SY 10 - Halloween Cheer

Story by Kaily Spensor on SoFurry

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#10 of Coming of Age Book 2

Nothing much else happens until October, but I think you'll like the way this is going.

The next few weeks passed in a blur of sameness, swimming, classes, theatre work, everything kind of blended into one for Kris. The only highlights were the meetings he had with the new school counselor and that Liran along with a few others from Kris, Kittara and Dastinon's theatre group, had made himself a regular at lunchtime in the cafeteria, mostly through Liran's simply joining Kris, Kittara and Dastinon's table. Audio usually joined them for lunch as well so they took up a whole table when everyone was present.

Some time in the beginning of October Liran showed up at the table for lunch with a poster he'd taken from the wall. "Everybody listen up!" He stepped up onto his usual seat to better be the center of attention and looked down on the group as if he was the king and they were all his subjects. "We're going to the halloween Dance!" He brandished the poster excitedly.

"Why on earth would we want to do that?" Sylvia commented dryly, but that was nothing new. She was always the wet blanket.

Liran mostly ignored her tone and answered her question. "They're having a contest this year, a costume contest! I think we can win it!" He passed the poster to Kittara who was standing behind and just a little to his left. "Just think of it! With our creative talents and acting abilities we can pull off just about anything!" He leaned forward his tail coming up to counter his balance until he had his paws resting on the table and could look every one of the gathered kits in the eye. "We could own this Dance!"

Kittara spoke into the resounding silence that showed their lack of enthusiasm for Liran's latest display, "Says here that the club or group of people who win the contest get a pizza party that's catered by Stallion's pizza." That got some attention.

Audio's ears perked up and he and Marcus said almost in unison, "That's a pretty good prize," "Stallions is some good eats!"

Lisa whispered something to Paul who nodded but didn't comment. Krista leaned over Kittara's shoulder to read the contest rules out loud. "It says all entrants must be attending school here, must adhere to the dress code, and must have a creative theme as well as promoting school spirit in their costume choice." She looked up at the gathered people counting under her breath. "We're just hitting the limit of the number of people you can include in your group too. Can't go over 12."

For a moment there was silence at the table, then from the far end Dastinon spoke up, "You can't go wrong with Zombies." Then took a bite out of his sandwich with every evidence of ignoring the conversation again.

Liran looked daggers at the otter and cleared his throat. "I was thinking something more school spirit oriented."

As he took a breath to go on Marcus chuckled, beating him to the punch with, "He wants all us guys to dress as girls. It's so he'll have an excuse to look at our legs."

The now sputtering ringtail whipped his head around to glare at Marcus but the Panther just shrugged and smiled at him.

"Sounds like a Liran thing to suggest." Was Sylvia's dry comment.

Jamal who was usually rather reserved in these groups, leaned forward and held a paw up to Liran. "He might have a point though. Two years ago the group who won had the guys dressed as gogo dancers and the girls dressed as the male equivalent. They put on quite a show at the dance."

For a moment there was silence again as everyone digested that news but just as Liran was opening his mouth to say something else. "What about the girls as football players and the boys as cheerleaders?" Every set of eyes turned at once to Lisa who rarely spoke to anyone but Paul and then only in whispers. "Bad idea?" She wrapped her arm around Paul's and hid her muzzle behind his shoulder.

Each of the other ten kits around the table reacted in their own way: Jamal and Sylvia returned to a soft voiced conversation of their own. Dastinon and Marcus paid more attention to their lunch. Audio and his friend Brice went back to giggling about something that the Hedgehog pulled from his backpack. That left Kris, Kittara, Krista and Liran all trying to sooth Lisa's insecurities at the same time.

"No, honey it's a great idea!" Kitt exclaimed.

"I love that idea!" came from Krista.

"I was about to suggest the same thing!" was Liran's comment.

Kris just reached over and squeezed her paw lightly with his own smiling in what he felt was a reassuring manner. He and Paul had the same idea because he found the Giraffe's paw resting on top of his. They both looked up into each other's eyes and blushed, Kris because Paul was a good looking young man and the Giraffe because he had never actually touched another boy, especially one who liked other boys like Kris. Paul's reaction went unnoticed by any of the friends as they were all focused on Lisa.

The diminutive racoon girl blushed under all the attention peeking from behind Paul's shoulder and smiling hesitantly. "Y-you really like the idea?"

"Of course we do honey! Just think of all those pretty boys in skirts!" Liran winked at her then turned to leer at Marcus who was sitting across from him.

That made all three girls giggle, especially when Marcus blew Liran a kiss then went right back to eating his lunch as if having Liran leer at him was a daily occurrence. The ringtail pouted sitting back down and wrapping his long tail around his waist then hiding his face in the tip of it acting as if he was crying.

"Where do you figure we can get good football uniforms that will fit us?" Krista asked Kittara, trying to bring the shy raccoon's idea into the realm of possibilities.

"Chitters clothing store where we get our school uniforms." The vixen said with authority, after all she knew about clothing. "She does all the uniforms for the school so she'd have both the football and the cheerleader outfits as well as what we wear every day."

Lisa perked up a little and leaned forward coming out from behind Paul's arm. Her tail flicked eagerly behind her as she listened to Kittara's comment. "You mean we could do it? We could get Football uniforms that are like the ones the guys on the teams wear?" The excitement in her voice caught all the kits and without taking an official vote it was decided that they would follow Lisa's suggestion, there was only one voice of dissent but he was easily quashed.

"I still think zombies would be a better choice."

"Dast, you always think Zombies are going to attack so how original would it be to have a bunch at the school." Sylvia said scornfully, "It's what everyone will expect from us. Lets try Lisa's idea and see if thinking outside the stereotypical rolls gets us that party."

* * * * *

The whole group of kits met up outside Stallion's pizza, since it was next to the school and therefore a central location to meet. Dastinon, Sylvia and Jamal each had cars and volunteered to take the other kits so they could all go to Chitters and then the costume store and get the parts of their costumes. Once they'd decided who was riding with whom it was a matter of a few minutes to get to the clothing store.

Jamal, Lisa, Paul and Krista don't have any money to pitch in and are feeling left out until the other kits who have money all volunteer to pay for their costumes (Kitt/Audio, Kris, Dastinon and Marcus)

Chitter's was an upscale place with not only uniforms for St Mary's but name brand suits and designer dresses for the upscale clientele of the area. It wasn't just Chitter's really, it was Chitter's, Chitter's Junior and Chitter's Kits. It was a huge old three story building in the middle of downtown that had been there as long as any of the kits parents could remember. It was run by a little squirrel named Mariah Treadwell whose family had owned the business forever and a day.

As the kits entered the establishment Kris watched, as was his habit, from the back of the group. A squirrel who was around his mother's age and dressed to the nines greeted Kittara and Audio by name, she also seemed to know Dastinon and Marcus or at least their parents and even gave him a friendly nod. "Okay kits who're your friends?" Two more ladies a doberman and a rabbit also immaculately attired approached seeing such a large group of possible customers all entering at the same time.

Kittara, who seemed to know the ladies best took the lead, "You already know Audio and me, the rest are Krista, my best friend," the kits each lifted a paw or nodded as she indicated them, "Lisa and Paul who are freshmen this year. Kris, Marcus and Brice, who're sophomores with Audio. Liran is a junior like Krista and I, and the seniors are Dastinon, Jamal and Sylvia."

The lady who had first approached them smiled to each in turn and concluded the introductions, "I am Miss Treadwell, this is Miss Kazim," she indicated the rabbit, "and Miss Florence," the doberman nodded politely with a pleasant smile on her lips. "What can we help you with today? Are you needing more uniforms or is this for something else?"

Again it was Kittara who took the lead, "We're here about the halloween dance. We have an idea for a costume and figured you'd be the best place to start. See, we want to dress the girls as football players and the boys as cheerleaders."

Liran jumped in at this point, "We figured that you'd know what the current outfits were like and be best able to fit us all into them." He grinned contagiously at the rather matronly looking trio of ladies. "I know it's a stretch, turning these studly guys into pretty girls but if anyone can manage it Chitter's is the place!"

His impassioned little speech made Miss Treadwell chuckle and take his paw, "Aren't you a darling boy. Come with me and we'll see about sorting you out." She looked at the doberman, "Miss Florence would you please take the girls back to the fitting room and see if some of the smaller football uniforms will fit them?" then she addressed the rabbit, "Miss Kazim would you assist me in finding suitable costumes for the boys? I believe we should have some suitable sizes in the back to fit them."

As Kittara and the other girls went one way the boys all followed the two ladies in another direction. "I assume," Miss Treadwell started, "That you want to look as authentic as possible?" She waited while the boys nodded and agreed with her in their various ways before she continued. "We have all four uniforms in most of your sizes, will you be wearing the colors that match your year group?"

The only one of the boys who had a vague idea what she was talking about was Liran. "Oh yes! I'd love to see the full array of uniforms and since we have boys from every year here it makes sense. Right fellas?" Which garnered him a few half hearted nods and mumbled sounds of agreement from the assembled boys.

"Alright then, who's in what year?"

"Paul is a freshman. Brice, Audio, Marcus and Kris are all sophomores. Dastinon and Jamal are Seniors and I am the only representative of the juniors." Liran rattled off before any of the others had a chance to open their mouths.

"Very good, Miss Kazim if you would collect suitable uniform articles in the correct sizes for the giraffe and the older boys I will work with the other five myself." They were escorted into a large area with several fitting rooms evidenced by doors in three of the walls. "I'm afraid some of you boys are going to have to share fitting rooms. There are eight of you and only five rooms." Miss Treadwell smiled apologetically as she looked from one to another of the young men before her.

Audio grabbed Brice's paw and the two of them claimed one of the larger rooms giggling like a pair of girls as they went in and closed the door behind them. Marcus looked as if he was about to ask Kris something when Liran stepped on his hindpaw making him hiss and dance around holding his paw. While he was thusly occupied the ringtail slipped an arm around Kris' waist and said, "Looks like it's you and me, babe." In one of the most seductive voices that Kris had ever heard. It made him blush from his ear tips to his neckline, however he didn't protest when Liran lead him toward another of the fitting rooms.

A grinning Dastinon shook his head at the antics and raised a brow to Jamal who simply nodded and the two of them disappeared into a third fitting room. That left Marcus and Paul each their own room which suited the giraffe but irked the panther since he'd been wanting to talk to Kris alone and now he'd have to wait.

Their time at Chitter's passed with hijinks, modeling and cat calling on all parts with the girls joining in as soon as they had suitable attire for the dance. They tested the decorum of the store to the limits but some how managed to contain themselves enough not to be tossed out on their collective ear. With authentic uniforms in paw they trooped out into the bright sunlight day to a fond farewell from Miss Treadwell and a giggle from the other two distinguished ladies.

"Where now?" Krista asked, not sure she wanted to see the outting end just yet.

Kittara slipped an arm around her friend's shoulder and said with authority, "The mall. We all need to eat, so I figure we hit the food court then head to the costume shop and see if we can't find wigs and helmets, you know the final touches for the costumes." Her suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm from the entire group.

They decided to walk to the mall after putting their bags into the various automobiles that had carried them thus far. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday after all and none of them was happy about spending all of it cooped up inside when the breeze ruffled their fur so delightfully.

When they got to the mall they scattered to the various restaurants that populated the food court. Kittara and Sylvia headed for Grillerbon, Audio and Brice took off for Mealies, and Jamal headed for A Grazing Place. After a few indecisive moments Paul followed Jamal, casting a worried glance back over his shoulder at Lisa. Dastinon started for the Shell Shack then paused and looked back at the rest of the group, "Anyone feel like fish? My treat."

Lisa, who had been worried about her lack of money for lunch, smiled at the otter and nodded. "If you don't mind Dast, I'd love some freshwater clams."

"Anything for a pretty lady." He held his arm out and waited until Lisa had threaded her's through it before leading her onward.

Kris frowned in thought, he wanted to stay close to Lisa since she was rather shy but Dast seemed to have her well under his wing for the moment. Looking about he noticed that All-In-One had a new outlet here and he'd heard they had some good healthy choices. Marcus and Liran were looking at him expectantly, "Er... I was thinking about AIO myself. Maybe get one of those new chicken salads they have been advertising lately."

"Sounds good to me!" Liran said, sliding his arm through Kris' in an imitation of the way Dastinon had ushered Lisa off.

Marcus frowned deeply at the casual way Liran invaded Kris' personal space but instead of calling attention to it he asked, "Have they got anything that doesn't have that green stuff in it?" He seemed determined to tag along.

"Oh yeah, that's why they're called All-In-One, they have something for everyone." He reached his other arm out and took Marcus by the paw. "Come on, we can't find out if there is something you'd like if we stay here." He started toward his chosen establishment trailing the two disgruntled boys in his wake. Marcus smirked at Liran behind Kris' back, but the cacomistle just stuck his tongue out in return and tightened his grip on the raccoon's arm.

They each placed their order with the bored looking hyena behind the counter but before Kris or Marcus could reach for their wallets, Liran pushed his card toward the cashier. "It's on me." He winked at Kris as he said it which made Marcus' tail puff up in annoyance and a soft hiss escaped his lips.

When the group gathered again around two tables they'd shoved together Brice wrinkled his nose at the containers Kris, Liran and Marcus held. "I never understood why anyone would want to go to All-In-One. I mean how can you have a good product when you don't specialize?" He popped a meal worm into his mouth from his own container.

"It's simple really," Kris said, "If you start with a good product in the first place and you're careful how you treat it you can make more money off the overall process. Take meat for instance, it starts as something that the cani's and the omni's both like, when it gets too old for their tastes you can still toss it into a corner and let it serve as food and breeding space for the bugs which since it's a good quality product will produce good quality insects, then after you've used it that way for a while you can always feed it to a scavenger as a delicacy.

"Same goes for plant stuff, you start with flowers for the nectar, pollen and the like, progress into seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruit, then when it stops bearing you feed it to the grass and leaf eaters. Someone will eat just about anything you can think of." He picked up a fork full of his chicken and some of the leafy greens as well. "It's a very smart business model." he added just before he stuffed his mouth full.

"And this is why you get straight A's." Jamal commented.

Laughter broke out among the friends before they turned their attention to their various lunches and smaller conversations broke out in the group. When they had all eaten their fill Paul leaned back and looked over at the display of drinks and other sweets in Honeysuckles. "Man, I could go for something sweet right now." It was just a wistful comment on his part but Marcus jumped on it.

"That's a great idea!" He turned to face Kris. "How about I get you something sweet?" then he blushed and included the rest of the group in the offer. "All of you."

The agreement to his suggestion was unanimous so they went into Honeysuckles where most of the kits chose beverages made from watered down honey, nectar or fruit juices. Audio and Brice however selected a large bucket of something called Sugar beetles which they offered to share.

"Ewww, no thanks!" Liran said wrinkling his nose up in disgust.

Kris who had his paw almost to the bucket glanced at the older boy. "What you've never had a beetle before?" He and Lisa each took a few of the bloated little bodies. "You should try one."

Marcus seeing a way to get even for having his foot stomped on earlier leaned over Liran's shoulder, "I dare you to."

The cacomistle stiffened, his eyes widening for a moment then taking a deep breath he reached for the bucket of bugs. "I better not be allergic." He selected a smallish one of the black and red colored carapaces, lifting it between his thumb and forefinger as if he was afraid to touch it.

Krista and Kittara both squealed and Sylvia snorted in disgust as Liran made several theatrical faces while bringing the bug to his muzzle. Lisa however calmly munched on her own beetle watching the ringtail making such a fuss over a sweet treat. Finally the usually shy girl had had enough of his histrionics and said dryly "Oh go on Liran it's not like it's going to bite you, it's so full of sugar cane that it's practically in a coma." She demonstrated the lack of movement by opening her forepaw and showing him the three beetles that were lying there motionless. "See. Just eat it. Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with your food?"

Seeing the look of uncertainty in Liran's eyes Kris became worried for his friend, "Liran, you don't have to. I just thought you might like them is all." He popped another of the small bloated things into his mouth and looked away almost as if he was embarrassed or ashamed.

Liran's tail stiffened and he shoved the beetle into his mouth making loud cracking sounds as his teeth cut through the chiton. He chewed vigorously for a few moments then swallowed visibly.

There was amazed silence. Wide eyes watched the cacomistle from all angles, some trying to determine if they needed to scatter to avoid being vomited on others surprised that he'd been brave enough to actually eat it. One set of eyes was cursing his luck today as Kris reached up and slipped his arm around Liran's shoulders. "So how's it taste?"

A shocked look crossed the ringtail's face and he grinned at the raccoon. "Sweet, surprisingly so." A grinning Audio held the bucket toward Liran offering another of the quickly dwindling supply. "No thanks, I think one is enough for now." He ran his tongue over his teeth and asked, "How do you get the bits out from between your teeth?"

* * * * *

There was a large store that only opened at the beginning of October and it closed down on November first. It was always in the same place a large storefront that was used as a makeshift indoor playground for the little kits during the rest of the year. It was usually over run by toddlers pulling their tired parents after them, riding on the little battery powered train and cars, dangling from the swings, spinning in circles on the merry go round, and jumping like maniacs in the bouncy castle.

But on the first of October it underwent a huge change. The windows now displayed all kinds of costumes from full suits of armor to scantily clad mannequins sporting the fabled chain mail bikini. Little red riding hood to the big bad wolf, cinderella to sleeping beauty, prince charming to pirates, mummies, werewolves, skeletons and yes even Zombies. The displays were chaotic with spider webbing, candles, skulls, torches and chains.

The only way in or out of the store was through a dark entryway that seemed to close in on them as they passed over the threshold. As they pushed through, strands of clingy webbing tangled with their clothing, fur and hair to make them look as if they'd just awakened from the dead. Once inside the store it opened up again allowing the friends to regroup and help each other remove the vestiges of the grave, including a few fake spiders that had taken up residence in Lisa's hair. They found themselves standing amid a cluster of gravestones on a spongy surface that felt strange under their hindpaws.

Everything seemed to be black, white, silver or orange with only a few other colors thrown in for variety. The cashiers and salespeople were all dressed in costumes sporting the latest looks from Batman to redneck hillbillies, witches to trollops. There were racks and racks of accessories, plastic crosses and crucifixes resting on the same shelf as pentagrams and swastikas. Knights swords and princess scepters shared rack space with Jedi light sabers and witches wands. Fairy wings hung on rails beside priests robes, angel wings, witches cloaks and devil wings.

Rolling banks of fog shifted through the racks and shelves, accompanied by strange lights that flickered and pulsed, strange and disturbing scents and eerie sounds from cackling laughter to spine chilling moans that seemed to come from no detectable source. Even with the bright lights that the store maintained to reduce the risk of trips and falls, the place had an air of danger to it that thrilled and titillated the senses.

As one Kittara and Liran plunged into the task of finding what they needed to complete their costumes. "Excuse me?" Kittara addressed the nearest salesperson, a female house cat with chocolate colored fur dressed as a cross between a gothic pirate and a new aged punk with a shock of electric blue hair and tight fitting black clothing that involved a corset and boots that came all the way to her mid thigh. "We're looking for body parts to complete our costumes for the halloween contest at the school, could you point me in the right direction?"

"The severed limbs are back behind the chainsaw massacre display." She said boredly, then added, "But watch out, he sometimes spits blood on unsuspecting customers."

Liran frowned and tried again since that didn't seem like the right place at all. "Er, she meant like fake boobs not fake limbs that have been cut off."

"Oh you meant the prosthetic implants? Those are over behind Dr. Frankenstein, but be careful there too sometimes the monster sits up and zaps people." She went back to setting up the witches cauldron over a fake fire at the edge of the cemetery. "Thing is running about back there as well so don't step on him or you're paying for him."

"Perfect!" was Kittara's enthusiastic response to this terse information as she headed off in the indicated direction, her tail flicking cutely behind her.

"While I have your attention," Liran continued, as if Kitt hadn't just bailed on him, "We're also looking for wigs, long ones that look like girl hair."

"Wigs are beside the lady Godiva display of course." She rolled her eyes at him, "Where else would we put them?"

It was then that Sylvia became annoyed with waiting and pushed past Jamal to confront the little cat herself. "Look, we're here to spend money! The least you can do is pretend to be helpful. Where can I find football helmets?"

The cat bristled, her eyes widening as she found herself confronted by the larger wolf. "Ah... back wall next to the hockey sticks and baseball gloves." She took a step back now much more aware that there were several people standing around watching this little scene, one of whom had a manager's tag on his shirt. "Here let me take you there and help you find what you're looking for." She dropped the cauldron in her haste.

"No thank you." Was Sylvia's court reply, "We can find it on our own, you obviously have more important things to do." She brushed past the cat and headed in the direction of the back wall without looking back to see if anyone was following her.

Slightly embarrassed by the scene that she'd caused the rest of the group of friends split up: Marcus, Dastinon and Paul following Liran. Audio, Brice, and Jamal going to find Kittara while Lisa and Krista trailed after Sylvia. Kris stood there indecisively for a few moments before he made up his mind that he'd best get the last piece of his costume first before exploring to see if they had pompoms or a mega phone they could paint with the school colors; everyone had agreed that his mop of curls was close enough to feminine he could get by without a wig.

SY 11 - Rising Horror

Kris felt trepidation as he stood outside Mr Black Wolf's office. Today he was going to tell the wolf about Duke. At least that was the plan. But the plan kept changing. He'd work up his nerve to tell the wolf, and then when he got inside that office...

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SY 09 - Dinner and a show

About forty-five minutes later the doorbell rang. When Venn answered it, he found his arms full of overly excited raccoon. "Sorry, honey, traffic was hellish!" Those agile little fingers slid into his mane, and he found himself being expertly...

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Grinding your Gears - Commission for Tamarack

It was a cool night, just on the cusp between spring and summer, the kind of night that begged him to find someone to race. He was sitting at a stop light, idly revving the engine, when a black Charger pulled up behind him. It was late enough that he...

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