Quiet Night In
The character of Clarence Odbody is borrowed from the film It’s A Wonderful Life
; all other characters are borrowed from Buffy The Vampire Slayer
. Some dialogue from ‘Halloween’, by Carl Ellsworth.Xander Harris, This Is Not Your Life30. Quiet Night In
‘Clarence, I figured out before that Principal Flutie’s not having been killed by hyena-possessed students meant Snyder wouldn’t be principal and forcing Buffy to do things she didn’t want to do. But now Flutie has been killed, is Snyder still principal just the same?’— ‘Because of the change in timeline, he was not available to take up that position at the later date when it became vacant. Principal Flutie was instead succeeded by Principal Seymour.’
‘So, is he—’ Before Xander could finish his sentence, Clarence interrupted him.— ‘She.’
‘Oh! Right.’ Xander adjusted his thoughts. ‘Well, is she
forcing students into the volunteer safety program for little kids going trick-or-treating?’— ‘Not the way you remember Principal Snyder doing. He acted out of his dislike and contempt for the students, especially those students for whom he had the greatest dislike and contempt, such as yourself and, most of all of course, Buffy.’
‘Well, Buffy would never have actually volunteer-volunteered for the program. I remember she was looking forward to a quiet night in, because the vampires never come out on Halloween. Except that turned out not to be true, didn’t it? Spike was on the streets, rounding up people who’d been transformed into monsters and demons by Ethan Rayne’s enchanted costumes so that they could help him attack Buffy. If he’s still out there doing the same thing with Buffy in normal condition, he’ll be in for a nasty surprise. But will he? Why was he out prowling in the first place, when Giles and Buffy said vampires stay in on Halloween?’— ‘Drusilla was sensitive to the mystical vibrations radiating from Ethan Rayne’s plan. She told Spike that this particular Halloween would be different, that something would happen.’
‘Hmm.’ Xander thought this over. ‘That would explain what happened in reality. But now … Whatever brought Ethan Rayne to Sunnydale in the first place—’— ‘Sheer love of chaos and desire to make mischief.’
‘Well, that won’t be changed. So he’ll still be there for that, and there’s no reason why Drusilla wouldn’t still be sensitive to that. But things are going to turn out differently. I wonder who will be wearing what costume. And another thing, it’s going to be interesting to see what else changes because of this Principal Seymour being around.’***
The first hint Buffy had of anything strange was when somebody walked through the wall of her house.
Buffy had seen a lot since she became a Slayer, but not this.
Without reflection, she sprang to her feet, then vaulted backwards over the couch and dropped to a combat-ready crouch.
‘Buffy, it’s me! It’s Morgan!’
‘Morgan? Morgan Shea?’
‘A piece of him. I think I’m a ghost.’
Buffy relaxed her stance slightly—not completely. ‘You think
you’re a ghost? Wait … Was it—was it the brain cancer? I mean, Morgan, I’m so—’
Morgan shook his head. ‘It wasn’t the brain cancer—although that’s supposed to be a secret. The cancer is—that’s beside the point. I was out as a volunteer for the trick-or-treaters safety program, and costumes were mandatory. I don’t usually go in for all that Halloween stuff, but somebody said there was a good range at reasonable prices at a new shop, Ethan’s. So I just picked up your basic Halloween ghost costume, sheet-over-the-head style of thing, and went with that. So I was out there with my group of small kids, going from house to house, getting candy, all normal, and then just a few minutes ago I felt a strange sensation I cannot describe—and then I was standing there looking at my body lying by the front of the house, and at the little kids, who were all somehow acting as if they were really demons and monsters and the other things they’d dressed up as. And I was a ghost, and I don’t think it was because I’d died. I think everybody who was out in a costume trick-or-treating suddenly transformed for real, somehow, into whatever it was they were costumed as. Right now the streets out there are full of nightmares running amok, and when I figured that I figured I couldn’t do anything about it as a ghost. I can tell you that I can walk through people—’
Buffy interrupted. ‘You walked through my wall
Morgan shrugged. ‘You took it pretty well. As I was saying, I can’t hold anything or pick anything up, so I can’t even use a telephone. I figured I needed to find somebody who might be able to do something about this situation, I was right near your house when it all started, and, well, I know from experience you can handle yourself when it comes to dealing with demons …’
There was a sound from outside the front door. It was repeated in a rapid rhythm, sharp but deep raps or thumps. Buffy turned her head and said, ‘What was that?’
Morgan turned his head too. ‘Gunfire. One of the other volunteers for the safety program was dressed as a soldier. A sophomore girl, I don’t know her name. I guess she’s turned into a real soldier, and her toy gun has turned into a real gun.’
‘You put a soldier down in the middle of rioting monsters, she’s going to open fire.’
‘They may look like monsters now, Buffy, but those are still little kids inside.’
Buffy started for the front door, but before she could reach it another sound came from outside it, nearby—the sound of a girl’s voice screaming for help. Buffy broke into a run, throwing open the door and not stopping to close it behind her.
The screaming girl was running along the street, getting closer. She was dressed in a cat costume. As Buffy approached, the other girl paused for a moment to look back over her shoulder, and Buffy recognised Cordelia. Cordelia screamed again at the sight of a huge shaggy monster pursuing her along the street. Between her and it Buffy saw somebody in another Halloween costume, something like an animal-skin loincloth, his body half-turned as if trying to shield Cordelia from the monster.
Before Buffy had time to say or do anything, the soldier-girl Morgan had been talking about arrived at a run from the opposite direction to the monster. She stopped, raised her gun, and fired a burst into the air over the monster’s head. It checked, roared, and then turned and ran away.
‘Kevin!’ Cordelia screamed at the boy in the loincloth. ‘Are you okay?’
The next moment, the soldier-girl moved her gun away from firing position, came up to them, and said, ‘I suggest all you civilians get under cover. We have a situation here.’
Buffy realised she knew the girl. ‘Nancy? Nancy Blaisdell?’
Soldier-Nancy turned to look at her, surprised, but before she could answer, another voice interrupted.
‘Wait a moment.’ It was Morgan. Buffy hadn’t heard him following her, but if he was a ghost that made sense. ‘It looks like some people have turned into their costumes and some haven’t. Why?’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’, Nancy said, ‘but the middle of street fighting is not the place for this sort of discussion.’
‘Nancy’, Buffy said, and then, as she saw the expression with which the soldier-girl was looking at her, ‘Private Blaisdell! I’m taking command here. This’—she hesitated between saying ‘man’ and ‘ghost’ for one instant—‘Mo—Mr Shea has some useful information. But you’re right, we shouldn’t be discussing this here. Everybody take cover in my house while we work out what we’re going to do.’
The boy in the loincloth (Buffy remembered him now as Kevin Benedict) had also joined them, and Buffy led the group back to her front door, and then through it. ‘Private’ Nancy Blaisdell took it on herself to act as rearguard. When Buffy had shown the others in, she beckoned Nancy to join them; before she did, she let off another burst of gunfire into the air over the heads of more approaching monsters, scaring them off, and then retreated up the front steps and into the house. Buffy shut and locked the door before turning to address the small group gathered in her front room. She started by introducing everybody and then asked Morgan to go on with what he’d been saying outside.
‘I dressed up for Halloween as a ghost—and now I am a ghost. Judging by those monsters we saw outside, the same thing happened to a lot of other people. And’—he gestured at Nancy—‘you must have dressed as a soldier for Halloween, and now you are a soldier, and your toy gun has turned into a real gun.’
‘Mister, I don’t know why you think I should believe your story—’
Morgan silenced Nancy by sticking out an arm so that it passed clean through her gun and saying, ‘Do you have a better explanation?’
‘I see the problem with your theory’, Cordelia said. ‘I’m wearing a cat costume, but I haven’t turned into a cat. Thank goodness. And Kevin hasn’t turned into Tarzan.’
‘Too bad’, said Buffy. ‘That’s the kind of guy we could use right now.’
Morgan gestured at Cordelia and Kevin. ‘So, if this is all about the costumes—can you tell us about yours?’
‘They’re just costumes. Regular Halloween costumes from Party Town.’
Buffy looked at Morgan. ‘And didn’t you say you got yours at some new shop?’
Morgan nodded. ‘Ethan’s. It’s new, and it was offering a lot of stuff at really good prices—it was full of people when I went in.’
‘What about you?’ said Kevin to Nancy. ‘Did you get your costume at this Ethan’s place?’
Buffy answered for her. ‘She doesn’t know it’s a Halloween costume. It’s like a kind of amnesia. As far as she’s concerned, she really is a soldier.’
a real soldier. I’m just going along with you for now until we get this situation sorted out.’
‘If we want to sort this out’, Buffy said, ‘there’s somebody I think I should call.’ She moved to the phone.
Giles didn’t answer the phone at the school library. Buffy reminded herself that he didn’t actually live there. She’d just thought he might be putting in some extra night research on the subject of Spike. Lucky how Marcie had insisted on everybody having everybody else’s phone number. Buffy tried Giles at home. While she was dialling, she remembered that Marcie wasn’t at home, she and Willow and Amy were all at a club—without costumes—listening to ‘Dingoes Ate My Baby’, the band that had Oz playing guitar. Jesse had gone somewhere with Jonathan, who was going to teach him to play a role-playing game—not a LARP, Jonathan had said. Buffy hoped they were all okay, wherever they were. Giles wasn’t answering his home phone either. Everybody had gone out somewhere tonight. Buffy rang Ms Calendar, who did answer her phone. Buffy asked for Giles. Ms Calendar said he was there and she’d fetch him. Buffy silently congratulated herself on her detective work. Giles picked up the phone and spoke.
‘Giles, there’s a monsterpalooza in the streets. Just about everybody’s turned into whatever Halloween costume they were wearing: I mean, like the person who was wearing a ghost costume has turned into a ghost, the person who was wearing a soldier costume has turned into a real soldier, but mostly people who were wearing monster costumes have turned into monsters. The only people we’ve found that didn’t turn into their costumes were people who got them from ordinary old Party Town. We think maybe all the people who changed got theirs from this new place, Ethan’s.’
There was silence at the end of the line.
‘Giles?’— ‘I’m sorry. Did you say “Ethan’s”? Can you tell me where this “Ethan’s” is?’
Giles sounded as if he’d been weirded out, only in an ultra-Gilesy not-letting-it-show sort of way, but Buffy didn’t have time to worry about that.
‘Morgan said it was called Ethan’s. He’s here now, I’ll ask him for the address.’ Buffy beckoned Morgan to her and got his confirmation of the name and address of the shop, which she passed on to Giles, who said he was going to make his way there at once.
‘Okay, I’ll meet you there’, Buffy said.— ‘No. What I mean is, you should be doing whatever you can to keep the situation under control and people safe. I’ll take care of, um, Ethan’s.’
Before Buffy could say anything else, Giles hung up. That was strange. Buffy looked at the receiver for a second before putting it back in its cradle. She was just about to start talking to Morgan and the others when Angel walked in from the back.
‘Good, you’re okay’, he said. ‘It’s total chaos out there.’
‘I know’, Buffy said. ‘Everybody’s changed into whatever Halloween costume they were wearing. Well, not everybody. We think it only happened to everybody who got costumes from a shop called Ethan’s.’
‘Excuse me, miss’, Nancy Blaisdell said, ‘but do you know this man?’
‘Yes, private. Everybody, this is Angel. And Angel, this is—’
Before Buffy could finish the introductions, the lights went out.
‘What just happened?’ said soldier-Nancy. ‘You’, she went on, pointing at Angel, ‘did anybody follow you here?’
He turned round. ‘I came through the kitchen.’ He started in that direction. Buffy followed him, and she heard the others behind her.
As they entered the kitchen, Angel pointed to the back door, ajar. ‘I closed that behind me.’ Buffy looked around for an intruder, and straight away a vampire leaped at her from behind the basement door. She kicked it, hard, and it staggered as it grabbed at her.
‘Buffy!’ shouted Angel, and he jumped on the vampire, knocking it to the floor. ‘Get me a stake!’ he shouted as they struggled together.
‘Wait!’ said Buffy. ‘It might not be a real vampire, it might just be a person transformed by a costume!’
Angel looked up at Buffy, with his face now in its vampire form. Then soldier-Nancy pushed forward, sticking her gun in Angel’s face.
‘What’s going on here? Who are you?’
In the sudden confusion, the vampire—the other vampire, the one that might not have been a real vampire—broke loose, jumped up, and dashed out the door.***
‘Okay, I know I’m interrupting this scene, but I have to ask, how did that vampire get into Buffy’s house without being invited? When this actually happened, I was soldier-guy and didn’t know all that vampire stuff, but Angel should have known. How come he wasn’t surprised that the vampire got in without being invited?’— ‘He did not have that knowledge. There was, as he said, chaos in Sunnydale. For that matter, Xander, why do you assume the vampire had not been invited in?’
‘Good point. If he was one of the student escorts from the volunteer safety program, then maybe some time before Halloween he got invited into the Summers house as himself—I don’t know, maybe he came round to raise money for the Boy Scouts or something. Maybe Ethan Rayne’s spell allowed the effect of that invitation to transfer to the vampire that he really wasn’t. But I guess it isn’t so important for me to know the details of how Ethan’s spell worked, is it, Clarence? We’ll just go on.’***
Buffy sighed. ‘Angel, why don’t you shut the door and then stay here to keep watch on it. I guess I’m going to have to do some explaining to everybody and’—she put a hand on Angel’s forearm and dropped her voice—‘I guess you’re probably not all that keen on listening.’
Angel dropped his voice too. ‘Thanks’, he said, and then turned away to the door. Buffy left him there and gathered everybody else back in the front room.
‘Okay’, she began, ‘Angel’s a vampire, but he’s not a danger to us. There’s a gypsy curse on him. Vampires lose their human souls, but the curse brought Angel’s back. So he knows all the vampire-type things he used to do are wrong, and he doesn’t do them any more. Instead he tries to help me with my mission.’
mission?’ said Kevin.
Buffy sighed again. Usually Giles did this kind of explaining, but she’d listened to his speeches often enough.
‘I’m the Slayer. The Vampire Slayer. The one girl in the world chosen to fight against vampires and demons and evil things like that. I have supernatural Slayer strength and speed and senses and fighting skills for my mission. But the Slayer works in secret. That’s the way it has to be. I know I’m telling you all this, but that’s because I have to. I’ve had to tell a few people since I moved to Sunnydale. Maybe they were meant to know, and maybe you are too. But it’s still not something to spread around.’
‘I get that’, said Morgan.
‘You saved my life twice’, Cordelia said, ‘which—well, you saved my life, but those are not stories I want to share with the world.’
Kevin just nodded.
‘Need-to-know basis’, said ‘Private Blaisdell’. ‘Understood.’
Buffy resumed. ‘Every Slayer has a Watcher. He helps her with things like research and training. My Watcher is Giles, Mr Giles, the school librarian at Sunnydale High. That’s why I rang him about what’s happening now. He said he’d go to this shop, Ethan’s, and take care of things there. It sounded like the name Ethan meant something to him and he knew what he was doing. It looks like my job now is to go back out into the streets and protect as many people as I can until this is over.’
‘What about us?’ said Cordelia. ‘Shouldn’t you protect us?’
‘It seems to be safe enough here in the house. Angel will stay here to guard you, and Private Blaisdell is armed—and trained, I guess. Sort of.’
‘Affirmative, ma’am. You can rely on me. We can secure all the doors and windows, maybe improvise barricades of some kind.’
Cordelia still looked nervous. Kevin took her hand. ‘Come on, be brave. We’ll get though this together.’
Buffy turned to Morgan. ‘You’re the kind of ghost that can go through things, right? and they go through you? If nothing can touch you, you should be safe enough to come out there with me. I might have a use for somebody to bring a message back here to Angel. Or to Giles, at Ethan’s.’
Morgan nodded. ‘If you’re planning just to patrol the streets, can we start by going to where I left my body?’
‘Left your body?’
‘I’m a ghost for the time being, remember? My body’s still outside a house where I was standing when the change happened. I hate to think of anything happening to it while I’m out of it.’
‘Okay, then let’s go. We’ll head out the back way, have a word with Angel to fill him in on the plan. Private Blaisdell, while I’m out, he’s in command.’