What Is This Feeling?
was late one fall in Halloweenland,
and the air had quite a chill.
Against the moon a skeleton sat,
alone upon a hill.
was tall and thin with a bat bow tie;
Jack Skellington was his name.
He was tired and bored in Halloweenland
sick of the scaring, the terror, the fright.
I'm tired of being something that goes bump in the night.
I'm bored with leering my horrible glances,
And my feet hurt from dancing those skeleton dances.
I don't like graveyards, and I need something new.
must be more to life than just yelling,
Tim Burton (excerpt from the poem The Nightmare Before Christmas was based on.)
From inside the hollow pumpkin their song was muffled and slightly abstract, Jack thought to himself. He sat at it's base, around him a dazzling orange fire burned, setting his skeletal features alight. From the outside, Jacks current hiding place looked like that of an ordinary Jack o' Lantern. It's horrible grin set alight with wayward flames.
In this place of concealment Jack thought quietly to himself with his skeleton hand propping up his chin. His mind wondered back to that of the music. It sounded quite eerie from inside this burning pumpkin tomb. Perhaps he could use the creepy music in an idea for next years celebration. Jack grinned to himself, a thing that in ordinary circumstances would have made the Pumpkin King look quite frightening , especially when his grin was illuminated in flames. Tonight, however, if any one of the towns people would have seen him behind the wall of orange, they would have found his grin terribly depleted.
Jack sighed, he didn't understand it. Just last year he would have found any idea concerning Halloween terribly inspiring. Why was he feeling so…wrong as of late. This past year had been terrible, and not in a good way either. It had been terrible in a way that Jack didn't understand. He had never felt this way before. He felt like…Jack struggled with his thoughts, trying to find a word or phrase that helped describe his current emotion. He felt as though…everything he was doing, he was doing for no reason at all. He felt like, all of the pleasure had gone out of things. He was…bored with scaring people.
"But how could that be?" Jack asked The pumpkin wall, his voice set below a whisper and sounding like a bit of a hiss. "There is no other thing. This is all there is. And I'm the Pumpkin King." He raised his fingers in front of his face in a half fists. His countenance had taken on a look of frustration. Suddenly, the look fell from his face, turning to that of surprise as he heard the song change outside. He had almost missed his cue! He jumped up hurriedly and set his face to the expression he usually wore.
Outside The residents of Halloween Town sang the last verse of their song in unison, all of them looked expectedly to the giant pumpkin as it's grin began to change.
"Please make way for a very special guy,
Our man Jack is King of the Pumpkin Patch,
Everyone hail to the Pumpkin King, Now-"
They continued to sing as the giant Jack o' Lantern came alive, it's grin widening and it's eyes taking on a quality of glittering life. A mad cackling ensued from it, filling up the town, and sending chills (Mostly that of admiration) down the spines of those standing around it.
Suddenly, the pumpkin burst in flames. As the orange rough flesh of the Jack o' Lantern burned down, Jack's form could be seen, black against the glowing firelight. He was wearing a terrifying grin that would have curled the hair of even the bravest of men. He stood straight with his arms crossed along his chest.
As their song ended Jack was able to relax his arms and let the power of his grin fall from his face. It was replaced by that of a pleasant smile.
The residents let out a cheer and congratulated each other as the celebration they had been preparing for all year once again came to a close.
"Excellent work everyone." Jack said, the pleasure in his voice sounding so genuine he almost felt as though he was fooling himself with it. Almost.
"Another tremendous Halloween come to an end." The mayor walked up beside him, wearing his smiling face and looking quite pleased (Although, Jack supposed he always did look pleased as long as he was wearing that face.)
"Wonderful Jack. I think that was your best performance yet. In fact, I think that was the most terrible Halloween we've ever had!" The mayor said, getting an excited response from the crowd. Jack smiled, trying to look as though he shared in their excitement, and not that he had become quite aware that the mayor said these exact same words every year.
"Thank you, mayor, and I also congratulate all of you for your hard work. This celebration would not have been near as horrible without you." In response to this Jack was showered with praise.
"Oh no Jack, we'd be lost without you!"
"Your performance curdled my blood."
"You've never been so absolutely terrifying." Jack thanked the crowed , trying to get them to settle down. Their praise, like everything else was getting quite old. And this year he felt like he deserved it even less then usual. He hadn't felt like he had been terrifying. He hadn't even been trying very hard.
"Thank you, Thank you, please settle down, your quite welcome, Thank you!" The last thanks was said somewhat desperately.
Finally the praise seamed to be dying down. The mayor saw this, allowing it to go on as long as the town desired it to (Mostly because he knew he couldn't exactly get in the way of them and their admiration of their Pumpkin King.) and finally saw his chance to step in and speak.
"The night is young still, we have to hand out awards yet." He said, getting an excited response from the ghouls as they turned from Jack to receive their rewards for the year. Jack usually stayed during the ceremony, considering he was always given a few himself, but this year he wasn't feeling much in the mood to the final part of the towns predictable ceremony. He had been present for the awards over a hundred times and he had found long ago that all of the same people got the same things every year. The vampires always got the award for the most blood sucked, the witches always got the award for best scare performed on a broom, the swamp monster always got the award for most ships turned over and most people scared at sea, and he always got the awards for best scare and most terrible leadership. (In this case terrible was considered good.)
Jack thought that this year he could perhaps just skip this part of the show and head home. He could then perhaps get started on the plans for next year, or more preferably, get a good nights sleep before he would be woken up the next morning to go over the mayors plans. Jack felt an unfamiliar sinking feeling behind his breast. The next day, only six hours away at the very least, he would have to start it all over again. For some reason this thought came with a most terrible feeling of exhaustion that Jack believed was far worse then any he had felt before.
Jack looked over at the people of his town, they seamed to be rather preoccupied with their own matters. Jack thought he could sneak away quite easily.
He tossed another quick look to the crowd before slowly creeping away from them. As he made his way across the town the night became much darker and more peaceful, he was after all, leaving all of its residents behind him.
After Jack got out of ear shot he began to walk normally, his face set to the ground in a dispiriting manner. He walked this way until he got to the foot of his tower. He then looked upward. His window was dark and gloomy looking (Not that there was anywhere in Halloween Town that wasn't gloomy looking.) suddenly he felt a strong urge to be elsewhere, where no one could find him if they should look. Perhaps he would leave the town and walk until he came to some place he had never seen before. Jack smiled in a melancholy manner. He thought of doing just that, but in the end just climbed the stairs to his front door, pulled out his rusted key to unlock the door, and entered into the dark solitude of his abode.
When he got inside he stood at the bottom of a long spiraling staircase for a while, looking at the almost hypnotic swirl the stairs ran up. He sighed, suddenly he didn't feel so much like climbing those stairs…it felt like too much work. After a long moment Jack slowly began to ascend the agonizing climb to his quarters. At least being so high up meant he would be farther away from anyone who should call on him. Maybe he could pretend to not hear the doorbell when it rang early the next morning. Jack pushed that thought away. He doubted the mayor would believe that after nearly a hundred and eighty years his doorbell would suddenly become much too quiet for him to hear from his room, or that he could suddenly sleep through it. It wasn't exactly news that he was not a very heavy nor well sleeper. Jack found himself often plagued with insomnia, which was kind of ironic and rather depressing considering he was dead.
Jack finally reached the trap door at the top of the stair case. He sighed in relief, and pushed on the old rotted wood. The door swung open and he walked up the few remaining stairs into his room. He flipped a light switch on his right, disturbing a spider web as he did. Jacks room was illuminated by a ghostly light. In the corner, Jacks ghost dog Zero rose his head and cast a curious glance towards Jack. Upon seeing him, he lowered his head again, obviously a little irritated at being disturbed from his sleep.
Jack pulled off his bat like bow tie, casually tossing it to the electric chair on a wall opposite to him. It landed neatly on one of the arms. He slowly changed out of his pinstripe suit and into his long night short, thinking deeply to himself as he did so.
As his jacket landed on Zeros bed, Zero looked up again this time with a bit more aggravation. The look faded as he watched his master for a while, who did not seam to be in his regular spirit at all.
Jack grabbed a dusty chair, which he pushed to one of his long fancy cathedral like windows. He sat down and rested his chin in his palm, staring out at Halloween Town, and looking quite troubled.
Zero, who had given up on sleep floated to him and rested on the right arm of his chair.
"I don't get it, Zero." Jack said quietly. "Why does everything feel so wrong now?" Zero rested his own head into his ghostly paws (Or where his paws would have been.) Jack was silent for a long time, watching the light that had illuminated the center of town as it slowly began to fade. The awards must have all been given out. Dark shapes made their way about below his window as the people of Halloween town went about their way retreating to their own beds.
A look of frustration crossed Jacks face. He rose his head and tightened the hand he had been resting it on, making a fist, which he slammed down on the window ledge. His bones knocked hollowly together, and the blow made Zero raise his head in alarm and stare at his master in nervous wonder.
"What's wrong with me?" Jack asked no one in particular. "Why do I feel this way?" He rested his hand on the ledge, as the room around him became silent again without his raised voice to fill the emptiness. Zero was still looking at him in alarm. Jack barely noticed, his look of frustration was being replaced slowly by a look of deep unhappiness.
"I don't even know what to call this feeling." Jack said, this time his voice was below a whisper. He raised his hand to his chin and appeared to be in deep thought for a while, as though he were trying to call up the name of the emotion from the depths of his memory, from a place so distant that it was but a forgotten history from a time so very long ago.
Finally, Jack lowered his head into his hands. He closed his eyes and after a while found the word buried in the darkness of his mind.
"Sadness, misery, despair. Of course how could I have forgotten, all words we live by here in Town. Well, words seam to be all they are. This is the worst thing I've ever felt." He rose his head and looked at Zero who was watching him carefully, perhaps deciding whether or not he was going to let out another burst of outrage.
"It's been so long, why have I suddenly grown so tired of this place. I'm the Pumpkin King, I'm suppose to enjoy scaring people. I'm not suppose to be sick of hearing them scream, or tired of coming up with scare after scare. I should be glad that another year has gone by so terribly. Why can't I? Why do things feel so tired all of a sudden. I think I may go mad if I have to get up tomorrow and begin this all over again forever, UNTIL AN ETERNITY HAS PASSED!" As he said this his voice took on a dramatic quality, until it lowered into the ominous voice he often used in being the Pumpkin King.
Jack sat back in his chair and let his long arms fall on either side of him.
"I feel like…something's been taken from me. And it's left a giant hole that can never be filled again." He looked up to his ceiling sadly.
"Why can't things just be the way they were?" Jack said, seaming to ask the very walls that surrounded him.
Zero responded by letting out an eerie whine. Jack looked at him. His shoulders slumped. A sincere look crossed his face.
"You know Zero, you're my only true friend in this entire town." He said, turning from his friend and looking into corner of his room, where a picture of him hung. In the picture he was smiling quite evilly and holding up a pumpkin in one outstretched hand.
"I'm just the Pumpkin King to everyone else. I don't think they even understand anything like friendship, or sadness. Not really." He sighed.
"I suppose I don't really understand it either." Along with his sadness, Jack was suddenly struck by a wave of loneliness.
"Just once, I'd like to have someone I can talk to. Someone who doesn't want to talk about Halloween, or scaring, or how wonderfully awful my performance was this year, or next, or last. Just once." Zero barked. A small grin spread across Jacks skull.
"I know, I have you. And that I am thankful for my friend." He reached out and ran his skeletal fingers through Zeros transparent coat. Zero barked in response, obviously relieved that his master was feeling a little better.
"Still, it would be nice to have someone who could actually talk back."
Jacks smile faded a little as he gazed out his window again.
"Maybe there is something more to this life…" He started, casting a look towards Zero as he said it. "…then this place. Something Beyond these dark walls and this agonizing solitude."
Zero watched Jack for a while as he appeared to ponder this thought. finally, when he was sure his master would be alright, he drifted back towards his bed.
Jack sat in his chair for a long time, just gazing into the nothingness. If one did not know better, they might have thought him just a skeleton, quite dead, and quite un extraordinary. Gazing off into the darkness with lifeless eyes, in the place where he had perished, quite miserably so it seamed.
When Jack began to see a sign of the sunrise, he was finally shaken from the depths of his thoughts. A deep feeling of depression washed over him. He had stayed awake all night. In an hour or so he would be called upon to go over the plans with the mayor. Jack buried his head in his hands, in realizing he had spent the first of many sleepless nights soon to come.
Jack stood, and with a silent groan, slowly began to dress into his old attire.
Outside the pumpkin sun began to rise.
Another year had begun.
Hmmm I don't really know if I like this ending. OH well. I wrote this story fairly quick, a sort of break from my other story as I think of what to put in its next chapter. I hope this turned out alright. It feels sort of…eh. Please review. Tell me if it's bad. If you don't like the ending, perhaps I can change it. I'm not so sure I like it right now.