Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who could ask for more?

He watched a brown leaf flutter and dance in the autumn air on the way to the ground. The fading sun warmed Stan’s face as a cool afternoon breeze gave a hint of the chilly night to come. Stanley felt lonely; he had wanted to partake in the festivities. Sitting on the ancient brick wall that lined the steps to the old courthouse he surveyed the celebration of Sleepy Meadow’s Fall Festival from a distance.

It used to be called All Hallows Eve celebration. Back when you could still go in the court house. Back when the old redbrick-walled and gabled roofed building was a living part of the town that surrounded it. Now it was just the center of a park. A place seldom used but for festivities like the Fourth of July picnic and of course the Fall Fest. 

A dozen old and knurled oaks stood throughout the park. Some so old people said they were saplings back when old Ben flew his kite. Stan had often wondered what sights these giants had seen over the centuries. Today they gave the hay-bale mazes, hot dog vendors and bouncy houses shade. One grayer and taller then the rest was named old glory. It was said to have held the ropes around many-a-horse thief and some say even a few witches’ necks. 

Stan gazed up at its skeletal-like branches reaching into the darkening sky. While sitting there daydreaming he heard a voice that seemed to be part of the cold autumn breeze.

“You look all dressed up with nowhere to go.” 

She was beautiful but pale like a porcelain doll. Stan felt uncomfortable since he knew what she meant. He had put his best suit on and painted his face that of a skeleton. He did so for his love of Halloween but without little ones or other reason, he felt too misunderstood to join the rest. She was dressed up too. But unlike him she wore a Victorian dress and pale make-up and did so very fittingly.

“I am going to an All Hallows Eve Party, want to go Stanley?” Her voice again was like a whisper on the wind.

“Sure!” he said excited, without a thought as to how she knew his name.
Jumping down from the stairs he took her outreached hand which felt cold under a satin glove.

“Are you sure I’ll be welcomed?”  Stanley asked.

A breeze blew again through the old oaks; it was a bit stronger this time and Stanley shuttered. He looked at his new companion. Up close her eyes were dark, almost black but beautiful. She gently caressed his chin.

“Don’t be silly, come on.”

They walked while the sun set and each house began to light there jack-o-lanterns. Glowing smiles and the smell of burning candles greeted them as they passed. Few words were spoken; Stanley sensed his new friend was just as charmed by the dusk as he was. A bit of hesitation crept in when he realized where they were headed. On the outskirts of town just past the railroad tracks there was a tree canopied dirt road that led up to the old Barton mansion. 

It had belonged to one of Sleepy Meadows founding families. The house had been abandoned for years. The old groves around it had grown wild hiding any trace of what was at the end of the road. The house was almost all but forgotten by town’s adults. Urban legends and dares kept its memories alive and well with the children. Only the bravest youth or drunken teen would cross the fallen wrought iron gate and head up the path for a glimpse. None were ever brave enough to do so at night.

They made their way across the field to where the twisted bits of rust that was once a gate laid half buried in soft earth. A huge hunter’s moon hung high in the sky casting a pale blue on everything. The light penetrated the trees just enough to make the path navigable. The smell of dust and damp rotted wood filled the air. Stanley stopped and gently tugged her hand back. She stopped in one of the rays of moon light and almost seemed to glow. Turning to Stanley she got him moving again with a sweet reassuring smile and head nod.

A few minutes later the road gave way to a clearing and there it was. A giant brick monument to decay. Three stories, each surrounded by windows that held only shards of glass. The windows seemed to be so black even the unhindered moonlight could not breach them or the darkness inside the house. What bothered him more was there were no sounds coming from inside.

“Are you sure this is safe, I thought there was a party?” Stanley said looking up at the silently ominous structure before him.

“Stanley don’t be afraid of what you don’t see, do you want to come to our celebration?”

Before he answered she asked again with those sad but lovely doll eyes.

He said yes.

Her smile became sinister and her blood red lips glistened as razor sharp teeth bit into his throat. She picked his lifeless corpse up. With the dead man over her shoulder she walked up to large wooden doors. Delicately she laid him on the cold stone floor beside one door. Standing she rapped the iron ring of the door knocker. Three loud knocks echoed inside the house and rang like thunder throughout the clearing. 

The door opened, light, laughter and music projected from inside. She felt a boney hand on her shoulder and looked to see Stanley standing beside her.

“Don’t run away it’s only me” Stanley said with a spectral grin.
She smiled back and held his ghostly hand, together they went in to enjoy the party. 

Happy Halloween!

Copyright S Williams 2013

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