Happy Halloween, TfD readers: One of my favorite episodes from Trolls for Dust, Season One, is Episode Five, All Hallow’s Mayhem. Enjoy the free read. –Pixie 🙂
EPISODE FIVE: ALL HALLOW’S MAYHEM
Something was in the works at Vale TV Studios, particularly something with Trolls for Dust. Tippa wasn’t sure what it was, but she was determined to find out. She waved hello to Michael Abner, who sat outside eating a heaping bowl of oatmeal topped with raisins and almonds.
“Keeping up that fine physique, Ab?” Tippa called.
“It’s all for you, babe!” he shouted back. His expression then returned to the contemplative look that Michael had sported ever since coming back from the hospital.
Tippa avoided being seen by Sandra Vale and her new best friend, Jin Yang, both of whom were berating Harvey Candish for showing up late and being drunk. From behind a pillar, the short comedienne watched the intervention, wondering why Sandra didn’t just fire Candish. His butler character, Jets, could easily be played by any middle-aged man with a passable English accent. Tippa pulled a flip-top notebook and a small pen out of the back pocket of her shorts and wrote down: Candish not fired. Curious. Lamb to slaughter for end of season?
While cramming the notebook and pen back in her pocket, Tippa caught a flash of gold out of the corner of her eye. She froze, thinking that it was Caprice, who often hid in corners to observe all with his mirrored sunglasses.
An actor walked by, the guy playing Aberon Sive, the troll prince’s cousin. He threw three gold coins in the air, passing them from hand to hand in a juggler’s move. The actor nodded hello to Sandra and Jin and winked at Tippa as he passed by her pillar. Her shoulders relaxed as she gave him a thumbs up. She trotted away from the cafeteria.
“Okay, where to next?” she whispered to herself.
“Yes, where are we going?” Calvin Bender had snuck up behind her. He placed a tanned arm around her and yelped when Tippa shrank under his grasp, falling down and back in a perfectly executed backwards somersault. She landed on her feet.
“We aren’t going anywhere.” Tippa waggled a finger at him.
“But you can’t desert me now,” Calvin said. “There is much making fun to be had my dear court jester! Jes–tress?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Abner…now, get this,” Calvin was so overcome with mirth, he could barely get his statement out, “our dear Michael Abner has had surgery. Plastic surgery––on his butt!”
“Hmm.” The comedienne tapped her pert chin. “That is interesting. Probably covering a tattoo of some kind.” Tippa was definitely going to write this down in her notebook. “Bends, as much as I would lo-ove to tease him with you, I think the guy needs a break. He’s been looking rather glum.”
“Glum? At being all adored? At being admired by the entire female pop––hey, where’re you going?” Calvin yelled after Tippa as she headed off in the opposite direction.
The building where The Writers had their office was situated far from the studio buildings. In fact, it was also in a separate location from the offices reserved for the other screenwriters who wrote for all of the other Vale TV shows. After running the distance, nearly to the edge of the entire property, Tippa leaned against a tree to catch her breath. She stood in front of a low, darkly-painted bungalow. It looked exactly like a rumored haunted house children would avoid on Halloween. The shutters hung loose, the paint peeled, and the sign, which read, Residence of TfD Writers. McGee. Beth. Daniels., hung crookedly next to the front door. Tippa’s shrewd eyes noted the numerous sets of muddy footprints leading in and out of that door. She rang the doorbell which sounded eerily throughout the two-storied house. No one came to the door.
Tippa took a deep breath and turned the door handle. It was unlocked. The first floor of the bungalow looked clean enough, but was cluttered with various apparatuses, many of which Tippa had never seen before. She pulled a slim digital camera out of her other back pocket and proceeded to snap pictures of everything.
“They’re keeping the gold coins here? This house is a burglar’s paradise,” she muttered to herself and hopped lightly around piles of cords arranged neatly in a row down the hallway. The kitchen was a mess. Clearly, The Writers did not like to do dishes and one of them was extremely fond of strawberry toaster tarts.
On the second floor, Tippa found a room that actually was locked with a fat padlock that had mud crusted on the edges. The comedienne slipped a slim, metal device out of her pocket. With it, she picked the lock in a couple of minutes, whispering a thank you to her Dad and his Andrews Detective Agency.
The room behind the padlock was as cluttered as the rest of the house. Tippa noted laptop computers laying here and there, some on disheveled desks, some on the sticky floor, some with full coffee mugs on top, and some open to documents with unfinished sentences. Most appeared to be scripts at first glance. Along the far wall she saw a pristine wooden table that smelled of sawdust. Numerous glass jars with Trolls coins were lined up on it, and Tippa was please to see that hers contained the most, just as she had calculated (she didn’t trust the numbers on the Vale website, as they could easily change with the ratings).
Tippa continued surveying the room and jotting down notes as she did so. Sandra Vale seemed to have an inordinate amount of faith in what appeared to be careless, messy writers. Their security was a joke. Then again, maybe that was the idea. Something Caprice had said recently came to her mind: “Never underestimate a ridiculous attack.” The same could be applied to The Writers’ seemingly ridiculous attempts at safeguarding the TfD coin collection.
With that in her mind, Tippa’s eye fell on a rusting filing cabinet squatting crookedly in a corner. Cobwebs grew on top, but the drawers slid in and out easily enough, as if they were opened every day. A brass plate with the word RESEARCH cut into it was attached to the top drawer. Tippa through the file folders in it. Most of the papers seemed to be of maps and historical texts. She moved to the second drawer down. This one held what looked like elaborate chemical equations and the like.
The third drawer down, Tippa hit jackpot. The green file folders were labeled “possibles” and contained names from A-Z. On a hunch she pulled out the “A” hanging folder and rifled through it until she found a tan folder with Andrews, Tippa written in pen on the top. She wasn’t so surprised, really, to find a history of her life, complete with photos. It had been obvious from the first day that Sandra Vale had chosen her cast long before the “Auditions.” What shocked Tippa was the detailed documentation of her lavender hair. A copy of her doctor’s report the year it had turned color was there, along with several hair clippings labelled Age 5, Age 13, Age 22, and so on.
“Age five?” Tippa peered at the hair clipping through the plastic baggie. She could just make out a few strands that did not match the all around black color, a few strands that looked very much like they had been on their way to turning purple.
The last page in her folder was a copy of her doctor’s final report. He had concluded Tippa to be a medical mystery, having exhausted all of his medical knowledge and resources, not to mention The Andrews’ insurance money. Someone had scrawled something in the margin, and the comedienne turned the paper sideways to read it.
“Otherworldly hair color is a telltale sign of fairy blood.”
Eva Peters answered the light knock on her door. It was Hezzy, complete with red cheeks and wet shower hair. He wore jeans and a black Heineken t-shirt that was damp from the red hair that curled around his ears.
“Good morning, my lovely,” he said. “Hold out your hand.” Eva did as asked, bending unconsciously as she did so. Hezzy beamed and dropped a handful of cold, clinking metal circles into her hand.
Eva gasped, looking at the ten shining gold coins. “Hez! What are you thinking? You can’t give me your stash!”
“Ach, but ‘tisn’t me stash, leggy lady. My stash, like yours, is being safely stored in The Writers’ office. These coins are specially manufactured by moi for vous.
“Manufactured?” Eva turned the coins over in her hand. Each head of the coin was engraved with a comical headshot of Hezzy; the tails pictured different images of rainbows, shamrocks, the Loch Ness monster, lumpy trollish figures, and a movie camera with the reels unraveling. To Eva, the coins were a wonder.
“Hez, these are amazing! How did you do this?”
He beamed up at her. “Ach, well, this studio is ancient––practically––and they have all these machines just laying around in the storerooms.”
“What are these made of?” Eva weighed the coins in her hand.
“Brass, probably. I just took some old, crusty door brackets and melted them down.”
“What?” Eva laughed. “What will Vale Studios say?”
“Nothing. They don’t know half of the junk they have back in those old rooms––morning, Tippa!”
Tippa Andrews opened her door across the hall. Her usually flawless skin had bags and spots as if she hadn’t been sleeping well.
“Whatcha got?” She yawned and rubbed at her neck. Eva proudly showed her the coins and explained that Hezzy had made them from materials in the old storerooms.
“You made these?” Tippa held one up to the florescent hall light. All of a sudden, her sleepiness disappeared. “Hezzy!” she cried, her eyes shining. “Where is this machine?” He told her and she took off down the hall, her purple bathrobe streaming out like a banner behind her.
“She’s been quiet lately,” Eva commented, “evasive.”
Hezzy didn’t seem to hear this, saying, “So you like the coins?”
“They’re wonderful. I’m going to have Marie sew up a little pouch to keep them in.”
“Put one on a string and wear it close to yer hearrrrrt,” Hezzy purred and batted his eyes at her. “Might ye bestow me with a kiss, me lass?”
Eva smothered her laughter as she bent down to touch her lips to his. Hezzy seized the opportunity of her being off balance to pull her down onto the floor in a tumble where he kissed both of her eyelids and her nose. The coins went flying, knocking against one of the other doors, and an irritable late sleeper bellowed at them from inside.
Kara Ortega spooned jello into her mouth and said, “Why are you hiding your hands under the table? Everyone knows you two are having a fling.” She smirked at the discomfort on her costars’ faces. “Let me give you some advice, when dating other actors––”
Harmony dropped her cafeteria tray down on the round table, interrupting Kara. The teenager’s juice glass tipped over, running in a river to pour down into Kara’s designer-clad lap. Kara shrieked and mopped at the stain with her napkin.
“Oh, sorry, Kara,” Harmony handed over her own napkin, “but I just wanted to tell you,” she beamed a smile over at Eva and Hezzy, “that it’s not a fling they are having. It’s true love.”
“True love?” Kara scoffed. “You have completely ruined my dress and you want to tell me it’s true love! Tell that to my three ex-husbands, all who left me for younger actresses!” She shook her finger at Eva. “You just be on your guard, Peters.” Kara glared a very Paragon glare at Hezekiah Lyon and stormed off. Harmony plopped down in her chair. She hummed to herself as she ate a meaty sub and seemed oblivious to the tug of war on the other side of the table. With a shake of his fist, Hezzy threatened to dunk Kara’s head in the toilet. Eva held him down as best she could.
He stopped struggling and raised his eyebrows. “Yes, indeedy, you like my bulging muscles, eh? Tell me more, tell me much, much, much…” His voice trailed off as he saw that Eva wasn’t looking at him. She watched Harmony.
“Harmony?” Eva asked tentatively. “What are they saying about us?”
Harmony blinked slowly. “That you’re goo-goo over each other, which you are. Calvin’s a little jealous, and Alex Koloslov too, though I don’t know why because he’s already married and is double your age.” She munched on her sandwich. “I like the Koloslovs, especially Tatiana. I wish she was my real aunt and that I was her real niece and that we could go shopping with each other and live in a small -town farmhouse just like on the show.”
“So you’re saying I need to be worried about Bender?” Hezzy squinted with first one eye, then the other, at Calvin Bender across the room. Calvin shared a table with Mark Gould and a pretty red head. “Who’s that girl again?”
“Shirley Kent, plays the evil sprite.” Eva picked at the fries on her plate. “And don’t worry about Calvin. He just wants any girl, it doesn’t matter who.” They ate quietly for a while, but looked up at the sound of commotion nearby.
“Gimme, gimme, gimme!” Tatiana Koloslov was fighting with her husband over a spoon. She punched Alexander twice in the nose and he elbowed her in the gut before Caprice intervened. The muscular security guard grabbed an upper arm of each and led them to an anteroom to cool off.
“You want them for your aunt and uncle?” Hezzy’s eyes widened with surprise.
“Well, um, at the beginning they were so nice. Now they fight all the time––oh, and they ask me about Tippa a lot––really annoying.” Harmony rolled her eyes.
“Tippa?” Eva cocked her head. “What do they ask?”
“Oh, where is she from, what does she do, who does she hang out with? Things like that.” Harmony finished off the sub.
“Why don’t they just ask Tippa?”
“Dunno. They seem kind of afraid of her, especially when they turn red.” Harmony chomped into a crispy sugar cookie, sending pieces flying all over her tray.
“When they…turn red,” Hezzy repeated. He and Eva exchanged a worried glance and once again sought each other’s hands under the table.
Mark Gould looked up from his laptop. Kara Ortega and Lucas Moss argued over something, as usual. Or rather, Kara argued with Lucas while Lucas ignored her. Calvin Bender sat in a stuffed chair near the window and picked at his nails while watching Michael Abner, who sat at a table by himself. They all hung out in the large cast lounge filled with cushy chairs and couches. A large, electric fireplace took up most of one wall.
“No entourage today, Abner?” Calvin asked in a bored tone.
“No,” Michael scowled.
Mark searched for Trolls for Dust on his internet browser. He wanted to see if anyone had written anything about him or was even a fan. He’d looked up his name and found almost nothing, but the show had plenty of fan sites, several of which were devoted exclusively to Abner, Hezzy, Eva, Harmony, and even Calvin, who seemed to have a growing base of fangirls.
Ignoring Calvin’s tiresome baiting of Abner, Mark clicked to the TfD official site and checked his coin amount. Tippa still had the highest, but Mark wasn’t far behind. Sometimes it paid to stay in the shadows and watch. One picked up on things that others didn’t, like the nameless hirelings who masqueraded as crew members. They worked in conjunction with the behind-the-scenes film crew and usually showed up just before a slew of coins showered on set or showed up in the cafeteria or lounge.
“Haven’t seen John Cadger around much. He’s hanging out with Sandra a lot.” Calvin cracked his knuckles.
Michael Abner glanced up from his crossword puzzle. “Is there a question there, Cal?”
“Well, seems to me like you two are on the outs.” Calvin continued picking at his nails.
“I fired him,” Abner said and went back to the puzzle.
“Or did he fire you?” Calvin taunted.
Mark clicked back to the list of sites and scrolled through them until he found one called Troll Watch founded by Kevin Colossus. The name seemed vaguely familiar. He clicked on the site and started to read through the recent posts. What he read was at first amusing, then troubling. This was no ordinary fan site.
The vast storerooms were unlocked and occupied a series of rundown buildings near the middle of the Vale Studios’ California property. From time to time, Sandra Vale or one of the numerous producers and directors would send set people to the storerooms to hunt down an old relic suddenly deemed reusable.
Tippa Andrews decided that Hezzy must be as curious as herself to have spent enough time in the rooms to find the old coin press. This one was rusty compared to the newer Xeon Setworks model she’d seen in The Writers’ bungalow. It was situated on a scratched wooden table which had been cleared of dust. Tippa touched her hand to the machine. It was warm, having been used recently.
“But not by Hezzy,” the purple-haired woman said softly. The moulds the cheery dwarf had made lay discarded off to one side. Tippa opened the press and took out the moulds inside it. They were, as she suspected, indented replicas of the Trolls for Dust coins they had been collecting all season. The mould for the coin heads showed a picture of a troll head with the letters ‘TFD’ in Schoolbook font underneath. The tail mould was a Schoolbook ‘V’ with the year underneath. Tippa slipped a show coin out of her pocket and compared it with the mould. Her coin had an extra number on it––most likely a serial number Vale TV used to keep track of the coins.
“Who would cheat?” Tippa rubbed at her forehead. She wiped off a dusty stool and sat down. The likeliest person or persons were those who currently had the least amount of coins, or those who were middling and wanted to move up, or those who were just behind her––still the frontrunner––and felt they needed to manufacture their own coins to win. Or it could be someone who had an inkling of the information The Writers kept in their bungalow. She had stayed up all night trying to make sense of it.
Tippa ruled out the crew due to the fact that even if they didn’t remain on the show, they could still work for other Vale TV shows. No, it was the actors who had the most to lose, and it was the actors whose lives were organized to the last detail in that rusting file cabinet.
“But why leave the moulds behind?” she whispered. Either the culprit or culprits were stupid or they had been interrupted too soon to make a getaway. Tippa stiffened as a shrouded figure slid out from behind a broken Japanese bamboo screen.
ALL HALLOW’S MAYHEM:
Open on a black screen and the sound of crunching leaves underfoot. Fade into a crystal blue day in the Whisper Parish park, where the trees are a riot of autumn bloom and the grass is littered with fallen leaves. Sassy and Alvon hold hands. They appear happy, though Sassy has dark circles under her eyes. They stop to lean against a tree and Alvon cups her chin with one hand.
“Still feeling sick?” His deep green eyes look worried.
“Just tired.” Sassy shrugs him off. “The…flu…took a lot out of me.”
“I can’t believe it’s already Halloween,” Alvon says, and then softer, to himself, “Never thought I’d be here this long.”
“What?” Sassy turns around, smiling.
“Uh, I was thinking of wearing a thong. You know, as a costume.”
“You were not!” She playfully punches him in the chest. Alvon grabs her and holds her close. “Jemina was thinking you should dress up as a prince. You do look like one.”
“I do, huh?” Alvon kisses her slowly and pulls back to regard her with half-closed lids. “Does that mean you’re going as a princess?”
“Duh,” Sassy says. “A sword-wielding princess.”
“Is that right? You’re sure taking those fencing lessons seriously.”
“I am, Al.” Sassy stretches up on tiptoe for another kiss.
“With Byron Coal.”
Sassy returns to ground level. “Yes, with Coal. Gotta problem with that, princey?”
“I just wish he didn’t take up so much of your free time.”
“Aw, poor boy. You been lonely without me?”
Alvon chews at his lip. “Yup.”
They move in for one last kiss as the wind whisks through the park, showering leaves and a deliberate few gold coins in every direction. The show credits shimmer up on screen and are blown away letter by letter by the tumbling leaves and coins.
Wide shot on the Tarr mansion. Cut to Paragon Tarr’s bedroom where she lotions her hands at the vanity table. “Mirror, mirror on the––oh! Oh, my!” Paragon puts a hand to her chest. “Jets!” she calls, coming out onto the stair landing. “Jets! You lousy, good-for-nothing…” The troll queen’s skin takes on a slime green tint.
“Here, my queen, here.” Jets looks a bit worse for the wear as he hurries up the stairs. “I’m sorry, your high––mistress, had a rough night, what with the flu going around.“
“Never mind that!” Paragon locks one of her now-clawed hands onto his shoulder and sways as if she is going to faint. “I have the worst feeling in my chest!” She pounds at her sternum with the other hand. “Jets, please tell me you secured the Crossing when we went through. Tell me!”
“Didn’t think there was much point, with it not being the only one and all.” Jets shrugs.
“My queen,” Jets holds back a mirthless smile, “this town is riddled with Crossings. Thought you knew that, what with that pixie being exiled here.”
Paragon blinks at him. When she finds her voice, it is harsh and unforgiving. “You. Didn’t. Secure. the Crossing?” The smile fades from Jets’s face.
“Like I said, mis––”
“Dwarf sweat and elf snot, Jets! I know the Parish is full of Crossings! That’s why we come here on holiday. But there is only one, one Crossing that can take a person or creature back into Etherland. Only one in this place and only a few in all the Earth. I didn’t want it secured so no one could come through from the Etherland, I wanted it secured so that no one could go back through from this side! My boy needs to stay here, where he is safe. He must have no temptation to go back, not while our kingdom hangs by a thread!”
“My mistress Paragon, I am so terribly sorry…” Jets begins in fear and trembling.
“Never mind ‘sorry’, just you march yourself down into that forest and secure the Crossing. Even if you need the pixie dust dealer to help you do it!”
“Feeling better?” Uncle Winston offers his niece a bowl of candy corn.
“Oh, definitely, Uncle Win, just a little sore, you know?” Sassy takes a couple of pieces.
“You’d think they would be more careful letting teenagers handle weapons,” Aunt Jenny calls from the kitchen.
Sassy shrugs. “It was just an accident. I’m sure it won’t happen again.”
“You don’t look very sure,” her uncle says. Outside a car horn honks twice.
“That’s Jem.” Sassy jumps up, grabbing her bag. “Don’t wait up for me tonight, Aunt Jenny. I’m staying over at the Blues’ after the Halloween dance.”
Aunt Jenny walks in from the kitchen, drying her hands with a dish towel. “You be careful out there tonight, you hear, Sassy? This may be a small town, but we’ve seen some mean folks roll in from time to time and not all of them go on their merry way.”
“I’ll be fine.” The horn beeps again. “Gotta go! Love you guys!”
Jemina sits in a red Beamer parked in the driveway. She grins as Sassy races down the porch steps and climbs into the car. “Hey, Sass.”
“Sweet ride, Jemina! Best birthday present ever.”
Jemina shrugs. “It’s nice having rich parents, even if they’re not around much.”
“Better than having no parents.” Sassy smiles sadly.
“Aw, hey, you have your aunt and uncle,” Jemina grins, “and a hottie boyfriend.”
“True.” The girls giggle as they speed away into town.
At school everyone is abuzz with Halloween preparations. Sassy leaves Jemina to bask in adorations over her new car. She struggles to hide the fact that she’s limping as she makes her way through the school yard. Sassy yelps as she stumbles on a square of broken cement and her leg gives out underneath her. She lands on the wet, leafy grass with her books scattered around her.
“That was quite a tumble.” A boy reaches down to help her to her feet. “Twisted ankle?”
“Uh, something like that.” Sassy stares at the boy, mesmerized. He is tall with white-blond hair pulled into a tail at the nape of his neck. He has clear blue eyes, a perfect complexion, and even, white teeth.
“I’m Bramley, Bramley Wyst. Just moved here.” His eyes crinkle around the corners.
“Welcome to Whisper Parish. And thanks,” Sassy frowns, noticing that her books are stacked neatly in his arms, “for helping me. I didn’t see you pick those up.”
“Yes, you did.” Bramley’s lips twitch, but he offers no other explanation.
“Hi, hi! Did I hear correctly that your name is Bramley? I’m Jemina Blue and very, very single, unlike my friend, Sassy, here.” Jemina pops into their conversation, offering her hand to Bramley while Sassy stuffs her excess books into her backpack.
“The best friend, I take it?” Bramley asks.
“Yup.” Sassy’s eyes twinkle. “And a good catch if I do say so myself. Jem, Bramley’s new here. Maybe you could show him the town after school?”
“Oh, what a great idea! What do you say, Bram? We can go driving in my new car.” Jemina plays with a lock of her hair and sways as she stares up at him.
“You know, that sounds great, but I have an appointment I just can’t miss.”
“Oh.” The girls’ faces droop.
“But you’re coming to the Halloween dance, right?” Sassy asks hopefully. “Jemina’s got a great costume.”
Bramley cocks his head. “I plan to make an appearance.”
“Great! I’ll save you a dance!” Jemina bubbles. Bramley tips an imaginary hat to them and strides off in the opposite direction as the bell rings. The taller girl elbows her friend. “Aw, Sass, he’s so gorgeous, he’s gotta be airbrushed!”
Sassy nods. “Definitely a magazine cover. But I prefer guys a little rumpled around the edges…like a favorite novel.”
Jemina wrinkles her nose. “You don’t read novels. Have you been hanging out with Claude, the bookworm?”
At that moment, Sassy looks up to find Claude watching them from a bench. His face is bruised, and he holds a thick, ancient-looking book in his lap.
“No,” Sassy says thoughtfully as they head to class, “but maybe I should.”
Mid shot on Jets as he trudges through the forest. He is bundled up in winter clothes like a mummy and stops periodically to rewrap the scarf around his neck. His path meanders as if he doesn’t know where he is going. Suddenly, Jets slips on the thick carpet of leaves and slides headfirst down into a little hollow. Angrily spitting forest floor out of his mouth, Jets struggles to stand only to find that one end of his scarf has hooked on a bare tree branch. As he steps forward, he is whisked off of his feet and lands flat on his back. Someone chuckles nearby. Jets sits up.
“Who are you? Show yourself!” He whirls around, inspecting every corner of the hollow, most of which is taken up by a large, petrified tree stump. “I demand you show yourself! By the authority of the House of Tarr!” Jets wrenches his scarf off of the tree branch.
The person chuckles again and drops down from a nearby maple. It is Byron Coal, the dwarf. “You say that as if it means something here,” Coal says. He watches as Jets gets to his feet. “Might I ask why you’re dressed for the North Pole?”
Jets grunts and says something about the “Deep.”
“Ah, the Deep. The toastiest part of the Etherland. It’s not a wonder then, that you find Minnesota cold.” Coal nods. “Might I also ask where you’re headed?”
The middle-aged butler points his nose in the air. “As if you don’t know. The Crossing.”
“The Crossing? On an errand for your mistress, perhaps?” Jets nods. “Security?” Jets nods again and Coal tuts.
“Sorry, I can’t let you do that, friend. Trolls don’t own the Crossings any more than dwarves do. It must be open to all.”
“What does it matter? The threat is from those coming in, not those going out.”
“True,” Coal agrees, “but I’m not going to be stuck in this world with no way back home. This is the only two-way Crossing on the entire continent.” He indicates the stump. “You want to rig it so your prince can’t rush back to risk his life, be my guest. But you leave it open to everyone else or your mistress will get a visit from me, and trust me, you don’t want that.”
Jets looks Coal up and down, as if gauging him as a threat.
“It’s Hallows’ Eve, troll. Can’t you feel it? The ghouls are stirring. Woo-ooo.” Coal grins. “Believe me, should the riffraff of the Etherland descend on us tonight, we’re going to want a way to send them home. And I know your mistress would agree with me on that.”
Just as Sassy and Jemina put the finishing touches on their costumes, the doorbell rings. Jemina’s mom calls from her study for the girls to get the door.
“Okay, I’ll get––ow!” Jemina’s fuschia-colored cape catches on a nail. The tension yanks her back and she stumbles into the dresser, sending hairbrushes and makeup bottles scattering. “Sass, could you?”
“Yup.” Sassy straightens her warrior princess breastplate––a more artistic version of what she wears to fencing practice––and clops in her shiny boot heels through the long Blue house to the front door. The doorbell rings again. “Yes?” She opens the door wide to find Byron Coal standing on the stoop. He is dressed in full battle attire.
“Ah.” He looks pleased with her appearance. “Ready for a challenge. The first sign of a gifted warrior, Sassy, is anticipating threats, and tonight––” His protege holds up her hand.
“Coal, what are you doing here? If Jemina sees you, she’s gonna flip! She’s already suspicious of how much time I spend with you at school.”
“Ah-ha.” Coal cocks an eyebrow. “You’re saying she’s jealous?”
“I just wanted to tell you that I’ll be keeping an eye on things at the dance. The attack will be sudden, so watch for my signal. Oh, and tell Miss Blue not to worry about her cape. It’ll repair itself in five minutes.” Coal bows and turns to go.
“Attack? What? I’m getting tested on Halloween? Coal. Coal! What’d you do to Jem’s cape? Coal!”
“What is going on?” Jemina’s mom yells. “I have a business report due at seven a.m.!”
“Sorry, Mrs. Blue. Couple of snotty kids taking all the candy in the bowl. They didn’t even have good costumes.”
When Sassy returns to the bedroom, Jemina is inspecting her cape.
“Hey, Sassy, I swear, I can’t figure out how this thing got stuck on that nail. And now I can’t even find the nail and I keep losing the tear on this. Do you see a tear?”
“Nope.” Sassy looks at it dutifully, then hands it back. “Why do they have to pick the night of the dance?” she wails.
“Why does who what?” Jemina asks.
“Never mind.” Sassy stares at her friend. Jemina is swathed in brightly-colored spandex. “I’d rethink being a superhero. It’s a pain, a real pain. Oh, and stay close to me at the dance.”
Jemina shakes her head. “Crabby Sassy. Ok, let’s do this! Bramley and Alvon aren’t going to wait around all night.”
The music emanating from the high school auditorium has a zombie trance beat mixed with frenetic vocals. Inside, the auditorium is slathered with frightening Halloween decorations and black backdrops. Jemina dances with a boy dressed as a robot while Alvon and Sassy sway next to them.
“What’s with you two tonight?” Alvon shouts into Sassy’s ear. He’s dressed like a knight to her princess.
“Jemina’s neck’s going to stay that way if she keeps staring at the door, and you’re just as bad, except you’re watching her.”
“I just don’t want her to be disappointed, that’s all. She’s waiting on someone special.”
“Yeah? What makes him so special?”
“I dunno, he’s charming and cute and––eep!” Sassy gasps as she turns to see a sword-waving Coal standing atop one of the numerous giant speakers fronting the stage.
“Um, Al, sorry, but I gotta go. I’ll see you later.” Sassy disentangles herself and races towards the stage. The spot where Coal was standing is empty, but he hisses at her from behind a theater curtain. “Coal! What’s going––hey!” She yelps as Coal pulls her behind the curtain.
“Look.” Byron forces her head down and points her chin towards a dark corner of the auditorium. A spot has been sectioned off for couples to take official Halloween pictures. The photographer is a short girl with blazing red hair who wears a familiar-looking cloak. “Coal, is that the sprite that attacked me?”
“The one and the same. She’s glamoured herself, of course. Did I ever tell you that when pixies eat troll dust, it not only rots their soul, but also their skin?”
“Pixies eat troll dust? Gross. My leg hurts. Do you think she’s brought that Shard thing you told me about?”
“Wouldn’t doubt it. Ah, it’s beginning.” They look again to the photography corner. In the light of a camera flash, they see Bramley Wyst dressed in black with his shining hair tumbling about his neck.
“Hey, there’s Bramley,” Sassy says, and Coal gives her an odd look. “What? He’s new in town.”
“Yes, well, you got that part right.”
“What do you mean, Coal?”
“Look.” He nods. The fire sprite snaps picture after picture and with each bright bulb flash a new, frightening troll appears against the backdrop. Bramley waves his hands as if conducting their entrance. As more and more trolls appear, Sassy’s eyes widen.
“Wh-what is he, Coal? What is he?”
“The worst of all creatures. An elf.”
“Not only that,” someone lands lightly behind them, “but a vampire-elf, ostracized even by his own kind.”
Coal and Sassy turn quickly to fend off this new threat, but their swords are met with sharp kitchenware. It is the candy maker and baker, Bunny Sweet.
“Hello pixie, I was hoping you’d lend us your aid tonight.”
“Wait, what? This chick’s a fairy?” Sassy’s mouth hangs open.
“Sassafras, haven’t seen you around the shop in a while.” Bunny smiles. She grips a cast iron spatula in one mittened hand and a marbled rolling pin in the other.
“I’ve been busy. Coal, is she safe?”
“Guess we’ll find out.” He shrugs.
A scream rises up, chorused by other screams. The trio ready their weapons and jump down into the mayhem of teenagers running scared.
Someone turns on the auditorium lights, but that only makes it worse, for people can more clearly see the creatures terrorizing them. Sassy is quickly spotted by a troll that she just as quickly disables by punching him in the nose. Coal fends off two gangly creatures and Bunny shoots white sparks at a man who looks a lot like Bramley, except he has a haggard appearance and black, oily hair. Sassy spots the fire sprite, and the elemental pixie grins at her, jerking her head to the side. Sassy follows her line of vision and sees Alvon struggling to get out of the grip of a giant troll. She yells his name and runs toward him, shoving students out of her way. Suddenly, the fire fairy appears next to her with the strange knife in her hand. The sprite stabs at Sassy’s heart. Sassy closes her eyes, expecting to feel pain, but the Glazier’s Shard pings off of something metal. She opens her eyes. Byron Coal has stuck both sword and shield between her chest and the knife.
“Sassy, help the confectioner.”
Blocking with her rolling pin, Bunny Sweet shrinks from the mass of red sparks hurtling out of the Bramley lookalike’s hands. The pixie showers him with white dust grabbed from her pocket, and for a moment, his appearance changes to blond hair and blue eyes. Sassy gasps in surprise. Bramley laughs and aims his sparks at her instead. The teenager stumbles in a disoriented manner, the camera shot mirroring her unfocused vision. Bramley’s eyes widen as he regards her reaction to his attack. Sassy reorients herself and charges at the elf with her sword.
“So, you are the real thing, then?” Bramley grins, snaps his fingers, and disappears. Sassy crashes into the two large trolls behind him. She struggles to get out of their grasp and is saved by Bunny, who bops each one on the nose with her spatula and then slides the instrument back into a belt loop of her black jeans.
“Thanks. I hate trolls! Vile, disgusting, stinking––“
“Well, you must love your boyfriend then.”
“What? Alvon.” Sassy surveys the chaos of the auditorium, but there’s no sign of him.
Bunny snorts. “Are you telling me Coal hasn’t told you?”
“Told me what?”
Bunny chews on her lip. “Alvon Tarr isn’t a boy. He’s a troll, a troll prince, in fact. Heir to the throne and all that. He’s staying with his mother, the self-banished queen of the Tarr kingdom. Trolls aren’t all bad, you know, it’s just that they’re so easily corrupted. Ouch.” Bunny puts a hand up to a bleeding wound on the side of her neck. “The vampire got me good.” Sassy stares at her in bewilderment.
Jemina wanders through the crowd, calling Sassy’s name. Her brown eyes are wide with fear at the chaos surrounding her. Someone slams into Jemina and knocks her down. She gets up slowly, clearly wary of the troll who towers over her.
“Um, nice costume?” Jemina asks hopefully.
“Earther.” The costume throws a handful of soot in her face. Jemina swallows some and chokes on it. Her eyes water and her feet falter. Then, someone is there at her elbow, easing her down on her knees on the rubber mat floor. He is now nearly eye level with Jemina.
“You look a mess, string bean. How about I walk you home?” Byron Coal offers her his hand and wipes at her face with a clean cloth. Once the dust is off her face, Jemina spits out what she can of the soot.
“Mr. Coal, I didn’t know you were––cough, cough, hack, cough––chaperoning tonight. Hey! Did you just call me ‘string bean’?”
“Only in the kindest sense.” He winks.
Fade to black. End Credits.
©2014 by Rachel Moldstad (aka Pixie Beldona)