Well, here it is, the last chapter. (And it really is this time.) I finished it earlier then I expected. I hope you enjoy it and that it is everything you expect it to be. Thank you for reading my story.
The Things Outside of This.
Sally gripped the rail of the staircase with her tiny hand. With the other, she had covered her lips just as a gasp had escaped from her. Jack was there? Sally felt confused. The doctor had said that the Pumpkin King was visiting. But she KNEW that that voice belonged to Jack.
Sally was no longer thinking of going to her room. Instead, she tiptoed the rest way down the stairs, and leaned against the doorway. She had left the door open a crack in her hurry to comply with the doctors wishes. She squinted into the room beyond the door, as a faint stripe of light from the door way traveled down her body, and illuminated her curious eye.
She could still hear faint voices, and could infer where they were coming from by the direction in which she heard them. They were in the doctors lab. Sally sighed, and backed away from the door, leaning against the wall, deep in thought.
Did the doctor lie to her? She thought that must have been it. The doctor didn't want her to see Jack again, so he made up a story about the Pumpkin King being there to scare her off. Surely, the Pumpkin King was far too busy with the celebration being only a few days away to make house calls. In her excitement she hadn't considered this. But it made perfect sense now that she had time to think about it. Sally lowered to the floor and rested her chin in her palm. She looked up the stairway, deciding whether or not she wanted to go up, or catch a glimpse of Jack. With her common sense now slowly returning, she figured she should probably just ignore the fact that he was there, and obey the doctor. She forgot all about her common sense, however, when she heard the doctor and Jack making their way back into the kitchen. Quickly…but quietly just the same, she rose to her knees and looked through the opening in the doorway again.
Jack and the doctor walked back into the kitchen. The doctor was explaining something to Jack that had to do with the way the machine worked, ( Something about working the gears right, or losing ones arm as a consequence.) but Jack found himself drifting off quite a bit throughout the doctors instructions.
"So do you understand now, Jack?" The doctor asked, while fixing Jack with an obviously false smile that said that he knew Jack wasn't paying attention.
"Huh? Oh yes, thank you, your information has been very useful." Jack said, grinning to show he had been listening, even though in the short time he had been there he had heard only a few guidelines the doctor had gone over.
"Well, if you'd like, I could bring the machine up here and demonstrate for you." The doctor said. Although he sounded pleasant and helpful, Jack saw an unpleasant hint of something in his face that told him he was really just trying to show off. Still, Jack decided that if he didn't see a demonstration he'd probably screw it up on Halloween night.
"Excellent. That would be very helpful." Jack said, surprising even himself with how genuine his voice sounded. The doctor looked pleased.
"It'll only take a moment." The doctor said, wheeling back to the lab to get his machine, on his way he cast a brief look at the wall, where he had hung Jacks key up earlier.
"Oh! Jack that reminds me." He wheeled to the wall, and slowly removed the old skeleton key from the rusted hook. He looked at it for a moment then outstretched his hand for Jack to take it. Jack narrowed his eye sockets and took his key from the doctor.
"Where did you-" Jack started, a puzzled note in his voice.
"I was headed towards town yesterday to complete some of the things I had to do, and that I couldn't get Igor or any of my experiments to do for me, when I looked to the side of the road, where I saw your key lying." Jack listened to the explanation while examining the key in his hand.
"By the side of the road? Alright…thank you for returning it to me…I guess." Jack said the last part quietly after the doctor had nodded and began once again to make his way to the lab.
When the doctor was gone Jack sat in one of the doctors chairs (He found one that was not quite so dusty or moldy as some of the others, marveling at the fact that some of them were so bad that even he couldn't find anything pleasantly horrible about them.) He stared at his key for a while, thinking about Sally and wondering about how the key got by the side of the road.
While Jack was sitting, he happened to glance at a door on the wall opposite of him that was opened just slightly. As he did he heard something from behind it and the door slammed shut. Jack straightened and stared at it in surprise. He was still looking at it when the doctor came back up, wheeling in his large complicated contraption.
"Here we are…we-" The doctor stopped, fixing Jack with an odd look.
Jack snapped out of his confused state and turned his attention on the doctor.
"Sorry." He said, sounding to himself just a touch embarrassed. "What were you saying?" The doctor continued, looking a bit miffed.
"I was just saying that we should be able to do a few basic experiments and get you back to your responsibilities in no time." The doctor said, his voice clearing as he did so.
"Oh…yes of course, that would be wonderful." Jack smiled, he carefully set his key down on the wooden table beside him before standing and turning away from the wall to face the doctor who was beginning the first experiment, casting only a brief look at the door behind him. As he did so, he found that it had been opened a crack again.
Sally's heart beat had quickened. He had almost seen her! The second time she had to use all of her willpower not to slam the door shut again. If only she hadn't the first time! She didn't think Jack had seen anyone behind the door, but she knew she had at least startled or confused him. All she could hope for was that he would just let it go and would not say anything to the doctor, who would know immediately what it meant.
Sally got over a bit of her shock, feeling some anger return. The doctor had lied about how he had gotten the key. Sally supposed she should have been relieved that the doctor didn't mention her at all. But he had made her look like she had been careless and hadn't taken care of the possession that was loaned to her. Sally hoped Jack didn't think poorly of her for it.
Sally gathered her courage and peeked through the door again. As her nerves began to settle themselves out, she found herself just enjoying being able see Jack. At least here, in the shelter of the door, she could examine him all she wanted without worrying about what he would think of it, or what he would think of her. She smiled faintly to herself, without being aware of it, and felt a warm feeling in her heart, in which she placed her hand over. It was something she had never felt before, and she believed she liked this new feeling just fine.
"Would you like to try it Jack?" The doctor was saying on the other side of the door. "You should probably get some experience before you use it in rehearsal." He looked at Jack expectantly. Sally knew that look. It meant he was expecting Jack to do it wrong. He fixed her with the same look every time she started sewing or making dinner in front of him, right before he told her she was doing it all wrong and that she was not yet able to complete simple tasks without messing them all up. Sally sighed to herself, turning her attention away from her thoughts before one of the doctors full speeches ran through her head.
"Oh, sure. I suppose I could try it out." Sally bit her lip, hoping he didn't mess things up too badly. At the same time she felt herself admiring Jacks confident attitude. Even if he had no idea what he was doing, he certainly wasn't letting on, or showing any hesitation or wariness towards attempting the task. She wondered lightly how someone could come by such confidence.
Jack moved to where the doctor was standing when he had done the first demonstration and examined the gears carefully.
"Let's see." Sally watched as Jack leaned over the gears, his tall thin frame built in a position of concentration. He reached out with one of his long hands and pulled down the first three levers. Sally wasn't sure if this was right, but by casting a quick look to the doctor she decided it must be, he looked disappointed. Jack pulled down the last, and the machine made a sick metallic sound as a large spider crawled from the compartment on the side. Jack stood back up, once again to his full height, looking satisfied.
"Well done Jack." The doctor said, halfheartedly. Jack shrugged, his grin back in place.
"It was luck, I could have just as easily messed it up." His voice sounded pleasant, and had no indication within it that suggested he had thought even for a second that he would screw things up. Sally smiled, mentally applauding Jacks success.
"Well, I suppose doing things right the first time is a part of your job, Jack. And one of many reasons why your so good at it." The doctor said. Any bitterness he had had was not evident now, on the surface at least. Sally knew him well enough, having lived with him for so long, that he still felt quite bitter. His compliments were just a way to conceal this from Jack. Sally wondered briefly why he would go to so much trouble to do so. The doctor didn't act so falsely pleasant toward the mayor. Why was he making such fuss over Jack, especially when the doctor knew he had helped her break back into the house.
"Well, I do my best. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to assist me. I wouldn't have had a clue how this thing worked otherwise." Jack responded.
Sally had been looking at Jack again, and daydreaming a little when the doctors next words abruptly brought her out of her thoughts.
"I imagine expectations are set rather high when it comes to being the Pumpkin King." The doctor added conversationally, though with little interest.
Sally straightened, staring at Jack and the doctor in alarm. What had he said?
"Well, it's all part of the title…" Jack was saying, as confused thoughts began running through Sally's head. The Pumpkin King? What did the Pumpkin King have to do with Jack? The doctor must be confused, Jack couldn't be the Pumpkin King.
"Well I'll let you get back to your work Jack. I'm sure the residents of town are just about losing their minds without you." The doctor said, causing Sally to straighten and stare on at them in mounting disbelief
"It is getting late, I should probably try to get down to the graveyard early so we can finish before dawn." Jack said the last part in a mild and somehow feigned amusement.
"Well it was marvelous to have you drop by, I hope you'll come back if you ever need anything. Always a pleasure to serve the Pumpkin King." The doctor said, sounding more falsely pleasant then ever.
"Thank you for having me." Jack said in return.
Sally sat in the dark, feeling as though she should be moving, given the fact the doctor would probably be checking on her the moment after Jack left, but feeling unable to leave her place in front of the door. It couldn't be. Jack couldn't be the Pumpkin King. He couldn't be because…
Butthe argument now felt completely false to her. As she thought back to the two times she had met him, she felt what denial she put up against this truth fade away quickly. In the very short time she had known him, she found, she had never once wondered why their conversation had been interrupted both times by people demanding his attention, why the people who came upon their first meeting came to him acting as though he had been missing for days instead of a couple hours, and were not angry with him when he had left the meeting, why he should have the skeleton key to the city, and finally, now that she thought of it, why he had given her that strange look when she had mentioned the Pumpkin King's talents and accomplishments when they had been sitting at the fountain.
Realizing this, Sally dropped her head into her hands, feeling her face grow warm, even with no one there to see her embarrassment. She had been talking to Jack about himself. Not only that, but she had asked the Pumpkin King why they celebrated Halloween and if he ever got tired of it…She had called him by his first name like she actually considered herself somewhat equal to him…she had even started to develop some strange feelings towards him. Thinking about all of this made her want to crawl into a crack in the floor to escape from the horrible shame that was filling her now.
Jack was the Pumpkin King.
Although Sally was unaware of it, Jack had cast one final glance in her direction before leaving. As he did so, he managed to catch a bit of movement and the vague outline of a shadow behind the door. Jack narrowed his eyes in curiosity. Someone had been watching them.
The doctor escorted Jack to the door, As Jack stepped through the door way a vague smile crossed the doctors lips.
"Goodbye Jack, Feel free to come back any time." He said. Jack could see the doctor was glad he was getting rid of his guest.
"Goodbye doctor, thank you again." Jack said as he turned away from the doctors house.
"Don't mention it." The doctor said, before shutting the door.
Jack was about halfway to his house before he stopped, and smacked his forehead in frustration. He had left his key at the doctors house. He turned around and headed back down the old road, mentally cursing himself for bringing it upon himself to go back into the doctors unwelcome company.
After Sally heard the front door shut she rose to her feet and headed up the stairs quietly, she wasn't really putting much thought into her actions, her mind was focused on the things she had heard from behind the door. How could she be so stupid. She bit her lip in frustrated anger and embarrassment. Why hadn't Jack told her that he was the Pumpkin King, instead of letting her make such a big fool of herself.
Sally shut the door to her bedroom behind her and crossed the floor to her bed. She sat, and looked to the window, trying to distract her mind from her humiliation.
"Sally!" She heard the doctors voice from about halfway down the stairs. "You can come back down and finish lunch now." Sally sighed and stood up from her bed, wishing that she could just lay there for the rest of the night.
She left her room and headed back to the kitchen, doing so in a depressed manner that the doctor apparently didn't pick up on.
"Hurry up with whatever your making, I'm starved." He said bitterly, his false kindness gone for the day now that Jack had departed.
Sally picked up in her recipe where she had left off, getting the stuff that had already been made from the ice box, which rarely housed anything but a few odd things that Sally thought might have been there since before the day she was made. She started up on her cooking, trying to focus on it and not her thoughts when her eyes happened to glance towards the wooden table. She looked up from her cooking and leaned closer to towards the old splintery dining table so that she could see the small object sitting there. Jack had left his key. Sally reached out to pick it up as she did she heard a knock come from the front door. She snapped her head upward, and then in the direction of the doctors lab, waiting for him to tell Igor to get it. He didn't, he must not have heard. There was another brief knock and then the bell rang. Still the doctor didn't seam to hear.
In his lab the doctor was working on feeding a very ugly looking bird that was featherless and was staring at the doctor through a set of gruesome red eyes while making a very loud irritating sound. The doctor had put on earplugs so he wouldn't have to hear it. He pulled one from his ear, thinking he had heard something. The doctors eyes narrowed. He had been sure he had heard a bell. He decided to finish feeding the loud creature, then he would check on Sally to make sure she wasn't doing anything against his orders.
Sally stood in the kitchen silently. When there wasn't another knock on the door she relaxed a little, hoping that whoever had been there had given up.
Sally was turning back to her work when the kitchen door opened. Sally swung back around only to find herself face to face with Jack who had stopped suddenly and was now staring at her in shock. Sally felt a sick feeling of horror rise up inside of her. She wasn't able to speak or move, and instead just stood there and stared at Jack with wide eyes.
Jack stood in the kitchen doorway for a long time. He had been at the front door, and had knocked so as not to intrude, but decided in the end to just slip in quietly and then sneak back out with his key. That way he didn't have to bother the doctor. He, however, had not been expecting this. He felt frozen in place. After a moment or two when the situation began to feel really uncomfortable, Jack tried to grasp for something to say.
"Sally…" He started, one of his eye's narrowed in a look that said he did not understand what was going on. Another door in the room opened, and the doctor wheeled in making matters worse. He stopped when he saw Jack and Sally, and after looking at them both briefly fixed Sally with a bitter look.
"To your room Sally." He said, his voice filled with a coldness that Jack had never heard before in him.
"Yes sir." Sally said, her voice small and quiet, seaming to thin out and vanish as it crossed the room to Jack. Her head was lowered and she did not look at him as she crossed the kitchen to a doorway that seemingly stood in front of a long and dark staircase.
When Sally was gone Jack stared at the doctor with a still somewhat shocked expression on his face. The doctor fixed him with a returning look, cold and stern, but still not as unkind as that of which he had fixed Sally with.
"I apologize Jack. But may I ask why you have returned." The doctor asked suspiciously. Jack looked down at the table and picked up his key.
"I forgot this." Jack said holding it up. Some of his shock was gone now. "I knocked but no one answered. I apologize for intruding, but I figured you were busy and did not want to bother you."
The doctors face cleared a little. Throughout Jacks explanation, he had listened for any shame or guilt or any weakness in Jacks voice, and felt dismayed when he heard none. Jack was telling the truth, and doing so in the confident manner that was to be expected of him. The doctor nodded after Jack had finished.
"I apologize for telling you a fib Jack, in accordance to that key. You see, Sally is mine. I made her. I gave her everything you see on her. I brought her to life and I have kept her here for a reason. She is not ready to interact with others, she isn't capable of doing much of anything right, as of now she is still very foolish and does not understand things the way there suppose to be understood."
Jack listened to this, trying to keep his face set to a neutral expression. The doctor had made her? The way he talked about her you would think he considered her a huge mistake. Jack supposed that explained why she seamed so different from the other people in town…but at the same time…he had never once considered her to be foolish and flawed in her thinking. He had enjoyed the change…in fact, he didn't think he had ever met anyone who thought quite so much like himself before. Even if he did understand Halloween, unlike everyone else, who seamed to be so dense that they couldn't seam to grasp anything outside of the work they did each day before the celebration, he had his doubts, and often wondered what other things there were out there…besides Halloween.
The things the doctor was saying did explain a lot, though. It explained why he had never seen Sally before that night he had met her for the first time a few days before, and why she had been so frightened of him at first, and why she was so different from the other's in Halloween town, in both her looks and her attitude and perception.
Still, Jack was finding it hard to take in that he had spent the last couple of days thinking constantly about a girl who was made by Dr. Finklestein. He had been very curious about her, and with good reason. Things rarely changed in Halloween Town, and she had been very different. Now he knew why, and finding out the truth depressed him. It meant that having been made by the doctor, in his own lab, by his own hands that no matter how much she seamed like an individual person, she still, somehow, whether it was right or not belonged to the doctor. Jack felt that this was just a bit unfair.
"I apologize again Jack, I hope she hasn't caused much trouble, she's been acting quite dysfunctional lately, I think there might be something wrong with her. Just a few evenings ago she accidentally poisoned me." As the doctor said this Jack got the feeling that he was expecting a reaction from him.
"Did she?" Jack answered, trying to act surprised. "That's awful." He hoped he had sounded genuine enough for the doctor. The doctor looked satisfied enough, so Jack supposed he had.
"Well Jack, I guess you better get going. I hope you wont be late." Jack smiled faintly.
"I think I'll be fine, it isn't too late." Jack said this, but knew that it was late enough. He was sure he'd be on time for rehearsal, but he might as well let go of the hope of getting any sleep this afternoon.
"Be sure to have a horrible evening Jack." The doctor said, while turning back to his lab.
"I'm sure I will." Jack said, feeling his mind working more towards the word in it's unpleasant meaning rather then the usual one that was common in Halloween Town. As he left the kitchen he cast what was meant to be one final look at the door Sally had exited from. As he did this, two thoughts came to mind. One was that he was now sure that Sally had been the one watching them from the crack in which the door had been opened to earlier, the other was an idea. It didn't take Jack much time to make up his mind. When he was turned from the doctor he put his fingers to his chin in a pondering gesture, and grinned very much like he did, or once had on Halloween night. He exited the kitchen, pausing outside the door and listening for the sound of the door on the other side of the room as it closed. When he heard the door click in place he slipped back into the kitchen without making a sound and headed towards the door that held the stairway.
Sally stood in the darkness, staring out her window, which she had opened despite the doctor warning her not to. She decided there was really no point to keeping the window shut now. She may get into trouble, but she was finding it very hard to care about that now. Besides that she felt she could care less about anything now that she knew Jack wouldn't get into trouble, now that he had seen her. She bit her lip to keep her tears of embarrassment suppressed. She felt a little angry now as well. The doctor had lied to her, and had let her make a fool of herself, Jack had let her make a fool of herself by not telling her who he was, but now that Jack knew who she was, he probably couldn't care less what he had or had not told her. She lowered her eyes. As she did the music from the band that played across the street drifted up to her. She listened to it, feeling some of her bitter emotions ease slightly, at least for the moment, and feeling grateful that they were there.
Her door opened quietly, but Sally didn't turn because of it, because she had not heard it. What brought her attention out of her thoughts and the lovely forlorn music playing from across the street was a long shadow as it fell upon her. When she looked up, thinking she would find the doctor sitting in the door way looking at her in a kind of growing rage, she was surprised to instead find Jack who had somehow crossed the room without her noticing and without making a sound, and who had his foot up on a wooden chair sitting just a few feet away from her and was now observing her from a position with his chin rested in his palm.
Sally jumped, feeling and looking completely startled. She was still for a few minutes, just eyeing him in a stricken manner. When she came out of her momentary shock, it was replaced with that of embarrassment and a hint anger at being intruded upon and caught off guard.
"Hello Sally." Jack said in the dark before standing to his full height. The anger vanished from Sally's face. She now just stared at Jack feeling very puzzled and at a loss for words. She also couldn't help but feel her fixation on him return. She tried to stop the feeling, but did so to no avail, and found herself apologizing to him instead.
"I'm so sorry, sir. I had no idea who you were, and I was so curious about what the town was like. I didn't mean to cause you any trouble or to lie to you, I just wanted to find out if there was anything outside this place…" She talked very quickly and as she did felt all of her anger vanish, which had been brought on more by her embarrassment then anything else. She now just felt a need to explain to Jack why she had did what she had, and that she did so because she hadn't known who he was or what sort of trouble it would cause.
"Sally, relax…" Jack said, smiling and saying it with some amusement, while waving her explanation away. "And please, you don't need to call me sir, no one else in town does. I didn't come up here to blame you for anything, I came up to apologize." Sally stopped in the middle of her explanation and stared at Jack in confusion. Why was he treating her like an equal still? And what's more, why was he, The Pumpkin King apologizing to her. She closed her mouth and gave Jack what must have been a very bewildered look.
"I'm sorry if I embarrassed you. I didn't mean put you on the spot when we met, I didn't know who you were. I also apologize for not telling you I was the Pumpkin King, I think I tried to the last time we met. I just got interrupted. Besides, I rarely run into people who don't know who I am, it was kind of refreshing." Jack fixed her with an apologetic grin. Sally just stood where she was, looking more and more distressed. She hadn't been expecting anything like this from him.
"Um…" Sally started, still looking somewhat lost. "That's alright…I-" Sally paused, at a complete loss for words. She sighed and came out of her confusion a little.
"Your not…upset?" She asked finally, looking bewildered.
"Why would I be upset?" Jack said, his smile fading and turning into a simple and sincere look.
"Because…because I went against my masters orders, and didn't tell you who I was, and went into your town when…I don't really belong there. " Sally said, feeling a bit odd, like she was trying to convince Jack why he should be angry with her.
"Who says you don't belong here?" Jack said, giving her a curious look.
"Well, I'm not like everyone else here. I was made, I don't fully understand the purpose of this town. And I still don't get how anyone could go around scaring people over and over without getting tired of it. And I don't think I ever will, no matter how often it's explained to me." Sally sighed, finishing her thought desperately. " I don't belong her because I don't fit in." She said, looking a little hurt at hearing the words coming from her own mouth. Jack cocked an invisible brow.
"Just because your different from everyone else doesn't mean you don't belong here. It just means you don't hold the same perspective as everyone else. To be perfectly honest, the last time I had a real conversation with anyone before I met you was…well…I can't remember if I've ever had a real conversation with anyone else in this town." Sally watched Jack, her mood which she had brought down herself slightly rising.
"You mean…you don't think there's something wrong with me?" She asked, feeling a little embarrassed at asking him. But Jack just smiled and shook his head, looking completely sincere.
"No, if anything you seam to be quite a bit more clever then just about anyone I've met in town before. You have a broader horizon then the residents here. Even though we're responsible for Halloween each year it doesn't mean we shouldn't have opinions outside of that." Sally smiled a little, feeling happier then she had in a while. Jack knew who she was now and he didn't seam to care. He still treated her like she belonged there. His compliments made her blush a little and all of the feelings she had been suppressing for him filled her with a sort of joy she had never felt before.
"Anyway, it is getting quite late now. I have rehearsal to get to. You've seen how the town gets when I'm not there. Goodbye Sally." He said.
"Goodbye." Sally said softly. She happened to look at the wooden chair only to see Jack's key shining dully from it.
"Wait, Jack, you forgot your key!" She said, picking it up and holding it out to him. Jack looked at it for a moment. And gave her an embarrassed look.
"Yeah, I seam to be doing that a lot lately." He started to reach for it then pulled his hand back. "you know what…" He started, a faint smile across his skull. "Just keep it for now. You can return it to me some other time." He turned leaving Sally to stand staring after his retreating form curiously, trying to decide what he meant by leaving her his key. Jack stopped in the doorway as he did he looked over his shoulder.
"Oh, and by the way, Halloween is in two days, we start at sunset, and go until midnight. I'm telling you this in case you want drop in for a while…perhaps…it will give you a better idea of what this town is about. Come if you can." He finished, and with that was out the doorway and down the stairs, leaving with the same grace that he had used to come, so that Sally could not hear him as he went. Sally stood in the darkness for a while, watching the door, where Jack had just been standing, and holding his key tightly in her tiny stitched fingers. After a while she went back to the window, just in time to see him heading towards town, pausing only to tip the band, which she was hearing again, now that her attention was off of Jack. She stood there for a while, a smile playing on her lips her thoughts focused on Jack. By the time the doctor came to her room she had already hid the key beneath her mattress and had closed the large window.
The doctor told her to finish dinner, seaming to not be in the mood to scold her, and not finding any need to since her seeing Jack had been a complete accident this time. She returned to her work in good spirits. As she continued cooking thoughts of Jack drifted about her mind, making her smile.
Sally had a feeling she was going to be out on Halloween night.
Well that's it. I hope it was pleasing, and I hope that I didn't disappoint anyone. I'd also like to apologize for my spelling errors. As was commented on in one of the reviews. I'm terrible with grammatical things. It's one of my larger weaknesses in writing. I assure you that I try to fix my writing as best as I can. I've just never been that good at anything grammar related. Thank you for your reviews, they were the thing that kept me writing, despite my eagerness to begin another story. I also thank you for reading my story. The pleasure in writing it is almost secondary to the pleasure of having it read.