I didn’t know superheroes existed, it silently mused, as the Avengers strutted down the paved streets of downtown Toronto, their numerous weapons in their hands. TV really does so much for them. I didn’t think they were so short.

October 31st had been a rainy day so far. Cars had crawled along the cobbled streets, people had power-walked down the slippery sidewalks, and the sky had dominated as the clouds broke down and released their wrath over the mortal inhabitants of the earth. It openly laughed as joyful memories of the numerous people falling on the slippery streets clouded its vision.

The day, however, wasn’t as spectacular as the night seemed to be. There had been, after all, too few people outside to torment. And really, its translucent skin had felt the sleet as if its body had been bombarded by a thousand angry bees.

Now, the scene was absolutely breathtaking, transformed as if magical pixies had used their wands and magic powder to decorate the city in cheers and laughter. As it floated down the crowded streets, the blinding orange lights illuminated the faces of the painted individuals, casting them in a glow so eerie and distorting their faces so that one identity merged with another.

The Avengers were now fighting with Loki, Belle walked arm-in-arm with the Beast, and … Is that an angel? I’ve never seen one in real life! … They exist in that size? it exclaimed, slack-jawed and amazed.

The angel, a girl about 3 feet tall, glanced curiously at it before her gazed focused in on the ground where it hovered, her intense look like an F-16 fighter jet targeting its enemy. Her big blue eyes widened even further and her jaw dropped open, her tongue coloured a deep green. She quickly turned to the older angel
beside her and yelled, “Mommy, mommy, look! What is that?

It quickly hurried away.

As it slithered through the crowd, its face, hid by a seemingly transparent white hood, stared at the (clothed?) feet of the others. Those who were in close proximity and were observant enough seemed to stare in amazement at it, before confusion overtook their excitement. Why, after all, did they not feel themselves brushing against this person, even though they had passed by close enough to collide?

It continued its passage through the jam-packed area, a white shape amidst the horde, from Snow White (about to bite the apple!) to the hobbling knight who was using his lance as a cane. Its surroundings blurred as it moved at a fast pace, individuals became a distorted piece of art, with a myriad of colours too bright and too loud.

That’s when it began noticing them.

Among the princes and the princesses and the doctors and the Hollywood celebrities was another one just like itself. It was a tall white persona, almost translucent – but not quite. It thought the other one looked real, and yet when it glanced down, the other one had feet!

Now thoroughly confused, it continued ahead, unwilling to make eye contact with the other one. Then however, it seemed as if the world had seemed to flip upside down, like a snow globe being thoroughly shaken.

Everywhere it looked, it found another one. And then another, and another, and another. In front of the hot dog vendor, just hovering in the line. Leaning against the shimmery glass of a nearby clothing store. It spun to the left, where it saw another speaking to …. another? Quickly, it swivelled to the right, where another two were bobbing up and down, something slithering out from under their hoods.

It spun in a circle, first slowly, then gaining speed, faster, faster, faster, building momentum, till the world became a blur of noises and jumbled words that collided for domination, of red and blue mixed in with magenta and yellow and dark green, of bright light that threatened to harm, to blind, to make you lose yourself. It kept whirling, still spinning like a hamster on a wheel, its body gaining energy while its mind slowly shut down.

And then everything went white.

All around it, it saw them, their white robes as pure as snow and yet under their hoods only a dark silhouette. It kept glancing at the ground in front of their feet, and it was as if they were shape-shifting. Some had feet, but others didn’t. It looked at one who stood motionless across the street while coloured shapes zigzagged around it. That one didn’t have feet. It glanced again, and feet had seemed to sprout out of under its robe. It saw another with darkness under its hood, before seeing a human face a minute later.

It thought it was going crazy. Are they real? Or are they …? They were everywhere, some a mirror image of itself, while others were clearly the product of a clever imagination. Others, however, at a glance seemed to reflect its image, but with deeper observation changed appearance, so that what once seemed real now felt like an image conjured by its imagination.

What am I then to these who are unreal to me? Am I real? Am I what these others would think as an image of the imagination? Is this my world, in which my own are as much like strangers to me as are those who I do not even know?

It now found itself in a deserted alley, the excited hubbub of the city now like a distant whispers of the dark night. It was about to head back out, back to its own home, its shoulders slumped dejectedly. It was tired – there was too much to think of at the moment.

I should have asked Spiderman for his autograph.

It was swivelling around, preparing to take flight when it came to an abrupt stop. The calming silence was pierced as a loud howl was heard, followed by a hoot and a shriek. It slowly spun back around, alert.

There stood four monsters.

Their clothes were ripped, blood dripping from the long dark gashes that covered their exposed skin. One had a long cut that extended across its face. The monster’s eye was a slit, its face swollen and bloody. Another limped and wheezed as they advanced. Where there was no blood, grime caked their clothes, so that a stench so strong and repulsive that it would have made the Devil cry seemed to ooze out of their very pores.

The monsters trudged slowly towards it. It froze, paler than its usual pale, paralyzed with fear. They slowly surrounded it, breathing heavily, their mouths filled with blood.

The ghost screamed, shrieking like a mandrake that had been uprooted, before vanishing into the thin air.

“Woah, did you just see what I just saw?”

“That must’ve been some kind of a camera trick!”

“You don’t think … You don’t think that was a real ghost, do you?”

“Oh come on, dude, it’s Halloween. Ghosts don’t exist.”

The four boys continued limping and chatting, completely oblivious as to the identity of the one ghost that got away.


Illustration by Mara Gagiu