It was the end of October, the night of Halloween. The dark of evening was soon descending. The sounds of children going out trick-or-treating would soon fill the air along with house parties and delinquents pulling pranks. Candy, monsters, and terror would be in full force. Mamano loved Halloween. Whether they found it endearing that humans would dress up like them and still did or they found it a good excuse to dress up for fun, especially in the bedroom, most had a fun time with it– even the most cold-hearted of undead were enjoying themselves. It had even become such a big deal that most got the first of November off so people could stay up late. In a nice house on the west end of town, a little north of the river and that one weird store you always pass or see next to the pizza place you like, a few small machines were whirring on the floor of a living room. A gremlin stood over it with a tablet in her hands, the machine was automatically carving a face she had drawn into the pumpkin. Newspapers covered the floor to keep the carpet clean of pumpkin guts. The green haired gremlin’s ears twitched under her mauve witch hat as she smiled with delight, “Looks like it's working, just like I knew it would!” Pin was dressed up as a mauve-colored witch, the robes tightly fitting her small, plump body. The witch hat on her head had a wide brim and was almost comically too big for her. The automaton standing over her nodded, “Thankfully. You shipped the latest model with very little testing,” The automaton’s body was ivory white, her green eyes glowed, and she wore a black leotard with fake, black cat ears in her white hair, drawn on whiskers, and a black cat tail. “That’s because Jack was working on it, Tilde,” Pin smugly replied. She passed off the tablet to the robot, “Speaking of, where is my husband?” “Out to grab drinks for you and to grab his costume, remember?” The owner of the house, Gordon, reminded her. He was wearing a set of platemail with the helmet removed and a tabard in the colors of the argentina flag with the sun on the front, “Should be back soon.” “Right. You guys got that fruit punch, right?” The gremlin asked as she moved to the kitchen with the knight. “I think so. Kiara?” He called. The short hellhound standing on a stool turned. She had ‘spooky’ music playing from a phone nearby and was covered in loose wrappings like a mummy, “The juice?” She nodded, “In the garage fridge. Go get it, Gordon.” "Somethin’ smells good~” Pin sang as she climbed up on a chair nearby. A massive plastic tub had been set out for her. “Thanks! The horderves are coming’ along well. I’ll get some burgers and hotdogs going as soon as people start showing up!” The front door opened and closed as a man in a forest green cloak, an obviously fake and long, white beard, wig, and sunglasses walked in carrying four paper bags, “Got what you wanted,” He grunted, “You should have seen the looks the guy at the liquor store gave me. I thought he was gonna call the police.” At the same time, the knight returned loaded down with boxes of juice and soda, “A wizard again, Jack?” “Am I insulting your culture, old man?” He teased. “You know I’m not a wizard anymore,” Gordon frowned, “Kiara made sure of that.” “Pin never gave me the chance,” Jack snorted, “You her white knight?” “Stop fighting!” Kiara hollered from the kitchen, the flames in her dark eyes increasing as she glared around the corner, “Hubby, help me out over here.” “You too. Give me a hand, big guy,” Pin ordered as she opened a bottle of rum and poured it in the tub. Jack nodded and took his fake beard and wig off before cracking open the fruit punch and soda. "What time is everyone getting here?" Asked Gordon as he handed Jack another two-liter of soda. "Should be soon, it's quarter-til!" Kiara smiled widely, putting her finishing touches on the horderves, little 'halloweenies' her own take on pigs-in-a-blanket with spicy sausages made to look like ghosts with ketchup 'blood' on their lower halves. She finished poking eyes and slicing a mouth on the last one when the doorbell rang. “Oh!” Tilde leapt up from where she sat and grabbed the bowl of candy by the door. As she threw the door open, she expected ‘trick or treat’ but was faced with two awkward looking twenty-somethings. One was a rather tall man, while the other was a gargoyle about the same height as Tilde. Her athletic build was contrasted by the two enormous wing arms, whose large, clawed hands rested on her shoulders like a cape. The gargoyle, dressed like a classic vampire, cleared her throat, “Is Kiara here?” “Is that my girl I hear!?” The hellhound’s tail started wagging at mach speeds as she scurried to the door. Tilde stepped aside, allowing the two to enter as Kiara greeted them at the doorway, “Cathy!” Kiara hollered, almost leaping at her as she went in for a hug, “Look how big you are!” “I’ve been this big for four years, Kiara,” Cathy chuckled, “But it's good to see you. Is Gordon here?” “Of course I am,” He smiled as he stomped into the entryway, his armor clinking and clanking as he went, “I’d hug ya since it’s been a while since you went off to become a movie star, but I doubt I’d be good at it while wearing this shit." "Oh, I don't care, c'mere!" Cathy wrapped her arms around the knight with a smile. Gordon looked at her man beside them, "Hey, Owen. Keepin' her out of trouble?” He extended a gauntleted hand. “Evenin,’ Gordon, Kiara, as much as I can,” Owen shook Gordon's hand firmly but briefly. He was dressed as Frankenstein in a purple suit. He hadn’t shaved his bushy brown beard for the costume and his muscular arms were barely contained by the suit. It was apparent that Cathy had picked his outfit for him, “Nice place ya got here.” “Thank you, Owen. Come in, come in! Oh, that’s Tilde. She’s…” Kiara trailed off. “Fully autonomous, mana reactor powered, fully automatic daughter and weapons platform for companionship, protection, and emotional support. Tilde, automaton model eight,” The automaton bowed, “I am also a great dance partner.” “I… see,” Owen made a confused face before Cathy nudged him with her elbow. “Pin and Jack’s daughter,” Gordon added, “Well, kinda.” “Oh, they’re here already?” Cathy inquired as she removed her shoes and moved to the living room. She stood awestruck at the five machines automatically carving pumpkins. Owen nodded, “That’s where all those pumpkins out front came from. Doesn’t this kinda kill the point of it? Automatin’ it and all?” "Nonsense, just imagine how many kids'll be able to carve their perfect jack-o-lanterns!" Pin called from the kitchen. "Ya still gotta draw what ya want on it, so it isn't fully automated." Gordon explained. “And you can set them to randomize designs that you’ve entered into it, so you can still get slightly different pumpkins,” Jack explained further. "Pin!" Cathy cheered, heading further inside. Owen, Kiara and Gordon exchanged nods and followed the vampgoyle while Tilde went back to manning the candy bowl for any would-be trick-or-treaters. In the kitchen Jack and Pin were still mixing up the punch, Pin ladling up a sip every now and then before adding a little more alcohol, "Easy, Pin, there's a couple light-weights here." Jack warned with a smile. "I'm not that much of a light-weight!" Cathy protested. "I meant Gordon," Jack chuckled. "Yeah somehow the fattest guy in the room is the light-weight," Gordon grumbled, "It's like divine comedy." "Oh, quit your whining, not like you drink that much anyway," Kiara teased. Gordon nodded, "True. Just letting you know, Cathy, you get drunk and we'll never let you live it down." “I’ll keep that in mind. Good to see you, Pin,” Cathy gave the gremlin a wave, “And you’re Jack?” “Yes, ma’am. Gotta say, I’m a little star struck,” The robed man gave her a smile, “Is it true? About the last movie?” Cathy and Owen shot looks at one another, “Those first movies cost a helluva lot of money. Studio was over budget and as soon as they realized we might not get to make the third movie, the director vanished.” “That producer lady was probably borrowing money from a real life Junko family,” Cathy joked and nudged her husband with her elbow. “So what was gonna happen, anyways? I’m dying to know,” Jack inquired. “Only if you tell me what was going to happen with that abandoned book of yours, Jack,” Cathy challenged, making his face turn tomato red, “I was reading it between takes after Gordon here sent it to me when I was desperate for reading material. I can’t tell you how bored I was when that writer’s strike happened.” “Ah, Jesus,” Jack rubbed his face before moving to a cutting board, “Well, I assume you mean Stranger in a Strange Land, yeah?” He started slicing up citrus fruit and dumping it in the vat of alcohol. He glanced at Pin. “C’mon. Might as well empty your mind vault, big guy,” The gremlin encouraged as she opened the freezer and pulled out a bag of ice. Gordon nodded, “You and I can’t be the only two to know forever.” “Fine, fine,” Jack sighed, “Where did I stop? Tilde was fixed, the gang was looking for the big villain of the Black Hand group, right? They were headed to the dwarven keep. The keep was going to be overrun by those rat men, the gang would commandeer a steam tank or two and blast their way through. They’d meet up with one of Pin’s adoptive fathers, and activate a defense system using the box Pin was given by the sailor dwarf.” “So that box was important! I knew it!” Cathy pointed at Owen who rolled his eyes, clearly having heard many fan theories from the gargoyle. Gordon nodded, “I think after that it gets kinda fuzzy, right?” Jack shrugged and scooped up some jungle juice, making sure to get some lime slices in his cup, “Curtis maybe would have been able to call home through being on top of the mountain or whatever, had a heartfelt moment with his mom or what have you." "What happens to the dwarves?" Cathy asked. "They fight off the rat men with everyone's help, then they turn on the big plot device magic device. Curtis would then use it to find the key to the Maou’s prison. While the device is powering down, the bard would hop into the machine and find his mom using it. On the way to the keys location, they rescue her since shes being held as a slave in some high class human bar since she’s a musician. I think the reveal with her was that she had gotten a wish at some point and used it to wish to have a son." “And then?” Owen grunted as he got a drink for himself and his wife. He paused for a moment to eat one of the little hot dogs that Kiara prepared. “That’s really all I thought of,” Jack shrugged and hung his head, “Either the Black Hand was located under the human capital and they had to break in or something, or they had a compound they all broke into. A long running idea was Curtis would have to go alone and either shoot the villian in some kind of ‘oh, you’re no better’ ending, but I think Gordon told me to drop that crap. I can’t even recall what everyone would have asked for after they did save the Maou. Pin wanted money for her workshop, Joan wants to marry Eric, Rael gets healed, Rose gets her man, etcetera, etcetera,” Jack sighed and leaned against the counter, “Maybe would have cut when it came to Curtis to decide what he wanted. Sorry to disappoint you.” “No, I’m not disappointed,” Cathy smiled, “Thank you for sharing anyways. What are you and Gordon doing now, again? I haven’t had time to catch up.” Gordon’s eyes gleamed, “Just a little novel together.” “Oh yeah, having a pretty good time with it, to be honest,” Jack agreed, "Maybe we'll send you our first draft when it's finished, see what you think." "Oooh, now I can't wait!" The gargoyle cheered. "What about you? Gonna tell me how the last movie was supposed to go?" Jack asked the gargoyle. "Well, I did manage to speak to the screenwriter quite a bit about it, but it was always up in the air for how the director would… 'translate' it to his vision," She explained with a sigh, "Sometimes they'd disagree on things but ultimately the director would get his way. Did you know I was supposed to have a love interest in the first movie?" "You mean Alex Bones?" Pin wondered. "No, there was another one!" Jack snorted, "What? That's ridiculous!" "That's what the director said, 'Cathy shouldn't have a love interest! She should feel available for the lonely guy watching!' But eventually I managed to convince him to let Owen be my love interest. I didn't like the idea of being thought of as 'available,' not when I only just got married," Cathy smiled at her husband, "Had to talk him up quite a bit to allow it, but the other mamano put the pressure on and eventually it was allowed." Tilde grinned as wide as an automaton could, "Well that's great! How long have you been married?" "Oh, two or three years," The gargoyle smirked playfully. "Give or take," Owen added. "Well anyway, we had just finished shooting the scenes where Cathy defeated the nightgaunt when we ran out of money… I was supposed to have a big fight with Amber, or Amber's ghost, however you wanna look at it. Grandma Catherine would show up, help me one last time and get struck down by Amber for good!" "WHAT?! CATHERINE DIES?!" Jack hollered. "Not so loud!" Pin barked back. "Yeah, dude, spoilers!" Gordon jeered. "Sorry," Jack quickly quieted down. Cathy's smile widened as she thought of what was next. "So then that other wonderlander would have shown up to help me, oh, what was her name…?" "Fayette Alban Hopstead," Gordon answered, to Jack, Pin and Cathy's surprise. Kiara didn't seem the least bit shocked, "What? I liked the movies, too!" Cathy laughed, "Right, right. So, after I managed to kill Amber for good, the audience would have seen a bunch of flashbacks to her past with Jade and some other stuff, like I was reliving her life in a flash, in her final moments. I think I was supposed to have a conversation with her as well. The idea was that the nightgaunt and Amber's deal had backfired and I had actually absorbed Amber into my… consciousness or something like that." "That all sounds very… cerebral." Jack replied. "Yeah, the director seemed to have his cerebral all the way up his rectum," Gordon added before snorting at his own joke. "Ha, you have no idea," Cathy giggled, "Anyway, after that we got to Japan, the gang met up with Migi Junko and I was pitted to fight against other mamano in an underground wrestling deathmatch kinda deal. The idea was that Migi was going to prove that my genetics were superior, or some such nonsense by having me throttle the competition. It was kind of a crossover with that other movie the director did about wrestling." "Oh, Monster Mania?" Asked Gordon, this time no one was surprised. "Yeah, that's the one, I was fighting one of the main actresses for that one but we'd become friends, and the match ended in disaster when we refused to fight any longer. I was taken up to meet the true head of Junko where Migi was going to show off her other project. She was supposed to flaunt that weird portal machine she was working on. The story was gonna tie that loose end with the shoggoth baby being used as some kind of battery to power the thing, and when it opened it summoned… well, the mommy shog.” “Uh oh,” Was the unanimous response. “Yeah. So somehow I was supposed to banish it, or something with the machine would malfunction, or the entire Junko family was going to get sucked in, or all of the above. The director and the screenwriter couldn’t even decide on an ending before the movie got canned…” “Man… that would have been so cool,” Jack sighed, “I wish it could have happened. At least I know now.” “Horderves?” Kiara asked, changing subjects as she plated up the little hot dogs, “There’s soda in the fridge, grown up juice in that massive tub– Pin why couldn’t we drink beer or something normal?” “Beer is for chumps,” The gremlin grinned as she poured a mystery liquid from a rune covered flask into her cup of alcohol. Dwarvish hard liquor, Jack assumed, “And sports. Besides, this is a great party drink!” Kiara sighed as she started to plate up more snacks. A variety of chips were dumped into a few bowls, candy corn into another, and mixed candy into a massive one, “Well. The other guests should hopefully arrive soon. I’ll start hotdogs and burgers," Kiara said, pulling the patties out of the fridge first. "Here, let me help," Gordon offered, putting his gauntlets aside and taking the packages of meat off of the hellhound's hands. Kiara smiled and led him out to the backyard porch where the grill was, Owen deciding to follow after, leaving Cathy to mingle. The doorbell rang as soon as the grill had charcoal dumped in. Tilde grabbed the candy bowl again and hurried over. She opened the door and was face to face with a tall woman in a dark blue boiler suit and a hockey mask stained with fake blood, “Hi, Tilde,” The horned woman smiled behind the mask and spoke in a friendly voice. “Hello, Angie, please come in. Is your husband with you?” The cow-woman put her mask up on the top of her head and nodded. Her eight-foot tall stature forced her to duck down to come inside, being careful of her horns so they could clear the door frame, “Right behind me.” A much shorter man was quick to follow her in, being dragged along by the hand, “Hey,” He greeted, wearing a white jacket with a yellow scorpion on the back. “Hello, Max. You are welcome as well. May I ask what your costume is?” “Costume?” Max gave her a confused look. Tilde looked to Angie who shook her head, so the automaton decided not to press further. Pin was already on her second cup of jungle juice when she saw who had arrived. She nodded at Angie as the others exchanged greetings. As she saw Max, she poured an extra shot of her dwarven whisky into her juice, “Don’t start anything,” Jack whispered as she dumped a little into his cup. “Whaaaat? Me? Start anything with the self described sizeist?” The gremlin put on a fake smile before scowling, “He’s the one who makes allusions to pancakes as short stacks in my presence," She explained to Cathy who nodded, recognizing him from the few stories Pin had shared with her, "Why are you friends with this asshole?” The gremlin asked her man. Jack shrugged, “He’s based and his wife sends us free cheese wheels and butter,” Prompting Pin to shrug and nod in resignation. “Oh! Angie and Max are here!” Kiara practically sang as she spied her friends. She grabbed bags of buns and her husband grabbed condiments, “I forget, do you, uh, eat… beef? Is that weird?” Angie smiled as if she had heard this a million times, “I’ll take two burgers with extra cheese, please.” “Comin’ right up! Can you chop up some veggies, Jack? I think I know what everyone else wants,” The hellhound checked a paper in her pocket while Jack gave a thumbs up. The door opened again after a knock. A yeti covered in snow white fluff– more than usual at least, and a dark-skinned man dressed like a mountaineer with a big, fake orange beard both waved, “Looking a little out of season, you two,” Angie joked as she got herself a cup to drink. “I’m the adorable snow-woman from my favorite movie!” The yeti, Camellia explained. “She makes me watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in July…” The man sighed, “The Abominable Snowman and I’m Yukon Cornelius.” "Oh, I love that movie!" Cathy cheered, coming from the kitchen to meet new faces. “How are you not melting in that, Mark?” Gordon scoffed as he headed back to the backyard. “I could say the same to you, Gordon.” “Cooling runes, thanks to yours truly. In both cases,” Pin proudly explained, “Helps Camellia stay cool when she comes down from the mountains too. Is that bed heater working well?” “Almost too well,” Mark plopped down on the couch with his ever cuddly and fluffy wife. The yeti grinned, “It keeps us nice and toasty when we can’t use the heaters!” “Good!” The gremlin nodded, “Who else is comin,’ Gordon?” “Bob and Wik, I think,” The armored man rubbed his chin. “No Liana and Barth? I already knew Boom and Meiya couldn’t…” Kiara’s tail drooped and the flames in her eyes turned to smoke plumes of disappointment. Max shrugged, “Dude’s got three or four kids. I’m sure they’re going trick-or-treating as a family.” “I hope they swing by. Their children are fun to babysit,” Tilde smiled, “What about that… Spider, you three talk to? Is he coming?” Gordon, Jack, and Max all exchanged looks, “He’s uh,” Gordon scratched his head. “Too secretive,” Jack continued as he found the words. “I don’t think any of us know his name and he won’t confirm nor deny if he’s married,” Max finished with a shrug. “I hope he has a good holiday anyway,” Angie smiled with Kiara, Tilde, and Camellia nodding in agreement. The automaton hurried back to the door as she heard a knock. Finally, the trick-or-treaters were out. Mamano and human children were all going door to door in search of free candy. Kiara quickly finished up more than enough burgers and hotdogs for everyone. Most sat around their big dining table or at chairs at the kitchen counter. Everyone was also quickly introduced to Cathy and Owen as well. Shortly after, the final group of guests arrived with the smell of smoke. Crowding with the others into the kitchen was Wiktoria dressed in a pretty revealing nun outfit covered in crosses with a miniskirt and thigh highs alongside her husband, Bob, in a black trench coat, matching black cowboy hat, brown pants and an off white button up, “Hey, all,” Wiktoria smirked. “Late as always,” Kiara offered them plates, “Snacks on the counter and non alcoholic drinks in the fridge. Help yourself to some dinner.” “Thanks,” Bob smiled, “Sorry we’re a bit late. She wouldn’t let me leave on time.” “What’s the fun in arriving on time? Besides, I needed a few more cigs since hosts don’t like smoking,” Wiktora gave a sly grin as she got herself a cup of jungle juice. “Have you met Cathy?” Jack asked. Bob shook his head, “Cathy, huh? Wait… you’re the Cathy!?” “The one and only!” Cathy proudly flexed her wing arms, “Nice to meet ya.” “Likewise. Wik, don’t drink too much of that,” Bob pleaded when he noticed her getting a full plastic cup of jungle juice, “I’m sure Pin mixed it.” “Pssh, chill out,” Wiktoria gave him a grin as she took a sip. Gordon frowned at the tanned demon’s attire, “A nun? Well, I shouldn’t even call it that.” “Oh? You upset over it, Gordon? Afraid I’m gonna turn Bobby-boy into some kinda devil worshiper?” The demon’s piercings seemed to glow even hotter as she got smug. Mark, without smirking, retorted, “He already is. You’ve got him worshiping your ass nightly, I’m sure.” “Mark!” Camellia hollered at her husband. Wiktora’s smug smirk just got even more smug. “We just want you to go church more, dear,” Kiara explained softly, “Anywho, it's movie night, isn’t it?” “Oh, what are we watching?” Owen asked as the group grabbed another drink or snack before heading to the living room. “Can we watch War in the Pocket?” Pin quickly asked as she excitedly went for her bottomless bag. “Oh, god, not more Gundam,” Max groaned, “I deal with that enough online with you nerds,” Mark nodded in agreement. “Gundam?” Cathy echoed with a confused look on her face. Gordon shook his head, “Don’t worry about it, Cathy. It's more of a Christmas movie.” “Christmas movie!?” Camellia perked up instantly as she sat on the floor. Mark put a hand on her shoulder, “Not tonight.” “It’s a Christmas movie like Die Hard is a Christmas movie…” Jack explained, "It's also six episodes long, not really movie length. “Ghostbusters?” Bob asked. “Not much a Halloween movie, but I’d watch it,” Wiktoria agreed. Angie shook her head, “Pass.” “Alright…” Gordon rubbed his chin. It didn’t feel late enough to put on a straight horror movie. He looked to his wife as he tried to think of something else. “How about this?” Kiara pulled a movie off the shelf. Cathy. The first movie in the unfinished story, “We can watch what movies we have and the lead actress herself can regale us in how it was supposed to end.” Eyes turned to Cathy, hopeful and excited. She turned to Owen, “Only if ya guys want actor’s commentary,” The man jested, “Though I don’t have much for the first movie.” “I know Cathy has a lot to say,” Gordon replied, “Got that right when she came home!” “Any objections?” Kiara asked. None raised their voice, “That settles it,” Quickly, the movie started up as everyone settled in. The night had wound down. Most had gone home, but Cathy was falling asleep leaning on her husband. Max and Angie had to leave after the first movie, Mark and Camellia were next, and Bob and Wiktoria had managed to the end of the Cathy movies. With weary eyes, the two had left with Bob almost dragging his totally sloshed wife out of the home leaving Kiara, Gordon, Cathy, Owen, Tilde, Pin, and Jack to watch Gordon’s Halloween favorite: The Thing. Without work the next day, the group decided to put on one last movie, Young Frankenstein to wind down. Cathy looked around, Owen was mostly attentively watching the movie and drinking the last of the jungle juice. Pin was passed out on Jack’s lap with his cloak wrapped around her. Tilde was in low power mode next to them, resting her head on his shoulder. Kiara and Gordon were awake with the man finishing up the last of his wife’s cooking. Cathy stretched and yawned, “Sleepy?” The hellhound chuckled. “A little… I don’t know if we’re good to drive,” The gargoyle admitted. “Take the guest bed,” Gordon offered, “It's still the same as last time you stayed over.” “What about them?” Owen grumbled. Jack’s head rose and he yawned, “No worries. We’re good here.” Kiara passed them a blanket and pillow from a chest in the corner, “Go on then, off to bed.” “Thanks Kiara,” Cathy stretched again as she stood. “Any time. You’re family here, Cathy. I’ll make something wonderful that’ll get rid of the hangover in the morning,” Kiara promised. Owen nodded, “Gonna need that…” He grumbled. The two headed to bed after seeing Jack put his head on Tilde’s lap with Pin still laying atop him. Owen was quick to strip and get in bed, snoring almost instantly as the weariness of a long night overtook him. Cathy had a bit more time as she climbed under the sheets, her mind wandering slowly. She was happy to be home, especially since seeing her family friends. Gordon was a long time friend, even helping her land her lead role. Kiara, as long as she had been with Gordon, was like a second mom. Honestly, she was like a mom for everyone. The gargoyle sighed, thinking about the unfinished third movie. Even if she had taken the time to explain it, she did feel a little unfulfilled. At least it now meant she had time to focus on family and friends, both new and old. As she started to sleep, she began to daydream about playing a role in a movie based on a book that Gordon and Jack had written.