October 25, 2009

Rhodes Ends All Hallow's Eve Celebration

Welcome to Rhodes End’s Halloween where All Hallows’ Eve is celebrated on the Town Green.

Two churches bracketing the wide swath of grass like book-ends dispense orange and black decorated candy bags. The scents of cinnamon, burning candles and scorched pumpkin drift on the breeze. An owl hoots from a hollow tree in the ancient cemetery behind the church. The nearby streets are dark and empty in stark contrast to the noisy party-goers. No-one goes from house to house yelling Trick-or-Treat since an incident in 1943 that no one claims to remember.
A huge bonfire lights the night where excited children toast marshmallows donated by Nelson’s grocery store and parents drink heated apple cider from Styrofoam cups. Peter’s Pluckers’, a local blue-grass band is stomping out ‘Turkey in the Straw’ to loud clapping at the gazebo strung with bobbing skeletons and ghosts. Johnson’s Orchard donates huge tubs of shiny green Granny Smith’s for bobbing. The dripping faced kids hardly wait to be dried before running off to another game. Colorfully attired townsfolk escort laughing, excited children from event to event. Everyone wants to keep the little ones safe tonight.

Costumed or painted to reflect their own personality, every child is present except Mickey Burton. He has the measles. A few giddy teenagers who dared each other to climb the flat-topped boulder on Witch’s Rock Road, run onto the green shrieking. One shouts she saw a shape fly across the face of the rising full moon. Parents nod wisely and laugh. Kids!

The full moon rises as the evening wanes and the younger children are taken home, protesting through wide yawns. Parents cast uneasy glances into the shadows. Older children drift to the games and food offered inside the church halls. More and more are encouraged to return to the safety of home as the hour grows late.

The costumed crowd oddly thickens. The patrolling police cruiser stops to allow two witches, a werewolf and a ghoul to cross the street. Headlights pick out gleaming red eyes. A casual wave is exchanged.

Under the huge silver moon, the townsfolk circle the bonfire as midnight approaches. Thankfully, a full moon doesn’t occur every All Hallows’ Eve. The churches shoo the remaining families home, shut off the lights and lock their doors.

A few brave souls linger, nervously glancing over their shoulders. The air is electric with nerves, fear tickles. A dozen witches gather to one side. Shadows conceal details, but a gleaming fang or claw occasionally reflects the flames. Hair, hide and patchy skin conceal the wearers. Too many red eyes reflect the light.

A thick-set man wearing a knit cap feeds wood onto the fire and flames leap voraciously skyward. The crowd pulled back then surges closer. It’s almost midnight, the witching hour. The heavy wood-smoke mingles with a coppery smell of fresh blood and rotting flesh. Circles within the circle join hands and murmur. Not all are willing, but they must protect their secrets.

The Congregational church clock bongs, once, twice, and the flames explode up in a column of sparks. Three, four, five…chanting echoes across the Green. Six, seven, eight, nine… skeletal figures twist and turn, stretch clutching fingers from the seething flames, almost breaking free. Demons howl. Ghouls curse. Ten, eleven… the chants strengthen until they drown the unearthly noise. The threatening figures shudders with rage. Tonight is their night to walk free!


With a weary sigh, the fire shapes disappear. The fire dies. Only embers remain.

The crowd silently melts into the night leaving a few shivering adults to wonder what they just saw.

What's your favorite Halloween memory? Leave a comment (with your e-mail) for a chance to win Ancient Awakenings.

Barbara Edwards
Ancient Awakening, a Black Rose from The Wild Rose Press
http://barbaraedwards.net/blog/blog.asp for Barb'Ed Comments

In Ancient Awakening, Police Officer ‘Mel’ Petersen investigates a death only she believes is murder. By disobeying direct orders from the Rhodes End Chief, she risks her career to follow clues that twist in circles to her backyard and lead the killer to her.

Her neighbor Stephen Zoriak is a prime suspect. Steve worked for a major pharmaceutical company where he discovered a weapon so dangerous he destroys the research. He is exposed to the dangerous organism. He suspects he is the killer and agrees to help her find the truth.
In the course of their investigation Mel and Steve find the real killer and a love that defies death.


Anonymous said...

Ohhh, dark story!! And your book sounds intriguing!


LuAnn said...

Fun entry on your blog!
My favorite Halloween memory is of a neighbor who always decorated his yard like a haunted house. We would make our way through the maze to find the bowl of treats at the end. Too bad people can't do that sort of thing anymore. Unfortunately, you can't trust people like we were able to years ago. Kids miss out on the joys of Halloween because of it, I think.

elaine cantrell said...

Loved the story, and book sounds great.

Virginia said...

My favorite halloween memory would be when we were kids dressing up as hobo's and going out. We didn't have to worry about the treats back then because we knew everyone and you would come home with grocery bags full of stuff from home made popcorn ball and everything. Those were the good old days.

Debby said...

This books looks great,

ddurance said...

We used to have this really great Halloween Festival in one of our town's tobacco warehouses. They were lots of fun with all kinds of booths....haunted house, fishing, country store, cake walks. I loved them and miss them. I wish my kids could go to them now.

deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Teonda Tollison said...

My favorite Halloween memory is of about 3 years ago taking the 3 foster children I had at the time trick or treating. The youngest was 1 she was a indian princess and the two boys were ninja turtles, they were 4 and 6. I will always remember this time.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Yeah, Virginia, it's a shame that people spread lies to scare everyone. In the town I live in, they banned Trick or Treating many years ago because a father took his kids out and gave them posioned candy. He gave it to them, and his little boy died, but the town banned the practice of trick or treating because of it....as if that had anything to really do with the dad killing his kids (daughter didn't eat the candy, so she didn't die).

There has actually never been a reported incident in the US where a child has received posioned or docotred candy from a stranger. It's all urban legends or parents trying to hurt their kids. Sad that idiots have to take this fun time away. I go to my mom's house in another town and celebrate with her! I love Holloween.

Linda Andrews said...

Loved the short story. My favorite Halloween memory is when my father dressed up as a big spider and jumped from the shadows, spraying silly string, to scare the kids. Lots of big kids dropped their bags of candy, and he had to go chasing down the street after them. Of course, I kinda hoped he didn't catch them as that would be more candy for me with less work:) Ohh and don't forget the popcorn balls.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Congrats to Linda Andrews. She won the drawing for an electronic copy of ANCIENT AWAKENGINGS. Send me an e-mail at annaklanier@aol.com and I'll get it to you.

Thanks again for all the comments on your Halloween memories.


Barbara Edwards said...

Thanks to all the commentors. I love Halloween and thank you Anna for the drawing.