I know it's a bit late and Halloween was last week but I wanted to write something seasonal– it just took me a little longer than I thought it would.
Some background information: I tried to model this peace off the traditional Pagan celebration of All Hallows Eve, which incorporated their beliefs of bad luck omens(i.e. invisible footsteps, bird calls, white cats) as well as how they preformed their celebrations(i.e. carved turnips, bonfires).
Any and all feedback is appreciated!
All Hallows Eve
"Carly. Carly, can we please just turn back?" whispered a young girl, some three feet behind her older doppelgänger. She worked her hands over, the nails digging in so that later the indented marks would still be visible.
The other girl rolled her eyes and adjusted the end of her black mini-skirt. Had she known that a cat costume would be so uncomfortable to walk around in, she might have reconsidered choosing it.
"Shut up, and keep walking. I think we're almost there," she replied curtly. Just because she was supposed to be watching her younger sister, didn't mean that she was just going to give up her Halloween.
"But why do we have to go here anyways? You heard everyone else, this place is haunted; what if it's dangerous?"
Carly smirked and sped up a little, wanting to put a little distance between her and the annoying little girl behind her. "Oh, come on, Katie. Are you serious? You know they were just talking shit down there. All this stuff is fake– just for kicks," she said, her shrill voice seemingly out of place in the otherwise dead silence of the area they were walking through.
They were far past the rows of darkly decorated houses, past the eerie cackles and children's' laughter, past the judging eyes of so many they'd encountered. And in this isolation they found themselves on an empty road, ancient trees surrounding each side, their braches hanging over so that they nearly formed a tunnel under which the girls walked. A gentle breeze slowly moving the limbs of the branches in a slow, methodical dance and the occasional owl call were the only sounds present while they walked on.
All of this made Kate uneasy, she felt chills travel down her spine and through her fingertips. "If it's all just a joke, then there's no point in going, right? We should just go back," she said softly to Carly, who was getting more and more irritated with each second.
Carly spun around on her heels and faced her sister, arms crossed. "Look, a dare's a dare, and I'm no coward. I'm going to that stupid house, and if you're going to follow me there, then fine, but stop being such a brat about it. If you really don't want to go, then turn around and walk back home."
Kate knew she couldn't go home, not by herself, and certainly not in the outfit she was currently dressed in: a skimpy witch costume Carly had oh-so-kindly picked out for her. She had said, "If I'm going to be seen with you all night, you're gonna have to look less like a total dork." Kate, as embarrassed as she was to be dressed in next to nothing, had made sure to bring along a mask– witch nose and all– for when they did run into people they knew. It was at this time that she fished it out of her bag and put it on, mostly so that Carly wouldn't be able to tell how scared she was.
They walked on in an uncomfortable silence, neither one wanting to speak to the other. Kate watched the trees uneasily, feeling as if someone was watching them from the shadows. She nearly screamed when a figure did finally emerge from the darkness before she realized it was only an owl. She stared at it, and it stared back at her from a nearby branch.
Hoot. Hoot. Hoot. It beckoned to her in its strange eerie call, as if it was desperate to tell her something. She ran a little to catch up to Carly and leave the haunting bird behind. She had to squeeze her lips together so as not to complain any more about where they were, in fear that her sister might leave her there all alone.
It wasn't long after that when the two girls came across what they'd been looking for: the Fischer House, also known at the town's local haunted hangout. It had a reputation for being a creepy place to sneak into on weekend nights, as it was abandoned and nowhere near any other buildings.
They saw the road open up to reveal the ramshackle old farmhouse and all its decaying glory. The building was one story and long– it stretched far across the property so that any visitors facing its front had no hope of seeing what lay beyond the termite infested walls. Shingles from the roof were missing, leaving small holes in the top of the house, and could often be found in the weeds around the house.
Old paint was cracked and pealing off from the outside, and if one were to open the door and step in, they would find the interior to be no different. Even from so far away, the girls caught the scent of decay and mold that seemed to leak from every crack of the place.
A power line that had long ago stopped working framed one edge of the property, a section of it crossing over a corner of the house. One of the cables was broken and lay on the ground, parts of it hidden in the overgrown grass. The wooden supports that held up the cables were weather worn and termite infested, and looked like they might collapse within the next few years. On the three remaining cables perched thirteen unmoving crows, five in a row on two of the lines, while the third held only three. They were a common bird for the area, but they somehow still raised goose bumps on Kate's arms.
This all would have been fine and exactly what Carly and Kate were expecting, but in addition to the gloom and despair that seemed to radiate from the place sat a long row of carved pumpkins, lit to illuminate the gruesome expressions each individual bore. And upon closer inspection, they realized that not only were there carved pumpkins, but carved glowing turnips as well, their faces even more horrendous their larger cousins.
"I thought this place was supposed to be abandoned," Kate whispered quickly to her sister.
"It was," Carly said, almost to herself. A split second later she regained any composure temporarily lost in her surprise and corrected herself. "It is. I bet somebody did that as a prank or something. You know, to like, freak other people out." Realizing that they had stopped walking, Carly grabbed Kate by the arm and pulled her forward, towards the house.
"You're sure no one else is here?" asked Kate timidly, still unsure.
"Oh my god, yeah Katie, it's fine. It's been abandoned for ages."
"How do you know?"
Carly eyed her sister suspiciously. "Wait, you haven't heard the story?"
"The story about this house, and the Fischers before they went missing."
"They went missing?" asked Kate.
The older girl smiled maliciously down at her sister. "Well, technically, yeah, they went missing. But the story's a little different." The younger girl said nothing, but squeezed her hands tighter. "They say that Mr. Fischer was crazy. Like Satan-worshipping-baby-eating crazy. His wife and children never even knew. And they say, one Halloween, he had this huge psychotic breakdown and murdered his whole family, burned them in a fire out back and everything. There was no evidence left of the murder when the police came, and no one knew what happened to Mr. Fischer. But, some people claim that you can see his ghost every Halloween night, haunting the house, looking for more victims to barbeque."
Kate shook her head violently. "No way, you're making it up. Why would you ever want to come here tonight if that was true?"
For the hundredth time that night, Carly rolled her eyes. "Like I said earlier. A bet's a bet." The sisters had reached the door now. Carly grabbed the handle, and then hesitated. "Are you coming with me or not?"
Kate shook her head again, words failing her in her state of terror. Without another word, Carly yanked open the door and entered the house, leaving Kate all alone. Kate stood frozen for nearly a minute, silently willing her sister to come back outside and take her home. She listened for footsteps of her sister coming back towards the door, hearing nothing for quite some time. Then, suddenly, she did hear footsteps, and her stomach flipped inside of her when she realized that they weren't coming from inside the house, but coming towards her from behind her back. She spun around on her toes to face whoever it was that was briskly walking towards her, only to find, no one was there.
It was then that Kate burst through the door and nearly crashed into her sister which would have propelled her into a large broken mirror that was propped against the nearest wall.
"Hey!" shouted Carly angrily.
"Sorry!" apologized Kate. "I just thought I heard something so I came to look for you."
She thought she heard Carly mutter "wimp" under her breath as she grudgingly turned around and headed deeper into the house.
Following closely after her, Kate tugged her arm and whispered, "What do you have to steal again?"
"First of all, why are you whispering? No one lives here. And second, it's not stealing if, once again, no one lives here," said Carly. Kate looked at her feet, clearly still uncomfortable. Carly eventually explained, "I'm looking anything cool that's easy to carry. Doesn't matter what it is, just has to be from in the house." She continued down through the house, and her sister was at her heels.
The house appeared every bit as abandoned on the inside than it did from the outside, maybe even more so. The house was stripped of nearly every piece of furniture that might have belonged there at some point, and therefore devoid of any kind of comfort or homeliness that one would expect from a house. It even seemed too desolate for any kind of critters to make their home; it felt empty of life.
They entered what must have been the living room. A chimney that was missing most of its bricks had holes wide enough that a small child could crawl through to the outside. A draft swept through the open space and chilled the girls.
Carly walked over to get a closer look of the chimney, while Kate stayed in the middle of the room, scanning it over with her eyes. They caught on something in the darkest corner of the room, two small glistening reflections of the dim light cast in the room by the moonlight from outside. She squinted, trying to make out what it was.
Then, to her unpleasant surprise, the things moved toward her. Eyes, she realized, they were eyes. She leapt back and screamed, causing her sister to jump from where she was squatting under the chimney and hit her head on one of the old bricks.
"What?!" screamed Carly, wildly searching the room for danger. She followed Kate's pointing finger to the direction of the eyes. Just as she noticed them herself, the thing emerged from the darkness to reveal itself as a cat. A small, white, yellow-eyed cat. It sat down right next to Kate, who was still in shock. The room fell into a short silence.
"I-I thought– I s-saw the e-eyes and…" Kate tried to explain, her sister angrily rubbing the top of her head.
"It was just a fucking cat," she growled back. "Now shut up." Steaming, the older girl stalked out of the room and continued down the darkened hallway, not checking to see if her sister was following.
As the girls walked, they began to realize that the end of the hall was glowing faintly. Kate said nothing in fear of further chastisement, but even Carly felt the hairs on the back of her neck begin to raise. When they neared the end of the long walkway, the glow was revealed to be coming from an opening to another large room.
They entered the space and discovered they were in what used to be the family's dining room. Broken cupboards and an old bar littered the room, with dirt and dust covering every inch of the hardwood floor. The light was coming from two old fashioned candle stand that were lit and dripping wax down onto the main dining table which sat in the middle of the room.
The table itself was perfectly set with empty glasses, plates, napkins, and utensils– as if a family was just about to sit down for dinner.
"What the–" whispered Carly, unnerved by what lay in front of them.
"Carly, we need to leave," whispered Kate, her eyes wide and frightened.
For once, Carly didn't snap back at her sister; she knew that something was off, and they might actually be in danger. But still, she couldn't forfeit her dare when she was so close to finishing it.
"Okay," she said slowly, "We'll leave, but first I'm just gonna snag something off the table, so I can finish this stupid dare." She then darted into the room, took one of the forks out of the neatly folded cloth napkins, and pulled out her phone from her top– that had been the only place she could keep it as her mini skirt was too small. "Here," she said, tossing it to her younger sister. "Take a picture so we can prove it actually came from here."
With fumbling fingers, Kate flipped open the phone. "Three," she counted, and Carly posed ridiculously with her fork, "two, one–" and the camera on the phone flashed.
Without looking at the picture, Kate tossed the phone back to her sister, who opened it back up to check whether the photo was to her satisfaction. What she found more than horrified her.
The face of a horribly distorted man leaned down over her shoulder looking at the camera. His eyes were gone; two gaping holes stared on. His skin was pale and looked like it was decaying, and their were only a few strands of white hair still left on his head.
Carly let the phone fall from her fingers. Not waiting long enough to see it hit the floor, she screamed and fled the room, grabbing her sister by the arm and dragging her with her. They sprinted back down the hallway, fear overtaking them. Time seemed to slow down as they ran, and they could hear their own heartbeats pulsate through their bodies. Screams echoed down the halls, but to the girls' dismay, no one was around to hear them.
Just as they neared the front door, and they could see the road and their escape so closely, Carly felt something catch her foot. She was propelled forward and crashed down the floor, her sister tripping on her and falling down as well. They hit the floor hard, bouncing off the ground and sliding a couple feet before they came to a complete stop. Carly screamed as shards of the broken mirror that lay on the ground dug into her hands and arms. She yanked one of the larger pieces out and stared in horror as blood gushed from the then open wound.
She looked up from the bloody mess into what was left of the large mirror that sat before her. She was silenced by the gruesome sight she saw staring back at her. It was herself, cut up and bloody, but in this reflection, she was on fire, and burning alive, and the face that looked back at her was painted in agony.
She screamed bloody murder and reached for her sister who sat just behind her, still disoriented from the fall.
"What?" Kate cried, looking at the mirror that her sister was desperately pointing at. Seeing nothing but the multiple reflections of themselves in the cracked glass, she said, "What do you see?"
"What is that?" Carly cried back, too hysterical to comprehend what was being asked of her.
Kate stumbled to her feet and tried to haul Carly up with her. "Come on! We have to go!" Still in shock, Carly numbly made herself stand up, not able to take her eyes off the awful sight in the mirror.
Just as they stepping toward the threshold of the door, it slammed closed.
With desperate fingers, Kate yanked and twisted on the doorknob, but with no result. They were locked in.
In panic, both girls screamed as loud as they could, praying that someone would come, but knowing at the same time that it was a hopeless cause. Nearly a minute passed and there was no change: no one to save them, the door remained locked, and most strangely of all, whatever was after them, appeared to have vanished. Kate screamed until she had no air left and her vision went blurry, and it was only when she began to fall backwards and pass out that she gave up to catch her breath.
She took a step back and leaned against the wall facing the door, panting heavily. After a few more seconds Carly had to catch her breath as well and fell back against the door. They stared at each other for a short while, understanding already anything the other would possibly say.
The sickening silence filled the room, and they could hear nothing but their own gulping for air.
They had just begun to catch their breath when the door flew open, making Carly loose her balance and fall backwards. As she hit the ground, two ancient arms wrapped around her, one at her waist, one covering her mouth, and before Kate had time to react, the door slammed back shut.
Kate just stood in the threshold, in shock, all alone. A few moments passed quietly, but the air felt like static around her. She didn't know what to do, how to react, or anything. She was only pulled out of her daze when Carly's screaming could be heard, seemingly coming from deep in the house.
Kate spun around and sprinted back through the house, even though her common sense screamed at her. She ran all the way until she again reached the room with the fireplace, and where she'd been surprised by the resting cat. Here Carly's voice was clearly heard, almost as if she was in the room– only she wasn't. She was nowhere to be found. Kate began to panic until she saw movement and light coming from the gaping hole in the chimney that led to the yard behind the house.
She stooped down and peered into the space. A large bonfire crackled before her, engulfing dead branches and bushes that'd been thrown into the middle. That wasn't there the last time, thought Kate, whoever had made it was probably the one who took Carly. And almost on cue she heard Carly's terrified screams again, only this time, she saw where they were coming from. Carly was tied to a large wooden pole, which stood no more than fifteen feet away from the fire. She had entirely disregarded her costume and the tiny thing now looked utterly ridiculous on her in this otherwise horrific scene.
Suddenly Kate realized that her sister wasn't alone. A small group of people stood around the open flames, their bodies and faces hidden under dark hooded cloaks. She wanted desperately to call out to her sister, to tell her she was going to get her out, but she dared not give away to the other figures that she was there. So for the time being, she sat there, frozen, unable to decide what to do.
Two of the dark figures separated from the group, and walked straight for Carly. Kate bit her tongue; the taste of blood filled her mouth. She hardly noticed. The strangers stopped on each side of Carly, who was hurling profanities faster and with more passion than Kate had imagined possible. The figures did not seem to take notice of the vulgarities. The first figure gave a hard push on one side of the wooden pole and the force sent it toppling over. Long before it hit the ground, the other caught the top end. The first took hold of the other end, and the two lifted it, with Carly still very much attached, and began to carry it back toward the fire.
Something awful churned inside of Kate's stomach. Her gut instinct hinted to her what was going on, but she could not believe it. It was too awful to believe. She tried to move forward, to force herself through the opening, to call out to her sister, to help, to do anything really. But she couldn't. She was still frozen in her fear, the kind that seemed to hold ever muscle, every inch of her self hostage. The kind of fear that screamed in her head but kept her from making a sound. The kind of fear that made her cold the point that she felt numb to everything around her.
She watched as they carried her sister to the edge of the flames, and then hesitated. She thought she heard one of the others speaking, but couldn't decipher any of the words. She didn't realize it, but she was inching herself closer and closer toward the opening. It was only when the two holding the pole gave a final shove and sent Carly into the flames that Kate was able to break through whatever held her captive.
She sprang forward, a scream racking her entire frame. The figures slowly turned their head to look at her, but shadows hid their faces.
Just as she was about to push through the opening in the brickwork, the awful, gruesome, inhuman face of the man from the picture appeared just before her, his deathly frame blocking the entire view of outside.
Once again, Kate was paralyzed. She could no longer hear screams from her sister outside, couldn't see the gruesome scene outside as it played out, something for which she was almost grateful. All she could see was the face of the evil being that glared menacingly back at her. Even with her mask on she felt completely exposed to this creature, as if just looking at him was killing her. He watched her for a long while like this, a Cheshire-cat-like smile painted across his face, the gaping holes of his eyes piercing through her. Then, without warning, he began to laugh. It was slow and deliberate, like he meant to implant it in her memory forever. It would, of course. And as he laughed he backed out of the opening, never loosing eye contact with Kate. Even after she couldn't see him anymore and he had disappeared behind the wall of the house, she could still hear his laugh faintly.
When he was gone, Kate realized that none of the cloaked figures were still in the yard, and in addition, the fire had somehow already burnt out and was smoldering on the ground. Kate knew in the back of her mind that wasn't possible.
Her sister was nowhere to be found.
Suddenly, the opening in the chimney caught fire, sending flames crawling up the walls. Kate jumped backwards and scrambled to her feet. She felt the heat of the fire as it licked her feet and spread further through the room.
She didn't wait any longer for it to spread. She burst into the hallway and ran back to the front door. When she arrived at it, to her surprise and pure anger, it was wide open, as it whispering to her, only now I will let you leave. She threw herself out the door and sprinted down the pathway, heading straight for the main road.
Kate didn't look back, but if she had she might have noticed that there was no longer any pumpkins or turnips lining the house– that there was no smoke coming from where the bonfire should have been still smoldering– that a fourteenth crow had joined the others and now sat on the power line, staring down at her intently– that the burning house she'd just narrowly escaped from, was not up in flames, but in fact perfectly intact– that any sign of the horrors of that night were gone, no matter how many people who would hear Kate's story came to investigate, except for the fact that Carly would never be seen or heard of again, though some would later claim to see her every year, on Halloween, through one of the windows of the house.