Hello Fellow BookNerds!
I bid you all a wonderful All Hallows Eve, and in light of the coming evening of festivities and merriment, I thought I would provide a brief insight into the history of this annual celebration, followed by a tail of horror written by yours truly. Enjoy ^_^
Halloween: A History
The night of All Hallows Eve is among our older and more colorful traditions, going back at least 2000 years. The Celtics are recorded in our history as being among the first to have participated in the celebration, although the context in which it was celebrated differs greatly from today’s festivities. The Celts were big into worship, giving praise to the Gods that possessed a controlling power over the many different elements of life, and in some cases the elements of death. Samhain, lord of the dead and the winter season, was believed to come out on the night of October 31st call forth the souls of the dead, forcing them to take on the shape of animals as they wandered the Earth. Huge fires would be lit in order to stengthen the power of the Sun God, in the hopes that he would be able to fend off Samhain until the new day began at midnight, at which time they would begin to worship the lord of death again as they prepare not only for the new year, but also for the coming of the six months of cold. From that fire which was used to appease the Sun God, each and every household would receive an ember, which they would use to ward keep the evil spirits at bay throughout the new year.
The tradition and significance of the night has changed since then, altered by the unique superstitions, beliefs and culture of the people who came after them. The Romans, for instance, wanted to change it to All Saints Day, a day to honor those saints who did not have a day to be honored. Not long after that, Witchcraft became highly prevalent, eventually turning the holiday into the Night of the Witch, reverting it back to some of its more traditional roots of demons and mysticism. Since then, it became a night known for its superstitious beliefs, taking on the name of All Hallows Even, or ‘Halloween’ for short. Of course, this is only one piece of Halloween’s history, and it may differ greatly depending on who you ask. Either way, it’s plain to see that this holiday has taken on a much different meaning, focusing more on getting consumers to buy costumes, candy, and spend the night going door to door with friends and family. Still, that does not make our traditions any less significant.
After looking into the history of Halloween, I felt inspired to start my own traditions, one of which has been to dress up as a different character from the series Firefly every year. Okay, it’s not so much a tradition as it is having no other ideas of what to be, but I view it as a tradition nonetheless. Another tradition, which I have decided to start as of today, is to write a short Halloween story and share it with all of you wonderful booknerds. So, in light of this new tradition, here is a piece of a horror story I had begun to write many a year ago, but which terrified me so much while writing it that I was forced to set down my pen and leave it as it is. Of course, this was many years ago, so I doubt that it’s as scary as I remember, but I thought I would let you guys be the judge of that ^_^
Halloween Horror Story
The woods were still, not a creature stirred among the brambles.
The ground was bathed in darkness, making it difficult for the men to see their footing. Their torches were growing dim as the oils ran dry, but it was enough to light the fear on their faces.
“I think we may have taken a wrong turn, Krom,” his voice shook as he gripped the sleeve of his partner, who looked equally as fearful. “I don’t recognize a stick or stone in these parts.”
“I think you may be right Mirkum,” he stopped, squinting his eyes to try and penetrate the darkness. The baldness of his head shimmered in the firelight, illuminating the beads of sweat that trickled down his face. “None of this looks right.”
“Sh-should we turn around?” Mirkum tugged on Krom’s arm, emphasizing his feelings of unease. His eyes were wide with terror, giving him the appearance of a scared puppy. The sounds he uttered mimicked his appearance, but Krom ignored his whimpers and kept moving forwards. Not wanting to be left alone, Mirkum tightened his grip on his friends’ shirt and followed in his deep footsteps. Having taken a fairly muddy trail, it wasn’t too difficult.
The moons rays were cut off by the thick layer of clouds that drifted lazily through the sky, creating an even darker atmosphere that did nothing to comfort the two lost men. They moved on, stumbling on roots and twigs that stuck up from odd places, and it was only their longing to get back home that kept them from staying face down in the mud.
“You know, I do believe that I was the one that pointed out that going through the forest was a bad idea,” said Mirkum, speaking at almost a shout as he fell slightly behind due to a snagging branch. “But no, you wanted to take the short cut so we wouldn’t miss out on the village celebration. Well guess what? According to the sky, we missed the celebration hours ago, and if we had just gone around the forest, we would have long since gone back to our houses and –”.
“Okay!” Krom stopped dead in his tracks, and almost as suddenly stumbled forward as Mirkum collided into his back. He spun around, his face an inch away from Mirkum’s as he spat out his frustration. “I get it, I made a mistake, and now we’re stuck paying the price. Now, if you want to get out of here by morning, I suggest that you stitch your lips and follow me!” Without another word, Krom began to make his way through the mud once more, the squelching from his shoes being the only sound that filled the silent air.
“Didn’t have to be so harsh,” Mirkum muttered indignantly as he continued to follow. It wasn’t long, however, before Mirkum began to start up another one-sided conversation.
“You know, I don’t know why they don’t just build a road that leads directly through here. I mean, it’s just so much quicker and convenient, you know? It’s like I’ve been saying for years, Krom, that the townspeople need to be taken into consideration whenever Lord Goroban decides to make another Law. I don’t even remember the last time Goroban even came down to the village to see how we were doing! He just ignores us as if we’re some kind of irritating pest that will go away if you leave it alone.”
“I share a similar problem,” Krom mumbled to himself, trying to hear over his friends complaints. It was then that he noticed that the trees were becoming denser, allowing what little light their was in the sky to filter through the leaves. Relief swept through him, but it was a relief short lived. There was something eerie that made him shiver.
“What’s wrong Krom?” said Mirkum, nearly running into Krom once more as he stopped. This time, Mirkum maneuvered around him, placing himself on Kroms’ left in order to see what was making him freeze up. “What did you –?”
“Shush!” Krom held up a hand to keep Mirkum quiet as he tried to listen to a sound he wasn’t sure existed. They waited, holding their breath. Krom was in the motion of taking a step forward when the sound of rustling leaves echoed through the trees. Mirkum jumped back, nearly choking Krom as he grabbed his vest collar. Krom did not see anything move, but there was no doubt in his mind that there was something else in the forest with them.
“Do you think it’s a beast of some kind?” Mirkum whispered, digging his fingers into Krom’s shoulder as they moved forward again. This time, they had only managed to take a couple steps before another rustling sound was heard. This time, they could see one of the trees swaying. There was no breeze to speak of, and the tree was not moving of its own accord.
“My guess is as good as yours,” Krom gulped, holding what was left of the embers burning within his torch to see what was up ahead. Unfortunately, the flame only lasted long enough for them to reach a small clearing before flickering and dying. Dropping his torch, he yanked the wooden instrument out of Mirkum’s hand, raising it high above his head. The clearing was void of all life, excluding the few saplings that were struggling to free themselves from the soil and become like their surrounding brethrens.
“I don’t like this Krom,” Mirkum’s voice was beginning to shake with fear once more as they took a step forward into the clearing. As his foot made contact with the soft soil, the sound of a child’s laughter echoed around them. They turned around, thinking instinctively that it had come from behind, but there was no one there. He would have assumed it be his imagination playing tricks on him, but Mirkum appeared to have heard it to. There is no way they both could have had the same illusion. Then, the laughter came back, and when they turned their heads back around, they jumped back from what they saw.
Sitting on the ground, legs crossed and her hair gold and curly, was a little girl playing with her doll. Her face was hidden by the shadow that fell over her face as she looked down at the little doll clasped within her hands. She was stroking the doll like you would a tamed animal, and as the two men moved closer to get a better look, the little girl began to sing. Krom and Mirkum stopped to listen;
“Red yellow green blue,
This is a song that’s just for you.
Green blue red yellow,
Sing it to a pretty fellow.
Tic toc, watch the clock,
Sitting on a curly lock.
Blue green yellow red,
When this song is sung. . .”
The girl gave a little laugh as she paused, her hand freezing in the motion of stroking the dolls curly black hair. The two men stared in horror as the girl raised her face, her features lit by the torchlight. It was not the face of any normal human child, for where eyes were meant to be, there were only empty sockets lined with pulsing veins. There was a flat stretch of skin over the place where her nose was supposed to be, and her mouth! It resembled the mouth of a snake when it dislocates its jaw to feast upon a rodent. Where teeth should be, there were hundreds of pointed fangs, and her face was the colour of a rotting corpse left out in the sun for too long.
As her upper and lower jaw met, an evil smile played across her face and she opened her mouth to finish the song. As she spoke, blood trickled from the corners of her mouth, dripping onto the ground without making a sound.
“When the song is sung,
You’ll all be dead!”
Krom could not move, no matter how many times Mirkum hissed in his ear. The sight of such a monster was enough to make a man feel as if he’d turned to stone. The only muscle that seemed to work was his eye lids, which kept blinking as if it would make the horrifying creature disappear. The creature continued to smile, blood now pouring from her eyes and ears. Both Krom and Mirkum looked down; the blood was flowing like a little stream, right between their legs. The torchlight was reflected in the blood, shimmering like the lake at sunset.
“Please, let’s get out of here,” Mirkum hissed, urgently tugging on Krom’s vest to make him listen. “Pl-please, while we still can.”
“Going so soon?” The voice that came from the creature now was much deeper, not like a child’s at all. It sounded as if two voices were speaking at the same time from a single mouth, making the creature seem more intimidating. “I thought you would want to play with me.” Krom finally snapped out of his trance and took a step back, taking care not to make any sudden movements that might put them both in danger.
“I-I’m sorry, b-but we h-have to get going,” Krom stuttered, trying to look away from the things distorted features. “I-it’s getting late.”
“I don’t like it when people are scared of me,” it spoke with the savage defiance of a child that’s not having things go their way. When she spoke next, her voice reverted back to the sound of a little girl and along with it, so did her features. She became rosy cheeked, blue eyed, and complete with a cute button nose. Krom looked down at his feet again, and was unnerved to see that the blood had vanished. “Now will you play with me?”
“I really don’t think that’s a good idea,” Mirkum whispered, but he obviously wasn’t quiet enough. He began to choke, gasping for air as he fell to the ground, his hands groping at his throat. Within seconds, his face had turned from blue to white, and he exhaled his last breath.
“Oh my God, y-you killed him!” Krom dropped to his knees, laying his hands upon the chest of his best friend as his eyes brimmed with tears.
“He didn’t want to play with me,” she said, looking completely undisturbed by what had just happened. She went back to stroking her doll.
“W-what the hell are you?” Krom rose to his feet, keeping as much distance between himself and the girl as possible without making her feel betrayed.
“You ask me no questions, I tell you no lies,” was her only response, which simply resulted in angering Krom further.
“Whatever the hell you are, I’m not going to let you spread your evil any further!” Reaching up, he snapped off a thick tree branch, holding it in front of him like a sword. To Krom’s surprise, the girl simply giggled.
“You’re funny, I like you,” she gently set her doll onto the ground and looked up at Krom with a cheery smile, showing her startlingly white teeth. “It’s too bad that I’m not allowed to be your friend anymore.” Bowing her head back down, Krom was able to sneak another glance at the body lying at his feet. It was only now that he truly regretted not having listened to his friend. Why did he have to be so stubborn?
Looking up, he saw that the girl still had her face focused upon the ground. This was his only chance, and he took it. Turning on the spot, Krom made a run for it through the trees. Curses flew from his mouth as the branches tore his shirt in several places. He didn’t stop to think, he just kept running. The only thing he focused on was the thought of getting home to his wife and crawling into bed with her. This comforted him, but not enough to remove the image of the creature from the forefront of his mind.
Sadly, he never did make it to that cozy bed with the woman he loved.
He could just make out the edge of the forest, the lights of the village houses visible at the top of the hill, when something snagged at his foot. Turning over, he watched with a yelp as the earth seemed to come alive beneath his feet. Vines wrapped around his limbs, cutting off the flow of blood to his heart. As he let out a scream for help, another vine shot out from beneath him and wound itself around his mouth, muffling his voice.
“I told you we could no longer be friends,” came the little girl’s voice, echoing in his ears. Krom tried to struggle free, but the vines would not loosen their grip. He screamed into the vine as he felt something pierce through his chest. Opening his eyes, he could see one of the thick vines sticking right through him, dripping with his own blood. He could barely catch his breath. The pain made him throw up, but the vine binding his mouth would not allow the fluids to escape, so it simply oozed all over his face. Feeling his life slowly seep away, he also became aware of the dirt rising above his head. The vines dragged him into the Earth, and the last thing he saw was the smiling face of a little blond girl, waving at him with the arm of her little doll. . .
Happy Halloween Everyone!