Ghost 43: Haunted House

Steve’s house was decked from roof to foundation for Halloween. Max couldn’t help but contrast the giant spiders and eerie mists to the daycare’s cheerful take on the holiday. There were speakers in the trees as well. Small children were singing one of those freaky Halloween songs from a speaker somewhere. Something about a hanging tree.

Lights in the attic flashed red and blue. Was that supposed to be ghosts? Steve was sitting on the porch talking to somewhere, he looked up as Max slowly approached and stood quickly. He was dressed from head to toe as a dapper vampire. Max thought he saw plastic teeth when he smiled. Next to him was a zombie cheerleader that Max didn’t recognize.

“Come in, mortal,” Steve’s voice didn’t quite have the bass needed to pull off look completely.

Max approached. “Hi Steve,” his boots sounded far too loud on the porch and he winced at the noise. The porch was shrouded in spider webs and plastic decals to make the glass look broken and old. Max had seen pictures of his house back when his Grandfather had bought it. This was a gaudy over-the-top spooky.

“Refreshments to the left, the haunted house is upstairs and dad’s at the fire out back.”

“Billie or Mason here?”

“Billie’s around somewhere,” he gestured behind him at nowhere in particular. “This is Wendy,” he finally introduced his zombie. She grinned.

“Uh, cool makeup,” Max wasn’t really sure what else to say. He wondered if Angela had been dis-invited and when exactly she and Steve had broken up. But Wendy was definitely his new girl, and she had a flair for costume makeup.

Once inside he paused, uncertainty warring with curiosity. He didn’t recognize half the people in the living room. Steve must have invited the entire grade. Or worse. He hesitated, looking for a familiar face or three.

The faces swam in front of him, costumes blurring and hiding what should have been familiar. He went to school with these people, right? A witch turned to stare at him and whispered something into Death’s ear. Max flushed and moved out of the doorway. But that only moved his problem slightly to the left. Everyone was talking to someone else or in a few cases, not talking at all but clearly wrapped up in themselves. Streamers hid what he suspected would be the kitchen and refreshments.

He pushed past the balloons and breathed a sigh of relief. He saw Steve’s mom supervising the pile of pizzas. And making sure the drinks weren’t spiked, he thought. There was more Halloween candy than he could count. He snagged snickers and tapped on the shoulder of the other person he recognized.

“Max! You’re here,” Billie launched herself at him in an awkward hug. She pulled him into her conversation effortlessly and Max breathed a sigh of relief. Most of them he did know from school, he realized finally being able to see behind the costumes.

“I like your boots,” he whispered shyly to Billie, his plate now laden with cheese pizza. They’d gone costume shopping together and had bought everything but boots. He knew she’d been worried about finding or affording a pair that would work with everything else they bought.

She grinned back. “My mom’s.”

Max was content to concentrate on his pizza and let the conversation ebb and flow. They were talking about some movie he hadn’t seen. Since Dan was born, the whole family had been only watching toddler-appropriate movies. This one sounded gory and not really his thing anyway.

And then the conversation lulled and turned. “How long have you two been dating?”

“Uh,” he said once he realized they were talking to him. He looked up and saw everyone was looking at him. He looked around for Billie but she was gone. Oh yeah, she said she was going to the bathroom. “We’re not?” He hated that it sounded like a question.

“Really?” the speaker said again. “Cuz you two seem tight.”

“Really.” Max hoped they’d drop it.

“I just saw Mason and Lisa,” Billie came up behind him and he jumped. She stared at him a moment clearly surprised to have surprised him. She smiled. “They want to go upstairs to the ‘haunted’ house.”

“Uh, yeah.” He was grateful to escape the crowd.

Mason and Lisa were chatting with Steve by the front door. A lovely pirate wench and her daring caption. Mason was the wench.

“How do you wear these things,” he whined. “My knees are freezing,” he rubbed his knees for emphasis.

“We wear tights?” Billie said with a grin.

“We don’t.” Lisa shot back at the same time. It didn’t surprise Max that Lisa was the one in pants. Had he ever seen her in a skirt?

“Found him, shall we head up?”

Steve had moved from the front door duty and was sitting near a table piled with candy.

Steve grinned widely as they approached. His plastic teeth were gone. He held up his hand to stop them. “What’s the magic word?”

“Uh…” Max didn’t think it was please.

“Trick or Treat,” Mason asked holding out his hand.

“Ding, ding,” he fished something out from the backpack near his feet and dropped a small silver flask into the proffered hand.

“Thanks?” Mason said.

Steve handed the rest of them bags of candy before he was suddenly distracted. “Mph.” He waved them past, his mission accomplished and now far more distracted by Wendy who had appeared behind him and claimed his lips for her own.

They passed the fire where several aliens were crowded round Steve’s dad who was deep in conversation and drinking a beer. He paid them and his son no mind. Beyond the fire, they found a less crowded area and pulled some chairs into a rough circle. With a small squeak, the top of the flask opened and Mason sniffed the contents.

“What is it?”

“Smells like peppermint,” he took a sip. “Ac-yeah,” he said, not quite spitting it out. “Peppermint something or other.” He handed it over to Max with a grin after a quick glance in Steve’s father’s direction. They could barely see the fire from here.

Max hesitated. It wasn’t the first time, he’d been allowed a glass of wine at holiday dinners for years now. But this…

The peppermint burned on his tongue and left a chemical taste. “Blech,” he made a face and passed the flask grateful he’d taken just a small sip. Billie took an equally cautious sip. Lisa declined and passed it back to Mason with a small shrug.

His mouth tingled. He was craving actual peppermint and he checked in the candy bag. Score. The sugar washed away the astringent flavor which made the second sip more palatable.

Numbing peppermint spread down his throat and lodged in his chest. It wasn’t a large flask, not when shared between three. And it was gone by the time Steve found them. Steve had definitely partaken of a flask himself and he tipped in the chair he snagged for himself.

“Whoops,” he flailed, but did not fall, his grin still wide. “Sooo?” he asked once he was sure his chair was stable. His face was expectant.

“It’s a great party, Steve,” Lisa said. “Especially the haunted house.”

“Especially the children’s room,” Billie gave an exaggerated shudder. Max had to agree. All those blank eyes. Had they rented all those dolls or did Steve actually live in a house with that many creepy figures? If so, how did he sleep at night?

“How does it compare?” he asked turning toward Max.

“Compare?” Max wasn’t sure if his mom still had any dolls from when she was little. And Dan was into rabbits.

“To n’actual haunted house.”

“Oh, uh. Wait, what?”

“You live in a haunted house right? That’s what everyone says.” Steve was leaning forward, eyes shining.

Max felt his stomach clench flashing back to daycare when the kids were more interested in where he lived or who his parents were than being friends with him. Until Billie showed up one day he had played alone.

“Steve,” Billie’s voice held a note of caution. Coming to the rescue again.

“It’s not haunt–” Max said at the same time. Wait. It was, wasn’t it? James was an actual ghost and that made his house actually haunted. Not that he was about to tell Steve that. But Steve wasn’t asking out of malace, but out of humor.

“It doesn’t creak as much as your house?” Max tried to give a small grin. “My grandfather is far too good a carpenter to allow floorboards to creak.”

“Ha!” Steve laughed and Max felt a tiny knot of pressure ease. See you were right. He was only curious. Steve wasn’t making fun of him or anything.

Max leaned back, the air was still warm with late summer. Smoke from the hooka next to them drifted by smelling sweet. He wasn’t interested in moving. The peppermint didn’t burn his chest anymore. He wasn’t drunk, exactly. Not like Steve. He just felt a little fuzzy. In a good way. Like a soft blanket protecting his skin.

“Apparently the whole place was done up for Halloween. Not scary mind you, but it was enough. Mum had to have dropped him off she doesn’t know how scared he is of ghosts. If I’d seen it, I would’ve taken one look and brought him back home.”

“He’s not going trick or treating?”

“He likes to hand out the candy and Mom screens the trick or treaters to make sure none are too scary for him.” He laughed remembering Dan in his new costume. He’d been so excited bouncing around. “This year he’s dressing as a rabbit. Easter is more his holiday.”

“Ha.” Billie tossed the last of the plastic cups into the trashcan.

“You’re chatty tonight, Max.” Lisa said.

“Uh,” Max froze. The cheerful blanket slipped a little and a blast of doubt swept through the open space. He deliberately pushed away the negative thoughts. Lisa was smiling so she wasn’t upset or judging.

“Not that is a bad thing,” she continued. “But I think I’ve heard more about your brother in the past twenty minutes than I ever heard before.”

“He’s a cute kid,” Billie put in. “Hopefully Halloween won’t be too hard on him.”

“Hopefully,” Max agreed and they mounted the stairs back to the house. “Anything else, Ms. Oakely?” She had asked them if they would help pick up before they left. She seemed pretty nice to Max. Reminded him of grandma, although that might have been the lingering smell of pumpkin cookies.

She smiled at the three of them. “That’s plenty, thanks. I think your friend is out front.” She shooed them in. “You haven’t seen Stevie recently, have you?”

Max shook his head. “I’m sorry, no.” Not recently, and not in a state his mother would have wanted to find him or vice versa. He and Wendy had slipped off a while ago and he wasn’t about to tell anyone’s mom about that.

Mason had changed into something a little less revealing and was waiting for them on the sidewalk.

“Want to go to the Bad Waitress?” he asked as they clomped down the front steps. Lisa took the keys dangling from Mason’s hand and headed to the driver’s side door. Mason opened his mouth, “That was like hours ago.”

She shrugged, unrepentant. “Better safe than sorry.”

Max and Billie were relegated to the back seats. “I’m gonna pass, can you take me home?” Max asked as they opened the doors. Although he felt a bit like a kid giving up on the party too early. But according to the clock, it was already almost midnight and whatever energy had gotten him this late was quickly abandoning him.

“Me too,” Billie said. She’d been yawning for the last half hour so it wasn’t that much of a suprise, but Max was grateful he wasn’t the only one ditching.

Not bad for a first party. He ate the last peppermint from his now-empty candy bag and smiled.  I didn’t make a complete fool of myself and didn’t get drunk or do anything too stupid.


Credits

Postscript.

Like most simlit writers, I really should know better than to try to have a large party. And I do it the lazy way by inviting a bunch of people over, who then halfway though screenshotting are all set to leave. But of course the bane of sims everywhere and the reason why there are little to no shots of the fire is that as Max was walking up to the house…this happened.

Steve was the one to put the (FOUR) fires out. And everyone else spend the next two days of screenshotting fighting a tense moodlet since I’m still missing my main cheat mod. And then I remembered the cheat to clear all moodlets (sims.remove_all_buffs) and Max was finally able to be happy again.

10 comments

    • Haha. Parties are def my weakness. Unless they’re small and with a few close friends, but this kind of party? I think I’d just hide in a corner and find someone to talk books or games with. 🙂

      Max was pretty much glued to Billie’s side.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. That’s a lot of people! And it’s interesting to see a Halloween party like this. I’ve never been to one myself, as Halloween isn’t really a big deal around here. And it’s nice that Max had Billie to give him some security in a place where he didn’t feel quite comfortable, at least in the beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never really been to one myself, but I’ve been to the edges of them. Although I recall I did some kind of house Halloween party in elementary school. There are some folks who are really into Halloween and they end up with pretty impressive yards. Steve’s family must be one of those. 🙂

      Billie knows him well enough to know how uncomfortable he had to be. I think he surprised himself by having fun in the end. Once he calmed down a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved seeing Max interact with his friends 🙂 He’s such a sad and lonely kid… So it’s always nice seeing him being social and enjoying himself! Got my eye on him and Billy 😉

    And your screenshots were so great! Totally worth all the pain and suffering 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Billie so much, she’s adorable and a true friend.

      Max is worse than Julia for feeling shy and awkward. But he did really enjoy himself so that’s a start. Uhg. Yeah though, I think he should be a hermit from now on, lol. No more parties. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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