Hoping everyone has a fun and safe Halloween! Here’s a poem and a bonus short story to help get you in truly spooktacular spirits!
On Hallow’s Eve
Something wicked stalks the night
As undead spirits wail and keen
Flee the graveyards, pale with fright
From visions of a bloodied scene
Evil prowls in feral light—
On Hallow’s Eve, on Halloween
Heed the footfall in the grass
And shadow vultures high in trees
Fear the stranger that you pass
Whose amber eyes your innards seize
Twist into a gruesome mass—
As you crawl, begging, on your knees
Beware! Hades does not ask
And Prince of Darkness leaves no trace
Thief of youth in joyful task—
No trick or treat, just ghoulish face
In fetid, foul, gloaming mask
He drags them to this beastly place
Charon stalks the lonely night
And undead spirits wail and keen
Fleeing graveyards, pale with fright
From horrors of a carnal scene
Evil prowls in feral light—
On Hallow’s Eve, on Halloween
© Julie Catherine / J C Edwards, 2012
Sometimes, when it’s quiet, I can remember what my life was like before moving to Cedar Springs.
Of course, that was before I died. Not a glorious death, where I died a hero, trying to save someone, or even a spectacular accident. Either of those would have gotten me into heaven right away. Oh no, it was a stupid mistake, a dumb notion that I was invincible, that I could win against the odds— a dangerous mistake that turned deadly and got me killed for my stupidity. And now here I am in this place of eternal dusk and dreariness; this endless fog, where I’m forced to replay my final days over and over again— and convince this drill sergeant here that I truly didn’t have some kind of death wish, that I wasn’t trying to off myself on purpose. Apparently, suicide is an automatic penalty here, and you have to be reprogrammed before they decide what to do with you. They say if I can prove I wasn’t suicidal, then I can choose to either continue to the next level (whatever that is) before going to heaven, or go back to my life and change what happened so that I can play out the rest of the game. I plan on going back.
It’s noisy here, what with all the ‘tweeners crying and cussing and generally being ticked off because they’re stuck here waiting for their interviews. I didn’t realize there were so many unhappy souls in the world, or that I’d end up in a place like this when it was my time. But that’s the crux of the problem— it wasn’t supposed to be my time; I’m not supposed to be here, and I wouldn’t be here except that I messed up.
So just what did I do to land myself in this godforsaken place, you ask? I hitched a ride with a stranger, something my parents have warned me about over and over ever since I was a little kid. Oh yes, I can just hear you now; how could I be so stupid? Trust me, I’ve been asking myself that question ever since I got here a few days ago, and I’ve yet to come up with a good answer. Of course I knew better; of course I knew the danger. You hear about bad stuff like this happening to girls who hitch rides, and I watch the movies. But did I ever think it would happen to me, a fifteen-year-old guy who could wipe the streets with the neighbourhood bully?
I never wanted to move to Cedar Springs; there was just something about that place that wasn’t … right. It gave me the creeps, especially at night. Oh, I eventually made some friends, and everyone else seemed to like the new place, but I never did feel really comfortable there. Turns out I should have listened to my gut this time. Not that it would have made a difference, probably.
Looks almost peaceful down there right now. Starting to snow, too, winter’s coming early this year. Peeps haven’t found my body yet; they’re still searching. Sis says I ran away, but mum doesn’t believe her; she knows I wouldn’t do that. She knows something bad happened. When it’s quiet like this I hear her crying; I can almost hear her thoughts and I’m bummed that she’s blaming herself. I wish she wouldn’t. I really miss her, that’s why I have to go back.
It was raining that night, teeming out. A bunch of us were chilling at the burger joint, checking out the new girl at the cash; man, she was hot! Oh yeah, did I mention that it was Halloween? The guys and I were doing candy exchange over fries and cokes; I can’t stand plain chips and traded mine with Cliff for some chocolate bars. We didn’t have nearly as much stuff as last year, because we refused to wear those lame costumes again. I mean, come on, it’s not like the neighbours don’t know us; they could’ve given us more loot. We’ve been wearing dumb costumes for years— now all of a sudden they don’t want to give us stuff just ‘cause we’re sick of dressing up like little kids? That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still get stuff if we knock on their doors!
Oh, right. Anyway, back to my story. So we did the exchange thing and it was getting late. I didn’t bring my bike so I was walking. Jim wasn’t there because he was sick; usually we hang out since he just lives next door, but that night I was alone. It was late; the rain wasn’t letting up and it was damn cold. I was getting soaked right through my jacket and still had a ways to go to get home. So this car goes by fast and splashes me but good; I was so pissed I gave him the salute. No, he didn’t come back and kill me, he was long gone, probably didn’t even see me the speed he was going.
No, it was this other guy in a big black car. He slowed down and then stopped just up a bit and asked if I was okay, if I needed a ride. Said he saw how that other car splashed me and figured I was cold and wet. And yes, I started to say, no thanks, but this guy was a priest dude. He was wearing a collar and everything, really respectable-like, you know. About dad’s age. He kind of reminded me of dad, too. So I thought, okay, that’s cool, at least I won’t be a drowned rat by the time I get home— so I opened the passenger door. Oh sure, I hesitated just before I got in; I was afraid I’d get the seat all wet, and it was a bootylicious car, expensive looking. But the priest said it was okay, so I figured it was all good and I got in. Right, you’re looking at me like I’m totally lame; how was I supposed to know he was the death guy? He looked like a religious dude to me! And I was already feeling miserable; cold, tired, soaked to the skin and I was starting to sneeze.
So we’re driving along and it’s still pouring and I’m sneezing, and the priest is talking about it being Halloween and the kids’ costumes and trick or treating and stuff like that— I’m not really listening to him; when all of a sudden he pulls over to the side of the road, stops and yells at me that I have to get out, like he’s real ticked off. I say, what the hell, man? What’d I do? He just stares at me— and all of a sudden, his eyes start glowing, this real weird yellow colour and his face was all twisted. Holy man, I almost lost it right there! Freaked me right out! Oh, I got out of there, all right; started running across the field. I figured no sense in running down the road because he was in a car and I didn’t know if he was going to run me over or something. He scared the crap out of me!
I just kept running and running, until I had to stop because I had a stitch in my side. I had to stop to catch my breath. I looked back and that damn car was still there on the side of the road; I could see it, even through the rain! Well, that spooked me big time. I was holding my breath, looking around, but I couldn’t see anyone. I knew he wouldn’t be able to outrun me, because he was older; you know, my dad’s age, and I can outrun my dad any day of the week. Anyway, I couldn’t see him anywhere, and I was getting my breath back, so I turned to keep running across the field— I could see my street on the other side— I was halfway there already.
Well, holy geeze, I turned and there was this wolf, right in front of me! Only it wasn’t a wolf, not like the dog kind, it’s kind of hard to explain. It looked sort of like the religious guy, but with hair and fangs and really long claws. But, omg those eyes! Those were his eyes for sure. They had that same yellow glow, like the guy in the car; they were pure evil! Well, this wolf-thing, it was kind of crouched down a bit at the front, it’s hair all bristling, and it was growling, really low. I could see its fangs, they were huge. OMG, I couldn’t help it, I peed myself. I could feel it running warm down my leg. The rest of me was frozen and I thought my heart was going to stop right there on the spot. I’m pretty sure I had a mini heart attack. I started running as fast as I could, but that beast was everywhere. I turned right and there he was, directly in front of me; left, same thing. His breath burned my skin and it smelled rotten, like sewer water. I’m pretty sure I was bawling my eyes out, screaming like a girl; and I hate to admit it, but I’ve never been so scared in my whole life. I just couldn’t get away from that evil thing; it didn’t matter which direction I went. I knew I was doomed, but I had to try to get away from it.
Well, as you probably guessed, the beast got me, which of course, is why I’m here. Have you ever felt the pain of having fangs dug into your neck so far that you can’t even breathe? Do you have any idea just how painful it is to have your throat ripped out while you’re still alive? To know that some evil man-wolf is chewing on your innards and you can’t even move a finger to save yourself, there’s no breath to even make a sound? It’s the most terrifying nightmare you could ever possibly imagine!
I kind of hope they don’t find me, or what’s left of me. Not that I want my mum to think I ran away, but I definitely don’t want her to know a werewolf ate me, that’s so much worse. Oh— it’s my interview time? I swear, if I make it through this, I’ll never do another stupid thing ever again. Please, God, just let me have this one more chance. I promise, I won’t mess up. I’ll be the most dependable, reliable, intelligent kid in all of Cedar Springs, you’ll see.
Whew. I thought I’d never make it through all those questions. Cripes, even my parents never gave me a grilling like that! I’ve never heard so many questions in my life; they made me jump through hoops. I had to explain and justify every decision I’ve ever made. But, yay! I convinced them, and now here I am. Thank you, God. It’s a miracle, and I get to do it right this time. No mistakes, no hitching rides, no being stupid— I’ve got one more chance and I’m not going to mess this one up.
Hey, later peeps, see you guys Saturday for the big party. What do you mean, Jim’s already left? Man, if he’d just waited a few minutes, we could have walked home together. Yo, Jim, wait up bro, it’s pissing down rain, wait for me, man! Oh great, he can’t hear me, he’s too far down the road already. Hey, watch where you’re driving man— thanks for the soaking, you jerk! Idiot!
Wait, what’s Jim doing? He’s thumbing for a ride? No! Oh no. Please, nooooo!!! That car, it can’t be. Big. Black. Car. Driving slowly by Jim. Stopping. Jim, WAIT! No, don’t talk to that guy, he’s evil. Jim! Don’t do it! JIM! Please, no, don’t get in the car. Jim. Please, don’t … get … in … the … car.
© Julie Catherine / J C Edwards, 2012