Writer's Note: The following "Hey Arnold!" fanfiction story is in honor of the month of October. Aside from the summer months, its one of my favorite months of the year, the leaves are orange and falling, the air gets slightly cooler, and sunset comes a lot earlier in the evenings. Also, the month of October ends with Halloween (Oct. 31st) The one day of the year that people, usually kids, dress up in costumes and don't get looked at funny on the streets, then legally go to people's homes and ask for candy.
Further, this holiday also inspires spooky stories and creepy urban legends. In honor of this tradition, I, DarthRoden, offer to you, my fanatical fanfiction fanatics, a tale of suspense for Halloween.
Disclaimer: I do not own Nickelodeon's "Hey Arnold!" nor did I create any of the main characters. Master Craig Bartlett is the one who holds that honor, next to him I am but a lowly learner.
The House on Wylie's Wharf
By DarthRoden (a.k.a. Carl)
Chapter One: The Legend of Wylie's Wharf
This story begins one sunny but slightly cool Friday afternoon in late October by the docks near the Hillwood city lake where Arnold, his best friend Gerald, and some of their other friends, Harold, Sid, Stinky, Curly and Eugene were hanging around, just trying to kill time.
School was officially out for the weekend, and tomorrow night was Halloween, which all of them was looking forward to. The result of having an empty schedule, coupled with an eagerly anticipated holiday meant that, for all of them, time seemed to be going extra slow.
Curly, Sid, and Stinky were tossing rocks into the lake at the floating garbage of empty bottles and drink cans that passed by trying to sink them. Harold was amusing himself by swinging on the metal guard rails. Eugene was just looking over the side at the passing fishes under the pier, making fish faces at them and so far, manageing not to fall over, as he normally would. Gerald was over by the drink machine getting a couple of Yahoo sodas.
Arnold was just sitting there at the end of the pier, his left leg dangling over the side and his arms around his right one resting against one of the pilings, looking out at the afternoon sunshine reflecting off of the less than clean lake water. He looked off at the city scape in the distance on the far side of the lake and Elk Island, the only green spot in the whole area, sitting there surrounded by dirty water and the old buildings.
He heard Gerald coming and turned his head to look up at his best friend, who was looking a little unhappy about something. He raised an eyebrow and asked, "What's wrong, Gerald?"
Gerald sighed and handed him one of the bottles of soda, which Arnold took egearly. "That stupid snack machine took my money again. I swear, I think that thing is rigged." Arnold nodded. He'd lost money in that machine himself before and was inclined to agree with Gerald.
Gerald sat down next to him and leaned back against the piling. "Man, Arnold, I'm so bored. I wish Halloween was tonight, instead of having to wait the rest of this day and then, all of tomorrow for it."
"Look on the bright side, Gerald, at least it gets dark sooner, so it won't be too much of a wait tomorrow." Arnold said, trying his best to cheer his friend up, then took a swig of soda.
"There you go again, Arnold," Gerald said, smiling a little. "Always looking on the bright side of things."
Arnold allowed himself a small smile and said, "Well, somebody has to."
"Yeah, but why always you?"
Shrugging, Arnold changed the topic. "What are you going to dress up as this year, Gerald?"
Now Gerald smiled and told him, "I'm going as a pirate. I even brought my costume the other day." Then he took a swig of his soda himself and added, "Thanks to Jamie-o and his stupid Halloween party though, we'll have to take my little sister Timberly around with us though."
"Oh come on, Gerald, it won't be so bad," Arnold said, trying to cheer his friend up, knowing that he was probably not happy about having to drag along his sister for trick or treating.
Now Gerald grinned and said, "Who said it would be bad? Timberly has that cuteness factor, so with her along, she can score us even more candy."
Arnold smiled and his half-lidded eyes looked amused. "Now who's looking on the bright side?" Both of them laughed together.
"Well, well, well," came a harsh-sounding female voice from behind them. "If it isn't Football-head and Tall-Hair-Boy."
Arnold sighed and turned his head, knowing exactly whom he would see, nor was he too surprised to see Helga standing there at the railing with her best friend, Phoebe. Helga had her arms crossed and her face was set in her usual mocking smirk. "Hey, Helga," Arnold said, sounding almost tired and he nodded to the girl next to her. Next to him, Gerald gave Phoebe a small, flirting grin, which made Phoebe smile back coyly.
Arnold looked up at her and asked, "Are you two bored waiting on Halloween to get here also?"
Helga snorted slightly, then said, "That's the understatement of the year, football-head."
Gerald looked at Phoebe and asked, "What are you guys doing?"
Before Phoebe could answer for herself, Helga butted in and answered for her. "Well, not that it's any of your beeswax, Tall-Hair-Boy but we decided to come out here to spit in the lake. Not much else to do right now."
Phoebe nodded and said, "That is affirmative, Gerald."
"So, what are you doing out here anyway, Arnold-o?" Helga asked, looking at Arnold with her usual scowl.
"Nothing really, just staring out at the lake, looking out at Elk Island and the rest of the city beyond." Arnold turned his head to look out at the lake once more. "On days like this, the lake looks really nice." A moment later, a fish floated to the surface belly up between the tin cans and fast food wrappers.
"Oh yeah, really scenic," Helga said, rolling her eyes and snorting.
Arnold only sighed and then turned his head to the far right, toward the direction of the stone railroad bridge across the lake in the distance. The Great Northern Railroad Line trestle separated this half of the lake, where the city and Elk Island stood, with the other half closer to the woodlands just beyond the city limits. A train was crossing over the trestle at that very moment.
"Hey Arnold, whatcha looking at, man?" Gerald asked, noticing his best friend's gaze.
"Huh? Oh, just looking at the train crossing the bridge," Arnold explained. Then he smiled. "Hey Gerald, remember when we went under that bridge to go look for Big Caesar last year?"
Gerald sighed and said, "Don't remind me." He was still kicking himself over going along with Arnold when he talked him into letting Big Caesar go. Especially when he heard people mocking him and Arnold for not catching the legendary fish.
"Yeah, too bad you two chuckle-heads didn't actually catch Big Caesar," Helga said, looking at them with her mocking smile. She enjoyed baiting both of them, especially Arnold.
Arnold really wanted to set her straight and tell her how they did in fact catch Big Caesarand then let him go, but he knew that neither Helga, not anyone else (with the possible exception of his Grandpa Phil) would actually believe him and Gerald. From the look on Gerald's face, he too wanted to put Helga right.
"Big Caesar was nothing but an urban legend anyhow, and not a very good one either," Helga added, looking very smug.
Instead of getting mad, Arnold only looked at Gerald, shared a secret wink with him and then turned and offered Helga an amused smile. "Whatever you say, Helga."
Although Helga would never admit it in front of witnesses, Arnold's smile in her direction almost made her knees weak, but she held back those feelings very easily. She covered it with an annoyed expression and said, "Well, if he's really out there, why don't you two go get back in your little swan boat and go after him again, if you're so bored?"
That comment brought her some chuckles from Harold, Sid, Stinky and Curly at Arnold and Gerald's expense. Even Phoebe, who got along with Gerald far better than Helga herself did, actually covered her mouth with her hand and chuckled too.
"Yeah, Ar-nuld," taunted Harold, in his mocking, overgrown baby voice.
Curly smirked and added, "Yeah guys, there's no fog out there this time. Can't use that as an excuse. It's so clear, I'll bet you can even see Wylie's Wharf from the trestle right now."
Eugene looked up from his fish-gazing and raised an eyebrow at the comment. "What's Wylie's Wharf?"
Sid looked over at Eugene surprised and spoke very intensely like he did when he was overly excited. "What's Wylie's Wharf?! Eugene, don't tell me you've never heard of the horrible incident at Wylie's Wharf?!" Eugene only shook his head. "Man, I can't believe it! You've never heard anything about it?!"
"Neither have I," Arnold said, looking at Sid. Helga looked blank also, as did Phoebe. Harold looked over at Sid and shook his head. Stinky looked confused, of course such was a norm for the tall, gangling boy.
Curly looked just at incredulous at Sid did. "I can't believe you losers! It's only the creepiest urban legend ever! It's even creepier than the stories of Wheezing Ed, the Ghost Bride and the Headless Cabbie all combined!"
"Oh, well this ought to be good," Helga said, looking interested all at once and leaning with her back against a piling to listen. Arnold turned and sat up straighter to listen to the story.
"Yeah, I recon that this ought to be a good way to kill some time anyway," Stinky said, leaning against one of the railings. Everyone else stood expectantly waiting for someone to explain.
Sid nodded and then said, "The Legend of the incident at Wylie's Wharf is an urban legend, that has been passed down from kid generation, to kid generation, and as usual, our own Gerald is the keeper of the tale. Take it away, Gerald."
Gerald nodded and smiled, "Thanks Sid." Then he began to tell the story, using the story voice he used solely for urban legends.
"It all happened on a Halloween back in the early nineteen hundreds, out there on a small island on the other side of the lake named Wylie's Wharf. The island itself was not very big, but it was just large enough for a house to be built there. The house itself belonged to the family of the man named Jeremiah Wylie, who served in the Pig War and was given the small island as payment for his service against the redcoats. The island was hence named for him and his descendants.
"The last Wylie to reside there was a fisherman named, Sam Wylie, who lived on the island alone, like a hermit, coming to town only every now and again for supplies. He was a creepy old man, who wore a black raincoat, had a wooden leg and a hook for a left hand, just like a pirate. He even had a glass eye that he used to frighten children and adults alike whenever he passed them in the streets. Many simply referred to the old hermit as 'Old Man Wylie.'
"One day, Old Man Wylie returned home from a lousy day of fishing to discover visitors to the island. It was the bank manager and several policeman, who informed him that his house had been foreclosed on and bought by a business mogul, who planned to use it as a guest resort and retreat for his friends and family. Wylie was so shocked that he went mad and attacked the bank manager shouting out that the house and the island were his, and had been in his family for generations. He was arrested and taken away, but not before he vowed a terrible revenge on those who robbed him of his family's land.
"A year later, on a stormy Halloween night, the rich businessman who'd bought Wylie's Wharf was holding a Halloween party for several business friends on the island. What they did not know about, being on that island out on the lake, was that old man Wylie had escaped from prison. They would never know before it was too late for all of them.
"That night, a young woman turned up on shore in a small boat, screaming hysterically and her white dress covered in blood. When the police went out to Wylie's Wharf to investigate, they made a terrible and gruesome discovery.
"The businessman and his guests were all found throughout the house, murdered with a hook and hung up by their ankles like fish in the living room of the house. They also discovered Wylie, who stood there laughing in his black fisherman's hat and raincoat. His left hand, which had the hook, was dripping with blood.
"He ran with the police in pursuit to the edge of the water where he jumped into his small boat and tried to row toward the woods beyond. Unfortunately for him, in the chase, he hit a rock and his boat began to sink. For some strange reason, despite being a fisherman, the old man never learned how to swim, or maybe he just couldn't tread water with a hook? Whatever the reason, he sank to the bottom of the lake. The police would search for weeks, dragging the lake, but his body was never recovered.
"Every Halloween on the anniversary of that terrible night, people claim to see a shadowy figure off in the distance on the small island of Wylie's Wharf. They claim it is the vengeful and unholy ghost of the deranged fisherman, walking the island, in search of anyone foolish enough to go out there. Ready to cleave them with his bloody hook and hang them up like a bunch of trout. Over the years, many thrill seekers have dared to walk on the small island on the anniversary of that terrible night, but none have ever returned.
"So beware boys and girls, do not dare to venture out toward Wylie's Wharf on Halloween night, not if you value your very life and your Halloween candy." Gerald smiled as he looked over to see their reactions and finished with the words, "The end." Everyone clapped and he took a bow.
Eugene looked over at the stone bridge, almost as if he could see the creepy house on the small island beyond. "Wow, Gerald, that was a really creepy story."
"Well, he forgot to mention the most important part of the legend," Sid said, looking over at Eugene. "The anniversary of the murders is tomorrow night on Halloween."
"Boy, I recon that I'd hate to be on Wylie's Wharf tomorrow night," Stinky said, looking at them dully.
Harold looked a little nervous as they said those things, then he said, "Ah, this is boring. I'm going home to get some food." He turned to go and called back. "See you later, Ar-nuld."
Sid nodded and said, "Yeah, me and Stinky are going to go also, talk to you guys later."
"See you later, Arnold," Stinky called back as he and Sid made their way off the pier after Harold.
Now the only ones left on the pier were Arnold, Gerald, Helga, Phoebe, Curly and Eugene. They were bored once again. Eugene went back to his examination of the fish by the pier, Curly tossed a rock at the garbage floating by and missed every aimed shot by a mile.
Gerald walked over to the two girls. "So Phoebe, what do you plan on going trick or treating as?"
Phoebe smiled and said, "This Halloween, I have decided to dress as a black cat. I have my costume at home."
Grinning, Gerald said, "You know, I'll bet you'd make a purr-fect feline, Phoebe." The small oriental girl giggled at his sense of humor.
Helga rolled her eyes and muttered, "Oh, criminy." Then she went over to where Arnold sat. He'd returned to his inspection of the trestle, oblivious to everything else around him. She took the opportunity to briefly take in the sight of his golden blonde locks flowing in the gentle autumn breeze, and the unfocused gaze of his green eyes.
Even though she wanted to, Helga didn't dare show the smile she felt on the inside. To cover up her feelings, she asked, "Hey football-head, what are you thinking about?"
"Huh?" Arnold blinked and looked over at Helga. "Oh, I was just thinking about the Legend of Wylie's Wharf."
Helga leaned against the piling and put her hands in her purple jacket. "Yeah, what a crock, huh?"
"Well, what if it's true?" Arnold said, looking very thoughtful. "What if there really is a ghost that comes out every Halloween night and haunts that island?" Now everyone looked over at Arnold, listening to his words.
"Oh please, don't tell me you actually believe that stupid legend," Helga said, snorting. "There's no such things as ghosts."
"It could happen, Helga," Arnold said looking over at her. "There really could be a ghost on Wylie's Wharf. I mean, tomorrow night is Halloween."
"Yeah, right." Helga still seemed unconvinced. She folded her arms across her chest and looked away. "And maybe gummy worms will start crawling out of my ears."
"Try to be a little open-minded, I mean, what if the legend really is true?"
Helga looked at him and sighed, "Oh come on, hair-boy. How many of Gerald's far out urban legends about ghosts and monsters have turned out to be real?"
"Well, um, none really," Arnold said, hating to admit that Helga had a point. "Still, what if this one is for real?"
"It's nothing but a bunch of hooey, football-head," Helga said, turning her head. "There is no such thing as ghosts."
Arnold got a little annoyed by her attitude and then he smirked and said, "Well, I can understand if your . . . afraid."
That got the reaction Arnold was hoping for. Helga blinked and looked at him. "Afraid? Ha! I'm not afraid of anything!"
"Well then, if it's nothing but a story, then why don't all of us meet here tomorrow night at nine o'clock?" Arnold asked, looking up at her and meeting her eyes in challenge.
"Huh?" Gerald looked over at his best friend like he was crazy.
Ignoring him, Arnold added, "We can all meet here just after trick or treating."
Helga looked at Arnold's challenging smirk, frowned and said, "You're on, you little yellow-haired shrimp! Me and Phoebe will be here."
"W-we will?" Phoebe asked, not sounding nearly as certain as her best friend.
"So will me and Gerald, "Arnold said, answering Helga's little challenge and smiling back at her.
"Say what?!" Gerald asked, looking at Arnold anxiously.
"Oh cool, can I come along?" Curly asked looking at them. "I don't have anything better to do after I go free the fish at the aquarium." After seeing the way the others all looked at him, he said quickly, "Oh, er, you didn't hear that." He grinned widely with face innocence.
"How about it, Eugene?" Arnold asked, looking over at the geeky boy. "Wanna tag along?"
"Wow, you actually want me to come along on an adventure with you guys?" Eugene's eyes lit up. "This is so cool." He didn't watch where he was going when he backed up excited and fell over the side of the pier in the foot deep water at that spot. He was covered in dirty water, garbage and mud as he looked up and said, "I'm okay."
"Good, then it's all settled, everyone meets here tomorrow night at nine o'clock, right after trick or treating." Arnold said to all of them. Then he looked over at Helga and added, "Unless it's too scary for you?"
Helga snorted and said, "In your dreams, Arnold-o!" Both of them leaned forward almost nose to nose, looking one another in the eyes, neither one willing to blink.
Unknown to them, someone had been listening in from nearby the whole time and then quickly left.
To Be Continued . . .