What did Halloween mean to the slacker bros of Long Beach? Obviously, mounds of candy and sugary, teeth-rotting snacks as far as the eye can see. With the exceptional of raisins, black licorice, and is it necessary to explain how unappealing candy corn is? No kid or adult would be caught dead with edible wax in their mouth, unless one counted those big, red lips made of wax. At least, they're trendy without the trouble of eating them.
Regardless, trick-or-treating has remained a solid tradition through the years in the seaside city, despite the number of participants slowly decreasing every year. Especially in the neighborhood where Drew and Stevie live; aside from that one sour memory Drew experienced when he was little with a homophobic elderly male, he and his best friend knew how to make the most of it. But the two were sitting on the ripe age of fourteen, what kids their age would want to participate in such a childish activity? On their social media and from hearing gossip at their school, the best bros learned their peers would be visiting haunted houses, both fake and real, going to costume parties, having hayrides underneath the moonlight, and anything that didn't involve trick-or-treating.
But that didn't prevent Drew from wanting to have one more night of candy collecting before moving on to more "grown-up" things. Stevie, on the other hand, wasn't as optimistic, even with his pal offering to create a costume for him. And why not? As an aspiring fashion designer, it seemed like good practice for later on. Since the middle of September, Drew was hard at work piecing together his and Stevie's costumes for Halloween and between him and his bud's, Stevie's turned out to be more complex than he realized. But that's what pushed the blond to challenge himself, at the cost of his sleep schedule and sometimes, food. He was so engrossed in making those costumes perfect that he neglected his own needs. It did worry Stevie, but he assured him as soon as the costumes were finished, he would go back to his normal schedule.
And they were finally finished on the day before Halloween too, perfect timing. Laying on his bed in a house robe, a red tank top with light pink pajama pants decorated with lollipops, and red striped socks, the freckled boy napped peacefully in his room. All those sleepless days and nights paid off and now, he had the liberty of-nope. Of course, not. Only fifteen minutes into his nap, Drew groaned at the sound of his phone chirping out a pop song ringtone. All the boy wanted was some sleep, for crying out loud.
"...yes?" the boy rubbed his weary blue eyes, yawning into his fleece-sleeved hand as he answered the phone.
"Yo, you done with the costumes yet? It's Halloween Eve, bro, you can't be slacking now!" Stevie chimed on the other end, chilling in his room as well.
"Actually, I have, and how many times do I have to tell you that Halloween Eve isn't a thing."
"It IS a thing, don't argue with me about this, Drew. Anything you'll say is just a load of crud."
"Yeah, yeah, sure... so, is that why you wanted to call me, to ask about the costumes?" Drew asked, lying against his pillow.
"That, and I wanted to check on ya since you've been a mess while working on those costumes. Every time I see you, you're looking more and more like a zombie. Is that what you're going out as?" the half-Japanese boy scoffed.
"Actually, no, my silly Stevie. But you'll see tomorrow, you still down for staying over tomorrow night?"
"You bet. Also, we really need to discuss our plans besides the sleepover. This trick-or-treating crap isn't gonna work for me this year."
"But why not, you told me you were cool with it last week! Now, you wanna change plans?!"
"Yeah, I do! 'Cause if we go trick-or-treating, Shelb's gonna tag along and she's gonna force me to dress up like a pickle!" spat Stevie, getting a small chuckle out of his best friend. "Don't laugh, man, this is serious!"
"Sorry, but why, though?"
"Dude, you never heard the story 'The Princess and the Pickle'?"
"No, but now that you brought it up, I'm intrigued."
"Whatever. Look, there's gotta something else we can do besides trick-or-treating. Help me think of something!" the long-haired boy begged.
"You know, whenever you tell me to help you think of something, you're just telling me to think of something so you don't have to, right?" the freckled boy sighed.
"Yeah, so what? You're clearly the one with the brains, now use 'em!"
"Ugh... um... ooh! There should be a haunted house at the fairgrounds going on tomorrow, maybe we can do that!"
"Huh, that could work. Alright, I'll tell my folks about it and hopefully, they'll get off my case about trick-or-treating with Shelby."
"Awesome, fingers crossed..." Drew yawned again into his hand, something that his pal overheard.
"Yikes, someone's got a case of the yawns. How much sleep did you get last night?" Stevie questioned.
"Dunno, maybe three or four hours. Thank god these costumes are done, now I can get a good night sleep for once..."
"Geez, the last couple weeks must've been rough for ya, huh?"
"Yeah, but it's given me an excuse to go to Moonburks more often so that's a plus! A pumpkin spice frappucino sounds so good right now... did you ever try it?"
"Nah, I'll never understand the hype for pumpkin spice-flavored stuff especially when chicks gush about it all the time. Hell, I bet it doesn't even taste like real pumpkin."
"But it tastes like pumpkin pie if that counts."
"Sure it does but I'll leave ya alone, let ya get some rest. Catch ya later, broski." Stevie spoke.
"Will do, see ya." As soon as Drew hung up, he placed his phone on the nightstand and plopped his head back on his pillow. Returning to snooze-land.
But one thing's for sure, Halloween was about to be another eventful one for the two best bros, with or without trick-or-treating. The following afternoon, Stevie came over with his blue sleeping bag and an overnight bag of pajamas and other necessities. He wanted to see his costume for himself and try it on before tonight's festivities. It had to be something extreme, but the half-Japanese didn't expect Drew to put together something like this: a full-body suit composed of black spandex around the arms, legs, and lower torso along with silver pieces of armor guarding his upper body, arms, and legs. Giving it a sort of futuristic cyborg appearance and for the finishing touch, Drew had given Stevie a pair of robotic silver contacts and painted thin black lines coming down his eyes to resemble creases.
As for the blond's costume, he went with something a little more simple. A cowboy, to be precise. After trying on Stevie's plaid shirt during their "Freaky Friday" switch, Drew decided to get one in his favorite color, pink. Over that was a leather brown vest to go with his cowboy boots, paired with jeans and a white hat to top it off. With the clock about to strike seven, the cowboy and the cyborg were about ready to visit the haunted house. Drew's parents dropped them off at the fairgrounds, having a quick chat with them before they left.
"Are you sure you boys will be fine on your own?" Mrs. Douglas asked, sitting in the passenger's seat before the boys standing by the car.
"Aw, we'll be okay, Mrs. D, no worries. It's just some haunted house, it can't be that scary." Stevie insisted.
"Speak for yourself." Drew giggled, nudging his pal's side playfully.
"Either way, you need to be careful. If you need us to pick you up, don't be afraid to call, okay?" Mr. Douglas, the driver, informed.
"Got it, dad!"
"But still, enjoy yourselves. This is the first time you've done something other than trick-or-treating, so make the most of it."
"Speaking of which, I was chatting with your mom earlier, Stevie. You know, she told me that Shelby's very upset you didn't wanna go out with her." the red-haired woman scowled, feeling sorry for the little girl but her big brother could care less.
"Meh, big whoop. The girl can't have her way all the time, she's gotta learn that my needs are way more important than hers." the long-haired boy scoffed, jerking a thumb at himself.
"Wow, some caring big brother you are, Steve. What's it gonna take for you to learn to love her?" the freckled boy wondered, hearing an exhausted, defeated sigh from his pal.
"Fine, I'll get her a caramel apple as an apology."
"See, there you go! Nothing says forgiveness like a caramel apple!"
"More like, nothing says instant trip to the dentist like a caramel apple. But anyway, we'll see you guys later." Drew's father said with a wave.
"Be careful!" Drew's mother chirped as the car drove away.
"Welp, they're finally gone. Wanna go see what this haunted house is all about?" Stevie suggested, pointing at the ominous black, wooden house in the middle of the fairgrounds.
"But what about the caramel apple?" the blond reminded, knowing his friend would forget.
"Eh, we'll get that later. Right now, we got a haunted house calling our names!"
"...I seriously hope not..."
Jogging over to the house(though, Stevie struggled a little with his rigid shin guards), the best bros stood before the one-story black house with fake black cats guarding the entrance, accompanied by jack-o-lanterns with skewered faces and life-sized skeletons hung by the pair of doors. It honestly looked more cartoony and kid-friendly than frightening, if anything, it was a bit scary how weird it looked.
"Huh... yep, that's a haunted house if I've ever seen one." the long-haired cyborg nodded, hardly impressed.
"Uh-huh, but while it's supposed to be this big, spooky place, it's got a kind of cuteness to it. Kinda like it." Drew smiled a bit, always finding beauty in anything.
"Whatever, man. Let's make a little bet before we head inside, if it's not scary, you owe me a bag of post-Halloween candy. Preferably, anything with sour stuff."
"Fine with me, but if it IS scary, you're treating ME to some post-Halloween candy and I'd love anything with chocolate, please and thank you!"
"Only if ya win the bet, buddy, now let's check this place out! Oh, and Drew, try not to scream so much, alright?"
"Heh heh, same to you, Ham."
Entering the house, the boys had waited with bated breath to see that... there wasn't anything scare-worthy about the house. Looked as cheap on the inside as it did on the outside. Fake, plastic severed limbs were hung and placed around the perimeter. Deranged, moody organ music played the background, barely helping with the supposedly scary atmosphere. There were cobwebs around the corners of the walls and... why was there a tombstone in the middle of the house? Shouldn't that be outside?
"Well, this is certainly... interesting. Guess I have to take back what I said about this house's cuteness." the freckled cowboy blinked awkwardly.
"And you owe me candy, don't forget about that, broseph." the cyborg reminded.
"Hey, you still need to get that caramel apple for Shelby too, bro-seph!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah... man, I hope they're cheap, I'm not wasting over five bucks on that brat. But seriously, look at how lazy this freakin' haunted house looks! There's only one room, most of this stuff here looks fake and cheap, and the guys who made this didn't get that one smoke-making machine thing! If they did, it would've-"
Next thing Stevie knew, his cowboy buddy shrieked while clinging onto him in a hug.
"What, dude, what is it?! And stop squeezing me so hard, I dunno how durable this armor is..." the half-Japanese lightly shoved his frightened pal off.
"Sorry... i-it's just that there's a real-live brain on the floor!" Drew pointed at the pink, slimy mass with a pool of bright red blood underneath it. "I-I dunno if it's real or not but it looks so... ew!"
"Aw, geez..." Rolling his eyes, Stevie walked over and knelt down before the so-called live brain, knowing it would've left his pal with nightmares if he didn't check it out.
He lurched out an armored hand, poking the brain to see it wobble in place. Nothing strange about that, but he wanted to take his examination further. The cyborg leaned closer, sniffing the brain before he pulled off a piece... and ate it.
"Eww, Stevie, why?!"
"Drew, chill, it's just gelatin. Here, try some for yourself."
When his pal held up another piece of the "brain" towards him, the blue-eyed boy flinched a little, slowly reaching over with an open mouth to gulp it down.
"Hmm... oh, my gosh, you're so right! And it tastes like... pink lemonade? Yum! Okay, this might be my favorite part about this haunted house!"
"Pfft, at least you can say something good about this craphole. C'mon, let's get outta here."
"Wait, we still gotta get the-"
"Shut up about the caramel apple already!"
But they did manage to acquire the caramel apple from one of the booths. They were about to head to the entrance until a burly male dressed like a pirate with his eye patch, hook on hand, and his skull and crossbones hat, came up to the boys.
"Yaargh, mateys, slow down!" the male chuckled as he spoke in-character, failing to amuse Stevie but getting a laugh from Drew. "Where you running off to? I just saw ya leave that haunted house moments ago, what didja think of it?"
"It sucked major balls." the half-Japanese didn't beat around the bush.
"Stevie, don't be so harsh! It was, uh... very creative, sir. Were you one of the people who put it together?" the freckled boy asked.
"Sure am. Y'see, since last year, we heard that haunted houses were getting pretty trendy so we thought we'd hop on the bandwagon and build one right here. Anything you boys thought we could've done better?" the male in the pirate costume questioned.
"Tch, you want a long list?" Stevie scoffed, elbowed by his pal.
"Stevie!" Drew scolded.
"What, the guy asked for criticism! I dunno, maybe make it look less cheap next time? And oh! That freakin' gelatin brain you had on the floor, really? I mean, it was tasty and all but really?!"
"To add on to what he said, you probably should've made the brain a little more realistic. Brains aren't really pink, though, it would be nice if they were. They're actually gray. So, maybe next time you do something with the gelatin to make it more grayish?"
"Aw, for Pete's sake, Drew, don't encourage him!"
The male chuckled at the boys' banter, "But I do appreciate the feedback, I'll definitely take that into consideration. It was nice meeting you two mateys."
"Nice to meet y-" But as soon as the blond held his hand out for a handshake, the man's hook on his right hand somehow slipped off, revealing a stub. "Oh... ah..."
"Uh, heh heh, sorry about that. Just can't keep this darn hook to stay on."
"AHHHHH! PIRATE WITH NO HAND! PIRATE WITH NO HAND!" That's when the cowboy shrieked as he ran away.
"Holy crud, Drew, it's just a prank! You gotta excuse him, dude's a major scaredy-cat. Besides, what sane guy would walk around with some stub on his arm, heh... that's not a real stub, is it?" Stevie felt the base of the male's stub to be sure, getting his answer when his fingers touched flesh.
"Afraid it is, buddy." the male shrugged, fixing on a cheeky grin.
"O-Okay, just checking... OH, MY GOOOOD! DREW, YOU WERE RIGHT! THIS DUDE AIN'T GOT NO HAND!" Then, the long-haired cyborg followed his best friend with a sprint.
Soon as they got home, the boys gave Shelby her caramel apple as a gesture of Stevie's kindness and decided to spend the rest of the night munching on leftover candy while marathoning cheesy Halloween specials. The way they saw it, they didn't need to force themselves to go out to celebrate Halloween, they could just chill out like the slacker bros they are at home. With plenty of sweets and laughs to go around, and no more scares for the rest of the night, hopefully...
"Oh, poor kid, all of his friends are getting candy but he keeps getting rocks. Must be like getting coal on Christmas," Drew munched on a miniature chocolate bar, glancing his pal standing by the couch with his hands around his face. "Stevie, are you gonna sit down anytime soon? You're about to miss the part with the giant pumpkin!"
"Hold on, just..." Stevie grunted, rubbing his eyes for some odd reason as he paced around. "Just need to get these stupid contacts out... gggrrh! How do I get these out?! How do I get 'em out?! ...I really hope I don' t have to scoop these out with a spoon or something."
Because what would be Halloween without the slacker bros' own unique brand of chaos?