Haunted Protector

Here is the sequel to Haunted Love that a few of my reviewers have asked for. It is rated T for now, but its rating may need to be changed to M due to the sinister secret behind the creation of the masks.

October 30th

2 AM

The Haunted Mask pushed his way back up through the soil of the cemetery, the extra strength Halloween somehow always gave to him flowing through him.

Being underground for nearly a year hadn't changed his feelings for Carly Beth one iota; he still wanted to be one with her as much as ever. What she had done had hurt, a lot, but he couldn't bring himself to be angry with her. Having that much time to think had let him see it from her perspective. After all, in a span of a few hours, she did have something she thought was just a mask become her face, have her personality change drastically, and then have seven other love-starved masks chase after her begging her to join them. He couldn't blame her for being a little, okay, a lot, freaked out, even if the things she had said in her panic had stung like a million hornets. And part of that had been his fault for not explaining things to her, for being silent and letting her continue to be scared and confused.

This year would be different. He'd try to get her alone, tell her everything. Carly Beth was a sweet, understanding girl. Maybe, once she knew he would never hurt her, that he cared about her, she would like him again, would let them be together again. If not, he'd settle for simply being her friend without the bond. Anything was better than this crushing loneliness.

He'd need to find a way to help his brothers, too. They needed hosts, needed someone to care about them. He'd have to locate nice ones like Carly Beth(no horrible hosts for his baby brothers!), figure out a way to talk both the hosts and his brothers through the bonding process so there were no more repeats of last year, all while trying to make things right with Carly Beth…Wow, this was going to be one busy Halloween.

Suddenly, a horrible feeling rushed through him, almost like he was being burned alive. He knew instantly that something was happening to his brothers. Since his first brother had been created, he had somehow gained the ability to sense their emotions, similar, but not as strong as, the bond a mask shared with their host. The Haunted Mask rushed to the Mask Shop. Floating into the back room, he met with the most horrifying sight he had ever seen.

The shopkeeper was throwing his brothers into the fireplace! Agonizing screams filled the room from those in the fireplace, and the remaining masks tried desperately to stop the shopkeeper. The man had picked a struggling mask up, and was about to toss it in when he sensed the Haunted Mask behind him and turned around. He gasped, dropping the frightened mask, which quickly floated away. "You're back. The power of Halloween has brought you back!" the shopkeeper cried, backing up quickly.

In his rush to save his brothers, the Haunted Mask didn't even respond as he rushed at the man, quickly possessing him after a brief struggle. Once in control, the Mask grabbed the fireplace poker, using the blunt edge of it to pull his endangered brothers out of the flames, beating the remaining flames off of them. His brothers that had not been cast into the flames, as well as a new mask he did not recognize, gathered around him worriedly. Three badly burned masks lay in front of him. One groaned and weakly floated upwards, obviously in great pain, but still alive. The other two did not move, even as the others called to them and the Haunted Mask gently prodded at them. He knew at once that they were dead. He knelt down, and for the first time, felt tears rush down his face. "I'm sorry…" he murmured. If he hadn't waited so long to come back, if he had been a few minutes quicker…

"It's not your fault." one of his brothers whispered. "You saved the rest of us… You didn't know he was going to do this…" The other masks surrounded him, whispering similar words, even the new one.

Their words brought some comfort to the Mask, but didn't ease his grief. "I won't fail you again." he vowed. "I'll take care of you from now on, and make sure you find your forever hosts."

"We're sorry we made you lose yours." another brother, the second oldest, said. He and the others looked down at the ground, ashamed, with the exception of the new one who just looked confused. The Haunted Mask gave the unfamiliar mask a closer look. The new mask had the image of a very old man, with spiders crawling through his hair and on his face. He must have been our creator's latest mask. He clenched the fists of the body he was possessing, wanting to kill the shopkeeper for everything he had done to them. Trying to be calm for the sake of the others, he told them, "It wasn't any of your faults. It was the…" His eyes widened when he remembered the thing that had forcibly separated him and Carly Beth. "The head!"

The Haunted Mask began to pace around. What was with that head? It had broken the bond between him and Carly Beth. And it had talked…. How had it talked? It wasn't just some ordinary Plaster of Paris bust, that much was obvious. But what was wrong with it? Was it possessed? Was it something that would harm Carly Beth, him, or one of the others? He had to destroy it or at least find out what was wrong with it before it caused any more damage. It was in Carly Beth's house with her! What if it was demonic?

His brothers just looked at each other in confusion, until they remembered the head their brother's host had been carrying around that had emitted the strange energy that chased them away. That head could definitely be a problem to their brother. He had always done his best to look out for them, now it was their turn to help him.

The Haunted Mask gradually calmed down. It wouldn't do to get all worked up and upset his brothers more after everything they had been through. He looked at the newest mask. "I've never seen you before. Did you just get created?"

The old man mask nodded, looking extremely frightened. The Haunted Mask decided not to question him on it, guessing it was because he had so nearly died.

"Welcome, brother." the Haunted Mask said. "And don't be frightened. I'll take care of all of you. Tonight will never happen again."

The new mask still looked unsure, but nodded again.

Gently, he picked up the dead masks. He wished he knew how to make them alive again, but he couldn't. The only thing he could do was give them a decent burial. And maybe-he knew this was a foolish hope, but he couldn't stop wishing for it- maybe the energy that Halloween always brought would bring them back next year…

As he headed for the door, his brothers behind him, he nearly elbowed a large, open book off the table. It was a strange book, one he had seen the shopkeeper reading many times. It was written in a foreign language, one completely incomprehensible to him. Something about the book felt…dangerous. Evil, even. How far had his creator gone to try to obtain the perfect face? Was he using black magic? The Haunted Mask shuddered and pushed the book away from him. It didn't matter right now anyway. With him possessing the shopkeeper, the shopkeeper couldn't do any more harm. Right now, he needed to focus on the other masks and Carly Beth. He did not notice his newest brother giving the book a fearful look as they left.

A half hour later, they re-entered the store. It had been horrible, burying their brothers when only a few minutes ago, they had been alive. The Haunted Mask checked the clock. In a few hours, the store would open and he'd be able to see if any of the customers would be good hosts for his brothers. He needed to find Carly Beth too, though he doubted she would come anywhere near the Mask Shop after last year.

Pacing the floor, the Haunted Mask tried to think up a plan. It might not be best to try to approach Carly Beth directly at first. She was terrified of him after all and he didn't want to scare her any further. Maybe if he sent her a letter explaining everything from his point of view and apologizing for taking things too far that Halloween night. Yes, that probably would be the best way to start. Looking through the shopkeeper's messy desk, the Mask managed to find a pen and some paper and began to write a note to Carly Beth.

Dear Carly Beth,

I know you're probably wondering who wrote this. This is going to sound crazy, but I'm the mask you wore last Halloween. I want to apologize. For everything.

I know. You probably think this is a prank by those bullies, Chuck and Steve. But it's not. It really is me.

I'm sorry I pushed you into going too far Halloween night. I was trying to help you be more scary like you wanted, but I got carried away. I'm sorry I didn't ask you before I started the bonding process and I'm sorry I didn't tell you what was going on. I should have spoken to you. But I was too scared.

Strange how someone who looks as scary as me could be scared of anything, but I was. I was scared you would hate me. I was scared of losing you. And that ended up happening anyway because I was too much of a coward to tell you the truth.

Carly Beth, I care about you and I never wanted to hurt you. I didn't mean for you to think that I was taking you over fully or trying to control your mind. And my brothers are sorry they scared you as well. Please don't blame them; they simply felt alone and wanted to be loved.

I really want for us to be friends, Carly Beth. You're the first person who's ever taken away my loneliness, and I miss you. I know you're still frightened of me, but I promise I will never, ever hurt you.

If you've accepted my apology and want to speak with me further, please meet me at the Mask Shop.

Love,

The Haunted Mask

P.S: Please be careful around that Plaster Of Paris head. Something is inside it, and I'm not sure what that something is. Do not trust what the shopkeeper told you. I do not know what that head is, but it is NOT a symbol of love.

It wasn't the best letter ever written, he never had been the best with words, but it should get the point across. Hopefully, Carly Beth would believe him.

The clock struck eight, making the Haunted Mask jump. Apparently, it had taken him a lot longer to write the letter then he thought. He'd drop it off in Carly Beth's mailbox tonight in the cover of darkness. But for now, it was time to open the store and try to find a few prospective hosts for his baby brothers.

What the Haunted Mask didn't know was that the shopkeeper, and the eerie book downstairs, were far more evil than he imagined, and that the dark secret behind the creation of the masks would soon be revealed. And when it was revealed, the Haunted Mask would need to protect Carly Beth, and the brothers he loved, from certain doom.

Hope you all liked this! Yes, I know this story is strange, but so is Goosebumps.