NOTE FROM THE FUTURE (2021) Hello and thank you for clicking on this story. I just wanted to note that this story is 6 years in the making and my writing has definitely changed over the years. One thing I wanted to point out is that I treat Thanksgiving Town in this story as a sort of dual holiday. It's Thanksgiving, but it's also National Day of Mourning for some Native American people. The Native American holiday spirits/Thanksgiving Citizens that are portrayed in this story are not necessarily part of any one tribe, even though the Thanksgiving story involves the Wampanoag. They are spirits are representing people who have died. Unfortunately, that means their portrayal might be a mixed or overly simplified. I'll be the first to admit I still have more research to do and this story gets updates to chapters that are years old as I go back and correct things. Everything is still a work in progress.
I don't own the Nightmare Before Christmas. It belongs to Disney as a movie, Tim Burton as an story, and Henry Selick as a movie he directed. This is rated T for mentions of death, some gore, romance, and other scary stuff but this story is not mostly scary stuff.
An explosion rattled the ground. A single streak of light climbed through the sky, whistling before exploding in a shower of orange light and red sparks.
Monsters gasped in awe even as volunteer citizens loaded more fireworks, courtesy of their American Independence Day allies.
It was the end of yet another good year for the citizens of Halloween. Few said anything to betray their thoughts, but many were relieved at how uneventful this year's celebrations were. Their scares were better than ever with even more humans terrified out of their wits and the Pumpkin King seemed content to stay at home with the rest of his people as they partied the night away.
In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that none were more relieved than Jack Skellington himself. He had no desire to run off in search of new ideas this year. After the events of last year with Oogie Boogie's resurrection, attempted take-over of all the Holidays, and subsequent defeat, Jack felt that the universe would use every opportunity to bite back at him every time he left Halloween to explore.
Sally disagreed however. While she was extremely worried about Jack setting out on another quest, she didn't hesitate to remind him that it was Lock, Shock, Barrel, and Oogie Boogie himself that were responsible for the mess of last year and that Jack and the rest of the town hadn't meant ill will toward Christmas and the children of the Real World. It was simply an unfortunate misunderstanding on all involved sides and all that mattered was that Jack did his best and fixed his mistakes.
"My dearest Sally, what would I do without you?" Jack laughed lightly as he took his dearest friend's hands in his own and bent down a little to kiss her on the lips.
"Oh I don't know Jack," Sally said softly as they continued to walk around the town square. She reached up to lightly brush a bit of soggy burnt straw off of Jack's bow-tie while avoiding a look directly into his sockets. "From what I heard, you did just fine without me for many centuries."
Five monster children ran right between them, throwing shrunken heads in a sick game of dodgeball as they merrily shrieked in laughter and dance around on a Halloween candy sugar-high. It was the winged-demon Jersey's first Halloween with the adults in the Real World and she had done an excellent job as a Trick-or-Treater for her first year, bringing home enough candy to make even Lock, Shock, and Barrel jealous. Though it really doesn't take much to make them jealous. Jersey was very generous about sharing her loot with her friends whose parents had declared them too young to join the adults. Ethan, the Corpse Child, also had a large sack of candy and readily contributed to the stash. He had been journeying to the Real World for many years. The hyper children looked like they wouldn't be calming down for a while, much to the half-hearted chagrin of many parents, nocturnal or otherwise.
Jack and Sally didn't bat an eye between either of them. It was Halloween night/All Saint Day morning after all. So what if monsters went wild? It was their night and the fun didn't end at one in the morning when they left the human realm.
"Was it really that long?" Jack joked as he sneakily bent down a little lower so that Sally could get a few more strands of the straw. He could have sworn he burnt it all up but apparently he jumped into the fountain a little too soon this year. He didn't usually do the same theatrical entrance four years in a row, but it was one of his favorites now. Actually, the burning "Guy Fawkes" scarecrow show was rather traditional. He did it almost every year using his Pumpkin Fire, with a few variations. It was the dramatic rising out of the fountain part that was still relatively new.
"The years don't seem to weigh on me as much when I'm around you. Every time I see your smile it makes the years before I knew you seem like a distant dream," Jack said with his signature grin.
Jack didn't notice, but the Mayor was approaching when he said that to Sally. Immediately, the Mayor froze uncomfortably and realized that he should probably wait until after they had a "moment." It was best not to provoke the Pumpkin King's ire.
The Mayor wasn't a simpleton. He was well aware that he could be annoyingly high strung when he insisted on devoting both his and Jack's time to next Halloween immediately after last, regardless of Jack's insistence to take it easy the first couple days in November. But the Mayor knew how easily distracted Jack could get and it was best for both of their sanity to get started as soon as possible. But now wasn't the time.
The Mayor resisted the urge to twist his head around to his negative face and walked past the couple as if he was always planning to head over to the Hanging Tree. He didn't have an impromptu conversation ready but he squashed his impatience.
He hid a wince as he rubbed the back of his neck, or front depending on which side you were looking at.
Sally blushed and gave Jack the very same smile he loved so much. Too late he realized how personal that sounded and immediately wished he had saved it for a letter to Sally.
"That's very sweet Jack," Sally said.
Jack smiled wider and lowered their hands. He held on to one of hers as they continued to observe the antics of the night. He gently swung his arms, feeling childlike and giddy in the excitement of yet another year well done. Yes, he still had that ridiculous itch of slight boredom. He still craved something new, but at the moment Sally was all he needed. "You're very welcome," Jack said.
There was a mischievous cackle that would grate on anyone's ears. "Oh hurry up and tie the knot will you?!" a voice suddenly said making both of them start slightly, though no one would ever notice Jack jump. He was too skilled for that.
"Good evening, ladies," Jack turned and bowed slightly to the town's Head Witches, Helgamine and Zeldabourne. The sisters/best friends weren't the only witches in town but they were the most prominent, knowledgeable and powerful in town and had long received the honor to lead a part in the town song.
Say it once. Say it twice. Take a chance and roll the dice.
Ride with the moon in the dead of night…
Sally waved happily and repeated Jack's greeting.
Jack continued, "I trust your night was horrible."
"Oh it was delightfully frightening, Jack!" Helgamine cackled.
"Indeed. But don't skirt my question," warned the shorter of the two, Zeldabourne.
"I wasn't aware you had asked a question Miss Zeldabourne," Sally said shyly.
"Then let me rephrase it. When are you two finally going to get married? And it's just Zelda to you dearie," the witch leaned on her broomstick, making the bristles splay out in all direction on the cobblestone while a few twigs broke off and disappeared into the crowd.
Helgamine nodded firmly while Jack and Sally nervously looked toward each other in embarrassment. The far taller witch leaned on her own broomstick, a little more careful about the bristles than her sister and glared jokingly at the couple. She too felt happy about yet another good year. "Oh yes. If we weren't dead already, we'd be dying of anticipation. How dare you torture the whole town so? So spill! Have you finally set a date? We are curious to know. Curiosity killed the cat you know." Was that too pushy? I hope Jack didn't see me as trying too hard to make conversation, she thought.
"How wonderfully tragic," Zeldabourne added with a sigh.
"Quite. Dying cats are so tragic yet hilarious."
"Ah… well we uh," Jack raise a hand to the back of his skull, not entirely sure what to say.
But Sally did.
"We've just decided to take it slow. We have all of eternity after all. There's no need to rush."
"True," Zeldabourne said, though a little bit of something else slipped through her sincere façade, not that anyone, least of all herself, would notice. It was common knowledge that most, if not all, of the females in town had fancied Jack Skellington at one time or another. A few still did, even though he and Sally had been courting for almost two years now. No one would admit it, but a few were still wishing for a chance with the Pumpkin King. Zeldabourne was one such woman but she harbored no ill will toward Sally. How could she? Sally was a joy and most everyone loved her.
As a friend of course.
She was just so understanding and nice to everyone, even to those who were the nastiest of all of them.
Yes, Sally Finklestein was nice (what an odd word 'nice'), maybe a little too nice for a Halloween citizen but very few people could bring themselves to deny that she and Jack were a good match.
Ironically, their personalities seemed to be opposite of each other but they made it work. While Jack was theatrical and an optimistic extrovert, Sally was gentler and more grounded in reality.
Sally was a little too shy and not very good at jump scaring humans, as opposed to Jack. She could get away with a few shrieks but her record was honestly a bit sad. She was great with telling scary stories to the children though. This year she made puppets and carried them around with her. She used them to tell dreadfully scary stories to people who didn't realize she was a real monster and ended up created a delightful number of nightmares when she would "accidentally" lose a body part at the end of her story. Because of her, many people, adults even, wouldn't be getting a wink of sleep.
"Well don't make us wait too long," Helgamine complained and tapped a long, sharp, curled fingernail to the top of her broom leaving a thin scratch on the surface, not that she cared. There were plenty of scratches on both their brooms. Helga was likely one of the few single ladies in town who had completely gotten over her crush on Jack. Almost. Currently, she seemed hell bent on directed that energy toward pestering the skeleton and ragdoll into hurrying it up!
She abruptly spun on her heel and walked off having made her point, leaving Zeldabourne to talk to Sally about a new design for voodoo dolls.
"I'm going to speak to the others," Jack said gesturing to the crowd, most of whom wanted to talk to Jack and would likely swarm him as soon as he left Sally.
"Of course," Sally said then turned back to the witch, "What was that about new needles you made?"
"There really quite wonderful dearie. They're bone yet they are just as sharp as any metal ones you might—."
Jack shook his head. It was best for him not to even pretend to understand the intricacies of sewing when his lady-friend was a rag doll who turned her physical necessities into a passion. It just ended with him being endlessly and viciously corrected. Sally was beautiful, wonderful, the love of his afterlife, and incredibly clever with her craft yet he wasn't sure he could survive another lecture if he once again accidentally dismissed the difference between a chain stitch and a back stitch while Sally mended his suit. Thus, he made a beeline to the town hall steps where the Mayor had parked his hearse, pausing every so often to congratulate someone's scare or shake a hand or tentacle. Or snake fingers.
"You were such a scream this year Jack!" Glenn the Werewolf said.
"Thank you. I wasn't there but I heard you manage to make a whole heard of cattle stampede through a town in Wyoming. Excellent job!" Jack had to sometimes remind himself to compliment the others but it was often hard to remember when they were drowning him with praises and questions.
"It was nothing."
A rotting hand patted Jack on the shoulder. "Jack so glad I caught you. Did you really haunt a mental hospital this year?" the Corpse Dad Ned asked.
Jack chuckled. "Only a few doctors my friend. I truly believed they deserved it."
"How was that guy from Kentucky? Still calling you Mr. Unlucky then?"
"Fortunately," Jack quipped as he thought about that particular annual incident.
"You were awe-inspiring Jack!"
"I felt shudders just catching a glimpse of you at your work."
"You made skin crawl…"
"And flesh ooze…"
"As always, of course."
"Isn't he amazing," Jersey whispered to her mummy friend as the adults spoke with Jack and traded compliments with each other about their scares.
"Like always," he agreed, "Jack's really cool. But you were pretty awesome too, I heard."
"It was so much fun V!" Jersey toothy smile suddenly fell, "But I really wasn't that great. I messed up a lot. I'll never get into the song."
"Well when I go to the Real World and terrify millions, I'll be sure to save you a spot."
"Aw! Shut up," Jersey laughed and shoved "V."
Meanwhile Jack had finally gotten to the Mayor's hearse where the two-faced creature was busy going over the nominations for the awards. He looked up when Jack approached.
"Running off to another holiday Jack?"
Jack chuckled, "Not this year my friend."
The Mayor sighed in relief and put his scroll of paper in his car. "Oh thank goodness. Please don't take this the wrong way Your Majesty, but I'm wasn't sure if I could handle any more stress this year."
Jack frowned at the "Your Majesty." He hated being called that and the only time any one called him by that title was when they thought he would be mad at them. Apparently, the Mayor was afraid of offending Jack by speaking his mind.
"Mayor, I've known you for well over a couple centuries. You of all monsters should know there's no need to call me that."
"Of course. Sorry Jack," the Mayor said immediately and maybe a little too quickly.
Jack resisted the urge to sigh and he instinctively look up to the sky line of the town. He blinked slowly and slightly slouched as he thought of something.
The Mayor noticed and waited until a few monsters had moved a little ways away. He lowered his voice and asked, "No luck this year?"
"Afraid not," Jack shook his head.
"I'm sure it will be fine," the Mayor said, just as he had every year when Jack gave that same answer.
And so it went. All through the night and into the early hours of the morning, monsters danced and sang. The Mayor handed out awards. Classics like "Most Blood Drained in Single Evening," "Most Non-fatal Heart Attacks Induced," and "Most Nightmares Made." Sally was thrilled to receive that last one. There was even a few new awards this year. There always was.
"Most Candy Collected in a Single Hour" was a favorite that they pulled out every once and a while. Usually when it was a first Halloween for one of the kids. As such, Jersey was practically bouncing off the wall when she flew up to the Mayor's hearse to get the trophy.
Jack laughed at the little girl's enthusiasm. He always made it a habit to keep an eye socket on someone when it is their first trip to the Human world and he was impressed. With a few decades or so of practice, Jersey might end up being added to the song. It was one of the highest honors in Halloween to be written into the lyrics of "This is Halloween." It was also very difficult. One had be so scary that they might become a symbol of fear itself. Something that every human could identify as a fear, even if they weren't personally afraid themselves.
A brief explanation is in order.
Almost every child cries about "The monster under the bed" sometime during their childhood. And if they don't, they at least know of such a thing…or creature.
Almost every child may think about a monster hiding under the stairs or floorboards. Why else would they fear creaking steps and loose floorboards when they travel to their basement?
The Who and the Wind have been a part of ghost stories and creepy atmosphere since goodness knows how long.
The Clown was a rather new addition to the song. Jack thought he deserved the spot, but couldn't help but feel unsure about the nomination. But it was a unanimous decision to add him as a fear in clowns had been gaining steam in the human world for years.
That was how it worked. It had to be a unanimous vote to add or take away someone from the song.
Nobody had protested the removal of Oogie Boogie the Boogieman from "This is Halloween." Not even Lock, Shock, and Barrel argued. But to be fair, even if they did, the rest of the town would have ignored them regardless of the "unanimous" procedure. After everything they did, many felt they shouldn't have a say in town matters.
Eventually, the pumpkin sun began to peek over the slate grey hill and its somber light signaled the final end of festivities for most of the things that go bump in the night. Many town citizens had long retired to their homes with the intent of sleeping until late afternoon.
The music had wound down an hour ago as the band drifted off to sleep against the stone wall by the gate and the Mayor decided to turn of the speakers atop the town hall that were connected to a record player stolen from the human world years ago.
The large torches set up around a town square continued to burn alongside the various Jack O' Lanterns scattered about town. The little candles inside the pumpkin would burn out on their own after all and no one was particularly concerned about buildings burning down. The large torches would probably burn late into the next night and everyone was fine with that. It was a little bit of cleanup procrastination that had become somewhat of a tradition.
Except for the squeaking of a few bats that were late to return to their colonies and the suspicious snoring coming from a few garbage cans in the alleys, the orange sun greeted a relatively calm and silent town with few awake to welcome the daylight.
However, this All Saints Day morning was witnessed by one very confused new soul. They weren't interested in the soft beauty of the crisp morning. Instead they sat alone in the graveyard staring at the name etched into the granite of tombstone as the pale light cast faint shadows in the lettering.
Sally had went home early. She didn't feel like staying up till dawn so at three o'clock she bid the party goodbye and climbed the steep steps of Skellington Manor. Once inside, she took a slice of the pumpkin pie that she and Jack had decided to keep for themselves and made the short trip upstairs to the guest room Jack had let her stay in. "Guest Room" probably wasn't an appropriate name anymore. It was most definitely her room now, complete with of her nick-knacks and various personal possessions neatly scattered across the room. Even her sewing machine sat in its own corner of the spacious room across from the doorway and with a good view out the window.
Surprisingly, Dr. Finklestein hadn't protested much when she got up the courage to face him and say she was never coming back to live in the tower. He threw a hissy fit, of course, but Sally felt it was mostly for show. It was against his nature to give in easily but Sally thought that secretly he was grudgingly relieved not to have to worry about her poisoning him every time she wanted out. With some prodding from his new creation Jewel, the doctor apologized in a very round about, implied way for being so harsh with her, but he fiercely posited that it was for her own good as she was still very young and he worried that she was unstable. Sally forgave him quickly as Jack spoke for the first time in the exchange. He had come as support for Sally, as he was the one offering her new lodging, but he wanted Sally to be the one to ask the doctor for her things.
Sally agreed. She most certainly didn't want Jack fighting all her battles, even if Jack was wholeheartedly willing to do so. However, he promised to speak if he needed to and he immediately told the doctor that he would personally keep an eye on Sally and make sure she was safe.
That seemed to placate Dr. Finklestein. It was no secret that he and the Pumpkin King had been friends for a very long time and there was a certain level of mutual respect and trust between them. After all, there was a very small number of people that the doctor trusted to even touch most of his scientific tools and Jack Skellington was on that list.
Sally yawned as she finished her pie and put the plate on a small empty table next to the door so that she would remember to take it downstairs later. She eyed the bed for a moment and yawned again, however she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep for at least another hour. She was still too excited about Halloween.
Sally sighed and made her way to the rarely used vanity desk that sat against one of the wall. She looked at the cracked glass that fractured in such a lovely patterned. There was even a bit of rust from the frame staining a part of the edge.
"Well then," she said softly to herself, "Let's see what we got here." She began to empty her pockets of the few baubles she picked up the Real World. Most of it was little things humans had thrown away as trash but they had caught her eye and she picked them up between hauntings.
There was the tiny glass bottle with a smidgen of red sauce inside and the words "Tabasco Sauce" printed on the sticker. Sally had found about two dozen of those and she planned to clean them up and put different colored liquids inside them before hanging them from threads and making a mobile to hang in her window. She thought the sun shining through the bottles in the morning would look absolutely beautiful.
She put the tiny bottles of to the side and fiddled with something else she had found. It was a little ragdoll like her, but this one wasn't alive or undead and was a small child's plaything. It was rather cartoonish and had locks of bright pink yarn as hair and big blue button eyes with a stitched in blank smile. Sally smiled in amusement at the doll and gently fingered its button eyes.
A little girl, no older than six, was trick-or-treating with her far older brother who was more concerned with messing around with his teenage friends than watching his little sister. The big boys were teasing the little girl, tossing her doll back and forth between them while mocking her when Sally, the Mayor, and the Corpse Mom came across them. The three Halloween citizens decided to scare the boys together. All their big talk about watching the scariest horror movies and not even flinching made it that much more fun to scare them silly.
Sally found herself laughing at the memory alone her room as she thought about the five teenagers running away in terror. Unfortunately, they left the little girl behind who was also scared, if inadvertently. The Mayor went off to the next town on his list but the Corpse Mom and Ragdoll stayed behind and promised the crying little girl in a cute fairy/witch costume that they would not scare her anymore and offered to take her home.
The little girl bravely stated something about "stranger danger" but nonetheless asked them to take her to her mommy. It didn't take long to find the house since the girl had memorized her address.
As Sally walked the girl to the porch, the girl commented how Sally looked a little like her own doll and gave it to Sally as a thank you for taking care of the bullies and her big brother. She very seriously made Sally promise to take care of Petunia and to tell her lots of stories about nice monsters like Sally.
It was very cute and not at all frightening but Sally found herself accepting the doll regardless, mostly out of curiosity. She still couldn't see what humans saw in most of their playthings. Many were really quite boring and strange, but not in the good strange.
The pink hair in particular was perplexing to Sally. It was a bright hot pink that seemed very out of place in the whole of Halloween. Sally quickly realized the confused feeling was similar to the one she and most citizens, Jack included, got when Sandy Claws tried to explain Christmas in his own words. She was even confused when Jack first tried to explain it not so long ago.
Sally hid behind the corner of the house when the door opened and left just as the girl broke into a wild story about a zombie and doll lady that scared "Jimmy" and his friends off. Sally and Nellie did, however, overhear the mother get rather angry at the boy.
She wasn't sure what resemblance the girl saw between her and the little doll but set the thoughts aside along with the toy.
Most of the other little nick-knacks Sally had collected were simple things like a postage stamp torn of the corner of a discarded envelope, and spools that had barely any thread left on them. There was one thing that had really caught Sally attention. She had found it broken in an alley in Salem, Massachusetts as she walked with Jack on their way to a graveyard to get home. It was a little wooden music box.
The box may have once been used to hold jewelry but the felt that lined the inside was faded and mostly missing. The box was the kind that played when you lifted the lid and it had two little glass figurines dancing together in time to the music. Well, they would have danced if the box actually worked. It was a miracle that the glass figures weren't shattered. The lid was barely hanging on by the hinges and the a few parts inside revealed themselves to by rusted or missing when Jack had taken out the bottom to look.
He assured her that it could be easily fixed with a few replacements parts and screwdriver.
"We'll get you fixed up. I promise," Sally said mostly to herself as she leaned her elbows on the vanity and rested her head in her hands. She stared at the little figurines thoughtfully.
The workmanship on them was exquisite. They were so detailed that Sally could pick out the smile on the woman's face and the little folds in the dress that fell just past the knees. She could also see the faint smile on the man's face but she had to look very hard to pick it up. It must have taken an awful lot of work the make the box with so much care only for it to end up in an alley.
At least it had a new home now, one the creator of it probably would have never expected.
Sally messed with the tiny button that acted like a pressure switch. Once the box was working again it was this little thing that would make the music play when the lid was lifted. That and the little windup key at the side.
Sally suddenly gasped and took her hand away in surprised. She wasn't sure but for a moment it looked like the figures were turning but when she stopped and looked the little glass humans were as still as ever and no music played. Just to be sure, she checked the little windup key and peeked inside at the contraption. Nothing.
"I suppose it's time I got a little sleep. What do you think?" Sally smiled softly at the glass and was about to get up from her seat when she saw it again.
There! The little man's foot moved. Sally didn't have any time to consider the oddness of this when both figures suddenly began dancing as if they always have and never were tiny glass statues a second ago.
They turned around and around to music only they could hear. The girl let out a faint laugh when her partner spun her around with one hand. They both looked very happy and seemed to be enjoying each other's company.
Sally stared in awe but to her credit she didn't say a thing or even move. She didn't dare blink for fear it would chase the odd little vision away.
Her mind raced. Sally suspected it was a premonition of some kind. Those weren't exceptionally uncommon here, but Sally seemed to have them more than most. Unfortunately they often didn't signal good news. Sally resisted the urge to bite her lip as she thought about the Christmas premonition she had two years ago and secretly pleaded to God that the little figures would simply continue to dance to their little glass hearts' content and wouldn't burst into to flames. Out of context, it might be a bit funny, but in her premonitions things bursting into flames was awful in a terrible way. Sally hated being the bearer of bad news but would do it if she needed to.
To her distress the glass began to melt as soon as she thought that. As she watched the glass seemed to melt like ice but instead of leaving little puddles it revealed two humans underneath complete with skin and hair and clothing. Sally could see that they were two teenagers in Halloween costumes that danced as if they didn't notice the glass melting off themselves. The boy had short slightly mussed black hair and his figurine eyes were too small to tell the color. He was wearing a tiny smart looking tuxedo, a velvet cape, and an odd white mask covering half of his face while the girl wore an off-white wedding dress from a couple hundred years ago but it had something black sewn atop the fabric like a lace while a white ribbon tied her dark black hair back.
Sally noticed something of interest and disregarded her decision to not move. She leaned in close, her nose barely missing the boy who continued to dance on unperturbed. The tiny little gloves the girl was wearing had white prints of hand and arm bones on the top.
"So you're a skeleton," Sally stated, "And I think you're the Phantom of the Opera." She said to the boy. She had read the book and heard that the humans had made several plays and movies about the story but she had never seen any, of course.
Suddenly the little people stopped dancing and the girl stepped back and let go of her partner's hand. She put one hand to her throat as though choking and waved the other around as if trying to clear the air, all the while stepping further and further from the boy. Sally suddenly worried the girl would step back and fall off the edge of the music box.
The girl didn't however. She stopped just as she was about to run out of room behind her. She silently gasped in pain and coughed harshly before falling to her knees.
"Help her!" Sally pleaded in horror to the boy but he simply looked around in panic as if he couldn't see the girl. She was right there!
The girl gasped one last time then collapsed on her side.
Sally looked away as a few tears rolled down her cheeks and soaked into her fabric. She wasn't entertaining any hopeful thoughts. She recognized death when she saw it and the girl was dead. Scary things were all well and good but grief and sadness were not what Halloween was about. They mocked death. They didn't celebrate it. And Sally could feel the grief around the girl's death. She would be mourned and many tears were to be shed.
No one could really see vision in the normal sense, it was more like actually feeling the visions. Sally could feel the final breath leave the girl's body painfully and there was a distinct smell of smoke lingering in Sally's room now. She forced herself to look back at the music box and watched in pain as the boy finally saw the girl and ran to her.
It was too late.
"She's gone. She's gone to the next life," Sally tried to tell him though she knew he couldn't hear her.
The boy held the dead girl in his arms for a moment before she suddenly turned back into glass and shattered into a million tiny pieces.
The ragdoll gasped as a few shards embedded into her hand as she pulled it back in shock.
The boy was shaking now, staring at his empty hands and crying silently.
Sally couldn't take it anymore. She suddenly reached up and slammed the old music box shut, jarring one of the hinges lose. It clattered to the desk surface and there was silence for a minute as Sally caught her breath and sniffled.
When the minute was up Sally glared at the box and cautiously opened the box again, half hoping the vision was just a tired hallucination.
The glass shards were gone and the boy was in his place again in a dancing pose.
But the girl was gone, leaving the boy to stare blankly at his invisible companion, hand raised as if still holding his partner. His tiny smile that Sally could barely see before was now completely missing.
Sally stared for a moment as she tried to decide what to do. Should she go search out Jack and possibly wake him up to tell him about the vision. Or should she wait until tomorrow when she had more time to think about it. It had an awful lot more detail than most of her other premonitions, including the one that preceded the incident with the Mayor's hat last month. Could the detail mean something in itself? Was the premonition about something going to happen or something that happened in the Real World. It was possibly the latter given that she saw living humans but she couldn't be sure.
It was best to wait till tomorrow. Everyone was exhausted and even if she told Jack tonight, they wouldn't be able to something, if anything, until tomorrow anyway.
What was that?
It was coming from outside. Sally opened her window. It sounded like a large bell but it wasn't one she had ever heard.
It was an ancient sound that resounded through Sally's soul. She shuddered. She finally understood what the phrase "walking over my grave" meant. She didn't have a headstone in the graveyard like everyone else, as she didn't die to arrive in Halloween and she wasn't really born either, but Jack had erected a tombstone for her anyway when Finklestein had created her. The "walking over her grave" was a terrible feeling but at the same time Sally felt like she should be in awe. It was like the bell toll was the signal of something incredibly important.
As the forth bell toll sounded, Sally saw several lights across town flick on, though they were dampened by the rising sun. It wasn't morning already was it?
Sally jumped as a door was slammed downstairs and a second later she saw Jack run out the front door and bound down the porch steps four at a time, nearly running into the gate in his haste. When had he come home?
"Jack!? What is it?" she called but he was already out of hearing. He squeezed through the town gate bars before the befuddled half-asleep Gate Keeper could open it and darted to the graveyard like his coattails were on fire. As he ran, Sally could see him struggling to wrestle his arm into his slightly wrinkled suit. He had his pants on, thank goodness, but Sally caught a brief glimpse of his off-white striped nightshirt. Apparently, he had rushed to get dressed again and decided changing shirts wasn't worth it, as odd and against his gentleman charm as it was.
By the time Sally got outside and to the street, she realized how thankful she was not to have changed into her night clothes just yet. The townspeople were already beginning to crowd the town square again and as soon as they saw her they began asking were Jack was. She barely heard them as she used her height to find the Mayor. He may know where the tolling was coming from and what it means.
She finally found him. Unfortunately, he was talking to Dr. Finklestein. Sally steeled herself and politely made her way towards them. Her and her creator's relationship may have been on the mend but it was still awkward to speak with him.
"Mayor! What's go-," she started but was interrupted by an ashen faced politician.
"Oh Sally! Where have you been!" he whined, "Where's Jack? He needs to be here."
"I was hoping you could tell me what was happening, Mayor," Sally said, "The bells started and then Jack suddenly ran out to the graveyard…"
"He's out there already!?" Mayor said in surprise then switched faces, "Thank goodness! It's all right everyone! Jack's already looking for them!"
The tone of the citizen's muttering suddenly turned to one of curiosity with a gossiping air to it.
"Could someone please tell me what's going on?" Sally snapped in frustration, louder than she meant to.
The crowd got a little quieter at her shout and a few monsters looked at her as she blushed.
Finklestein laughed coldly. "My dear. I'm curious as to why Jack hasn't told you yet."
Sally resisted the urge to remind the good doctor that he hadn't told her either.
"That's the Requiem Bell," the doctor started. He pointed up to the top of the Town Hall.
"It's in a chamber atop the Town Hall. And it only rings by itself…" the doctor paused and leaned forward with slightly happy/creepy smile, "When there's a new arrival."
"A new arrival? A new monster?" Sally immediately thought of her vision.
"Of course," the doctor said, "It's about time we had someone new."
"Oh." Sally felt hurt at that comment but squashed the need to strangle Finklestein. She was new! He made her just over three years ago! She closed her eyes and tried to remember every detail she could. She thought about the girl that had died. Black lace in the patterns of spider webs were sewn over the original white lace that covered the entire dress she wore and she also had those black skeleton gloves. She had white makeup on her face and white lipstick while black makeup was under her eyes and on her cheeks to make them sunken in. A little white ribbon held her jet black hair back.
"Mayve it's another vampire," one of the vampire brothers suggested.
"Like we need another one of you bat brains," the Werewolf growled.
The vampires hissed at him.
"Don't be silly it's probably a new unique creature. That or a witch," Zeldabourne laughed tiredly. Her hair was in a nightcap and a sleep mask sat atop her head. She was still in her nightdress but the witches weren't exactly ones to care too much about decency so long as no one showed anything inappropriate.
Sally tried to remember more about the little glass girl as the twelfth bell rung but couldn't recall anything specific, just what had happened, not much about what they looked like.
"Sally are you alright?" Dr. Finklestein asked.
"Fine," Sally said. "It's just that…well…I had a vision."
"Another one! I certainly didn't design that little trait in you."
You didn't design any of my personal traits. Just my physical ones.
"This one was a little different, Doctor," Sally said.
"It had humans in it."
"Humans?" the doctor laughed, "My dear, it was likely just a normal dream. Halloween has only just ended after all. Perhaps you're simply curious about humans. This is only your second year scaring after all."
Sally sighed. Perhaps it would be best to tell her vision to someone who actually cared.
Several denizens of Halloween jumped and clapped their hands over their ears if they had them. They weren't expecting the last toll to sound so soon. Usually it went on for much longer depending on how old the new monster was when they died.
Sally winced as the toll echoed through the town, louder than the previous ones. It was so loud it shook dust off the roof of Town Hall.
"That's it?" the Monster Under the Bed asked incredulously. He raked a clawed hand through the vague shape of hair on top of his head. It was hard to tell since no matter how hard anyone tried all they could ever see of him was his red eyes and teeth. He claimed he could see himself in a mirror, pitch black fur, tail, and all.
"How many was it?" a voice softly echoed through the square as the wind whistled through the crisp morning air.
"I counted sixteen," the Who replied to the Wind.
"Sixteen!" the Corpse Father said, "They're barely a child."
"Speak for yourself," the Hanging Tree scoffed, "When I was alive, women were usually already married and had children at that age."
"How would you know? You can't remember," the Corpse Mother snarked as she held her son close. She remembered how disoriented new monsters could be and how they might lash out. She didn't want Ethan anywhere near them for a couple weeks.
"Anyway. They are still young and still dead," Helgamine said,
"As a doornail," agreed the Monster Under the Stairs.
"Says a fellow doornail," the Clown joked.
"What kind of monster do you think they are?" Ethan, the Corpse Child, asked his mother and father.
"I don't know, son," Ned replied.
"We'll see when we see them," Nellie added.
"Then let's go see them now. I want to see them now," Ethan said with a pout.
"Oh no," the Mayor laughed nervously as he stood in front of the gate, "Jack wouldn't want us to follow him. We might scare the new citizen." Immediately after he said it, his face switched to the white side as he realized exactly what he said, "Oh dear."
"Scare them? What a brilliant idea!" the tallest vampire brother said.
"What better vay to velcome a newcomer," another brother agreed.
"No. Wait. No!" the Mayor moved out of the way to avoid being trampled as the Gate Keeper raised the gate and a group of citizens made their way to the graveyard.
Almost everyone knew that they might scare the newcomer too much but there really had yet to be a citizen that couldn't handle a scare or two. It was practically in the nature of being a Halloween Spirit. Besides, curiosity killed the cat, and Jack wouldn't blame them for that. Would he?
Not everyone went. The majority opted to stay in town and wait until Jack brought the arrival back with him. In the group who decided to be the welcoming party were Sally, two of the Vampire Brothers, the witches, the Monster Under the Stairs, the Harlequin Demon, the Mummy Kid and his parents- Mummy Effie and Cyclops Clyde-, the Corpse Family, and Jersey who managed to slip away from her father. They all sang as they walk down the path to and through the graveyard in search of Jack and the mysterious new monster.
Who could it be?
Who could it be?
WHAT could they be?
Do they have the claws that slash?
Or eyes that glow And teeth that gnash.
Do they have a shriek so shrill?
That the humans jump And cower from the chill
Do they have a skin so white?
It causes it causes the bravest to die of fright
Do they have a voice so haunting?
Facing them should feel so daunting.
Whatever adorns their ghoulish feature?
Be sure to trick-or-treat them like a fellow creature.
This is Halloween! They're sure to be quiet a scream!
Welcome monster to the freaks and frights!
Howl at the moon to the highest heights!
Make the children fear when they're in your sights
And join us in our romping on the greatest…
NIGHT! OF! NIGHTS!
Every Body young and old
Every monster bones or mold
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween. Halloween.
Meanwhile, in the graveyard, the new monster shuddered and curled up tighter against the gravestone. Nothing was familiar. Yet…there was one thing….the name carved into the hard stone they lay against.
"Pardon me," a voice suddenly said making the newcomer gasp and look up in shock.
The tall skeleton put out its hands to calm them down and quickly bent down to their level. "It's alright. I mean you no harm."
The newcomer stared at him, their mouth in a thin line and their emotions swirling around in utter turmoil. Confusion, anger, sadness, fear. The fear in particular was hard for them to handle as it was so unfamiliar to them. They whimpered, immediately hating themselves for the weakness.
"It's alright. Let's go slow," the skeleton said calmly, as if this was normal. However, there was interest and confusion in his expression and he seemed to be struggling with thinking something, "My name is Jack. Do you know yours?"
But they didn't answer yet.
They stared at him in shock. "I think so..."