An Intergalactic HalloweenbyEt2bruttus©
"Good morning Nicholas Meyers, this is your station administrator, Rutherford Dietrich, with your wake-up call."
Nick squinted through drowsy eyes at the source of his interrupted sleep on the nearby nightstand. His silver alarm clock displayed "7:00 am" in blue digital numbering. Above it, a hologram displayed the image of a man with a black mustache giving him a confident grin that reflected his natural bravado.
"Wake up Nicholas; I hope you've marked your calendar, because today is that day again...Halloween! That's right, the station's most popular holiday since human acceptance into the Federation is here! Be sure to have your bowls of candy ready for those spooky little trick-or-treaters today! And of course, we here at the Alpha Draconis Residential Station encourage you to get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up yourself! How about it Nicholas, maybe one of the classics this year? Ghost, vampire, pirate? Wake up and get into the Halloween spirit, Nicholas! Wake up now, Nicholas!"
Nicholas had long since wrapped his own pillow snuggly around his ears, desperately trying to drown out the boisterous drivel of the automated voice of the station administrator By the time that audible clear-cut voice was urging him to wake up repeatedly he had reached his hand over to tiredly fumble for the off switch.
"Shut up, shut up, I'm waking up," Nick mumbled incoherently as Dietrich's voice noisily continued to urge him out of his slumber.
With one final slap down onto the alarm clock, the voice ceased its prating and the hologram projection of the man's face disappeared all at once. Nick threw down his pillow and let out a ragged sigh that expressed his lament as having to wake up; especially waking up to the clamorous voice of the renowned hotel tycoon, no less.
The guy already owned half the residential stations in the Milky Way Galaxy; why the hell did he have to inflate his own ego more by installing his own smug self into the alarm clocks?!
Nick shook his head and sat himself up on the bed, rubbing his weary muscles and smoothing out his curly brown hair.
He looked up at the plain gray ceiling of his apartment. "Lights," Nick pronounced loudly to the ceiling.
With that, the lights in his apartment flickered on and the shutters that concealed his windows drew open audibly. The metal shutter seal on his window had opened to reveal the infinite, majestic void of outer space, along with the white dwarf star, Alpha Draconis, not far off in the distance.
Nick slowly drew himself up from the bed, being sure not to put too much pressure on his left leg. He cursed to himself as throbbing pressure spiked in his calve as soon as he had stood himself up.
Damn it, why had the aches been showing up again lately? Doctor Civilin had said that the therapy would have eased most of this pain by now. It had been over three years since the accident had happened. Surely the physical therapy of one of the most esteemed medical professionals in this sector would have alleviated most of the worst symptoms by then.
Nick still struggled to keep on his feet before an automated feminine monotone voice pronounced itself throughout the room.
"Good morning, Nick. My sensors detect elevated levels of stress and physical discomfort. Shall I alert a doctor?" the voice asked him.
Nick groaned, gently rubbing the calf of his leg. "No thanks, Jan," he replied, using the name that he had dubbed for the feminine voice of his room's automated system.
"Very well, Nick. Would you like me to prepare your clothes for today? Perhaps a Halloween costume of your choosing?" Jan asked.
Nick shook his head. "No thanks, just the usual shorts and a t-shirt would be great. I don't care which ones," he replied simply, walking over to his kitchen. "Oh and a cup of coffee; cream and sugar," he added.
"Of course, Nick," Jan replied, complying with his orders.
Nick sat himself down at the kitchen table as his coffee began to brew on the coffee maker of its own accord. Meanwhile, he heard the machinery in his closet automatically sort through and select his desired clothes. When his mug of coffee had finished pouring, a mechanical hand had extended from the ceiling to carry the drink over to his kitchen table.
"Thanks Jan," he muttered, taking his first sip of the brew. He picked up the translucent tablet device sitting on the table. As soon as his fingers made contact with it, a collage of images and words filled the page; the headlines of the day's breaking news stories shifting across the top of it in bold letters.
As soon as he started reading the cover story about 'colonial development efforts' and drank at his coffee, he was interrupted by the enthusiastic knocking on his door followed by shrill cries of "trick or treat!"
Nick gulped down a mouthful of hot coffee and dropped his tablet. "Geez, the kids are at it already?" he muttered, looking down at his watch.
He knew that there was always such enthusiasm across the station every time October 31st rolled around. But even then, seven thirty in the morning? Had these kids no shame?! Nick then slapped himself on the head as it occurred to him that it was currently a Saturday and all the station's children were off from school for the day.
He sprung up from his chair as quickly as he could, given his leg condition. He scrambled across the apartment over to the door as the children continued knocking incessantly and one of them began ringing the doorbell. He looked through the glass peephole and saw two short, skinny forms staring up at his door, bobbing up and down on their tiptoes excitedly. Behind them, a taller, similar-looking figure stood by, grinning at the eagerness of the children. Next to her was a small oval-shaped baby stroller levitating above the ground like a hovercraft.
"Hey Jan; it's Eiza and her kids!" Nick pronounced to his automated system.
He put his mouth near the door and yelled out to his familiar visitors, "Just gimme one second!"
Nick's eyes darted from place to place across the apartment. He scratched his head confusedly, having clearly misplaced something of vital importance for that particular day.
"Crap; Jan, where did I leave the bowls of candy?" he asked, searching every nook of his living room.
"On the dining room table, Nick," came the immediate robotic reply. "I dispersed the contents into their respective bowls and labeled them just as you had requested."
Nick spun around and quickly limped his way over to the dining room table (grey, like much of the rest of his apartment). Atop it was five large bowls filled to the brim with various Halloween candy. Around the rim of each bowl was also a plastic laminated label.
Nick smiled, looking up and blowing a kiss to the ceiling. "Jan, what, oh what, would I do without you?"
"By my estimations, Nick, your apartment would consistently be in a state of disarray, laundry would rarely be washed, dishes would scarcely be cleaned..." the feminine robotic voice went off on a calculated tangent.
Nick chuckled, "I get the picture, Jan."
Nick gathered the bowls, stacking them on top of each other until he was carrying a precariously leaning tower of candy bowls. He wobbled across the room like an inexperienced restaurant waiter; the tower of Halloween candy teetering back and forth as he went. His attempts to keep the treats contained within the bowls were for naught as he had already begun laying a trail of candy behind him due to the constant spillage from the top bowl. By the time he reached the door, he had left an entire stream of candy corn and other treats leading all the way back to the dining room table.
He set the bowls down beside the door and swung it open welcomingly. The two short, costumed children were still giggling ecstatically in anticipation of the long-awaited candy. They both expectantly held out a treat bucket each; a hologram projection of a jack-o-lantern blinking in bright colors of orange on the side of the buckets.
"Trick or treat!" both the youngsters cheered out again beneath their Halloween masks as soon as Nick had made his appearance from the other side of the door.
Nick gave a mock cringe of fear by gasping and covering his mouth with his hands.
"Oh my, what spooky, terrifying little monsters we've got here!" he chuckled, patting the children on the heads. "What are you two pretending to be today?" he asked them with feint curiosity, even though he already knew the answer as judging by their masks.
"We're humans!" they announced gleefully in unison.
The child on the right took off its peach-colored human mask, revealing underneath it a scaly green face with beady black eyes, two little slits in place of a nose, and a gleaming smile of razor-sharp teeth. The female child next to him followed suit, taking off its plastic human mask to reveal its similar serpentine alien face underneath.
At first glance, the average human would probably be intimidated by the foreign appearance of the green-skinned garrkrons. The scaly skin and sharp teeth were certainly disconcerting features on the surface. When humans had first encountered the garrkrons during their space flight endeavors, there had been a great deal of misunderstanding upon first meeting. However, despite their otherwise frightening appearance, the garrkrons were actually very courteous and friendly.
Upon first contact with the humans, they had quickly made use of their natural affinity for diplomacy to allay the fears and concerns that came with the humans encountering an alien species for the first time. Soon enough, this had progressed into a stable friendship and alliance between the two species. Not long after that, the humans had been officially accepted into the Galactic Alliance Systems Federation (or simply GASF), thanks in large part to their good relations with the garrkrons.
"So, you two are humans, huh? Well, do you know what I am?" he asked the two kids.
The garrkron boy shrugged, replying, "A human without a costume?"
Nick shook his head with a grin. He retreated back into his room quickly, retrieving a menacing alien monster mask that one of his coworkers down at the docks had given him a few days before.
He jumped back to the door, raising his hands up over his head, letting out his best attempt at a monstrous growl. "Grrrraahhhh! I'm a giant snagglebeast from the pits of Vega, and I eat human children for breakfast, nom nom nom!" he imitated a monster voice while hobbling toward them.
The display brought about a round of laughs from Eiza and the kids. Nick took off the mask and tossed it back into the room, smiling down at the two garrkron children and looked up at their mother. Eiza was in the process of comforting the youngest of her children in the hovering baby stroller. When the infant fell back into a sleep, Eiza turned her gaze upward to Nick.
"Forgive me if we woke you by coming here so early," she said with a grin, obviously taking notice of his appearance comprised of a wifebeater and boxer-shorts. "They really wanted to come see their Uncle Nick though," Eiza laughed.
"Nah, it's fine. I was hoping the little rascals would come around," Nick replied, ruffling both of the kids' tendril-like hair jokingly, eliciting a round of giggles from both of them.
"Now, who wants some candy?" Nick asked the two of them, backing up inside his apartment to retrieve the treats. The two alien children grew excited again at this, bouncing up and down like two energetic jackhammers.
Nick inspected each of the five candy bowls until he came to the one labeled 'garrkron.' Nick peered inside the bowl to observe its contents with a slight grimace of distaste. Inside the bowl was an assortment of beetles, centipedes and other insect-like organisms. To Nick's relief, none of the creepy critters that comprised this "candy" bowl appeared to be alive. On the other hand, they didn't appear to be very cooked or fried, if at all.
He brought the bowl out to them, doing his best to keep his previous meal safely contained within his stomach as he did so. The two children beamed with delight, digging their tentacled hands into the bowl and scooping up a handful of the bug/treats and depositing them into their treat buckets.
Nick placed the bowl back in the room beside the others and leaned back on the doorframe as he squinted at the sight of the two children scarfing down some of their bugs greedily. Eiza took notice of discomfort crossing his demeanor with a resonant chuckle.
"They are a delicacy back on our planet," she explained, cradling her infant in her scaly tentacled arms. "Don't look so repulsed, dear Nicholas. Remember when you made me eat a slice of pitsa back when we worked on the fleet together? That wasn't a great experience for me or my stomach either, was it?" she laughed.
Nick rolled his eyes. "It's called pizza; and hey, you're the one that willingly agreed to that. Besides, at least pizza is prepared in a stove," he said, eyeing the uncooked insects again.
One of her children gulped down a treat before digging out one of the beetles from the treat bucket to hand it to Nick.
"Do you want one, Uncle Nick?" the girl asked him, offering the beetle resting on her tentacle.
Nick laughed, "No thanks, sweetie."
The girl shrugged and she and her brother pulled their human masks back on. The two of them began performing their best human impersonations, causing Nick to smirk again.
"So, what are your plans for today?" Eiza asked him curiously.
He shrugged blankly, looking from one end of the hallway to the other. Other kids had started to come out to participate in the trick-or-treating further down. Some of them were human, as evidenced by the obvious skin tones and general appearance; while others were just as obviously alien due to the presence of green or blue skin tones, fur, claws, tentacles or any manner of physical features considered occult by human standards. Even with Halloween costumes being worn by all the children, it wasn't difficult to differentiate the real humans from the real aliens.
"I don't know yet," he replied back to her. "I have off from work today, so I may just stick around and hand out the candy. Can't just leave the bowl out here or they'll all just run off with it, right?" he grinned.
Eiza raised an eyebrow and slapped his arm with her tentacle. "You are not going to spend another holiday by yourself, are you?"
Nick reconciled this for a few moments. Ever since the accident that crippled his leg and string of events that had followed, Nick admittedly didn't get out of his apartment much. Aside from his work down at the docks and the regular trips to the doctor, gym, or stores conveniently located aboard the station, he had no other reason to venture out often. He would occasionally make a trip back home to Earth every year or so to visit family, but would immediately return back to the Alpha Draconic Station as quick as he had left.
The fact that he still hadn't answered her question didn't go unnoticed by Eiza. "Nick," she spoke softly.
Nick looked up at her questioningly. "Yeah?"
"I know why you've been so apathetic since it happened. But, dear, don't you think it's about time you've moved on from her?" she asked him with concern, trying to keep her voice down so as not to alert the neighbors of the conversation.
Nick held a passive expression, shrugging at her. "That's the farthest thing from my mind, Eiza. I just don't get out as much as I used to because of my bum leg, that's all."
Eiza put her hands/tentacles on her hips, cocking her head at him. "You think human females are the only ones adept at reading men? Come on, Nick, I know you're still shell-shocked over what happened between you and Casey," she said, walking over and leaning back on the wall beside him.
She continued, "Has it ever occurred to you that there are females on just this station alone that would be all over you if you just put some effort in? You're kind, considerate, good-looking and..." Eiza went on about his attributes.
"And a cripple, let's not forget that," he sourly replied. "A cripple who works at the docks because the galactic fleet didn't want him anymore."
Eiza raised an eyebrow, frowning at him. "In the long run, that's not a detail that women will really care about."
Nick said nothing, looking down at his feet as a group of children scampered by him. Eiza suddenly turned away from him as she saw what one of her children was doing in Nick's apartment.
One of the garrkron children had apparently bet the other one to eat one of the human candies from the bowl. The boy garrkron flicked his long, serpentine tongue out and was about to taste one of the Kit Kat bars.
"Rego, do not eat that!" she scolded, snatching the Kit Kat away from her boy. "Human candy is not good for you; it has too much sugar that will make you sick." The boy pouted with disgruntlement and the girl giggled with mischievous glee at having won the bet due to her mother's intervention.
Nick smiled at the display before turning his gaze downward to the infant garrkron within the pod-shaped stroller. The infant was adorned in a human baby onesie that says "Berry Cute" on the front of it, as well as a matching pair of booties on its feet. The scaly green infant looked up at him with fascination and curiosity, its beady black eyes twinkling and little dribbles of drool falling from its open mouth.
Nick reached down and tickled its belly, causing the baby to kick its legs happily in the stroller, letting out little giggles. It reached up one of its arms and its tentacle gently coiled itself around Nick's hand, causing Nick to jolt from the cool, slimy feeling. Years of growing up interacting with aliens hadn't made actually touching one any less strange. Eiza came back out into the hallway with her two kids in tow, turning back toward Nick.
"Listen; Admiral Davidson of the sixth fleet is having a Halloween celebration in the dining center tonight. I think it would be really good for you to come on down. You don't have to dance or anything if you don't want to; just come down, wear a costume, mingle with friends, get drunk, that sort of thing," Eiza said with a smile.
Nick rubbed his arm. "I don't know, Eiza. Never was the party type and never was a fan of Admiral Davidson either."
She reached over and gripped his shoulder, gently squeezing it. "Please? For me?" she pleaded, giving him the ever-successful pouting lip look.
He rolled his eyes, letting out a sigh and slapping her tentacle playfully. "Ok, ok, I'll go to the party," he replied.
Eiza beamed happily, a sharp-toothed smile spreading across her face. "Very good! We'll break that lazy habit of yours yet. Get that vampire out of his coffin," she giggled.
"Now, be at the dining center at six o'clock. And Nick, if you aren't wearing a costume, there will be, as you humans say, hell to pay," she gave him a fiendish grin. "See you at six."
Nick nodded, waving her and her children off. Eiza gave Nick a final wink before continuing on down the hall with her stroller. Her children eagerly scampered on ahead of her to the next apartment, once again donning their human masks for the next round of trick-or-treating.
"Trick or treat," a pair of gruff voices muttered behind him.
Nick spun around and saw two very furry forms standing before him. One of the children was dressed up as a Medieval-styled knight in armor while his sister was dressed up as a pink ballerina. Nick stifled a laugh at the display.
Nick gave the two vithians (anthropomorphic wolf-like aliens) their own specific treats from the bowl marked as such before sending them on their way to the next apartment. The next arrival was a group comprised of two humans, a garrkron, and three children of other species as well. Their parents all gave a hello to Nick as soon as they had recognized him as the friendly neighborhood dock worker. Meanwhile, the six children dug into the bowls of candy while he did his best to pair the correct bowl with the correct species.