A halloween tribute for Mill Ave and Phoenix -- revisiting an old legend, updated for a gritter era.


“I don’t understand why I have to stay on the phone with you for six hours,” Salter griped in her ear after she dialed his room at the hospital. “It’s not like it’s my fault I was put out of commission.”

It was three hours in and he was already complaining.

“Yeah, yeah,” Vex said. “Quit yer whining, Jason. I’m taking your shift, so you can keep me company. Also, I have some interesting news for you.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

In the distance, the sun had begun to dip into the horizon. Deep crimsons and salmon pinks spread themselves along the edges of the clouds and blazed along the dim silhouettes of mountains breaking the otherwise flat landscape.

Vex grinned maliciously. “I found a way to track the guy who put you out of commission. I’m going to start hunting him after the sun goes down.”

“Dude. That’s awesome,” he said. “I can just see your itinerary now. Vex Harrow. Halloween Night. Item one: kill monster biker. But how are you going to hunt him down and do your shift at the same time?”

“I don’t really see these two things are mutually exclusive. I’m going to try to be down in the area you were hit.”

Jason paused a moment. “What about fares?”

“Don’t worry,” she said, “I have that angle covered.”

Vex realized that chances were very good she could stay out of Ahwatukee by pushing fares off onto other drivers and affiliates until the last possible moment. Not a sound behavior, but since she was supposedly off today, nobody would call her on it. It would leave her plenty of time to hunt.

The sun set entirely and swallowed the red sunset with it, the clouds followed in long blankets, covering the stars and leaving a dead grey darkness above. After twilight passed, so did the navy blue of the dusk sky. The only color left in the world appeared in the glow of jack-o’-lanterns hanging from the trees of Mill Avenue, colorful costumes trotted past along the roadsides, and the strange outfits of her fares.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Salter said after a long stretch of silence. “I mean, to count this guy has run four people off the road.” He spoke up because Vex had mentioned that she was picking up a fare in Ahwatukee who only needed a short jump, putting her squarely in the attack zone.

“Don’t tell me you haven’t gone up against weirder things back on Hawaii,” Vex said. “With kahunas and angry volcano spirits.”

“Yeah, well, the only big kahuna that I knew back in Honolulu was a guy with a big belly who would marry people with leis and crap—and the volcano never rode up on me and put out my window with its fist. So I’m going to have to say no.”

“Poor baby,” Vex jibed. “Welcome to Phoenix… Ah, here we are.” She pulled the cab over next to the address in the dispatch. An apartment door opened above, some goodbyes were said, and the fares skittered down the steps. “What’d you know? It’s a pair of goblins.”

The two kids, teenagers by the eager look of them, were painted green head to toe, even their hair. They sported pointed ears, ragged outfits that showed a lot of green skin, and bubbly voices. Into the cab spilled a boy and a girl who smooched and schmoozed their way into the back seat.

“Where to?” Vex asked even though she already knew. The boy repeated the final destination, she logged it in her journey log, and set off.

The two goblins in the back seat set about making out. Vex hoped against hope that the green paint was sweat-proof; she didn’t want to have to be cleaning it off of her back seat.

“Goblins?” Salter asked. “What are they doing?”

“Snogging, I think.”

“Sounds fun.”

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