It was Halloween night, and my owner was spazzing out.
I sat on his shoulder as he scurried around frantically to put up the last few Halloween decorations in our neohome. I’ve never understood how a gruff-looking Halloween Kacheek like Elliot could care so much for appearances. I mean, come on. How obsessive can you be with puke green fur and two metal bolts sticking out of your neck?
“Crescent,” he finally addressed me anxiously, “do you think you can give me a hand?” Elliot was trying to hang a black streamer on the wall, but he couldn’t seem to reach high enough. Getting up on my stubby green legs, I precariously made my way down his arm, took the end of the banner from him with my mouth, and after a few failed attempts, managed to stick it to the wall.
I grinned, my carved mouth opening wide as I admired my work... and then I felt my center of balance shift. My overly large, round, orange head started tilting backwards. And without arms to steady myself, I could only succumb to the laws of physics and the insistent pull of gravity.
Thankfully, Elliot caught me with his other paw, laughing. “Oh, Crescent,” he said with a grin. “You’re so clumsy at times.”
I gave him a look with my single glowing eye. You try being a Clompkin, I thought. I mean honestly, there’s not a single other petpet as strange looking as me. A stubby green body with stumpy legs, a pumpkin for a head, a single carved moon-shaped eye, and no arms. It’s like being a cross between a Cyclops, a jack-o-lantern, and a stalk of asparagus.
Not to say I don’t like it. I’m just saying that at times it’s definitely... interesting.
“The trick-or-treaters are here!” Elliot gasped, slipping me back on his shoulder. “It’s show time, Crescent!”
He flicked off the lights so that the room was lit only with the uneven glow of candles, and then turned on a speaker that began to play creepy music. I could hear the sounds of Chumablahs flapping their wings in the dark sky, and the subtle groan of zombies. Very nice.
And then the Halloween Kacheek reached for the doorknob. He contorted his face into a grimace, made his eyes wide and bulgy, hunched himself over, and swung open the door.
Now from my spot on his shoulder, I can vouch that my owner looked very, very scary, like a true monster--which is what he always goes for every Halloween. He takes pride in his ability to scare the socks off anyone who comes to our house for candy. Unfortunately, the children on the stoop didn’t seem frightened at all. In fact, they weren’t even looking at Elliot in his monstrous pose.
They were looking at me.
“That Clompkin is sooo cute!” a young Acara dressed up as a light faerie squealed.
Oopsie. I guess putting me on his shoulder hadn’t been Elliot’s brightest idea. I mean come on. Even Dr. Sloth would look ridiculous with a pumpkin-head cozying up to his neck.
Elliot straightened himself off and handed the girl and her friends some candy with a laugh. “Nice going, Crescent,” he said, glancing at me. “Way to ruin the effect.”
As casual as the comment was, I felt my stomach drop. Elliot was right. I did ruin the effect. Sure, I was a Halloween petpet and he was a Halloween Kacheek, but besides that we just didn’t visibly mesh. He looked like a monster, and I looked like a joke.
Suddenly I didn’t want it to be Halloween.
I scooted off his shoulder and landed on the ground with an ungraceful wobble. Elliot glanced down at me, a bit confused, but then the doorbell rang for the second time and he resumed his act. Sure enough, this time the kiddies outside screamed their little hearts out. I felt sick.
I made my way out of the front hall and wandered to my “bedroom”. In actuality, it’s just a small area in the corner of the family room, but it’s large enough for me. I waddled into my Blue Moon Petpet Bed—no, not because Elliot is cheap, but because we thought it worked with my name, Crescent. Crescent moon, get it?
Though for some reason, my comfy bed only made me groan. Light blue with moons? Why couldn’t I have an Aboogala Petpet Bed? It’s black and red and shaped like an arachnid. Now, that’s scary.
But I wasn’t scary at all. I was just a joke. Why was I Elliot’s petpet in the first place? There are plenty of other scary petpets: Halloween types, spooky types, and even those painted with zombie, ghost, or mutant paint brushes. He could have a scarier petpet in the blink of an eye.
I sat up, a horrific thought suddenly crossing my mind. What if Elliot thought I wasn’t scary enough? What if he suddenly decided he wanted a newer, scarier petpet? One like a creepy Halloween Dandan or a vicious Halloween Slorg? I couldn’t compete with those!
He could always paint me, I thought, trying to calm myself, but even that didn’t work at slowing my heart rate. Clompkins can only be painted three colors: faerie, mutant, and ghost. Faerie would be completely pointless; wings would make me even frillier. Mutant would give me extra eyes and turn me purple, but seriously, how scary is that? And as for ghost, well, I’d heard some pretty scary stories about petpets being painted that color. I wasn’t going to risk that, even if it’d make me a million times scarier.
Suddenly, I realized what I needed to do: Scare Elliot. Scare him so badly that he knew I was the right petpet for him, that he had to keep me.
After all, if I was abandoned in the wild, I’d be totally helpless. Probably wouldn’t even last a week. Have you ever seen a wild Clompkin? No. Do you know why? We have no arms, simple as that. Thank you whoever thought it’d be cute to leave us without important appendages.
So with that scary thought, I waddled out of bed, ready to put my plan into action.
“Crescent! Crescent!” I heard Elliot calling throughout the house. But I didn’t answer. Phase 1 in Operation Scarifying was under way, and alerting him of my location would only hinder my efforts.
I was in the bathroom on the second floor. Getting up the stairs hadn’t been easy, but I had found a way to use the extra weight in my head to almost fall upwards. It had been a fairly comedic process; good thing Elliot hadn’t seen.
I gazed into the mirror, critiquing my new look. I had spent some time debating what sort of scary being I wanted to be: a zombie, vampire, werewolf, ghost... But I couldn’t decide. So in the end I decided to combine as many things together as I could. I mean, come on. An undead vampiric lycanthrope witch of doom is way cooler than just a boring old zombie!
I had scavenged some things and put together a fairly scary costume in my opinion. The base of it was a white tissue draped over my head with a big hole so I could see through it. To give it a more deconstructed, decaying zombie look, I had torn it up a bit and then sewn random stitches through it with a needle and thread I had found in drawer. How did I wield a needle you might ask? Very carefully.
Some lint on my feet worked nicely to make werewolf hair, and I actually owned an old witch’s hat which I plopped on top of my noggin. Finally, I used a red marker to make the tissue near my mouth crimson, like a vampire who had forgotten to use a napkin after feasting.
It was a bit much, I must admit, but hey, if this didn’t scare him at least a little, maybe I deserved to be abandoned in the Haunted Woods—well, maybe not there. Perhaps Faerieland where the citizens are a little less terrifying.
I waddled back to the stairs, peering down below. I could see Elliot running around a bit, looking for me behind a vase in the front hall. Perfect. He wouldn’t suspect a thing.
I made my way up onto the banister, deciding the smoothest way down would be to carefully walk down the gentle incline. I started down, moving one foot in front of the other, until I reached the bottom of the railing.
Elliot still hadn’t seen me. Now the Halloween Kacheek was looking for me inside some of his shoes laid out on a mat. I wanted to roll my one eye: As if I would ever hide somewhere that smelled like old cheese and licorice.
I steadied myself on the bottom of the railing. Once he stood up, he’d be eye level: perfect for scaring his bolts off! I prepared myself, ready to shout once he made a move—
The doorbell rang and instead of me startling Elliot, the sudden ring startled me. I took a hasty step back, and the tissue I was wearing somehow found its way under my foot. I slipped! And worst of all, Elliot wasn’t facing me. He was facing the door.
“Ahhhhhhhhh!” I screamed as I started falling, tumbling through the air, plummeting to my doom.
Elliot wheeled around at my cry, spotting me mid-fall. I saw his face in that one moment: utter horror etched in every plane. He dove and caught me in his hands right before my head could connect with the hard wood floor.
“Crescent!” he said, cradling me to his chest in a hug. “Oh Fyora, you scared me! If I didn’t catch you...” He trailed off, not able to complete the sentence.
My face turned bright red. Instead of scaring him in the way I had wanted, I had scared him in another. It was humiliating. And all I could think of was one thing: I’m out of here. “Do I at least look scary?” I asked quietly, mumbling the words.
Elliot looked down at me immediately. I rarely talked aloud to him, only for matters of utmost important.
His dark eyes scanned my get-up. The tissue had torn and my hat had fallen off. I knew I looked more like a mess than anything else, but Elliot surprised me with a firm nod of his head. “Yes, you do. Like a bona fide undead vampiric lycanthrope witch of doom. Though maybe next year we can hem the tissue just a bit, stop you from tripping. It ruined the effect just a little bit.”
Next year. The words sounded so sweet in my ears.
I nodded, my large orange head moving up and down in an exalted bob. “Though maybe next year I can just be a jack-o-lantern for Halloween. Much simpler.”
Elliot’s eyes lit up. “We could plant you in the front yard!” he exclaimed. “People will think you’re just a pumpkin and lean in towards you. Then you can scare their pants off! Sound good?”
I imagined the looks on everyone’s faces just for a moment; I was too busy looking up at Elliot’s face and the giant grin plastered on it. For some reason, I felt that he was happy to have me as his petpet, and that was all that really mattered.
I grinned, my carved mouth curling upwards. “Sounds perfect.”