I love decorating for the holidays. I always have. Every year, I put up several villages atop one of our bookcases. One of those villages is a “Halloween Town” that I started several years ago and add to every single year.
This year, while putting out the village, I thought “Why not tell the stories of the little figurines that live there.” So that’s what I am going to do this month as a writing exercise on top of my other writing adventures.
Here is the second installment – the first being Witch Hill (*disclaimer – this link will open in a new tab*). Enjoy!
Down below Witch Hill was Slime River.
Once upon a time, Slime River wasn’t slime, nor was even it a river. It was just a normal valley in between Witch Hill and Graveyard Hill in which laid a “normal” town named Peace Valley. But that was before a mad scientist who lived above the mercantile created a concoction. The concoction mingled with the spirits that were disturbed when the scientist created his mixture. That concoction bubble and boiled and grew until it overtook the area, driving out all living and supernatural inhabitants alike.
It created the river.
But one remained…..
Bartolo Everyman still “lived” in the area. When he was alive, he was a feared pirate king and had amassed a substantial amount of wealth. He retired and tried to settle in Patagonia, but found it was too inhabited for his taste. So he came to Peace Valley and bought out the mercantile and the other buildings.
The only indication that he was once a pirate was the beautiful chest he kept as a memoir of his greatest haul. It was taken from the Spanish ship La Mariposa Hermosa when he was still the captain of The Red Rose. It once held a bounty so expensive the Spanish king practically had a heart attack when it was taken.
But the chest had been emptied long ago, long before Everyman came to Halloweentown.
And of course that was long before his death too. But at death, he was cursed by the spirits that inhabit the slime, doomed to be haunt the earth as a skeleton forever.
But there is a catch. He is dressed not as the rich and proud businessman of his latter years, but the worn out pirate king he once was. He reminisces about days long past on the bridge outside his home, for he remains tied to the slime of the mad scientist, for he allowed the madman to continue his work despite being warned it would doom him.
Just a short distance away from Slime River and under the hill that leads from the graveyard and mausoleum is the Haunted Forest of Halloween Town, where many inhabitants live, but only a few live in the portion that this story takes place.
It was the second week in October and the enchanted trees were excited, for it was time for their pumpkin carving contest.
Every year in October the enchanted trees who called the Haunted Forest home held a pumpkin carving contest. They would plan out and carve their pumpkins and the second weekend in October, GusGus the ghost would come to judge their work. Every year there were some intricately carved pumpkins.
Rowan was proud of her work. She had planned out the newest designs a year in advance. She put her carvings on the ground by the base of her trunk and raised her branches to the sky, singing praise. Nearly every year since they started the contest, she had won because she was patient and creative. She hoped this year she could continue her streak.
Brittlebark hurried to finish his own carvings, carrying them as he marched back to his own spot in the forest. He was determined to beat Rowan this year, so he posed for pictures with the newly carved pumpkins, holding one in each of his largest branches proudly.
Big old Brutus wasn’t as careful or as creative. In face, he had forgotten all about the pumpkin carving contest this year, again. Even though he was the biggest enchanted tree in the Haunted Forest, he wasn’t the smartest and forgot things often.
“The contest was today?” he exclaimed incredulously, throwing his branches to the ground in a tantrum. The ground shook as he did so.
Like it was said, he was the biggest tree.
“Brutus, stop your caterwauling!” Rowan shouted as Brittlebark gripped his pumpkins tightly in his hands. Brutus had nearly cost the smaller trees their carvings with his tantrum.
Raoul sighed as he watched the argument from his vantage point.
Raoul was the Forest Keeper, a position he held since long, long ago. He protected the inhabitants of the Haunted Forest, keeping the enchanted trees safe from any lumberjacks seeking to use the enchantments in the trees for their own purposes.
He had known Brutus since Brutus was a mere sapling and he was weary of the tantrums.
“Brutus!” he scolded. “You do this every year. I even took to reminding you last week about the contest, so no fussing if you forgot. It’s on you, like it always is!”
The big tree pouted, but he acquiesced to the keeper.
Meanwhile, GusGus the ghost was talking to Tony. Tony was the gargoyle bench that lived in the Haunted Forest. While GusGus was always a ghost, Tony once was human. He dared enter the Haunted Forest and dared cut a limb from one of the ancient trees deeper in the forest. He managed to get to the edge of the forest, close to civilization, before Raoul caught up with him. Instead of giving up the limb, he tried to run, tripping over a large stone bench in the process. His head struck it, killing him instantly. He was doomed to be chained to that bench for all eternity for his folly, for the enchantments on the trees forbade anyone to take them.
At first, he hated his lot in life. He was a skeleton gargoyle on a bench in the Haunted Forest. He didn’t want to be a skeleton gargoyle on a bench in the Haunted Forest. It was boring being a skeleton gargoyle on a bench in the Haunted Forest. But as the years went by, he began to embrace that he was a skeleton gargoyle on a bench in the Haunted Forest, especially when he struck up a friendship with GusGus.
They had felt the ground shaking when Brutus had his tantrum and Tony laughed.
“I guess Brutus is continuing his streak of NOT having an entry in your little contest again this year,” he said knowingly.
GusGus chuckled. “Very likely. I will have the winner bring their carvings around to show you when the contest is over.”
Humphreys the gnome surveyed the entire forest and the scene that had just gone down from his hole in the side of Graveyard Hill.
No one could figure out when he arrived in the Haunted Forest or why he made his home where he did, for Humphreys was an odd fellow indeed. He kept a cauldron of slime from the river by his front step as a warning to all not to enter his domain. Many of the inhabitants of Halloween Town whispered about the strange goings on from inside his house in the hill, for he resided under the spirits of those who refused to move on from their graves.
He merely frowned as he watched Brutus throw his tantrum. He never spoke, leaving others to assume he was mute. All that was known was the zombie army that threatened Halloween Town from up on Graveyard Hill were awakened a few days after he made his home in the side of the hill.
But again, that’s a story for another day…..
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