A Halloween Tale
It was a true Halloween night. The full moon was shinning though the bare branches casting eerie shadows on our path as we walked. A cool breeze was blowing sending leaves dancing noisily across the forest floor. I remember thinking to myself that this night was truly the kind that you imagine when you listen to a scary tale. Holding tightly to the person next to you, just like I was holding Scott as we walked that evening.
The path we walked would take us past the cemetery and end at the crest above Devils Den. We chose this path because of it being the night it was. We were feeling young at heart and out for an imaginary adventure. An adventure that led us into the heart of the towns legendary witches circle.
As we walked past the cemetery a group of mischievous youths came jumping out from behind some tome stones and trees. My heart was in my throat and I felt Scott give a startled jump. One look sent them laughing as they ran to find their next victims. My expression was still a look of terror and when Scott turned to see if I was all right, he started laughing too. Then me, being the good sport that I am, sent him stumbling backwards over a log into a big pile of leaves from a nearby oak tree. Then quickly turning I ran for the shelter of the forest where I hid hoping to do some scaring of my own.
I had settled in behind a rock above Devils Den and feeling pleased with myself, waited for the sound of crunching leaves. I listened intensely, but what broke the silence was not the sound I expected to hear. From below, in Devils Den, I heard chanting. The sound reminded me of an old movie about Salem's witches you would see on late night television. I slowly turn around to see who or what it was that was doing the chanting. Suddenly, from behind, a strong arm grabbed me. I opened my mouth to scream, but it was quickly covered by an second hand. As I struggled to get loose I wondered what had happened to Scott and if I was going to die this Halloween night.
Reality set in when I heard Scott's voice whispering my name. When I finally settled down he whispered for me to be quiet before he released his hold over my mouth. As he released his hold, my eyes drifted down to the strange sight below. I turned to question whether I was really seeing what was below me, but the look on his face gave me the answers to my unasked question.
In the valley below, surrounding a large stone altar stood twelve figures. They were dressed in black gowns with hoods that hung over their faces, giving them the eerie appearance like that of the picture of death. As they stood encircling the altar their soft chanting could be heard. Soon my body was covered with goose bumps as their voices softly filled the night air. From the cover of the night we knelt watching in silence.
Then there was silence as a man leading a goat appeared out of the darkness. They tied the goat to the altar while a new figure entered the light. In his hand was a large dagger that he carried to the head of the altar then knelt and chanted softly. Slowly he rose, raising the dagger high into the air, then with a loud cry he lowered the blade into the screaming goats chest. With ease he sliced open the goat while it cried and squirmed. Then, as if it was nothing he began to peel its skin from the body. When he finished he held the head and skin high into the air as he praying to his god. He called for power as he placed the goat's head in place. The skin was still wet with blood and it clung to his back. Blood covered his face as it ran from the goat's head before falling to the ground. Then he turned and spoke to the darkness. On command a young woman entered into the light and in her arms she carried a small child. There was no expression on her face as she placed the child upon the altar before turning and walking back into the darkness.
The child laid cradled in the open carcass of the goat as the leader fell to his knees at the side of the altar. The other twelve, still encircling the altar, continued the chanting. Their cries became louder and louder raising into the night. Suddenly there was silence as the leader stood. He raised the dagger into the air, a cold dark expression on his face as he again prayed to his god. Just about ready to plunge the blade into the child, a scream pierced the night. Their eyes searched the darkness for the intruder and soon all eyes were on me. My eyes locked with the leader of death as his staring eyes seemed to penetrate to my soul. Then all went black.
I woke with a start as Scott opened the drapes. Was it just a dream? Scott had no idea of what I was talking about. We went back to Devils Den in the safety of the light, but find no trace of what I thought I saw the night before. Walking home I felt silly for believing such a thing could happen. Then I saw those eye in a stranger as he passed, they were cold and dark as death itself.
No it just my imagination, or was it?
Copyright 1995 BAHumbert
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