Halloween Town woke to a beautiful Saturday morning. Last night’s winds blew in puffy clouds that the smiling Jack-o-lantern sun turned a fantastic orange and red color. The Mayor sleepily peeked at them from under his covers as he lazily woke up. Realization struck him like an atomic bomb. He NEVER lazily wakes up! Jumping to his tiny feet he snatched his alarm clock off the night stand and looked accusingly at it. For some unfathomable reason the clock thought it was 12 o’clock and not caring that The Mayor had slept in for the first time in his afterlife.
His mind teetering closely to insanity, The Mayor ran around his house trying to get ready for the day lest his entire schedule be ruined. It went a little something like this:
Mayor’s Daily Routine:
1.Wake up. (On Time!)
2.Get dressed. (Check hat for lint and possible prank.)
3.Make Breakfast. (Eggs on Toast. Yum!)
4.Promptly leave house. (Check hearse before entering and before starting.)
5.Promptly arrive at Town Hall. (Check all doors for trip wires and booby traps.)
6.Sit at desk and begin paper work. (Check pens for tampering.)
7.Eat lunch. (Ham sandwich with toasted bread.)
8.Assume any and all Mayor’s duties that may occur during day. Walk about town and chat pleasantly with citizens. (Watch back for possible pranks.)
9.Go home. (Check thoroughly for traps.)
10.Make tomorrow’s lunch. (Ham sandwich with toasted bread.)
11.Make dinner and eat dinner. (Must wash dishes right away.)
12.Go to bed. (Promptly.)
In an effort to save time The Mayor ran downstairs, put bread in the toaster, and ran back upstairs to get dressed. If it came down to it he would have to skip the eggs and survive the morning with just the toast. But even that literally went up in flames when he returned to his kitchen to find black smoke coming from his once-trusty toaster. Quickly unplugging it from the wall he used two oven mitts to drop the traitorous toaster in an empty metal garbage can in the back of the house. Noting the real time on the clock in the kitchen, The Mayor hastily found his briefcase and headed out the door.
Thankfully nothing was wrong with the hearse and The Mayor speedily drove down the street. If he went fast enough he would make it in time not to be late. The Mayor planned to speed up as soon as he made the next right turn but, like his other plan with the toast, didn’t happen. As the hearse made the familiar turn something went horribly wrong and the hearse lost its front-right wheel in a shower of splinters. After coming to a sudden halt and after the initial panic and alarm wore off, The Mayor grabbed his briefcase and shakily got out of the car. It took him a minute to figure out that he had lost his wheel due to a pot hole that had been in his blind spot. Now he was stuck two miles from Town Hall and the only person he knew that fixed cars lived no where near here.
So he ran as fast as his stubby little legs could carry him.
He was huffing and puffing by the time he reached the Town Hall. Had there always been that many steps? Thankfully no one seemed to need to go to Town Hall this early on a Saturday. Setting down his briefcase he proceeded to check the front door for trip wires. Finding none he went inside and settled into his desk comfortably. After a call to Wolf Man, the mechanic, he reached for his favorite pen. Paperwork time! Opening up his briefcase he notice right away that today was just meant to go wrong for him. Firstly he noticed that there was no ham sandwich for his lunch and secondly there was an important document missing from the pile inside it. It wasn’t just any important document, it was the most important piece of paper that he had been working with for the past week and now it was gone.
Papers were angrily thrown from his desk as he stomped out of his office, out of Town Hall, and towards the market place in Town Square. He didn’t care about his stupid schedule anymore he was hungry and needed to find something to eat. Of course he didn’t let his irritation show publicly. Literally putting on his happy face he began pleasantly strolling through the market. Disappointingly, the first couple of stands didn’t sell food that didn’t have to be prepared.
“Hello Mayor,” his friend, the devil Reverend Hale, called out from his chair in front of the little chapel.
“Good morning Hale!” The Mayor replied enthusiastically. At last, a friendly face!
“You look flustered Mayor,” Rev. Hale said as Mayor walked up to talk to him, “Is something the matter?”
The Mayor’s face flashed back to sad as he said, “I’ve just had the most terrible morning imaginable. First my alarm clock breaks, then my toaster, then my car looses a wheel, and then I realized I don’t have lunch, and an important paper has disappeared.”
“Sounds like the perfect recipe for a bad day,” Rev. Hale said sympathetically, “It’s bound to happen to each of us now and again. Nothing for it but to push on through it, I’m afraid.”
“I suppose,” The Mayor sighed.
From the vantage point at the chapel, one could see the whole stretch of the market. Including a clear view of the long stand filled with recently cleaned junk and knickknacks pilfered from the junkyard. Next to it stood a small sign saying ‘Flowers for Sale’. A flash of metallic silver caught his eye and everything made sense.
“That’s it!” The Mayor exclaimed.
“I refuse to believe that mere coincidence is responsible for every terrible event this morning.”
“How-? Oh, Mayor you already my opinion on this. People change and I believe that the ‘Terrible Trio’ is long gone.”
“Not them. Those kids!”
“Mayor! Their children are angles. They have not said or done anything even remotely devious since they arrived. You should not let your past prejudices cloud your vision.”
Too late, The Mayor was already storming off toward the stand.
“Hello Tall Witch, Small Witch. Would you like flowers today?” Violet said cheerily from behind the wooden crate that served as her own personal booth for selling flowers, as cute and as innocent as a kid with a lemonade stand.
The older witches awed together, clearly eating up Violet’s cute act, “Of course sweetheart! The ones you sold us last week were beautiful. But this time we would like some red ones.”
“Red ones, got it,” Violet scurried to the wagon that held a few potted plants.
Choosing one she lifted it onto the crate, “Ok, Rosie. Do your stuff.”
Complying, the potted plant grew our extra stems. The tips of the stems grew teardrop buds before finally blooming into red lily-like flowers with a deep orange center. Marco came by and gave the new stems a quick cut with his claws. Gisele already had the red ribbon cut to tie them together. CJ had just collected the money from Tall Witch and stashed it stealthily inside the piggy bank he was in charge of.
“Thank you for your purchase,” They said cutely in unison.
Thanking them, and after leaving a tip, Tall Witch and Small Witch left.
“Do we always have to act this cute?” CJ sighed once they were out of earshot.
“Yes!” Violet hissed quietly at him, “It’s apart of the plan, remember? First, we get the town on our side by pretending to be cute. Second, we set up The Mayor’s downfall. Third, when The Mayor tries to blame us for any and everything we might or might not have done. We have the advantage of reputation on our side. Any trouble we get into after this plan will be seen as ‘harmless kids having fun’. Got it?”
“Fine! I get it! I didn’t need the whole lecture,” CJ said irritably.
“Positions guys! He’s here!”
Gisele had been on lookout when she saw the Mayor greet Reverend Hale. Violet quickly grabbed her bag. Handing CJ the recently acquired ham sandwich and getting out the newly polished toaster, the final stages of Operation Head-Spin were in motion. Barrel and Kevin were busy haggling with someone over the price of a newly-fixed clock on the far side of their booth. While they weren’t looking she placed the now shiny toaster on the edge of their booth, a perfect spot where the light made it shine enough for The Mayor to see. Right on cue The Mayor began stomping his way toward them. She grinned, a grin as devious and as mischievous as her older sister’s.
Legs aching, head pounding with an oncoming migraine, and his neck twitching The Mayor stormed down the street toward the little hooligans. There it was, sitting right in plain sight, his toaster. The little thieves must have taken his and replaced it with a junkyard fake. He half-wondered if that was the case of the other items in the booth, but right now his growing rage was directed at the little perpetrators.
“Hello Mr. Mayor, would you like to buy some flowers?” Violet’s sweetness reached her voice, but not her sneering eyes.
“You! YOU!” The Mayor’s rage was practically choking him, making his words barely above a whisper.
“No? How about a nice toaster? We just found it yesterday; it made some nice toast this morning. Right CJ?”
Behind her CJ responded with a muffled yes, as he was busy eating a toasted ham sandwich, The Mayor’s very same toasted ham sandwich.
That did it. The Mayor went into what was later described to them as conniptions. His body began twitching involuntarily; he began gasping out what might have been accusations, until the main event they had all been waiting for. The Mayor’s head began to turn, not like it usually does, it began to honestly spin. Faster and faster his head began to whirl on top of his shoulders.
Shock had told them as a kind of bedtime story that once; she had made The Mayor so mad that his head had spun like it was doing now. She said that he had been so embarrassed about it; he kept his distance from the trio’s actions for two whole weeks. They had decided it would be fitting revenge for it to happen again. There was only one thing left to do, laugh.
It’s not sure who started laughing first, but soon the future of deviousness was enveloped in laughter. This attracted the attention of Barrel and Kevin, who had just finished closing the sale, to the very entertaining way The Mayor’s head was spinning. Then Lock and Shock rounded the corner to see the Mayor as well. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Laughter filled the air as not only did the rest of the family join in but some of the passing citizens caught sight of the elected official.
This moment, like all moments, didn’t last very long.
Finally landing on a distressed face, The Mayor’s eyes seemed to spin around a little more before landing on a half eaten ham sandwich. More importantly, his eyes landed on the laughing jester who was holding it. Before anyone knew what was happening, or even consider how preposterous this was, The Mayor lunged for the sandwich.
In his efforts to get to it he pushed Violet and the potted plant aside, both of them falling to the floor. The pot the plant had been living in shattered, Violet took one look at it and started wailing. CJ was busy in an epic tug-o-war with The Mayor over the remainder of the sandwich. Marco and Gisele had just enough time to help Violet up when the combined forces of Lock, Barrel, and Kevin shoved The Mayor away from CJ. Though some of the growing crowd had not seen The Mayor’s head spinning, they indeed saw him attack the young jester, they saw and heard the young witch crying next to a smashed plant, and they most definitely saw Shock march up to the official and slap him across the face.
“Stay away from my kids!” Shock shouted at him before going to comfort the still sobbing Violet.
“You-!” The Mayor started.
“You better think long and hard before you say something you’ll regret, Boss,” Lock threatened. Barrel and Kevin where at his side, trying to look as intimidating as possible.
“G-get out!” The Mayor yelled, “Get out of this town this instant! Leave! Go away! I never want to see any of you in this town again!”
Shock, gave him a defiant look before ordering Lock to take the kids home and for Barrel and Kevin to pack up the booth. For the first time in her memory she turned away from a fight with her nemesis and started for the one place she never thought she would go to for help. Skellington Manor.
After ascending the steep steps up to the slim door, Shock was suddenly struck with a feeling of doubt. Casting it aside she rang the doorbell and heard the appropriate scream sound inside the house. Relief coursed through her as it was Sally, not Jack, who answered the door. She didn’t know what she would have said to the skeleton if he had answered.
Sally gave her a comforting smile, “Is this about the stunt Mayor just pulled?”
“How did you-?”
“The same way everyone hears of things in this town, Tut,” Sally smiled again and invited her in.
Sally explained that Tut had heard what The Mayor had said and ran to get Jack. Jack had just enough time to run in, tell her what was happening, and run out to confront him. Shock had just missed him.
“I’m sure everything will be fine,” Sally finished as she motioned Shock to sit at the kitchen table.
Princess Cecilia was gurgling happily from a baby bassinette next to one of the seats, a baby bottle sitting empty on the table. The sounds of a happy baby set Shock’s slow beating heart at ease. Sally returned to the table with two china cups and a steaming teapot. After the customary cup of tea, Shock was ready to speak up.
“I’m not here because of what the Mayor did,” Shock admitted.
“I thought as much.”
“Yes, you’ve been dealing with him for years. I suspected it might be about your recent… aging.”
“Y-you noticed?” Was it really that obvious?
“I did, but I’m not sure many others would pick up the subtleties of age like I can.”
“Then you know what’s wrong with me?”
“Well, in truth there is nothing wrong with you at all. You already know that time in Halloween Town is very much like that of the Mortal World. What sets it apart is the way we age here. A creature here can be the same age for years before appearing any older. This is exactly what’s happened to both you and if I’m not mistaken, Lock.”
“Why is this happening, and why to the both of us? Barrel and Kevin seem fine.”
“They’ve matured mentally, but your right, they haven’t aged physically; probably because they aren’t fazed by the stress as much as you are. Your face has matured. For girls, once you reach fifteen or sixteen you’ve done all the growing you can do for now, the real difference between a teenager and a younger adult is how mature they look. Here, let me try something.”
Sally got up and went over a spice rack and took out a small bottle with a green liquid inside it. She reached over and took Shock’s half gone cup of tea, filled it, and carefully placed three drops of the green liquid inside it. Steam rose from the cup steadily.
“Now, blow gently into the cup.”
Shock did. The steam curled around her breath and began to swirl gently. Suddenly the numbers 1 and 8 rose from the cup, written in steam.
“It seems that you are eighteen now,” Sally said gently.
“Eighteen!” Shock screeched.
“Yes, it seems that your subconscious decided that it was the most appropriate age to be now. I imagine that The Mayor’s intense disapproval of you adopting your children, maybe even a bit of your own insecurity over being a mother so soon, caused you to grow to an age you think is acceptable for both.”
“Eighteen,” Shock was still trying to accept the fact, “Eighteen, oh God what am I going to tell Lock? I can only imagine what Barrel and Kevin are going to say about this.”
Sally gave Shock a minute to compose herself.
“There’s more to this than your age jumping three years ahead, isn’t there?” Sally asked softly.
Shock vaguely thought of asking how she knew that, but decided it was something Sally just did naturally. Calmly, quietly, Shock explained the offer Elder Gutknecht had given her.
“I know what I’m going to do if I accept, I’ve figured out how. But… I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do. These Sleepers have family that will miss them, that will mourn them.”
“Is their death any different than them sleeping their lives away? These sleepers are not like the other mortals who go into comas, they won’t wake up to go back, they were never meant to. If the mortal scientist is hiding them from the sights of death, then how will they be able to die like other mortals? What kind of life would that be for them?”
“You’re right,” Shock admitted.
Shock slowly picked herself up to leave, “Thank you Sally, for everything. You know my family and I owe you our lives. I’m not sure how long we’ll be gone, but if you ever need us, we’ll try and be there.”
The two mothers said goodbye to each other and Sally watched her leave from the front door. Suddenly a chilling wind rushed past the house, a dozens of leaves swirling violently crumbling in the gale. A sudden sense of peril made Sally want to do nothing but lock the door and hold her baby close.
Something unnatural was on the wind.
<End Chapter> Yes, the Reverend Hale the Mayor is talking to is the same Rev. Hale from The Crucible for all those who read it. I wanted to go deeper into his back story but couldn’t find a place to put it.