This is a work of fiction and is not to be sold in any way shape or form. It is simply for my amusement and the challenge of writing these characters in a strange and dangerous world. All the characters are owned by Disney and I do not claim ownership of any of them. Please let me know what you think in the comments below! Without further ado, welcome to The Kingdom.)
All Hallow’s Eve
Slam! The latched window blew open, allowing an ice cold wind to flood into the large maid’s chambers, sending papers flying this way and that, messing up the linens on the bed and tousling Mrs. Potts’ hair. As someone who hand’t had hair for some time, she did not appreciate this one bit.
“Oh heavens,” she cried, bustling over to the window and pulling at its double doors, to close and relatch it. The icy air sent a shiver up her spine. “Cold night tonight,” she claimed, rubbing her elbows with her hands to warm herself. She turned to see one of her sons, arguably her favorite even though as a mother she wasn’t supposed to have favorites, Chip. He was bundled up under three layers of covers on a little twin bed. Only his large blue eyes and bright blond hair stuck out. He shivered, but not from the cold. No, Chip was quite scared.
“What’s wrong Chip?” asked Mrs. Potts, scuttling over to the bed and sitting on the edge of it, placing a soothing hand atop the covers which hid her son from the world.
“I’m scared Mama,” he said. “Cold night like this. That’s when the Pumpkin Man comes out to hunt. They say he eats children.”
“Oh poppycock,” exclaimed Mrs. Potts. “The Pumpkin King only wants to scare you, not eat you.”
“How can you be so sure?” asked Chip, his grip on the sheets loosening a bit.
“Well because I know the legend of Sleepy Hallow and how the Pumpkin King came to be,” she cooed. “Underneath that bony exterior, he’s really just a man. A man who was wronged by fate, but a man nonetheless.”
“The Legend of Sleepy Hallow?” asked Chip.
“Come now,” she hesitated. “Shouldn’t you be asleep?”
“Oh Mama, please tell me the story. I won’t be able to sleep until you’ve told it.” This was true. Chip had a very curious mind, and until he found out the answer to whatever question was swimming around in there, he had a hard time doing or thinking of anything else.
His mother gave him a long look, as if determining whether or not he could handle the tale so late into the night. Then, at last, she let out a sigh. “Very well.” She took a deep breath and began. “Twas a long time a ago, longer now than it seems, in a place that perhaps you have seen in your dreams…”
Gunpowder had not been ridden at full speed for as long as he could remember. Once a sturdy plough horse, his best years were far behind him. Yet even so, the rider atop him was whipping the reigns, causing Gunpowder to throw his hooves into the muddy ground beneath him, pressing forward for fear of the evil creature that loomed behind them.
“Faster Gunpowder!” screeched Ichabod Crane, whose body shook with fear as he threw his arms around the horse’s thick neck. Ichabod had known better. Yet even so, he had braved the dark forest to attend the party at the Van Tassel’s. He had so badly fallen for the beautiful Katrina that he’d been blinded to the fact that he was simply a pawn in her game of luring the brawny Brom Bones. Now he was out in the night, alone, being chased by a horseman in black with no head.
There was only one hope. The bridge. The legend of the headless horseman had said that the dark rider couldn’t pass the bridge into the town. If he could get there, he’d be safe. And there in the distance, he could just make out the wooden beams of the bridge. He was so close. The strong beats of the hooves of the horsemen’s stead beat into the ground behind him, getting louder every second.
The bridge was in full view. He could do this. He could survive this. By tomorrow, it would all be just a bad dream. He gave the reigns another whip.
“Come on, boy!’ he yelled to the horse. “Come on!”
The sound of the horse’s feet changed beneath him as they hit the wood. He’d made it. He was going to live. Tears streaked down his face. Tears of joy. He turned back to look at the Horsemen who’s prey had just narrowly escaped him, but what he saw was a bright orange Jack-O-Lantern, smiling broadly with flames billowing from within, careening towards him. Ichabod gasped as the pumpkin crashed into him, knocking him from the horse.
“GAH!” he cried as his body slammed into the hard wooden planks of the bridge. He rolled onto his back, trying to catch his breath as the world swung around him, but before he could do so, his body lurched of its own volition, being pulled back towards the unsafe side of the bridge.
“No!” he yelled. He dug his hands into the wood, splinters ripping into his skin as he grasped for dear life. “Please! NO!” His body rose and he flew through the air, spinning so that he faced the headless demon, who was now off his horse. Ichabod reached out his as if it would shield him from the oncoming evil, but it was no use. A sharp pain landed in his abdomen and everything stopped. For a moment, he simply stared at the top of the black coat where a head should have been. Nothing seemed real.
A cool dripping sound brought him back to reality and as he looked down he realized it was his own blood, dripping from his stomach where a long black sword was buried. He shook with terror, knowing that this was the end.
The horseman stood over him, arms outstretched. Dark flecks of black started to float up from the horsemen, as if he were disintegrating before Ichabod’s very eyes. “Wha-what!?” asked Ichabod.
“I…am…free…now…” whispered a voice from nowhere. “Now… you… are… King…” The body of the horsemen continued to disappear until even the sword vanished. Ichabod began to fall in space and toppled down the hill beside the bridge, landing in the river below and finally was carried away. Ichabod’s eyes closed and he breathed his last breath. His last mortal breath anyway.
The night turned to day, then back to night. Before long, Ichabod’s body washed up to a shore and there it sat for quite some time. Weeks, months, years. It was hard to say. As time went on, his flesh began to decompose, pulling from his body, leaving only the rot and bone behind. His clothes were covered with muck and insects ripped at their threads. It was the distinct yipping of a dog which caused him to suddenly realize something.
He was aware. Sure enough, Ichabod was as dead as dead could be. Yet nonetheless, he could still hear that dog. He didn’t even have ears anymore that he knew of. How was this possible. He turned his head, feeling the bones in his neck crackle. He could move.
Next to his body stood a small dog with a long slender body, tan fur and a pointed face. It’s legs were short. A dachshund, he could vaguely recall they were named. The dog tilted its head and eyed him cautiously.
“H-hello?” said Ichabod, not entirely sure he would be able to speak if he tried. To his surprise, words crept from his bony mouth. Cautiously, he used his bony arms to sit himself upright, but as he did, a most unfortunate thing happened. His head toppled off and into his lap.
“Gah!” he yelped, surprised as someone who has never had their head fall off should be. Yet, even with it off, he could still see out of his eyes. He quickly used his bony fingers to pick his head back up and replaced it atop his neck. He looked at the dog, who seemed to find all of this rather curious. “Am I…dead?”
The dog whimpered.
“I’m certainly not alive,” he said, thinking aloud. “But perhaps since I am talking and moving there is hope yet.” He wiggled his legs to make sure they worked and then stood to his feet. Slowly, he set off along the path next to the river, turning only once to notice that the dog was following him. “Coming to help me find a doctor, boy?” he asked the dog. “What a good little doggie.”
He took a few strides to find his footing, but soon he was marching along like he always had. Only now he was only bones and rotting flesh under ripped, muddy clothes.
Before long, Ichabod came to the outskirts of a small town. The sky had turned a warm orange color as the sun began to set. Despite his current state, he was happy to find that he could still feel the warmth of it. In fact, so pleased was he to be able to feel anything at all, that he forgot that his current appearance was less than appealing and marched right into town.
“AHHHHH!” screamed a woman with a brown dress and bonnet. She ducked into a nearby cottage.
“MONSTER!” exclaimed a man who ran into his home and emerged once more with a double barreled shotgun, taking aim at Ichabod as his hands shook with fear.
“Sir, please,” started Ichabod, reaching out his hands to try and calm the man. “I mean you no harm. I simply-”
BOOM! The shotgun rang out, ripping a chunk out of Ichabod’s side. He glared at the man, annoyed. “Well now that was quite rude, wouldn’t you agree?”
The man’s jaw fell as he dropped the gun, instantly scrambling into his home once more. A series of loud clanks and clunks indicated the locking of his door.
The little dog next to Ichabod gave a loud bark, which called attention to a short man standing with a dark hood over his head and a torch in his hand. He waved the half-man, half-skeleton over to him. “Quickly stranger,” said the man. “This way.” Ichabod quickly moved from the street as more citizens of the town saw him and took off screaming. He followed the man down a long stretch of alley, the dog chasing behind him. Before long, they came to a large door. The man pried it open and motioned them hastily inside. With Ichabod and his dog friend safely indoors, the man moved in to the room and slammed the heavy door behind him, locking it.
The man quickly turned and removed his hood. He had strangely pale skin, pronounced by his bald head, and a large mouth and jaw that seemed to stick out from his face. His eyes were small and he wore a pair of black glasses over his eyes. Beneath his cloak, Ichabod could clearly see a white smock. Perhaps fate had led him to a doctor after all.
“Well now,” said the man, revealing a mouth that was missing a few teeth. “Aren’t you just something.” The man moved to Ichabod and circled him, taking in the walking dead man in front of him. “You are truly terrific. What’s your name young man?”
“I-Ichabod,” he said, feeling a bit nervous. “Ichabod Crane.”
“I seem to recall that name from a traveler,” said the Doctor, pondering the idea. “A schoolteacher. He went missing on Halloween last year.”
“Last year?!” exclaimed Ichabod, who, until now, had no real idea of how long he’d been out. “That’s when, well, this happened to me.”
“Fascinating,” said the Doctor. “Oh but where are my manners. I am Doctor Finkelstein and this is my home. Come along into my laboratory and tell me everything you can recall.” The Doctor led him into the central part of the building where large contraptions, electrical wirings and large cages sat. It seemed like more of a torture chamber than a laboratory, but Ichabod was short on friends, and thus did not question this. He sat in a large chair and told the Doctor of his tale. When he was finished, the man scratched his chin and contemplated the whole thing.
“It’s not exactly science but the entity you speak of with no head seems to ring a bell.” He walked to a large bookshelf and ascended a large ladder as quickly as a squirrel.
“You’re quite spry,” said Ichabod.
“I used to go for long walks thrice a day,” said the Doctor. “That was before the village took to calling me a freak. A monster. A madman.” He seemed aggravated. “Nowadays I stay in almost all day and night. My legs might as well not work. It wouldn’t make much difference. All I really have is my brain now.” The Doctor chuckled. “Now there’s something I’d love to study.”
“You’re brain?” asked Ichabod, perplexed.
“Oh yes, I’d love to open up my head and poke around in there. Think of everything one could learn.” He continued searching the bookshelf. “My late wife didn’t appreciate my brain. I always thought that if I could open her head up and put part of my own mind into hers, she would have understood me much better.”
“I’d like to have a lovely wife someday,” said Ichabod day dreaming. “We could walk the hills together and discuss at length our love for one another.”
“Sounds dismal,” said the Doctor. “Aw, here we are.” He pulled a large tome from the shelf and then descended the ladder. He flipped it open and searched the old yellow pages. “Aw yes, here we go. The one you refer to as the Headless Horseman is actually more of a demon. He is known in most circles as the Pumpkin King.”
“Pumpkin King?” asked Ichabod who didn’t like the sound of that.
“Yes yes. It says here he wields a sword which has trapped his soul and caused him to be the embodiment of all the nightmares in the world. He is the very essence of Halloween.” The Doctor continued to read. “Oh dear,” he said.
“What is it?” asked Ichabod.
“It says here that on the 100th year of his servitude, he may, if he chooses, plunge that very sword into the heart of a mortal and pass his curse to them. This would effectively free his soul and pass his burden onto that mortal.” The Doctor looked up at Ichabod. “You hear that Ichabod? You’re immortal now! The embodiment of fear itself.”
“Oh no,” said Ichabod, resting his head in his hands. “This is not good. I never asked for this. I don’t want to scare people. I just want my life back.”
“Don’t want to scare people?” asked the Doctor, clearly confused. “But why not?”
“Because I’m usually the one that is scared. I’m the one that runs away. I can’t possibly be the one doing the chasing.” Ichabod felt more sorry for himself than he had ever felt before.
“That, my boy, makes you the perfect person to do the scaring,” said Doctor Finkelstein with a glow in his eyes. “You know EXACTLY what scares them the most.”
Ichabod reached down to pet the dog who sat patiently next to him and the looked up at the doctor. He went to speak, but stopped as an explosion shook the room. He looked up to see a large hole in the wall as debris fell from the rafters. Large wooden beams crashed down around them and Ichabod lunged out of the way, just in time to not be crushed. As the dust settled he looked up to see Doctor Finkelstein face down on the floor with a large beam from the ceiling resting atop his lower half.
“Doctor!” cried Ichabod.
“Doctor Finkelstein!” came a voice from outside. “We know you are housing that monster. This the last straw. You’ve brought too much anguish to this town. Now you will pay!”
Ichabod ran to the doctor and shook him. The dog came to his side, barking vigorously. The Doctor gave a heavy cough. “I’m stuck,” he said.
“At least you’re alive,” said Ichabod. “I thought you’d-”
“I can’t feel my legs,” said the Doctor, who was starting to panic. There was a loud crash behind them and Ichabod turned to see the broken glass of a bottle as fire spread quickly through the room, setting all the old books ablaze.
“We have to go,” said Ichabod. He went to the wooden beam and wrapped his arms around it, pulling it up only slightly. It was heavier than he had expected. “Can you get out?”
The Doctor tried to use his hands to crawl along the floor, but it was no use. “I’m too weak,” he said. “Go on without me.”
“I can’t,” said Ichabod. “I won’t leave you here.”
Suddenly the small dog had his teeth on the sleeve of the doctor’s smock and began pulling at him. Given the dog’s size, he was surprisingly strong, and Ichabod watched, still holding the beam, as the dog pulled the doctor out from under it until his legs were free of the beam’s wake. Ichabod let the beam drop to the floor.
The fire was everywhere now. The dog barked loudly, pointing its snout at the strange machines in the room, who were starting to give off sparks as the fire enveloped them. Ichabod went to the doctor and pulled him up, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and another around his chest so that he could carry the man. “Come on!” he yelled.
KABOOM! The machine behind them exploded and threw Ichabod and the Doctor through the wall and out onto the street, where an angry mob awaited them. They rolled to a stop and Ichabod looked up to see the small dog running after them from the hole they’d created with their bodies. But he was too late. Before the dog could emerge from the building, the whole thing toppled in on itself with a burst of flames, taking the little dog with it. In a single moment, the fire had taken the Doctor’s little hero and eaten him up so there was nothing left. Zilch. Zero.
Ichabod looked around at the mob. Behind them, there homes sat with orange lights and pumpkins carved into smiling faces. Jack-o-lanterns. As he looked into the eyes of the mob, who held pitchforks and guns, he realized that they didn’t have fear in their eyes, they had anticipation. They had all come here to be scared. They wanted to be scared.
Well, thought Ichabod, might as well give them what they came for. “You dare attack the Master of Fright?” he asked, taking a step towards them. They backed up. “You honestly thought you could kill the Demon of Night?” Another step. “Well I can’t be killed,” he said. “So the only one in any real danger here is you.”
“Ichabod,” said the Doctor, who was still laying on the ground. “What are you doing?”
Just then, a white wisp flew out of the destroyed building behind them. It floated up to Ichabod and gave a happy bark. Though his body was gone, the dog still retained a long nose, despite being a ghost. Ichabod gave the dog a little pet with his bony fingers. “Good boy.” He then looked down at the Doctor. “And my name is no longer Ichabod. Ichabod died.” He looked up at the Jack-O-Lanterns sitting lit up on a porch not far from him. If they wanted him to be the essence of fear, than that’s just what he’d be. He’d scare them right out of their pants and teach them a lesson while he was at it. “My name is Jack,” he said. “And I AM the Pumpkin King.”
He gave a wave of his hand and suddenly all the Jack-O-Lanterns sprung to life and started after the crowd. The people of the mob let out screams of terror as they ran in all directions, fleeing from the hungry pumpkins. With the crowd busy. Jack picked up the Doctor and took off into the woods.
They walked for days, Jack, the Doctor on his back and the ghost dog, Zero, floating beside them. At long last they came to a dark graveyard in the middle of nowhere, overlooked by a curled hilltop, where the sun never seemed to rise. In many ways, Jack felt that something stronger than himself was calling him to this place. And while it was barren and empty, he could just imagine a wonderful place being built here. A place where fear and terror were the goal of everyone. A place where the freaks and monsters of the world could work together to scare the mortal world out of their pants once a year.
“This is it,” said Jack, sitting the Doctor down.
“This is what?” asked the Doctor.
“This is where we will bring the monsters of this world together.” Jack smiled. “I didn’t want to scare people because it seemed wrong, but now I realize that people WANT to be scared. They crave it, and we are going to give them what they want. This ‘curse’ could be my second chance. It could very well be my purpose in this world.” Jack turned to Zero and Doctor Finkelstein. What do you say boys?”
“I say,” said the Doctor, pondering the idea for only a moment, “when do we start?”
Zero gave a little bark.
And from that moment on, they began their search for anything that went bump in the night. By the next Halloween they had a full fledged town full of monsters that hid under beds, clowns with tearaway faces, werewolves, witches, a deranged mayor and more. It was called Halloween Town and every year, they worked together to, once a year, give the world exactly what they craved: a spooky Halloween.
“So you see?” asked Mrs. Potts. “That is why there is nothing to be afraid of. The Pumpkin King doesn’t want to eat you, he merely wants to give you a little spook once a year.”
“I guess you’re right, Mama,” said Chip.
“Besides,” said Mrs. Potts, her usual smile fading from her lips. She turned to face the door. “There are far more terrifying things in the world than Jack and his crew.”
Outside the door, they could just make out a low growl as something large stalked by the room, scratching at the walls.
“Best go to sleep,” said Mrs. Potts. She pulled the covers up over Chip and tucked him in, before heading to her own bed, giving the door one last look and then blowing out her bedside candle. As she fell asleep, she wished the same wish she had wished since the darkness had come to their castle once more. She wished that the Beast would not find them and they would all live to see the next day.
Chip’s journey is just getting started and will continue in Season 2 of The Kingdom, which I am excited to announce will start weekly updates on November 8! Here’s a little teaser poster of the starring cast for Season 2 to wet your appetite!
Have a safe and spooky Halloween!