It is said that Halloween is the night when the veil between this world and the other are thinnest, and that we dress as ghouls and monsters so that the creatures from the next world will not be able to tell us from them, and so will leave us alone. This is not totally untrue.
The next world is not the afterlife as many assume, but actually another world laid over our own like two transparency sheets on a single overhead projector. The people of this world were dubbed the Ohnegesicht by the first humans that discovered their existence, and they do not have faces of their own, so they take them from us.
Every year the Ohnegesicht enter our world starting at sunset on Halloween, which they call something equivalent to “Face Night”. They have until midnight, the end of All Hallow's Eve, to find a new face. This is an important day for the Ohnegesicht, as the face they pick is the one they will have for the next year. Keep in mind that midnight is the actual midnight, and not by the hands of a clock; this means that an Ohnegesicht in Reno will return to their world before one in San Francisco.
It can be difficult to spot an Ohnegesicht unless you are actively looking for them. You know that adult that you see on Halloween night out on his own, the one with no kids? Or the one that you thought was with a large group of trick-or treaters, but when they left he stayed behind to look at your decorations? The one that stood there long enough to make you feel uncomfortable, never saying anything to you before continuing on his way? That may well have been an Ohnegesicht.
Finding a new face is not easy as one may at first think. Not only does one need to find what will be the face they show their fellows for the next year, but they need to take care to not be caught by the humans and to not attempt to take the face of one of their own. That is a tremendous faux pas. Should midnight draw near, they have to take whatever is at hand, and that is most frequently a jack-o-lantern.
That’s right, the pumpkin that you thought those punk kids stole to smash possibly became the face of an Ohnegesicht for a next year. This is a source of much derision among their people, but to spend a year faceless is to spend a year in social exile. It is like spending a year as a ghost: unacknowledged by all.
Let us focus on the Face Night activities of one particular Ohnegesicht. Our alphabet lacks the ability to properly write out his name, so I shall call him Bob, or, as his peers would call him: Pumpkin Bob.
Pumpkin Bob has never been very lucky at trying to find a new face. His first year at it he mistakenly tried to take the face of a fellow Ohnegesicht, and the mental scars that resulted have made him over-hesitant ever since. From sunset to midnight he agonizes over not only which face he wants, but whether or not the current owner of it is a valid source. The end result is that he ends up grabbing the nearest pumpkin right before midnight pulls him back to his own world..
Now Pumpkin Bob could own this; he could look for interesting pumpkins to wear and take pride in his difference, but he doesn’t. Instead he spends every year jealous of everyone who found a proper face; his sole comfort is that he is not faceless.
He had a friend end up faceless one year; we’ll call him Carl. Carl had gotten so fixated on a specific face that he didn’t try and take any other. He stalked the face’s owner all night, but never found an opportunity to attack his target. When midnight drew near, there was nothing he could take as a face, not even a pumpkin.
Carl spent the following year being invisible to his people. They didn’t shun him, that would be a form of acknowledgment, they just pretended he did not exist. He lost his home, his family and friends ignored him; he nearly starved to death. Of course once he rejoined society after taking a rather smart looking Batman mask the next year, he too pretended that it never happened. Carl’s experience left quite an impression on Pumpkin Bob though, even if it would be a violation of the mores of Ohnegesicht society to admit it openly.
We find Pumpkin Bob as he appears in our world just after six in the evening on Halloween. He is with two other Ohnegesicht. It is not uncommon for them to form small groups for the transfer from their world to ours, but they almost always hunt alone.
One of Pumpkin Bob’s friends is wearing a masquerade mask covered in sequins and feathers, we’ll call him Joe. He insincerely wishes Pumpkin Bob good luck at the hunt, not because he dislikes Bob or wants him to fail, but because he is just a jerk like that.
The other friend, I’ll call her Jane, is wearing the face of a young woman with her nose painted black and whiskers painted on her cheeks; the body of the previous owner of this face still has not been found. Jane has actually managed to pick up a little human speech over the years, and uses it to facilitate getting the flesh faces she prefers.
Jane laughs, and tells Pumpkin Bob that she can’t wait to see what his new pumpkin will look like. Again, this is not out of any actual dislike of Bob, but because she is just not a very nice Ohnegesicht.
Pumpkin Bob has unfortunate taste in friends.
Jane and Joe walk off in different directions leaving Pumpkin Bob alone to begin his own hunt. He is in a suburban neighborhood full of people and there are so many faces to choose from. How can he decide? More importantly: once he decides, how does he get his target away from witnesses?
He sees a very nice Transformers mask, but that child is with a group. One of the parents has a lovely hockey mask on, and it might be easier to draw the parent away from the group without much notice than one of the kids, but what if that’s really another Ohnegesicht? The man does not seem to be interacting with the group as much as the others.
As he does every year, Pumpkin Bob decides to move on. He wanders the streets, jealous at all the wonderful faces the boys and girls, and men and women have, seeing so many that he would love to have as his own. He hesitates, he doubts, he fears, but he does not attempt to take any of the faces.
Slowly the streets empty of people, and fill with a light fog. Porch-lights go out, strobe lights shut off, and jack-o-lanterns are extinguished. Pumpkin Bob begins to feel desperate. He has passed a couple of loud parties, and recalls Jane telling him how she got her cat face at one of those by leading a girl away from her friends.
Pumpkin Bob thinks to himself that he could simply walk in to one of those gatherings unnoticed, but self doubt keeps him from trying. He has heard tales of Ohnegesicht being caught by the humans, and most of those tales result in a dead body crossing back over at Face Night’s end. Bob does not want to take that kind of risk.
With every passing minute, midnight draws nearer and Pumpkin Bob’s options become fewer. He is starting to resign himself to grabbing a pumpkin again when he sees it.
On the next block there is a lone figure wearing a Darth Vader costume. Pumpkin Bob is sure it is not one of his own for two reasons: the figure is too short to be a mature Ohnegesicht, and it is throwing a roll of toilet paper up into a tree, catching it when it comes down, and then throwing it again. This is not an activity his people take part in.
Using the cars parked along the road as cover, Pumpkin Bob quietly makes his way towards his target, stopping directly across the street from the Sith Lord as the boy reaches into the pillow case laying on the ground at his feet for a fresh roll of two-ply.
This is the moment of truth for Pumpkin Bob: this may be the first time is his life he comes back from Face Night with a proper face. His body practically vibrates in anticipation.
The prey resumes festooning the tree with bathroom tissue; he hasn’t even noticed the hunter crouched across the street from him. When the Ohnegesicht charges him, the boy never even hears him coming.
With the grace of a practiced hunter, for Pumpkin Bob has spent many, many units of time practicing back home, the Ohnegesicht grabs the back of the Darth Vader mask with one hand, while driving his fist into the current owners back with the other.
The boy’s cry of surprise becomes louder halfway through as the mask clears his mouth, and is cut off suddenly as impact with the sidewalk drives the rest of the air from his lungs. Before he can inhale, Pumpkin Bob stomps down between his target’s shoulder blade, driving the lad’s face into the sidewalk. Teeth break, as does the boy’s nose, and consciousness leaves his body like an Ohnegesicht leaves the human world at midnight.
Pumpkin Bob is not concerned with whether or not the boy survives, for we humans are not important to them, only our faces.
Carefully, for this is the first time he actually has the time to do this with care, Pumpkin Bob removes the grinning gourd from his head, and throws it to the ground. It crumbles to dust as all discarded Ohnegesicht faces do after a year of use. He then slowly slides his new face into place.
If he had picked a flesh face instead of a mask he would be grinning from ear to ear. He cannot wait to show his non-pumpkin face to Jane and Joe in the hopes that he will never again have to suffer with the label of Pumpkin Bob.
He forgets that Jane and Joe are jerks though.