Because of many requests (and the fact that my imagination can't leave a single story alone,) this is the continuation of "The Road from Nowhere," but it's not listed as the next chapter of the story because I like for "The Road from Nowhere" to be a stand-alone tale. So I guess all this is sort of a sequel. And, yes, it would help to read the other story first. This is just basically randomness and it rambles, but there are some pretty funny bits in it, and I hope to work it up to a good story in the end, and that's why it should be read. Or something. Jack Skellington and all related characters © Tim Burton, except for Zayne, who is my character, and the mysterious woman who shows up in this chapter. ~overly dramatic~ Dun dun dun! Yeah and stuff.

~Halloween Town~

The morning sun lifted its head to look down upon a town of winding, thin, brick streets and many large, crooked buildings. Each one of these had its own, unique architecture: everything from being the likeness of a person's face, or an arched cat, to being nothing but a box-like room perched high upon a spindly staircase. Many of these looked as if they should just fall over, and yet also seemed as if they had kept from doing so for years upon years. The roads were confusing, twisting and turning about the strange buildings with no apparent rhyme or reason to it all. The street signs (when they could be found) were difficult to decipher, being just as crooked and spindly as the rest of the town, and not seeming as if they were facing the right direction, somehow.

Jack had risen with the sun that morning. He felt lost as to why. Something told him he was to be doing some sort of work or chores of some type, and yet he had nothing to do. For some time, he paced in the room he'd slept in, trying to sort out his mind. Zero soon awoke, as well, and joined in with the pacing, following at his master's heels. After a while, it became a bit of a game more than anything.

The room they were in was one within the home of Zayne Hemlock, the Pumpkin King. Well, that is, if one could really judge that it was inside the house. It was more above it than anything, being a circular room perched upon a high and rather precarious looking tower. Zayne had told him the night before, as they were making their way up the many stairs to this room, that the tower had been used for prisoners many, many years ago, when another King had ruled over Halloween Town. Now, however, Zayne had replaced one wall with large windows, put in a fireplace, and turned the place into a library of sorts.

The house of Zayne Hemlock was surprisingly small, considering he was the King, and the fact made Jack question if it was actually true, although not verbally. The inside was nicely furnished enough to make him think it was possible... but not likely, still. He would have to wait and see.

After roughly half an hour of pacing inside his room and playing with Zero that morning, Jack got up the nerve to creep down the stairs and see if his host was awake.

Zayne's room was very dark, with heavy drapes over the windows and the walls all black as night. The furniture was all hard wood, stained as dark as could be. A few gargoyles loomed from the shadowed edges of the chamber, all sneering at some unknown thing, or perhaps at each other.

Much to Jack's disappointment, he found Zayne still laying within the blankets of his canopy bed, the eyes in his pumpkin face closed tight and no sign of fire from the candlestick within. Jack compressed a sigh as he realized he would have only Zero as company for a while longer and that no farther questions of his could be answered yet. He turned and tried to creep from the room silently.

"Need something, Jack?" Zayne's voice suddenly came, sounding half asleep still.

Jack froze in his tracks, then turned back around, "Uhm, no... Not really. I was just seeing if you were awake."

Zayne's eyes were still closed as he replied, "I am now. The clattering and creaking you make when you walk wakes the dead, evidently."

"I'm sorry." Jack replied quickly, "I didn't mean to-"

Zayne just laughed, "Don't worry, you're new at this. You'll learn to walk better, in time." He opened his eyes slightly and a spark from nowhere ignited the candlestick within his pumpkin head. "Why are you awake at this hour? You'll have no energy for tonight's celebration, you know."

"I still don't know what celebration you speak of." Jack replied.

Zayne sighed slightly and closed his eyes again, leaving the room in almost total darkness once more. "Halloween night... you'll just have to wait and see. It is something that can't be explained very well. It must be seen."

Jack nodded, although it went unseen by Zayne, "Er, right. Alright. I'll let you sleep, then..." He paused, thinking for a moment, "I think I'll go have a look around town. You know, so my moving and creaking doesn't wake you."

Zayne laughed again in a sleepy manner, "You don't have to do that. But if you want to, go ahead. If you get lost, just ask someone -anyone- for directions." He yawned and shifted in the bed, "Everyone knows where my house is. I'm going to warn you, however, that there are things in town you may find to be... well, unsettling. Try to take things in stride for now. It will all seem normal enough before you know it." He pulled the covers up and fell silent.

"Sleep well, Zayne." Jack whispered, slipping from the room with as little sound as he could possibly manage.

Almost two hours later, Jack and Zero were wandering about the streets of Halloween Town and observing all that they could. The people who walked the streets were a ghastly sight to see. Most of them were unspeakably pale, but not all of them, as it was a very diverse crowd. A very short, stout man with wild hair waddled along the street, a scowl upon his face and the top of a farmer's pitchfork in his hand. A tall, slender woman with tiny fangs sticking out over her ruby lips huddled under the shade of an umbrella as if her life depended on it. A dragon-like creature was slowly plodding down the road, grunting and growling to itself.

There were very few people out and about at this hour, which also seemed odd. Wasn't the world supposed to be alive and running at nine o' clock in the morning? Well, if the townspeople were not alive, then the town didn't very well have to be alive, Jack figured.

"Cute dog." The woman with the umbrella commented with a toothy smile. Zero seemed to realize this was a compliment to him and zipped over to her side to absorb some attention, which she gladly gave to him, kneeling and petting his misty body with thin fingers as she cooed more sweet words.

Her dress was tight, black velvet, with a collar about her neck and a slit all the way up the side. Silver spider webs were stitched up the arms and about the collar. Similar spider webs were painted on her umbrella, which looked like there was a spider splayed over the top of it.

"What's your name, cute little puppy?" She cooed out.

"His name's Zero." Jack replied.

She smiled, "And what's your master's name, little Zero?"

"Jack." Came the reply, coupled with a skeleton grin at the silly little game of speaking through the dog.

"New in town?" She finally asked Jack directly as she was still petting Zero.

Jack nodded, "We got here last night." He replied, "On a road outside of town."

"Ah." The woman said with a bit of a glint in her eye, "The road. I remember it. Don't happen to remember where is comes from, do ya?"

"I was hoping you did, miss." Jack replied.

"No." She stood and stepped towards him, twirling her umbrella with her fingers. Her voice was like silk as she spoke, "Would you be willing to go back and see what is there? You could get paid for it."

Jack considered this a moment. He wasn't sure he should go back on the road. He wasn't even sure that he could, for that matter. Get paid? Was money still of use here?

"Well," He replied after a moment's silence, "I'm not sure if I should. From what Zayne told me-"

"Zayne?" She interrupted. "You've met with Zayne?"

"Er, yes. He found me on the road," Jack replied, "and let me stay in his house last night."

The woman seemed disappointed at this. She then put on a smile and stepped towards him, "Looks like you showed up just in time to party. You will be at the Halloween celebration tonight... won't you?" Her voice was sticky-sweet and pleading as she stepped up close to Jack, a slight pout upon her lips.

Jack found himself taking a step back as she came too close. "I... believe so? M-more than likely?"

"I look forward to seeing you there, Jack." She said. With that, she quickly slipped into the alley and was gone.

Jack was left with a feeling of confusion. He wondered what that was all about. Who was she? He hadn't caught her name, and it seemed rather important now, for some reason.

He hadn't much time to think about this, however. A rather scrawny black cat came out from another alley, and Zero promptly filled his duty as a dog upon seeing it. Jack had to chase the two down the street for sometime before he caught up to them. He still wasn't very good with his skeletal legs yet, and this was the first time he'd tried actually running with them. He stumbled a lot, and his joints made quite a bit of noise as he went. Even when he'd caught up, as he attempted to stop Zero from trying to maul the poor feline, the ghost dog kept slipping through his fingers quite literally.

The chase continued into a town square looking area, where a large fountain with a gargoyle centerpiece sat at the joining of many roads. It was all decorated up for some sort of party, is seemed. Rows of jack-o- lanterns lined the roads leading away, spider webs made intricate patterns from building to building, and a few people were about, setting up some other such things.

A stout man with a tall top hat that was taller than he was stood in the middle of all of this, and the black cat made a beeline for him, deciding that this absurdly tall hat would be a perfect place to get away from her pursuer.

The short man squeaked as the animals suddenly attacked him. He proceeded to run about the square, flailing his arms and screaming, "Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!" This drew the attention of everyone in the square, but no one seemed to lift a finger to help.

Zero continued his pursuit of that cat for only a short time more. The screaming and flailing of this strange man eventually scared him off, as well as the cat, and each went their separate ways.

With both animals gone now, the man collapsed in a heap to catch his breath. Jack hurried to his side, apologizing quickly for the actions of his dog and asking if the man was alright. Judging by his extremely pale face and the look of perpetual distress upon it, he was guessing the man wasn't. It was then that he noticed the very large badge upon the man's shirt that read "MAYOR." And that is when he started to worry that he and Zero were about to be in deep trouble.

Jack helped the Mayor to his feet, apologizing again and scolding Zero. After a moment, the mayor seemed to gather his senses and dusted himself in a huffy manner. "Who are you?" He asked, looking annoyed.

"My name is Jack, mister Mayor. I'm very sorry for what Zero did! I tried to stop him, but it's so hard to catch a ghost!"

"What?" The Mayor asked, looking at Jack as if he were a total idiot, "Catching ghosts is simple! There's nothing to it!"

"Well, er, I'm rather new at it, you see." Jack said, feeling embarrassed.

The Mayor looked him up and down quickly, "I've never seen you before. Are you a new resident or something?" His tone was still a very annoyed one as he eyed Jack with suspicion.

"I guess you could say that." Jack replied, deciding for himself at the moment that he must be, as he had no other place to go that he knew of. He stood a bit taller and stated with more confidence, "Yes, I am, actually."

Suddenly, the Mayor did something that made Jack jump back: His head spun around! On the other side of his head there was another face, less pale with a ridiculously happy expression and a spiraled eye. This new face grinned at him and stated in a chipper tone, "Oh, welcome, welcome!" The Mayor clasped Jack's bone hand with both of his large pudgy ones and shook it quickly, "Welcome to our town, er... what did you say your name was, again?"

Jack stammered out his name as he stared in shock. Of all the things he'd seen so far, this had to be the strangest.

The Mayor took no notice of Jack's expression and continued on in his chipper tone, "We must make an appointment for you to meet with the Pumpkin King at once! We'd better have that all straightened out before tonight! It's going to be the biggest Halloween celebration to date, you know! We have so many last minute preparations to do!"

Jack tried to get a word in, but was cut off quickly as the Mayor turned, spun his head back around to the upset face, and shouted to some ghouls who were hanging up a huge banner between buildings, "Wait! Wait! That's all wrong! You have it upside down! Flip it around! Flip it around!"

The two ghouls exchanged a glance, one of them muttering about it not mattering which way they hung it. (Obviously, neither one could read, or they would have known that you can't very well hang a banner with words on it upside down.)

The banner problem corrected, the Mayor's face spun about once more and he chirped out, "Oh, that's much better! Up a little higher now! There we go! Much better!"

"Er, mister Mayor?" Jack asked, trying to get his attention again.

The Mayor turned to him, almost as if he were seeing him for the first time. "Oh, yes!" He said, suddenly remembering, "We have to take you to see the Pumpkin King! We can't delay now! Hurry!"

"That's just the thing, I-"

He was cut off again as there was a loud crashing sound from not far away. The Mayor turned quick as a flash, his head spinning to the distressed face as he screamed at a small ghoul who had stumbled and dropped a good deal of tools. "Careful with those! If you break them, we don't have replacements!"

"Sir, I've already-"

The Mayor faced Jack yet again, the happy face returning, "To the King's house, then! Straight away!" He latched onto Jack's wrist and started to lead him back to Zayne's.

This was becoming very frustrating.

The two were at the gates of Zayne's home before Jack could get enough words in to tell the Mayor that he'd already met with Zayne and that everything was taken care of. Still, it had proved to him that the insane scarecrow was, indeed, telling the truth about being a King.

The Mayor's head spun once more to the upset side, making Jack almost wish he hadn't said a thing, just so he'd stop doing that. The Mayor apologized for himself and, after saying it was alright as few times, Jack slipped inside the jack-o-lantern gates and quickly bounded up the steps. He was in the door before the Mayor could react, and he quickly shut it behind himself.

"Whew!" Jack breathed, looking down at Zero, who had followed in just as quickly, "Did you see that?! That was the most disturbing thing I've ever seen!"

Not that he could remember anything he'd ever seen beyond the night before, but he was pretty sure this was true.

"You met the Mayor?" Zayne's voice came from somewhere beyond the entryway.

"How'd you guess?" Jack asked, following the voice.

"Lucky shot." Zayne replied with a laugh. "He's a character, eh? A real two-faced politician... But don't worry, he's harmless, and you'll get used to him."

Jack wasn't so sure he liked the idea of this.

The sound of Zayne's voice led him back to the dark bedroom. The flicker of candlelight told him that Zayne was awake now, but still laying in bed.

"Go back to bed, Jack." Zayne advised, "You'll thank me for it later if you do, because you're likely going to be out all night."

"I don't think I could sleep." Jack replied.

"Tell you what." Zayne said, sitting up in the bed. He motioned into the back of the shadowy room with a twig hand, "Go into my wardrobe, find something that'll fit you. Then head to the washroom, get out of those mud- encrusted rags you've got on, and polish up your bones. Then you head back to bed and see if you can pull off dozing a few more hours. You're gonna need it, trust me."

Jack nodded in agreement and slipped to the back of the room. Before long, the room went dark again, a sure sign that Zayne was falling back to sleep. Luckily, Jack had already found some cloths. He tried to leave the room in silence, but failed miserably. With a bit of a sigh, he wondered if his bones would ever really stop that annoying creek that was starting to bother him, and he headed off for the washroom.

He would return to bed and, eventually, get those extra hours of rest that Zayne advised. Little would he realize at the time that he most defiantly would need them...

Story © Gina Trujillo, Dec. 25, 2002. (Merry Christmas!) Jack Skellington and all related characters © Tim Burton.