DISCLAIMER: I'd love to own the rights to this wonderful series, but sadly I don't.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A very special thanks to Debbie for the beta and suggestions.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
No Means of Escape
With her backpack slung over her shoulder, Jo bounded down the stairs on her way to her motorcycle. Some old friends were in town and had invited her to meet them at a local pool hall. Blair was going to help Tootie and Natalie disperse Halloween candy to the neighborhood children, and then take a cab to meet up with Jo and her friends later.
"Jo, where are you going?" asked Mrs. Garrett from her position by the stove watching the young woman near the door.
"Whoa, I didn't see you standing there, Mrs. G. I'm going to the library to get some studying done. It should be practically empty on Halloween night so nothing can possibly disturb me," Jo replied smoothly.
"Jo, I was counting on you and Blair to help Natalie and Tootie; you promised last year that you would stick around. I have to work the church carnival, but I want to be certain everything runs smoothly here. I trust you to make sure there's enough candy and that Natalie doesn't get too bored and scare the trick-or-treaters like she did last year," Mrs. Garrett explained.
Jo chuckled at the memory of Natalie water-ballooning the kids that she thought were too old to be going door to door requesting treats. She had nailed six different teens before Mrs. Garrett had come home and almost had a heart attack when she witnessed a balloon hitting a running ghost in the back of the head.
"Okay, Mrs. G. I'll stay until the last trick-or-treater rings the bell," Jo promised as she mentally worked out an alternate plan for meeting her friends.
The older woman offered her thanks and quickly gathered her things to leave. The minute she walked out the door, Jo made a phone call and then headed upstairs to fill Blair in on the change of plans.
Finding the blonde in their room, Jo quietly closed the door and snuck up behind her unsuspecting girlfriend. Blair squealed loudly as Jo pulled her roughly into her arms.
"Jo! You nearly scared me to death. You know how much I hate it when you sneak up on me," Blair protested.
"Sorry, but you were just so irresistible leaning over the bed like that. Is there something I can do to make it up to you?" Jo asked while lightly kissing the back of the blonde's neck.
Smiling, Blair turned her head to allow Jo better access and replied, "I like what you're doing so far."
A knock on the door interrupted their necking session, and they quickly broke apart, neither ready to share their new relationship with the others.
"Hey guys, Tootie and I have decided to dress up in costume to pass out the candy. If the two of you are willing, the four of us could be the Munsters. Jo can be Herman, Tootie can be Lily, I'll be Grandpa, and of course, Blair can be Marilyn. Heck, you wouldn't even have to change a thing, Blair," Natalie said in excitement.
"What about Eddie, Nat? Even if I agreed to dress up, which by the way I'm not, you can't leave Eddie out of the picture," Jo pointed out.
"I've already thought of that, Jo. We can explain that he's off trick-or-treating with his friends," Natalie supplied helpfully.
"Okay, that sounds plausible, but I'm still not going to do it. Why don't you and Tootie dress as a duo or something?"
"Hm, a duo? That would work. Now, I've just got to find the perfect pair for Tootie and me," Natalie replied, deep in thought as she walked out the door.
When the door closed behind her, Jo immediately turned her attention back to Blair; pulling her into her arms she asked, "Now, where were we?"
The sun had barely gone down when the doorbell began to chime. Natalie and Tootie raced to the door, almost knocking each other down trying to open it as Jo and Blair descended the stairs more slowly, holding hands. Jo reluctantly let go of her lover's hand when Tootie closed the door behind the first trick-or-treater of the night.
"Hey, Nat. Who are you two supposed to be?" Jo asked her strangely dressed friends.
"Geez Jo, you of all people should to be able to tell; you watch the show all the time. I'm Starbuck and Tootie is Cassiopeia from Battlestar Galactica," Natalie replied.
"Nat, I hate to break it to you, but Starbuck is a guy," Jo explained.
"Well, he should be a girl. I mean, the character is perfect for a girl. Just you wait and see, one day women will be given roles just like this one," Natalie answered while the other three women could only laugh.
Over the rest of the evening, Natalie and Tootie took turns answering the door and handing out the candy while Blair and Jo sat on the coach supervising the procedures. When the last piece was finally doled out, Natalie turned out the front porch light and closed the door.
"Whew, that took forever. I still say we should have doubled up on the candy; we would have finished much sooner," Natalie pointed out.
"That wouldn't have been fair to the kids that couldn't get here earlier," Tootie replied.
"Yeah, well, we're done now, so Blair and I are going to meet my friends at Joe's pool hall. Be sure and tell Mrs. G that we went to the library to study. Oh, and tell her it's open late tonight," Jo instructed her two friends.
"Okay, Jo. We'll lie for you, but you'll owe us big," Natalie countered with a smile.
Rolling her eyes, Jo reached for the door and pulled, only the door wouldn't budge. She placed both hands on the knob and put a little extra muscle behind her effort, but the door remained stubbornly closed.
"Hey, what's wrong with this door? It won't open. You didn't lock the deadbolt, did you Nat?" Jo asked the female version of Starbuck.
"No, I just turned the lock on the doorknob. Here let's try together," replied Natalie, as she moved next to Jo.
Together, the two women pulled and pulled without success, each perplexed at what could be causing the problem.
"Jo, just forget about the door until morning. Let's go out the back instead," Blair said to her girlfriend.
"Okay, but I don't understand why the door worked fine earlier. Guys, we're going to head out now, but we won't be too late. I don't want Mrs. G to get suspicious," Jo stated as she and Blair walked toward the kitchen.
"Bye. Be careful," Tootie called after the departing women.
Jo took Blair's hand once they were in the kitchen and led her to the door. Placing her hand on the knob, she turned and pulled the door to open, but this door refused to budge as well.
"What the hell is going on with the doors in this house?" Jo muttered as she continued to pull with all her might.
"Maybe Mrs. G used her key to lock the deadbolt," Blair suggested.
"I'm pretty sure she didn't, but let me get the key out of the drawer and give it a try," Jo answered while opening the drawer in question.
"Okay, who forgot to put the key back in the drawer?" yelled Jo, loud enough for her two friends to come see what the problem was.
"What are you two still doing here? I thought you were leaving?" Natalie asked.
"So did we," Blair responded.
"This door is stuck, too. It's like the house doesn't want us to leave," Jo explained.
Natalie looked at Jo and believing too that Mrs. G had used her key in the door, she asked, "Did you try to unlock the deadbolt?"
"I'd love to, but it seems the key is missing. Let me run upstairs and get mine," replied Jo, as she made her way to the swinging door.
Fifteen minutes later, the four women were sitting at the kitchen table trying to figure out how all their keys could go missing.
Noticing a change in Natalie's expression, Jo immediately became suspicious.
"Okay, Nat. You've had your fun, now open these doors and let us out."
"What? I didn't have anything to do with this," Natalie replied in her defense.
"Natalie, you were the last one to close the front door. It has to be you," Blair added.
"Guys, I'm innocent. All I did was lock the bottom lock. I swear," Natalie pleaded.
"I think she's telling the truth because I was watching when she shut the door. I would have noticed if she had put a key in the deadbolt," Tootie explained.
"Well, whatever the reason, I'm getting out of here even if I have to go through a window," Jo threatened.
"Jo, you'd have to cut the screens. Remember, we discovered that the screens were attached from the outside the last time we tried to sneak out when your friends came into town," Blair recalled.
"I don't care; I just want to get out. I think I'm getting claustrophobic or something," Jo responded.
"Jo, claustrophobia is a fear of small places, and this house certainly isn't small," Tootie said in clarification.
"Okay, so I've got 'house-a-phobia,' but, I really don't care what it's called; I'm getting a knife and cutting my way out," Jo replied as she walked to the cutlery drawer.
Suddenly, Natalie piped up, "Wait, Jo. Doesn't Mrs. Garrett keep a spare key in her dresser?"
Smiling, Jo turned back to her friend and said, "You're right, Nat. Let's go see if we can find it."
Leaving Blair and Tootie sitting at the table, the two women left the kitchen and made their way up the stairs. Arriving in Mrs. Garrett's room, Jo made a beeline for the dresser drawer.
Just as she started to open it, a loud sound echoed throughout the house.
"What was that?" A worried Natalie asked her friend.
"I don't know. It sounded like chains rattling," Jo replied, concentrating on the background noise.
A second noise overshadowed the first as the sound of footsteps running up the stairs took center stage. Jo and Natalie looked up just as Blair and Tootie raced into the room.
The clinking noise was soon accompanied by the slamming of a downstairs door, and Blair, temporarily forgetting about the other two women, ran straight for Jo and threw herself into her lover's arms.
Jo held her tightly, glancing to gauge the reaction of her friends. Luckily, at that moment, they too were holding onto each other.
The difference in the two hugs was very noticeable; where Jo rubbed circles on Blair's back to calm her, Natalie held Tootie in an obvious 'just friends' type of embrace. The good news was that neither of the other women seemed to notice the loving way in which Jo was holding Blair.
Seconds later, the four women were looking down at the empty spot where the extra house key usually resided.
"There's something fishy going on here," Jo stated, beginning to thoroughly search the keyless drawer.
After deciding to check out the slamming door, the women made their way back down the stairs with Jo in the lead, holding a baseball bat in front of her. When the last foot hit the first floor landing, the lights went out leaving the house in total darkness.
Jo stumbled to the nearby hutch and felt her way to the top left side drawer. Smiling in success, she opened the drawer and pulled out the flashlight, silently thanking Mrs. Garrett for her insistence at placing the emergency item in various places around the house.
Clicking the flashlight on, she turned toward the last location of her friends and directed the light in the same direction. Natalie and Tootie stood huddled together literally shaking in their Battlestar Galactica boots.
"Where's Blair?" Tootie asked in a shaky voice.
"Oh no, she was right next to me. Something must have grabbed her," Natalie added in near hysterics.
Jo adjusted her grip on the bat and shone the light over her shoulder to reveal Blair who was holding onto her for dear life. She had jumped on Jo's back when the lights first went out, and if Jo hadn't been so familiar with her lover's weight and touch, she would have thrown her across the room.
"We're all here, Nat; however, I think we should find a place to hide out until the lights come on. I don't like the idea of us all being out in the open like this," Jo said as she directed the light around the den to be sure the four of them were truly alone.
"At least the rattling noise has stopped now," a relieved Tootie observed.
"I'm with you, Jo. Let's go back upstairs and lock ourselves in one of our rooms," Natalie concurred.
The four women slowly made their way back up the stairs with Natalie and Tootie leading the way. Jo directed the light from behind so that the other two women could see where they were going, and Blair, still attached to Jo's back, brought up the rear.
At the top of the stairs, Natalie instinctively turned toward the nearest bedroom, and the other three women followed closely behind.
Stepping into the room, Jo angled Blair behind her as she closed and locked the bedroom door. She immediately walked to her dresser and opened the top drawer. Reaching into the far back corner, she pulled out her hand to reveal .
"A gun? What are you doing with a gun?" Blair asked in surprise.
"It's just a BB pistol, Blair. Although, right about now, I wish it were a little more powerful. The best I can do with this is cause welts to appear on whoever I shoot," Jo replied.
"Well, I don't want you to shoot anybody or anything. We're safe in here until the lights come back on. So, put that thing away. Lord, you'd probably shoot your eye out," Blair insisted.
Jo reluctantly returned the gun to the drawer, but she placed it on top of her other junk and left the drawer slightly ajar just in case she needed to retrieve it in an emergency.
Her thoughts were quickly pulled away from the weapon when Natalie said, "Hey, Jo. There's no screen on this window. Remember when you used to jump out to the nearby tree. Think you could still do that?"
"I don't think so, Nat, especially since my favorite limb isn't there anymore. I'd have to jump twice as far to reach the next limb. Besides, I'm not nearly as stupid as I used to be," Jo supplied.
Stepping away from the window, Jo and Blair moved to sit on Blair's bed while Natalie and Tootie sat on the edge of Jo's. The streetlight from outside cast just enough light in the room so that Jo was able to turn off the flashlight to preserve the batteries.
"Hey! Why's the streetlight on if the electricity's out?" Tootie asked in confusion.
"Huh?" Jo and Natalie replied, each woman standing to walk over to the nearby window to look down at the street.
"This doesn't make any sense. All the other houses have at least one light on. Ours seems to be the only house without power," Jo observed.
Right on cue, the rattling noise began again followed by the slamming of another door. All the girls huddled together on Jo's bed; Blair literally sitting on top of Jo. Not a single word was uttered between the women until the sounds of footsteps on the stairs could be heard.
A frightened Natalie asked, "Um, guys? Do you hear what I hear?"
"If you mean, do we hear someone coming up the stairs, the answer is definitely yes," Tootie replied in an equally shaky voice.
With Blair holding tightly to her, Jo said, "The door's locked so they'd have to knock it down. If they somehow get it open, I can hit them with the bat while the rest of you run downstairs."
"Then what? The doors leading to the outside are locked, remember?" Natalie replied.
"Open the large den window and kick out the screen," Jo instructed her friends.
Silence once again filled the room when the footsteps seemed to stop outside the door. All four women's eyes were glued to the moonlight shining on the bedroom door, Tootie gasping aloud when the sound of a key being inserted into the doorknob was heard.
Standing, Jo whispered, "If that door opens, I'm going to swing with all my might, and I want the three of you to run like hell."
"I'm not leaving you here, Jo," Blair replied with a return whisper.
"I'll be fine. In fact, after I take my home run swing, I plan to be right behind you," Jo promised.
Pecking Jo on the lips, Blair ordered, "You'd better be."
Tootie and Natalie divided their attention between the closed door and the apparent couple. Neither woman could believe they were discovering the relationship between their friends just as a monster was about to get them.
"I find out about the best kept secret in the world right before I die. Perfect timing as usual," Natalie muttered under her breath.
The door unlocked, and the doorknob began to turn. Jo motioned her friends to the side of the door as she moved into her batting stance. The door slowly opened, and Jo swung forward just as a bright light shone in her eyes. Temporarily blinded, Jo swung high and wide completely missing the intruder.
Instead, contact was made with the door, and the three other women, thinking Jo had successfully taken down the villain, took off running stopping dead in their tracks when they saw Mrs. Garrett standing at the bottom of the stairs laughing.
True to her word, Jo raced to catch up with her friends and actually passed them before she realized she'd been had. There, standing next to Mrs. Garrett were two of her friends, Pam and Jill. Turning back to the top of the stairs, her best friend, Dannie, stood doubled over in laughter.
"Danielle Nicole Italiano, are you crazy? I could have taken your head off with that bat," Jo said in a raised voice, obviously upset.
"Oh c'mon Jo, everyone knows your swing is erratic when you're scared or distracted. It's even worse when you're both," Dannie replied as she stood up and wiped the tears from her eyes.
A pissed off Jo glared at her friend and then proceeded to walk down the stairs past a smiling Mrs. Garrett on her way to the now open front door. She didn't hesitate to slam the offending object behind her.
"I told you she would be upset," Jill said to her accomplices.
Blair made her way down the stairs and replied, "You certainly gave us all a good scare, I'm just glad no one got hurt. Well, except for Jo. You know she doesn't take practical jokes very well unless she's on the giving end. Let me go out and talk to her while the three of you introduce yourselves to Starbuck and Cassiopeia."
Closing the door behind her, Blair looked left and right for her lover and spotted her sitting at the end of the driveway. The street was now deserted as all the trick-or-treaters seemed to have called it a night. Blair watched Jo for several minutes before finally making a move to join her.
"Is this seat taken?" Blair asked as she pointed to the curb.
Jo looked up and merely shook her head no before focusing her attention back to the small patch of grass growing in a hairline crack in the cement of the street.
Blair sat down next to her lover and said, "Beautiful night, isn't it?"
"I guess," Jo replied sullenly.
"Jo, I want to ask some questions, and I'd like for you to take a few minutes to think about your answers," Blair said as she took Jo's hand in hers.
Jo nodded her head in assent, and Blair paused before speaking.
"How many times have your friends played a practical joke on you?"
"This would be the third time," Jo honestly replied.
"How many times have you played a joke on your friends?" Blair asked as she squeezed Jo's hand.
Smiling, Jo responded, "Dozens of times just in the past couple of years."
"So, don't you think that maybe you should cut them some slack or at least give them credit for a well-planned prank?" Blair suggested to her lover.
"Yeah, I guess you're right. They really got me this time and enlisting Mrs. G's help was pure genius. I bet Dannie thought of that angle. Let's go back in and congratulate them on scaring the crap out of us," Jo replied as she stood and held her hand out for Blair to take.
Reaching up, Blair allowed Jo to pull her into a standing position, and the two women walked back toward the house hand in hand, ready to rejoin their friends.
"They're going to be expecting me to exact my revenge, but I think I'll wait until next year when they're nice and relaxed to plan something. I wonder if I could figure out a way to re-enact the headless horseman scene from the 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow' or maybe something from 'The Tell-tale Heart' or ."
"Baby, let's worry about that later," Blair managed to interrupt her scheming lover.
"You're right. I have plenty of time to plan my strategies," Jo replied as the two women stepped back into the house.
After making sure the front door would open again, Jo entered the living room and could literally feel the eyes of her friends settling on her. Catching the smirks of Dannie, Pam, and Jill, she winked to let them know that paybacks were indeed a bitch and smiled as they all immediately flinched.
She then turned to find Natalie and Tootie snickering at her and Blair's joined hands and grinning as they whispered to each other excitedly.
Grasping Blair's hand tightly, she indicated the two giggling friends and muttered, "No telling what those two imaginations will come up with. This Halloween could turn out to be truly scary."
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