Within minutes, the pair of cars were snaking down the mountain. As the castle faded into the distance, Alicia smiled to herself. It was finally over.
"Hey, Alicia." Asked Beth from the back of the car.
"What did you do with the fanged people?"
"Removed them while they were sleeping. Easier to stop the sudden anxiety it generates if you're already hypnotized," explained Alicia, "And it is less painful to remove them when you're numb. The turned people will return to normal in a couple of days once the Queen’s blood is out of their system, they’ll feel a little off. But we’ve made them believe it is a normal Fall cold."
"I can't believe you can hypnotize people," giggled Katie. "Is that why your grades are so good?"
"I wish!" laughed Alicia. "But no, I promised Mom I wouldn't use it for stuff like that. She wants me to do well on my own merits, not via tricks."
"She's pretty cool," noted Beth.
"That she is," replied Alicia as she continued to drive down the mountain. It took a while, but after some time, the motel came into sight. It didn't look amazing but, to Alicia, it looked like a shining beacon of hope. A chance to finally sleep and rest her aching muscles.
Sharon's car pulled up a few seconds after Alicia did. The group moved into the reception and quickly booked their rooms. Luckily, the place had two rooms free next to each other. Once the money had been exchanged, the girls went to their cars and grabbed their bags before going to their rooms.
"Want to come and decompress with us?" asked Sharon as Beth, Katie and Alicia opened the door to their room. "I feel bad that we met for a few minutes and then spent the rest of the night working."
"That would be cool!" answered Katie.
"I guess yes then," laughed Alicia.
"Great!' cheered Sharon. "Well, you unpack and then come when you're ready," she said as she walked into the other room. The girls spent a few minutes sorting the room and getting changed into some fresh clothes that didn't stink of the tunnels underneath the haunt. When they were done, they moved to the next room and tried the door, only to find that it was open.
As the door swung open, it revealed Mara and Sharon sat on one bed in front of a massive pizza and a bowl of candy, while Ulla lay on the other bed, holding an ice pack to her tummy.
"Wow! You were busy!" remarked Alicia.
"Gas station down the road!" chuckled Mara before waving at the girls. "Come in! Eat! I brought enough for everyone."
"Oh wow! Thanks!" replied Katie as she quickly made her way in and grabbed some pizza.
"How are you doing?" asked Alicia as she looked at Ulla.
"If you dare say you're okay, I'm going to slap you," interrupted Mara between mouthfuls of pizza, "Or convince Sharon to use her powers to remove the phrase from your vocabulary."
"I'm sore, but still standing," relented Ulla. "It wasn't a bad fall, just some bruising. I'll get a full check-up when we get home."
"I'm glad," said Alicia, relieved.
"Let's see if there is anything interesting on," began Sharon as she picked up the TV remote and quickly flipped the TV on. As the screen fuzzed into life, Alicia sat next to Sharon and started to eat.
"What are your Halloween plans?" asked a voice from the TV as the image of two news hosts flickered into view. "Well, don't worry! There are still some last-minute ghosts to be had if you know where to look! But beware, one local attraction is in hot water for making false emergency calls!"
"Huh?" Blinked Mara.
"Yes," said the second host. "Castle Of The Lamia hosted on the old FunLand amusement park has caused controversy by sending out emergency requests during the night as part of a marketing stunt."
"Oh, dear. Turn the TV off!" shouted Ulla.
"Why?" asked Sharon. "This is important."
"Seriously," started Ulla only for the host to start talking again.
"Yes, and when services arrived this morning and asked for comment, they were presented with the following," said the first host as the image changed to Ulla and Mara in their costumes.
"Oh no!" Gasped Mara as Ulla buried her head into the pillow.
"Do you have any comments about these false reports?" inquired a reporter. But, the recorded Mara didn't react. She just wiggled and flapped her arms.
"Castle of the snake lady!" hissed the recorded Mara, "I mean, Llama. No! Castle of the Lizard! Or Lamia! Lamia!" she corrected herself, her accent flipping from a terrible attempt at a Transylvanian one, to a horrific Irish one, and then ending up as a strange fusion of Australian and Dutch. "Is very spooky! Our ghosts go boo! Isn't that right, Igor?!"
"Well. Yes. Rawr!" growled the recorded Ulla, obviously doing her best to sound like a horror minion, but failing horribly.
"Oh god, no no no," moaned Ulla as she buried her face deeper into the pillow and kicked her feet. "The shame. This is making me cringe!"
"Same!" whined Mara.
"Yes! Come and pay money! Give us your funds! We have rooms and bathrooms! Some bathrooms!" cackled recorded Mara as she continued to flap her arms, cutting the journalist off whenever they tried to ask a question.
"Make them want to come!" blushed recorded Ulla as Mara's arm slapped her on the cheek.
"Make them? But we have wonderful scares! Like boo! And public bathrooms! And it's only ninety-six dollars per ticket, hahaha!" shouted Mara, her accent somehow getting worse the more she talked.
"Wow, you really went all out," chuckled Sharon as Ulla and Mara both tried to hide their shame.
"No no. The eyes, the hypnotism!" hissed recorded Ulla, "Make them come, yes, come! Everything is fine! Our one-star restaurant is good! The health service said we probably got rid of the bedbugs."
"Yes! Very good, Igor! Very good!" replied recorded Mara before letting out a cackle. However, midway through, she started to choke and cough.
"Could you," started the journalist, only to get interrupted by Mara who yanked the camera forward and pressed it into her face. "Yes, look into my eyes, you vant to come to the castle of the lizard. Yes. It is fun! You will enjoy it. Yes! You can not resist the urge to come and be scared by the Castle of the Llama! It is a totally hypnotic experience," continued Mara as Ulla made a strange theremin noise with her mouth.
Suddenly, the camera cut back to the studio where the two hosts looked at each other in shock. "Kevin Maize, the Alabaster County mayor has said he will be investigating the claims and reminds citizens that misuse of emergency numbers carries with it a jail term and a heavy fine. He also will be reviewing the business permit system for local events and issuing fines for any company found breaking them or their food hygiene practices," said the one host before pausing for a few seconds.
"In other news," started the other host as Sharon turned the TV down.
"Is that how I sound to you?!" giggled Sharon as Katie and Beth did their best to contain their laughter.
"World swallow me up!" moaned Ulla as she kept her face buried in the pillow, "That was so embarrassing."
"I don't know! I was improvising!" groaned Mara. "I guess I was more sleep-deprived than I thought!"
"Hey! No one is ever going to want to go now!" giggled Katie.
"Yeah, you did well at scaring people off!" chimed in Beth.
"Be careful, she'll get an ego," Sharon said with a wink. "But really, mocking my powerset like that!"
"You said to make it sound terrible!" Protested Mara as Ulla continued to whine into the pillow.
"And you went to hypnotizing people?" replied Sharon theatrically.
"All the cheesy vampire movies have it!" argued Mara, "You said it yourself!"
Sharon pouted and stared at Mara for a few seconds before bursting into giggles and ruffling Mara's hair. "You did great. So great, better than I could have hoped." She smiled at her before jumping off the bed and walking over to Ulla. "And you, you did great too! Especially for a non-horror fan," added Sharon as she gently rubbed the pillow that was covering Ulla's face.
"I'm not coming out until I stop blushing," complained Ulla.
"We'll wait for you. But you better stop blushing quickly, the pizza will have gone cold soon."
"Fair," mumbled Ulla as she put the pillow down and quickly moved over to the other bed. "I don't want to miss that," she added as she grabbed a slice. "I have no idea why I'm so hungry today."
"You were up all night," said Alicia.
"You were running around for most of it," added Beth and Katie.
"You fell off a building!" shouted Mara and Sharon in unison.
"Oh, right," Ulla noted. "I was so embarrassed by the news that I forgot that for a moment."
"You need to get some sleep," Mara said with concern.
"After dinner we all do," interjected Sharon. "And that goes for you too, Alicia, and you, Beth and Katie. Heroes need rest just as much as everyone else."
"Of course," agreed Beth.
"Heroes," mumbled Katie as her cheeks went red.
"Maybe we should have our own Halloween party later," offered Sharon, "So we can apologize for ruining Beth and Katie's Halloween?"
"It wasn't your fault!" Beth replied.
"I still feel a little responsible if I'm honest," chuckled Sharon. "But we can drive back tomorrow. Maybe later we can find other food and a spooky movie or something like that."
"On one condition," interjected Ula. "No vampires."
Sharon and Mara started to laugh as the whole room fell into giggles. "Oh don't worry," grinned Sharon. "If I never see another vampire, it will still be far too soon. But that's later! Now everyone, finish some of this food. I can't sleep until the bed is clear of pizza!" With that, everyone returned to their pizza.