"Right, gang!" exclaimed Eric as he looked around the old mansion. "We're going to solve the mystery of Montgomery Manor!"
"Of course," Belle smiled, "We're going to get to the bottom of this mystery."
"Well," started Veronica as she pushed open the large wooden door of the mansion, "It is apparently very spooky. Several people have reported seeing full apparitions of ghosts, and they're apparently hostile!"
"You would think ghosts would clean the place up a little bit," chuckled Ziggy as he ran his finger along a tabletop, sending a cloud of dust up into the air.
Veronica let out a sneeze as the dust hit her nose. "Ghosts never usually clean," she said as she sneezed again, "But you have to take this seriously." She rubbed the dust from her nose.
"Exactly," added Eric as he adjusted his tie. "We need to bring these ghosts in. The paper will pay us so much money for a real live ghost! Can you imagine?"
"If we can find them," replied Veronica. "Fully-fledged apparitions are very rare. They've only been seen a handful of times, and most of those times are heavily debated," she continued as she continued to rub her nose.
"But, imagine the pictures in the paper!" cheered Belle as she opened one of the doors. "We'll look fantastic! We'll be famous! I'm going to be on a runway by the end of the year!"
"Don't get lost in dreams! Not until we have this case closed," sighed Veronica as she opened another door. "Ah, the dining room! This is where the workmen saw the spirits!" She grinned as she waved to the others.
The group quickly made their way into the old dining room. The place was a mess, the furniture was scattered everywhere, the paintings were faded and damaged and everything was covered in a thick layer of dust.
"Strange," noted Veronica, "The workmen were only here a month ago, and yet the place is full of dust. If there was a struggle it shouldn't have accumulated this quickly."
"Look at this ugly painting,"Belle giggled as she pointed to a faded picture of a man that was hung lopsidedly on the wall.
"I don't know, it creeps me out,” mumbled Ziggy as he looked at a picture on the other side of the room. "Its eyes follow me around."
"That is a common optical illusion," started Veronica, only for the door to slam shut behind them as the lights flickered and dimmed.
"Hey! What in the world?!" shouted Eric as he ran to the door and started to yank on the handle. "It's locked!"
"How?" asked Belle, "It wasn't locked before!"
"What happened to the lights?" asked Ziggy.
Belle gasped, frantically looking around. "I think the fuse went out!" However, before the gang could do anything, a bright red light illuminated the room as a large bang rang out. A massive cloud of smoke formed at the far end of the room as two figures stepped out of the smoke.
"Who..Who..Who are you!" demanded Ziggy as he jumped up onto a table.
"Good question," added Veronica as she looked the pair over. They looked like identical twins, but while one was in a very gothic dress, the other was clad in a suit with spiderweb details all over it.
The one in the dress giggled as she looked towards the other. "Well, it seems we have a guest!"
"Let us introduce ourselves!" giggled the other as she took a little bow.
"We're the twins who are pretty great!" started the one in the dress as she continued to move forward.
"We're Trick and Treat!" chimed in the suited one as Eric put himself between the strange pair in an attempt to protect Veronica and Belle.
"Well, you need to stop scaring people!" Eric asserted as Veronica stood on her tiptoes, looking over Eric's shoulder.
She let out a gasp. "Fully-fledged apparitions, I've never seen anything this clear and firm!"
"Ohh, we're very firm!" said the suited one, only for the one in the dress to let out a little giggle. The suited one turned to stare daggers into her.
"Firm or not, it doesn't matter!" growled the one as she adjusted her tie. "Because, you won't escape from here!" The lights in the room started to flash.
Smoke billowed from the floor as everything started to shake, sending objects flying everywhere. A chorus of distorted screams echoed around the room.
"J..J..J...Jeepers! I'm outta here!" wailed Ziggy as he dived off of the table and ran to the door, yanking it open as he did. As he pulled the door open, he realized the corridor was also full of chaos.
"Your souls are ours!" shrieked the woman in the dress as she pulled out an axe and ran forward.
"Run, gang!" cried Belle as she, Eric, and Veronica ran out of the room and into the hall. They dodged past the flying books, vases, and cutlery as the room continued to shake. All of the paintings rocked back and forth, many of them changing into horrific images, quite unlike the art they previously were.
The woman in the dress let out a frenzied laugh as she exited the dining room, wildly swinging the axe above her head. As Ziggy reached the front door it sprung open, letting him sprint out into the night, narrowly dodging a flying fork as he did.
The rest of the group soon followed him, quickly running down the cobble path and jumping into their paisley-printed van parked just outside. A large dalmatian poked its head out of the window and started to bark loudly as Eric furiously turned the key in the old van’s ignition.
“Wrun! Wrun!” barked the dog as Eric mumbled expletives under his breath.
As the van spluttered into life and started to pull away, the woman in the dress stood in the doorway of the building, clouds of thick smoke rolling along her feet as her cackle echoed into the night.
"We'll get you! You will join us!" screeched the woman as the van sped off into the distance. Once the sound of the engine faded into silence, the woman let out a giggle and walked back into the house, closing the door behind herself.
The suited woman watched the woman in the dress as she made her way back down the hall. "Are they gone?"
"Yep, we won't be seeing them again," chuckled the woman in the dress. "This is your best work, Liv."
"Why thank you," Liv beamed as she took a bow. "It really is my best work."
"You should have seen their faces," chuckled the woman in the dress. "Utterly terrified of a load of theatre tricks and pneumatics. Fools."
"Don't mock them, Karen," remarked Liv as she started to pick up the stuff that had been thrown to the floor. "They did exactly what we wanted them to do. They'll now spread the rumor even further! And then this land will be our,! all for a delightfully discounted price!"
"You're right. But I expect more!" sighed Karen. "They're renowned for cracking cases. Famous for their ability to solve the unsolvable. And yet, they just ran off."
"They get lucky, that's all," replied Liv firmly. "They wait until people make an error because of hubris and then take credit, nothing more." She continued to pick stuff up off of the floor. "If they didn't trick people into confessions, their work would never stand up in court."
"Still," said Karen. "I'm slightly disappointed we didn't get to use your other tricks."
Liv grinned. "Not having to use them is a blessing. Less to remove when we bulldoze this place and turn it into condos."
Karen rubbed her shoulder and yawned. "Either way, all that running has made me tired. I'm going to go have a lie-down, call me if you need me. Or if the brats come back."
"Will do," Liv replied as she continued to clean up the room. Karen stretched and walked away, quickly turning into one of the mansion's many side rooms.
Once she was inside, she closed the door behind her and walked over to the couch. It was clear that it had been used as it was one of the only items in the building not covered in dust.
Karen put her head down and closed her eyes, trying to block out the throbbing in her shoulder. "I need a lighter axe," she muttered to herself as she started to slip into sleep.
And for the next few hours, that was all Karen did. Slipping in and out of dreamy, hazy sleep as she lay on the old couch. However, after a few hours, a voice pulled her from her sleep.
"Come on now, it's time to wake," snapped the voice, "It’s time to end your sleepy break."
"What?" mumbled Karen as she sat up and rubbed her eyes. As she looked around the room, she spotted Liv standing by the door. "Hey," mumbled Karen. "Need me?"
"Oh yes, we need to talk," Liv said with a grin.
"So please be quiet and don't squawk!" called another voice. Karen turned around only to see a shocking sight. Stood by the fireplace was another woman, a woman who looked exactly like her. She was even in her outfit.
"I," gasped Karen, "What trick is this?" She looked down to realize that she was still in her outfit and she didn't have a spare version of this costume, so she had no idea how someone else could be wearing it.
"Not a trick," said Liv.
"We're really not that slick," replied the copy of Karen.
"But there cannot be two of me," Karen argued as she moved forward. "Is it a projection?" She reached forward, however, the woman vanished into thin air just as Karen’s hand got close. "Projection," sighed Karen as she turned around.
However, when Karen turned around, she saw that her twin was now next to Liv. Both of them had terribly smug looks on their faces. Karen let out a sigh as she shook her head.
"This isn't funny. Save your tricks for the snoops."
Liv stared into Karen with a smirk. "We said it once, we said it again."
"We just want to cause you some pain!" Karen's clone giggled along.
Karen blinked. "Pain?"
"We've got something to whisper in your ear!" added Liv.
"But first, Liv! Get in here!" shouted the Karen clone as Karen looked on in utter confusion. Whatever this thing was, it sounded exactly like her.
A few seconds later, Liv walked into the room. "What do you want?" she asked, only for her eyes to start darting around the room as she realized that there was a copy of her as well as two Karens. "What the hell?" she stuttered as the door slammed behind her.
"What trick is this?" demanded Karen as she pointed to the smirking girls.
"I don't know! Who are these people?" replied Liv.
"You take our style under false claims?" huffed the Liv clone as she put her hands on her hips.
"And yet you don't even know our names?" replied the Karen clone.
"Well, let us end your dumb production," added the Liv clone. The way the two odd girls were jumping back and forth between sentences sounded so practiced, like they had memorized this script and rehearsed it a thousand times.
"And give you a quick introduction!" continued the Karen clone.
"For we're the twins who can't be beat!" piped in the Liv copy as she theatrically put her hands out.
"I'm Trick!" said the girl in the suit.
"And I'm Treat!" added the girl in the dress.
"What? Oh, come on!" shouted Liv. "Like I'm buying that!"
"Buying what?" asked Karen with confusion.
"Trick and Treat? Really? You know they're a myth, right? They're a dumb ghost story grade-schoolers tell! I'm not a dumb brat who will believe any idiot in facepaint!"
"What? You didn't make that any clearer." replied Karen.
"These dumb ghost costumes! This whole story, I based it on a local ghost story to make people more likely to believe it! And now, these two are trying to use my own scam against me!" moaned Liv.
"Calling us a scam is very rude!" replied Trick as a sinister smile formed on her face.
Treat nodded in agreement. "I think you've got it slightly skewed!”
"We're real in all ways but one," continued Trick, not missing a beat. ,
"But now we want to have some fun!" giggled Treat. Liv growled and ran forward and swung for Trick, but the second she got close both girls vanished and reappeared on the other side of the room.
"What is going on?" cried Karen, "I'm so confused."
Treat smirked at her. "Let us help you overcome your schism."
"With a little hypnotism!" Trick fixed her gaze onto Karen and Liv.
"Hypno what?" asked Karen, but before she could say anything else, the girls vanished and appeared right in front of her. Their noses rubbed against hers, and their eerily cold breath sent a shiver down her spine.
"Look deep, deeply into our eyes," purred Treat as her eyes started to glow a deep blood-red.
"And you might win a special prize," added Trick as her eyes emitted the same glow. Karen knew she should be worried, but something about the glow was oddly soothing. It gave her a fuzzy feeling in her tummy. It made her feel kind of distant, like she was watching through someone else's eyes rather than her own.
Time seemed to stretch and slow down as Karen continued to stare deep into the eyes of the two strange girls. She could hear Liv shouting but it seemed so distant, and the red glow was so deep and inviting. It felt like she could crawl inside of it, like it was a passage to another world.
"I," gurgled Karen as she twitched slightly. Her brain spun as she felt her legs grow weak and wobbly. The whole world was turning red, but Karen felt wonderful. It felt like she was sinking into the floor, like she was turning into a puddle.
Suddenly, Trick and Treat vanished, but Karen didn't care. Her vision was still tinted red and her body felt utterly amazing. She was calm, relaxed, and utterly empty. It was the best feeling she had felt in years.
"Hey! Hey!" shouted Liv with panic as she firmly shook Karen. "Wake up!" Furiously, she snapped her fingers. Karen, however, didn't react. Despite Liv being so close, it felt like the girl was a million miles away, like she was a TV show Karen was watching. Something she could see, but had no attachment to.
However, as Liv continued to snap, Karen heard a soft pair of voices whisper into her mind, as if they were sitting in her brain. Pulling her strings.
"You better react to her snap."
"Else you might get a slap."
"What's up?" asked Karen, still feeling totally utterly and detached.
"What happened? Those girls jumped you and you went all weird. Why didn't you punch them?"
"Tell a lie, tell one quick."
"It’s up to you, you can pick!" echoed the voices in Karen's head as she felt them twist her brain once more.
"I was scared!" she blurted out, "Super scared." She nodded her head. "Super, super scared."
"Unlike you," sighed Liv as she smashed her fist into her other palm. "I'm not standing for this rubbish. No one plays me at my own game! This land is ours!I'm letting no one take it from us!"
"What do you mean?" replied Karen, still feeling so woozy and distant. Her vision still tinted red as she continued to let the warm, relaxed feelings wash through her body.
"If we're being played, we need to shut it down quickly before they out us!" shouted Liv as she yanked a cupboard open and produced a baseball bat. "No one messes with me and gets away with it!"
"Follow follow! This will be fun!"
"And there is work to be done!" echoed the voices in Karen's head as she felt her body start to move again. Her limbs felt strange and distant as they started to move. The red tint over her vision, making everything feel strange and dreamlike.
Liv walked out into the hall, tapping the bat along the floor as she did. "Come out come out wherever you are!" she shouted at the top of her lungs. "You don't think you can mess with us and get away with it! I'm going to bash both of you in!" Quietly, Karen followed behind her.
As she moved, Karen spotted some thin strings that seemed to come out of her hands and go up into the sky. She looked up, only to see Trick and Treat above her. They were both pulling on various puppet strings, moving Karen around like a marionette. Karen knew she should be worried, but she couldn't bring herself to feel fear. She was too distant to really care. It didn't feel like her body anymore, anyway.
"Come on! Show your faces!" screamed Liv as she smashed the bat into a table. "You were so cocky earlier, so why not now? Come out, or I come and find you!"
"She will meet with a terrible fate."
"And you are going to be the bait," echoed Trick and Treat' voices. Karen felt her head nod as her mind agreed without her consent. She didn't know what was going on, but she couldn't seem to focus for long enough to care. Her whole body was just too warm and distant. She couldn't motivate herself to fight; it was like her will had been crushed under a weighted blanket of crimson warmth.
"Where are you!" demanded Liv, "Come out, you cowards!"
The resounding reply of silence only served to anger her.
"Hurry up, and don't you snore!"
"Get her up to the second floor!" giggled Trick and Treat’s voices in Karen's head.
"I can see them on the second floor!" shouted Karen's voice. It felt strange. While Karen knew the words were coming out of her mouth, and the words were using her voice, they hadn't come from her. She was so distant from her body that she couldn't even move her tongue, let alone use her mouth to form words.
Before Karen could form any more thoughts, she felt Trick and Treat tug on her strings. Her legs started to move as she followed Liv up the stairs. It felt oddly comforting, especially as the red tint continued to make everything look so pretty and distant. It was like she was viewing the world through a foggy window.
Liv moved from room to room, swinging her bat wildly as she did. However, every time the room turned out to be empty, Liv just grew angrier.
Karen found it oddly amusing. The idea of feeling emotions was funny. They seemed such a foreign concept. Karen couldn't even remember what it felt like to have emotions, anymore. Not that she cared; it was just how it was. She was just floating along as Trick and Treat pulled her strings, guiding her body to where it needed to be.
As the thoughts echoed through Karen's mind, she could have sworn she heard Trick or Treat saying the exact same thing. But she couldn't be sure, and she didn't have the motivation to question it. If Trick and Treat were saying it, then it had to be right.
"We wouldn't dare tell lies."
"Or pull the wool over your eyes," echoed Trick and Treat as they made Karen nod again. But, they didn't need to. Karen already knew Trick and Treat were right. The longer she floated here, the longer she looked through the red mist, the more she realized how right they were and the less she wanted to question anything.
It was almost like Trick and Treat were speaking into her thoughts. Like their voices were mingling with hers and forming one singular entity. She had no idea where Karen ended and Trick and Treat began. With every second and every movement, Trick and Treat swallowed more of Karen.
"Come out! Right now! All you're doing is making me angrier!" screamed Liv as she smashed a picture frame with her bat, causing the broken glass to fall down onto the floor.
"I think it's time to poke the bear," giggled Treat.
"I'll go and get into her hair," replied Trick. Through the strange red haze, Karen could see one of the girls fly to the other side of the landing. She wanted to say something, but she just couldn't. Her mouth refused to open. Her body felt like it was several miles in front of her. It was like she was witnessing everything in the third person.
Karen watched as Trick opened and slammed several doors on the other side of the room causing Liv to scream and run over, frantically waving her bat as she did.
Of course, as Liv went one way, Trick went the other. And the second Liv started to investigate the one set of doors, Trick slammed the doors on the other side of the room, causing Liv to turn around and sprint back over.
Karen just watched blankly as Treat's giggles bounced around inside her mouth. Treat was obviously enjoying the show, so Karen was as well, even if she couldn't get her muscles to show it.
After running back and forth across the room several times, Liv started to pant. She leaned on the bat as she gasped for air. "Some help would be nice!" Liv groaned as she looked at Karen, "Or are you just going to stand there?"
"Oh I think she's perfectly happy," smiled Treat as she appeared on the balcony next to Liv.
"But we'll fix your problems and make it snappy!" Trick giggled her reply as she popped out of the door in front of Liv. Liv let out a deep and primal scream as she lunged at Trick, but the second the bat made contact with the girl, she vanished in a puff of smoke only to appear right behind Liv.
"Now it is time to play a game!" chuckled Treat.
"Hope you've got a pretty good aim!" chimed in Trick as the pair disappeared again, avoiding another swing of the bat in the process. The girls quickly appeared behind Liv as sinister smiles formed on their faces.
However, the pair suddenly turned to face Karen. "I think it is time for us to tighten our grip," remarked Treat.
"And Karen's strings shall now get snipped!" added Trick as Karen felt her knees wobble and give way. She saw the strings fly off as her body crumpled to the floor. All of her limbs were so heavy, it felt like they were made out of stone. As she fell she started to bounce and roll, her vision tossing and turning as her limbs grew heavier and heavier, her brain becoming more distant as she fell.
When she stopped rolling, Karen realized she had fallen down the stairs. Or, at least, her body had. She was still there, a floating consciousness unable to get back into her body. She could only watch on as Trick and Treat surrounded Liv, her bat passing harmlessly through the pair no matter how hard she swung.
Karen saw Trick and Treat's eyes go red as they surrounded and grabbed Liv. Liv tried to struggle, but it was a futile effort. Slowly, her movements slowed down as her knees started to wobble. Karen knew the feeling too well. She could see Trick and Treat forcing Liv out of her mind.
Liv stumbled and wobbled. It was clear she was going to collapse at any moment. Karen watched on, feeling her mind slipping deeper as the words of Trick and Treat echoed in her brain.
"Sure, you thought we were a creep," began Treat.
"But now it is time to go to sleep," echoed Trick as Liv let out a soft moan.
"Now your night has turned quite bleak."
"And your knees are getting weak," continued Trick as Liv's ankle rolled, causing her to crash down onto the floor. Drool trickled out of the side of her mouth as she twitched on the floor. Karen could feel it inside her as well. It was like the girls were joined through Trick and Treat.
Karen could hear the girl's words as they continued to force Liv deeper and deeper down into their control, into the red world Karen had already occupied. She could feel Liv's fear slowly being snuffed out by the power of Trick and Treat's will.
"Now we grind you under heel," giggled Treat as she rubbed the heel of her shoe onto Liv's forehead.
"Under the spell of our little spiel," added Trick as she leaned across the balcony and blew a kiss at Karen.
"Don't think we've forgotten about you," continued Treat.
"If we're the driver, then you're the screw," Trick piped in.
"Because you've now both felt our sting."
"You're dancing, tied up on our string."
Treat as she continued to grind her heel into Liv's forehead. "We have a plan, a trap of sorts."
"But you'll help out, you’re such good sports!" chuckled Trick as she held out her hand. Suddenly, a load of strings burst forth and buried themselves into Liv's body.
Karen knew the feeling. It was the one she had experienced when she was being puppeteered by the pair. But oddly, Liv had a term for the feeling, one that Karen could not remember the name of.
"Hurts," gurgled Liv's voice as it echoed through Karen's mind. Karen, though, didn't really care. She didn't understand what the words meant and she was happy to just float away from her limp body.
As the strings pulled Liv up, Trick and Treat vanished and then appeared next to Karen. As Liv stiffly stumbled down the stairs, Trick and Treat quickly vanished and then appeared above Karen's body.
"Rise up! Rise up, our little minion!" cackleed Treat as she looked down on Karen with a sinister smirk.
"Time to expand our dominion!" Trick answered as more strings came from the ceiling. Each of the strings pierced Karen's body, but Karen felt nothing. All she could do was idly watch as her body stiffly rose up from the ground.
"Come now, little thrall!" cooed Treat as Liv finally arrived next to the girls.
"Time for Karen to make a call," nodded Trick as Karen's body started to march towards the phone. Karen watched as her body lifted the handset and dialed a number. But just as the other person answered the call, Karen felt herself slipping into a deep dark sleep, and Trick's voice started to flow through her.
“I can’t believe Rudy-Roo refused to come with us!” huffed Belle as she looked at some of the decaying roses in the garden. “Visiting his nephew? Is that really an excuse?”
“Would you have preferred to have Sketchy-Roo come with us?” asked Eric.
“Actually, you’re right,” winced Belle as she looked at Eric with a pained look. “It’s for the best.”
"I'm not so sure about this," interrupted Ziggy as his teeth chattered. "Rudy or not, I remember last time."
"It will be fine! I have a plan this time!" Veronica offered encouragingly as she pointed to the comically large net she was carrying. "They don't stand a chance!"
"I hope they don't mess up my hair," sighed Belle as she pushed the door open. "I spent all day getting it fixed up and dyed."
"I'm sure your hair will be fine," giggled Veronica as she adjusted her glasses and followed Belle inside.
"Hello?" shouted Eric with a false bravado as he moved into the hall, the door softly clicking closed behind the group.
"It is very quiet," noted Veronica quietly as she and Ziggy remained near the door. As she watched Eric call out, she did her best to set up the net contraption she had brought along.
"This place is still gross," mumbled Belle as she ran her finger across a dusty table. However, as she walked past a door, a woman jumped out of it.
"Boo!" screamed the woman as Belle jumped backward.
"Hey!" shouted Eric. However, before he could move, another woman jumped out of another door and grabbed him.
"Jeepers!" cried out Ziggy as he watched Belle and Eric get dragged off by the women. "We. We. We need to get outta here!"
"If only I could get this net to work!" stuttered Veronica as she continued to fiddle. But, as she did, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She spun around only to spot two girls standing behind her and Ziggy.
Ziggy forced a smile through his chattering teeth. "Pleased to meet you, but we were just leaving!"
Treat smiled a toothy grin.
"Oh, you can't leave early! That would be rude,"
"In fact, we've got you utterly glued," came Trick’s verse.
"You might know who we are, but we've not been introduced!"
"But don't worry, you've now come home to roost."
Ziggy jumped into Veronica's arms, his teeth chattering loudly as he did.
"Who are you?" demanded Veronica, "I don't take kindly to being intimidated." She tried to sound brave, but was truly failing miserably.
"We're the twins who can't be beat!' began Treat.
"And I'm Treat!'
The girls spoke their rhymes with practiced ease as they took a step toward the pair.
"And you're looking so very sweet," cooed Trick as she licked her lips.
Trick eyed them with the gaze of a lion. "You're the perfect gift for Trick and Treat."
"What are you going to do with us," whimpered Ziggy as he buried his head into Veronica's breasts, muffling his chattering but causing Veronica’s boobs to wiggle in the process.
"We're going to put you under hypnotic sway," purred Trick as her eyes flashed red for a moment.
"And then we've got a game for you to play," giggled Treat.
"Hypnotism!" gasped Veronica. "Well, why didn't you say so?" She grabbed Ziggy's head and turned it to face the two girls, forcing him to stare their way. "I've been waiting for a ghost to say that all year!"