....the tradition had always been to make a wonderful costume either with your friends in the weeks before the big night, or do it all separately from them all so you could surprise them on Halloween night at the parties before everyone went out Trick-or-Treating. That was the tradition... and it was a good one... and one that everyone trusted, generation to generation... father to son, mother to daughter... on and on... Until the Bad Time came.... when children were no longer safe to go out into the night and only play at being scared, and to gather candies in exchange for facing their childhood fears.
True, in the past, there were occasions, rare, very rare occasions when a child might go missing, but those were very few and far between. But NOW... in the Bad Time, no one would dream of sending a child off into the night, not in the neighborhood, not even into the gentle countryside to celebrate the merriment and mystery of Halloween without watchful, even fearful adults, hovering, questioning, fretting.... And that was why, when she appeared out of nowhere... well, so much upheaval. Rumors whispered, compounded on more rumors... wild, strange terrifying stories about horrible, horrible... too horrible to even name. Grown-ups spent sleepless nights…or else endless nights of strange, heated sleep, sweating but frozen too till they shivered and ached in their soaking wet sheets...tangled and twisted with dreadful visions... to wake exhausted into flat gray mornings. Too gray to even know if it was morning..
She was nameless, so someone, unnamed themselves, called her The Melon Lady because of that... was it a face? ...At some point, she became The Melon Lady. And her reputation was instantly known far and wide because she had been named. Her .... "proclivities"...and "habits" had been witnessed...from "remains".... but it was the naming that made everything so final. And so factual. There was the fact now of what she could do...and might do.. and how much farther and more grotesque it might get...if she wasn't stopped...She had to be stopped. But how? The banal powers of the "modern world" were useless...stupid and clumsy.
You see, the Bad Time had created her ...and made her necessary... in an odd irony. The Bad Time had brought her here...and she was created out of the great mystery of the thing known as Balance. And that Balance was what was both a horror…and a comfort. For you see The Melon Lady was the one who did the bad things… to the bad people. It started out only as rumors… a person would be found perhaps days after being reported missing… well parts of them would be found..in various places where many people would find what she had left behind. There would sometimes be writing …on the pieces.. or if fire was involved, then on a wall nearby.. or a note pinned to a doorway. As the acts became more hideous, a sort of humor would be injected… the notes would be scrawled on fine stationery… in blood… or ..No!... it was lipstick… It started out as a word or two, a phrase, but eventually they turned into short poems with deliberately bad punctuation, misspellings, dangling modifiers… split infinitives… or… “provocative” drawings… drawings that sneered at the victim, and insulted his or her family… and even threatened them as well…
And so, she became bolder, more brazen in her daring… the Balance required that, as the Bad Time worsened, she had to be more… thorough. Because she was the Protector of children. The Avenger. The Terrible Price. Her names became manifold…. So it was easier, more expedient… and more terrible just to say that The Melon Lady had come. The Melon Lady had been there. The Melon Lady had left…that…behind. The Melon Lady would punish you. And she did. She always did. …and …gradually the Bad Time and its friends began to be burned away… She was never wrong. The Balance was infallible… She was The Melon Lady… and children everywhere grew to love her… love her very much.
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