Something To Cry About
"Halloween—the worst time of the year,” Screech muttered. The wraith Korbat flicked his tail in annoyance, thinking to himself that the sooner this holiday was over the better.
“What are you talking about, Screech?” his friend Jewel asked, her eyes wide in surprise. “Halloween is probably the most fun holiday of the entire year!”
Their other friend, Lacey, nodded in agreement. “Jewel is right! We get to dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating for candy…what could be better?”
Screech shook his head at his two friends. “It’s easy enough for you to say,” he said. “You aren’t painted like I am: wraith. I love my color, except for this time of the year. During the other months of the year, I am scary to other Neopians! And you two have known me for long enough to know what I enjoy doing the most. Spooking unsuspecting strangers is my type of fun!”
“So wouldn’t Halloween be perfect for you?” Jewel asked. “I don’t understand why you never want to come out on Halloween with us if you enjoy being scary so much.”
“Because everyone thinks I am wearing a costume!” Screech explained, feeling frustrated. “Look at me. My glowing swirls and purple spirals are normally creepy and fearsome. But on Halloween, nobody takes my spookiness seriously. They think I’m dressed up for the holiday and they laugh, not cry out in fright. I’m not dressed up in a scary Korbat costume…I AM a scary Korbat!”
Lacey patted Screech on the back. “You’re the spookiest pet I know! Remember how afraid Jewel and I were when we first met you, before we became friends with you? You can still enjoy Halloween without being scary. It’s just one day.”
“Yeah, there’s way more to Halloween than just being scary!” Jewel added. “That’s only one part of the holiday. Won’t you come trick-or-treating with us tomorrow night?”
Screech hesitated. His friends were probably right, but he was still reluctant to participate. “Sorry,” he said sadly. “I would rather be myself than dress up as something else, and I don’t want anyone to think that my spooky color is ‘just’ a costume. I’ll see you two after the holiday instead.”
“Alright, if you say so,” Jewel replied. “But if you change your mind, we will be trick-or-treating around the Market Square and we would be glad to have you join us!”
“Thanks, but I won’t,” Screech said flatly, his mind made up. “Goodbye, and have fun.”***
The next night, Screech sat by himself in his home, watching the sun begin to set from his bedroom window. He watched as trick-or-treaters dressed in all sorts of costumes started emerging from their houses, holding bags that would soon be heavy with candy. Screech had made sure to turn off all of the lights inside and outside of his house so that he wouldn’t be bothered by trick-or-treaters. He sighed, wishing the night would be over already.
“Why can’t I be more like Jewel and Lacey?” he asked himself, starting to feel guilty for abandoning them on one of their favorite days. “They don’t feel the need to be scary on Halloween, so why do I?” He wondered if it was too late to make a last minute costume to join his friends in the fun. He could wrap himself in toilet paper and become a mummy, but he knew it would just be a cheap attempt to salvage his spookiness.
Screech glanced out of his window again and saw trick-or-treaters running and laughing as they played in their costumes. He noticed that not all of them were scary. There were nurse costumes, rock-star costumes, princess costumes, and even petpet costumes. Everybody looked like they were having so much fun.
“That’s it,” Screech decided. “I don’t need a costume to have fun trick-or-treating with my friends. If people think my wraith color is a costume, so be it. I’ve had enough of missing out on all of the Halloween excitement.”
Screech grabbed a bag to fill with candy, left his house, and flew down the street. He remembered that Jewel and Lacey said that they would be trick-or-treating around the Market Square this year, so he headed in that direction. Seeing all of the passersby in costumes made him feel a twinge of doubt that he should be going through with this, but he pushed those worries aside.
On his way to the Market Square, he heard a voice directed towards him. “Nice costume!” a Blumaroo dressed as Count Von Roo called out to Screech. Screech nervously thanked him, not sure if the compliment was sincere or sarcastic. A few more passersby along the way pointed out how realistic his costume looked, and Screech just played along and pretended he was actually dressed up. He knew he had to find his friends as soon as possible before he lost all of his confidence.
Finally, Screech spotted his friends along the street in front of a row of houses. They were dressed up as petpets: Jewel was in a Kadoatie costume and Lacey was dressed up to look like a Weewoo. They were embracing the Halloween spirit without feeling the need to look scary. Before Screech could approach them, however, he noticed they were interacting with three huge Lupes who he didn’t recognize. The Lupes were towering over his friends and staring at their candy-filled Halloween bags. Screech moved a little bit closer to hear what they were saying.
“Hand over the bags!” one of the Lupes growled at Jewel and Lacey. “Your candy is ours now!”
“No!” Jewel cried. “We just went trick-or-treating for all of this candy! You can’t take it away from us!”
One of the other Lupes laughed. “The cute little Kadoatie here thinks we can’t take away the candy that she worked SO hard for…” He ripped off the Kadoatie ears from Jewel’s costume. Jewel’s eyes started to fill with tears. She looked down at her bag of candy, wondering if it was worth giving up. Beside her, Lacey took a step back, clutching her bag of candy. Her eyes were beginning to fill with tears too.
“Give them to us NOW!” the third Lupe barked. “Or else we’ll really give you something to cry about!”
That was all that Screech needed to hear. He flew forward and pushed himself between his friends and the three menacing Lupes. “Leave them alone!” Screech demanded. “I won’t let you steal their candy.”
For a moment, all three of the Lupes looked genuinely stunned that someone had stepped between them and their victims. But after a second of hesitation, they all smiled wickedly. One of the Lupes cackled and said, “Aww, look at what we have here. This little Korbat thinks that just because he is wearing a spooky costume that he can scare us into listening to him!”
The same Lupe who had ripped off Jewel’s Kadoatie ears started reaching for Screech’s tail. The Lupe grabbed it and started pulling, expecting the wraith swirls to come off and reveal a true tail, but of course they did not budge. He nervously grabbed Screech’s ears instead, tugging them and trying to get them to reveal a different color set of ears, but of course those did not budge either.
“Not a costume,” Screech informed them angrily. He fell into his normal routine of scaring strangers: he spread his wings out as wide as he could to emphasize his glowing wraith coloring and extended the claws on his feet. “Now, I’m warning you one more time. Leave us all alone before I give YOU three something to cry about!”
Screech thought he saw tears beginning to form in one of the Lupe’s eyes, but before he could tell for sure, all three spun around and ran away without saying a word. Once they were out of sight, Screech turned to face Jewel and Lacey. They were staring at him in deep admiration.
“You saved us, Screech!” Jewel gasped, hugging him. “We would have lost all of our candy if you hadn’t been here!”
Lacey was beaming. “You scared those nasty bullies!” she said excitedly. “I don’t think they’ve ever been more spooked in their whole lives. You got what you wanted—you were scary on Halloween after all!”
Screech realized that his friend was right. He didn’t need a costume on Halloween to be scary. He used his fearsome physique to scare off those mean Lupes and save his friends from becoming victims of theft. He suddenly felt the satisfaction he got from scaring that he did during other months of the year, but somehow this was even more special.
“Aww, forget it.” Screech felt himself start to blush. “There’s more to Halloween than just being scary, isn’t there?” He smiled at them and held up his empty Halloween candy bag. “Ready for more trick-or-treating?” he asked them.
Jewel and Lacey smiled and nodded. “Yes! Let’s go!” they said in unison.
The three friends headed towards the next house on the Market Square, ready to enjoy the rest of the Halloween night together.