Dayzee felt herself slipping from that sleepy feeling just before wakefulness. Her eyelids fluttered then popped open remembering today’s promise. A face that quite often didn’t smile let alone grin was threatening to do just that. But it was Halloween! Shaking the sleep from her limbs Dayzee leapt out of bed. She had her costume all planned out, even though it was the same one she wore every year. The ability to be someone or something different for one night and no one questioned you. Because they were also being something or someone different.  And the tradition that Dayzee followed was to visit all the drinking establishments in town for a Trick or Drink. Which was simple, you walked in the door of an adult beverage lounge and yelled out, “Trick or Drink!” It became Dayzee’s catch phrase on Halloween. No public house wanted to see what trick Dayzee had up her sleeve so there was always a drink waiting for her.

Her coin purse was filled to the brim with coins just waiting to be spent. The first place she would “Trick or Drink” was the Hangover. They always gave out the biggest and baddest cocktails. She spent the day thinking about all the fun ahead and then she was walking out her door into the nightfall of early evening. The clouds played peekaboo with the full moon in the twilight. On the street the quiet was permeated with swirling fog that gathered at her knees. A glow was coming from a saloon she’d not noticed before. She didn’t pay heed to the descending darkness. Her tongue was dry, and her fingers flexed to feel a glass of drink in them.

Nice, Dayzee thought, when she spied the glowing sign. The gloom obscured the name. No matter it was awesome she didn’t have to walk very far for her first trick or drink of the night. The Hangover would have to wait. And bonus she’d never been in this barroom before so there would be no preconceived notions of Dayzee’s behavior after a few drinks. Halloween was off to a great start.

“Barkeep! Trick or drink! Dayzee is parched.” The grin on her face was big and toothy. The barstool felt right as she settled onto the hard unforgiving wood seat. With elbows on the countertop Dayzee leaned forward waiting for the bartender to place her first drink of the holiday in front of her.

“Sorry Dayzee the boss said no more trick or drinks.” The apologetic dwarf winced at the words Dayzee thought she’d never hear. Dayzee hadn’t patronized this bar before—she did wonder why she’d not visited this bar before—but had her reputation preceded her?

“What!!” Dayzee uttered. The dwarf took a step back and a frantic look entered his eyes.

“Yeah sorry. The boss seemed vague as to why when I asked him about the new policy, but he was adamant. No trick or drink tonight.”

“Well, that’s a bummer. Dayzee’s holiday is ruined. Looks like she needs another drinking hole to celebrate Halloween.” Dayzee scooped up the coins she’d dropped on the countertop in anticipation of more drinks and turned to go.

“Actually, the boss said something about policy all the bars were going to follow tonight.” Another wince as he delivered that disturbing information.

“Ouch. Dayzee is smelling a smell she normally doesn’t smell.” She stopped her crusade and turned to the dwarf, “Are you telling Dayzee she isn’t going to be able to trick or drink her way through Halloween? That would be disappointing.”

“Umm yeah that seems to be the case. I don’t know what’s up, but you can check with some of the other bars.” He moved away to distance himself. With a shrug Dayzee left the bar still dry as desert air and vowing to never grace that joint with her coin. Their loss.

Walking towards the center of town Dayzee noted the absence of costumes in the streets. Where was everyone? It was October 31st, wasn’t it? The streets should be filled with party goers dressed in costume and doing all those wicked things they only fantasied about the other 364 days of the year. Wait it wasn’t a leap year, was it?

Rounding the corner of the block Dayzee caught sight of her sexy witch costume in a storefront window and gave a thumbs up to the reflection.  Dayzee saw her next destination. Again, an unfamiliar joint—that seemed odd, but Dayzee pushed on—that was shrouded in a haze that clung to the façade. When she got closer the miasma parted, and a door appeared. Over the transom was the legend, All Who Enter here No Trick or Drinks. Undeterred Dayzee pushed the door open and pierced the quiet atmosphere of the pub.

The waggish elven maiden behind the bar looked at Dayzee as she approached the counter, “Dayzee didn’t you see the warning over the door? The owner said no trick or drinks tonight. I’m sorry.” The note of playfulness in the elf’s voice added to the turmoil surrounding Dayzee. More oddity as she wasn’t familiar with this bartender, yet Dayzee’s name was known to her. A thought formed—how did elf know her name—then fluttered away.

“Barkeep, Dayzee saw but is still confused as to why she is unable to celebrate Halloween in the manner it should be celebrated.” Dayzee looked around noting that the corners of the room were fuzzy yet the bartender behind the bar was well lit. Dayzee stopped to admire the view. The illumination seemed to fade the further the light reached. “This gin mill isn’t alone in its refusal to celebrate the holiday and Dayzee is feeling put upon by this policy. Now you’re just doing your job but what the hell?” Dayzee was becoming aware of something that she had vaguely taken note of in that previous drinking joint. No one seemed to be celebrating nor were they in costume, mirroring Dayzee’s thought’s walking here. She studied the patrons in the room and again her vision couldn’t penetrate beyond the blurriness that up to that point had been on the outskirts of her thoughts.

“Okay what’s going on!?” Dayzee announced. Which brought no reaction from the regulars around the room? Were they ignoring Dayzee? Or was there something more sinister happening? “Hmm Dayzee is going to have to look into this. Halloween is sacred and no one should mess with Dayzee’s favorite holiday!”

Dayzee stormed out of the public house and stood in the middle of the street, “Okay what the H E Double Hockey Sticks!! is going on?” To no one’s surprise she received no answer. She noticed that the streets were silent and void of celebration. Something was going on and Dayzee was going to find out what.

***

The foreboding hush hounded Dayzee’s consciousness with an otherworld ambience. Dayzee walked the dusty street hoping to find somewhere she could enjoy Halloween. A building emerged from the mist and startled her; it wasn’t there a moment ago. But the windows were lit and laughter drew Dayzee to the partying. Dayzee heard, “It’s close to midnight. Something evil’s lurking in the dark. Under the moonlight. You see a sight that almost stops your heart.” The melody was a siren call that had Dayzee pushing open the door and crossing the threshold into chaos. She stood there for a moment taking in the bedlam. Figures were gyrating to a band that was made up of skeletons, vampires, werewolves, and a succubus. The succubus was singing a tune of mystery and rhythm. The rhythm was enticing and Dayzee felt the pull. Dayzee danced her way to the bar and signaled the mad scientist in a lab coat that was stained with various spills of liquors and hair that stood out from his head as though he’d been hit with a lightning spell.

“Dayzee will have whatever you recommend, Dr Jekyll. Dayzee’s got a powerful thirst and Halloween is a night for powerful thirsts.” She pulled some coin from the leather pouch attached to her waistband and slapped it on the counter. The barman shook his head and pushed the coins back to Dayzee’s side of the counter. “Dayzee is quite thrilled to have found your drinkery as all the others were dead. And Halloween is a night for the dead, yet no one was celebrating. Dayzee was confused but not anymore with her finding this roadhouse.”

The barman had mixed a drink while Dayzee was making conversation. He had reached for a dusty bottle on the top shelf and then from under the counter took a glass beaker part way filled with an orange liquid that moved and sloshed as if alive. He poured a dram from the dusty bottle into the beaker, then setting the beaker on bar and while the two ingredients mixed, seemingly on their own, he struck a match and plunged the flame into the opening of the glass beaker. With a WHOOSH a ball of flame shot into the air and with smoking hair and a soot covered face he presented the drink to Dayzee.

“Wow looks like you lost an eyebrow there pardner. Dayzee likes your technique.” She picked up the drink, that had now become clear with little streaks of fire flitting about the mixture. She smelled a sweet but spicy scent, and her tongue was calling out for a taste. Just a sip, Dayzee thought. She wanted to enjoy this concoction that was intriguing and looked somewhat dangerous. Dayzee took that sip and the music swelled, and the succubus sang,

“Drink up all ye sordid souls.”

“Dance and party the night away.”

“You’re bound to stay and play,

“Mayn’t want but you’re under my control.”

Dayzee savored that sip and conquered her desire to gulp the rest in one fell swoop. The succubus stopped singing. Dayzee had turned toward the stage and the succubus looked at her through the pandemonium of dancers, and said, “Dayzee, your journey has just started. The spirits await you.”

Dayzee held her glass high in salute to the succubus, “Yes very good. Dayzee is impressed with your word play.” And she threw back the contents of the glass beaker. When the libation hit her tongue there was a flash of fire and smoke that gathered around Dayzee’s head and filled her eyes casting the room in gloom. She felt a sensation like a feather bed enveloping her in its depths. And the room and all its occupants became shadowy and indistinct. And then one and all turned and advanced toward Dayzee. Through the smoke that clung to her eyes she no longer saw revelers with costumes to disguise their Halloween shenanigans but creatures that the costumes represented. All had turned to wickedness. She could see it in their grim visages and the grasping fingers of their outstretched hands. The mad scientist bartender had moved to stand behind her and was reaching out to prevent her escaping the horde.

Well, Dayzee thought, be careful what you wish for as the mob began to drag her down into their depths. Dammit! Dayzee never expected to go like this. Sober. Sober as a nun during Octoberfest. Halloween was supposed to be fun. That last thought faded into nothingness and so did Dayzee.

***

Dayzee felt herself slipping from that sleepy feeling just before wakefulness. Her eyelids fluttered then popped open remembering the horde of zombies, vampires, and skeletons reaching for her and tearing at her clothes. She was disoriented as it seemed she was in her bed in her room. The early evening sun peeked through her window and warmed her cold hands.

“Wait was Dayzee dreaming?” she shuddered at the memory of no trick or drinking but also the horde of creatures clutching at her body, “What day is it? Did Dayzee miss Halloween?” She jumped up flinging the bed clothes away and rushed to the window. She saw a vampire and then a creature that looked like a horse, but the ass end was dragging. She heard, “Would you slow down! I can’t see in this get-up and keep tripping!”

Dayzee threw open the window and demanded, “You there in the horse’s ass what day is it?!”

The horse replied, “Huh? It’s Halloween of course.” Then as the back end stumbled the front end griped, “Come on dumbass we’ll miss the party. Move that behind.” Together they trotted down the street and disappeared around the next corner.

Dayzee drew her head back into the room, “Dayzee is confused. Was it a dream? Did Dayzee fall asleep in the middle of the day?” She turned to her closet and saw her costume was still hanging right where she left it a year ago. “Well never let it be said Dayzee was going to ignore her favorite holiday.” She pulled out the costume and got dressed. Admiring herself in the mirror she noticed that one of the sleeves was torn. Not a huge tear but she didn’t remember having torn the costume. Then the memory of the dream came back. The grasping hands pulling her down into the legion of nightmare creatures. Could it have been real?

“Nah.” She pushed the thought aside and reached for her prefunk libation. A quick quaff and she was ready to party the night away. Dayzee set out for her first stop, The Hangover. On the street she encountered the merriment she had hoped for, and others seemed to be enjoying the absence of civilized behavior. She passed an alley way and heard the unmistakable sounds of the beast with two backs exerting it’s presence.

“Now that’s what Dayzee is talking about. This night holds promise.” A flash of memory featuring her dream from the mid-day nap caused a shiver to run down her spine. She waved it away with the sight of The Hangover coming into view.

“Yes! Now Dayzee can really start the celebration.” Her steps quickened and she burst through the door and was greeted by a tall man with bolts bound into his neck and a scar that dripped a red fluid and ran from his chin all the way to his hairline, “Hi Dayzee.”

“Nice costume Ripley. Dayzee can’t talk ‘cuz she’s got a powerful thirst.” She made to move around the giant Frankenstein, but he held out an arm to block her path.

“Sorry Dayzee the boss said no free drinks tonight. He’s not supporting Trick or Drink this Halloween.” His Adam’s apple bobbed during this declaration, and he took a step back when Dayzee’s hands began to form fists. He held his hands up in a surrender motion, “It’s not my fault. Please don’t make trouble.”

The deja vu of the scene caused Dayzee to pause, “Are you sure you want to mess with Dayzee’s favorite holiday? Really?” The glare she sent the doorman could have burned the sun. Then remembering the dream, she took a step back, “Is this something that all of the bars have decided?”

“I think so but there’s one bar I’ve heard that hasn’t instituted the policy. Maybe you could try them? It’s the Spirit Bar. Just around the corner and two blocks down.” The doorman had taken another couple of steps away from Dayzee while pointing in the general direction of his suggestion.

“Fine but Dayzee is very disappointed with The Hangover. Let the owner know. Please.” And with a swirl of her skirt Dayzee left The Hangover and strode off to find the Spirit Bar. She’d never heard of it so it must be new as Dayzee was well aware of every gin joint in town.

Having turned the corner indicated by the bouncer back at The Hangover, Dayzee could see her destination in the next block. The joint was jumping with the line of costumed guests jostling each other and the doorman, another giant Frankenstein, attempting to control the mob.

“Everyone settle down! I’ll let you in one at a time but you gotta calm down.” Frankenstein pointed at Dayzee standing in the street, “You, witch, you’re next.” The groans and complaints in the crowd quieted when the glare from the door keeper fell on the line.

Dayzee looked at him and pointed at herself, “Dayzee? Okay that works.” And Dayzee was ushered into the bedlam. The band was dressed for Halloween and the singer sang a song that was fleetingly familiar. Dayzee was drawn to the mad scientist behind the counter handling the making of alcoholic drinks.

“Mixologist, Trick or Drink! Dayzee is drier than a baby that’s just been changed.” The bartender said not a word but placed a goblet in front of Dayzee. “Oh yeah!” The goblet swirled with lazy bubbles and streaks of amber that changed colors cascading thru the rainbow. An elusive tang permeated the rim of the goblet and Dayzee slipped her tongue over her lips and with a gentle poke tasted the mixture. Her tongue became electrified with shock when the drink engulfed her senses. “Whoa! Dayzee like.” She took another tentative taste and was rewarded with a sensation of warmth. That taste was a reversal of the first sip. “What an intriguing beverage. Thank you Dayzee can now enjoy her favorite holiday.” The man had moved away and Dayzee was talking to no one when she said that, “Ha well no matter Dayzee is happy.”

Dayzee placed her back against the grog shop counter and surveyed the crowd of party goers. There were a wealth of vampires, naughty witches (Dayzee included), ghosts, and other various costumed creations. Dayzee even thought she saw her horsey conversationalists from earlier that evening. They seemed to have solved the drooping back end. Then she heard the band strike up a tune and the familiar strains of a forgotten song nibbled at her consciousness.

“Drink up all ye sordid souls.”

“Dance and party the night away.”

“You’re bound to stay and play,

“Mayn’t want but you’re under my control.”

Dayzee’s head jerked in the direction of the singer and saw through the cavorting revelers a figure swaying on stage that coalesced into a succubus. A voice from out of the ether was trying to force it’s way to the surface of Dayzee’s senses. The discombobulation from her mid-day nap was unsettling. Dayzee saw the singer beckon with a withered hand and utter a single command, “Sleep.”   

***

With an abruptness that made Dayzee’s head spin she shot out of bed. Her bed in her room. The evening sun could be seen settling into the horizon through Dayzee’s window. The grimace on Dayzee’s face scared away any silly thoughts about Halloween.

“Okay that’s it. Dayzee wants to know what the William Shatner! is going on!” She went to the window and in the dusk saw the street was filled with costumes. Ghouls and goblins pranced and paraded up and down the lane in front of the domicile Dayzee occupied.

“Dayzee’s going to have to stop drinking alcohol!” With another glance out the opening, “Nah. That would be just plain silly.” And Dayzee started getting dressed for her night out on Halloween.

The End?

Wondering what happened to Dayzee? She’s moved over to Patreon to help fund my upcoming book, “The Comicbook Detective.” Want to read more? Be sure to check Dayzee’s Ramblings on Patreon/albclover and help support my writing.

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