A friendly hilltop community where the trees crackle and rustle in the wind, the sky is a glorious sickly green with scudding clouds across the inscrutable face of the moon, and the jack o'lanterns carve themselves while still ripening on the vine …
Welcome .. to Halloween Town.
Big news, listeners! Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, has returned! You may recall that Jack - beautiful, perfect Jack - disappeared sometime after the celebratory extravaganza that followed this year's incredibly successful and terrifying Halloween. Oh, how we have mourned his absence! Without Jack the sky glows just a little darker, the pumpkins sag under the weight of their own existence, the spiders curl up in their webs and shudder with despair. The mayor wore his face frown front for an entire week, and no one in Halloween Town is happy when the mayor is frowning!
But now, rejoice, listeners, for the Pumpkin King is back where he belongs! Jack arrived in the town square this evening, riding a strange, colorful vehicle attached to a wheelbarrow, but instead of wheels, the wheelbarrow had two flat sticks! Strapped to this not-a-wheelbarrow were so many brightly colored bags that we could not count them all, just bulging with balls and boxes and branches and other mysterious objects that we could not quite make out, but that may - or may not! - also have started with b. He waved to us all, an elated grin crossing his beautiful skull, and disappeared with his mysterious, laden load into the Town Hall.
Station intern Elmira has just handed me a notice, the torn and bloodied paper sticking for just a moment on the pin that is holding together the end of her striped tentacle in the aftermath of yesterday's badminton match against the staff of the Halloween Town Nightly Journal. The Journal left the field in shame, listeners, clutching their softly moaning rackets as they shook their fists and feet and viscera in our general direction. They simply refuse to realize that radio has represented the best and the brightest of Halloween Town's fright technology since 1938+. When was the last time anything remotely scary happened in a newspaper, I mean, come on.
In any case, this notice instructs me to inform you that Jack Skellington has called a Town Meeting! The meeting will be held at dusk at the Town Hall, and he will tell us all about the wonders of — what's this? "Christmas Town"? That must be the place where Jack disappeared to! Oh, I am so excited! What fresh horrors lie in store? I cannot wait to hear what Jack has to tell us!
More on this story, as it develops.
Some community announcements now!
A reminder for all the children in town regarding trick-or-treating. The mayor has asked me to remind you that trick-or-treating occurs on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. If Thursday is canceled, you may not trick-or-treat on Friday to "make up for missed time." Residents do not appreciate cleaning rotten egg off of their doors and intricate, wrought-iron front gates on days when they have made other plans. The mayor especially does not appreciate having jack-o-lanterns with unkind caricatures of all of his faces impaled on stakes in his front lawn. If this continues, instead of candy you will receive small twigs that, when touched, turn into a noxious slime, corroding anything it encounters. Lock, Shock, and Barrel, I would think twice before implementing that idea you had, with the frogs and the flaming toilet paper! Save it for Tuesday.
Sally Finkelstein - you know, the seamstress? - is offering a reward in the form of thirteen dead rats for the safe return of her left arm, which she has lost today for the third time. "Please," she whispered through the ivy growing over and beyond the window of our studio, which tonight is located in the untouchable, ineffable space that is somehow always nonetheless there between the corner of your home when approached from the left, and the same corner when approached from the right. "Please," Sally whispered, "please, just, don't tell my father about this! He'll be so angry with me!"
So there you have it, folks! Turn over the arm quiet-like and those dead rats are as good as yours!
Jack Skellington has finally emerged from his self-imposed exile in the farthest tower of his home. At Jack's town meeting, we all thrilled to the sights he brought back to us from Christmas Town, that deliciously terrifying place where the anticipation of horrors to come is only matched by the thrill of receiving whatever it is that suddenly appears from the mass of crumpled, discarded paper wrapping. Is it a foot? A bat? A shrunken head? No one knows! It’s a surprise! Such brilliance!
Since that meeting, we have all watched in wonder as Jack's tower exploded with light and color and the tantalizing hint of music, tinny notes of awe and despair at just the very limit of hearing. What has Jack been doing, we have wondered? What is he planning up there alone in his tower with his tubes and his beakers and his diagrams, never saying a word to anyone?
Well, Halloween Town, we finally found out! Jack has had the most wonderful, horrible idea! What better way to follow up our most successful Halloween in the history of Halloween Town than by handling Christmas as well? Jack tells us that Sandy Claws, the mayor of Christmas Town, and all of his followers have grown lax in their responsibility - they are not even trying to make people scream! For all of the time that Jack spent in Christmas Town, he felt happiness, and joy, and warmth, and elation - but never once the sweet tingle of fear! If you will permit me a moment of editorializing, when a grown man enters homes worldwide, uninvited, and no one panics, there’s something very wrong. Listeners, Christmas Town has obviously fallen under the sway of a terrible malaise, and as the unquestionable epitome of fright, it is our responsibility here in Halloween Town to pick up the slack. No one on Earth should ever have to spend a holiday like Halloween - or Christmas - without a good solid scream in their throats!
We did not need to be convinced. If we can help another holiday be as successful as our Halloween, of course we shall do all we can! And I have to admit that the prospect of lighting little strings of colored lights, of putting small terrifying surprises in boxes and wrapping them in flypaper, of placing branches covered in poisonous berries above every doorway, festooning our homes with long strips of paper on purpose instead of waiting for trick-or-treaters to do it for us - the prospect of all of this sounds unique and exciting and just, a lot of fun! So we will do this thing, Halloween Town. We will do this for our Jack, and for ourselves, and to save Christmas Town from itself, but most of all we will do this for the children, who deserve to have a Christmas morning as terrifying as we can make it!
We, Halloween Town, will make Christmas this year.
There are so many preparations to be made! If we are to present Christmas as it should be presented, every citizen of Halloween Town must do their part. If you have not reported to Jack in person, be aware that there are updated task lists posted outside of the Town Hall. Please check for your task on the list before starting to help! It would not do for little Josie, who lives on the outskirts of a quiet desert community, to receive both an animatronic taxidermy rattlesnake AND a model train set haunted by a friendly poltergeist! No, that would not do at all. So do check those lists!
I myself have already received my own assignment! Your humble broadcaster, The One Hiding Under Your Bed, will be making small "candied canes" to leave on the pillows of sleeping girls and boys. I am going to be so good at this, it fits perfectly into my skill set! I have so many ideas already. Some of the canes will have large round bulbs for handles, perfect for clonking brothers and sisters on the head! Others will have sharpened ends for poking out the eyes of your enemies. I even have an idea for a candied cane with a hidden quick-release switchblade! And one topped with a severed horse's head! And all of this using only black licorice, Tootsie Pops, and SweeTarts. There will be so many screams. Oh, I am so excited!
On the note of our Christmas tasks, listeners, I have an update to our Halloween Town Community Calendar. The Zombie Band will be giving a free concert on Wednesday, inside the Town Hall. This will mark the first official performance of "Christmas carols" here in our town of Halloween, so please turn up to support Jimmy, Jim, and James! I listened in on a short rehearsal and I think they sound fantastic. Optional donations of a spare organ will go to support the Halloween Town Children’s Hospital and Recycling Center.
And now, Traffic!
You wake up. You are a scientist, or you are an investment banker, or you are a waitress at the Friendly's down the street, and you wake up.
You wake up because your bed is shaking. Your bed is shaking because someone is jumping on it. Your children are jumping on the bed, and they are yelling. Mamá, Mom, they are yelling, Mamá, Mom, wake up, wake up, it's today, it's today!
What's today, you wonder, and you look over and your wife is smiling. It is a wobbly smile because the bed is shaking, but she is beautiful, and you smile back, and then you get up.
You each take hold of a small hand and you walk to the door of the bedroom, while your children chatter and clamor around you. In the living room there is a tree. The tree is lit brightly with small orange lights, and at the very tipmost top is a bald eagle. Outside, the sun is shining, and your favorite pink dogwood is in full bloom.
Can we, Mamá? Can we? Can we?
Your wife laughs and pats the children on their heads, and says, Yes, all right, good morning, why don't you go put your costumes on and then you can hunt for your stockings in the yard?
You are very confused. You do not know what day it is. You do not know what you are supposed to feel. You do not know what you do feel.
Your wife turns to you. Her eyes are sparkling. Her cheeks are rosy.
That'll hold them for a few minutes, she says. Why don't you go look for the fireworks, while I put the turkey in the oven? You cooked the turkey yesterday, it's my turn.
Okay, you say. Sure. You are dazed. Are you still asleep?
By the way, I almost forgot. She takes your hand, and passes you a chocolate bunny holding a red card. The card says Bee My Valentine, and there is a bee on it. The bee is holding a bow and arrow.
You look up, smiling, and your wife is smiling back.
Kiss me, she says. I'm Irish.
You are taken by the overwhelming urge to purchase a leprechaun dressed in a bunny outfit, wearing a Santa hat and waving an American flag, who sings Wild Thing and shakes his turkey tail when you push the orange plastic pumpkin embedded in his chest. He is the most glorious thing you have ever seen and you need him, you need one of him for each of your relatives, and each of your co-workers at the science lab. Or the investment firm. Or the Friendly's. Where do you work, again? Do you work anywhere? What do you do? Where did you come from? Who are you? Who are you?
You feel your stomach dropping away. Your stomach is dropping and your children are laughing - or are they screaming? Surely they are laughing - and you hold on tight to your wife's hand and you close your eyes and you kiss her.
You wake up.
This has been Traffic.
This just in - I am being handed a memo by intern Darren, who is only a long skeletal hand - he is truly the best at handing me things! Thank you, Darren! Dr. Finkelstein is offering a reward of one unlimited re-animation for the return of his daughter, Sally - you know, the seamstress? - dismembered or otherwise. That's right, ladies, gentlemen, and those who identify as neither, the good doctor is offering to bring back to life the person or animal or plant or other of your choice, including, potentially, yourself! This is a literally once in a lifetime deal! He must really want his daughter back, huh?
Here's something unusual. We're hearing reports of an epidemic of mysterious visions traveling across Halloween Town. Most of these visions seem to take the form of whatever Christmas decoration or gift the afflicted has been making, which then goes up in flames that fade rapidly away leaving only a charred husk and the faint whiff of burnt chestnuts. Except for The One Hiding Under Your Stairs, who is, as usual, having visions of everyone in Halloween Town walking around in just their underwear, but also wearing a silly hat.
It's best not to speak too long to The One Hiding Under Your Stairs.
But what do these visions portend, you may wonder? Most of those who have received the visions take it as a sign that our Christmas will succeed beyond our wildest dreams. "It's going to be so scary!" rasped Helgamine, the tall witch, after telling us of the present that exploded gloriously in her face as she contemplated her dinner of fish heads last night. "Maybe even better than Halloween!"
Your troublesome host has not yet received one of these omens himself, but I wonder, listeners. Oh, I wonder.
Christmas is coming. Christmas is lurking, waiting for a misstep or a wrong word to pounce upon us and destroy everything we have created. Perhaps Christmas will not come at all.
Sandy Claws has been apprehended. Sandy Claws is in our town. He is terrifying, with his beady eyes and white beard and his clothes, his clothes are drenched in blood, oh, listeners, what can this mean?
Station management, excited about new business opportunities in light of our expansion to an additional holiday, has requested that I read a brief word from our sponsors:
Do not fear. The creature crawling up your wall, emphatically positioning each and every one of its ten thousand legs as it marches inexorably towards the ceiling is only a centipede. It will not harm you. It is not a reanimated abomination constructed from the hair and blood that adheres to your bathtub drain. It is not an alien life-form sent here to create a foothold in our little town. It is only a perfectly … ordinary … centipede, and it will not fall onto your face tonight as you sleep, leeching eldrich chemicals into your brain stem that will allow it to control your every waking move. It has not done this every night for the last twelve years. That would be ridiculous. It will not harm you. Do not fear. Do not fear. Do not —
Shop at Hot Topic.
It is time, Halloween Town. It is time for Christmas. Jack is gathering in the square. He has added a coffin to the vehicle which we now know is called a sled, and has filled it with all the glorious, and joyful, and terrifying products of our labor these last few weeks. I can see the tip of my candied canes sticking out of the top of a bag near the front.
It is a dark night. The stars are clear. The moon is full. Its face is turned away. Perhaps it does not wish to see what it is that we have wrought.
But who is the moon to judge the Pumpkin King?
Jack is wearing the Sandy Claws outfit. He is wearing the outfit made for him by Sally Finkelstein - you know, the seamstress? It is drenched in blood. It is horrifying. He is magnificent. He is holding the reins attached to the reindeer whose skeletal apparitions will pull him through the silent night. He is climbing into the coffin.
For a moment, there is fog, fog so thick we cannot see the flaming mistletoe that adorns the Town Hall. Was my prediction correct? Children are crying. Will Christmas not come at all this year?
But Jack is not upset. He is not worried. He is holding the reins and he is not upset. He is holding the -
The fog is pierced by a red light, blinking, as if in the distance, as if it were up on a mountain out in the distance. It comes closer, and closer, and the fog is diffusing into a horrific red glow, as though we have all been sprayed in a very fine mist of blood, matching Jack in his Sandy Claws outfit. And then the light comes closer still and it resolves into --
Aww, it's Zero! Aww, who's a cute widdle puppy dog, oh, it's you, it's you, yes it is! Good dog, Zero! Good dog.
That dog is so adorable, listeners, one day I'm just going to up and die from how unbearably cute he is.
But now Zero is taking his place at the front of the line of reindeer. He is taking to the sky. The red light is cutting through the fog and they are all taking to the sky, and we are all shouting and yelling and wishing Jack well as he brings a Scary Christmas to everyone, all over the world!
Good luck, Jack! All our hopes and dreams go with you!
Listeners - Halloween Town - dear, dear Halloween Town - I do not know what to say. We have all seen the reports. We have all watched as Jack - oh Jack, beloved Jack - as Jack Skellington fell from the sky, his limbs akimbo, his bloody shirt ablaze, reindeer bones scattering in the wind like a game of pick-up sticks gone horribly, horribly wrong, as Christmas has gone horribly, horribly wrong, as Jack has gone, horribly, horribly -
They are saying - they are - they are saying that Jack is dead, listeners, but I do not want to believe them. I do not. It cannot be true. It cannot. Jack will return.
Oh, what are we to do without Jack Skellington? What is Halloween without the Pumpkin King? What am I without that very special -
Wait. What is —
Wait. What is that? I cannot -
Listeners, something is happening, something .. is happening out in the town square. I cannot see what it is. There is a commotion and an outcry and .. I think … I think there is someone tall .. and .. I cannot see. Oh, listeners, I must .. I must investigate. I shall return. I shall report back.
In the meantime, I give you .. the weather.
Listeners, I have returned. I have news. Jack .. Jack has also returned, and Christmas … Christmas is finally over here in Halloween Town. Tomorrow, it's back to all Halloween, all the time! I'm sure you're relieved. I know I am.
As you go to sleep tonight, perhaps snug in your beds, warmed from the inside by the kindness the fierce Sandy Claws showed as he rained gifts and this odd "snow" substance down upon us, or perhaps roaming the streets in eternal torment as you do every night, ever seeking but never finding that sweet, sweet sleep of death - whichever of those things you do - rest at least secure in the knowledge that this long, strange journey has come to an end. Tomorrow, the white powder falling delicately from the sky and gathering in drifts around the edges of your home, filtering through the unrepaired cracks in the creaking, rotten wood that forms the walls of your abode, as decreed by municipal by-laws - rest assured, listeners, that powder will not be some mysteriously congealed liquid, each constituent part subtly yet undeniably different from the last, appearing so only when you glimpse it from the corner of your cold, dead eyes, disappearing at your touch, yet the piles - the cold, sparkling, menacing piles - never seem to grow smaller. No, Halloween Town, that powder will once again be the ashes of your fallen enemies, their bodies consigned to the eternal pyre out back of Oogie's place by the bone lot. Or, perhaps, the ashes of your fallen friends; we don't judge here at Halloween Town Community Radio.
The point is, listeners, all will be, once again, as it should.
And with that comforting, beautiful thought, let me say to you, as always, at the end of this most trying of days -
Good night, Halloween Town. Good night.