Super Secret Club: Halloween Havoc
In the garden of number forty eight, Rainbow Lane, Neopia Central, stands a tree house. But this is not just any treehouse. This treehouse is the headquarters of the Super Secret Club. It’s Super (of course) and Secret (naturally) and the Club risk their lives on difficult, dangerous missions, like retrieving the ball that fell into Mrs-Jenkins-Next-Door’s garden, and taming the wild Warf that somehow managed to crawl through the hedge. There’s no mission too big, no task too terrifying. They will work tirelessly to ensure that justice prevails in the garden. Until nap time, that is.
Summer has passed Neopia by: The once-green leaves have been replaced by a rainbow of reds, oranges and yellows. Carts of vegetables line the streets, peddled by stallholders who have ditched their sunglasses and sandals in favour of scarves and the occasional woolly hat. Shop after shop is bursting with seasonal decorations. Yes, it is most definitely autumn in Neopia Central.
It’s also autumn at number forty eight, Rainbow Lane. The Super Secret Club are hard at work, creating Spyder webs with glittery glue, hanging papery ghosts from the ceiling, and sampling just a few pieces from the groaning bowl of chocolate and sweets (pre-wrapped, of course.) on the coffee table.
Al munches on one of his new favourite pumpkin spice cookies, trotting around to admire his friends’ handiwork.
“This looks super great!” he enthuses, giggling at the enormous rubber Spyder stuck to the window. “I can’t wait to go Trickle-treatin’ tonight!”
“We’ve told you before, Al. It’s ‘Trick-or-Treating.’ Vyla corrects with an exasperated smile. “What’s your costume gonna be this year?”
“Well, I was a vampire last year, an’ a ghost the year before. Mama let me choose my costume this time.”
“Why don’t you show them, Al?” Mama herself walks in, wielding a knife, and then remembering that she is in fact wielding a knife, and putting it in a safe place on the mantelpiece.
“Good idea!” Al exclaims, rushing past her and racing noisily up the stairs.
Vyla and Taros look from her to the knife.
“I can explain.” she holds up her hands innocently. “Al’s determined that I carve a pumpkin this year. He wants one outside the door like all the neighbours do.”
Relief dawns on Taros’ face. “I see. And how’s that going?”
“It’s not.” Mama sighs. “I get all nervy when I try to make a cut. It took me almost an hour to draw out the design alone.”
At that moment, Al reappears, wearing a purple bandana that clashes horribly with his turquoise skin, a striped shirt that’s been artistically ripped at the sleeves, and a pair of similarly ragged beige shorts. In his hand, he waves a cardboard sword covered in tinfoil. Ducky perches precariously on his shoulder, complete with his own tiny eyepatch.
“Yohoho, me hearties! Where be ye treasure-I mean, sweeties!” he bellows, flailing his sword around above his head in a rather menacing fashion.”
“There be sweets right over ‘ere, Cap’n.” Taros replies in a scarily accurate impression of Threelegs, directing Al towards the bowl on the table.
The pirate captain selects a fat golden Dubloon from the top, peeling the wrapper to gulp down the chocolate in one bite. He turns to his little audience, grinning. “Could ya tell it was me the whole time?”
There are assorted gasps of shock from the Super Secret Club, and Mama breaks into applause. “Well, it looks like you won’t be needing any help acting the part. Which reminds me, what are you two going as?”
“Just a generic Zombie.” Vyla shrugs. “Hardly the most difficult costume to pull off.”
“My parents always make me go as something hideous.” Taros supplies. “But this year, I’ve decided to be a tree.”
“What?” he challenges. “Much more interesting than your ‘generic Zombie’ approach.
“Now now, let’s not start any arguments. You two, go and get ready, and we’ll meet you by the door.”*
“Vyla, are you sure you need that much fake blood?” Taros queries, as the two of them tread cautiously down the stairs, now bedecked in their Halloween costumes.
“Well, at least I made an effort to look scary.” She argues. “I still think we should have stuck an axe through your head.”
“Do you want to give the neighbours a heart attack?”
Vyla chooses to ignore his question. “Your branches are poking me again.”
They make their way into the kitchen, where Al is unabashedly bouncing up and down in excitement. Ducky wobbles perilously from where he’s affixed.
Mama jumps in genuine fright when she sees the effort Vyla’s put into her zombie guise. “You’ll certainly give people a fright tonight. And Taros, you look excellent!”
“Thanks.” Taros hides his blush behind a leaf-covered arm.
“Can we go now, Mama? Can we? Can we?” Al cries, clamouring for one of the pumpkin-shaped buckets she’s holding.
“Just a minute, Al.” she chides, chuckling. “We’ve got to sort out some rules first.”
When she’s satisfied he’s listening, she continues.
“Firstly, I’d suggest sticking to our street. I’d rather you only went to people we know.”
“Got it.” Taros nods.
“Secondly, try to only take sweets with wrappers on. I hate to be cliché, but you don’t know what’s happened to unwrapped sweets.” She pauses for breath. “Thirdly…please try not to be too terrifying.” She looks meaningfully at Vyla.
“An’ fourthly?” Al pipes up, practically vibrating at the thought of his imminent release into the street.
“Fourthly, what do you say when somebody gives you a treat?”
Al has to think for a moment, but eventually comes up with. “Thanks a bunch, pal!”
Mama gives the three a thumbs-up. “Right, you guys can go and fill your faces-I mean baskets-with goodies.” She opens the door with a flourish. “Remember not to stay out too late. There’ll be a surprise for you when you get back.”
“Thanks, Mama!” Al shouts, racing outside to inspect the decorations on the street. Vyla and Taros rush after him, eager to celebrate their favourite holiday.
The Super Secret Club have never seen Rainbow Lane this lively; A pair of ghosts compare their haul of sweets on the corner. A very convincing Werelupe chats animatedly with a mummy as the two approach a door decorated with streamers and balloons. A towering skeleton patiently holds the hands of two tiny pumpkins. There is laughter, shouting, and every few moments, the sound of frenzied knocking, followed by cries of terror or mirth from those handing out treats.
“Where do we go first?” Al queries, clutching his empty bucket tightly.
“Perhaps we should go up the street, and then double back and come down again?” Vyla the zombie suggests.
“Goody!” Al agrees, rushing towards their first stop of the night.
The garden is rather overgrown, and paint is peeling from the once-bright walls. An empty rocking chair sways creakily on the front step. The light from the pumpkins lining the street doesn’t reach them here.
Al doesn’t seem to notice all of these ominous signs, and continues straight down the path, pounding on the door with his chubby fist.
It opens slowly, allowing time for the rest of the Super Secret Club to catch up. For a moment, there’s silence.
Then, a horrible creature rears its ugly head, cackling and shrieking.
“AAAAHHHH!” Al cries, leaping backwards. “It’s a witch!”
“It’s not a witch.” Taros the tree corrects him. “It’s Mrs Jenkins!”
“Oh…um….Trickle treat?” he amends hopefully, still the tiniest bit frightened.
Most surprisingly, Mrs Jenkins gives them an uneven smile (at least, they think that’s what she’s doing with her mouth) She presents them with a tray of apples on sticks, covered in toffee sauce.
“My Wockies have always loved Halloween.” She explains, far politer to them than she’s ever been before. “I always try to do my bit to take part.”
“These look great, Mrs. J.” Vyla selects a toffee apple from the tray. “Thank you.”
“Yeah, thanks a bunch, pal!” Al echoes enthusiastically, already licking his lips.
“Thank you for coming, children. Have a happy Halloween.” She cackles again, closing the door behind them.
The Super Secret Club are momentarily confused by the lack of hostility their elderly neighbour showed them, but before they can ponder it further, Al has already dashed off towards the next house.*
It takes a surprisingly long time for both sides of the street to be visited: It seems to stretch on forever in the dark, not helped by a huge queue at one house giving out freshly baked chocolate brownies. But at long last, the Super Secret club return from the final house, their buckets and bellies bulging from the treats they’ve been bestowed. They sit on a patch of grass alongside some other Trick-or-treaters, inspecting the contents and watching the row of pumpkins flicker in the moonlight.
“That was fun, wasn’t it, Al?” Vyla’s zombie make-up is beginning to smear.
“Yup.” Al replies around a mouth full of chocolate.
“There’s still one house we haven’t been to yet.” Taros the tree reminds them, several leaves detaching themselves from his branches as he stands.
“Ooh, where, where?” Al is suddenly full of energy once more.
“Follow me.” He grins, taking Al’s hand and leading him to an ever-so-familiar house on the ever-so-familiar street.
It doesn’t take Al long to recognise it, even in the dark.
“This is my house!” he cries. ”Look there’s the treehouse! An’ there’s the red door.”
“That’s right. What do you say we go inside? Mama said she had a surprise for you.”
“Oh yeah.” In all the excitement, Al had quite forgotten the mysterious surprise that lay in store. Remembering his Halloween manners, he knocks loudly on the door.
When Mama opens it, her hands are covered in orange scraps. Thankfully, she’s put down the knife.
“Hey there, guys. Did you have fun?” she opens the door wider for them to come through.
“Yeah!” Al chirps. “We got a whole bunch’a candy, and chocolate, and brownies, and Mrs. J, even let us have these neat toffee apples, and-“
“Sounds lovely, Al.” she laughs. “Anyway, you’re just in time for the surprise. It’s on the counter in the kitchen.”
Al immediately races down the hall towards the room in question. An exclamation of delight can be heard. “Come an’ see!” he shouts.
The Super Secret Club do as they’re told, closely followed by Mama.
The kitchen is a total mess, with orange flesh, seeds, and skin everywhere. The smell of pumpkins is overpowering. The biggest pumpkin any of them have ever seen stands on the counter, with three ever so familiar faces carved into it.
“It’s us!” Vyla exclaims.
“That must have taken ages.” Taros nods approvingly.
“Hours.” Mama nods the affirmative. “But that’s hardly the best part, is it Al?”
“Nope!” Al giggles. “We gotta make it light up, don’t we?”
“That’s right. Now, where did I put those…
“Matches?” Taros holds up the box.
Mama gratefully takes them, and the Super Secret Club sensibly stand back as she strikes it. Al is momentarily mesmerised by the flame as it leaps from the match to a little candle she’s placed inside the hollow pumpkin.
She lets Al drop the lid on top, before dimming the lights so they can see the lantern in its full glory.
“That looks super great.” Al whispers, his eyes not leaving the glittering pumpkin.
“It will look even better when it’s by the window.” Mama carefully picks it up, carrying it down the hall towards the sitting room. Al eagerly follows.
Taros the tree turns to Vyla the zombie in the dark, suddenly seizing her shoulders.