Rodney and Jessica were in a costume shop, browsing the racks of witches’ masks and zombie suits.
“Hey, here’s a good one!” Jessica called, holding a grotesque mask in front of her face to show Rodney.
“Ew, gross, it looks like my grandma, but with more hair,” Rodney said, making a face.
Jessica sighed and put the mask back.
“You just can’t be happy, can you?” she asked.
“Hey, it’s your mask. Go as whatever you want, don’t let me decide,” he responded. He was walking away from her now, looking left and right at the full-body costumes hanging from the shelves.
“Whatever,” Jessica said, and walked the other way, towards the scary props section to check out some bloody plastic sickles.
Rodney walked down the hall slowly, looking like a ten-year-old faced with a candy buffet. He walked past the cloaks, robes, hoods, lions, other various animals, famous movie characters, and assorted random people, such as ninjas and pirates. A particularly gruesome thing caught his eye in the corner, an ugly green troll. Upon closer inspection, however, he found that the suit was very low-quality. He wouldn’t be scaring anybody wearing that thing. He poked the troll’s big ugly nose, and the whole thing fell over. It had been sitting on a box, he saw, and something was poking out of it. Curious, he opened the box and pulled out the contents.
It was some kind of death suit, as far as he could tell. The main body was a black cloak, and a black hood was pulled up over a hideous skull. The skull was deformed and misshapen, but that somehow added to the frightening effect. He reached his hand out to touch it, and found it rubbery and cold. Tentatively, he put it on, hiding his face behind the mask and under the hood, slipping his arms into skeleton-gloves that looked real. He picked up a metallic scythe, also in the box, and held it in what he thought was a menacing position. He peered into a mirror at the end of the aisle and jumped a little at his reflection. He honestly looked like the messenger of death, eyes black pieces of burnt coal, nose just two slits in his skinless face. He took the costume off and searched for his sister. He found her back in the masks section, looking again at witches.
“Hey. Ready to go?” he asked, startling her a little. She almost dropped the hag’s mask she had been about to put on.
“Just a sec,” she said, and slipped on the mask. Rodney looked at her carefully, studying. It was a pretty good mask; fairly realistic, creepily scary, and it would go great with the small crooked sickle she had also picked out.
“Looks great, now let’s go,” he said.
“Really?” she asked, taking the mask off. “Great. Thanks.”
They carried their items to the checkout line, where they waited behind a stout old man who was buying candy, supposedly for trick-or-treaters but most likely for himself. When the large man had finished, Jessica placed her scythe and mask on the counter. The clerk ran her scanner over the bar codes of each, and the total came up to almost twenty dollars.
“A bit expensive, isn’t it?” Jessica asked, handing the clerk the money.
“The best,” the clerk replied. “Worth every penny.”
“Would you still say that if you didn’t work here?” Jessica asked, smiling as she took her small bag of stuff.
The clerk smiled back a little, and gestured to Rodney.
Rodney placed the costume and scythe on the counter and watched as the clerk searched them for price tags. Unable to find any, he called on the intercom:
“Price check for…” He looked at the face and scythe. “Grim Reaper costume and scythe accessory, please.”
A few seconds later, a reply came. “Grim Reaper plus scythe? $19.95.”
“Okay, thank you,” the clerk said, and rang up the total. Rodney paid, but couldn’t help feeling that he was being charged for the wrong item. He had seen a Grim Reaper costume earlier, and it had looked a lot cheesier and probably cost a lot less. The scythe, too. You could barely tell this one was plastic.
“Thank you,” Rodney said, and he and Jessica walked out into the parking lot.
“Are you ready yet?” Jessica called up the stairs impatiently.
“Just a minute!” Rodney called back, his voice slightly muffled by the death mask he wore. He studied himself in the mirror. He looked scary, all right. Very scary.
He walked downstairs, showing Jessica his costume for the first time. She made a face, much like the one he had given her when she had shown him the witch’s mask that looked like his grandma.
“Ew, it’s disgusting,” she said, looking sick. Then she laughed. “It’s great! It looks real, too. I bet you’ll win the costume contest, if there is one.”
“You think?” he asked, voice still muffled a little. She would never tell him this, but she felt better when he spoke. She felt better knowing that under the horrible costume, it was still her brother.
“Definitely,” she responded confidently. “Now let’s go or we’ll be late,” she said, and they got into the car and drove away.
There was no costume contest at the party