I've been bouncing this idea around for years. I wrote a few paragraphs back in 2013. I even posted the idea on a forum on this site in case someone else ever wanted to give it a shot. But no one ever wrote it and I never forgot about it. So here it is. My Halloween-based crossover story spooktacular. A couple of my favorite Halloween movies from the 90s gathered together for your entertainment.

So this story combines the Disney movie "Hocus Pocus" with the movie "Casper" and the sequel "Casper Meets Wendy." It'll make the most sense if you've seen all three of them. Plus, they're kind of fun to watch around Halloween if you want to take a break from scary slasher films and pretend to be a kid again.

Now, while "Hocus Pocus" is stated to take place in 1993, they never actually say the year in "Casper." So even though the film was released in 1995, I'm going to say it occurred in 1992. That will give Casper and Kat some time to be friends and let her age a bit so she's closer to Max's age. And provide a gap of time when the events of "Casper Meets Wendy" could happen. Thus, this story ends up taking place in 1994.

Remember, I do not own any of the characters or concepts from "Hocus Pocus," "Casper," or "Casper Meets Wendy." If I tried to claim them, I'd probably end up haunted and/or cursed.

Magic and Mayhem

Time was rather odd here. It was possible to sense the passage of it if he concentrated, but it was also easy to ignore such things. Just like how it was so easy to ignore how he couldn't even describe his surroundings. There were no words for what he saw or heard. He knew recent descriptions on Earth involved the idea of clouds and such, but that wasn't quite right either. There was simply the way it felt, filled with peace, joy, and light. There was just this ageless and unchanging feeling to the place that somehow felt completely and utterly right. Like eternity was both a distant concept and something so close. It was nothing like he'd experienced during his centuries of life.

Emily assured him that he would eventually grow accustomed to it. She and his parents certainly seemed used to the wondrous place that defied all descriptions. But he'd spent more time on Earth than anyone there. He'd lived longer than any of them, watching the progress of humanity and experiencing the ever-changing world for so long. He wasn't sure he'd ever get used to the idea he was truly free of his cursed immortal life.

At least he was with his family again. And no longer had a tail.

"Thackery Binx," greeted a woman in red, joining the young man and his family abruptly.

There were plenty of people around them, but they seemed to be easy to ignore if you wanted to concentrate of someone else. It wasn't as if any of them were bound to the way they appeared in life anyway, though most preferred to take on their former shape. They were like transparent ghosts or shadows until they wished to see you or you wished to speak to them. Then they became more noticeable and solid-looking.

Considering how many people existed there, moving around as they pleased and filled with the joyful peace that seemed to engulf them, it was simpler that way. It was like the golden gate; not really there until it was needed or wanted. Explanations and descriptions always seemed to fail to truly capture the essence of their surroundings, but it was the best that he could understand.

But regardless, no one in his family really noticed the woman until she wished to greet them.

She wore a flowing, translucent, red outfit that seemed to flutter in a breeze that only she wished to feel. She wore her brown curls loose around her shoulders, an act his mother frowned slightly at. Binx, who had seen far more scandalous things during his long life than this small example of the changing fashions, simply nodded to the woman in acknowledgment of her greetings.

"My name is Amelia Harvey. I've heard of you, of what happened to you and what you did. And, while I have no right to ask you to do more, I believe you will want to be involved in this."

"Make thy meaning plain," requested the young man's father. "What do thou wish of my son?"

There was something about the woman, something that Binx recognized even with relatively short amount of time there. She wasn't just a soul who found peace and serenity. She was a guardian, one who chose to remain near the gate to watch over the world and those who had yet to find their way home. She urged those who were uncertain about crossing over to come through the gate, prevented those who were not yet ready from entering, and sometimes returned to Earth to help those who deserved it. Mostly they only returned to those who they were close to during life or who were related, but sometimes they would guard the loved ones of those they cared for themselves. They were more powerful than the other souls who dwelled beyond the gate. Emily took on that role for a time, watching over her transformed brother from afar. And now another guardian of the gate wished for him to do something.

The woman, Amelia, explained, "Someone is planning to meddle in something dangerous this Halloween. And, because All Hallows' Eve is a time with so much dangerous potential, they may succeed." She pulled her translucent outfit closer, "My husband and especially my daughter will be in the middle of the coming danger. I can only guard them so much."

"What does this have to do with Thackery?" asked his mother, placing a protective hand on the shoulder of the son she'd just recently been reunited with.

"Because my family is not the only people in danger," Amelia answered. "Your friends, Max and Dani, are also in harm's way. And the threats they face are very similar to the ones you've faced before."

The young man's eyes narrowed at her words. No matter how long he'd waited and longed to be rejoined with his family and how nice, wonderful, and peaceful he found it to be, he couldn't help worrying about Max and Dani. They were the reason the witches were gone and his soul was freed. Without them, he would still be stalking the sewers for mice with only his guilt and regret to keep him company. He couldn't leave them to whatever threat the woman was describing. He couldn't let Max or Dani be harmed when it was within his power to prevent it.

Without hesitation, he asked, "What can I do?"

She focused on her gruesome task, cool and detached. Her hands were cold from her work, the result of storing the dead human body in an empty refrigerator during the day. It would make it much easier in the long term. Fat was easier to trim from the body while cold. Once she'd gathered enough, she would toss it through the food processor and add it to a stockpot at low heat. Once the fat melted, she'd strain it through the waiting cheesecloth, and start dipping the wick into the tallow. It was a simple enough process, one people were performing for hundreds of years with animal fat. A little research ensured she knew enough to do it with her human body.

Power was not a gift she naturally possessed, so she had to rely on darker paths to achieve what she wanted. Many of such spells and incantations were lost, but she'd tracked down some clues. An old summoning spell and the location of an entire book. The first was the simplest due to the stories that circulated the town, a scary story to amuse children and tourists. The book was trickier, but a pair of teenage boys who spoke in fear revealed their knowledge. She followed the book across state lines and now only needed to wait until the rest of her preparations were ready before she grabbed it. But both the summons and the book would serve her purposes very well.

With a smug grin to herself, she wiped some of the cold gore of her victim off her hands and knife. She would awaken them and they would bring him back. He promised to reward her for loyal service and she intended to collect that reward. Even if she had to drag the dead back to life in order to free him from his prison, she would do it.

She nodded to herself as she inspected her work. She had enough for what she was making. Once she had the fat melting in the stockpot, she could dispose of the rest of the body while she waited. It would be easier to work without the corpse taking up space. And once that was dealt with, she could test her candle-making skills.

"I can't believe we moved to a place called 'Friendship,'" Max muttered under his breath. "If I have to hear one more joke about it being such a friendly place, I swear I'm going to strangle dad."

"You're just upset that we moved away from Allison," commented Dani, smirking at him. "And just when you starting to make some more friends and get popular too."

She skipped out of reach as he tried to grab his sister. She seemed perfectly content to tease him while dashing between the falling leaves on the journey to school. It was admittedly picturesque. Cute New England houses as far as the eye could see, colorful leaves falling from the trees that lined the street, very little traffic on the road, and just the slightest hint of autumn chill when a breeze struck. There was even the smell of crisp leaves, a salty tang from the neaby coastline, and a faint scent of carved pumpkins in the air. He had to admit that Los Angeles couldn't quite match a small town autumn when it came to being distinctive.

Still, it wasn't quite enough to distract him from Dani's antics. There were times he felt like tossing his younger sister out a window because of her talent at finding ways to annoy or embarrass him. She was an expert at it, having practiced the skill over the nine years of her life quite extensively. And she never really stopped trying to bug him for long. He seriously doubted she really knew what a virgin was last Halloween, but that didn't stop her from using the term in several conversations that night. She could drive him crazy faster than anyone else. On the other hand, he loved her dearly and would do anything to protect her. Which was something he'd also proven last fall and helped to bring the siblings closer together again.

"Don't deny you'll miss the place," he remarked. "You had friends in Salem too. And you like Allison."

Dani stopped her attempts to catch the falling leaves to glare at him, saying, "Do you even remember what happened last year? We spent the whole night being chased by creepy witches. We almost got killed. And we were grounded until New Year's for blowing up part of the roof because Mom and Dad wouldn't believe the truth. I liked my friends and I like Allison, but I'm not sorry about leaving. Maybe this year we'll have a normal Halloween." Then she smiled evilly, "And you promised to go trick-or-treating with me this year as Peter Pan and Wendy. Remember?"

"After all that, after everything that happened that night, you actually remember that stupid promise?"

Dani laughed, apparently finding her brother's horrified expression hilarious. She specified tights in her request. He'd only agreed in the first place because he figured she'd forget in a year and he really wanted to talk to Allison. But apparently his evil little sister never forgot anything that could embarrass her brother. Max tried to grab her in a half-insane attempt to throw her into the nearby ocean, but she was already scurrying down the sidewalk and out of reach while still giggling.

Even though he was old enough to drive, his parents apparently thought that part of a "small town's charm" was that kids could walk to school easily. Not to mention that all the packing and moving chaos ensured that he never had time to take the driving test. Thus, Max was forced to escort his sister and himself to class at least for the present. And of course, their bikes were still hidden under a pile of boxes and general moving chaos. Perhaps in the future, he'd be able to talk sense into his father and gain a driver's license. Until then, they were stuck on foot for their first day.

Of course, there was the annoying fact his entire life was uprooted a second time almost exactly a year after the first time. Even if he wasn't completely at the other end of the country this time, Max wasn't exactly thrilled to be moving to another small New England town. He had friends, a girlfriend, and a rebuilt room he'd grown fond of back in Salem. He'd just started getting over leaving Los Angeles and now he was starting over again. That was why he was looking forward to getting his driver's license and maybe even an old car of his own. That way, he could possibly drive to visit Allison on the weekend occasionally. It would take a while, but Massachusetts wasn't that far from Maine, right? And he could still call her on the phone. It was a long-distance relationship, but he and Allison agreed to make it work.

But until he had the chance to see his girlfriend again, he would have to survive Dani and her plans for him to dress as Peter Pan and wear tights.

"That's just evil," he called after her. "Winnifred would have done something like that, making me wear that costume in public. But my own sister? That's just… whoa…"

Max's teasing rant sputtered out as he caught sight of a rather imposing building on a hill. It was huge, really old fashioned, and creepy. From the rather overgrown and half-dead foliage to the grim and at-least-a-century-old architecture, the entire thing screamed "haunted house." Even the set of iron gates that was relatively closer to the road, with a large "W" worked into the design, added to the sense of dangerous and forbidden secrets within. It was exactly the sort of place that kids would dare each other to approach, just like the museum that was once the Sanderson sisters' house.

"Oh no," moaned Dani as she looked at the house perched on the edge of the coastline. "If you light a candle in there, I'll—"

"Come on," he interrupted, grabbing the strap of her backpack and pulling her along. "We're going to be late. And we're not going inside there, ever. I learned my lesson already."

The dark-haired girl moved through the crowded halls of the school, remembering longingly of the days she moved so often and didn't have to deal with the same suspicious jerks for years at a time. Kat never imagined missing the constant moving that followed her mother's death. She'd ended up all over the country thanks to her dad's unique response to loss. She'd hated how she could never stay long enough to make any real friends. Or, honestly, any real enemies.

Now she could experience both. She hated the weird stares far more than the constant relocating. They ensured that she never completely forgot that she wasn't exactly like them.

The stares weren't constant and she could put them out of her mind most of the time. She could pretend that she was just another random student in the sea of teenagers. Most of the time, the students and teachers tried to ignore the fact she lived in the infamous Whipstaff Manor, which made it easier for her. They even laughed off the results of the Halloween dance from a few years ago, pretending it was all a prank and not proof of what they all secretly feared about that place. Some even acted friendly towards her, partnering with her on class projects and inviting her to their houses to work on homework (but never her house). A few might even think of her as a friend, albeit not a close friend.

During calm times, they all pretended that everything was normal. But never around Halloween. And never anytime something unusual occurred in the town. So when both happened at the same time, the stares and whispers would begin and Kat couldn't ignore them completely.

They couldn't believe she still lived there. No one could actually live at Whipstaff Manor. The deed might be passed around, but no one in living memory had stayed in Whipstaff for longer than a month before fleeing the location. Everyone in town knew that. It was a fact, even if their explanations for why seemed to be partially composed of wild theories and scary stories. So, the idea that she and her father remained for years after a very frightened Dibbs handed over the deed (and the promised payment for "services rendered") worried them. It messed with their understanding of the world around them. So there had to be something fundamentally wrong with the Harveys.

She'd memorized most of the varieties by that point. She was cursed or a jinx. She was insane. She was actually a ghost herself. She was a freak of nature. She was a witch. Most of these whispers were shared behind her back, but at least Amber wasn't afraid to accuse Kat to her face. Whenever something went wrong, they began to whisper.

On one level, Kat understood. Even after a couple of years, she was the outsider to the small community. They'd grown up together while she'd simply appeared one day. She lived in the one place they were raised to fear and avoid. And odd events, like moving objects and sudden chills followed her. The last was simply an indication of her self-appointed bodyguard, but she could see why she unnerved her classmates. She was a weirdness magnet.

She didn't like hear the whispers, however. She never liked it when something caused them to start viewing her with suspicion once again. She never liked it when they connected her to creepiest and weirdest things. As she headed towards her seat, she couldn't help overhearing the unpleasant details of the current local horror mystery that would undoubtedly be blamed on her eventually.

"I heard the body was completely dissected and cut to pieces," a girl, Ashley, said with grim amusement. "Practically skinned."

Someone else, Jason, stated, "My dad works at the hospital they did the autopsy in. He said the guy died of strangulation. Like he was hanged."

"Suicide?" another student, Jeff, asked.

"No way," Ashley scoffed. "You don't get all sliced up like that if you hang yourself. And how would he end up in front of the police station like that unless someone put him there?"

"They found him a couple of hours after midnight and they said it looked really freaky. Like he was some sort of human sacrifice or something. Bet you anything that it was—"

The current speaker cut off abruptly as the teacher came in, essentially killing the conversation completely. Kat felt herself sign in relief as she stared at her desk stubbornly. She knew what they were about to say, what they were about to accuse her of doing, but she didn't want to hear it. Besides, they were probably better off not saying it aloud. The last time someone accused her of something awful, they spoke a little too loud and found their locker glued shut between classes.

As their teacher, Mrs. Gail, walked towards the front of the room, Kat abruptly noticed that she wasn't alone. There was a boy, one that she didn't recognize. Dark hair, a brown jacket, a navy blue shirt over a white t-shirt that she could only spot by the collar, light-blue jeans, and sneakers, he was definitely not a regular student. She realized that, after two years, she was no longer the newest student in the class. And judging by how everyone else was staring at him intently, they'd realized the same thing.

"Class, I know we're all deeply upset by the news about last night. I'm sure the police are working on it as we speak and will have the culprit in custody before we know it," the woman assured. "But in the meantime, I'd like you all to give a warm welcome to our new student, Max Dennison."

The dark-haired young man gave a half-hearted wave at the group of students, clearly unhappy with being there in general and being at the center of attention specifically. Kat could empathize. She remembered the first day at a new school and having to deal with the stress of facing a bunch of strangers. She'd done it more times than she liked to remember and it never got easier. The first day was never fun.

"Max, why don't you tell us a little about yourself?" urged Mrs. Gail.

The boy rolled his eyes slightly and slouched down further before saying, "The name's Max. Spent most of my life in Los Angeles until my crazy parents decided to drag me and my little sister across the country to a couple of small towns. First, we moved to Salem, Massachusetts. Famous for hanging a trio of witches about three hundred years ago and not much else. And then we moved here."

"Well, I'm certain you'll have plenty of interesting stories to share when we start discussing that era in history," she smiled, undeterred by Max's lack of enthusiasm. "Let's see where we can seat you."

A quick glance around the room proved that the only open space was near Kat. The young man slipped into a seat. Now that the moment was past, most of the class immediately ignored him beyond the occasional glance at the new kid. It would take them some time to warm up to him. If it wasn't for her unusual house and the need for a Halloween party that year, Kat knew they would have ignored her the first day too. That's what happens for the new student at a school. A few moments of gawking and then being generally ignored until people warmed up to the new kid in town.

A few students, however, kept looking at him, especially a couple of girls. Kat figured that these girls were searching for their last minute dates for the Halloween party. Of course, the party wouldn't be until tomorrow night (they were a little nervous now about throwing a party on the actual day, just in case). So they still had a little time to search for a date. And the young man was reasonably good-looking.

"Looks like the hunt is on," she muttered softly.

"I do feel trapped," he smirked, surprising Kat. "Like a deer in headlights. What's with them?"

Kat found herself smiling a little as she said, "It isn't often they get a new guy to flirt with. And there's a party tomorrow, so some probably want to invite you as their date. Or convince you to invite them, if they want to make things a little more traditional. Just be careful if Amber asks you. She's in an on-again-off-again relationship with Vic, but she might be on the prowl for a new guy. She probably wouldn't even mind canceling their date to the party if she thinks she can grab a better offer. She acts like she's more popular than she actually is and hates not getting her way, so watch out."

"Thanks for the warning…?"

"Kat. Kat Harvey," she supplied.

A mild chill crept over her arm, a very familiar sensation for the teenager. She glanced towards the goose bumps forming near her wrist and smiled reassuringly before turning her attention back the young man.

"Listen, you'll probably be better off staying away from me. You seem like a nice guy and everything. And I don't want to cause you any problems. I'm the class freak and, unfortunately, everyone is remembering that fact today. You don't need that kind of attention on the first day."

Max frowned and tilted his head slightly. Mrs. Gail was droning on about something at the front of the class, but neither of them was paying attention. Kat at least turn to face the chalk board, hoping that anyone who saw her would think she was listening. Maybe not too many of her classmates had noticed the new kid talking to her.

"You don't seem like a freak to me," he remarked quietly.

"Let's just say I attract weird stuff," explained Kat, still staring forward. "I don't regret it, but I don't end up with people coming over for movie night either. And they definitely don't want to hang out at this time of year. They're either too scared, too creeped out, or too worried about being labeled a freak too."

Admittedly, inviting her classmates over for movie night would probably end in disaster. Sometimes the entire household would show up for the movie, leading to lots of commentary, insulting the characters on screen for being idiots, claiming that the film wasn't scary enough (even if they were watching a comedy or an animated movie), and popcorn being thrown around at some point before end credits. And even if half their group was out that night, it still wouldn't be something her classmates would enjoy. They'd just run off screaming.

Oddly, Max didn't seem discouraged yet by her excuses. Instead, she heard him give a soft chuckle as the cold sensation on her arm grew more noticeable.

"Trust me, I've dealt with plenty of weird stuff. Stuff you wouldn't believe. Nothing you can throw at me could surprise me."

She rubbed her freezing arm, finding his confidence amusing. He didn't know anything about the stories that were shared around Friendship, Maine. He didn't have a clue what everyone apparently grew up learning about in this town. Max just seemed so certain he could handle whatever she was talking about.

He'd learn better. The whispers would reach him and he'd find out exactly how strange things could get around her. Give him a couple of days and a few of the more popular girls throwing themselves at him and Max would forget about this entire discussion. She knew that the gossip would eventually turn him, so Kat was determined not to be surprised when it did. She remembered what happened with Vic, after all.

"Hey, Max," a blond girl called coyly, heading straight towards him as the bell rang. "I'm Amber. It is so nice to meet you. Let me be the first to give you a proper warm welcome. How about I give you the grand tour of the town and… get to know you better?"

Max stared at the girl, her shoulder-length blond hair and half-concealed controlling personality making her very distinctive. Her short skirt and graceful movements reminded him of a cheerleader. She gave off the aura of popularity and confidence, but the way at least a couple of witnesses to her approach rolled their eyes suggested she was not nearly as important as she made herself out to be. Her clothes, the short skirt and the peach-colored sweater, looked at least moderately expensive as far as he could tell. She probably had plenty of money at home and got whatever she wanted from her parents, even if she wasn't insane billionaire-level rich. Max was very familiar with these types of people, both in L.A. and in Salem. And he had absolutely no interest in dating Amber at the moment.

It was weird that most kids were perfectly content to ignore him like any other new student arriving in the close-knit community and yet she'd decided to practically throw herself at him at the end of the school day. A few other girls had looked and even introduced themselves before scurrying off, but that was it. They probably wouldn't do much else until everyone could figure out where he'd end up in the social hierarchy. Amber seemed more blunt and determined to snatch him up quickly. Apparently she wanted to get first dibs on the new student.

"Uh… sure," he answered carefully, keeping in mind Kat's warning and his own unease with her forwardness. "Maybe later, though."

"Why wait? My parents won't be home until late, so I could show you around my place. We built a pool house a couple of years ago I'm sure you'll love to see."

"No, thanks," he muttered, trying to walk down the locker-lined hallway and away from her.

"Well, I guess we can wait a little while to take the grand tour. But I should at least warn you before you end up having trouble. I saw you talking to Harvey earlier," she remarked, apparently not realizing or caring that he wasn't interested in continuing the conversation. "You're new here, but you need to stay away from her for your own safety. She's some kind of freak of nature. Maybe even a witch."

That caught his attention. A couple of years ago, he would have just rolled his eyes and kept walking. But now he couldn't completely dismiss the idea. Granted, Amber might mean it figuratively or was simply a spiteful person spreading rumors for no reason (which seemed the most likely answer at the moment). But Max was a little less skeptical than he used to be and had to at least entertain the possibility.

"What do you mean?" he asked cautiously as the sea of people moved towards the exit.

"She lives at Whipstaff," the girl said simply, as if that explained everything. When he looked at her blankly, Amber explained, "Whipstaff Manor. Everyone knows there's something wrong with that place. Some say it is haunted or cursed or something. It's been that way for ages. No one lives there or even goes in there except on a dare. Even our grandparents were scared of that place as children. But she and her father live there happily. And freaky stuff always happens around her. Things move and… and it always feels cold near her. Plus, sometimes she curses people."

"What do you mean 'curses' people? What, does no one around here swear or something?"

"No, I mean like 'curses them to suffer horrible tragedies' type of curses," she clarified, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "Not always, but enough to notice. Bad things sometimes happen if you say or do something to her. Things you can't explain. Usually small stuff, like their shoelaces get tied together during class or something. It doesn't hurt you, but you know you did something you shouldn't have. And when I tried to… make her Halloween party more 'interesting,' she sent these… things after me," she said, her expression darkening at the memory.

This sounded a little subtle to be the work of a true witch. Granted, he only had experience with three of them, but they were a lot more impressive with their actions. And he honestly didn't want to assume the worst. Kat seemed so nice. And Amber seemed so much like a snob that Max was willing to bet she'd invent any amount of gossip to ruin a person's reputation. There was no way to predict how much she was saying that was actually true.

And, if he wanted to be honest with himself, what were the chances that he would encounter yet another witch? Especially a non-summoned-from-the-dead witch that essentially said "hi" on his first day of school? There was being open-minded to the possibilities and then there was being paranoid.

"And there was this gruesome murder last night of a local drunk," she continued, her voice dropping as low as possible while still being audible over the other students. "He vanished yesterday morning and his body was discovered last night. He was cut to pieces after being hanged. It wasn't normal. I'll bet anything she's connected to it."

Well, that was certainly shocking news. If his parents had heard about someone being killed, they wouldn't have made him and his sister walk to school. Even at their most oblivious, they tended to realize that horrible and vicious murder was a big deal and their children shouldn't be wandering around a strange place without supervision. No amount of "small town experience" was worth risking your children being killed.

And he'd already developed a rather negative opinion of Amber. But suggesting that a classmate was a crazed killer who cut up someone was a little low. How vindictive did a person have to be to make up something like that? Amber's accusations seemed rather personal and cruel. Kat didn't seem like the type of person who would earn enemies that easily, so he couldn't help wondering why Amber would spread so many rumors.

For somewhere called "Friendship," the local students could be pretty unfriendly to someone who seemed rather nice. Did Kat living at a spooky house really make her deserve to be considered the class freak? Or a possible killer? The whole thing just rubbed him the wrong way.

"Well, if I see her coming after me with an ax, I'll let you know," Max remarked dryly. "Thanks for the warning, but I can take care of myself." Spotting the subject of their discussion ahead of him and feeling a little determined to make a point to Amber, he added, "And I'd work on that jealousy issue of yours. It really isn't your best feature."

Leaving behind a sputtering and furious Amber, Max practically shoved his way through the crowd of departing students. As drew near the front door of the building, he managed to catch up with Kat and tapped her shoulder. She turned to face him with a startled expression while he gave her a slight smile. While clearly still surprised by his actions, she cautiously returned the grin.

"I guess Amber and the others haven't tried the direct approach yet," she commented. "Are they still circling you like vultures or have a couple almost talked to you?"

He shrugged, "She tried to talk to me. I ignored her for the most part."

He felt a momentary chill, as if he was walking under an air conditioner. Max glanced up briefly, trying to catch sight of it, but quickly dismissed it and continued his explanation.

"I don't need some crazy blond girl hunting for a boyfriend chasing after me. Allison would probably kill me and Amber both. Not to mention the vindictive rumors Amber seems to be far too eager to share. That really didn't help her case at all."

"So I take it you're already claimed. Allison, you said?" said Kat before smirking slightly. "All those other girls are going to be so disappointed. How will they ever recover?"

The brief chill faded away, but Max assumed that was probably due to the fact they just stepped through the front door and away from any pesky air conditioners. Someone should really work on aiming those things in the school.

A couple of suspicious stares were directed towards the pair. Obviously Amber wasn't the only one who had issues with Kat and, due to his current proximity, Max. Part of him did wonder if it would be better to step away from the girl. He didn't really need to turn himself into a social pariah on his first day. It would be easy enough to make it look like he only stood next to her because he wanted to squeeze through the doorway. But he refused to bend so easily to peer-pressure. If homicidal hags couldn't force him to do something, then Max wouldn't let the rumor mill dictate who he could and couldn't talk to. Kat seemed to be deliberately ignoring the stares, so he did the same.

"Hey, if you give me a few minutes to go grab my little sister, would you want to walk home together? You can tell me if there's actually anything worth doing in this town," he suggested abruptly, surprising even himself.

She paused momentarily, looking at him suspiciously. Then she nodded and smiled.

"Sure. Is she at the elementary school or the middle school?"

Max said, "Elementary school. Her name is Dani and she's nine."

"Great," said Kat. "I know a shortcut."

She grabbed his wrist and pulled him towards a small gap between two houses. For a second, he felt that odd brush of cold, but then all he felt was the normal chill of autumn.

Kat suddenly reached out her free hand, as if she was pointing out the direction or someone was dragging her along. She moved quickly, her hair streaming out behind her, as she led him down strange streets and through a couple of yards. They passed quaint houses decorated with pumpkins, scarecrows, cardboard witches, bed sheet ghosts, colorful streamers dangling from trees that fluttered in the wind, and Styrofoam tombstones. It was chaotic and certainly not a path that any sane person wandering the streets would devise. But he spotted Dani's school before long, proving her right about the shortcut.

"That was fast," he commented.

She shrugged, "I had a great guide who knows the town. He knows the area better than anyone alive."

There was something about her expression as she spoke that made him pause. Not for long, but it made him stop for just a moment. It didn't seem like that meaningful of an explanation, but she smiled in a knowing way and seemed vaguely amused by her own words. But it wasn't enough to slow him down for long, Max already moving through the rushing stream of children eager for a night of candy. It was just a little odd.

A few glimpses of some of the characters, a first meeting between Kat and Max, and hints of another important character who lingers just out of sight. Don't worry. The next chapter will have appearances by some of the more supernatural entities.