"Oh, gonna get scared toniiight…" Homestar sang softly to himself, fastening a bright yellow cape around his neck. "Gonna get scared twelve tiiimes…"
Homestar Runner was all dressed up in his home-made 'Twelve Times a Day Man" costume, complete with grey shirt, yellow cape and mask, paper '12X' emblem and hippo slippers. He had lost his list of clever pop culture references, so he had to resort to dressing up as his favourite SBemail fanfiction fancharacter. Leaving his house with a treat bag in his invisible grasp, Homestar had a particular goal in mind. This Halloween he wasn't going to get the most candy, or guess someone else's costume correctly for once, he was going to get scared. Not just 'mildly creeped out' or 'a little bit spooked', he wanted someone or something to get a good old-fashioned shriek of terror out of him!
. . .
The first person Homestar came across was Marzipan. She had been on her way to Homestar's place, dressed up as Bob Ross. She looked pleased at first to see Homestar, but her expression turned confused when she recognised his costume.
"Homestar, did you dress up as Twelve-Times-a-Day-Man?" She asked. "Did you lose your list of clever pop culture references?"
"Uhm, two or more of those things might have happened…" Homestar responded sheepishly. "Anyway, got anything to scare the pants off me, bearded lady?"
"Well, I've been out trick-or-treating for a little while now, and when I stopped by The Hurricane's house she gave me this pear." Marzipan explained, pulling a pear from her recycled paper treat bag. "If you tilt your head and squint, it looks a little like a ghost, doesn't it?"
"Thanks Marzipan, but I was thinking more like… Something not grocery-related."
"Well, I can do this…"
Marzipan twisted her long neck into a spring-like coil. Homestar cringed slightly at the sight.
"Uhm, I guess that's kind of scary." Homestar responded. "But mostly gross. You should go see a doctor or something."
Marzipan sighed and frowned, her neck stuck in place as she watched Homestar walk off into the field without her.
. . .
Soon enough, Homestar encountered Strong Bad and the cheat. He couldn't help but giggle at Strong Bad's sorry excuse for a costume, a lucha libre mask pulled over his already mask-like face.
"Oh man, did you lose your list of clever pop culture references too?" Homestar laughed.
"At least I'm not dressed up as the most terrible character made up by the most terrible dork in all of Free Country!" Strong Bad retorted defensively. "Yeah, so I did procrastinate a little too much this year. Had to throw on the first thing I could find, which happened to be this lame wrestling mask."
"Cool, cool. What's your costume supposed to be, The Cheat?" Homestar asked the furry yellow companion. "Strong Bad's old computer?"
"Mrehmrh meh mreh mrehmr mrh meh!" The Cheat replied, dressed up as WALL-E.
"Right, right, my favourite hard-to-find book character. Anyway, got anything scary? I'm looking for a genuine Halloween scare tonight!"
"Uhm, The Cheat and I were just about to go egg your house." Strong Bad replied. "Go ask Strong Mad. Last I heard he's having trouble with his costume, though. I dunno, just leave us alone!"
. . .
Homestar headed off towards the house of Strong, and found none other than Strong Mad out in the front yard. He wasn't in costume, but he did have a pumpkin on each hand.
"Strong Mad, do I even wanna know what you're meant to be this year?" Homestar asked, skidding to an abrupt stop.
"PUUUUMPKINS!" Strong Mad yelled, waving his pumpkin-covered hands around in the air.
"I see… But it's not very scary."
"Cool, cool. I'm gonna go see what Bubs has that could scare the pants off me. I'll come back to you when you've got a good scary costume on."
"HELP MEEEE!" Strong Mad yelled, watching Homestar leave.
. . .
Bubs wasn't out trick-or-treating, instead, he had decided to spend Halloween selling dodgy, overpriced and only partially Halloween-related products. He had still kept the tradition of dressing up, though.
"Hey Bubs, I know it's a little early to say it, but I really like your Frankenstein costume!" Homestar said, approaching the concession stand.
"You're close, Homestar." Bubs replied. "But I'm Frankenstein's monster, Frankenstein was the doctor!"
"Right, right, Frankenstein the monster. So anyway, whaddaya got that could scare me? Perhaps to a pants-offing level?"
"Ooh, you're just in luck!" But responded enthusiastically, showing Homestar a jar of mysterious liquid. "I got this jar of witches' brew right here, only double the original price!"
"Hey, everyone knows I'M the original dealer of witches' brew!" Homestar stated rather angrily. "Besides, last time you sold me a jar of weird juice, I got sick when I drank it!"
Before Bubs could respond, Pom-Pom arrived dressed as an NBA basketball. He bubbled a greeting to them.
"Oh hey Pom-Pom." Homestar greeted back, disappointment in his tone. "Don't you think Halloween just isn't scary anymore?"
Pom-Pom shrugged and thought for a moment. Then he pulled his new mobile phone out from his body and poked at the screen a few times before showing it to Homestar. It was on a video web page; the video was titled 'REAL ghost footage CAUGHT ON TAPE!1!'. Homestar squinted at the video on the tiny screen, watching the video for a while before laughing out loud at it.
"Oh man, Pom-Pom, that is so fake!" He laughed. "You can see the strings and everything!"
Pom-Pom bubbled with a frown and a shrug before bouncing away. Homestar left the concession stand as well.
. . .
"Poopsmith, you're scary, right?" Homestar asked, standing outside the King's castle.
The Poopsmith, dressed (bizarrely enough) as the King of Town, gave a shrug in response.
"Well, do you have anything that could scare the crap outta me?"
The Poopsmith looked around for anything that could be scary. The only thing around was the pile of whatsit he had been shovelling, so he pointed to it.
"Uhm, looks like that crap's already been scared out of someone. But thanks for your help. Anything else?"
The Poopsmith paused for a moment then pointed towards the King of Town, who appeared around the corner of the castle in a Ronald McDonald costume. Homestar approached him enthusiastically.
"King! King! Quick, show me something scary!" Homestar exclaimed.
"Dooh! Oh, uhm, well, I did have this experiment, you see, it was quite scary… Well, it would have been" The King began, looking rather ashamed. "I was going to leave a happy meal out on the table to rot for a month, but…"
"Oh man, King of Town, you don't need to tell me what happened next." Homestar moaned, frustrated. "Even I know what happened next! I'm leaving."
"That you do, boy, that you do…" The King sighed as Homestar marched away.
. . .
"Coach Z, are you in here?" Homestar called out, entering the humid locker room. He could hear one of the showers running.
"Oh! Homestar, you've uh, come at sort of a bad time." The coach's voice called out from the showers.
"Coach, I need your help!" Homestar began, ignoring the previous statement. "It's Halloween night and the closest thing I've seen to scary is that weird fungus growing on that towel on the bench!"
"Well, what's not scary about spoooooky late night showers?" Coach Z replied, his voice echoing through the building. "Ooooeeeeoooaaarrrr..."
"Nevermind, Coach Z." Homestar said with a frustrated sigh. "I'll go see if Strong Sad's got anything
"No, wait! Come back! I'm almost done in here!"
It was too late, Homestar had moved on.
. . .
It took a while for Homestar to come across Strong Sad. He crossed paths with some of the others again and went trick-or-treating at several houses, but found nothing worthy of being deemed a true Halloween scare. When he did find Strong Sad, he found him simply standing, still and silent, in the middle of the field. He was dressed as one of the members of the band 'Sloshy', although Homestar of course could not recognise it.
"Hey Strong Sad, I'll give you five bucks if you can scare me." Homestar offered.
Strong Sad snapped out of his trance and his expression turned to one of surprise and curiosity when he caught sight of Homestar's costume.
"Homestar, did you dress up as Twelve Times a Day Man?" He asked, almost in disbelief.
"Yeah, I lost my whatever-list." Homestar explained. "Anyway, you're a ghost, right?"
"If you really want to get scared, you could go to the spooky woods." Strong Sad suggested. "Or maybe find an abandoned train station. Those are alright, I guess. At least people say those are scary, I find them soothing."
"Hey, good idea!" Homestar exclaimed. "I'll get scared! I'll get scared twelve times! Thanks, ghost-man!"
And with that, Homestar headed eagerly towards the spooky woods.
. . .
Homestar Runner wandered through the woods, keeping an eye out for anything particularly spooky or eerie. Unfortunately there wasn't much, just the same old leafless trees. He did come across the Goblin, though, who danced for him, but that was nothing new or exciting. Just as Homestar reached the end of the woods and considered turning to leave, a flicker of light in the distance caught his eye. Feeling curious, he went over to investigate.
The light was emanating from a couple of jack-o-lanterns. One had the text 'fwd.' carved into the front; the other was actually a carved watermelon. The lanterns sat outside the entrance of a stone cave. Outside the cave were several unstable-looking stone structures with boulders that rolled and hovered in ways that defied the very laws of gravity. The sky rippled strangely too, and it was when Homestar looked up at it that he noticed the sign at the top of the cave entrance.
HOMSAR'S SHAKEDOWN OATMEAL MiRROR PiCNiC BONANZA
There were some arrows pointing into the cave, though the arrows were each made of a triangle duct-taped to a banana on a long stick in the ground.
"Oh great." Homestar grunted, rolling his eyes. "Can't wait to see what work of art the secret guy's come up with this time."
Homestar felt somewhat obligated to at least check out whatever was in that cave. He walked in and took a look around. There seemed to be mirrors everywhere, partially explaining the sign, and the cave was lit up inside by what appeared to be inexplicably glowing pencil sharpeners.
"Alright, Homsar, I'm in your weird place, what do I do now?" Homestar called out.
His voice echoed down through the cave, but there was no reply.
"Homsar?" He called out again. "Whatever. Let's see how my home-made costume's holding up."
Homestar approached one of the mirrors. He couldn't remember ever being that wobbly and wavy.
"Oh, I get it!" Homestar realised out loud, in what was probably one of his brighter moments. "It's one of those 'crazy mirror' halls. That's not even close to scary! Buuut, it does make me look like jello… Everyone knows how much the Homestar Runner likes to look like jello…"
Homestar moved over to the next mirror. In his reflection, his body looked elongated while his legs looked very short. The next made his head appear tiny and his legs look ridiculously long. Moving from mirror to mirror, Homestar found himself more and more amused by his distorted reflections.
The second last mirror made Homestar's reflection look much taller and thinner. Homestar felt that it wasn't as exciting as the previous mirrors, but he did remind himself a little of Homeschool Winner in that one. The last mirror did the opposite, making Homestar appear shorter and wider.
"Well, that was fun, I guess." Homestar stated with a sigh. "To bad I didn't see anything sc-"
"AaAaAaAaAaAaAaAaAaAaAaAa!" Homestar's reflection wailed, jumping out of the mirror frame.
Homestar quite literally jumped in fright with a shriek, frantically scurrying backwards and bumping into one of the mirrors behind him. He spun around to face the mirror he bumped into and backed away from his reflection in a panic, fearing it would also jump out at him. Homestar quickly regained his composure, although he was still rather alarmed and quite confused as to what had happened.
"WaAaAoh no, Runnerman, you're plywood is pickled!" The familiar-looking figure bellowed, approaching the startled Homestar.
Homestar quickly recognised him. He would have never expected Homsar to be the one who would scare him that Halloween! He hadn't counted on that strange little fellow also dressing up as Twelve Times a Day Man and using his likeness to Homestar to his advantage like that. He had never known Homsar to be that clever, though the two rarely spent time together.
"Alright, Homsar, you got me!" Homestar declared. "You really scared the pants off me! You get some of my candy. You earned it, shortstop."
Homestar leaned forward and opened his treat bag in front of Homsar. It contained a variety of treats given to him from the houses he had visited that night. Homsar didn't take any; instead, he dropped a few metal nuts and bolts into the back.
"Uhm, thanks…?" Homestar responded. "Anyway, happy Halloween!"
. . .
Homestar hummed to himself as he left the cave and walked back through the spooky woods. He felt a bit odd after that. It wasn't the lingering fright of Homsar's mirror prank; it was an unusual uneasiness, a chill. Homestar hoped it was just the cool autumn air chilling his skin.
"Homestar, where have you been?" A familiar voice called out. "No-one's seen you around for hours!"
"Hours?" Homestar thought to himself, glancing over at Marzipan. "I'm sure I was gone for less than an hour!"
Homestar picked up his pace and ran over to Marzipan, who stood a short distance away at the end of the woods.
"Oh man, Marzipan, it's a pretty funny story." He began, walking away with her.
Bubs, Coach Z and Pom-Pom headed over to see Homestar, rather happy to see him.
"It all started when I talked to Strong Sad. Or more like, when I left my house to go trick-or-treating, actually."
As if on cue, Strong Sad caught sight of the small group and headed over, followed by the King of Town and the Poopsmith.
"You see, I was looking for something scary, so Strong Sad told me to go into the woods, and then-"
"Aw man, I was kinda hoping you'd lost him out there, Marzipan!" Strong Bad interrupted, strolling over with Strong Mad and The Cheat following beside him.
"Oh hey Strong Bad!" Homestar greeted. "I was just telling Marzipan and everyone else how I finally got a genuine Halloween scare!"
"Well good for you, Homestar!" Marzipan congratulated.
"Oh great, and I suppose you're gonna go ahead and tell us too, now?" Strong Bad moaned.
"It's kinda funny to think about it, actually." Homestar explained with a bit of a laugh. "I was in Homsar's weird mirror cave, when my reflection jumped out of the mirror and scared the pants off me! Seriously you guys, I nearly peed my pants."
Everyone's faces had fallen. Their expressions looked somewhat confused but rather frightened. Homestar hadn't counted on his retelling of the story to have that effect!
"But then it turns out it was just Homsar." Homestar continued. "We both wore the same costume, so yeah, I got a little confused at first."
"Homsar…?" Marzipan said softly.
"Oh, you guys didn't visit Homsar's weird mirror place? I think he called it the 'shakedown porridge something bonanza', or something like that. Afterwards he told me my 'plywood is pickled' whatever that's supposed to mean. Then he gave me candy."
The small crowd looked even more unsettled than before. Strong Sad fainted. The rest exchanged glances before Strong Bad stepped forward, rubbing his red fists together nervously.
"Uhm, Homestar…" Strong Bad began, trying to hide and shakiness in his tone. "I don't really know what you're talking about, but Homsar died back in December of 2010. I'm pretty sure you were there during his burial."
Homestar's enthusiastic expression fell to the same uneasiness everyone else's had. It all suddenly came back to him, Marzipan's sombre news, Strong Sad's weeping, that brief little funeral, the short-lived confusion… He mentally slapped himself for forgetting. But having somehow forgotten about someone's death wasn't the worst part.
"B-but… I-I… But I…" Homestar stuttered, rapidly shifting his glance between his friends and the spooky woods. "But Homsar, he…"
Homestar glanced into his treat bag then turned and ran off into the woods. The others ran off after him, some calling out to him and asking where he was going. All the way through the woods they chased after Homestar, but they could not keep up. By the time they did manage to catch up with him, he had stopped outside Homsar's old cave and was staring at it, eyes wide and mouth agape.
The cave looked like it hadn't been touched since before Homsar's death those years ago. The rock formations out in front of it lay in piles. The sky did not ripple like it had once. The inside of the cave was dark and completely empty, aside from some spider webs. There was absolutely no sign of the quirky Halloween setup that had supposedly occupied it less than half an hour ago. As Homestar stared in confusion, Marzipan approached him sorrowfully.
"I know you really miss him, Homestar," She said, "But it's been almost three years. It's time to accept his passing and move on. Come on, let's go stand in the field and comment on each other's costumes. Like we always do."
Marzipan sympathetically lead Homestar away and the rest followed, surprisingly unfazed by the situation. Homestar couldn't stop glancing back at Homsar's cave. What had happened in there? He had never been apathetic about Homsar's death, but he certainly didn't grieve heavily, either. Homestar glanced into his bag of treats as he walked. Those nuts and bolts were still there. If it had all been in his imagination, where did those come from? Was it possible to see someone who had died simply because you forgot they were meant to be dead? If not in anyone else's case, then Homsar's alone?
Homestar was definitely scared, but now, he wasn't so sure he wanted to be.