Author’s note: A short bit ago I got a question about if Sen and Hen had been alive when Chanceter happened. What would have happened. After a lot of thinking and stuff I realized how fun it would be to write a short special about it. And it’s turned into a several part story. So I hope you like it. This is a world where Serenity stopped going to the labs after Chance’s birth so she was never murdered. She and Henri have been raising their two babies in Sunset Valley. Chance just turned eighteen and is about to have a very fateful meeting…
Miracle Danevbie jumped then spun around, staring at a white sheet with eye holes cut into it. One of her eyebrows shot up as she tried not to burst into laughter. Unfortunately she failed and her brother pulled the sheet off, frowning.
“It looks stupid, doesn’t it.”
“Watcher!” she wheezed, clutching her sides. “Seriously? A–a ghost? You’ve got to be kidding me! Why not just reuse your costume from last year?”
Chance Danevbie looked at the sheet. “I’ve worn it twice now and wanted to do something new. I like it. Besides, who’d ever think a ghost would dress up as a ghost?”
“You’re not going out trick-or-treating. You’re eighteen!”
He shrugged in response and put the sheet back on. The edges piled on the floor. “Why not? I’m short enough to pass for a kid. You don’t need to go with me this year, too; Mom and Dad said I could go by myself.”
Her laughter died immediately. “You can’t!”
“I can and will.” He spun around and tripped on the sheet. The sheet fell to the ground as his reaction was to go not-solid and pass right through. He sighed, trying to ignore his sister’s snickers as he picked the sheet back up. “I won’t do that out there either. I promise. I want to go trick-or-treating and I will.”
Mira put her hands on her hips, shaking her head. “You need to grow up sometime.”
“Says who?” He flashed her a grin before yanking the sheet over his head and traipsing off to show his costume to his parents.
As a ghost, he had grown up pretty isolated from the real world but in his tenth year his father got the brilliant idea of trick-or-treating. With a full costume on, nobody could see that Chance was actually… well, see-through. And dead. As long as he stayed solid when they went out he could pass as any normal kid. For eight years he had gone and he didn’t intend to give it up anytime soon. He liked being able to go out and about. Being cooped up inside definitely wasn’t anywhere near his list of favorite things to do, so having a few hours of freedom felt wonderful even if it only happened once a year. Besides, as he pointed out to his sister, his height of 5’2 made it so he could easily pass as a kid under a full costume for years to come.
This would be his first year out alone. Every other year his older sister took him but finally his parents trusted him enough to go out alone.
“A ghost?” Serenity pursed her lips together, refraining from chiding her son. “Wouldn’t you rather just reuse the Tinman costume from last year?”
Chance shook his head. “No. I want to be a ghost.”
She returned to working on lunch, not really saying anything in response. If she told him no, he’d probably obey her but not be too pleased. However she also felt very uncomfortable at letting him go out like that. What’s the real harm in lettin’ him do that? she asked herself, unable to truly answer it besides a vague uneasy feeling.
“Then at least let me trim the sheet so you don’t go tripping all over the place.”
Henri, however, knew he couldn’t just let Chance go without voicing his fears. “It’s too risky. I don’t like it,” he said when Chance showed the trimmed costume off.
“Papa, please!” Chance whined. “What will people do? Go ‘oh look a ghost costume there must be a REAL ghost under there!’?”
Henri snorted then chuckled a bit. “Mon canard, danger is everywhere for us.” He reached out and cupped Chance’s face gently. Chance wanted to go non-solid but it never worked for Henri, since he was a ghost too. “The ghost hunting business has gotten strong over the past few years. There may not be any in Sunset Valley but… comment puis-je vous faire comprendre?”
“Je suis un adulte!” Chance protested with a stomp of his foot.
“Than act your age.” Henri released Chance and floated over to a chair.
Chance went not-solid–allowing the sheet to fall again–and floated after him. “Come on. I’m eighteen now. You’re letting me go out by myself. I don’t want to be the Tinman this year. I want to be a ghost. Mama says I can.”
Henri scowled and Chance knew he won the battle. “Very well. But I still don’t like it.”
Just before trick-or-treat started, Serenity drove Chance down into town (as they lived high on a steep hill with no neighbors, they didn’t really have a neighborhood for Chance to go around which was just as well).
“I’ll pick you up at–“
“Eleven,” Chance prompted.
“Excuse me? I don’t think so, young man. Trick-or-treat ends at nine.” Serenity tightened her grip on the steering wheel, feeling guilty she couldn’t give him the life he obviously wanted. A common conversation between her and her husband, they often wondered how much right they were doing for their younger child. Miracle was in college, had loads of friends, dated around a bit, had her future being put together. But Chance… well, they did their best to educate him but he got bored easily and would float off in the middle of a lesson. The only thing he ever really learned was French.
I wish I coulda given you a better life, baby, Sen thought as Chance slid out of the car, the sheet swishing around his ankles. “Ten pm,” she said.
“Oooookay. I’ll see you at ten, Mom. Thanks for letting me go out by myself.”
She watched him run off all excited and got that uneasy feeling again. Stay safe, darlin’.
It didn’t take very long before Chance’s pillowcase got full. Even after he stopped by the park and threw all the yucky candy into the garbage can, he wasn’t able to put anything else in by eight-thirty. He went back to the area where he’d be meeting his mom later and found a hiding place for the goodies. Then he wandered off again, going wherever he felt like it.
This is great, he thought cheerfully. No sister nagging him, no people running and screaming at the sight of him. Just… him. Walking around. Being him. I’m out as me–well um, as me as I can get. It gave him a bit of a buzzy thrill to be a ghost, albeit a silly costumed one.
Eventually he found himself at the park again. Empty. Nobody around. He went over to the swings and sat down in one, running a hand along the chains. I always wanted to try this. He wriggled a bit then wriggled more. How do I get it to go? He began jerking at the chains then wriggled once more. The swing swayed a bit but didn’t go. I gotta kick my legs, that’s right. He began moving his legs wildly which didn’t help much.
“You need to move them at the same time.”
Chance gave a yelp and nearly fell off the swing. In fact, he very nearly went not-solid but managed to stop himself in time. “You scared me!” he accused the guy who had come over.
“It’s not every day you scare a ghost,” the guy replied in a kinda tense-sounding tone. He stood over Chance with a scowl on his face. At least, Chance thought it was a scowl. It was kinda hard to tell under the weird glasses and the beard. The guy wore a skintight black suit with bright green piping and had a black bag over one shoulder and a weird sort of… handheld machine in the other.
“Some ghosts are more frightenable than others,” Chance said.
“Frightenable?” The guy gave a sort of grunting sound. “Not a word, kid.” Chance decided to ignore him and began moving his legs at the same time. The swing began to go. “What are you doing here? Not getting candy?”
“Nope, already got plenty.”
The guy began walking in a wide circle around him, looking intensely at the handheld thingie. “You from around here?”
“What’s your name?”
Chance gripped the chains nervously. “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
The man finally looked up from the device. “And who taught you that?”
“My parents! Who do you think?”
“Not many ghosts remember their parents.”
Chance stopped moving his legs, feeling weird now. And uncomfortable. “Um. Whatever. I–I need to go.” He hopped off the swing and his foot came down on the sheet. “Yeeep!” he squealed as he fell forward. Immediately he put all his concentration into staying solid and at the last second he grabbed the guy’s arm to stop himself from hitting the ground.
The guy jerked violently back, freeing his arm, staring down at it in shock. “What the fu–” He looked at Chance, at the thing in his hand, then at his arm.
“I–need to go–Happy Halloween!” Chance turned and ran as fast as he could without falling again.
Specter watched the kid run. It seemed as if his feet were touching the ground but the sheet was at the perfect length to hide whether they were or not. Either way, the kid couldn’t run too fast so Specter was able to follow at a safe distance.
“Five till twenty-one hundred,” he whispered into the little mic that he yanked up near his mouth, “found an anomaly in Sunset Valley. Detector picked up a pocket of dead air in park and found something I have never encountered before. Subject can interact with physical objects, has clear speech patterns, and some semblance of a memory. When questioned the subject seemed to panic. Subject tripped and…” Specter trailed off into an uncomfortable silence. Seconds ticked by as he continued following the ghost, a bit thankful that the ghost had stopped running and now walked down the sidewalk at a normal pace.
“Subject tripped,” he finally began speaking again, “and grabbed my arm to stop from hitting the ground. Subject wears a white sheet with holes for eyes cut into the fabric as a ghost costume.” He almost wanted to laugh at that. If he ever laughed. “Could feel a solid hand under the sheet when grabbed. Fingers felt real. Subject ran off. Following subject through town. He does not seem to have any plan at the moment…”
“Twenty-one hundred hours and five minutes. Subject has stopped outside a large house holding Halloween party. He seems… entranced by the music.”
“Twenty-one and eight minutes. Subject is dancing.”
“Twenty-one and nine minutes. Subject has fallen over and is tangled in a bush.”
Specter watched with immense interest as the ghost spent several minutes carefully removing himself from the bush without taking off the sheet. Any normal person would have slipped out of the sheet and gotten it out after but not this guy. Then again, he wasn’t a normal person. He was a ghost who didn’t want to lose his faux-ghost costume.
“Twenty-one and thirty minutes. Subject is leaving the area near the party and is heading purposefully in a direction.”
“Twenty-one and fifty-five minutes. Subject has been sitting on a bench eating candy for twenty minutes straight. Definite evidence subject is a ghost. I think I have diabetes merely watching how much fucking sugar this guy’s just inhaled. I can’t–oh. A car has pulled up. A woman is getting out and speaking to the subject. She’s snatched the bag of candy from him and is now yelling at him. I can hear a few words. Something about how just because he can do something doesn’t mean he shou–“
Specter ducked down as the woman stopped yelling and swung around to stare directly at where he had been standing. He had been far enough away and speaking so quietly he knew she couldn’t have possibly heard him. But her head had snapped to his direction, her eyes had met his special goggles for just a split-second.
The next thing Specter heard was the sound of tires peeling. He rolled out of his spot and watched the car drive off. He rattled off the license plate and make of the car before getting up and brushing himself off.
“Twenty-two and four,” he said softly. “It seems the trip to Sunset Valley to investigate the rumors has proven to be the best decision ever. Specter Everett over and out.”