Happy Halloween! Today we return to the adventures of Graelyn and Arch (plus Kinan!) for a one off romp. Get some candy, stay safe, and high five any ghosts you meet. -Jim
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Halloween Special: Unwelcome in Nightmoore
It felt like they'd been walking through realities into different dimensions all day. Kinan had of course made very little mention of where they were going, as was her way, but as they stepped through the next portal, Arch and Graelyn gawked a little. There were big orange and black streamers up everywhere, jack-o-lanterns beaming out from every doorstep, and fall leaves all over the ground blowing lightly in a faint but ominous breeze. It was chilly, but not too chilly, but most importantly of all, there were people rushing around in costumes. Graelyn's face lit up, and Kinan looked at her expectantly, still not changing her facial expression.
"What is it."
"Its "A Nightmare Before Christmas" land!" Graelyn said like she was four.
"You mean Halloween."
"Sure whatever! Can we stop and look around at this one?" Kinan looked down at her, and somehow without moving her facial muscles in any discernible way managed to look exasperated.
"Sure. Whatever." She monotoned back.
"I mean, we can arrive wherever in time or space or reality we need to so it doesn't matter if we take a detour."
"Yes." Kinan replied, "There isn't that much to do here though. We call this reality Nightmoore."
"Excuse me," Arch said, "Graelyn, why are you excited so much? Kinan, why is it called Nightmoore and not like... Halloweentown or something?" The two of them looked back at Arch, and exchanged glances.
"Well, That's actually a really good question. Why isn't it called Halloweentown? That's what it was called in a Nightmare before Christmas." Kinan looked around at the decorations, and walked over to a stand that appeared to be selling candied apples. The vendor, a nice old lady in a witch outfit, asked Kinan how many she wanted, and she looked back at Graelyn and Arch.
"None for me." Arch said.
"But yes for Graelyn." Graelyn said. Kinan held up a thumb and forefinger, and the lady got out one apple, to which Kinan shook her head and said, "Two." The lady corrected, and handed Kinan two apples, taking one over to Graelyn.
"The long and short of it is that "Halloweentown" is copyrighted by Centro Holiday Systems in this universe." Graelyn had been about to take a bite out of her apple, but stopped and looked up to see if Kinan was joking, before finding out that she still had the same damn facial non-expression.
"Sorry, did you say Centro Holiday Systems?" Arch asked.
"Yes." Kinan took a bite out of her apple, chewed it properly, swallowed, and responded. "There are a series of towns, each one centered around a different Holiday in this reality-" Graelyn began faintly singing "this is Halloween" and Kinan waited for her to stop, which she did, awkwardly. "-and Centro Holiday Systems owns the rights to their holidays and their terminology. We refuse to recognize the enforced names of oppressive regimes as a rule of thumb. So its Nightmoore."
"Welcome to Nightmoore." Arch muttered.
"But they're about to have Halloween here right? I'd love to go trick or treating."
"Even here there is usually an age cut off."
"I've never gone trick or treating though." Graelyn said. Kinan stared at her, again.
"Fine. Lets get you costumes."
They strolled through the city streets, a man without a head riding by on a horse, tossing a pumpkin head up in the air and catching it.
"I really don't know what Halloween is." Arch whispered to Graelyn, "Why are you so excited about it?"
"Its my third favorite holiday after Incorporation day and Alexander Hamilton's birthday-- and its really similar to Alexander's birthday in that children go around dressed up in costume, only they don't go to all the banks for a free share of a company of their choice, they go to different people's houses dressed up to get Candy!"
"Huh. I mean, I guess if you're showing all the skin you guys are-"
"- you mean any, don't you."
"Well, yes, but with all the skin you guys are showing it would be nice to have a holiday to cover it all up."
"The Candy and the getting to pretend to be a different person for a few hours are the really exciting bits for most people."
"Oh, huh." Arch said. They were passed by a group of girls dressed up as what looked like the Justice league (Batman had a tutu), their feet making little clompy sounds on the cobblestone streets. Kinan led them into another business, through a clothes size scanner at the doorway, where tons of costumes lined the walls. There was every sort of costume you could imagine: Graelyn recognized ones from movies and books, brain implant stories and video games. She ran her fingers through the fabrics, feeling the contrast of the silky dresses and the rough feeling of fake plastic silk. There was everything she could imagine. Graleyn smiled back at Arch, "What are you going to be Arch?"
"Er, I don't know. This isn't really something I've thought about."
"Don't you have a character you really relate to?"
"Maybe, but I'm not sure who I'd want to dress up as them... Who was that guy you mentioned earlier? With the birthday?"
"Alexander Hamilton? First secretary of the treasury of the ancient United States of America?"
"Sure, I'll be him." Kinan looked over at the counter where a teenage girl chewing bubble gum was reading a comic book, and occasionally scratching her head through her Afro.
"Do you have a Hamilton Costume?" She asked. The girl popped a bubble, looked over at her computer monitor, and asked it. The costume's location popped up on the register, and she pressed a button. The costume lowered down from an upper rack, the perfect size (which was impressive considering Arch's larger than normal stature.) Graelyn kept looking. There were tons of characters to choose from, and she felt like she had a lifetime of costume choosing to make up for. She needed to pick a perfect one.
Graelyn looked out the window at the children walking around outside. She knew from her father had told her that Halloween wasn't originally a holiday Russia celebrated, but that with the globalization of Centro Systems, it was now a part of their yearly lives. She looked back down at the textbook on her tablet and tried to focus. The porch light was off, so no one came to their door, but Graelyn had positioned herself so she could see through the window. It wasn't the best place for focusing, but she wanted to see the other children. There was Dmitri, and there was Katya... They were dressed as superheroes she couldn't quite place. She saw some children she didn't know who were 100% princesses.
"How is the chapter coming Graelyn?" Her mom yelled from the other room.
"Fine." She said, and got back to reading. Another Halloween indoors. Then her eyes spotted it. From the corner of her eye she saw the girl go by, and Graelyn felt her heart clench in her chest. Jealousy rose up her throat. She wanted to be her.
Her hands stopped. The black fabric in her hands was soft, and her hands trembled a little as she held it. It wasn't her size, but she drifted back through the rack till she found one that a sudden hologram projection of a cartoon jack-o-lantern told her would fit. From the next rack, she pulled off her accessories, and told Kinan to pay while she ran into the changing room. She threw off her clothes as fast as she could, and put on the outfit. She nearly got it all the way on, but couldn't get it zipped up in the back, naturally. When could she ever get it zipped up in the back by herself? She was already looking at herself delighted.
"Can someone come Zip me?" The door to the changing room opened slightly, and Kinan slipped in.
"Kinan." Graelyn said amazed, "I didn't think you'd be dressing up to."
"I thought it would be in the spirit of the thing, since you care so much about it." She monotoned. She was dressed in some sort of Japanese outfit, with her sword still in its usual place at her side. Little red lines were on her cheeks.
"You're a witch." Kinan said.
"Not just any witch!" Graelyn delighted, "Elphalba!" She held up a can of spray on green skin coloring.
"I'm not familiar."
"You know, the Wicked Witch of the West."
"Ah. The villain."
"Sort of, I mean, have you seen Wicked?"
"I think she's just misunderstood."
"Right." Said Kinan.
"Who are you anyways?"
"You don't recognize me?" Graelyn shook her head. "I'm Seshomeru."
"From Inu Yasha. One of the all time classics of Anime." Graelyn blinked repeatedly.
"Well, I'm glad you found a costume. Zip?" Kinan helped her get the back of the dress zipped up, and then Graelyn sprayed the dye all over her skin. It colored her skin perfectly, without leaving any residue. Hopefully it came out easily.
Graelyn emerged from the room, to see Arch in full colonial American garb, wig included. She grinned ear to ear, and looked him up to down quite pleased.
"I read up on this Alexander Hamilton on the web while you were in there. Interesting guy. Lots of articles saying he was not throwing away his shot, whatever that means." Graelyn Grabbed her broomstick, and bustled over to his side, putting her arm around his, her skirts shifting around pleasantly.
"Then we're all ready to go. Ready to go trick or treating?"
"Of course, Elphalba."
"No, I just heard you practically yell it from the changing room and looked her up also." She laughed.
"Lets get going then."
The three of them strolled around Nightmoore, checking out the plethora of Costumes. "Look there's the 16th Doctor!" Graelyn noted, "and the 15th, and the 3rd and 12th. So many."
"This is an incredible place. Did you see that house with the robotic skeleton choir?"
"Hard to miss it. Are you having fun?" she looked back at Kinan. Kinan shrugged.
"Its hard to have fun. I'm always noticing parallels. You see enough alternate worlds, the patterns seep in. I haven't spent a lot of time here, it doesn't have much strategic value to the war, I suppose I'm learning about it." Above them a black crane nearly invisible in the darkness held aloft a grim reaper with real moving wings, and Graelyn spun as she walked letting her dress swirl, and she hummed a few chords of "Defying Gravity."
They went up to the next door, and Graelyn and Arch knocked, "Trick or treat!" They said in unison. The door opened, and a man dressed up as Count Olaf opened the door and dropped some candy in Graelyn's bucket.
"Yes, Twizzlers." She said as they walked away.
"We can just buy whatever candy you want when we leave you know." Kinan noted.
"Oh, don't be a spoil sport." As if on cue, a crying child ran past.
"I did not converse with that child."
"I know." Graelyn said, and lifted her skirts up to run towards where the child came from. There were lots of kids trying to make their way around an older teen who was standing with a gang of cronies at the corner. She stopped them every so often, and her cronies would take the candy out of the kid's pails.
"Hey what are you doing?" Graelyn yelled at the girl, who turned to look at her, and Graelyn skidded to a halt. There at the corner was Graelyn Scythes, dressed as Ayn Rand.
"Oh come on." She said.
"And who do you think you are?"
"The Wicked Witch of the West." Ayn Scythes pushed her glasses up towards her nose, just as Elphalba Scythes did. They then tilted their heads to the side while raising an eye brow in unison.
"You can't take candy from children."
"The right to take is one given to the strong. It is only parasites who sink so low as to offer another lesser being the fruits they rightfully earned for themselves." Graelyn looked at her angrily.
"You're really ruining my night. I wouldn't do that!"
"Well I would, as your better." Elphalba rolled her eyes, and then saw someone gesturing to her from the bushes across the road. She couldn't make them out clearly. Elphalpba pointed a finger at Ayn Rand.
"I'll be back." Ayn Rand just laughed at her as she walked off. Arch and Kinan trailed her lazily as she walked behind the bushes, to find Alice MacLeod behind them. She was dressed as an 18th century Sans-Culette woman from the French revolution, complete with plastic sword and striped skirts. Her head had a cloth wrapped around it with a rosette with the French tricolors pinned to it. Next to her was Jack, who was dressed as Luke Skywalker.
"I see you're also standing up to Graelyn Scythes, the big bully." Graelyn sighed, and nodded, "apparently so."
"Jack and I have been planning a sort of... Revolt against her terrorism of the kids in this neighborhood." Graelyn looked back at Arch and Kinan a bit incredulously. Kinan made no move, while Arch shrugged, a question mark appearing on his face. "Of course, it will be difficult you know. She has that goon squad around her at all times..."
"I can take them out." Kinan said.
"Wait-- you mean beat them up? No that's-- whoa hold up there."
"Sorry I just thought you were all about violent revolution."
"This is Halloween not the raiding of the palace of Versailles by the Sans-Culette on October 5th 1789." Kinan shrugged. "Okay. Whatever."
"We have a plan though, but most of the kids are too scared to stand up to her. With your help, and your mom's help," she said pointing at Kinan, "we can surely stop this." Jack actually looked more terrified than most of the kids who were running away, but Graelyn didn't mention that.
"Lets get some apple cider while we talk this over." Alice said pointing at a cart, and they meandered over, Graelyn picked up the cup.
"I'm in." Said Arch, "I'm not that familiar with your customs, but it seems to me like taking candy from children is wrong. Probably."
"Of course I'm in to."
"Whatever my kids need." Said Kinan with the driest sarcasm that had ever been spoken in that Universe.
"Awesome!" Arch's face lit up with fireworks. "Wait," Alice continued, "Can he light up his whole body like that?"
"Of course I can." Alice grinned, "Change of plans. Lets toast to our plot then! Grab another cup." Graelyn picked up a cup from the cart and promptly crushed the paper cup on accident, splattering herself with cider.
"Oh, ugh." She could feel it all over her face. Alice and Jack were looking at her, agast. "What?" And looked down to see the cider had washed the green dye out of the skin it had touched.
"I swear you look just like Graelyn Scythes." Arch giggled.
"What a crazy co-incidence."
"Second new plan."
"What was your first plan?"
"Well, give her laxative chocolate. But this will be much better."
* * * *
Ayn Rand Graelyn Scythes shoved Batman, and she staggered back, trying to hold her tutu in place.
"I said you're giving me your candy. Its my right to take it from you. Unrestrained capitalism or whatever." The girl wiped a tear and held her bucket out, Ayn reached out to take it, and then a booming voice came from overhead.
"Is this really the true meaning of Capitalism? Ho ho ho." There was a slight silence, as though someone was correcting him, "Ignore the ho ho ho." From the sky came the glowing ghost of Alexander Hamilton.
Ayn Scythes gasped, "Its Alexander Hamilton, first treasury secretary of the ancient united states of America!"
"Ho ho ho, yes it is." Alexander said, dropping money on the crowd below. "And you've been a very naughty girl!"
"No I haven't!" Ayn yelled. "I"m observing the right of those who create to enjoy the labors of those who merely produce."
"If you know anything about me, then you know that I was all about the ability of a person to make their own life. I was one one of the few founding fathers of the Ancient United States who supported the abolition of slavery. You," he said pointing down at her, "are a corruption of all my ideals!"
Ayn Scythes looked horrified, then her face stiffened."You're not really Alexander Hamilton, you're just some guy in a costume."
"This is Halloween, all saints day, when the veil between this world and the next is thinned. And I, the ghost of Treasure Secretary Alexander Hamilton, am here to show you your fate if you don't heed my warning."
Ayn squinted up, "I think I can see a crane up there."
"Silence! I wrote two thirds of the Federalist papers! Heed my warnings!"
Ayn Scythes scoffed, but then from the shadows at the end of the block came a shambling figure.
"Graelyn?" A hollow voice said. Ayn looked around, and her posse formed up around her. "Alexander is right. Listen to him." She saw herself, Graelyn Scythes dressed as Ayn Rand walking towards her. She took a step back. That was impossible.
"I'm here from your future. Ruin will come to you if you do not heed our warning." Her posse promptly moved behind her, real brave bunch.
"You can't be real. You're just a hologram or..." The figure walked closer, real as the day, its eyes looked hollow and sunken.
"You will suffer a fate worse than death." Ayn gasped.
"What? Er... YES WOOO So much Government oversight!" Ayn shuddered, then straightened her spine.
"You're just wearing a spray on face aren't you? The water soluble kind right? You liars."
She grabbed a cup of cider from a passerby, and threw it on the other herself.
The other-self screamed, and the skin indeed did melt away to reveal a bloody face filled with maggots and puss. It opened its maw and leaned in towards her, bloody teeth bared. She screamed, and began to run the other way as fast as she could.
"Leave the candy you took! Hamilton commands it!" The ghost said as Graelyn and her posse ran away into the night. Graelyn pulled the bloody silicon mask that they'd sprayed her own face over off, and laughed, "We did it Alice!" Alice charged out, toy sword in hand, and cried to the crowd.
"The tyrant is overthrown! Let no one harass our candy gathering again!" To which the crowd naturally cheered for, and then left to go scrambling through the buckets of candy Ayn Rand had taken from them. Alexander Hamilton's crane lowered, and Kinan walked out from behind the controls to go unhook him from the harness.
"Two of my favorite holidays at once!" Graelyn said, hugging Arch.
"Happy HalloHamilton day, I guess."
Alice ran up to them and basically tackled them in a hug as well. "I never thought we could be free of her tyranny! Maybe we can do even more next year."
"Oh, I bet you will. Its in your nature."
Kinan moved out of the way as a kid dressed as Iron man went by.
"Are you ready to go?"
"I barely go to trick or treat. Won't it be the same time where we go next no matter when we go through the portal if you want it to?" Kinan stared stoically.
"Don't eat so much you get sick." Graelyn grinned, "Time to change then."
"Wait, one question." Alice whispered in Graelyn's ear, "Why is he dressed as Alexander Hamilton, it sounds like he only learned who he was today." Graelyn smirked with a shrug.
"Oh, Hamilton was my first crush. I thought it would be fun if he dressed up as him. I laid the idea out there subtly."
"You know Hamilton basically invented wall street as well as the financial--"
"Yes, look, I know you're Alice MacLeod, and that is totally the kind of thing you'd say from my experience, but he was also an outsider, a poor immigrant who suffered tons of hardships as a child and overcame them to rise to great things." She looked down at her Elphalba costume. "Misunderstood." She thought about the other Graelyn, somewhere off in the night. "Or maybe I just need to believe they're misunderstood. Come on, lets get some candy."
Thanks for joining us! Happy Halloween to all of you out there! Just make sure you stay on the good side of the the ghost of Alexander Hamilton this year :). Next week we'll be back with another fun adventure starring Mister Sprinkles the Cat!
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.