The Cinderella Grinch

Ceasar was one of those people who had become disenchanted with Halloween far too early in life. Perhaps it was because he’d never gorged himself sick on caramels and tiny Oh Henry Bars (he was one of those kids who allotted himself certain amounts of certain candies everyday, making even the most sumptuous chocolate-based treats last far past the point he’d grown tired of them). Perhaps it was because he had no siblings to trade candy with (it seemed to him like he got more and more Wunderbars every stupid year). Maybe it was because his clever costumes were woefully under appreciated (almost no one got that he was Edgar Allan Poe when he was eight, and he had a raven and The Raven and everything). Whatever the case, by the time he was ten Ceasar had decided that he’d had quite enough of all this Halloween business, thank-you-very-much. On the first of November he would buy a discount bag of tiny chocolate bars, and that was quite enough for him.

“It’s really a stupid holiday,” Ceasar said to the hermit crab, whose tank was sitting next to his math textbook. “I mean, you don’t even get the day off or anything. And pumpkin guts are probably the grossest thing ever. This is coming from a guy who likes to study fish and stuff, so you know it’s got to be pretty disgusting, right?”

Pebble skittered to the side of the tank and tapped the glass. Ceasar obediently reached in and stroked his shell. That this was rather odd behaviour for a hermit crab to exhibit did not occur to our budding marine biologist, but then again, his roommate did have a sentient lizard for a pet.

“That Edgar Allan Poe outfit was amazing,” Ceasar grumbled, having never quite let that one go. “I had the raven and everything.”

There was a knock at the door. Ceasar grumbled and stretched and stood up to answer, but Ice simple barged in before Ceasar could take two steps. “It totally defeats the purpose if you knock and then just come in before I answer,” Ceasar said as Ice jumped onto the bed, as was his habit. “Hey, take your shoes off, how many times I have to tell you?”

“Sorry.” Ice toed off his shoes and kicked them against the wall with a satisfying thud. “So you’re coming to the Halloween party, right? What time should I pick you up? Eight work? I’m going at eight.”

Ceasar glared as he tipped food into Pebble’s tank. “Ice, you’ve asked me that every day for the past two weeks and every time I tell you I’m not going.” He took out his science homework.

“Yeah but you don’t actually mean it,” Ice said, “Halloween is free candy and girls in cute costumes and parties!” Ice could have also mentioned lots of children ringing doorbells and scratching him right behind the ears but figured that was probably not a draw to Ceasar and would also sound really weird. “Anyway, have your costume ready by eight, okay?”

“I’m not going!”

“WhatEVER Ceasar it’s a party just go!” Ice slipped on his shoes and was out the door before Ceasar could mount another protest. “Eight!”

“WhatEVER to you I’m not going!” Ceasar yelled uselessly at his closed door. Fuming, he stomped to his bed and read his science textbook until he drifted off into a very angry nap.

Pebble, having finished his food, looked on thoughtfully from his tank.

* * *

Now, Ceasar couldn’t be completely certain (reading too many philosophy books in your spare time will have this sort of effect) but he was at least eighty percent sure that he hadn’t fallen asleep wearing nineteenth century clothing.

Confused, Ceasar staggered out of bed and peered into the mirror above his dresser. His hair was black (he had a mild panic attack over the loss of his meticulous blue tips until he realized it was just spray-on colour), and his clothing was dark and gloomy and possibly made out of velvet, or at least a cheap imitation; he looked like he’d stepped out of a dark, cramped study in Victorian London. A plush black bird was perched on his shoulder, and an elaborate feathered quill stuck out of his breast pocket.

“You were dressed like that when I came in,” Fleance said in his flat monotone, oddly unprovoked, as he stared intently at his textbook. “I assume it is your Halloween costume. Edgar Allan Poe.”

Ceasar’s arm slipped out from under him and he nearly banged his jaw on the dresser. “What did you say?” he asked breathlessly.

“You were dressed—”

“No no after that—”

This could have gone on in a hilarious circle for some time (and had many times before) but there was a knock on the door and then Ice burst in, as was his habit. “I knew you didn’t really mean it!” he said when he saw Ceasar. “Come on, all the candy will be gone soon!”

“Ice!” Ceasar tugged on Ice’s wing (he was dressed up as a Fairy King, it is a long drunken story), “Ice, Fleance knows who I’m dressed as!”

Ice gave him an odd look. “You’re that Poe guy,” Ice said, “I mean you’ve got the bird and everything. Are we going or what?”

Ceasar stared at Ice with nothing short of pure joy for a moment, then bounded over to his bookcase and picked out a copy of The Raven and Other Poems. Behind him, Ice winked at Pebble, who waved a grateful claw in return. Fleance crumpled up his cue card and tossed it on the floor.

“If you get a hold of any Wunderbars I will totally take those off your hands,” Ice said as they walked out the door. “I’ll trade you something good for it.”

It was the best Halloween Ceasar ever had. Some people say his heart grew some sizes that day, but those folk don’t know biology. In any case he was in such a good mood he fed Pebble way too much the next day and then proceeded to lie around naked for no particular reason, and Pebble figured that was totally worth it. Props, karma.

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