Disclaimer: I own nothing. However, if Power Rangers did those spiffy novels like Star Trek and Star Wars, I'd be set for life. No infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Welcome to the much-anticipated, albeit late, Halloween story. This takes place about two weeks after the very end of 'Roaring On the Wind.' You don't have to have read that to read this, but you might be a bit confused. For reference, the red ranger distress signal includes: Jason, Tommy, TJ, Andros, Leo, Carter, Wes, Eric, Cole and Conner. Rocky and Shane are NOT a part of it. Once more, for clarification on that, see 'Roaring On the Wind.' Also note that this will not be the 'War and Peace' length that ROTW was. Cheers! --EK (PS: Jepoliant is cheeky!)
DEAD MEN DO TELL TALES
By Etcetera Kit
Chapter One: House On Haunted Hill
TJ Johnson was trying to read the local Angel Grove newspaper while he was getting ready for work. Balancing the newspaper in one hand and shoveling cereal into his mouth with the other hand, he had not expected the words to jump out at him. And jump out they did. A large page advertisement caught his attention.
Spend the night in the House on Haunted Hill. You and your friends could make up to one millions dollars apiece.
He froze with the spoon halfway to his mouth. The House On Haunted Hill? Wasn't that a movie that came out a while ago? He read the rest of the article and it outlined the challenge. Apparently the house was one of the more severely haunted places in Angel Grove and the ghosts got restless and violent on Halloween. The people were looking for applicants about people who wanted to stay there. He snorted. He imagined that all kinds of people would be dumb enough to fall for a publicity stunt like that. The groups could be as large as one wanted. He rolled his eyes. This was ridiculous.
But still… the idea stuck with him all day. He didn't believe in ghosts. And he could think of a group of guys who didn't believe in ghosts either—the former red rangers involved in the red ranger distress signal. The distress signal had been put into place on their mission to the moon about four years ago and, so far, it had only been used for one dire thing. Everything else it got used for tended to be for weddings and baby showers and things of that nature.
Heck, it was worth a shot, calling up all those guys and seeing if they wanted to enter the contest with him. The article had said that out of all the applicants, only one group would get chosen. There was no way that the people would choose them. All of them were way too skeptical to fall for pranks like that. He picked up his cell phone and dialed Andros' home number to activate the distress signal, hoping that all the members with families could get away for Halloween weekend if, by some crazy coincidence they were chosen.
The phone rang several times before Andros picked it up.
"Hello?" the human from KO 35 asked.
"Andros," TJ started. "I just got the craziest idea."
Andros listened to TJ's idea regarding the haunted house with some reserve. If they were chosen, it wouldn't be any big deal for him to get up there. He lived within a ten minute drive of the place TJ was talking about. It was the others, who lived across the country that he was concerned about. He couldn't picture Mr. Collins financing a trip for all of them to spend the night in a haunted house because TJ had a crazy idea. And anyways, Jen had just come out of her year-long coma and didn't need Wes to gallivant off to Angel Grove for a weekend. That and Eric and Cole were both embroiled in wedding plans and the interesting task of keeping their fiancées mollified.
Well, even if it was only the reds from the Angel Grove area there, that would still be four of them and Andros imagined that that was more than enough to fend off ghosts.
"So? What do you think?" TJ asked.
Andros slowly let out a breath, thinking of Ashley's reaction to this. His children were still really little—two and a half and a year. She wanted him home. But, he could brave her reaction for one potential night away from home with the guys. "I'm game," he said slowly. "Although I'm not sure about the others."
"The ones who don't live in or around Angel Grove. Wes, Eric, Cole…"
"… Leo, Jason, Carter…" TJ picked up. "But do you think that Tommy and Conner would be interested?"
"I'm sure Conner would be. Tommy might come along too just for grins." He paused and sighed. "I guess I can just continue the phone circle and we can find out."
"Sounds good," TJ said. "I'm sure that by the time Tommy gets back to me, we'd have a definite idea of who's in and whatnot. Besides, we're not even guaranteed to be the ones chosen to sleep at the house."
"True," Andros said slowly. "Well, I'll give Leo a call and see if he's interested. Give me a call back when you get the application in, all right?"
"Will do," TJ replied. "I'll talk to you later, Andros."
"All right. Bye."
Andros hung up the phone and went to get his cell phone to call Leo. He would brave Ashley's reaction to all of this later.
By the time the phone circle got around to Eric Myers, he was already in a bad mood. Whatever gave him the brilliant idea to propose to Taylor, he didn't know, but he wanted to find the little voice that had told him to do that and drown it in napalm. He had no idea that weddings were such a headache, especially since Taylor's parents had gotten involved. He, for all intents and purposes, didn't have a family and things had been going well in regards to the plans until her family stepped in. Now he had a strong urge to see if he could drown himself in the shower. First, her parents weren't happy because they were living together, then they weren't happy about any of the existing plans. Now, he wasn't sure what any of the plans were, he was just hiding and trying to save himself from castration by her father.
He had been lying on the couch, trying to recover from a hard day at work (complete with bruises to show for it) when his cell phone rang. The ring tone was the Indiana Jones theme and that meant that Wes was calling. Dammit, he saw enough of Wes at work where they were partners and co-commanders of the Silver Guardians. Still lying down, he picked up the cell phone.
"What?" he barked at Wes.
"You sound cheerful."
"Shut-up," he growled. Wes seemed to have been up in the clouds for the past two weeks and no one could blame him—Jen had come out of her coma and was doing really well, although along with that Wes suddenly found his attitude rather depressing. Like he acted any different before? "What do you want?"
"I just got a call from Carter. Apparently there's this haunted house in Angel Grove and some publicists are advertising for people to stay the night there on Halloween."
"And this had precisely what to do with me?"
"TJ thinks we should all send in an application, the distress signal bunch."
"Eric! It could be cool."
"I don't have the money to go to Angel Grove for the weekend just so I can prove a bunch of stupid supernatural freaks wrong."
"How many times have you told me that my father is Oliver Warbucks?"
"I think I called him a 'fucking Rockefeller' last time." He paused. "And your point is?"
"The point is, don't worry about getting there. There's no guarantee that our application will be chosen. Until then, don't worry about it."
Eric absolutely did not want to take money from Wes' father, but it seemed like Wes was planning on financing the whole trip like he had back with that Mesogog mess. That still meant six airplane tickets to buy.
"So are you in?" Wes asked.
"Good. Call Cole and pass on the message. Everyone so far wants to be a part of it. Make sure that that gets through, because TJ needs to know it when Tommy finally gets around to calling him."
"Bye!" The call disconnected.
He threw the cell phone back on the coffee table. He could call Cole in half an hour when he felt like he could speak civilly once more. And TJ would just have to wait until tomorrow for his answer if the others didn't get the call through fast enough. He threw an arm over his eyes, wishing that he had never met half of those damned former reds. They kept dragging him into ridiculous situations that he didn't even want to think about.
"What are you sulking about?"
He moved his arm and saw Taylor walking into the living room. He glowered at her. She half-laughed half-snorted and perched on the coffee table next to him.
"All right, what are you brooding about?" She paused. "Did my parents harass you?"
"When are they not harassing me?"
She laughed and ran a hand over his chest. She was feeling him up through his t-shirt and he knew it. Why did he let her manipulate him like that? She knew all the right things to do to get him to tell her anything or do anything. She leaned her elbows on his chest and looked up at him, her blue eyes alight with amusement.
"So what's up?" she asked.
He groaned. "TJ wants all of the former reds to put in an application with him to stay in a haunted house on Halloween."
"That's what you're sulking about?"
"Why would I want to spend the night in a supposedly haunted house with those losers?"
"I thought you said you had gotten over thinking they're all losers?"
"It comes and goes."
She laughed again and he hauled her on top of him, loving the weight of her slim body pressing down on his. "Did you have a bad day at work?" she asked in a seductive whisper. Her hands went to the hem of his t-shirt and pushed it up, over his head. He gladly relinquished it. It was getting too hot in the room anyways. Her fingers lightly brushed over his chest and stopped at a particularly nasty bruise on his side. He reached over and shoved the coffee table out of the way before rolling both of them on the floor. Working quickly, he unbuttoned her blouse and pushed it off her shoulders. Their lips met in a soft, chaste kiss before it turned into a violent and passionate kiss, tongues dueling and teeth bumping.
Just as he was contemplating the quickest way to strip both of them of their clothing, the doorbell rang and he could hear her parents' voices on the doorstep.
"Damn," she muttered, pulling her blouse back on and getting up to answer the door. He found his own shirt and pulled it on. Maybe getting away for the weekend wasn't such a bad idea.
Carter Grayson trailed along behind his kids as they ran ahead to the next house. Mr. Collins had paid to bring his entire family to Angel Grove for the weekend. The Angel Grove Youth Center had organized daytime trick-or-treating for the little kids and he and Dana had been only too glad to have their kids participate. Cory was four and Heather was two-and-a-half. There was no need for them to wait until dark when they would both be cranky and tired. He glanced behind him. Dana and Ashley were behind him talking and dragging along Ashley's kids, who were younger than his.
He had just got to the front walk of the house Cory and Heather were at when they came barreling down the same walk. "Daddy! Look!" Heather cried, brandishing the candy that she had just gotten.
"That's great, Heather," he replied. "Let's wait for the others."
Cory made a face. He had a disdain for the younger kids when it came to waiting. Andros was just strolling along behind all of them, looking rather amused. Carter also figured that they might run into some of the others before the trick-or-treating was over. Leo and Kendrix and their daughter, Merry, were supposed to be walking around even though Merry was only three months old. He also figured that they would run into Mary Anne and Susie. (Billy Cranston's daughters—Mary Anne was chaperoning Susie since Kim, their stepmother, was six months pregnant and Billy didn't really want to walk around with them.)
Carter didn't have time to think before he was attacked by a nine-year-old girl in a fairy costume. "Hi, Susie," he said, smiling as Mary Anne came down the sidewalk after her sister. "Mary Anne," he added.
Mary Anne was an amused smile on her face. "So is it true that you and the rest of those guys are going to spend the night in that haunted house?"
"Sure is," he replied.
"That is so cool!" Mary Anne stated. "At least there'll be a lot of you."
Susie had long since released him and was tugging on Mary Anne's hand. "Come on!" she whined. "Let's go!"
"See you, later," he said as the girls headed the opposite direction down the street. The others caught up with them.
"Can we go to the next house now?" Cory asked, looking impatient.
"Sure." Cory and Heather ran along to the next house.
It was warmer here than it was in Mariner Bay. The air was crisp and cool—the perfect temperature for walking around trick-or-treating. A slight breeze blew and the afternoon sky was blue—not a cloud in sight. The street was filled with the soft murmur of voices and the joyful shrieking of kids in costumes running from house to house. What other time of the year was quite like this? Carter had to admit, he had always liked Halloween, even as a kid. This year he had to miss the Halloween party that the fire station gave, but it was a small matter. Most of the guys there had been impressed to hear what he was doing on Halloween instead—spending the night in a severely haunted house with some old friends.
He watched his own kids waiting for Brian and Kaye—Ashley and Andros' kids—at the end of the walk. Brian and Heather were the same age, but Heather was pretty advanced development-wise for her age, making Brian seem younger. Kaye was a year old and following along the older kids on unsteady legs. Andros had taken to following close behind her and catching her before she fell. And Kaye probably had the best costume too—she was a ladybug as opposed to the vampire (Cory), the Ninja Turtle (Brian) and the Disney princess (Heather).
Leo and Kendrix were across the street with Merry. He waved as they crossed the street and joined the small group.
"We should hit TJ's house," Leo said with a malicious grin.
"Why?" Dana asked.
"To make sure he's giving out our candy like he's supposed to," Andros muttered.
They slowly made their way down the street and steered the kids in the direction of TJ's house. It was slow work, but soon enough TJ's house came into view. And Carter saw why it was a must-stop. Somehow, TJ had recruited Eric to hand out all the candy and the man looked highly disgruntled. (Eric and his fiancée, Taylor, were staying with TJ.)
"Hi, Uncle Eric!" Cory cried, running up the walk. "Trick or treat!"
Eric raised an eyebrow at the boy and dropped some candy in his bucket. "Don't spend it all in one place, kid," he muttered.
"Thank you!" Cory replied. The other kids came up to get candy and Eric, while giving them the candy, looked like he wanted to throw all the candy in the bush by the porch and go hide somewhere.
"How did you get stuck handing out candy?" Kendrix asked Eric.
Eric looked over his shoulder and glared in the direction of the house, not answering the question. Andros picked up Kaye before she could use Eric's knee as a grip while she hauled herself back to her feet. The Quantum Ranger was looking around disdainfully at all the kids that were now swarming all over the porch. Carter smiled in spite of himself. Eric would learn quickly enough when he got kids of his own.
Wes came out of the house with two beers and handed Eric one. Eric grabbed the beer and shoved the bowl of candy at Wes.
"You hand out the candy," he growled. "Since you're in such a good mood."
Wes took the bowl good-naturedly. Carter and Dana exchanged glances, stifling laughter. Everyone knew why Wes was in a good mood. In fact, the entire group was going out to dinner that night before the guys went to the haunted house and Jen was going to be there. Even though she was still weak and in the early stages of recovery, she had insisted on coming along to be there firsthand when they got out of the haunted house.
"We'd better get the kids back to the house," Ashley told everyone. Carter and Dana and their kids were staying with Andros and Ashley, due to the fact that most of their kids got along pretty well.
Just as they were saying their goodbyes, Taylor came out on the front porch. "Jen's looking for you," she said to Wes. He tried to hand the candy bowl back to Eric.
"Oh hell no," Eric muttered. "TJ!" he yelled through the screen door. "Get out here and hand out your candy!" Taylor smacked Eric's upper arm. He winced.
"Don't swear in front of the kids," she reprimanded him. Eric glared at her.
Luckily enough for all of them, TJ came out and rescued the candy bowl as Wes disappeared into the house. They rounded up all the kids (Andros still preventing Kaye from trying to climb all over Eric) and headed down the street towards Andros and Ashley's house. Tonight would certainly be an interesting night.
Conner McKnight shouldered his backpack and picked his sleeping bag and pillow out of the back of Doctor O's Jeep. He and Doctor O had driven up from Reefside earlier that afternoon and had arrived at TJ's house just as the afternoon trick-or-treating for the little kids was ending. The group had gone out to dinner (spouses and children included) before heading over to the 'House On Haunted Hill' as the local haunted house had been dubbed for the occasion. The place looked like a stereotypical haunted house—an old Victorian place with two main stories, a basement and attic along with the typical turrets and adornments of a Victorian house. The yard was overgrown and the place looked dusty with neglect. He wondered if someone had purposely let that happen for the event.
He watched as everyone else piled out of TJ and Andros' cars. Everyone looked up at house skeptically. A short man with a mustache approached them as they got out of their cars and looked around.
"Glad you're here, boys!" he said jovially, a little too jovially. "You all know the rules. You have to stay in the house—and I mean in the house. You can't come on the porch or the roof or anything like that. If you leave before that, no money." He paused, laughing a nervous little laugh. "Someone will be outside watching and taking note of anyone who leaves."
TJ nodded as the little man handed him the keys.
"Have a good night, boys! Until sunrise!"
Conner heard Eric snort as the man hurried off to his own car. "Glad he's gone," the Quantum Ranger muttered.
"I read somewhere that the ghosts here tried to kill the last occupants," Cole said in a nonchalant tone as TJ unlocked the front door and they all clustered on the porch. The swing and rocking chair swayed eerily in the late fall breeze.
"Very comforting," Wes said sarcastically.
"Hell, forget that," Eric added. "I'm in this for the money. And if I have to deal with a couple of spooks to get it, then I'm game."
"I'm glad you're so confident," Andros replied.
TJ succeeded in unlocking the door and everyone followed him into the front entry hall of the house. A large chandelier was hanging over them and the place had cobwebs everywhere. Most of the furniture in the parlor beyond was covered in sheets. Jason groped around on a wall and found a light switch. Dim, dusty electric lights came on, illuminating the place.
"Hope the water and plumbing works," Leo said slowly.
Conner moved forward with everyone else, hefting the cooler with one arm and balancing the rest of his stuff with the other. He and Doctor O had thought it would be a good idea to bring a cooler of drinks and food for the night.
A loud bang caused all of them to jump. The front door had slammed shut. Carter, who was closest, tried the doorknob."It's locked."
To Be Continued...