Happy Halloween from the Team - and the Weird Sisters (Lore, Seasonal)
Happy Halloween! CoH had some pretty awesome stuff to pull out this time of year. And so will we! Read on for a taste of a City of Titans faction all too appropriate for this spooky holiday.
“We’re too old for this, Jim,” said the shorter college boy. His voice quavered a bit.
Jim, a taller, thinner college kid, brushed aside the comment with a flicking gesture. “You’re never too old for free candy, Owen. Dude, I love Halloween!” Jim’s voice blared a bit loudly as he spread his arms wide to take in the entire street.
Street lamps—those that weren’t broken, anyway—gleamed orange in the autumn fog. A few dry leaves skittered down the street, perhaps shed from one of the sickly, spidery trees. Back from the sidewalks, the faded, wooden siding of Widow’s Reach’s nineteenth century houses was just visible in the gloom. The only people on the streets were lurching, shabby-looking drunks with rough faces and furtive, hurrying figures with shoulders hunched against the night. Owen hadn’t spent much time in South Titan. The people might’ve frightened him even in daylight. The cheap Halloween decorations in some windows should’ve looked silly. They didn’t look silly to Owen now.
“I love Halloween,” Jim repeated loudly. Owen wondered if his friend had started “celebrating” early. “Watch this, man,” Jim said. He sauntered up to a dirty, cloth-wrapped man clutching a paper bag that held a bottle. “Hey, dude,” Jim shouted in the man’s face. “Trick or treat!”
The man flinched back, wide-eyed, and mumbled something incoherent.
Owen bit his lip. “Leave him alone, Jim.”
“Nah,” Jim said, his eyes still on the man with the bottle. They sparkled nastily. “See, pal, you can either give us a treat, like, say, that bottle there, or you can get a trick.” Jim shoved the man roughly and laughed. “What’s it gonna be?” He leaned over the man.
The man dropped his bottle and scrambled away, shouting in a language Owen couldn’t understand. Jim snatched up the bottle. Owen walked up to his friend. “That was a rotten thing to do, man,” he said.
“Shut up,” said Jim. “Who cares if some homeless drunk has to go buy another bottle?”
Owen looked around. “If a hero sees …”
“You see any heroes?” Jim waved the bottle around the empty street. “No heroes down around South Titan tonight. They’re all off fooling with the Regency or chasing ghost trains or whatever tonight. Man, I love Halloween!”
“I saw what you did to that man,” said a soft, smooth, feminine voice. A slight, dark figure sauntered out of the fog.
Owen could’ve sworn no one was there a moment earlier. He flinched in surprise, then flinched again in embarrassment at his own flinching. He peered into the gloom, trying to make the speaker out, but the fog seemed to gather around her like a cat rubbing against its owner’s shins. She approached until she stood beneath one of the streetlamps. Jim whooped appreciatively.
She was a girl a few years older than the two of them. Owen figured she was dressed for Halloween. She wore a short, black dress covered in old-fashioned frills and ruffles, fingerless, black opera gloves, and tights held together with safety pins. Her black eye shadow and pale skin made her face resemble a skull, but a pair of blinking LED jack o’lantern earrings ruined any sinister effect. Oddly, her hair looked completely grey She flicked the brim of a particolored witch’s hat that looked like it had come from a cheap costume store in greeting. “I saw what you did,” she said again. She smirked as if she held a secret. “Looking for some fun tonight, huh?”
“You know it,” said Jim enthusiastically. “Want a drink?”
Owen noticed for the first time that Jim looked vaguely pathetic, using a bottle he’d stolen from a homeless man as a line to pick up an older girl.
She rolled her eyes quickly. “Nah.” She buffed her black nails against the ruffles on her outfit. “My sisters and I are having a party tonight at our place, though. Wanna come?” She headed down the street without waiting for a reply.
Jim started after her. Owen hesitated. “Jim, this is a bad idea. You gotta know this feels weird. I’ve lived in Titan City all my life, and I know that when a creepy magic woman appears out of the fog and invites you back to her spooky lair, you say no!”
Jim looked at his friend as if a lobster had crawled out of his ear. “Are you freaking insane? Who cares if she’s a villain or something? She’s hot.” He pulled Owen up the street in the stranger’s wake.
“Here we are,” she said as she opened a squeaky gate into a fenced yard. A plaque on the gate read, Weatherly. Owen glanced up at the house nervously as they stepped through. With its peeling paint, widow’s walk, and ragged shingles, the old, Victorian house wouldn’t have looked out of place in an old “B” horror movie. Owen half-expected lightning and a crash of thunder as they approached. Instead, he heard pounding dance music.
As they drew closer, the house grew less and less menacing. At least a dozen women filled the yard. Some danced to the music, while some simply stood around talking or eating Halloween candy. All of them wore hats much like their guide’s, and all of them shared her eccentric dress. All were close to the boys’ age or a bit older. Owen saw that all the windows in the house were lit. Apparently, people actually lived in this decrepit-looking place. Orange and purple lights hung haphazard in the old trees, and “ghosts” made of old sheets hung from their branches. A plastic skeleton dangled out one window. From behind a hedge, a rubbery, life-sized “monster,” a strange hybrid of man and frog, poked up its pop-eyed head, looked around mechanically, and lowered itself back into hiding. Crudely carved pumpkins lit with battery powered “candles” sat on windowsills, on the porch, around the walk, and on nearly every other flat surface. Over all, it looked more like a party at a Halloween-themed sorority than a haunted house.
Something about the whole thing stirred something in Owen’s memory, but he couldn’t think straight. Everything was happening too fast.
Five or six girls, all carrying plastic, pumpkin-shaped candy buckets in eye-searing shades of neon pink and purple, stepped up to meet them. “Hey,” said a tall one with a relatively modest hat. She wore studded leather jewelry and a black shirt with “WEIRD!” scrawled across it in jagged, green letters. “Welcome to the Weatherly House,” she added. She didn’t sound particularly friendly.
“Hey yourself, babe,” said Jim. Owen winced inwardly.
A blonde in an outfit covered in purple patches groaned. “Jeez. Where’d you find these guys?” she asked the grey-haired girl who’d brought them here.
The grey-haired one said, “The tall one was pushing some old dude around and stole his bottle.”
“Oh,” the women slowly said, almost as one.
“Have some candy,” said the blonde, holding out a purple pumpkin-pail that matched her outfit. Jim reached for the candy, but the blonde jerked the pail away at the last minute.
“Uh-uh,” said the one Owen thought of as the “guide.” “You didn’t say the words. It doesn’t work if you don’t say the words.”
Jim laughed and leered. “Trick or treat, babe,” he said. The blonde held out the candy, and Jim drew out a tiny, “fun-size” candy bar. He popped it out of the wrapper and swallowed it. The wrapper looked odd to Owen, covered with strange writing, but he didn’t catch a good look at it.
Jim raised his stolen bottle. “So,” he began, “how about a dance …” As his voice trailed off, his eyes rolled back, and he collapsed like a rag doll. The women ostentatiously stepped back to ensure that he fell as hard and humiliatingly as possible. Tendrils of mist swirled around Jim, growing thicker as Owen watched. They coiled around his wrists, ankles, and mouth, binding and gagging him. All of the women burst into giggles.
Owen screamed and ran for the gate. Before he’d gone ten feet, a ropy, rubbery body tackled him and hauled him to his feet. He looked over his shoulder to find himself in the grip of the “mechanical” frog-monster from behind the hedge. It stared at him with an oddly cheerful expression on its inhuman face as it held a cold, slimy hand over his mouth, cutting off his scream. “Froggie,” said the grey-haired girl, “bring him over here.” The creature complied and … well, frog-marched him back to the circle.
“We should’ve just let him run away,” said one woman.
“We should’ve fed them both to the froggie, is what we should’ve done,” said another.
Owen glanced back at the monster in fright. It croaked softly. He could’ve sworn it shrugged apologetically.
The grey-haired one knelt beside Jim, still out cold. “Cursed candy? Really?” she said with a critical look at the blonde. “If this gets around, there’ll be hell to pay. We’re the freakin’ Weird Sisters. We’re supposed to be the good guys.”
Owen’s eyes widened. That was what had been nagging at his memory. He’d heard of these women, the Weird Sisters. Supposedly, they were a bunch of witches, dealing out their own version of justice—sometimes harshly—on the streets of South Titan. Owen mentally kicked himself for forgetting about them. On the other hand, there were so many stories of new superpowered groups around the city that it was easy to lose track of any particular one.
“The boy was being a jerk,” the blonde maintained. “He deserved it. The question is, whadda we do with him?”
“Give him a bad case of warts and acne,” said the one in the t-shirt, crossing her arms.
The blonde smiled ruefully. “Oh, you’re such a traditionalist.” She leaned forward excitedly. “I say we make him unable to drink anything for a week. That’ll teach him!”
“And kill him from dehydration,” murmured the guide.
“So?” said the blonde. “At least it’s more poetic than just slapping a Hex of Deadly Luck on him like you did that Barons bokor last week.”
Another witch waved and jumped up and down. “I vote ‘kitty ears curse!’”
“Oh, that’s your solution to everything. We are not using the kitty ears curse!” declared the guide. “End of discussion.”
The Weird Sisters all began talking at once. Some argued for blasting Jim with lightning (“just a little!”), some for inflicting him with sores and boils, and some for just throwing him in a ditch in Corrosion Park. One witch still held out for the kitty ears curse.
Distracted by the argument, the froggie had loosened its grip on Owen. He raised his hand and said, “I have an idea.” All the witches, and even the froggie, looked curiously at him.
“You’re into justice, right? Teaching him a lesson?” he said. “I know Jim pretty well. I know he’s a self-absorbed jerk. Killing him or giving him kitty ears—“ he stared at the pro-kitty ears witch—“or something isn’t going to teach anyone anything. But I have this idea …” His voice petered out as he remember to whom he was speaking.
For nearly a minute, the Sisters glared at him threateningly. “All right,” said the guide finally, “let’s hear it. If it’s good, we’ll let you off with a warning.” She smiled.
Two hours later, three kids, one dressed as a vampire, one as a robot made out of cardboard painted silver, and one as Anthem of the Paragons walked up to the gate marked Weatherly. “Trick or treat!” they chorused.
A tall, thin man lurched out from behind the gate, shambling like a zombie. His eyes glowed spookily. He groaned theatrically-- almost frantically, like he was asking for help-- and passed out some candy to the children … not from the cursed, purple pail.
“Whoa!” said the girl dressed as Anthem. “How’d you make your eyes glow like that?”
A young, grey-haired woman dressed as a witch stepped up beside him. “Oh, Jim here was a naughty boy. So we convinced him to give his wallet to a man he’d mistreated. And then he … volunteered … to stand here and pass out candy all night.” Jim lurched toward her angrily, but as he drew near, he stumbled back jerkily, as if he’d struck an invisible wall. The kids laughed.
“Be thankful it’s just for one night,” the woman said to Jim.
“Isn’t it dangerous, being out here all night?” asked the boy dressed as the robot, his voice muffled by the cardboard.
The grey-haired witch grinned. “Not as long as we’re around.”
Written by - Jack 'Olantern' Snyder
Begrudging Dead and Trick or Treat pictures by Rocket Cat.
(Who are the Begrudging Dead? Well, you'll have to wait and see.)