Haaaiii! It's the almighty and ultra-cute Sei-sama speaking! I'm supposed to be working on a lot of other stuff like an essay and homework and other stories I promised to write, but oh weeellll! Hahaha I know, I'm such a bastard.
Anyways, I got totally addicted to Nightmare Before Christmas after watching it again after such a long time. The thing was, the movie was short. Way too short. And left way too many questions unanswered. So I brought it upon myself to answer them and totally mutilate this wonderful movie forever! I'm so wonderful, aren't I?
So, this is the first chapter. The first part is sort of like an introduction kind of thing, and then it goes on to the real story. It's the Past, so far anyways. I might dabble in a little Future kind of stuff, but maybe not. Of course, I just had to do a cliche thing. I'm not going to spoil the cliche just yet 'cause you haven't read it. Meet me after the chapter. And review too.
Holidays, and the Making Of
Imagination can be a very powerful thing.
There is a clearing in an unknown forest with several giant trees, each with a large, painted door. All these doors are different, signifying a different holiday. A Christmas tree for Christmas, a Jack-o-Lantern for Halloween, a brightly decorated egg for Easter, a candelabra for Hanukkah, and so on. This clearing has never been found by anyone. Maybe it doesn't even exist. Maybe it's stuck between the delightful world of imagination and the cruel, heartless world of reality. Maybe the reason for this is actually very simple and not so mysterious.
Actually, the reason is because it was created out of imagination. Imagination can be a powerful thing, after all. It came from the head of one boy who suddenly wondered to himself about the origins of holidays. He would not accept the rational answers, though. Who cared about some old saint named Valentine? The much more interesting answers involved holidays having worlds of their own…he told all his friends about his ideas. Through the awesome might of Gossiping Children, the ideas passed and spread everywhere, even to the adults. It was refined, tweaked, and then somehow turned into reality. Everybody already knew it existed. There was no reason to try to find it. They had already seen it, went through the doors themselves in their dreams.
The holiday world we will explore in this story is the one of Halloween. It is known as Halloween Town. (Humans are usually not very good at naming things. There are many unfortunate children who are subject to this misfortune. Ever heard of Melvin Calvin? Really. What kind of name is that?) When these worlds are first created, it begins with a town or a village, just the basic land of the place. Then the inhabitants are created. Only a few, though. After that, the Halloween inhabitants took over, reproduced, so on and so forth. One may randomly come into being once in a while, but only rarely after the original creation.
In Halloween Town, a black and rather dreary place, the first generation that was created included the two-faced Mayor (this does not refer to his personality being traitorous. The Mayor is literally two-faced), the Behemoth, the larger witch, the vampires, Dr. Finkelstein, several ghosts, and the Similar (not identical) Hat Triplets. They were monsters – there was no doubt about that (they considered 'monster' a compliment) – but they weren't cruel, they were actually rather pleasant and nice. All they wanted to do was to scare and have fun. Halloween Town was small and had an overabundance of carved pumpkins, but they loved it anyways. If they needed more houses, they could just build more. There was already a graveyard handy and creepy woods and there was always a full moon, and it was never too cold, but cold enough to make you stop once in a while and just shiver.
The first thing they did was make the Mayor…well…the Mayor. The witches, ghosts, and vampires did not want the title. Dr. Finkelstein just wanted a creepy tower to study in. Behemoth, the large guy with the axe in his head, was in no state to lead anything. He hardly ever talked, and the axe seemed to have hindered his thinking ability anyways. The triplets kept arguing among themselves because the biggest was automatically considered the candidate, not the smaller ones, and they kept protesting against the "obvious prejudice of size". So the two-faced man was elected.
The first denizens were the only ones to just appear, full-grown and all. They didn't seem to age either. (Some of them were already dead anyways.) Over the next few generations, there were a few deaths. A vampire disappeared when he stepped out into the sun. (Last words: "Oh, come now, there is no need to be af-") One of the grotesque fishwomen died too. Dr. Finkelstein's early creations died in a way. They lost animation, anyways, and fell apart. Funerals were not as sad an occasion for Halloween Town, for everybody knew they all had to die some time. They may live long, but everybody goes in the end.
Jack, Sally, and Oogie Boogie came from one of the newer generations. Instead of being rebellious like kids usually were, the children of those generations were pretty well-behaved (in Halloween Town standards), though adventurous. A problem did come around because there was no school in Halloween Town, but since there wasn't much for them to learn, all the parents did was let them run around and drop a few tips on how to be scary.
Jack was the only animate skeleton in Halloween Town. Even in childhood years, he was rather tall and lanky and was mostly absorbed with his own little ideas. He really loved the place he lived in. Scaring people was fun, especially for children since it gave them something to brag about. ("Ha, I'm much scarier than you are!") He was polite and charismatic, but oddly, one of the scariest. Maybe it was because he could loom dramatically over all his friends, but anyways, it made him very well-liked and popular. A small witch with a very unfortunate large wart on her nose fawned over him constantly, and praise poured in from everywhere. Jack, being the immature five year-old brat he was, enjoyed the praise most of all and in response, did his best to be even scarier.
Sally was also one of Jack's admirers. She was one of Dr. Finkelstein's earliest and successful creations, though she had started off as a little girl only because the doctor decided (after many failures) to start off small. Being a prototype of sorts, Sally's design was rather simple. Her mouth was just a stitch and opened like a puppet's. Her dress matched her skin, multicolored and of various pieces of whatever the doctor had on hand. She was very awkward and could not walk very well, often tripped, and as a result, fell apart constantly. She had to constantly carry a needle and thread around in case of emergencies, but being young, her handiwork was not very good and she would fall apart soon after again. This proved very inconvenient when she watched the object of her child affection from afar, as then Jack would come over and she would grow flustered and embarrassed and quite possibly more pieces would fall off and she would lose a lot of dead leaves. (Some of those lost leaves would end up in her tangled, short, brown hair.) It was so troublesome to collect those, you know, even if there were so many of them around.
Oogie Boogie was one of the monsters who was poofed into existence out of nowhere even after the original creation of the town. As you probably already know, he was The Boogieman. The one all the children feared the most. He was the guy you mistook shadows for. But when he appeared, he was just a small mass of bugs (and one snake that served as a tongue). He could move around and form a vaguely child-sized humanoid shape (no legs though, and hardly any arms), but it took much effort and he would slump back into a shapeless lump after a while. Many monsters stepped on him accidentally. The werewolf tended to do this more often for some reason. Also, it was hard for him to eat anything, as bugs are not so good at being teeth. He could only swallow things whole or drink soup and the like. So, Oogie was often found in a foul mood, snapping at anybody who came around. He was also quite the troublemaker. Because there was nothing holding him together except sheer willpower, he could sneak around at will. His bugs would travel around, hear some interesting things, and then he'd come up and ruin whatever it was. He was also quite scary, being The Boogeyman and all, but not as well-liked as Jack. Oogie loved scaring people as much as everybody else did, but he was a little reckless in his methods. (After he had covered himself up with some flimsy pieces of cloth, Oogie tried scaring somebody who was afraid of swimming by asking them to come by the fountain. He hid in the green slimy water and when they came by, he suddenly burst out, grabbed the poor creature, and pulled them both back into the water. Oogie was fine and the other was definitely scared out of their wits, but almost drowned too.)
Anyways, now with all our characters introduced, we might as well begin the story…
It was a not exactly horrible day. The orange sun glowed softly against the sky. (If you looked closely, the sun may just look like a glowing grinning jack-o-lantern. This is impossible, of course. Suns do not grin as they glide across the sky. Of course, the sun doesn't really glide across the sky, the lazy bastard – the Earth does all the work, spinning so quickly you'd think all life would have been shaken into space long ago.) It was midday.
Oogie slumped and sighed against a dark, blood-stained wall. The holes in the wriggling masses of bugs that acted as eyes seemed to be glaring down at the cobbled streets, but it was hard to tell. He was sulking in the dank streets of Halloween Town because there was absolutely nothing to do.
Halloween comes only once a year, first of all, and though you can scare and poke fun of anybody at any time of year, it really depends if your victims decide to be scared or not and if you actually had ideas of how to scare them. Oogie prided himself on making something new each time and right now, he got nothing. So, he had sat outside his small, cold abode and fell apart and gathered himself up every few hours while he thought. Until a recognizably thin shadow fell upon him. The bug boy had no need to look up. Nobody could be as thin or as tall as Jack. It was odd that there weren't any flocks of admirers around him though.
"What do you want?" His voice came out gruff and gravely, much more deep than one of his age should be. Jack Skellington stood in front of him, empty sockets staring down at the wriggling mass, as if studying the monster sitting before him. Oogie got impatient and was about to stand up and form some buggy arms to show the skeleton man what's what, when finally he spoke up.
"You're pretty much alone all the time, aren't you? I've noticed a few months ago."
Oogie would have blinked, but sometimes shutting his eyes all the way got the bugs to stick together and he would have to force them open again, so he just narrowed his eyes a bit. "You juthh'd notith'd?" The Boogeyman had an unfortunate speech impediment. His snake tongue liked to slip out between the buggy lips as he made an 'sss' sound, so he sometimes 'ttthhh'ed instead. The snake also hissed, which sounded very weird, listening to two voices come out of him.
"Yeah. You're a new guy, right?" Jack replied, his voice soft and innocent and gentle. The skeleton man had always gotten on Oogie's nerves. One, he was popular. And two, he didn't even act like what he should act. Always soft-spoken and polite and yet, he was considered one of the scariest. Now he was insulting him even more by pretending that he wasn't even there for the last several years! Oogie turned eleven this Halloween, and he just noticed him?! Now Oogie formed arms with a little effort and flowed himself upwards, trying to stretch his figure of insects so that he was at least as tall as Jack, but fell a little short. Oh well. You didn't have to be tall to beat somebody up.
Sounding angry and insulted, Oogie roared, "Get one thing ssstraight, bone man," the nickname was spat out venomously. Some bugs had accidentally fallen off from the force of this shout and scuttled back into him. One actually flew into Jack's eye, which seemed to make him very uncomfortable, and he looked a little sick as he opened his white jaws to let it back out. "I've been here jutht about ath long ath you have. You don't have any right to pretend I wazz never there all thossse yearssss, to act tho…" He didn't know the word he was looking for. Oogie searched his brain, and settled for one that just popped up. "…tho sssuperior. Trussst me, I'm a veteran compared to you at this ssscaring buzness. People only think you're tho ssscary 'cuzz they're blinded by your…" Oogie paused again, but this was for a different reason. He could feel his grip losing. His body of bugs was falling apart, every little pest wanting to go several different ways at once, their minds suddenly becoming many…he did not want to embarrass himself (more so than he was embarrassed by the snake that kept flitting in and out). The boogeyman struggled to keep himself together, but the bottom base was already spreading out into a pool of bugs and he sank into a puddle that stretched out on the street. He could see Jack scuttle back, surprised, and hear his black shoes clatter wildly on the cobbles in an attempt to get away and silently cursed those traitorous bugs that kept falling apart so often. If only he could just keep them all in one place without having to exert so much effort.
Jack was just staring down at him now. The look on his face was something of surprise, maybe. He had no idea what to do. He only came to make friends, as the bug guy always seemed alone. Of course, there were rumors about him, all of them bad and said with a condensing tone, but he ignored all that. Jack figured that this boy in front of him that had suddenly been reduced to a scuttling pile was just misunderstood.
Taking great care not to accidentally trod on any of the bugs now scurrying around, the tall skeleton boy bent down to where he thought the face would be. "Um," he said. What was he supposed to say in this kind of situation? "This happen often?"
Oogie felt only a little grateful that he could still speak in his large voice (Only a little grateful since most of the effort was going to pure hatred for the time being). Eyes and mouth formed with difficulty and he tried to glare up again, but ended up squinting instead. "Of courssse it doeth! Do you think it's eassy getting every ssssingle one of thesssse thingsss organized and together? There'th too many of them to count! And they all get dithtracted tho eassssily!" Jack could tell this thing was a very sore spot for him. Imagine having to constantly form and unform and reform himself several times a day. Must be tiring. The skeleton also couldn't help being distracted himself by the snake that flitted out and in so often and never got around to realizing that Boogie just wanted to be alone right now.
"Well, I was originally coming to ask if you'd like to hang out sometime. Nobody really comes around near you, so I thought you'd be lonely. You must be really scary to do that,"
"Of courth I am," interrupted Oogie, suddenly sounding proud of himself, despite the fact the flattering remark came from somebody he just now decided he hated.
"But I think I should help you first. There must be some way for you to keep yourself together all the time…" The skeleton blinked and narrowed his own eye sockets (which bewildered Oogie slightly: I mean, who heard of a skeleton that could blink?) in deep thought. His thin fingers tapped against the bottom jaw of his skull, which got on Oogie's nerves. He was tempted to ruin the skeleton's black suit, only because it looked so nice and neat. Really, what kind of kid dressed like that? He only saw adults, like the mayor, with ties and all dressed up.
"Aha!" Oogie might have jumped if he wasn't just a useless pile right now. "I bet Dr. Finkelstein can think of something! He's real smart, you know. You think you can pull yourself together so we can go to his place?"
"Yeah, maybe, if you stop talking long enough for me to actually concentrate." Jack did not seem to notice the annoyance that was practically dripping in his voice and just replied, "Splendid! You know, I've never actually been inside his house. I wonder what kind of stuff he has in there. Hm, you haven't gotten up yet? I know a faster way to do this. Let me get Sally…" Oogie was only genuinely interested when Jack mentioned the small girl. Why didn't Jack get some other of his countless admirers to help him? Sally was just an awkward little girl who broke into pieces a lot, sort of like him. In fact, why did Jack want to be friends with an outcast like him? He obviously couldn't be lonely with all those people crowding around him and praising him over and over again. Someone would have to be very desperate to make friends with The Boogeyman.
Jack had ran off somewhere, but it didn't take him long to come back, this time with Sally stumbling behind him and two large shovels and a wheelbarrow. Sally was much shorter than anybody her age, mostly because the doctor did not want to make new measurements and get new parts for her every year. It was much too bothersome. She was looking forward to when she became a teenager, the time when Finkelstein promised to give her teenager parts. She brushed the stiff brown hair out of her large eyes and looked curiously at Jack and at what she knew to be Oogie. The skeleton had ran up to her excitedly, first asking for the objects he now had, and then said something about helping somebody else and oh how much fun they would have and so on. Sally didn't really catch everything and was extremely confused as she tripped along behind him, once falling and losing an arm (which she held now). Looking at the bug pile, she realized that Jack wanted to make friends with Oogie, but couldn't for the life (or undeath) of her figure out why. The Boogeyman was a horrible boy who scared everybody. In the bad kind of way. Nothing good ever came out of him.
Jack stopped and set the wheelbarrow down, but picked up one shovel that was in it. Oogie peered curiously (or tried to) up, wondering what kind of idea the kid had. Sally just tried to quickly sow her arm back on, but she cried out with Oogie when Jack started to shovel all of Oogie's bugs into the wheelbarrow. "What are you doing?!" The individual bugs themselves started up a wild chattering and for once, Oogie sounded panicked.
"Don't worry, you'll be fine," Jack simply replied before sticking his shovel back in and taking more bugs away. But it was not fine. Couldn't he see? He was separating his body! Taking it apart in small bits!
"Jack, wait, I think…" Sally started to protest in her small voice, tottering over to the occupied skeleton, but she was only given the other shovel. The zombie-ish girl looked up at Jack, who hadn't even spared her a glance, and looked down at Oogie, who was shouting at him to stop and shouting at her to do something. And so Sally did something. She started shoveling.
It actually didn't take long to transport every bug into the wheelbarrow (Oogie wasn't that big), and no bugs had died as far as they could tell. Maybe some were squished by Sally's arm falling off again, but Oogie had ceased to protest and was reduced to grumbling as then they finally scooped up the "head" part of him and pushed him over to Dr. Finkelstein.
The doctor had his head opened when they knocked on the door. His eyes were apparently small, as you couldn't see them behind the ridiculously tiny, black, round glasses perched on his beak-ish lips. He always traveled around in a wheelchair. He shut the head quickly when he realized the people at the door were guests and coughed, a little embarrassed. Showing your brain off publicly was like dropping your pants. "My my, it's Jack. How nice to see you! I didn't expect you to come," the scientist looked behind him. "Did Sally invite you over?" Ah, a comforting idea. He felt the girl didn't make enough friends. Too timid. (He had made a mental note to fix this problem for his next creations.) And what better friend to make than Jack Skellington? A wonderful boy, so polite and already so adapt at the scaring business at such a young age.
"No, father…um…" Sally started, but Finkelstein had then laid eyes on what was in the rusty wheelbarrow Jack was pushing. Oogie had, by then, pulled together enough willpower to at least form his head again, so his head just seemed to be floating on a sea of bugs. It sort of looked like the severed head on a dinner platter trick. "You!" The doctor jerked a gloved hand up in surprise, but mostly anger. Oogie didn't seem to really care and just stared back coolly as if saying, 'Yes. Me.' He looked like he was about to jump out of his wheelchair and just stomp on the head, but Jack stepped in between them.
"Please, sir, wait. I'm aware that there seem to be a lot of people who bear ill will…" Oogie would have rolled his eyes at Jack's manner of speaking if he could. How old fashioned. How well-mannered. He settled for groaning instead.
"You're darn right I bear ill will! That boy is no good I tell you! Why've you brought him here? I hope it's to ask me for ways to teach him a lesson he'd never-"
"No, Dr. Finkelstein, Oogie's my new friend."
"Never agreed to that," Oogie piped up, but was ignored. Jack just kept talking.
"It's just that he has a problem of holding himself together and when I was thinking of a way of solving this problem, I instantly thought of you, doctor. You're a genius, after all. I figured you could help us." Finkelstein's ego slightly inflated and he almost forgot all of his hatred to the mischievous brat. Almost.
"Alright. We'll we what we can do. Ha. I am a genius, aren't I. There's an easy solution to your problem, though. We'll need a lot of glue-"
"No!" Oogie snarled from his perch in the wheelbarrow.
"That was a joke! Do you think a genius like me would seriously suggest that?!" Finkelstein growled back. "Well, I think I've already gotten an idea. I can just take a corpse and we can just fill it up with him. Of course, it may take a while to take out all those unnecessary parts…bones…some organs…tell me, do you need muscles by chance?"
Oogie seemed to be rather happy at the idea of not having to fall apart, but still snapped at the mad scientist. "Do you think I need muscles? I have my bugssss. Why would I need thothe thingsss?" Dr. Finkelstein sniffed disapprovingly, but continued, "Yes, yes, I suppose so."
"How much time will it take again, doctor?" Jack asked.
"I'd say around a week or two at least," replied the short man, which led to a rather rude outburst from Oogie. "A week? Old man, I'm not gonna wait, ya hear?"
Another disapproving sniff. "But you see, this takes time. Ripping out all the bones and muscles and cleaning out the inside…and especially if you want to keep the eyes and nose bones intact…of course that depends on what type of corpse…well, I can cut the time down by simply skinning the corpse, but," Dr. Finkelstein observed the wriggling bugs in the wheelbarrow from behind Jack. "I'd say…it's only my opinion, of course, but the skin would rip from…all the contents that would be put inside."
"You thaying I'm fat, old man?" Oogie growled in response. "Lissssen, I thaid I don't wanna wait. Get it ready in a couple o' daysss at the mossst."
"In a hurry, are we? I don't think you're in the position to speak to me in such a manner. I can turn you down, you know, because of what you did, you rotten brat. Or maybe worse." (Oogie didn't like being threatened. It got on his nerves, especially when it was some old geezer doing the threatening. He was the Boogieman! Who would dare threaten him?!)
"What did he do?" Jack inquired.
"Oogie once snuck in when father was making something and moved the Electric Striker a bit so when father pushed the button to animate his creation, he was electrocuted," Sally replied softly. Even so, Dr. Finkelstein heard.
"My glorious brain was fried for three weeks! Paralyzed from the waist down, and it's all his fault! Years ago, I could walk, and now I have to travel around in this stupid thing! I could have been killed!" Finkelstein thumped his wheelchair. Jack nodded slowly, but this story still did not deter him from his determination of making Oogie his friend.
Oogie had been shaking from the time he was threatened (a rather weak threat too), but it turned out he was shaking from laughter. It rose into a deep throaty laugh. "But you aren't dead, you're alive and walkin'…well, rolling. Why're you making thuch a fussss?" This only angered Finkelstein even more.
"Doctor, are you sure you can't do a faster job of it?" Jack spoke quickly, but calmly, hoping to sooth the doctor.
"If he wants some sort of container so that he wouldn't fall apart so often, then he has to realize that suitable containers take time to prepare! I can't just whip one out of nowhere, you know!"
"Actually, father…" Sally looked down and kicked shyly at the stony floor, but the seams around her ankle threatened to snap so she stopped. "You can make a much simpler one…" There was a long silence and Sally realized she was expected to elaborate. "W-well…I mean, you don't need a corpse, do you? You can make something more quickly…sew together something, maybe…"
"Yes, yes…" Finkelstein nodded his beaked head thoughtfully. "Good thinking, Sally. Not like I expected anything less from you. Well, I have an idea now, and this time I can probably finish it in a few days." Oogie started to say something but was stopped when Jack kicked the wheelbarrow loudly. "At least I'll finally have a use for those, anyways. Come on in." The doctor maneuvered the wheelchair jerkily around and back inside. Jack followed eagerly. He had never seen a mad scientist's lab before!
It was rather disappointing at first. The scientist's home was cold and stony and tall, and there were a set of winding stairs off to the side that led up somewhere and also circled below the floor, but nothing else; the first floor was practically bare. The wheelbarrow clacked and jerked as it rolled, showing that the floor had not been laid evenly. Jack looked despairingly around at the very plain room, ignoring Oogie's cries of 'Watch out, idiot!'
"We'll have to go up…"
"Dr. Finkelstein, I don't think I can wheel this up those stairs," Jack interrupted.
"How do you think I get around, hmm?" Finkelstein harrumphed at what seemed to be an obvious insult to his genius and clattered over to a door that Jack hadn't noticed (only because it was in a darkened spot in the circular room). Further inspection revealed it to be an elevator. "I need to get some things from my room down below. Sally, give me your needle and thread and go down and fetch those useless things in my closet that had just been collecting dust all these years." Sally obliged, nervously pushing her bangs away from her eyes and taking out the needle from somewhere Jack and Oogie couldn't quite see. It was possible she just stuck it in her, like a pin cushion. It would be the most convenient, anyways. Then she stumbled down the stairs and out of view while Finkelstein led them into the elevator, which was also rather plain. And short. Jack had to duck his head and remain slightly stooped inside. Oddly enough, there were no buttons.
Dr. Finkelstein pounded the ceiling so that something that looked like a golden funnel-shaped mouthpiece (well, it used to be golden; the years had not been good to it and most of the golden paint seemed to have flaked off, which is a shame because it must have looked wonderful and impressive before then) fell out from a hatch. The doctor said into it, "Going to the lab!" and it echoed up to who knew where. The not-so-golden funnel thing echoed back a stony reply: "Yes, sir." Satisfied, Finkelstein pulled on the cord and the mouthpiece flew back up into its hatch. The elevator then shuddered and began to move slowly upwards.
"Who was that?" Jack asked curiously, looking up at the ceiling now with awe. Oogie didn't know why. It wasn't that interesting.
"Him? Oh, another one of my creations," Finkelstein said proudly, taking Jack's awe to be another kind of praise. "Since someone confined me to this chair, I had to find a way of going up and down safely, so I made him. I like to call him Goyle. He lives up in the attic and doesn't need to eat much except those occasional bats and rats that are roaming up there anyways, so he's content and well off, I expect. There're four floors, so we have to tell him which one, and all he does is pull a chain or let it go down slowly. I'm glad I made him. Do you know how exhausting it is to crawl up those long stairs?"
The trip didn't take long and when the elevator rumbled to a stop and Finkelstein opened the doors, Jack was grinning wildly. Well, he's always grinning, being a skeleton, but he was grinning more than usual. Now this was a mad scientist lab. Dark. Cold. Stony. You could almost see the lightning flashing from nowhere. (For the record, the sky was cloudless that day.) Counters with vials and microscopes everywhere and mysterious labels on glass flasks and interesting machines everywhere. There was an especially huge intriguing one that was propped up on the ceiling that was very black, round, and menacing with a little stick with a smaller red ball at the end pointing to a large table with straps on it. There was nobody restrained in it. Yet.
Oogie sniggered when he saw the familiar machine (the image of the doctor's surprised and shocked (no pun intended) face back then was always enough for Oogie to start chuckling) and Finkelstein glared at him through his small glasses again. "I can still refuse, you know, or hand you over to those blasted witches to turn you into a toad," he warned, (another threat; really who did this guy think he was talking to? Weak and tiny meatbags?) and then Sally came up with a bunch of what looked to be brown, coarse sacks. Very dusty brown coarse sacks. Sally was sneezing as she pushed aside a clear area on one of the counters and set the load down.
"…You're going to shove me in a sack?!" Oogie's tone was somewhere in between anger and disbelief.
"Don't worry, Oogie. It'll be fine," Jack said, and Oogie really wanted to punch him then.
"Yes, technically, I'm going to 'shove you in a sack' as you so delicately put it. Now how many bugs are you made of?"
"Hundreds." Finkelstein scoffed.
"No, that won't do. Give me the exact total, so I can figure out the measurements. You don't want me to give you something too big or too small, do you?" (That one sort of sounded like a threat. Three strikes, you're out, right? Oogie made a mental note to do something later to Finkelstein.) Oogie was silent for a bit.
"I'd say higher than a thousand. Can't be sure."
"Can't you be more exact?" Finkelstein huffed. "I don't want to have to count all of them myself!"
This was starting to remind Oogie of those games. 'Guess the number of eyes in this jar!' "Um. Four thousand six hundred nine?" It was one of those few times Oogie sounded unsure, but Dr. Finkelstein accepted that answer with a small nod and jerked his way to the counter where the bags lay. He sat there, muttering calculations under his breath.
"Good, if that's the case, we have enough." Jack silently applauded Finkelstein at how quickly he had figured it out. Well, he was a genius after all. "Sally, get the scissors and the ruler." The short girl hurried to obey.
"How long did you say it would take again, doctor?" Jack asked.
"This job is laughably simple. I think now I can get it done by tonight. Now I don't want to see your face again," Finkelstein pointed accusingly at Oogie, still in the wheelbarrow, "until it's ready. I'll send Sally to get you then," the doctor rasped before snatching the two objects from Sally. Jack realized he was being dismissed and started to wheel the wheelbarrow around.
"Do you really think I'm going to ssstand being rolled around by you all the time?" Oogie grumbled. Bugs flowed out over the edges and then he was standing beside it. Jack didn't seem to mind he was out anymore. The wheelbarrow was now lighter anyways. He continued to wheel it to the elevator and Oogie followed after realizing he really didn't want to slither down the stairs. Jack tapped the ceiling politely with no problem and said "Ground floor, please."
"Sure," the stony voice grumbled, and the small elevator shuddered and started going down.
And then Oogie found himself with Jack, hanging out on a hill whose top twisted into a small spiral. He had no idea how that happened. He stared at the pale skeleton sitting next to him incredulously, then realized that indeed they were sitting next to each other, and a little close to, and scuttled away a little to the side. As much as the hill would allow him anyways.
While Oogie was thinking the past few moments over and over again, trying to figure out what had gone on in the time lapse that he couldn't quite remember (he didn't want to think that for a moment there, he had been overwhelmed and fell for Jack's charisma; there must have been a different explanation), Jack spoke up. He didn't appear to notice that Oogie had moved away. "I don't think we can do anything today, but what do you want to do tomorrow?" He was already talking like they were friends. When he had expressedly told him that he never agreed to that. The Boogeyman glared up at the night sky, into the full moon. (In Halloween Town, nights always came early and there was always a full moon.)
"I was planning on doing thomething to the old man," he replied casually.
"Oh, you mean Dr. Finkelstein?" He sounded so…cheerful. Oogie cringed. "Yes, I would want to thank him too, you know? It's really nice for him to do that for you." He couldn't be further from the truth. Oogie would have laughed, but he was too busy being annoyed by Jack. The boy beside him was just…so…off. Everybody called him scary, admired him, praised him, and hell, it probably wouldn't be a stretch to say they worshiped him. And he was so polite. Good manners. Gentlemanly. What kind of scary guy was that? He gathered mobs of fans without effort. And Oogie was stuck alone, just as scary – no, even scarier – but stuck with the short end of the stick.
Yeah, he could probably admit it right now.
He was envious.
Alright, alright! He was envious and he hated Jack because the skeleton guy was somebody to be envious of.
"You say something?"
"No. Nothing at all."
Halloween Town that night was very silent. It usually was silent anyways, to build tension and then break it when you pop out from your hiding place to scare whoever came by, but this was the awkward kind of silence. The bad kind of silence.
"What made you think you could make friends with The Boogeyman?" Oogie emphasized the 'The'. It made him feel better. People knew those who had a good 'The' was very important, and of course, he was definitely important enough to have that kind of 'The'.
"Well, you seem the kind of guy who wouldn't just praise me all the time, you know," Jack replied carelessly. He didn't seem to realize that Oogie had just worded his question as if they weren't friends.
"Ha. Of courthe not. I'd never do that," Oogie shot back disgustedly.
"It's boring just being praised. They're only interested in doing that, you know, and then I don't get to do anything fun. It'd be nice to be left alone once in a while." Oogie wondered why Jack was now telling him all this. Could it really be that he already trusted him? After only just meeting him?
What an idiot.
Then he wondered again where the usual flock of admirers were.
Then he realized the irony of it all and started chuckling, which turned into outright laughter, making bugs quiver and fall off and scuttle back again. Jack turned to him in utter bewilderment. Somehow his eye sockets widened, and his skeleton grin changed slightly to look like a mix between worry and confusion. It made Oogie laugh more because Jack hadn't realized it.
"…Are you alright…?"
"Y-yeah. Don' worry. Juss' a joke I remembered. Hehehe…Hang on, I'll stop soon…" Oogie's composure was still on the verge of breaking (he was sniggering through his closed mouth and his voice kept cracking) as he lay a buggy hand on Jack's shoulder. The skeleton didn't know whether to feel reassured or disgusted as the bugs wriggled. It felt uncomfortable.
"Ya know, (giggle) I re-re-really think (haha) we had more in common (snort) than I thought. I really hated (har) you before, but now I think I can ac-actually (guffaw) tolerate being around you."
It would have been a rather touching scene if Oogie didn't stutter from restrained laughter and paused in his soulful speech to chortle over his shoulder every so often. (Actually, it wouldn't have been very touching even if he wasn't laughing because of all the crawling gross bugs and stuff on his body that sometimes wriggled into Jack's shirt.) Jack stared back, expression still frozen in bewilderment, but he broke into a grin when he realized he was partly-sort of-hardly-not really accepted as a friend at last. "That's great!"
And Oogie Boogie and Jack Skellington became partly-sort of-hardly-not really close friends and hung out only-from-time-to-time-not-so-frequently from then on.
Yes, and that's the cliche. That little endy bit there. Where ZOMIGAWSH, THE PROTAGONIST AND THE ANTAGONIST WERE ONCE FRIENDS!!!!
Okay, it's a little different, I guess. Oogie and Jack are sort of friends. Not really. I mean, Oogie still dislikes him. But at least he can tolerate him! Hurray!
And there are many things I want to explain around Oogie and what exactly is a Boogeyman, because Oogie really isn't just a whole bunch of bugs clumped together. Nor, in the next chapter, will he only be a whole bunch of bugs clumped together in a bag. Let's see if I can manage to explain his whole being thing later on.
But for now, please review. Please. I'm begging you. Like Dr. Finkelstein, my ego needs a good rubbing. That doesn't mean I'm going to open my head and make you rub my brain. That's even worse than dropping your pants.