“Whoa-ho-ho,” you said as you approached the Halloween display just outside of the costume shop at the strip-mall, “That looks cool.”
You were shopping for a costume, though you were mostly going out to admire the decorations and play around with the masks, maybe take some pictures to send to your friends online. Some stores gave out free candy when it was close to the end of the month, too, and you were hoping to snag some of that before you went home, if not just heading to Muffet's to secure some of her Halloween-themed sale items. She wasn't far from the strip mall, maybe only a ten- or fifteen-minute walk down the street.
The display in question was a rather well-crafted graveyard scene, set up just outside the door to the costume shop, clustered up close to the wall and cordoned off with some fake police tape. The center piece was a decidedly-modern looking skeleton, almost excessively tall and wearing ripped jeans and a purple hoodie over a band t-shirt that was ripped to expose parts of its ribs and spine. It looked like it had just crawled up out of one of the graves, but was standing almost casually, completely motionless with its hands in its pockets. As you approached, the eye sockets lit up with purple lights, and the skull turned mechanically in your direction, still looking vacantly off into the distance– no doubt the work of the motion sensors. Its jaw dropped open and out from between its sharp, jagged teeth poured a plume of purple smoke, drifting up into the sky to be carried off on a stray autumn breeze.
“Oh, nice!” you laughed, coming closer to inspect it as the head faced forward again, the lights in its eyes blinking out.
There didn't seem to be a visible price tag, from what you could tell. You tugged up the sleeves of its hoodie to see if it was looped around either wrist, even checked around its feet to see if it had fallen, but with no luck. You let out a disappointed hum, thinking that it probably wasn't for sale, and when you stepped back to observe it again, the motion sensor seemed to detect you once more– the head turned slightly to the left, its sockets lit up purple, and its jaw dropped open. Another plume of smoke drifted out in a swirling cloud, and you huffed when you caught a whiff. It smelled sweet– kind of like blueberry.
“Man, this thing is cool,” you muttered dejectedly as you craned your head back to inspect it. It was much taller than you, probably something you would need help carrying back to your car. Which wasn't even here, either. You had walked to the shop, today. You probably couldn't even lift it on your own, and you didn't want to try– with your luck, you'd probably knock it over and break it.
“How much is it?” you mumbled to nobody, as if an employee would somehow hear you and materialize outside to let you know. You chuckled at yourself, rubbing at your neck as the skeleton righted itself again, head turning to face forward, eye lights flickering out, and, “I probably couldn't afford it, anyway...” you muttered.
The decoration suddenly chuckled, making you jump.
“Yeah, prob'ly not,” it said, eye sockets flickering to life abruptly, and you leapt back with a yelp as it leaned down towards you, teeth curving up in a wide skeletal grin.
“OH, jeez!!” you yelled, and the skeleton– a skeleton monster– dissolved into huffing, quiet laughter, actually stumbling backward and sliding down the wall behind them to sit among the tombstones on the sidewalk. Little puffs of residual smoke drifted up from their jaw as they hunched in on their self, laughing while you collected yourself. “You!! Oh my God,” you chuckled, reaching up to cover your grin. This was probably the first time you'd seen a monster pull a stunt like this. “You scared the shit out of me!”
“Nyeh heh, yeah,” they said through their laughter, grinning up at you, “You reacted better than this lady I got earlier, though. Fuckin' jumped outta her skin and tried to hit me,” they snickered, then winked up at you, going on in a sly tone, “Sorry t'disappoint.” You huffed out a laugh as they reached up with both arms, clawed phalanges wiggling once. “Feel like helpin' me up? Since I'm so impressive?”
You scoffed, face heating slightly, but your polite nature kicked in and you grabbed their hands, pulling with all your might to help them back into a standing position. They looked absolutely delighted for a moment, but the expression melted away quickly as they chuckled, taking their hands back and tucking them away in their pockets.
“Nyeh heh heh, thanks,” they said, sharp teeth curving into a smirk.
“No problem,” you said, angling away as if to leave, “Have you been doing this all day?” Their sockets turned suddenly shifty, lights dodging from one side to the other.
“Nyeh heh, a skeleton never reveals his secrets,” he said mysteriously, and you snorted, grinning up at him.
“Is that a thing people say?” you chortled playfully, and his sockets crinkled slightly in amusement, one hand coming up out of his pocket with a blue joint in hand. You raised your brows, but didn't say anything, just glancing around to see if anybody was nearby to notice. Nobody was outside the strip mall right now, but there were some people out in the parking lot who might see him– from this distance, they'd probably just think he was smoking a cigarette, though.
Still, if an employee came out and saw him....
“S'a thing I said,” he was saying, letting out a chuckle as he lifted the joint to his teeth, “Y'know, just now.”
“You're gonna get in trouble,” you replied through a snicker. He looked amused again, shaking his skull.
“Nobody's said anything yet,” he said, pausing to glance to the side, then back at you, “Today,” he tacked on, chuckling. “Think I'll be fine. Now, if you'll excuse me...” and he took a very deep inhale from the joint, somehow holding the smoke inside his jaw, despite the wide gaps on the sides.
“How do you do that?” you asked through a laugh, but he was already going back to his default pose again, tucking the joint away (it was still lit??) as he returned his hands to his pockets, gaze going vacant as the lights in his sockets flickered out. He gave a mighty shrug, and then was still.
You stood there for a moment, as if he might still answer you, but then his skull tilted down and he darted a hand out of his pocket, waving you away with a shooing motion. You snickered, moving away a few steps.
“Oh, right, right,” you grinned at him, watching as he put his hand back in his pocket, skull straightening up again. You thought his teeth might have twitched, but he kept a good poker face, and you waved. “Okay, well, good luck. Happy Halloween.”
You got no response as you wandered into the store, but you were still grinning, the encounter having left you in a good mood.
He was still there when you left the costume shop (though he didn't try to prank you twice), and he was still there an hour later, when you came back by after stopping off at Muffet's. You had your costume in one bag, and a box of doughnuts in the other, cradled against your hip as you crossed the parking lot and paused next to him, chuckling. He was standing differently this time, clawed hand raised as if he were holding a skull, the classic Hamlet pose. His skull was turned upward and two steady, thin streams of smoke were filtering out from the sides of his jaw in constant, wispy lines which were stolen away immediately by the wind. You were actually a little surprised (and maybe impressed) that nobody had told him to leave yet.
“Still at it, huh?” you asked, and he didn't respond, but you hadn't really expected him to.
You laughed, opening the box and pulling out one of the doughnuts inside– a chocolate one with light purple icing and spider sprinkles– then reached up to place it in his extended hand. His teeth definitely twitched upward, but he still didn't say anything, seeming dedicated to his craft.
“Here ya go,” you said, smiling, “You earned it.”
You hesitated before leaving, glancing to the side before reaching into your bag for the receipt to your costume and ripping off a strip. You pulled a pen out of your pocket, then set the piece of paper on the doughnut box and scribbled out your name and number. Before you could chicken out, you reached out and stuck it in his pocket, patting it for good measure.
“Um, text me some time if you wanna hang out, or something,” you said, face heating slightly as your nerves started to catch up to you. You took a step back, glancing away as you started to retreat. “Have fun, alright?”
And you left quickly, not glancing back to see if he threw the note away or ate the doughnut. You weren't expecting to hear from him, and if you didn't, you'd be embarrassed if you ever saw him again, but hey– it didn't hurt to try, right? He seemed really cool, and you wanted to get to know him, if you could.
As you were reading on your laptop that night, you got a text from an unknown number, the bright screen lighting up your dimly-lit room.
so does a friendship with you come with more free donuts?
You snickered, tacking out a response quickly.
I dunno, does a friendship with you come with free magic weed?
You laughed, and another text came only seconds later, as you were leaning back against your pillows.
name's papyrus, by the way
was nice to scare you