In Hong Kong kids treat-or-treat in the vast urban sprawl, tottering between skyscrapers with their plastic jack-o-lanterns. The lobby guards at the housing estates do not understand the nuances of the Western holiday. Medusas and short wizards demand sweets as the beleaguered wage workers wipe at their sweaty necks with white rags, “No treats. No treats.”
This year a group of teenagers has joined in the occasion, a mix of locals and foreigners. They parade amongst the younger children wearing lurid rubber masks: lolling tongues and murderous grins. One is a stark white face with a paper talisman draped over the forehead – the Chinese “hopping vampire.”
Mothers and domestic helpers take the smaller children by their shoulders, freezing until the pow-wow has gone. The vampire hops along—arms outstretched—at the tail-end of the cavalcade. She takes her time, Qing dynasty robes flapping behind her.
The group quickly loses interest, hungering for a more hazardous experience. One of the older, white boys suggests the abandoned cinema in Kwun Tong, a garish, rutted hulk of a building, fifty years in decline. A dozen would-be delinquents slink in through the fire escape in the ceiling.
The boy marches between the rows of sagging, upholstered cinema seats, “Ghosts here can’t speak English. They’re not interested in me!” He brandishes a piece of scrap metal from the floor and slices at the old, silk film screen, reducing it to shreds.
Later, in the decrepit film room, the group sits cross-legged on the floor. Someone tries leading a seance in Cantonese. The white boy takes dramatic drags from a cigarette, “Canto gibberish, in one ear out the other.”
The vampire reaches out with crusted, yellow nails and preens the boys neck, hissing “死鬼佬” (stupid foreigner), “The colonists taught us English too.”
Andrew is a writer and graduate from The Ohio State University's English Literature program. His work has been published in Glint Literary Journal. He lives with his wife, Yuki, and dog, Farrah, in Hong Kong.