It’s 4:30 PM. The daylight is already fading, a chill wind rustling against your face as you emerge from the car. Tightly gripping your jacket, you dash towards one of the stores in the strip mall. It used to be a Blockbuster VIdeo, but no one has bothered to replace it on a permanent basis. But a seasonal one? For two months out of the year, someone decides to turn the lights back on, ones which you are glad as you step into the makeshift Halloween Emporium.
You can feel the Spirit of the place gripping you as the large orange signage covers the windows, photographs of unnamed models posing in fifty dollar costumes. Normally, you’d make a joke about the visual fidelity, pointing out how the confused man in a mummy outfit was blown up from a 250 x 180 public domain image from Google, but you didn’t have time for such comedy. It was October 31st, and you had no idea what you’d be dressed up for at the office party.
You hadn’t intended on going, to be fair. You thought you’d spend the night inside, watching black and white horror movies while eating the leftover candy from the lack of trick-or-treaters who would shout outside your front door. Instead, your boss texted you – mandatory attendance. Was this something they could do? You were responsible for bringing all the two-liters of soda, and you knew Marc from accounting would never stop complaining if you didn’t show up with the limited edition Mountain Dew Pitch Black.
So you enter. The chaos of the store matches that inside your head. The shelves are already picked over, costume bags open, their contents strewn upon the floor. You step over one particularly sad looking witch hat, its pointed top clearly not feeling the season. The shouts of parents at their children made you uncomfortable as you walk briskly to the back of the store, hiding in an aisle. You look at what is hanging there – an off brand Ninja Turtles costume, its skin blue. You sigh. Is this your only option?
“Is there anything I can help you with?”
The voice startles you. You look over at the person who addressed you, clearly an employee of this establishment. She smiles, plastic vampire fangs in her mouth. Clearly, they were not molded for her specifically, her words distorted.
“I don’t think there’s much you can do,” you say, gesturing at the madness outside the isle. A teenager chucks an apple they bobbed for earlier in the day, seeing if anyone will catch it. “At this point, I’ll buy anything that’ll fit. Too late to be picky.”
You grasp the Bootleg Turtles costume. “Is there any reason why this looks like Sonic the Hedgehog?”