In Haunted  Town, things were just as they liked it.  Ancient Victorian townhouses rested haphazardly on each other or on crumbling foundations.  Stained glass windows dotted some of the houses, some had no windows and others, still, were sheathed  in torn bedsheets or chains.  Bespelled street lamps held candles in them that never blew out even when then winds decided to howl down streets and around corners, screaming at times as they chased each other.  Headstones grew where they liked in Haunted Town like trees, sometime sprouting up from a pebble in the cobblestone streets to grow one day in a headstone or some dark statue.

The town was quiet as everyone rested up from the Halloween season.  The little fairies that painted the autumn leaves the vibrant reds, fire oranges and pear yellows had washed their brushes and they drip-dried across from the pallets of paint that magically held just the right amount of tint and glimmer to make the tops of the trees catch the sun.

The Jack-o-Latern men, who strolled around as headless corpses on Halloween, rested on crooked brick steps not quite ready to give up the freedom of the outside world yet and extinguish their fired, flame lit faces and sleep until the next year.  Some would group together at the local tavern, remorsing over what some parent had let their children have their face into that year.  Those would hold contests for the most gruesome, most detailed and most damaged carvings and stumbled home with drink and a trophy to help them sleep.  If they were lucky, none of the children would catch them unaware a play a game of catch the pumpkin head with their face.  But it was tradition and not as if they hadn’t done it to the older Pumpkin heads when they were kids.

The witches would leave their cauldrons boiling and prop their haggard feet up by the steam that bubbled over the top as they removed their conical hats, waxed their brooms (no one wants a splinter in the butt), cleaned their tools and checked their pantries for what they would need before the next season.  They would start planning new wicked, scary things and making lists for a trip to the store.  Similarly, the wish granting fairy princesses and queens would lose the gowns for comfortable pajamas before shinning their wands and storing their wands, star side down, in jars full of glittering wish powder.  Then they too took stock of what magics they needed.  Once the separate lists were made, gnomes and sprites scampered to the stores to retrieve the stock for their mistress or masters, for the wizards needed things as well.

There was no real hierarchy in Halloween Town, just a vast number of different creatures ruled over by the Halloween King whose castle stood above them all to look down on his people.  He could see their differences.  The ones that thought themselves “good” tried to keep up their houses, weeding out the headstone pebbles and keeping real curtains on their windows.  And then the ones who considered themselves “bad” and didn’t.  Then there were the ghosts and skeletons who could care less either way as long as they got out during the season to keep the belief in them real and therefore keep themselves more substantial.

And one lone human that they would never know about that he kept in his castle with him.  The Halloween King could appear however he wanted, it was one of the powers he liked best.  He could walk among his people and hear what they said while he wore his costume, make sure everyone was content as they could be as they waited for their time of frolic among the humans.  And it was this power he used when he was with his human, the only human who loved Halloween so much that she had found her way to Haunted Town and fallen in love with the king of it even though she knew he wore a mask.

There her long black hair would never turn gray to white.  No wrinkles would crease the dark amber eyes that looked at him with smiles and love as he showed her the delights of an endless Halloween.

He turned away from the balcony he stood on and returned to their bed.  Her arms encased him and she laid her head on his chest and asked, “Are the settling down nicely?”  She loved his people like they were her children and that made him care for her even more.

“Yes, love,” he answered an patted her hand.  “They’re doing final preparations for next year and all will be as it always is as we wait.”  He sighed and she sensed his longing for more time to spread the joys and fears of Halloween for a longer period of time.

She leaned up and kissed him fully on the mouth and smiled that youthful, human smile at him to let him know he was being silly.  “Don’t worry, dearest,” she answered.  “It’s always Halloween with us.”

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