silence.

Soon they go off the trail, stomping through the woods and laughing like imbeciles. Virgin isn't laughing so much as pretending to feel okay.

"Let's slaughter them like the filthy pigs they are." Carl suggests calmly. He's kind of worrying me. This isn't the Carl I'm used to.

"Once they have her tied up, I'll go sneak her away while you distract them."

"Why don't I get to save the poor girl?" he asks, the Carlness back in his voice.

"I think a Care Bear holding out its paw to her and saying, 'Come with me if you want to live.' might be a little too much for her."

He raises his eyebrows, considering it. "Point taken."

Now they've stopped at a huge log, and the band members are looking at each other. Front Man nods, and Drummer takes off the backpack and starts taking stuff out. Candles, a lighter, some rope, a bandana... and a brutal, six-inch hunting knife.

I can hear Virgin's heart beating like crazy. "What's that stuff for?" she asks, trying to stay calm.

Guitarist and Bassist grab hold of her and drag her to the log. She screams for help over and over again as they pin down her arms and legs.

"No one can hear you." drawls Front Man.

Drummer ties her securely to the log and stuffs the bandana in her mouth. Her screams turn to whimpers and tears as she realizes calling out is useless.

"Tonight," Front Man begins with gusto as his bandmates gather around him. "We will secure our fate. With this act, we will guarantee our fame. The Throbbing Cocks deserve to be legendary!"

Carl and I burst out laughing, despite the mortal peril. The Throbbing Cocks? Is that really the name of their band? They do deserve to die.

As Front Man is handed the knife, I make Carl visible and he goes tottering over to the douche bag twenty-somethings musicians. They're dumbstruck, and Front Man almost drops the knife.

"What the hell?" Guitarist mutters.

Carl the Care Bear just stands there, buying me time so I can save Little Miss Human Sacrifice. He begins to shoot the breeze with them as I pull the bandana out of her mouth. She gasps, and then I conceal her so we can talk. She shivers at the dull pins-and-needles feeling of turning invisible. Not that she knows she's invisible, of course.

"What are you?" she whispers.

"Either a guy in a mask or an avenging angel. Take your pick." I reply as I slash at the rope around her ankle with my claws. She gapes at me, too grateful to really fear me. "Uh... okay, so I'm definitely not just a guy in a mask."

"Your eyes..." Virgin stares at my glowing nocturnal eyes, trying to understand.

I'm glad it's Halloween so I can stretch the rules. "I don't have a flashlight."

She looks over at the diabolical band and registers the presence of my five-year-old sidekick. "That kid! You have to help him!"

"Trust me, he can handle them." I finish the last rope and help her up. None of the musicians have looked over since Love-a-Lot started talking.

I pick her up and carry her so I don't have to worry about her falling. She purses her lips, afraid to make noise, even though we've been talking and they haven't caught us. She must be too reluctant to hope that I can save her.

I give the band a wide berth as I walk around them. Terrified of them after knowing what they were about to do to her, she buries her face in my neck.

"I'm going to get you out of here, okay? My friend will deal with them."

Virgin finally gets a good view of Carl's face, and sees that his eyes are also glowing in the dark. "He's not just a kid, is he?"

"Smart girl."

Once we're a good distance away, I hear Carl laugh maniacally.

"My name's not Care-a-Lot, you silly nuggets! That's where the Care Bears live." The musicians laugh uneasily, still confused and unsure what to make of that freaky five-year-old.

"My name is Love-a-Lot," Uh-oh, here it comes. "and you're gonna die now!"

I run fast so Virgin can't hear the roars and screams.

In minutes we're at the van, and she's shaking. I take my leather jacket off and put in on her for warmth.

"Where's your phone?"

She sniffles and starts to root around in the back of the carpeted van. She finds it on top of the snare drum.

"Where do your parents think you are?" I ask as I canvass the van, looking for their iPods.

"A sleepover." She bites her lip to keep from sobbing. "My friend, Tess, convinced me to go to a costume party she heard about. She lent me this costume because my parents would never let me wear something like this. There I met Donny, the guitarist. He said I was cool and wanted to hang out. Tess said I should go have fun for once and come back to her house later. Then Donny took me to meet his band members..." Her breath hitches as tears gush from her eyes.

Aha! I've found two: a naked black nano and a classic in a red silicone sleeve. I pocket them and crawl out of the van.

"Considering how my friend is taking care of the problem, you might need to keep this to yourself. Especially the part about us."

"You mean the part about how I was saved by a masked avenger and a homicidal child in a Care Bear suit? Your secret's safe with me."

I give her a light chuckle. "So what will you tell Tess?"
"That Donny kicked me out of the van and I had to walk all the way to her house. She only has a permit so I couldn't get her to pick me up, anyway. And no way could I tell my parents."

I nod. "Good plan. And don't worry; we'll make sure you won't be suspect in their murders."

Apparently still in a state of shock, she laughs. "That's sweet of you."

After running her to her friend's house in Arlington at seventy miles per hour (thereby insuring that she couldn't feasibly be placed at the crime scene), I remind Lucy not to get in vans with strangers. Or to listen to Tess ever again. Once I know she's safe, I dash back to the woods to see what Carl has done to The Throbbing Cocks.

Well, he definitely had too much fun.

Bassist is hanging by his ankle from a tree, suspended by some rope used to hold Lucy down. His throat is slashed and blood is still dripping into a bashed-in snare drum. Chunks of his mohawk have been ripped out.

Guitarist has been carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey, the hunting knife stuck in the ground next to him. His nose, lip, and eyebrow piercing were torn out. Three of the candles were scraped out of their glass containers and his blood poured in them.

Drummer has a drumstick jutting from his left eye, and he's been disemboweled by something with sharp teeth.

And Front Man... wow. He was the worst of them, and Carl certainly treated him that way. He's just everywhere.

Hey, where's their executioner?

Suddenly, Carl zooms out of the darkness, cackling gleefully and covered in viscera.

"Woohoo!" he yells as he jumps around the crime scene. Man, he is hyper. I know he's excited, but... wait.

I quickly zip around, tasting each band mate's blood. Woah! Drummer was diabetic.

That's just perfect. The one thing that can give an Immortal a wicked sugar rush, and Carl manages to find it.

"I wanna fight a rhino!" he screams.

Oh, well. I'll let him burn himself out and he'll crash in an hour. I grab a "glass" of blood and gulp it down, still trying to understand what happened here. Killing is a normal thing for us, I mean it's what we do, but... this is pretty scary. He played with them first. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not quite encouraged, either. I won't jump to conclusions and think he'll rebel, but this is still odd behavior.

After finishing the glasses, I move to the snare drum. Between gulps, I eye Bassist's shirt; it's got a big colorful Day of the Dead skull on it. I figure that's pretty cool, so I take it. And put it in Carl's candy bag.

Carl's still speeding around the woods, and does so for another twenty-three minutes. Then all of a sudden he collapses, passed out and purring.

I pick him up, grab his candy bag, and take him to his and Virva's place above the butcher shop. After I get all the blood off of me, I head to the Bartlett house with my corpse-looted shirt.

It's around midnight, and I find Virva in a big pine tree not far from the house. She jumps down gracefully and we have a quick talk.

"Look! I got a new shirt." I announce, showing her the big flamboyant skull.

She nods appreciatively. "Nice,"

"So," A bit to breach the subject, I look down and fold up my shirt. "Carl isn't always all hugs and kisses, is he?"

"I've told you—"

"You didn't tell me it was that bad."

She sighs. "He's split, okay? One percent of Shapeshifters get that way when they Turn, and for obvious reasons no one likes to talk about it. He's only scary like that when he's hunting Marked Ones and Infernals. He's safe, I promise."

"I know. I was just wondering." I say gently. My implication was a serious one that no Elder likes to consider. But I trust her judgment and know that the Alphas wouldn't have made him a Watcher if he was a risk. "Is it also the reason he acts like a child?"

"Yeah, it is." She licks her lips, looking eager to get off the subject. "Well, the kids have been angels all night, and they're asleep now. Maggie left at about ten-thirty."

"Thanks, Verve."

"Later."

I climb my favorite oak tree. After stuffing my new shirt into my backpack, which I've left in the tree all night, I curl up on a wide branch. Soon I feel myself drift off to sleep, hopefully not doing that embarrassing purring thing Immortals do instead of snoring.