THE OLD TRUNK, OR THE SPIRIT OF HALLOWEEN PAST

Author’s note: Couldn’t resist posting this little sequel to my earlier fic Hellboy’s Halloween. Disclaimer: Wish these guys belonged to me, but they don't.

The Old Trunk, or The Spirit of Halloween Past

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
Newark, New Jersey
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Swimming lazily around in his large aquarium, Abe Sapien could hear light laughter combined with a deeper, almost baritone guffaw coming from the rear of the late Professor Trevor Bruttenholm’s office. He recognized these sounds as emanating from Liz and Hellboy and wondered what was going on. Even though Hellboy no longer avoided his adoptive father’s office as he had after his murder almost exactly three years earlier, he and Liz would usually be in their private quarters by this time.

Curiosity getting the better of him, Abe climbed up out of his tank, quickly dried off and descended down the spiral staircase that came into the rear of the office/library via an upper level. He found his two friends both practically head down in a very large, very old leather-sided trunk. Spread out on the floor around them was a stack of old books and papers; looking more like old textbooks and school papers than the research materials and parchments that filled the shelves of the library.

“God, Liz, I don’t think Pop ever threw anything away,” Hellboy snickered as Abe moved closer, unnoticed by the two who were still digging around in the trunk, “I think this stuff’s from when he was first studying folklore in some English university or another.” Reaching deeper, he pulled out what looked like two smallish brown-leather boots along with a faded olive-green army blanket.

“Are those what I think they are, Red?”

Hellboy looked up at Abe’s voice and nodded, still holding the blanket. “Yep, sure is. Those are my first pair of cowboy boots and this is the blanket he wrapped me in when he found me on that island. When we were in New Mexico, I used to have it on my bed.”

While Hellboy was speaking to Abe, Liz had pulled out a now-grayish white pillowcase that had stored inside of it a full-headed rubber mask and a clumsily hand-sewn costume in blue and red that included a very large red cape. The odd adjustments made to the right arm of the costume made it clear who the costume had been made for; yet, the relatively small size of it made Liz curious as to how young Hellboy had been when he had been dressed in it.

An expression, half nostalgic, half saddened, crossed over Hellboy’s face as Liz held out her most recent find to him. Turning over the shirt, he showed her the yellow shield with the large capital ‘S’ in red that was sewn on the breast of the blue shirt. “Pop took me trick-or-treating in New Mexico the Halloween before I turned five. I wanted to be Superman and it took him over a week to get that costume put together. Between the huge cape and rubber mask, I was still small enough that I could be completely covered.”

An odd smile crossed his face. “I wanted to have red boots just like Superman, but we made do with those cowboy boots. Pop didn’t have a lot of money. Funny, by Christmas they didn’t fit anymore and by the next Halloween I was taller than he was; so there was never any more trick-or-treating.”

The chiming of the antique wall clock made Hellboy aware that midnight had come; not just heralding the arrival of the witching hour, but also the anniversary of the day on which the man who had taken him trick-or-treating all those years ago had been murdered in that same room where he now stood.

Earlier, with the excitement of discovering the trunk, Hellboy had been less conscious than usual of the significance of the date. Now, he felt like a huge vice was squeezing his chest.

“Superman,” he muttered, roughly tossing the old costume back in the trunk, “some Superman I turned out to be; couldn’t even protect my own father.”

Liz moved closer to Hellboy, while Abe, now self-conscious, moved back. “Red, we’ve been through this before. There really wasn’t much you could’ve done; even if you had been there.”

Hellboy gave Liz a little nod. “Yeah, my head knows that; but I still have trouble convincing my heart. How ‘bout we get this stuff back in the trunk and get to bed.”

Thanks for reading. Hope you all have a great Halloween. Beth Palladino

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