Chapter 42

A week and change later found the male Melbrook residents, along with a few additions, gathering in the common room for one last wardrobe check before venturing off into the haunted night.

“Okay, pilgrims, y’all about ready to getting on the trail?” The questions came from a cowboy standing toward the center of the room. He wore faded jeans, a white linen shirt, and a brown duster along with a matching cowboy hat. Slung low across his waist was a pair of gun belts with a plastic six-shooter tucked into each side. He had a three-day scruff on his face and casual posture, adding a sense of realism to the costume. The whole thing was marred, though, by the presence of a pair of black sunglasses across his eyes.

“Seriously, Nick?” Vince said, adjusted his chainmail. Vince was dressed as a knight, complete with plastic sword, plastic chainmail, and a plastic helmet, all spray-painted grey to look like metal. The effect was not altogether successful. “If you’re going to all the trouble of using an accent would it be so bad to take off the glasses?”

“Yes,” Nick said quickly. “Plus, they add to the effect. Pardner.”

“It does add a touch of dashing,” Will commented from his seat on the couch. Will was wearing a tailored black tuxedo, complimented with an array of hi-tech gadgets tucked away within its folds and pockets, for his costume of a spy.

“I don’t think anyone will notice,” Roy tossed in, flexing his pecks. Roy was dressed as what one could only assume was either some sort of ancient gladiator or a male escort that catered to a very specific fetish. He wore little more than an expanded loin cloth and sandals, leaving the rest of muscled body intentionally exposed. At present he was oiling up his chest before moving on to the arms.

Vince bit back a remark that wanted to snake out. Roy was still an annoying cock-bag, but he had toned it down tremendously since his fight with Chad. They rarely saw him anymore; he was almost always training when he was in control of the body. When he was around, though, he seemed to make a genuine effort not to verbally abuse those around him directly. Indirectly it still seemed a free-for-all, but progress was progress.

“What’s taking the girls so long?” Alex asked. He was standing near the hallway, wearing a white tunic with black pants underneath a brown robe. A familiar tubular metal device was fashioned to his hip, and anyone who wasn’t utterly ignorant of classic sci-fi cinema was able to recognize his costume in a heartbeat.

“Is that a real question?” Roy asked. “I mean, you have met women at some point in your life, right?”

“I’m sure they just want everything to look perfect,” Vince cut in. “I know Sasha spent a lot of time on her costume, and I’m sure the others did as well.”

“That we did,” Mary said as the door to the girls’ side opened and the women began trickling out from their lounge. Mary was dressed as a gypsy, wearing long flowing garments, a scarf, and rings of coins that jingled when she walked. After her was Alice, who sported a nun’s habit and dress, though it fit her form in ways the sisterhood would surely not have approved of, given that there was a slit up the side and bottom of it was not even near her knees.

“Wow, someone jumped whole hog onto the slutty train,” Nick observed when Alice came into his field of vision.

Alice merely gave a shrug. “It is Halloween, after all.”

“True, why a nun though? Pardner,” Nick asked.

“It’s kind of an inside joke. Think about it for a while,” Alice replied.

“I sincerely hope my sister showed a touch more prudence in selecting her ensemble,” Will commented.

“Not that it’s any of your business, little brother, but I think I walked a nice line,” Jill said as she emerged through the door. Jill was decked out in what appeared to be a torn orange prisoner’s jumpsuit. While select parts of it were shredded or removed to create an aesthetical appeal given Jill’s slender frame, it was definitely more conservative than Alice’s, while not being quite as covering as Mary’s.

Sasha came out last, wearing a jumpsuit as well. Hers was in one piece, and unlike Jill’s it was definitely sewn to fit her figure. In fact, a phrase like “skin-tight” would not have found itself out of place in describing her ensemble. It was decorated with checkered flags and logos of various products. Aside from that her hair was flared out as though the wind had been blowing through it and she sported a pair of aviator sunglasses across her face.

“Hey, the glasses thing is sort of my shtick,” Nick said.

“And when you make them look this good you can have that shtick back,” Sasha rebutted.

“Touché,” Nick said, then hastily added, “Pardner.”

“That’s not getting old,” Vince sighed, then turned his attention to Sasha. “You look fantastic.”

“Thanks. I thought fast girl, racecar driver, there’s something of a connection there,” she said. “Plus, I had it down to two options, and this was the one I could do and be sexy.”

“What was the other?” Vince asked.

“I was going to wear a football helmet and drag along a bunch of broken things and tell everyone I was a Powered,” Sasha said, all but cackling at her own humor. The others joined in, though not quite so enthusiastically, and it should be noted that Alex didn’t laugh at all. As for the Melbrook residents... well, they were working very hard to fit in. Let us say that in their defense and leave it there.

“Yeah, that would have been a good one,” Alice lied. “Anyway, let’s get going. How are we doing cars?”

The group then began the sizeable chore that is transporting many people in limited vehicles to the same location. It was solved in relatively short order, and the freshmen departed to the raucous Halloween party. Their spirits were high, but five of them were a bit lower than they had been. On a day of costumes and pretend, they’d been reminded their outfits were a touch redundant, because they were already lying to everyone about who they really were.