When Nightmares Come True

There was a rustling, and the curtains flew up, letting the moonlight stream into the room, shining onto her short blonde ringlets. She wore a black nightgown, and her face was deadly pale. The light hit her eyelids, and she squinted. One eye was a pale grey, and the other was a deep red, the color of fresh blood. When she rolled over, you could see a small misfigured yet adorable stuffed toy clutched tightly to her chest. It had what looked like plush worms sprouting from the left side of its head, and a maroon patch on the right. Its body was striped black and white, and it bore short stubby grey arms and legs.

Still squinting at the full moon, the girl, whose name was Lenore, whispered softly to her doll. "Ragamuffin? I… I had a nightmare."

Ragamuffin, the doll, woke up abruptly. He always kept his conscious awake just in case Lenore needed him. He opened his large eyes and looked at Lenore. "Tell me. What happened?"

"You left. You didn't want me anymore and then you left me." Lenore looked like she was going to cry, but then she brightened, as she usually did. "And then a giant turtle poopin' out jelly beans came and ate your head."

Ragamuffin yawned. "Lenore, that's… complete nonsense. None of that could ever happen. Especially the part with the turtle. That's just... Weird, Lenore."

"Okey. Imma gonna go back ta bed now, kay?"

"Sure. Night, Lenore." but she was already asleep.

It was morning, and the air smelled of rotting flesh. Delicious, thought Ragamuffin. Oh, how he longed for the days when he had been The Fearsome Ragamuffin, the Eternal Vampire scourge! How he missed standing on long legs, having hair, and skin, and internal organs! How he resented that witch for turning him into a stuffed toy! How he-

"Ragamuffin, I made us brekafists!" Lenore's cheerful little face smiled over him, resurrecting him from his wishful daydream.

"What'd you make?" Ragamuffin tried to be extremely tolerant of the zombie girl's rants and eccentricity. It wasn't her fault shed died so young. Ten. Wow, around 4-6 years younger than Ragamuffin would have been if he had been alive. Sometimes she could act much, much older, though.

Like when she killed people.

"Mailman stew!"

Ragamuffin smirked. "Stew for breakfast? Hmm, pretty ambitious, Lenore. It better be good. Will Taxidermy be joining us, or shall we dine alone?" He was referring to their neighbor, Taxidermy the stapled together deer corpse-thing that had a human body and wore a tux. He often came over to visit with his pet, Malakai.

"You and me. C'mon, Ragamuffin, let's go eat stew!"

Lenore didn't get any stew. She took one bite and stated that it tasted like mail, but Ragamuffin assured her that it was scrumptious, and she needn't change a thing. He knew it was just tomato soup. He would be very annoyed if it was actually the mailman. He'd still eat it, though.

"Ragamuffin, I've been thinking it would be fun to go to a carnival. I wanna see some clowns."

"Oooh, no. Remember what happened when we went to the zoo? Lenore, I don't want you to do that again. Just because they were chickens didn't mean you had to slaughter them in front of that British kid."

"But-but-" she sniffled.

"Aw, Lenore, please don't cry!"

Finally, after hours of coaxing, Ragamuffin agreed to take her, and Lenore changed into her usual funeral clothes and fixed in her little skull barrettes.

Ragamuffin, as usual, didn't wear anything. No, he is not a nudist.

The smells, sights, and sounds of the carnival amazed Lenore. But mostly the food.

"Ragamuffin, hey! Can we get cotton candy? Ooh, popcorn! What's a knish? What's funnel cake, can we go bungee jumping? Oh! Wow, look, Ragamuffin! A fun house! Let's go on the roller coaster! I've never been on a Ferris wheel before! Please? Please? ?" The sweet sugary tendrils of cotton candy, crunchy baskets of KFC, warm potato knishes- Lenore insisted on trying every bit of food there.

"Lenore, if you keep stuffing your face like that, you're gonna be sick. I mean, really, seven RC's? That's a bit too much. Your tummy's gonna explode."

"Shut your poopy little mouth, Ragamuffin! I'm gonna be fine!"

"Um. Yeah, thanks. And I don't know about that one. You look kinda… sick."

He was right. The little dead girl was suddenly doubled over in pain, her face contorted into a grimace.

"Ragamuffin—help—me-"

"Lenore! Oh god, no! Hold on- SOMEBODY CALL AN AMBULANCE! JESUS CHRIST, SHE'S DYING...AGAIN...OH MY GOD, PLEASE!"

Lenore had fallen onto a sharp rock, and a steady stream of blood flowed from her head, clotting in the fluorescent August grass. She shuddered. Her stomach was bloated. Ragamuffin knew this was going to happen eventually. She would eat so much, it would kill her again.

Someone had heard Ragamuffin's agony filled cries, and the paramedics were pushing their way through the gathering crowd.

The paramedics had no trouble bandaging her head, and within moments, the crowd of onlookers and all but one paramedic drifted away to observe "Gary the eight legged astronaut."

"It's ok, sweetie," mumbled the Paramedic. In her painful stupor, Lenore mistook him for Mr. Gosh, and whipped out her knife. She stabbed him several times in the stomach and head before tossing his corpse in the bushes and darting into Ragamuffin's short arms.

But he pulled away. He had mistaken the attempt for self-defense against her stalker for a cold-blooded murder, and he couldn't take it anymore. She was just too careless, too malicious, and that just wasn't Ragamuffin anymore. He was a changed… vampire-doll…thing.

"Ragamuffin? Wha-what? Why can't I have a hug?"

"Because, Lenore. Your Mindless violence is becoming too much. Every once in a while, if it's truly necessary, it's fine. But with you, it's just kill, kill, KILL!"

"B-B-But- I thought he was Mr. Gosh."

But he was on a roll. "And you constantly INSULT me for no apparent reason! I live for you, Lenore. I protect you from EVERYTHING, and all you do is put me down!"

"Ragamuffin, I-"

"And you're so stupid! You are aware of that, right? Or do you do it to irk me? Huh? HUH?"

Tears streamed down Lenore's face, and they were starting to leak out of Ragamuffin's eyes, too.

"I'm sorr… I'm sorry…"

"Too late. I'm leaving, Lenore. Have a good afterlife," he spat.

Lenore watched him dissolve into the crowd. She couldn't believe it. She was alone again, and now she would forever wander the hallways of her mansion, missing his presence, only having Pooty there. She wondered how she would be able to sleep at night, knowing that he wouldn't be there next to her. The thought of this made her break down in tears. She sobbed, tearing at the grass. "I WANT MY RAGAMUFFIN! I WANT MY RAGAMUFFIN!"

"Little girl?" a voice broke through her cries. "Are you alright?" It was an ugly woman who looked to be about thirty wearing a long skirt. "Did you lose someone?"

Lenore's first instinct was to cut out her eyeballs, but then she remembered what Ragamuffin had said. "Yes. My dolly. My dolly has left me."

"Well, what does she look like? Can I help you find her?"

"He's a boy and his name is Ragamuffin. He's a vampire. He called me stupid and ran away." Lenore wiped her nose with her long black sleeves.

"Aw, sweetie. Do you know where your mommy or daddy is? By the way, my name's Martha."

"My Mommy and Daddy are dead."

"Oh! Oh. I see. I'm sorry. Do you know where Ragdollmuffins was last?"

Lenore wanted to punch her in the mouth. She pointed in the direction Ragamuffin had gone.

"Honey, if you want me to find him, you're gonna need to be a bit more specific. Who did you come here with?

"Ragamuffin."

"Uh- who are your legal guardians?" Martha cleared her throat.

"Pooty and Ragamuffin."

"Pooty? Is that your Grandma?"

Lenore made a face. "No. Pooty is a demon from the ninth layer of heck."

"Very cute. What's your name?"

"Lenore." She was seriously considering punching her. Ragamuffin never said anything about maiming, did he, now? So she did.

Martha rubbed her bruised cheek. "Oww! Excuse me? What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Leave me alone. You're lucky Ragamuffin told me not to kill you."

"You look about ten years old. You can't kill me." Martha looked horrified, her loose brown hair flitting across her face.

Lenore gave the creepiest smile Martha had ever seen. "Oh, you'd be surprised at what I can do. That's why he left me, you know. Because I kill people. So you'd best let me be."

Martha whipped out her phone "Hello? 911? Yes, there's a little girl here. She punched me in the face, and then told me her doll told her not to kill me. I think she's crazy. Yes. No. No, she didn't injure me otherwise. Okay. Five minutes? Okay. Bye."

When she looked down, Lenore was gone. That was all right, thought Martha. The dogs would find her; the girl reeked to high heavens.

Lenore collapsed behind the door, gasping and choking down sobs. Finally, she let the tears envelop her, and she buried her face in her arms. She must have cried for an hour before three loud knocks behind her shook her entire body. She opened the door a crack. "Hullo?" she whimpered.

"Ah, Lenore. You were crying so loudly that I could hear you all the way from my villa in the woods! Is that not absurd?"

"Hi, Taxidermy." Lenore closed her eyes and leaned against the cool brass doorknob, trying to soothe her aching head.

"May I ask what is wrong? Are you out of candy again? I have plenty. If you want to have some of mine—"

"Ragamuffin left me! It was just like in my dream; he's gone!"

Taxidermy cleared his throat. "Ahem. Well, I… Hmm. Why don't you come over for a cup of tea, and we can discuss it at my house?"

"Okay… Taxidermy, do you have biscuits?"

"No, no I don't."

"So LET'S MAKE BISCUITS! Let's make biscuits."

"...Alright."

Ragamuffin shivered. The park was cold, especially under this bush. Bushes are cold. And itchy. And sometimes, they smell like dog pee. Have you ever tried to nap under a bush? Well, Ragamuffin hadn't either, and it was becoming an awful experience. On top of the thing with the bush, the only thing he could find to eat was an old banana.

Ragamuffin did not like bananas.

This sucks, thought Ragamuffin. I'm cold and hungry and I smell like dog piss. I… I wonder what Lenore's doing? Does she-"HEY!" now he was WET and cold and hungry, and he smelled even more like dog piss. A large nose belonging to a police dog named Maurice poked through the hedge and sniffed the angry doll. "GET OFF…" muttered Ragamuffin.

Then, through the "shelter" of the hedge, Ragamuffin heard a deep male voice. "C'mon, Maury. We're never gonna find that crazy Lenora girl if you don't hurry up."

Crazy Lenora girl? Shit, that sounds like Lenore! Why the hell are the police looking for her? And then it hit him. She had killed another person.

Shit.

"So, Lenore. I would be much obliged if you were to tell me what the trouble is." Taxidermy blinked.

"Okeey, so Ragamuffin was all like 'you're stupid and you kill too many people and I'm gonna leave so bye!'"

"Hmmm…" Taxidermy murmured through a mouthful of warm biscuit. "And Mr. Applewater? Has he returned from vacation yet?"

Lenore thought hard. "Naahh, Pooty won't be back until like four thirty. Or something."

"Well, it is five o'clock, and you have been here for about two hours. It would be quite wise, in my perspective, to return to your domicile and search for him."

"Okay. Bye, Taxidermy! Thanks for the biscuits!" Lenore slammed the door on her way out.

"My pleasure," he muttered.

Lenore ran up to the back door. "Pooooooty! Pooty? Where're you at?"

"I'm in the kitchen! Gawd, Lenore, where've you been?" The bucket-demon poked his head into the hallway.

"Well, Taxidermy's place for the most part." Lenore told Pooty what happened, and if they could, his eyes would have widened. "Whoa! Really? I didn't think the little guy was that brave."

"Thanks, Pooty. That makes me feel much better."

"Good. Glad I could be of service."

She glared at him condescendingly.

"Don't worry, Lenore. He'll come crying back eventually. Don't you worry your pretty little head."

Ragamuffin was sulking. He was very confused. Part of him wanted to just forget about Lenore, and on the other hand, part of his "Lenore-protecting" instincts were still on. He was debating between calling Pooty and, well, not calling Pooty. Eventually, his Lenore-protecting instinct won and the search for a pay phone began. It wasn't hard, for the Nevermore Public Park was a very popular place, and popular places usually have phones. Ragamuffin had cash left over from the carnival, so money wasn't an issue, but Ragamuffin didn't find it easy to jump up onto a bench, onto the back, into the phone box, and handle the giant phone with his nonexistent opposable thumbs. He deposited fifty cents and dialed Pooty's cell; he didn't want to take the chance of Lenore answering the home phone.

Pooty picked up on the second ring. "Hello?" Ragamuffin could hear Lenore laughing somewhere in the background.

"Yeah, hi. Uh, I just wanted-"

"Dude! What's the deal? Lenore's seriously pissed at you right now."

"Pooty, we can talk about this in a second. But I just wanna warn you guys that the police are after her."

"Finally? Wow. Okay." Ragamuffin could hear Pooty cover the mouthpiece with his hand, but it wasn't enough so he couldn't hear what he was calling to Lenore. "Hey! Ragamuffin's on the phone! He says that the police are after you! What'd you do this time?"

Ragamuffin cringed when he heard her snatch the phone and her voice squealed in his 'ear'. "RAGAMUFFIN! I-"

"Lenore, give the phone back to Pooty." His voice was flat and expressionless.

"No! I-"

"Give it BACK." He grit his teeth. There was a fumbling noise as the phone was passed back to Pooty. There was a moment of silence, and Ragamuffin looked at his feet. Man, he needed to be washed.

"Ragamuffin, where are you?" Pooty sighed.

"Nevermore Park," he mumbled back.

There was a click as Pooty hung up.

END OF PART ONE

Part two:

Ragamuffin wasn't surprised to see Pooty walk up to his bench. He gazed at him, wondering how long it would be until Lenore came skittering after, but she didn't.

"Pooty," sighed Ragamuffin. "You shouldn't have come."

"But I did," he replied, "and you're gonna need this." He handed Ragamuffin a wad of cash.

"Hey, thanks, man. I-"

Pooty then stabbed Ragamuffin in the head with his pitchfork.

"Ow! What was that… oh, yeah." Small glowing yellow orbs circled around Ragamuffin's plush body, and within a matter of seconds, Ragamuffin was transformed into a tall, handsome black-haired vampire. Ragamuffin straightened up, and looked down at Pooty. "Thanks. That was a good idea."

"No problem. But about Lenore…"

"Can it. I'm not coming back, and she doesn't need me anyways."

"Yeah, but… ah, forget it. You know what? We both know you'll be back. See ya later, Ragamuffin."

Ragamuffin watched Pooty leave, tugging at his new hair. He wasn't going to come back. Never. He glowered at some girls staring and giggling at him from across the field. He licked his lips and stood up. It was back. The lust for blood and flesh was back.

After a delicious meal of fangirls, Ragamuffin realized something. If he was fine with all the killing again, would the right thing to do be to go back to the house? No, he decided. That wasn't the only reason I left. So he took it upon himself to check into a hotel. Finally, he could live for himself again! Be his own man!

Once he got up to his room, he decided to turn on the TV. He hadn't seen one in a long time, since Lenore never bought one. The tv flicked on to a show called "Toddlers and Tiaras." He munched on a leftover hand and watched an overly made up woman in her forties rant about how if her ten year old little girl didn't wear a hairpiece and a spray tan, she would be a social reject.

Lenore doesn't need those things to be pretty, he thought, and then turned even paler than he already was. No! Augh, what am I doing?

"Pooty, where did you go?" Lenore asked, licking Dorito dust off her fingers.

"Um…"

Lenore stared at him blankly. "You saw Ragamuffin, didn't you?" she said softly, her voice quivering."

"NO! No, of course not! I- I was, uh…"

"Where is he, Pooty?"

Pooty sighed. "I think I saw him check into the Nevermore Hotel."

"Does he… miss… me?" her head was tilted down, and her ringlets covered her face. Her voice was barely audible now, and Pooty had to strain to hear her.

"Yes. Yes, I think he does. Lenore… there's something you should know. You're being chased by the police."

But Lenore had become ecstatic over the fact that Ragamuffin missed her, and wasn't paying attention. "We gon' get ice cream now."

"What? Uhm… okay, if you say so. But we're going to have to figure out a way to disguise you." Pooty only agreed to ice cream because he knew she'd throw a tantrum if he didn't.

"Okay. Imma get chocolate."

Man, thought Pooty. This kid sure eats a lotta junk. "I'll call the spam witch to do your makeup and stuff."

PART 3

A few days later, the Spam Witch dropped by

"Lenore! Wonderful to see you again!" the Spam Witch trilled. Lenore stared at her, clearly puzzled.

"Wait, but didn't you die?"

"Ha, yes, but I'm fine now," the Spam Witch laughed.

Lenore nodded. "Makes sense," she said.

"So anyways, sweetie, what can I do for you?" she asked.

"Oh, well, Lenore is being chased by the police, but she needs to go outside and stuff, y'know, 'cuz… yeah," Pooty piped up.

"And Pooty says you're gonna do my makeup!" Lenore squeaked.

"Of course! And after I'm done, while you guys are out, I can make you my famous Cajun chicken for dinner! It's from my spell book!"

An hour passed, and Lenore looked completely different. Her hair was auburn and straight, she wore green contacts, and the Spam Witch even gave her a normal complexion. She smelled of roses and lollipops, and wore an adorable sundress. But when she looked in the mirror, she frowned. "Who the heck is that?" she said, glaring at her reflection. "She UUGLY."

The Spam Witch drooped. "You… don't like it?"

"No."

"Well," said Pooty. "You're just going to have to deal with it for now. Come on, Lenore, let's go get you some of that long-awaited ice cream."

Ragamuffin needed to get his mind off this Lenore stuff. In shock and denial, he decided to go to the mall, which was a total un-Ragamuffin thing to do, but he did need new clothes. They were four hundred years old, at the least. A more modern style would do nicely, he thought, peering at the young people around him, in their t-shirts and jeans. I don't wanna look like a vampire from the Victorian times right now. I need to blend in. But NO WAY am I letting anyone touch my hair. He shuddered.

He spent a fair amount of time just wandering the mall, observing all the different styles. He saw goths, hipsters, punks, preps, gangsters, 'normal' people, nerds, and even a few drag queens. He finally settled on the semi-punkish style, which consisted of a band tee and jeans, both bought at Hot Topic.

The mall had a greasy, food-y smell, one that sparked Ragamuffin's appetite when he realized that malls had food courts, and that these food courts contained… well, LARGE humans, to say the least.

Ragamuffin, in his new clothes, looked just like another normal teenager like her to overweight sixteen- year old Giselle. She was here alone, hoping in vain that she might see some of the popular kids here, and that they might invite her to sit at their table. But one of the two things Giselle didn't know was that Luci Evers was having a party, and everyone but Giselle was invited. Thing number two was that the handsome black-haired boy approaching her was not normal. He wanted her guts.

Eeww. Ragamuffin wiped his mouth and went to get some juice to clear the thick, salty taste from his mouth. Note to self: NEVER EAT AT FOODCOURTS AGAIN, he thought.

The chocolate ice cream was delicious. In a cream-colored waffle cone, with chocolate syrup, cherries and butterscotch, it was also extremely sweet. So sweet, in fact, that Lenore was charged with yet another crazy sugar rush. In the process, she managed to kill six people and hide their bodies in various allies, while Pooty watched from the side. She seemed perfectly oblivious to her disguise, other than the fact that her contacts must have been very itchy, for she kept scratching and itching at them, causing some specks of black eye makeup to occasionally fall from her face, landing on her yellow-rosy sundress.

She skipped merrily down the sidewalk, seeming to temporarily forget about The problem with Ragamuffin and the police. Pooty trailed after her, and if you looked close enough, you could detect a faint look of worry in his seemingly expressionless face. But he followed her, praying that they would not come across trouble.

"Pooty! Look! The TV store…" Lenore's voice trailed off as she was sucked into the endless abyss that was the TV in the Electronic store's window.

"COME NOW to Nevermore Mall! We've got puppies, we've got jewelry, we've got clothes, we've got FOOD!" advertised the TV. "EVERYTHING you'll ever need, yups, from animals to zebra striped pants, WE HAVE IT ALL!11!1!ONE!" the man was screaming now, spit flying up onto the camera.

"Pooty… they have… everything…" Lenore seemed to be under hypnosis.

"No, Lenore. That's just advertisement. That's what they want you to think. Besides, I just spent thirteen dollars on those jumbo ice creams. I am NOT spending any more on you. Sorry."

Lenore grabbed Pooty's stick-like hand. "We're going. Tell me how to get there."

"Lenore, I just said-"

Lenore cut him off with a death glare, which was scary even under all that makeup.

"Fine… we'll take the bus."

The bus ride was full of "Pooty! What's that? Ooh, what's this do?" "no, Lenore! Don't touch that!" "can I lick the window? Why does she smell of pudding?". Pooty sighed as he wondered how Ragamuffin dealt with her 24/7. It was exhausting.

"Woah, the mall is huge!" Lenore gasped as they walked through the automatic doors.

"yeah. Honestly, I cant believe you've never been to one before. They're everywhere now. Even in Heck. Ok, so where do you wanna go first?"

Lenore looked at him, her face looking happy and innocent. "The toy store."

"Okay."

They walked quickly and discreetly, carefully avoiding mall security, as they seemed on the watch for something. Pooty didn't take chances with police of any kind. In Pooty's mind, police were bad news.

Lenore picked out a stuffed toy at the small "Toy Store Kiosk". It had a strange resemblance to her beloved Ragamuffin- except it was green in color, there was nothing on its head, and the eyes were buttons. She held it lovingly to her chest, cradling it closely. However, she was soon distracted by a display of dancing lights in a store window, and dropped it absentmindedly as she ran up to press her face to the glass. Pooty, seeing some pretty girls, temporarily forgot about Lenore, and wandered a few feet away.

Lenore felt a tap on the shoulder.

"Excuse me, did you drop this?"

Lenore dropped the soda she was slurping. It fell to the ground, and puddled around her feet.

A young teenager, wearing a Guns n Roses tee and black jeans stood over her, carrying her doll.

The name she whispered was barely audible, but he was able to catch it. "Ragamuffin?"

END OF PT 3

Part Four:

"I'm sorry, do I know you?" Ragamuffin raised an eyebrow and stood up straighter. There was something familiar about this girl, but he couldn't quite place it. Lenore's face flickered through his head, but this girl looked nothing like her. But that voice….

"Ragamuffin, it's me!" she squeaked, tugging at his shirt.

He pushed her hand away.

"I'm sorry. I don't know you." He didn't want to eat a little girl, not after the close bond that he had formed with Lenore.

"Yes," she said, "yes you do." To Ragamuffin's horror, she then reached up into her eyes and tore away her contacts. Her giant blue eyes stared at him. "Hello."

Ragamuffin gritted his teeth and widened his eyes. "Lenore-"

She didn't stop there. She ran over to the fountain and stuck her head into the small blue pool. The cheap dye formed a reddish cloud around her head, and the perfume on her neck washed off easily too. She padded back to the shocked Ragamuffin, her dripping blonde hair leaving blotches on her dress. She then proceeded to reach up and wrap her arms around his neck. His hands hesitated, but then he couldn't hold back, and he squeezed her close.

"I missed you too," he murmured.

They had forgotten that the mall is a public place, however, and a crowd of wide-eyed onlookers was gathered around them, including a quite flustered Pooty.

"Guys? GUYS!" He reached up and tugged on Ragamuffin's pant leg. "There's umn, a crowd. And the police. The police are here. HEY!"

Ragamuffin looked down at Pooty. "Right," he said. "The police. Let's go."

But before they could 'go', however, the police moved in, stroking their oversized mustaches and chomping on donuts.

"'Ey, kid. Ya know this girl?" said one of the policemen.

"Yes." Ragamuffin placed a protective hand on Lenore's shoulder.

"'Kay, cuz she's a wanted criminal. She comin' wit us."

Ragamuffin gazed warily at the crowd of onlookers. "What'd she do?"

"She's a crazy homicidal maniac. Threatened to kill an innocent wummin. She fits da description, right down to da crazy eye." He made a little circle with his index finger around his own eye.

Lenore grinned at them, and slipped a seven-inched blade from the pocket of her dress. Ragamuffin smiled at her. "Got one for me?"

"Yup!" she said sweetly.

"Good."

The police's donuts fell from their mouths, and they started to step backwards. Some of the mallgoers began to scream, dropping their FatBurgers and Slurpees to the ground with a splash. Pooty's pitchfork appeared in his hand, and he began to jab some of the cops, making little action movie-ey noises as he went. "P-tcha! P-tcha!"

Much killing sufficed. The three ran giddily around the mall, stabbing and choking and hurting people in the bloodiest ways possible. And not once did Ragamuffin feel ashamed.

After it was all over and the mall was stained scarlet, Pooty clambered up onto the statue of the large raven in the center of the mall. Lenore and Ragamuffin stared up at him in confusion as he drew out his pitchfork again, holding it up to the ceiling. He said something incomprehensible, and the pitchfork began to glow.

Suddenly, the blood on the walls disappeared. The corpses around them began to reconnect, untwist, and stand up. The blood pumped back into the bodies, and eyes were reopened.

The mall was alive again, excepting the vampire, the demon, and the little dead girl. Pooty, huffing, scrambled down from his perch on the statue and ran over to the bewildered others. "Reviving spell," he stated, breathing hard. "We don't want 'CRAZY MURDER AT NEVERMORE MALL!' to be the newest headline. It also erased you from the police's agenda. Lenore, you are no longer a criminal."

"Okay," said Ragamuffin, "but can we stop in a Men's Warehouse or something? 'Cuz this outfit itches."

"And I'm all wet! Ragamuffin, let's go to Funerals United instead."

"Sure."

Lenore and Ragamuffin found the exact same clothes that they normally wore (except cleaner; and two hundred years younger, of course). Lenore's hair dried, and although there was some mascara smudged around her eyes, and her skull barrettes were missing, she was beginning to look 'normal' again. Meanwhile, Ragamuffin had no idea how long it would be until he would change back into a doll again, and he looked very worried, repeatedly looking at his reflection in store windows, car mirrors, and anything else reflective to make sure he hadn't turned back into a creature of cotton and fabric. Luckily, it didn't look like it would happen anytime soon.

It was a gorgeous day in Nevermore. The august sun was hot, but the air smelled of flowers, and if you sniffed hard enough, dead bodies. As the trio turned the corner onto Main Street, the death smell grew stronger.

"LENORE! LENORE, MY DARLING, I HAVE RETURNED FOR YOU! COME TO ME!"

Lenore searched her pocket for her knife. "Y'know, Gosh, you being annoying isn't gonna change my mind. I'll just get my knife here and-"

Damn. She had left it at the mall.

"Lenore, really! I love you! Leave your Ragamuffin! He can never love you like I will!" screeched Mr. Gosh.

Ragamuffin paled, if that was even possible. He grabbed Lenore's wrist, and she looked up at him, panic in her eyes. "Raga-what-"

"Oh, yes I can," growled Ragamuffin, and he kissed her fiercely. Pooty and Mr. Gosh fell silent, and they were probably gaping. Within a matter of seconds, Lenore had kissed him back and wrapped her arms around his neck.

And then it was over, and they broke away, blushing furiously. Pooty and Mr. Gosh were still staring.

"Did that… just… happen?" panted Lenore.

"Yeah… yeah, I think… I think it did," Ragamuffin gasped for air. "So… do you love me back?" Before she could answer, however, the glowing orbs encircled his body once again, and he was transformed into a doll. He stared at her. He didn't care about his plushy conundrum at the moment, he just wanted an answer.

"Yeah." Lenore nodded, and she kissed him again.

Finally, Mr. Gosh broke the silence. "NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! LENORE, WHYYYY?"

"Because," Lenore said brightly. "You're an idiot and Ragamuffin's cute! And he smells like bacon," she added. Ragamuffin blushed. "You smell like rot. And plus, you're wearing a bow tie."

"Hey, bowties are cool!" he exclaimed.

She put her face very close to Mr. Gosh's face, and he leaned in towards her. She put her hands on his button eyes-and pulled. They tore off with a RRRIP. "OWWW!" he exclaimed through clenched teeth, grabbing at his face.

"Can… can we go home now?" Pooty looked very embarrassed.

Lenore scooped up her doll, and took Pooty's hand, and the trio walked off romantically into the sunset. Well, actually, they didn't walk into the sunset; they walked down a hill, but whatever. You get my drift.