The Nightmare Before Valentine's Day
A year had passed since the disastrous melding of Halloween and Christmas. Since then, the respective leaders of each holiday world joined together to form a society in which a situation like that need not occur ever again, a Council of Celebrations if you will. However, this was not the case at the first meeting. In the backdrop of the trees of the forest, they met. The pilgrim in his black outfit and buckled shoes waited with a cooked turkey until he was approached by a lanky skeleton wearing a suit and a bat bow tie.
"Goodness. You haven't eaten in quite a while," the pilgrim said to the skeleton as he smiled nervously.
"Yes, well. I'm dead," replied the skeleton as he took off his head to demonstrate. "See?"
"Good God! I knew there were demons in these woods! Help!"
"Skellington, can you not wait one moment before scaring someone," a rather large, white-bearded man wearing a red suit and cap asked as he approached the scene. "It's alright, Jacob," the man in red told the shivering pilgrim.
"I can't help it, Sandy Claws," he answered as he put his head back on. "I'm the Pumpkin King and I like doing my job now."
"It's 'Santa Claus', not Sandy Claws, Jack."
"You know this demon?" the pilgrim asked.
"Jack and I go back."
"Apparently, he and the bunny go back as well," Jacob, the pilgrim pointed out as a terrified Easter Bunny poked its way around Jack.
"I still apologize for that."
"He knows, Lad," a tall, elder man in green said as he made his way to the congregation, "He's just shy, is all."
"You two fellows know each other?" the pilgrim asked.
"We've met on occasion," said the taller, elder man.
"Patrick, it seems strange that Cupid has not yet arrived," Santa Claus said.
"Ah, 'tis strange sad news. I never received an answer from him."
"Never received an answer?"
"Never. It seems that he has disappeared."
"That's not good at all."
"What is the matter? Who is this Cupid fellow?"
"Cupid is in charge of Valentine's Day, the day of love. Without him to shoot arrows of love, people will be depressed and alone during some of the harshest days in winter."
"That won't happen," Jack said heroically.
"What do you mean by that, Bony Lad?" Saint Patrick asked as Santa Claus sighed.
"We've gone over this Jack, no more taking over holidays."
"I was an amateur when I took over Christmas. I won't let things get out of hand this time around. Besides, Halloween isn't exactly... romantic."
"Fine, Jack. Until we find Cupid, hopefully before February 14th, you are in charge of Valentine's Day," Santa Claus said reluctantly, humoring Jack for the moment.
"Thank you, Mr. Claws. You won't be disappointed!" Jack said with a skeletal grin before he walked smack into a tree. "You'll see, I'll make this the best Valentine's Day ever."
"The lad has no idea what he's doing, does he?" Saint Patrick asked Santa Claus as they, the pilgrim, and the Easter Bunny watched the Pumpkin King walk back to Halloween Town.
"Not a clue. I'm sure Cupid's just busy. Still, it's better we find him before Jack gets out of hand."
"Then I suggest we get to work, Gentlemen," a sage voice from behind said, "The ancient gods can be almost anywhere in the world. Cupid is no different."
The group that remained after Jack's departure turned to see yet another elder man. This one was dressed in a black robe with a dark beard that reached his waist and scrolls in each hand. He nodded his head to Santa Claus in greeting.
"Good to see you before the stressful holidays, Mr. Claus."
"You took the words out of my mouth, Tevel," Santa said as he shook hands with this rabbi.
"My, there are strange people in these woods," Jacob said, receiving a nod in agreement from the Easter Bunny.
"Lad, get over your fears. We have work to do," Saint Patrick said.
"Come to my home. I have many books on many things. Perhaps we can find out more of the Valentine's Day holiday since its representative isn't here to explain it," the rabbi suggested, "Is another of our number missing?"
"Jack is busy taking secondary action," Santa Claus said.
"Is that a good idea, considering-"
"With your knowledge, we won't have to worry about what happens if we don't find Cupid."
"Good point, my friend."
"Well, aren't you the modest one," Jacob said in a slight sarcastic tone.
"Follow me and see for yourself," the rabbi invited as he led the group to the red dreidel door.
The resident of the Hanukkah world opened the door to find a slight breeze coming from it. Soon enough, the breeze sucked in the leaders of the holidays. As for Jack, he was busy planning his next new holiday celebration. He had made his way back to the graveyard where he sat on the hill with Zero.
"Things are going to be different this time, Zero," Jack said to his spectral dog, which let out a happy bark in response. "Really. I just have to figure out all this love stuff and then improve Valentine's Day. It can't be that hard. I know what I'll do! I'll ask Dr. Finkelstein to help me," Jack finished as he stood up, "I mean, he has a wife so he knows what love is... but he made her out of raw materials though. I wonder if that counts."
Zero answered his master by picking a strange flower out of the ground with his teeth and presenting it to Jack.
"Huh? What's this? I've never seen this around here before. It looks almost alive," Jack said as he took the flower. "I bet Sally knows what it is. What do you think Zero?" Jack asked, receiving another bark from his companion. "Exactly. I'm going over there right now."
So, Jack's in charge of the day of love. Won't that be fun. Will he figure out that the council is just humoring him or will he naively follow his own plan for Valentine's Day? And what's up with that flower? Find out next time. (Re-edit comment: Dang. This brings back memories.)