His alarm clock blared with the sounds of a prerecorded message from Jim’s favorite radio host, Scott Frater, and flashed a bright green “5:00”. The sun hadn’t yet rose, and Jim didn’t normally wake up this early, but given the day, he wanted to give himself some extra time to get ready. He swung his legs off the bed, his 40-something year old knees lightly throbbing in pain.
He walked to his 10-year-old daughter’s room and checked on her, finding her to be sleeping soundly. He then went to the bathroom, showered, and brushed his teeth. He then went to his basement and went into his storage area, retrieving a suitcase from underneath a pile of things that looked as if they had just been haphazardly tossed throughout the space, but in reality were carefully placed atop the suitcase to hide it.
He brushed off the suitcase and set it on his worktable, which was situated next to the storage area. He opened it, revealing a blood-stained, tan, long-sleeve shirt. Underneath the shirt was a pair of equally as blood-stained blue jeans. Underneath the pants was the main article of the ensemble the previous year, a mask.
The mask was made of a cheap plastic, and featured wide, green eyes and a hauntingly large grin. It too was stained with splotches of blood, ones that could have been easily removed but that Jim left as they were as a sort of sick reminder of the fun he’d had getting it on there in the first place. In the top, thinner pocket of the suitcase, he retrieved a hatchet that, like the rest of the contents of the suitcase, was made imperfect by the presence of blood.
He left the mask in the suitcase and took the outfit and weapon and brought them upstairs, where he changed into the clothes in his bedroom. He then went outside and to his garage, where on one side, his car was parked, and the other, a larger worktable than the one in his basement. He proceeded to sharpen the hatchet for about 30 minutes, making the blade as sharp as it had ever been in preparation for the night’s events.
He then went out to his farm and observed the vast circular area he’d knocked down all the cornstalks at, in the middle of which had a large bonfire pit dug into the ground, constructed by him a few days prior. Everything had to be perfect.
By this time, his daughter had woken up. He prepared her breakfast, then helped her get her Halloween costume on. That year, she had decided to go as a princess. She was excited to go trick-or-treating and spend the night at the library. When they were nearly finished getting her costume on, their doorbell rang.
Jim left her room and went downstairs to answer the door, something he’d been waiting for all morning. On his porch were a man and woman who lived in the residential area, Joseph and Marion Pleet. In her arms, Marion held a folded up piece of clothing, a black cloak.
“Jim! Good morning!” exclaimed Joseph.
Jim returned the sentiment to Joseph and his wife.
“A beautiful day we have for the festivities, no?” asked Joseph, rhetorically.
The three went on to talk about the plans for the town’s birthday night, the new neighbors the Pleet’s had recently gained across the street, and other pleasantries, all the while, Jim’s eyes stayed glued to the cloak. After what felt like a lifetime, Jim was ecstatic when the conversation finally headed in the direction he wanted it to.
“I see you can’t keep your eyes off the cloak, Jim, and understandably so! I remember my first time donning it, it is truly an ethereal experience.” said Joseph.
Jim simply nodded his head, too excited for words.
“James Ranger, do you accept the responsibility that comes with wearing this cloak?” Joseph asked.
“Yes sir, I do.” Jim replied.
“Do you understand the importance of order and unity at the Ceremony Of Skadegamutc?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
“Are you prepared to host the guest of honor, the great spirit of Skadegamutc?”
“Yes sir, I am.”
“Then at this time, I would like to present to you the Cloak Of Skadegamutc, worn on his very back so many millennia ago, and worn by me this time last year. I pass onto you the duties and responsibilities that the cloak holds, and absolve myself of its hold over me”
“Thank you sir.” said Jim, as he graciously accepted the cloak that Marion handed him.
“We will see you tonight Mr. Ranger, for this evening, you will be crowned.”
Just then, a semi-truck pulled onto Jim’s land.