Chapter 81

“Okay, so far confirmed we have Thomas, Violet, Jill, Will, Camille, Adam, Alex, Angela, and Shane, while Sasha, Britney, and Amber are all maybes,” Alice surmised, running down the small list jotted on the yellow legal pad in her hand.
“Correct,” Chad confirmed. His perfect memory made keeping track of something as simple as an RSVP list mere child’s play. Mary sat next to him, thankful they’d managed to recruit him into joining Alice’s pre-party planning committee. These tasks had previously been lumped entirely on her, so it was a pleasant change to share the pain.

“So, counting all of us from Melbrook, and Mary’s three mystery guests she refuses to talk about,” Alice paused the conversation for a moment to shoot a pointed look at her short telepathic friend, who feigned sudden interest in the pages of a costume catalogue she was being forced to look through, “I think that brings us to a confirmed seventeen, possible twenty.”

“I admit, my experience in social outings is greatly lacking compared to most students our age, however that strikes me as a difficult size of party to manage in a bar setting, especially with my understanding of how sweeping the celebration of Halloween is,” Chad pointed out.

“He’s right, we’ve got only a few days left, even if we found a place that took reservations, we’d never get in,” Mary agreed, perhaps with a subtle ring of hope in her voice.

Alice pointed at Mary with a forceful thrust of her index finger. “You’re right that we’ve only got a few days, which is why you’re supposed to be picking a damn costume. I told you, no getting off the couch until you’ve selected something. I’ve gotten everyone else, even Chad and Vince, to get their stuff. You will not be the only person uncostumed on Halloween.”

“If we can even find a place,” Mary started again.

“I will book us a place,” Alice snapped, brushing a long strand of blonde hair out her face. “We are going to meet Halloween head on this year, and that means being together. I don’t care if I have to book three VIP sections to do it, we’ll have a place to go.”

Mary let her last vestiges of resistance fade away. Though the loss of one of their own had been hard on all of them, Alice had taken Nick’s loss most to heart. It had manifested in some strange behavior, such as going on a date with Nicholas, but at least this reaction made sense. Alice was scared of losing another friend, with sound reason, so she was clutching at the chance to build a memory of everyone together. While Mary would have preferred to “meet” Halloween with a stay-in movie marathon, this clearly meant a lot to Alice, which indicated it should mean a lot to her best friend.

“What did Chad and Vince pick?” Mary asked, changing the subject with all the tact of a drunk in a liquor store. “Hershel won’t tell me about Roy’s costume, so if there’s a theme I’d like a heads up.”

“I’m going to be a robot, apparently,” Chad chimed in. “I’m not certain what Vince is. He should be off work in a few hours, you can ask him then.”

“Wait, hang on, a robot?” Mary asked.

“I think so,” Chad said, giving a small shrug. “I asked Angela for advice, and she said she had the perfect costume for me. When I probed deeper, all she would say is that it was shiny and metallic, so I put the context clues adequately together. Shiny, metallic, and suited to me, a man who is aware that his emotions are less than prevalent, all combine to equal a robot.”

“Yeah, that does sort of make sense,” Mary agreed.

Alice bit her tongue and resisted the urge to point out that Chad had overlooked a key piece of information. Mainly that he was using logic to deduce the costume, and Angela didn’t operate on logic. She operated on… who the hell knew what, but it sure as shit wasn’t logic.

“Anyway, there is no theme,” Alice said, bringing the discussion back around to Mary. “So pick whatever you think looks good.”

“Uggggh. I wish I could just wear my work outfit,” Mary groaned. “It fits me well and is already done. Stupid rules about not wearing our uniforms in social settings.”

“It’s also considered bad form to wear Hero costumes when in the HCP,” Chad reminded her. “Although I’ve never understood why.”

“Originally I heard it was to keep ourselves as disassociated from Heroes as possible, but as time goes on I’ve begun to think it’s just one of those fashion rules that became law. Like not wearing white after Labor Day. Of course, that ignores how doable it is to break those laws and look good doing it, but I suppose that isn’t really the point,” Alice theorized. “Now, back to the catalogue. Come on, you must have a few standouts.”

“I’ve having a hard time finding a compromise between huge and cumbersome, or thin and revealing,” Mary admitted. “The Victorian outfits are gorgeous, but the idea of moving around in something like that all night seems like a massive pain. Then there’s the other end, the stuff I don’t know how these girls found the courage to wear for a paid modeling session, let alone out in public. Maybe I’ll just use my princess costume from last year again.”

“Negative,” Alice told her. “No repeats, that’s very counter to the spirit or Halloween.” She reached over and plucked the catalogue from Mary’s dainty hands. “Look, I know what you want, and this doesn’t seem to be making us much headway, so are you willing to just trust me?”

“Trust you how?”

“Trust me to pick out your costume for you,” Alice explained. “I’ve got your measurements, I can make the choice and place the order. Come on, Chad let someone else pick out his costume.”

“Chad is dating the person he trusted with that responsibility,” Mary reminded her.

“Would you rather I let Hershel choose? I bet he’s got a few outfits he would love to see you in,” Alice said.

Mary’s cheeks grew momentarily red, and she gave her head a firm shake. “No, no, definitely no. Fine, you can pick. But I reserve the right to veto what you pick if it makes me uncomfortable.”

“I’ll agree to that deal only if you try it on before rejecting it,” Alice countered.

“Try it on privately,” Mary said. “Just you and I. No witnesses, no pictures.”

“I can work with that,” Alice said. “Deal.”

“Deal,” Mary agreed.

“It occurs to me,” Chad said, reminding both girls that he was in the common room with them, a fact that had temporarily slipped their minds. “After watching your display, perhaps I should have put some rules into place with Angela, rather than giving her free reign over my costume selection.”

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Alice assured him. “How bad can a robot costume be?”