Descendants Special #1: Witches, Goblins and Superheroes

This entry is part 12 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

Coarse, grey fabric adorned the walls and ceiling of the downstairs commons and connecting hall, giving them the appearance of a craggy cave. Fake spider webs and a few cartoonish rubber bats combined with a low hanging mist courtesy of a smoke machine hastily cobbled together by Laurel to complete the look.

An hour into the party and already more than twenty teenagers were socializing under the soft, orange glow for an army of plastic jack-o’-lanterns. Warrick didn’t even know most of those in attendance. Cyn had put herself in charge of the invites and had extended the invitation to most of the junior class, save for the cliques she held in special contempt. As a result, he felt a bit lost at his own party.

Thankfully, a familiar face (or at least a familiar voice) presented itself almost as soon as he came down the stairs. “Hey man, happy birthday.” JC’s voice said from beneath a black ninja mask. He thrust an envelope into his friend’s hand. “What are you supposed to be anyway?”

Warrick accepted the envelope and gestured down at his costume. He was wearing a red, ruffled shirt with an open neck and laces up the front. He also wore breeches and bucket top boots. A very real looking cutlass hung from his hip. “You can’t tell?” When his friend was silent, he frowned. “Remember the adventure movie marathon at the Dungeon last month? Captain Blood?”

“Didn’t he have a moustache?” JC asked, clueless.

“I’m Errol Flynn. Man, hang your head in shame for not getting it.”

“Yeah, I’m the one who needs to be ashamed. Not the guy who dressed like a hundred year old action star.” JC smirked.

“At least he’s being creative.” Kay practically materialized beside him. She wore a close fitting silver jumpsuit that showed off curves that were normally hidden by her usual attire. The insignia for a fictional platoon of space marines was emblazoned on the shoulders and she carried a prop gun almost as tall as she was. Her hair was silver to match the jumper. “You’ve worn the same ninja costume since you saw Twilight: Fists of San-Ku in eighth grade.”

“It’s a classic!” JC defended.

“Thanks Kay.” Warrick grinned.

“No problem, Kaine.” She replied. “Hey, I gave Adel a ride over here. Do either of you know where Jun is?”

“She’s over there, talking to Lisa.” JC indicated one of the sofas where Juniper, in her grayscale kimono and artificially pale skin and hair was talking to a tuxedo clad Lisa. “You’re not going into matchmaker mode, are you?”

“Of course I am.” The diminutive space marine beamed. “I think they’d be cute together. Plus, if they don’t hit it off, we’ll at least get some good awkwardness out of both of them.”

“I really don’t think Adel is Juniper’s type.” Warrick shrugged. “She’s all happy and outgoing… I’ve only talked to Adel a couple of times when you guys were practicing, but he seems a little…”

“Flat? Affectless?” Kay offered.

“Drag-ass?” JC’s thoughts were closer to Warrick’s own, but far less tactful.

“I was going to say ‘mopey’… or something like it, but yeah, pretty much that.” Warrick nodded. “I just don’t get why everyone thinks Juniper’s all into him when they can’t possibly get along.”

Kay put a hand on Warrick’s forearm. “Kaine, sweetheart, I know you’re not old enough to hear this, but I think it’s time you knew the horrible secret.” She put on a grave face to hide the smug grin that was threatening to erupt at any moment. “And that secret is that us girls can be just a shallow as any guy. Adel’s got a personality like wet cardboard, but he’s hot. Seriously, tall, blonde, and all the right muscle in all the right places. If it wasn’t for my stupid, backward parents keeping me from dating until college, I’d be all over him myself.”

“Maybe you’re shallow…” Warrick scoffed. He wrinkled a brow, and added, “And Cyn, definitely Cyn with all her dudes on TV… but not all women are like that. Hell, look who Lisa’s dating.” He jerked a thumb at JC.

“Hey, Lisa’s as shallow as they come. I’m one fine hunk of man meat, bro.”

“I dare you to tell Lisa that.” Warrick laughed.

“Yeah, Lisa has no taste. We all knew that.” Kay waved a dismissive hand at JC. “But Juniper’s totally into Mr. Cardboard.” She noted the skeptical look on Warrick’s face and raised her toy gun defiantly. “I’ll prove it. Watch this!” With that, she headed off toward where Adel had planted himself since his arrival.

“She’s not going to let this go, you know?” Warrick said to JC.

“Kay’s cool like that. The first and second times Lisa and I broke up; she’s the one that got us back together.” the ninja shrugged.

“What about times three through—“a tap on the shoulder interrupted Warrick’s train of thought. He turned to see Rich von Stoker dressed in a doctor’s scrubs and a surgical mask pulled down around his neck. “Oh, hey, Rich… didn’t expect you to be here. Where’s…”

“Elizabeth? She didn’t come, sorry. She’s still mad about the Ladies of Ragnarok concert.”

“Oh.” Warrick sighed. “Uh… then how come you’re still talking to me?”

“He’s probably here to deliver a groin kick for her.” JC chimed in. “Good luck, man, I think he can take you.”

“No!” Rich put his hands up defensively. “Look, Warrick, Elizabeth is pretty drama prone. Whatever happened on your date, I doubt she’s telling the story fairly. All I know is that you’re a good guy and the cute white haired girl you live with promised me there’d be looks of girls at this party… so here I am.”

“Cyn was really selling the hell out of this party.” JC muttered.

Warrick nodded, whether he was agreeing with JC or telling Rich that he understood wasn’t clear. “Welcome to the party then, I guess.” He said.

“Thanks. Happy birthday, by the way. It must be weird to have a birthday on Halloween.”

“Actually, my birthday’s tomorrow, All Saints Day.” Warrick corrected.

“Cool. Cool.” Rich said, feeling the awkwardness of having chit-chat with the person his sister currently despised. “Um… I wouldn’t have guessed you guys lived at the Freeland House – our parents spent their honeymoon here.”

“You’re the third person to tell me that tonight.” Warrick observed. “This place must have been famous or something before it closed.” He was feeling the awkwardness as well and floundered to make conversation. He glanced over to JC to help him out but like any good ninja, his friend had managed to slip away unseen.

***

“Saturday’s the big day.” Juniper said through a nervous smile. She practically fidgeted off the sofa as she compulsively rearranged the chopsticks holding her white (courtesy of Kay) hair in place. “I’ve never sang in front of a big group before.”

Lisa tried to look reassuring despite her own nervousness. “I’ve done band concerts since freshman year. Trust me; the wait is the worst part. Once you get up there, you’ll just… do it.” She wore a tuxedo top with fishnet stockings, invoking the image of a magician’s assistant.

“I know that.” Juniper said. “Well, I know it in my head. The rest of me isn’t cooperating. I’m not even worried about making myself look bad. I just don’t want to let the rest of the band down.”

“You won’t.” Lisa said. “We’ve practiced for weeks… well, a couple of weeks with Adel – but the point is that we sound awesome and the Dungeon is going to go wild for us. Right now, you need something to get your mind off it.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know.” Lisa said honestly. “What’d you get Warrick for his birthday? I know you were having trouble coming up with something.”

“Cyn helped me.” Juniper replied, shifting into a position that at least made fidgeting harder. “We found this place online that makes replicas of props from TV shows and movies. I got a good deal on the Staff of Rengalla that Winter Capshaw uses in Malady Place.”

“He’s going to go into nerd meltdown when he sees that.” Lisa grinned. “I got him one of those advance posters from the Taskforce: Earth movie that’s coming out in December.”

“He’ll really like that too.” Juniper said, her usual sunshine returning.

“Oh my, look who we have here.” Kay said. She led a tall, blonde over to Lisa and Juniper.

Adel Mills was best described as a ‘strapping young lad’; just over six feet, with broad shoulders and hands large enough to be suitable for such activities as brachiating from tree to tree or crushing oranges into juice without tools. His expression was permanently downcast and he moved with a ponderous shuffle that made it look like he was afraid of falling down. He was currently wearing his older brother’s football uniform as a costume. He followed Kay with meek silence that was unfitting for his stature.

“I do believe it’s a Snackrifice reunion!” Kay declared, vaulting over the back of the couch and sliding down between its two occupants. “Come on, Adel, there’s room beside Juniper! Scoot over, Juniper.”

“’kay.” Adel said in monotone. He trudged around the couch and took up the space cleared for him.

“So, are we all ready for our blowout performance this weekend? I’m going to burn out my freaking keyboard because it won’t be able to handle all the pure awesome and badass I’m going to be pouring into it.” Kay grinned manically.

“We were just talking about it.” Lisa said, watching her hard work calming Juniper down circle the drain as stage fright and stomach butterflies from proximity to her crush arrived in full force in Juniper’s eyes.

“Y-yeah.” Juniper stammered. The copious amount of white make-up she wore with her costume hid a bright blush. “We’re going to do our best!” She jabbed a trembling fist in the air.

“Just for reference, ‘rock hardcore’ would be a better way of putting it.” Kay said. “Right, Adel?”

“Yea.” Snackrifice’s drummer studied his shoes.

“Oh my, I just realized I need to talk with you, Lisa.” Kay’s voice dripped with bad acting. “Alone, I mean. Alone. Somewhere else. That’s not here.”

Lisa rolled her eyes and got up to follow Kay to the snack table. Once there, she pinned her pint sized friend with an irritated look. “Ever hear of ‘subtle’?” she asked.

“What’s this ‘subtle’ of which you speak?” Kay blinked dramatically, and then waved a hand. “Never mind, I like ‘fun’ and ‘effective’ more.”

“Why am I aiding and abetting this behavior?” she asked.

“Because I’ve been covering for you with JC all month.” Kay winked as she took a bite out of a mini pizza.

***

Melissa could hear the music and hum of conversation from her seat in the upstairs commons. She had spent all of twenty minutes on Cyn’s insistence, trying to mingle with people she spent five days a week trying to avoid. None of them recognized her; not with the old Halloween standby ‘sheet-with-two-holes-cut-in-it’ ghost costume.

After escaping Cyn’s attention (which was quickly occupied by drinking in the admiration for her ‘costume’), she had returned to the upstairs commons to read. Mr. DeCosta, her Spanish teacher, was apparently fuzzy on the concept of Halloween and had assigned a section from Don Quixote for the evening and she aimed to be the only person in class that didn’t blow it off.

Should you not be at the party? Kareem asked telepathically. He didn’t dare use his transponders for fear of being discovered by a wayward party guest.

You’ve got it backward. Melissa answered. No, I should not be at the party. It isn’t for me.

Of course it is for you. Kareem countered. It is for all of us. Ms. Brant even offered to give me a holographic interface so I could enjoy the party myself.

And why didn’t you let her? Melissa asked accusingly.

I did not want her to over extend herself just for my benefit. She already has a great deal on her agenda. First the Book of Reason, then the astral storms, now these tortured dog creatures. My problems seem insignificant by comparison.

I don’t have a problem. Melissa shot back. I just want to read my book without dealing with cliquey high school kids. I didn’t like them at the Academy and I don’t like them now.

You will not even put up with them to help Warrick celebrate his birthday?

I bought him a gift. What more do I need to do?

Nothing. I just feel that deep down; you do wish to be down there with them. Kareem replied, a hint of concern in the mental link.

Why would you say that?

Because you still haven’t taken off your ghost costume.

Melissa was suddenly acutely aware that she had been reading through her poorly cut eyeholes. With a growl of frustration, she drew the sheet off her body and launched it across the room.

***

Warrick was just setting his drink down when something collided with his back. He staggered momentarily even as sheer momentum let Cyn pivot around his torso from facing his back to facing his front.

“Happy one-day-before-your-birthday!” She exclaimed happily. She was dressed in an all black dress with red ‘bloodstain’ print and slits up to both thighs. Her skin was an odd shade of white – more true white than the white makeup Juniper had used and her hair was black and spiked out in such a way that defied gravity. The real shocks were the two inch claws on her hands and the red, glowing embers that were currently passing for her eyes. When she grinned, she bared fangs. Somehow, she’d managed to make all those changes, but still look fundamentally like Cyn.

“Whoa.” Warrick said, more at her appearance than her assault on him. He’d seen it earlier, but it bore repeating. After a second, he caught himself staring and looked away. “What was that for?”

“My brothers did the ‘birthday punches’ thing and that’s not even as fun as it sounds. How do you like my variant? I call it the ‘birthday pounce’.”

“And to think, my family just smears a little butter on each other’s noses…” Warrick chuckled.

“Weird.” Cyn said, blinking her red, glowing eyes. “If you want, I think there’s still a whole stick of margarine in the fridge… I could like…”

“No, no, birthday pounce is fine.” Warrick said.

“Swank.” Cyn smiled. “So, you were looking pretty distracted before pouncing were declared. What’s up?”

“I was just talking to Elizabeth’s brother. Apparently she’s still not happy with my continued existence.” Warrick frowned.

“And you care… why?”

“For one, I don’t like the fact that she thinks I’m a coward. But more than that, Rich told me that she’s taking part in this outpatient study to deal with her bone spur thing—something ConquesTech is doing—‘Become More’? I think the whole thing with me drove her to it.”

Cyn patted Warrick’s arm. “This isn’t your fault. Blame society. There’s not a lot of guys who are going to be able to see past the ‘bone spurs’ thing.”

“That doesn’t make me feel much better. It shouldn’t be like that.”

Cyn sighed. “I know you’re all Mr. Sensitive and everything, but; a) you couldn’t help what happened, and b) there is a big pile of loot and a marshmallow crème cake waiting for you in the dining room – tonight is not for worrying. And if it was, I’d worry more about those pit bulls from hell – also the fact that Kareem can stab us in the soul if we get on his bad side.” She tugged on his arm. “Come on, time to open presents. I’m hoping someone got you the new Sinister Citadel game so I can mooch it off you.”

***

“It’s not right.” Ian half snarled.

“Ian…” Laurel started.

“No, we did all the work, I don’t see how this is even a question.”

“Do you have any idea how embarrassing it would be for the kids if we just pranced through their party?” Alexis asked. She was wearing a green, medieval style dress with garlands in her hair and a pair of cheap, gauze dragonfly wings on her back. “Besides, someone has to give out candy to the trick-or-treaters.”

“I’m not asking to go out there and dance. I just want a slice of that cake. Come on, marshmallow crème, it’s the king of desserts made from lesser desserts!”

“And you should know.” Alexis gestured to his costume. He was wrapped in a toga with a pharaohnic headdress on his head.

“That’s right.” He replied, haughtily. “These kids should respect King C’ick Yo’ars.”

Laurel shook her head, laughing. “I’ll buy you your very own cake first thing tomorrow. Just please… never call yourself that again.” She was dressed in a black dress, replete with a pointy witch’s hat, much to Ian’s dismay, considering recent events.

“Throw in a cup of extra frosting and you’ve got a deal.” Ian said. The doorbell rang and Laurel grabbed the bag of candy bars and her camera and headed off to greet the trick-or-treaters.

“So, I think I’ve finished up my reading on the Brunswick School’s curriculum.” Alexis said.

“Really? You think it’ll help the kids?” Ian asked.

“I’m optimistic.” Alexis said. “I’d like to start working with them Monday morning.”

“Morning?”

“Its part of the theory behind the school’s lesson plan – the parts of the brain that control powers are more flexible in the hours after waking.” Alexis explained.

“Works for me. We’ll talk to them after the party.” Ian said.

Laurel came back, holding her camera with a grin on her face. “Oh my god, you won’t believe one of the costumes one of the little kids was wearing.” She cooed as she held out the view screen on the camera out to them.

“It’s not one of those little Critter Pals things, is it?” Ian asked, “Because there’s cute and then there’s terrifying.”

Alexis leaned forward to look at the picture. “Nope…” She said, with a little bit of surprise and awe in her voice.

“Then what is…” Ian glanced at the screen and stopped. There, standing beside a pirate and a bumble bee was a seven year old in tin foil armor. The armor wasn’t all that unusual. What was unusual were the two tentacles made from braided, silver pipe cleaners that were attached to the child’s arms.

End Descendants Special #1

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About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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One Comment

  1. AWW!
    That is just wonderful, that the kid (or its parents) would think of Alloy. I bet there’s a complete set coming along somewhere among the older kids.
    Also, Kareem will soul-stab you, HaHa, that’s delightful!

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