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(HSSC) Samhain

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posted on Oct, 10 2005 @ 05:32 AM
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Hey guys, here is my entry for the Halloween contest. I hope you like it. For those who might not know, the title is Gaelic and is pronounced (as close as I can figure) saw-een. It is the Celtic festival from which Halloween draws much of its inspiration. I hope you enjoy this story. It is a little longer than my other efforts, but as has been pointed out, it takes a lot to scare people in these days.


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Samhain

Jason was caught in a strange world, a twilight realm somewhere between the fading world of childhood fantasy and innocence and the looming world of adult responsibility and the grim acceptance of reality. Jason’s fairytales were dying and, at fourteen, stories and make-believe were already beginning to occupy less of his time. Which is why Jason found Halloween to be such an awkward holiday, for it reminded him of all that he had given up in his march to be seen and treated as an adult. When he had been younger, Jason had seen adulthood as an opportunity to escape from the stifling confines of his parent’s authority. Not content to wait for it to come to him, Jason had reached for adulthood with eager, grasping hands, forsaking childish dreams which he had counted of little worth. Now, as he straddled that strange space between two contrasting worlds, Jason began to question his willingness to abandon tales and stories and playful constructs of the imagination.

That question became a burning accusation when he saw the joy and the wonder shining in the eyes of his younger brother. For him, Halloween was a day of magic and ethereal promises, when spirits and ghosts and vampires walked the streets, dark symbols rendered impotent in the costumed expressions of neighbourhood children. Jason’s brother ran ahead of him, eager to come to the next house and use vague and indistinct threats to procure candy from its occupants.
“Don’t get too far ahead, Marcus. Wait for me”.
For the third time that night, Jason cursed himself for starting the argument with his parents. If he really wanted to be treated like an adult, they had told him, he needed to show that he could be responsible. That he never saw the trap until it closed about him was, Jason thought, a valuable lesson in when to speak and when to remain silent. Up ahead, Marcus waited impatiently outside the door of a house which looked as though it had at one time been quite grand and impressive, but whose owners had obviously neglected its care in recent years. Tall weeds stood in what must once have been proud gardens of sculpted elegance. Bushels of unkempt grass had begun to reclaim the wide cement driveway and tiny creeping vines had begun to snake their way up a drainpipe that was stained here and there with patches of mould. As he approached the house, Jason felt a vague sense of loss and of deep and abiding sorrow and felt he would be glad when Marcus had his candy and they could leave. As Jason stepped up to the door and went to knock, he felt Marcus’ tiny hand tugging at his shirt.
“What?”
“I want to do it”.
“You want to knock on the door?”
Marcus bobbed his little head up and down in an exaggerated yes motion.
“Okay then,” said Marcus. “But you have to knock real loud, okay?”
Marcus nodded and then banged his little fist hard against the wooden door. Jason strained, but could not hear any sounds from within the house. A group of small children ran past the house, laughing and fighting over newly acquired bounties of sugar. A cold breeze blew through the street, causing witches robes and ghosts sheets to flap wildly, eliciting cries of protest from crowds of trick-or-treaters. The breeze raised goosebumps on Jason’s flesh. A strange and curious scent was carried with it and Jason struggled to place it in his memory, but found he was unable to do so. It smelled vaguely of spices and for a moment Jason felt as though he were being carried away by the alien scent to a place of soft light and muted colours. His reverie was cut short when the door to the house opened slowly, creaking on hinges that longed for oil.

An elegant woman stood framed in the doorway, warm orange light throwing her long shadow upon the two children. Jason thought the woman might have been in her thirties, but the lines on her face spoke of pain and misery. This observation went unnoticed by Marcus, however, who thrust his small bag of candy forward and demanded
“Trick or treat”.
The woman smiled softly but slowly, as though doing so required a great expenditure of effort.
“Well hello there, sweetheart”, she said gently. “That’s an impressive costume you have on. Who are you supposed to be?”
“I’m Goku!” Marcus replied enthusiastically.
“Oh”, the woman responded, obviously unsure how to respond. “And who exactly is Goku?”
“He’s from Dragonball Z”, answered Marcus. “He’s the strongest and he has the coolest Super Simian powers!”
The woman lifted her eyes to Jason, pleading silently for some explanation.
“He’s from a kid’s cartoon show”, Jason offered mercifully. “It’s on in the mornings”.
“Oh, I see”, said the woman. “Well, Goku, I’m sorry but we don’t have any candy here, sweetheart. We … we don’t really celebrate Halloween any more. We haven’t for a long time”.
“Why not?” asked Marcus, who was simultaneously angry at not having been offered more candy and struggling to decide whether or not he was now obligated to ‘trick’ the woman.
“They just don’t Marcus, okay. Don’t be rude. Thanks anyway, maam, have a good night” said Jason as he slowly began to steer Marcus away from the door.
“You boys be careful tonight”, said the woman as she began to close the door. “This is a bad night for children. You make sure you stick to the main streets, where the light is good, and go straight home when you’re done”.
Jason knew that it was impolite not to offer a thank you, but he was mildly offended at having been called a child. As the door shut behind him, Jason noticed that the number of children and adults in the street had dropped and that there were now only a couple of small groups still moving from house to house. Again a cold wind whistled down the street, casting candy wrappers and papers before it. One of the papers became caught on Jason’s shoe and as he kicked it free he saw the black and white face of a child, no older than Marcus, printed below the words HAVE YOU SEEN ME? Jason tried to look closer, to see if he knew the child, but the wind took the paper and swept it out of his reach. The wind cut through Jason and he began to shiver. Looking up, he saw that the sun had just dipped below the horizon, casting the world into a soft purple twilight.
“Come on Marcus”, said Jason. “It’s time to go home”.
“Oh, come on Jason”, Marcus protested. “One more house, just one more. Please”.
“It was one more house two houses ago”, Jason replied. “Mom and dad put me in charge and I say we’re going home. Now come on, let’s go”.
Marcus was about to protest further, but found that he was at once unable to construct a reasonable excuse for delaying his fun against his brother’s wishes and excited at the prospect of consuming his weight in candy. Conceding, he offered his hand to his big brother, who took it and began to lead him down the street towards their home.

Halfway down the street Jason heard a soft, melodic music. He supposed that it must be from a car stereo or from a distant house, since it was very faint and hard to distinguish. If he listened hard, Jason thought he could make out broken fragments of words, although they didn’t sound English.
“Probably one of those German bands”, he thought. Jason found the music soothing and strangely compelling. His eyes began to feel heavy and his shoulders began to sag, until he was jerked back to full wakefulness by the sounds of shouting from across the street. Looking over, Jason saw an old man who was obviously homeless, probably drunk and clearly mad. The man bore a matted grey beard and covered himself with clothes that were little more than rags. In one hand he clutched a frayed and worn Bible and he shouted incoherent ramblings at the people who passed by him.
“… were those who stood aside when Lucifer waged his war … beings of darkness sculpted in the light of children’s tales”.
Marcus squeezed Jason’s hand tighter and Jason moved to put himself between his brother and the homeless man, who continued to give voice to his madness.
“… their mounds are open! Their city beckons, but they spin lies to suit their purpose! There is no sun in their city and it is forever veiled twilight!”
As Jason hurried his brother past him, he noticed that the man wore his filthy jacket back to front, so that the open end hung limply at his back.

Jason continued to lead Marcus down the street and then turned into the cul de sac that would take them home. He stopped, frozen in place, and his eyes grew wide as he took in the scene before him. Where familiar houses and streets should have been, a wide grassy area now stood. The grass in the area was evenly trimmed and in the middle of the field stood a children’s swing set. The swing moved steadily back and forth, squeaking on rusted hinges, as though guided by an unseen pair of hands. On the ground in front of the swing was a Halloween bag. It lay torn and violated in the dirt, its spilt contents discarded and forgotten on the ground. At his side, Marcus wrapped his tiny hands around Jason’s arm and asked in a broken voice
“Jason, where are we? Did we get lost? Where’s home?”
Without taking his eyes from the grassy field and the perpetual movement of the swing, Jason answered hesitantly
“I … I don’t know. I guess we must have taken a wrong turn or something”.
Yet even as the lie left his lips, Jason knew that this could not have been the case. These streets were as familiar to him as the back of his hand and he had remembered their paths and their turnings from childhood. Jason felt Marcus’ hands begin to shake.
“I wanna go home, Jason”, said Marcus.
“I know Marcus, okay. I want to go home too”.
Marcus began to cry then, his fearful tears staining the makeup his mother had lovingly applied as part of his costume. Jason steeled himself and began to pull Marcus away from the defiant strangeness of the grassy area.

But as he did so, he heard a sound from behind them. It almost sounded like child’s laughter, but it was different somehow and as he struggled to idenitfy that difference, Jason realised that the pitch was higher. It sounded like somebody had sucked helium through a straw and was giggling softly behind them. Jason spun on the spot and thought he saw a black shape, but it ducked behind a low hill which had not been there five minutes ago. Of the street and the neighbourhood they had just come from there was no sign. There was only the hill. The hill was not overly large, barely thirty feet high, but Jason knew for a fact that no such hill existed anywhere near their neighbourhood. Suddenly, Jason heard the strange music again, only now it was stronger, louder, clearer. And it was coming from inside the hill. Jason’s mind raced, and strange images flooded it with inexplicable visions. He saw a strange city of impossible angles and towering structures. Although it was but a flash, the image of the alien city aroused a deep sense of dread within Jason. Its unearthly geometry and strange, filtered light stirred something primal and basic within him and he tightened his grip on Marcus’ hand and turned to run.

Yet though he had been sure of his grip, he had not gone ten paces when he realised that Marcus had somehow slipped from his grasp. Turning, he saw his little brother walking dreamily towards the hill.
“Marcus!” Jason screamed. His brother showed no sign that he had heard him and continued his slow, measured pace towards the hill. When he had crossed half the distance to the hill, a sudden flash of light erupted across the grassy area, forcing Jason to shield his eyes as they shrank in protest at the change in light levels. When he was able to focus his vision once more, Jason beheld a doorway that stood carved into the side of the hill. Looking past it, he saw the towers and tenements of a strange city and he knew with a creeping sense of panic and nausea that it had not been built by human hands. The black spires of the city pierced enormous heights, thrusting themselves into a sky that was neither light nor dark.
“A twilight world”, thought Jason. In the distance he could see odd creatures circling in the air, but he was too far away to perceive them with any degree of clarity. Jason could feel his fear reaching up from his stomach through his throat to strangle and incapacitate him and he might have be content to let it were it not for the fact that Marcus had almost gained the threshold of the door in the hillside.
“Marcus, no! Come back!!!” Jason screamed, to no avail. As Marcus stepped into the twilight realm, Jason commanded his legs to move and with newfound courage he sprinted across the grassy area towards the hill. As he neared the doorway, he could see Marcus walking along a grey path some distance ahead of him. As he entered the hill he heard a high-pitched laugh, but could not tell where it came from. Behind him he heard a great crack, as though the side of the hill were being torn asunder.

Jason and Marcus’ parents never celebrated Halloween after that day. They found their jobs no longer held meaning for them and soon quit or were fired. Their house, in which they had invested their sweat and their money, fell into disrepair. As they walked the streets of their neighbourhood, they felt that the wind was somehow colder and they pretended not to notice when it blew crumpled and torn posters towards them, bearing the faces of their missing children below the words HAVE YOU SEEN ME?

[edit on 10/10/05 by Jeremiah25]




posted on Oct, 10 2005 @ 07:49 AM
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Nice entry Jeremiah25. As usual, your writing is interesting, descriptive and a pleasure to read. I was made a little uneasy by your story, particularly the description of the 'Have you seen' posters. Something very disturbing about them. I'm starting to feel it IS possible for readers to feel dread, if not full out fear. Good creepy factor and all around spooky ambience.

Wish you luck in the contest!



posted on Oct, 10 2005 @ 08:12 PM
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I must agree, there was a serious creep factor in this story that really hit the spot. Good writing my friend
You have one of the best descriptive voices I have read in a long time. I could sense and feel virtually every step of the walk they were on. That was seriously cool.

I have no doubt you will do well in the contest.

Love and light,

Wupy



posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 08:05 PM
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Hi Jeremiah,

Well, once again you have given the reader a thrilling ride! I have always wanted to find a fairy hill, which appears like the one in your story. Your hill, however is much more sinister. (Of course if you enter the fairy hill, your chances of returning are slim!) Your characters were very well developed, and I especially liked the innocent antics of marcus.


I also liked the idea of Jason's struggle to leave the days of childhood behind, even though he obviously still enjoyed certain aspects of it. This story was indeed creepy and I had this foreboding sense that after a while, Jason's whole neighborhood would be filled with houses that fell into disrepair.

Great story Jeremiah!



posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 09:36 PM
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sylvrshadow

Hey, thanks so much for the comments. I really appreciate them.


I have always found Faeries to be particularly frightening. My dad always used to tell us stories about them that were somewhat ... divorced from the Disney incarnations. He always used to tell me that on Halloween, the mounds to Faerie would open, which used to frighten me no end.

I'm very gratified that you appreciated Jason's struggle. I wasn't sure whether or not people would get the whole "He's trapped in the twilight between two worlds figuratively and then literally" concept, so I'm glad to see you did.

Once again, I really appreciate the feedback. Thanks again sylvrshadow. Now, a million bucks to the person who can tell me why the crazy old man had his jacket on backwards!


Edit
Er, I haven't actually got a million bucks. But you certainly will win ... er ... respect.


[edit on 13/10/05 by Jeremiah25]



posted on Oct, 26 2005 @ 03:28 PM
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Wow. I'm so going to lose this contest. Kudos to you Jeremiah, I think you've already won.

Cheers,
Void



posted on Oct, 31 2005 @ 01:09 PM
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Is the homeless man perhaps wearing a straight-jacket?



posted on Oct, 31 2005 @ 01:14 PM
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I really enjoyed this story. It was an exciting read and had a very creepy feeling to it from the beginning. You're a great writer, Jeremiah25.



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