A Haunting Halloween
“We want to be pirates,” said Beemer, the eldest chipmunk, brandishing his rather shop-worn sword and his tattered eye patch. Harley and Suzuki nodded enthusiastically.
“How about you, Gizmo?” What do you want to be?” Ozette asked.
Gizmo ran through - and rejected - a list of ideas. First he wanted to be a pumpkin, but there was the matter of his bushy squirrel tail, which presented a problem.
“How about a squirrelly scarecrow?” Ozette suggested.
Gizmo shook his furry head, deep in thought.
“Maybe a prince?” Suzuki chimed in.
“Or a tree?” Harley added. “You'd be a natural. We could fasten nuts all over you and trick- or- treaters could gobble them up.”
Ozette gave the chipmunk a stern look, and he gave her a rue rueful grin.
“I know! I know!” shouted Gizmo. “I can be a dragon. We can cover my tail with scales. That would be so cool.”
“Hmmm,” Ozette thought. She raised a paw and said, “Sydney is a genius when it comes to sewing. Let's see if she would make costumes for all of you.”
They scurried over to Sydney's cottage and found their fairy friend putting the finishing touches on her own costume.
“A witch!” Gizmo shouted. “I didn't think there were witches in our realm.”
“There aren't any real witches here. She's just dressing as a witch for one night,” Ozette explained, patting the agitated squirrel.
The animals explained what they would like to be for Halloween, and Sydney nodded, smiling with anticipation.
“We already have our costumes,” Beemer said, waving his little sword dangerously close to Sydney's ankles.
“What you have is looking a little, well, ratty,” she said, jumping back. “I will make you even better pirate outfits.”
The chipmunks nodded happily, displaying their sharp, rodent teeth.
“And you, Ozette, what will you be?” Sydney asked.
“Hmmm,” she said scratching her head with her paw. “I have been so busy I have not thought of a costume. Maybe I will just go as a white squirrel,” she said.
Sydney scrunched up her fairy face, deep in thought.
“It has to be really special,” Gizmo said, hugging Ozette's leg. “Ozette is such a super squirrel.”
Sydney snapped her fingers. “That's it! I will make you a super -squirrel- girl costume.”
Gizmo rolled on the floor with laughter, and the chipmunks soon joined him, chanting “Super-Squirrel-Girl. Super-Squirrel-Girl.”
“I don't know, Sydney,” Ozette said. “That seems a little pretentious.”
Knowing how modest Ozette could be, Sydney said, “Just leave it to me. It will be perfect for you.”
Ozette and her crew left Sydney to work her magic on their costumes and headed home. When they reached the chipmunks' burrow, Ozette noticed that Ariel, another fairy friend, had left three woven orange-colored baskets in the shape of pumpkins for the chipmunks.
“This will be so fun, Gizmo!” they shouted.
“We will pick you up tomorrow at dusk,” Ozette said.
When they reached their nesting tree, there were two baskets identical to the ones the chipmunks were given. “Lots of treats will fit in these, Ozette,” Gizmo said sticking his head into the basket and envisioning it filled to the brim with his favorite snacks.
After a nap, Ozette and Gizmo scampered to their elf friend Oliver's charming cottage, deep in the woods. He had invited them over to help bake Halloween treats in his sduper-dooper elf kitchen. Late blooming flowers cascaded from window boxes and smoke curled lazily from his river stone fireplace. Ozette shut her eyes and breathed deeply. How she loved the scents of autumn.
Oliver greeted them at the door, smiling his broadest smile.
“Uncle, Oliver!” Gizmo shouted, flinging himself at the elf.
Oliver ruffled the squirrel's fur fondly and led them to the fire where he served them spiced cider and ginger cookies cut into pumpkin shapes.
After their snack, Oliver led them into the kitchen where he had already set out the ingredients for his favorite of Halloween treats – spicy acorn supremes, nutty nutkins, and pumpkin nutters. He helped Gizmo measure and mix, stir and roll out the goodies. Soon the cottage was filled with the spicy smell of baking cookies.
They chatted by the fire while the cookies cooled in the kitchen. Oliver modeled his cowboy costume and gave a smile of approval as Gizmo told him about the costumes Sydney was making for them. All too soon, it was time to leave. Oliver filled large bags with cookies, wrapping each carefully so it wouldn't break.
“I'll help you carry these to your nest. By the way, who will be giving out these treats while you and the gang are trick or treating?” he asked.
“Nissa has family visiting, and she needs a break from her raucous squirrel family,” Ozette said. “She will pass out treats at our tree while I take Gizmo and the chipmunks trick or treating.”
The next morning the squirrels tidied their nest and had a hearty breakfast.
“Let's take a nap, Gizmo. You'll be up later than usual tonight,” she said.
They tucked themselves into their nesting hole and slept several hours. After they awoke and had something to eat - fresh acorn torte, dried apples and mushrooms - they climbed down their tree to find their costumes finished and neatly folded.
“Wow!” said Gizmo holding up the dragon. “This is better than I ever imagined!”
Sydney had fashioned a green dragon out of fabric leaving a place in the rear for Gizmo to tuck his tail. This was covered in shiny gold and green scales. The wings were shades of green, and when Gizmo tried on the costume he could flap his little wings. When he opened his dragon mouth, it looked like little flames shooting into the air.
“Perfect,” said Ozette, while Gizmo ran in circles breathing “fire” and making dragon noises. “That Sydney is a genius.”
Ozette picked up her costume and gasped. Sydney had sewn a blue vest and appliquéd a large red “S” on the front. Sitting on the curve of the “S” she had embroidered a white squirrel holding a banner saying, “Super-Squirrel Girl.” She had included red tights with a hole cut for Ozette's tail and a red cape with the same “S” emblem on the back. A little red pillbox hat with a white squirrel embroidered on the front completed her costume.
“Wow!” Gizmo gasped as he placed the hat between Ozette's ears. “That is awesome.
Even Ozette had to admit that Sydney had outdone herself, although she knew she would feel a little silly parading around the forest. But she wouldn't hurt Sydney's feelings for the world or disappoint Gizmo and the chipmunks.
Ozette set up the cookies for the trick-or-treaters on a log under her nesting tree, knowing that Nissa would arrive shortly.
As dusk fell, Ozette and Gizmo dressed in their costumes, grabbed their treat baskets and headed to the chipmunks' burrow.
How adorable the trio looked! Sydney had fashioned little black tunics nipped at the waist with belts and silver buckles. Their pirate hats sported skulls and crossbones, and they were carrying shiny silver swords. Each wore an eye patch and Gizmo clapped his paws and giggled. The chipmunks were enchanted with the squirrels' costumes and ran through the woods singing, “Super Squirrel. She's really quite a girl!”
“Let's work our way to Sydney's to thank her,” Ozette said.
On the way, they stopped at friend's houses, burrows and nests to call “Trick or Treat!” Everyone was out on this crisp autumn night. Blazing bonfires illuminated the ebony sky, and fairies and elves greeted the trick- or- treaters in clever costumes. Some of the elves had dressed as ghosts or princes, and many of the fairies were princesses, mice or bunnies .
Ozette had never seen such unique costumes. At one garden, a black cat offered them steaming cups of cider, and Ozette recognized her squirrel friends, Daphne and Fiona, dressed in tutus, leotards and crowns as they curled their paws around the steaming cups and inhaled the cider's fragrance.
Their feet crunched on the autumn leaves as they scurried down the path. When they reached Sydney's garden, she greeted them warmly in her witch's costume, complete with a pointy hat and a broom. She plunked sunflower seed chunkettes into their baskets, straightening Suzuki's pirate hat, which had slipped rakishly over one eye.
“You all look adorable,” she said admiring her handiwork. “And Ozette, you really are a super-squirrel-girl. Come inside. I want to show you the tablecloths and table decorations I'm making for the Fall Festival.”
“You are so talented, Sydney,” Ozette said admiringly.
“Ozette, we want to trick or treat. You two will get talking and we won't get to trick or treat enough,” Gizmo whined, grabbing at Ozette's paw.
“Can't we go ahead and meet you later?” Suzuki begged.
“Please?” they asked in unison.
Ozette looked at them, frowning. The foursome tended to get into trouble when unsupervised.
“OK,” she said. “But stick to the path and meet me at Princess Abrianna's. She wants to see us in our costumes.” Remember, stay ON the path!” she shouted as they scampered off.
Off they went down the well-worn path. They had a great time greeting friends, admiring their costumes and collecting goodies. Suddenly, Harley stopped.
“What is that?” he whispered. Off the path in the deep woods they saw what looked like a huge bonfire. Listening closely, they thought they heard murmuring.
“Let's check it out!” urged Beemer.
Gizmo held back. “Ozette told us to stay on the path. I have never been to this part of the woods before,” he said.
“Come on. Don't be a spoilsport,” Harley said sprinting toward the fire. Reluctantly, Gizmo and the others followed. They walked silently through the dark forest, using the bright stars and the moon to guide them. It was further into the woods than they had thought. They suddenly stopped as they heard wings beating rapidly. Gizmo looked up and pointed at the large owl perched on a branch just ahead.
“Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?” it seemed to call.
Gizmo shuddered, despite his attempt to act brave. Suzuki was holding back as the acrid smell of the fire permeated the air. But Harley and Beemer burst ahead.
Suddenly they heard a blood-curdling cackle. It took all of Gizmo's courage not to run back to the path. He was so scared his little orange teeth were chattering.
As quietly as they could, they crept closer to the fire. Gizmo gasped as they reached the clearing. A large cauldron sat on the fire and was being stirred by a strange-looking creature. Although it was dressed sort of like Sydney, that was where the resemblance ended. This witch had a large hooked nose, and long, straight black hair partially covered by a tall, pointed hat. Her black cloak swirled around her ankles. She was cackling to herself as three black cats slouched by a stack of firewood. Beemer pointed a paw to a branch near the fire. Four jet blackjet-black bats were hanging there, slowly flapping their wings as they awoke.
“Just a few more minutes, my pretties,” the witch cackled to her cats. Gizmo was shaking so hard his wings were rattling, and he hoped she would not hear him.
The witch cackled again, and her cats wound themselves around her ankles, purring.
“Almost time, my loves,” she said stirring harder.
Suzuki grabbed Gizmo's paw and pointed to the sky. A flock of ghostly, almost transparent creatures were flying toward the cauldron. They hovered above it, and the witch cackled again.
The foursome ducked as the ghostly creatures flew overhead, hoping they would not be seen. They looked toward the witch again. She pulled out her ladle and sniffed the liquid in the cauldron.
“Ahh,” she chortled. “Perfect.” Using the ladle, she tossed the liquid into the night sky. They watched in amazement. Words seem to be forming with each toss of the milky liquid. Gizmo gasped.
“Have a Haunting Halloween” was written in squiggly letters and splashed across the inky sky. The witch cackled again and seemed to look right at them. The foursome turned tail and ran as quickly as they could out of the woods, the witch's cackles echoing through the night. They didn't stop until they reached the path and ran smack into Ozette who was headed for Princess Abrianna's.
“Hey. What's wrong?” she asked, as Gizmo and the chipmunks grabbed her legs and hung on, almost knocking her down. “You look scared to death. I told you there was nothing to be afraid of. After all, there are no witches in these woods.”
While the chipmunks and Gizmo were still clinging to her and shaking, she looked toward the still-flicking bonfire in the woods and smiled.