Issue #68 – One Week

This entry is part 9 of 16 in the series The Descendants Vol 6: Returns and Departures

Part 5 – Saturday
The bell hanging over the entrance to ‘Plaza Costumes and Party Supplies’ tinkled as Cyn and Ollie came in. Both were slightly sweaty from a pick-up game of tag Cyn had challenged some local kids to and still laughing at having spent most of the early afternoon acting like a couple of middle-schoolers.
Ollie took in the large and jumbled space that greeted them with amused appreciation. There were racks of full body costumes, masks hanging from pegs on the wall, and wire bins filled with accessories everywhere. “Yeah, this is definitely your kind of place.” He teased, “Cluttered and wacky.”
“I would argue, but look at this place! There’s nowhere in Mayfield half this shiny.” said Cyn with a broad grin before grabbing his arm and leading him to the first rack. “Let’s go find you a costume!”
“We’re not finding us costumes?” asked Ollie, not resisting his girlfriend’s insistent and surprisingly strong pull.
Cyn snorted, loudly. “Oh please: you know me, I’ve had my costume for weeks already.”
“I should have guessed.”Ollie laughed, pushing aside some fake military uniforms, “And I’ve got a sinking feeling you’re not going to tell me what it is, either.”
“Nope.” She said with a smug, prideful smile. Then she leaned over and kissed him on the earlobe before whispering, “But I’ll tell you if you guess.” Her voice took a turn for the sultry and teasing, causing Ollie to clear his throat and smile mischievously.
He put his arm around her while using his free hand to rifle through the contents of the rack. There was no rhyme or reason to the arrangement: the military camo gave way to Victorian suit coats with ruffled shirts and cravats, which in turn were followed by an unusual wealth of lederhosen. “So… are you going to be able to wear it in public? I thought we were going to Warrick’s party…”
Cyn pulled away and socked him playfully on the shoulder. “Mind in the clean places, pervy. And yes, we are going.”
“Cool.” Ollie realized that the rack they were looking at was a bust and moved on to another. This one started with a variety of lab coats, some of which were made to look blood stained, or tattered. “Is he having it at his dorm?”
Cyn shook her head and pulled a black cloak with a faint, white spider web pattern on it off a nearby rack, holding it out for an appraisal. “Nope. It’s at Freeland House like it always is.”
“Really?” asked Ollie.
“Why do you sound so surprised?”
Ollie shrugged. “Well it’s just that he’s at the dorm now and not boarding at Freeland House anymore. I figured Ms. Brant and them wouldn’t let him hold parties there anymore.”
Whipping the cloak around, Cyn managed to get it settled almost perfectly around her, including causing the hood to fall over her head and obscure one eye. “Dear Mr. Butler, you remain unaware of how close a cabal we of the House of Freeland are, don’t you.” She let out a deep, evil laugh that didn’t sound like it should have come from her.
And just as quickly as she’s started, she stopped, pulling back the hood and giving him a sweet smile. “Trust me when I say that War is always going to be welcome at Freeland House just like me, or Kareem or Jun… maybe not Melissa because she’s such a sourpuss.”
“She seems to be getting better. Or should I say, you seem to complain about her less?” Ollie smiled at her antics.
Cyn looked thoughtful. “I guess so. I mean, she still goes out of her way not to be involved, but maybe…” She coughed, “Whatever. Did I tell you the big Snackrifice news?”
“Did they find a permanent drummer yet?” Ollie held up an orange flight suit with a knockoff version of the NASA logo on it.
Waving off the flight suit, Cyn shook her head. “Not yet. There’s still time for you to get in on that.”
Ollie put the suit back and wandered over to a display of masks. “I wish. But with my job and the insane hours, there’s no way that could work, especially going on the road. If they need someone to temp though, I’m their guy.”
“Sadness.” said Cyn. She slipped off the cloak and followed him.
“So what’s the news?”
“Wha? Oh! Right. Sonja Remington is going to be in town in a couple of weeks and she wants Snackrifice to open for her and serve as her show band for the Mayfield show! Kay is completely losing her mind; you wouldn’t believe it.”
Ollie picked up a red demon mask with multiple scars all over it. “That’s great! I bet that’ll do a lot of the band’s name.”
“You know it.” Cyn grinned. “And, by the way, yours truly is going to be the drummer for that show… if Kay’s roommate doesn’t want to.”
“Have I met her?” Ollie replaced the mask and picked up a red, cloth mask with overly large eyes comprised of black circles with tiny, white lenses to see out of.
Cyn picked up a set of gloves designed to look like sinewy claws and looked them over idly. “Jessica? I don’t think so. I’ve only met her a couple of times. She’s from Madison, so she usually goes home on the weekends and stuff.”
Ollie pulled the mask over his head and almost instantly pulled it off. “Ugh! It smells like tacos in there.”
“That’s a bad thing?” Cyn asked, taking the mask from him and pulling it on herself.
“When it means some guy was letting loose taco burps inside it, it is.” said Ollie.
“You don’t know that.” Cyn said without taking the mask off. “Maybe it was their shampoo or aftershave.”
Ollie made a face. “They don’t make taco scented shampoo.”
“They so do.” Cyn protested, folding her arms. “You can buy it online. I have Hamburger-With-the-Works air freshener at home.”
He turned his attention to the masks again to hide the face he was making. “So that’s why it smells like that in your room. I thought you just ate in there a lot. I’m scared to ask why you have that.”
“Who wouldn’t want their room to smell delicious?” Cyn found a mirror attached to a standing shelf of costume make-up and admired herself in the mask. “I’m buying this, by the way.”
“I thought you already had a costume.”
“For Halloween.” she pointed out, “But who knows when else I might need a costume?”
“Thinking of becoming a prelate?” Ollie asked with a wry smile. ”Or maybe a supervillain.”
“Please.” Cyn said, pulling the mask off, “I’d be an anti-hero. All the attitude and lack of morality of a villain, but a much lower chance of being thrown off a building in the movie.”
Ollie laughed and turned away from the masks to head deeper into the store. “I don’t know. It’d be nice to be the upright symbol of hope instead of the jerk who only counts as good because of the results.” He glanced across the aisle and grinned, oblivious of the smitten smile Cyn was displaying behind him for reasons he wouldn’t understand. “Speaking of which…”
In front of them was a display dedicated to prelate costumes, complete with slow moving, robotic mannequins sporting Chaos and Zero’s costumes—or something close to them.
“Wait a minute…” Cyn said, stepping close to look at the Zero costume. “I’m pretty sure Zero doesn’t have a bare midriff. Or thighs. What the hell—is she wearing bikini bottoms and thigh-high boots?”
Behind her, Ollie laughed, holding up one of the boxes containing the costume in question. “You’re right, Cyn: Zero doesn’t. But Thirty Degrees does.”
Cyn whirled around to see what he was talking about. “Say what?”
Holding out the box, Ollie pointed to the name on the box: Thirty Degrees. “See? No Zero. She’s a knockoff so the Descendants can’t sue them for sexing up their costumes. Check out Disorder over here.” He pointed at the Chaos mannequin. On closer inspection, where Chaos had red slashes of color along his ribs, ‘Disorder’ had red mesh in place of those slashes and they extended far enough forward to show off his abs.
Seeing that made Cyn’s eyebrow twitch.
And seeing that only made Ollie laugh and pick up another, heavier box. “Maybe I can go as… ah—Metallic.”
Briefly, Cyn enjoyed an imagine spot before looking away with her face reddening. “Um… no. Hey, where’ the sexy Facsimile costume?”
Ollie looked back at the display. “Huh. It just looks like a set of wings in a polybag…” He picked the bag up and noticed a smaller bag inside with a few scraps of cloth, and a bottle. “Wings and body paint.”
No sooner were the words out of her mouth than Cyn had snatched the bag from his hands. “What?!”
Oblivious to the dangerous road he was treading on, Ollie burst out laughing. “You know, it kind of makes sense: she’s pretty much naked already.”
Cyn gave him a scornful look. “She’s not naked. As a shapeshifter, she’s always very careful to make it so all the important parts are hidden.”
“Still looks pretty naked to me.” Ollie smirked.
She stuck her tongue out and threw the bag at him. “Someone’s got a crush on Facsimile.”
“Yeah,” Ollie caught it and put it back where it was supposed to go. “And based on that death glare you threw at me, I think it’s you. Should I be jealous?”
“Probably.” Cyn said. “But that’s just because I’m pretty sure she has a Halloween costume already.” Once more, she grabbed his arm and pulled him off in a random direction. Past the initial racks of what had probably been bargain costumes, things were more organized. She had brought them into a section of western themed costumes.
“Now this is what I’m talking about.” Said Ollie. He grabbed a cowboy hat off a peg and plopped it on top of his head. “What do ya think, lil’ missy? Fancy a gunslingin’ hombre to accompany ya to yer friend’s shindig?”
Cyn laughed, then picked up a red and white cross hatched bandana to tie under his chin. Stepping back, she put a finger to her chin to consider. “I think we’ve got some potential here. Hold on.” She rummaged through the hats before coming up with a wide-brimmed, black hat that flopped over a bit that the edges and replaced the one Ollie had picked up. This, she followed with a brown, fringed poncho. “What do you think?”
Under the poncho, Ollie shrugged to get a feel for it. “I don’t know. It’s a little too spaghetti for me. Let me try something… Keeping the hat, he traded the poncho for a long, faux leather duster with fringe along the bottom edge. “How ’bout this? Pretty cunning, don’t ya think?”
“I think we’re getting there.” said Cyn. “But you can’t tell just by the coat and hat.” She flitted among the shelves and racks for a bit and came back with a stack of clothes and accessories. “Try a few combinations of this stuff. I think we can make you the most awesome cowboy ever!”
Ollie gave the pile of stuff Cyn was proffering a concerned look. “Is your costume this complicated?”
“Probably more complicated.” Cyn said. “But you’ll just have to wait and see it. Now let’s see you.” With almost manic glee, she steered him toward the changing rooms in the back.
Several minutes later, Cyn found herself sitting on one of the benches outside the changing booths, playing around on her palmtop.
She bounced from game to game , trying to keep occupied. She knew it was juvenile, but being alone even for a little bit made her increasingly antsy. It had always been in the back of her head, she guessed; her fear of abandonment; but her time at Freeland House had mollified it. Until now, when college had come and suddenly, she was the only person her age left there. Even though she talked to or saw the others almost every day, that little bit of distance that hadn’t been there before was evident to her even when it wasn’t to her.
The fight in August with her father and the Rustbucket Boys had driven home to her just how much her new family meant to her just before that started to strike off to find their way in the real world.
It didn’t help that her and Ollie’s relationship was constantly interrupted either by her needing to be Facsimile, or him being summoned by his boss.
Without even realizing she was doing, it, she went and checked her contacts. There were a lot of away messages: Warrick and JC were gaming at the Dungeon; a tournament for some card game they’d recently gotten into in the afternoon, followed by roleplaying with Ron and Jamie that night; Juniper, Kay and Lisa were working on a new song for the Sonja Remington show; Kareem was out with Desiree; and Callie was out shopping with Lily and her friends.
“Why am I bugged by that?” She wondered out loud. “I’m on a date. If they wanted to hang out, I’d blow them off because I have plans. Jeez, what is wrong with me?” Letting out a sigh, she looked to see if Ollie was out yet. Of course he wasn’t.
Off to her right, a blonde a little older than her was showing off her Little Bo Peep costume, which came with inflatable sheep to her two friends. That lightened Cyn’s mood, especially since the sheep tipped over and flopped around uselessly at the slightest provocation.
A sharp-toothed grin came to her face. “Who need angst when you have drunken sheep?” She asked herself.
“What about angst?” Ollie asked as he came out of the dressing room. Whatever reply she had died on her lips when she got a good look at him.
The odds and ends she’d grabbed up to have him try one had strayed out of the pure western genre and instead of ignoring it, he’d run with it. His boots were heavy steel toed biker boots with clip-on spurs, his pants were buckskin breeches that flared at the bottom around the top of the boots. The heavy gun belt didn’t just contain holsters, but loops and pockets from which dangled cool but non-functional devices in brass and plastic meant to emulate glass. There was a silver revolver in one holster and a sawed off shotgun dangling from the opposite hip.
He wore a rust colored collared shirt and a thin, black bolo tie beneath a floor length, brown duster with short chains hanging from where a normal duster would have buttons. Fingerless, elbow length gloves combined faux leather with brass plates that formed segments up his arms and had strange gearwork devices joined to them. He still had on the hat Cyn had put on him, but had added small, round glasses with a yellow tint.
He held out his arms to give her the full effect.
“You like? I call it John Wayne done right.” He declared. “And it’s not that expensive because I traded out all the real leather for the fake stuff.”
Cyn got up and approached him slowly, letting her gaze sweep him up and down. “I’m definitely a fan.” When she reached him, she threw her arms around his neck and gave him a quick kiss. “Nice you see you can keep up with me, cowboy.”

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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  1. Kaine and A’belle, huh?

  2. No one said Wendy was creative. :p

  3. Rereading this one and…
    “and the Lily, short her usual summer tan”
    THE Lily? I mean, I know she’s a bit full of herself, even with her newfound epiphany, but… 😛

  4. and flares his nostrils

    How fitting you can fly
    fitting that you can fly?

    I know exactly how you deal with an unnatural human
    how to deal

    some thirty points of vicious raptor
    probably “pounds”

    and blasted sent an unpleasant chill
    one superfluous word, but I’m not sure which

    done that, however, then the Haast’s eagle

    of Zero while be low, she heard
    I’d put “of Zero while, below, she heard”

    her hip pouch. Are you sure?
    missing quotation mark

    “Just keep in mind that if the police don’t know about magic. If a controlled animal attacks them, they’ll use anything to can to stop them.”
    that the police […] anything they can

    the exhibit only feature

    We ere protesting

    No wonder her was so ‘successful’

    she dropped thing around her
    dropped… the temperature?

    Zero over the animals’ heads
    flew over?

    • Also the low-land gorilla transmogrifies to mountain variety at some point.

      30 points of raptor may not be a mistake though, could just be mechanics showing through. You can make a pretty swell bird with 30 points.

      (That last part was a joke.)

  5. Hmm… Do eagles and gorillas have superior hearing compared to humans? Or do the Descendants have ear protection in their standard kit? (Along with the bulletproof costumes and all the other goodies.)

    • Humans lack the ability to perceive a wide spectrum of sound frequencies. The screamers have a setting to target those frequencies when dealing with animals and another for humans, which links to a noise cancelling device in the comms.

  6. I am bad at this writering thing. Corrections should go up tonight along with the month’s posting schedule.

  7. Ah, Lifesavers Inc. is back! I wondered whatever happened to that! That’s a really great way to bring it back. I definitely approve.

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