It snowed two inches overnight in Sloth's Pit, Wisconsin. Schools were cancelled for the day, perhaps for the week, while snowplows were gotten ready. Those who had to go to work had to scrape off their cars. Zeke, the local alien hunter, had to start up his plasma reactor to keep his house warm, and the hot cocoa was being sold out at Rudy's coffee shop.
If this was any time after November 27th, this would have been considered utterly normal. The only problem was that Halloween candy was still on the shelves, costumes were unsold, and jack-o-lanterns were freezing over. The date was October 25th. Halloween was less than a week away, and the people of Sloth's Pit were skating to work.
A certain plastics company in the region would have said this phenomenon was contained to the town, but the entirety of Douglas County was caught in a winter wonderland. This entire predicament made the mayor of Sloth's Pit rather perturbed.
"This is unacceptable. Simply unacceptable." Mayor Thorbus Gild Yozbit sarn-Zhrut1, Former Commander of the Accountant Army of Diz, paced back and forth in his office, leaving trails of flame on the carpet. "How am I going to win the election if I can't even control the weather?"
"Sir, with all due respect," said his assistant as he followed him around the office with a fire extinguisher, "Nobody expects a mayor to control the weather."
"Mayor Allegheny back in '79 could make it rain ice cream. That's the only reason why he won." Buzz flopped into the fire-resistant desk chair and sighed. "The kids won't even be able to trick-or-treat this year. It's almost as big of a fiasco as we had in '12 with the Plastics People getting their Place Plastered with Poultry Products."
"…sir, you're alliterating again." Zachary the assistant frowned, putting down the extinguisher on his desk and adjusting his glasses. "You know how you get when you alliterate."
Buzz snorted, smoke coming out of his nostril as he rubbed the stump of a horn on his head. "Halloween's important to my people, Zach. Samhain used to be a proud tradition among the Celts, and harvest season was celebrated pretty much worldwide around this time- at least up north. We had fun scarin' the crap outta all the humans." He turned his desk around and looked out the window. "And now, look at this. The fuckin' humans have screwed with the climate so much that kids are going to be getting frozen Twix bars in their candy bags."
"It is unfortunate, sir."
"Don't patronize me, Thorn." Buzz shook his head. "Nothing I can do about it."
"…perhaps you could strike a deal with the Plastics People?"
Buzz laughed a loud, hearty laugh unbecoming of a demon. "Someone like me? Make a deal with them? Thorn, it's usually the other way around." He shook his head and sighed. "Shoulda stayed with my cousin in Oregon. He had a good thing going."
Zachary tapped his chin. "…maybe you could move it back to the first warm night in November? You did it before that one year with the flooding."
"…that ain't a half-bad idea." Buzz smiled at Zach. "I'll notify the papers. We're supposed to have some good weather around the second or so. And hell, that's still the Day of the Dead in Mexico. We should be fine!" He grinned. "We can do this!"
A knock came at the door, and a mousy secretary peeked in. "Mayor Zhrut, your 2:00 is here. Dr. Short."
The mayor's expression suddenly fell. "The superintendent. Great. I bet he's here to yell at me for forcing the schools to close." Thorbus rubbed his face. "Zach, get him in a flame suit before he gets in here. I don't want to incinerate him."
"Of course, sir."
In any other town in the US, if not the world- with perhaps two or three exceptions- if someone called themselves "Ezekiel Savoy, Professional Alien Hunter", they would get sectioned faster than one could say "Want to see me vaporize a Flarzarok in five seconds flat?" But in Sloth's Pit, the Savoy family had been protecting the town for generations. Sloth's Pit had had two mayors, five chiefs of police, two militia commanders, a scout den leader, and three school principals from the Savoy family, and all of them had gotten their positions from the fact that they knew how to deal with the threats to -or from- the town.
The barista, a college girl with red hair whose nametag read 'Hi, my name is Aura!' smiled at the alien hunter as he came in to the Grounds for Thought cafe and bookstore. "You actually made it in today!"
"Yer damn right I did." Ezekiel started unwrapping the furs that covered up his mouth. They were from Zordonian Space Weasels, and they always kept him warm in the winter. "Make it a double today, Pirate Girl."
"Arr!" Aura saluted him with her bionic hand, going over to start making his drink. "So, other than the fact that the mammoth herd is coming down early, how are you?"
"Mammoths? Here?" Zeke chuckled. "Please. They'll be down here in December, like they always are." He raised an eyebrow. "They… aren't coming down early, are they?"
"Was a joke, Zeke," Aura said. Her metal hand spasmed and accidentally crushed the cup, which was only half-full of coffee. "Ah! Fuck!"
"Everythin' all right?"
The barista held her bionic hand, which sparked and twitched. "God damn. Third time this month." She unscrewed the hand and threw it on the counter, taking a new one out of her bag under the cash register and putting it on her stump. "I need to get Dr. Oates to look at me. It's not the hands, I'm sure of that much."
"Could be a crossed wire in the mounting."
"Could be." She started re-making the latte. "I take it it's been quiet on the upper front?"
"Xenos ain't come in lately, no." The alien hunter chuckled. "I think I scared them off by convincing them that this place is somewhere called Night Vale."
Aura laughed. "Baldwin would shit himself stupid if they knew this place was real. My friends and I actually get together to heckle episodes of that sometimes."
Zeke chuckled, and looked out in the mall, up at the skylight. It was darker in here than usual, on account of all the snow on it. The giant plastic pumpkin where people could take pictures with the King of Knives looked out of place amongst the winter coats and people drinking hot chocolate. "…I keep having to remind myself it's October."
"Climate change sucks, Zeke. I probably won't even be able to go to the Eight Rings this year." She shook her head. "Might not be a bad thing. I won't have to see people cosplay as Sebastian the Hook-Handed Man." She looked at her own prosthesis meaningfully.
Ezekiel frowned. "Just because your grandad was… unhinged doesn't mean that-"
"Unhinged?" Aura snorted, scratching her face with her real hand. "Try psychotic. Whole town knows it. Fuck, he's become a nationally-known folktale. Internationally known." She made a hook with her prosthesis. "The hook-handed freak, Sebastian MacPherson, who nearly murdered a pair of teenagers that drove away just in time, leaving his hook on their door."
Zeke sighed. "You're too self-conscious, my dear. Nobody judges you because of what your grandad did. And if they do… well, those who mind don't matter-"
"And those who matter don't mind." She gave a soft smile, and turned away, before giving Ezekiel his drink. "Here ya go. Anything else?"
The alien hunter took out a fifty and handed it to the barista. "I might pick up that new UFO book that came out. Some of the boys at the lodge can have a good laugh with it."
Aura smiled, and gave Ezekiel back his change. He refused it, like he usually did, but she always offered it to him. He smiled as he sipped his pumpkin drink. "Be sure to put that to something responsible."
"You know me, Zeke," she said, rubbing at the long-faded scars along a vein on her left arm. "Always responsible."
"Happy Hallows, Aura. And don't let the things in the forest get you." He snickered, and headed to a table, where he started reading the morning edition of the Sloth's Pit Times.
The meeting of the Sloth's Pit Conspirators- or the SPC, as they liked to call it- had a smaller attendance than usual. Most of them were stuck at home, unable to get out of their driveways. Only five people- a mere third of their vast member base- could make it out tonight.
The president, thankfully, was able to make it. He was reading off some possible theories regarding the current crisis. "Pro-Santa corporations want to make people take their mind off the less profitable and more controversial Halloween season by creating a weather machine."
"Weather machines are illegal in Wisconsin, Johnny." The vice president of the SPC, Vivian Tenant, rolled her eyes. "Everyone knows that."
"Well then," he looked down the list a bit. "The Reptoid Queen Stefani Germanotta is attempting to terraform the Earth, starting with Sloth's Pit and the Douglas County area, to make it more resemble her home planet."
"Point of order?"
The other four people present groaned as they realized that Nik was the one who was speaking. The president rubbed his face. "Yes Nikolai?"
"Didn't we come to the conclusion three weeks ago that Kim and Khole Kardashain were the reptoid queens?"
"That conclusion was rescinded due to the fact that their agent threatened to sue if we ever contacted them again with requests for DNA samples." The president shook his head. "The man is keeping us down."
The assembly looked down uncomfortably. Finally, Vivi spoke up. "…what if this is the new normal?"
"No," Johnny said in the firmest tone his cracking voice could muster. "We are not going to assume that this is the new normal. In Sloth's Pit, it rains fish every other Sunday, and at 2:45 every Tuesday, gravity inverts itself on Main Street. A quarter of the houses in town are haunted, we have a family of gypsy mothpeople living in the woods- at least, I hope they're still living there- and we can't party in the forest because we'll get attacked by a psychotic goat creature. That is normal here. But this-" he gestured out to the snow falling outside the window- "this is not normal. It will never be normal here. Ever."
At this point, Nikolai's phone chimed with a Twitter notification. He took it out and sighed. "Well, the Eight Rings just said that the Halloween Party is still on. There's that at least."
"Yeah," Johnny sighed. "There's that."
Despite it all, the mayor declared that Trick-or-Treating would still go on Halloween night. So, when October 31st came, children were still going about dressed as werewolves or soldiers or pixies or Disney Princesses, or werewolf soldier princesses. S & C Plastics, for what it was worth, was giving out handwarmers and serving cups of cocoa for anyone who wanted to venture out to see them. But this story is not about them.
Down the street, bundled in a scarf, walked the Goatman. He was on his way to the Eight Rings for the annual dance. Even despite the coat and despite all of his fur, he shivered underneath the bundle of clothing. He was colder than Lucifer in the Ninth Circle of Hell, except he thought that Lucifer had it better, because there probably wasn't a lot of incredibly cold wind in Hell.
After a while, the Goatman became aware he was being followed. He looked over his shoulder to see a woman dressed in late 1800s winter furs, overcoats and a hat. He smiled at this, raising a hand in greeting. "Hail, Jessica."
"D-don't be so formal, Jasper." She shivered as she caught up with him. "It's freezing out here. Ain't had a Halloween night this bad since that flood back in '91."
"…I'm assuming you mean 1891." The Goatman frowned. "I've only been around since the 1920's."
"…I keep forgetting you're younger than me, Capricorn." Sinning Jessie laughed softly, leaning against him for warmth, allegedly. She looked around the street and frowned. "…snow on Halloween. What has the world come to?"
"Black is white, up and down, and short is long." Jasper shook his head. "From what I've heard, that's kind of the entire point of this town. I'm surprised it hasn't done this sooner."
As they walked, the Goatman felt a tug on his coat. He looked down and saw a girl, no older than six, smiling up at him. She was wearing green face paint and had her hair dyed red; the rest of her costume was hidden under a winter coat. "I like your costume, mister!"
"Honey," said a concerned mother in an exasperated tone, walking up to her, "please don't disturb the nice man."
The Goatman put up a placating hand. "It's quite all right, madam. Half the reason I wear this to begin with." The Goatman kneeled and smiled at the child. "And who are you?"
"I'm Gamora! I woulda been Rocket, but mom couldn't make a Groot to go with him."
The Goatman had no idea what she just said, but assumed it had to do with a movie of some kind. He chuckled, and reached into his coat pocket. He removed a hard caramel from it and put it in her bag with a smile. "Happy Halloween, Gamora."
"What do we say?" asked the mother.
"Trick or Treat! And thank you." The girl smiled and went on her way.
Sinning Jessie looked at the Goatman. "…humans are amazing, aren't they? You can make it so that it snows over a month early, and they'll still go out in costumes and try to scare people witless because it's fun."
"Halloween means a lot to people. Christmas is a time of charity, Thanksgiving is for family, and Halloween…"
The Goatman looked around the street as they walked. People were bundled around Jack-O-Lanterns for warmth. A group of college kids were howling at the moon that was barely visible through the clouds, acting as if though they were werewolves- they may very well have been. Zeke the Alien Hunter was being watched by his wife to make sure he wasn't giving out anything radioactive in the candy basket. All of them were filled with some form of revelry, whether it was the child sucking on a Tootise roll they had gotten in their bag or the sound of a television playing The Nightmare Before Christmas- all too apt considering the circumstances- or the screams of people in the allegedly haunted house down the street, scaring themselves by looking at their own shadow.
"Jasper?" Sinning Jessie looked at him. "You went quiet all of the sudden. You were saying something?"
The Goatman smiled. "No matter what, Halloween is for humans."