The Uninvited Guests
“Well, Marco, how do you like it?” Jen asked.
“Are you kidding? It’s AWESOME!” I exclaimed as I swept my long, silky Lupe tail along the wooden floorboards. The color was a pale blue, and a wonderfully eerie glow radiated from my entire body. I floated a couple inches off the ground. It was like something you’d see in an old horror movie, but real! I was a ghost Lupe!
“I’m glad you like it,” Jen said happily. “I figured, there’s no Halloween costume that could match up to that.”
“No way!” I agreed. “I’ll be the spookiest, most scary thing trick-or-treating tomorrow night!”
“In the meantime, I’d suggest getting used to your new color until then,” Jen said. “I hear it can be a little... surprising.”
I figured out what she meant when I walked right through the wall. It kind of creeped me out at first, but I realized: Now bumping into things is no longer a problem! And that was good because I was a total klutz. Not bumping into things was always a plus.
My older sister didn’t give me much of a reaction to my new paint job. She was a teenager, and nothing much impresses teenagers, even when their younger brothers have been turned into ghosts. Nevertheless, I floated down the hallway, my eyes glowing red, and I made ghostly moans.
Islandelle (eye-land-ell) merely paused for a moment, holding a stack of folded clothes Jen had told her to bring to her room. She looked at me, mood unchanging.
“Whoa, what happened to you?” she asked, plainly not as amazed as I’d hoped.
“I’ve turned into a ghost!” I wailed hauntingly, dragging out the vowels like you see ghosts do.
The Island Ruki shrugged. “Figured it’d happen sooner or later.”
And that was it. Islandelle continued down the hall to her room. I sighed and moved on to my next victim, someone I knew I could scare: my younger sister the pink Acara, Madison.
I floated right into her bedroom door. She was playing with her dolls – typical. I hovered there, staring her down, until she looked up and screamed. I tried to cover my ears but my hands went right through my head. THAT kind of freaked me out.
“Relax, Madison,” I said quickly, trying to calm her down before Jen punished me. I should’ve known scaring Madison would only get me in trouble. “It’s me, Marco.”
“M-Marco?” she asked shakily. I nodded.
“Yeah, remember that paint brush Jen gave me for my birthday yesterday?” I asked, relieved that the screaming had stopped.
“Uh-huh,” Madison said.
“Well, this is what it did. Consider it a Halloween costume I can’t take off.”
Satisfied, I drifted out of the room. Shuddering, Madison returned to her dolls.
Next, I called up my best friend, TJ the fire Bori, who was going to trick-or-treat with me the next night. I told him I had a surprise, and he came over right away. His jaw dropped when he saw me.
“Dude, that is the BEST Halloween costume EVER!” TJ cried.
“I know.” I smiled. “I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
The next night seemed to take longer than usual to come. When at last the sun set, I walked over to TJ’s house, where we would begin our trick-or-treating route. Little pets stared at me as I passed. I smiled smugly. No more zombie costumes or toilet paper mummies for me. The best part was, nobody would mind a repeat next year.
I knocked on TJ’s door. While I waited for him to answer, I looked around their porch. Spyder webs with real Spyders, actual Slorg slime from his own red Slorg, and their porch was old so it was really creaky. TJ was never one to disappoint.
At last, TJ answered the door. He had a white sheet thrown over him with eye-holes cut out. Normally, I’d call that pretty lame, but since TJ was a fire pet, he looked like a ghost-on-fire. His flame-patterned fur flickered under his ghost sheet.
“Nice, TJ,” I remarked.
“Wonderful costume, Marco,” TJ mocked. “Where’d you get it?”
“Funny,” I said sarcastically, but I was grinning. “Can we go now?”
“Sure,” TJ nodded. He yelled into his house, “MOM! I’M GOING TRICK-OR-TREATING! BYE!”
“Trent Jacob, are you wearing a coat under that?” his owner shouted back from an upstairs room.
TJ sighed audibly. He walked back into the house, tore off his ghost sheet, slipped on his coat, and replied, “YES!”
I had to help the Bori get his sheet back on. He looked a little lumpier now, and you could barely see his flames flickering anymore. Nevertheless, we set out trick-or-treating without another word.
House after house we knocked on doors and our pillowcases grew heavier. I’m not sure how I was able to hold my pillowcase (being a ghost), but I did.
I was also not sure how that hand could grab me, but it did.
This is how it happened: TJ and I were walking down a completely deserted street, joking and laughing and eating candies. We saw we’d left the neighborhood we’d been trick-or-treating in, so we prepared to turn back. We were right there, in the middle of the street, alone, when a figure came darting out from one of the alleys. I didn’t even know it was there until it grabbed my paw. The other shadowy hand slapped over my mouth, and the small but surprisingly strong Neopet dragged me into the alley from whence it came. TJ had had his back turned and didn’t notice I was gone for the moment being.
The hand withdrew from my mouth, but the other still clutched my paw.
“W-What’s going on?” I asked. I tried to make out the figure of the pet. I couldn’t. Fortunately, I still had my sense of smell, and I sniffed.
Usul, with a little hint of evil in the air. Dark realization came on: the Shadow Usul?!
I panicked. I’m sure I would’ve broken out in a cold sweat if I’d been a solid.
“Whoa, do you look awful!” The Shadow Usul said. Her voice didn’t sound as evil as I’d expected. “You ok? You look like you’ve got a serious case of the Jitters! Stop shaking already.”
“W-What do you want with me?” I asked, trembling.
“What in the name of the Book of Evil do you...?” The Shadow Usul cocked her head to one side, and then a grin spread on her face. I could see her clearly now. She looked like just a plain old shadow Usul, but I knew she wasn’t. “Ohhh, I get it! That was real nice, Drenin. You had me fooled, that’s for sure. Come on, you’re late! Did you forget the location or something?”
I thought for a moment, and then nodded my head, figuring it would get me into the least trouble. But why was the Shadow Usul talking to me like that? I thought we’d begin walking to wherever the Usul had mentioned, but she paused. I was horrified: she was staring into the street, at TJ, who was frantically calling my name.
“Who’s that?” she asked, her eyes narrowing.
“That’s... uh... a friend of mine?” I guessed.
“Oh, well, why didn’t you say so?” The Shadow Usul darted forward with amazing speed. She grabbed TJ by the paw and dragged him back. He was about to scream when he saw me.
“Mar--” I elbowed the Bori. The Usul began to walk and motioned for us to follow. While her back was against us, I whispered, “Go along with it. And don’t call me Marco.”
“Why not?” TJ whispered back.
“I think...” I began. “She thinks I’m the Ghost Lupe.”
“You are!” TJ whispered, impatient and confused.
“Not a ghost Lupe, THE Ghost Lupe!” I murmured back.
TJ’s eyes widened.
“W-What does she think I am, then?” TJ whispered at last.
“She doesn’t know,” I answered. “She only knows you’re a friend of mine. We’ll refer to you as... um... the Bonfire Ghost!”
“I like it.” TJ nodded. “But how am I evil?”
“I dunno,” I murmured thoughtfully. “How about you... go setting trees on fire?”
“It works,” TJ shrugged. There was silence for a while.
“Hey, Ghost Lupe,” he asked.
“One last thing: Where are we going?”
“I have no idea,” I admitted. “I think some secret hideout.”
“Hey, what’s the big secret?” the Shadow Usul asked, not stopping.
“Nothing!” TJ and I said in unison.
“Yeah, right.” The Shadow Usul smiled mischievously. “Well, in any case, we’re here!”
We’d stopped at a cellar door, the type that leans against the house. The house was battered and appeared to be uninhabited. The Shadow Usul banged on the doors. In a quieter voice, she called, “Hey, Malkus, open up!”
“Malkus,” TJ whispered fearfully. “Malkus Vile!”
I nodded. In a moment, the doors swung open. A horrible-looking Skeith with warts stood on the steps.
“Hello, Shadow, did you find him?” Malkus asked pleasantly.
“Yep,” the Shadow Usul replied. “And I also found his friend, the, um...” she turned to TJ. “What are you called again?”
TJ cleared his throat, and in a booming voice he bellowed, “I AM THE BONFIRE GHOST! BEWARE ALL FORESTS, TREES, AND HOMES! WRAWRR!”
I nudged him. “Enough,” I snapped in a hush.
“Ok, I found Drenin and the Bonfire Ghost,” the Shadow Usul confirmed.
“Good, come on in,” Malkus invited. Nervously, TJ and I walked down the stairs, followed by the notorious Usul. We were shocked at what we saw, to say the least.
There was a polished counter at the end of the brightly-lit room. A disco ball glimmered in one corner, and music played, not too loudly to be heard by passersby. A table was up against one wall. It had bowls of chips, dips, and finger food from one end to another. Achyfi and ice creams were being served behind the counter, and numerous beings were dancing to the music on the dance floor.
“Hey, everyone, Drenin’s here!” Malkus announced, smiling. The villains stopped and stared at me. I expected them to attack, to realize I was not the Ghost Lupe, apparently named Drenin to his friends.
But no, they just waved and in gruff voices a few of them said, “How’s it going, Drenin?”
“U-Uh, good,” I replied shakily, shyly waving back.
“And also, his friend is here, the Bonfire Ghost!” Malkus shouted above the din.
“Hi, Bonfire Ghost!” a few called.
“Enjoy the festivities,” Malkus said. “This only happens once a year, you know.”
“What a shame.” TJ shook his head, trying to make a conversation.
“I know,” Malkus agreed. “But some of these guys, like the Bringer of Night and Razul are booked all year. It wouldn’t be a party without them!”
“True, very true,” I added.
We walked over to the counter and sat down on a couple of barstools.
“What would you like?” a grim voice asked, and the bartender turned around. It was the Spider Grundo!
After we didn’t answer, stunned, he repeated, “What would you like? We’ve got all kinds of Achyfi. A lot better than Neocola, Achyfi is. A villain’s favorite drink!”
“What do you recommend?” TJ asked. I tell you; sometimes that Bori is a genius!
“I recommend a Jhudoras Achyfi,” The Spider Grundo replied, smiling. The grin was toothy and intimidating.
“We’ll have two Jhudoras Achyfis, then!” I said. “How much will it be?”
“On the house.” The Spider Grundo waved a hand. “It’s all free at the annual villains’ Halloween Party!”
“So that’s what this is,” TJ whispered while the mutated Grundo got our drinks. “Let’s just hope they don’t find out we’re frauds.”
I nodded. “Just don’t mention it. Act like we were actually supposed to come to this party.”
“Enjoy yourself, TJ!”
The rest of the night was actually pretty fun. We danced with the Darkest Faerie, listened to Cursed Jazan’s life story (tear-jerking!), and played a game of Kacheekers with Captain Scarblade. Even though they were all awful villains known for the most terrifying of deeds, they didn’t seem so evil. They seemed almost like normal Neopians enjoying themselves on Halloween night. TJ and I saw they all had motives, lousy or vengeful or fair (in a sinister, grudging sort of way).
Then we reach the turning point in our story. I don’t like to recall that part of Halloween night because of the sheer fright it inflicted, but here we go:
TJ and I were enjoying a conversation with Count Von Roo on how Dice-A-Roo was such a silly game when we heard a knocking on the door. All grew quiet.
“Is it another villain, do you think?” I asked the Count.
“It can’t be,” the Count said. “We’re all present and accounted for. I suppose it could be a lesser-known villain, like you, Mr. Bonfire, no offense.”
“None taken, Count,” TJ said dismissively. He turned serious. “But really, do you think it is a lesser-known criminal? What if it’s not a villain at all?”
“That’d be awful!” the Count exclaimed, trying to fathom it. Meanwhile, when nobody answered the cellar door, it swung open on its own. In walked, or rather floated, a pale figure with blood-red eyes. A ghost Lupe – THE Ghost Lupe. It was the real Ghost Lupe, aka, my worst nightmare at that moment.
“Drenin?!” Vira screeched. “How can that be you?”
“I know, I’m late,” the Ghost Lupe said. “I stopped to haunt a few pets. What’s wrong? Why is everyone so quiet?”
“But if you... how did you... how is that...?” Malkus Vile scratched his head. “What I mean to say is, if you’re YOU, then who in the name of Dr. Sloth is HE?”
Malkus Vile and all the others turned to stare at me and TJ.
Not knowing what else to do, I puffed out my chest and said in a gruff tone, “Why, I’m the Ghost Lupe!”
“I’M the Ghost Lupe, you fraud!” the real Ghost Lupe protested. “I’m Drenin Lupeni, the Ghost Lupe! Come on, guys, you know me!”
“That I do,” Count Von Roo, who still sat at our table, agreed. “And you are indeed my old friend Drenin! This one here is a fake!”
He pointed an orange finger at me.
“Ohhh, you thought I was the Ghost Lupe?” I asked innocently. “I thought you asked if I was a ghost Lupe! I just thought everyone was dressed up! I’m sorry! I won’t tell anyone about it! Promise!”
“GET HIM!” all the crooks yelled at once, especially the real Ghost Lupe, who was extremely annoyed at me.
“I bet his friend’s a fake, too!” someone shouted.
Everyone seemed to agree.
“Run for it!” I cried. TJ and I sprinted to the door. Along the way, the Darkest Faerie stepped on the edge of TJ’s ghost sheet, which hung to the ground. It was left behind as TJ kept running. Everyone stopped and looked at the fire Bori in the bulky winter coat.
“Uh, I’m the... the Coat Thief?” TJ suggested. Fuming, the furious felons began to move forward towards us.
“No, huh?” TJ shrugged. “I didn’t think so, either.”
TJ and I turned and made it the rest of the way to the door. We flung it open and ran out into the alley, with the Neopia’s worst lawbreakers on our heels.
“We can’t make it away!” I cried. The winged villains were almost overhead. I tried to figure out where we were. When we sprinted out of the alleyway, I quickly surveyed my surroundings as we ran. We were in the Plaza. A thought popped into my head that just might save us: Defenders HQ! TJ was right next to me the entire time. The HQ was open 24/7, so we had no problem getting in just as Vira and Jhudora were closing in.
Panting, TJ and I pressed our backs against the door. The villains wouldn’t dare come in here, for sure. TJ and I thought nobody was in the lobby, but there was someone. He was staring at us with wide eyes. He was about a foot tall, on all fours, and a Bruce. It was a Baby Bruce. At first I thought, “Phew!” but then I saw the strange ray gun in his hand. Then it hit me: “Oh... my... gosh. It’s Boochi.”
Owners searched for Boochi everywhere, sometimes all day. So why did we have to be the ones to find him?
Boochi was stunned at first, but then an evil grin I did not like at all came onto his adorable little beak. He aimed his ray gun. What could we do? Go outside and face the wrath of all the most terrible criminals, or let Boochi fire his dumb ray at us? I chose option number two.
The ray didn’t feel like anything at all to TJ. But to me, it was strange because I was becoming solid again. I felt like I’d eaten too much for dinner. Then I was a tiny baby Lupe. I looked to my left, and there was TJ the baby Bori.
“My owner saved up for MONTHS for my fire paint brush!” TJ wailed. “She’ll kill me!”
“But hey, TJ, don’t you see how this could help?” I asked. TJ looked confused. Then realization gleamed in his eyes and we smiled.
About fifteen minutes later, the doors of Defenders HQ opened. The Court Dancer stopped looking at her nails and began to spring towards the targeted pets. She stopped, stunned, as the two Neopets burst into tears and cried like babies.
That’s because they WERE babies. All the denizens stopped in their tracks.
“S-Sorry,” Malkus Vile apologized. The babies crawled, whimpering, past the crowd and into the streets.
When they were out of sight, TJ and I gave each other a high-five. We laughed.
“This has been a most interesting Halloween,” I said. Then we began on our way home, crawling the entire way.
Jen answered the door. “A little late for trick-or-treating, don’t you--” she began, but stopped.
She stared for a moment at me and TJ.
“Marco? Is that you?” she asked at last.
“What... what happened to you? Both of you?”
“Boochi,” we replied at the same time.
Jen blinked. “Oh, guys, I’m so sorry! But you shouldn’t have been out so late. Where did you go, anyways?”
“We went to a Halloween party,” I answered truthfully.
“And then Boochi showed up?” Jen guessed.
“No, we left early and met Boochi on the way home,” I said.
“Why did you leave early? What happened?” Jen asked.
“Well, they weren’t the best hosts.” I shrugged.
I looked over at TJ and grinned. To Jen, I said, “They were a very exclusive club.”