The Doctor and Romana carefully calculated how long they had until Old Mrs. M’s spell would wear off, and had the children go and get into their Halloween costumes about an hour before it was due to be midnight in Belly Button, Arizona.
Newt put her costume back on slowly, wishing desperately that her time in the TARDIS wasn’t fast coming to an end. She would give everything she had if she could be allowed to stay on and go on other adventures with the Doctor, but she understood and respected his reasons. If she was doing something she knew could become dangerous, she wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s underage child, either.
Perhaps when she was older, she might be lucky enough to meet the Doctor again, and he would allow her to ship out with him in the TARDIS. Costume in place, including Karen’s sock filled bra, she joined Dusty and Harold in the control room to await the stroke of midnight. Dusty had either retrieved his cloak and hood from the meadow before they had left Purvis Major, or he had filched replacements from the Doctor’s wardrobe room, for his costume looked like it did when he’d first entered her living room this morning. Newt shivered. This morning seemed an entire lifetime ago.
A clock the Doctor had awkwardly perched on the center console ticked off the minutes. Five minutes, then four, then there was a flurry of hugs and goodbye’s and Newt was unsurprised to find herself crying as she joined hands with Dusty and Harold to watch the hands of the clock come together at the stroke of midnight. Suddenly, there was a bright flash, though not as bright as the one that had taken them to Purvis Major, and the ground beneath their feet lurched.
Newt staggered, but managed to keep from falling. She looked around to see where they were. The three children stood, in their Halloween costumes, in the large, dark and totally deserted parking lot of the Belly Button, Arizona Regional Shopping Mall. Their backs were toward Old Mrs. M’s property.
Harold looked at his watch. “Three minutes past midnight,” he said, “Let’s go home.”
Dusty dropped hold of Newt’s hand. “We’ll walk around the end of the block this time.”
“And every time,” Harold added. “No more short cuts for me.”
“No candy this year,” Newt noted dully. “How are we going to explain that?”
“We don’t explain,” Harold said grimly. “Not now, and not ever. If people ask why they didn’t see us at the party, we just smile and tell them they must have missed us in the crowd. If they ask us what we were wearing, we give a very mysterious smile and say that if they aren’t bright enough to pick their own friends out of a crowd, it’s their problem. We don’t say what we were wearing, or where we’ve been, or what we’ve been doing, or who we were with.
“As long as we’re home on time, our parents won’t notice we’ve been missing. And if we stop at the Wal-Mart over there at the end of the mall and pick up some of the candy that will be on clearance now, nobody will ever even suspect we were missing for sixteen hours.”
He gallantly offered his arm to Newt, and she happily tucked her arm in his, and they all traipsed across the parking lot toward the Wal-Mart to get their candy.