Tall sugar maples shaded a lifeless tree that clung to a sheer cliff bluff. Below the cliff a shallow ravine trickled with red tinged water. Frayed ropes swayed on the lower branches of the dead tree.
Bells tolled in the distance as the the moon shone on an open grave.
The pit of the final resting place was cracked and glowing.
Pieces of ivory reflected the moonlight like rags of a pale sun.
No birds flew overhead; even the calls of the animals died this crisp autumn night.
Clouds rolled in as the earth began to shake. Red water crested the bank as the earth shook allowing the ravine to rise and rest at the base of the maples. Lightening flashed as forms emerged from the water and stood with bowed heads at the base of the dead tree.
One figure, then another, knelt next to the tree as the water receded. It was a somber affair as nineteen figures prayed over lives long lost.
Tonight though, they weren't here to mourn the past; they were here to celebrate the future.
Lightening cracked across the sky as another figure stepped out of the tree.
She wore an elaborately antiquated dress whose colors were as faded and luminescent as the moonlight. The only bright color that adorned her was the sparkling sapphire that shone from her eyes.
As wind howled through the trees, the woman chillingly whispered, "My children, for far too long this mortal realm has rested on our innocent souls! They shed our pure blood for the comfort of their minds. Tonight these vile mortals will lose the solace they purchased in vain!
"Tonight they shall suffer the tortures they rained upon our heads as we walk through their homes and into the dreams they hold true," she rasped as the wind howled into the night.
A man in tattered breeches and a wide brimmed hat gracefully rose and groveled, "For that milady, on this treacherously bright All Hallow's Eve."
Milady looked upon the humbled man and cooed, "Father George, you need not thank me for what The Impaler has declared a treat for his most faithful."
Excitement fluttered through the translucent ghosts faster than a humming bird could flap its wings. The tittering exclamations of, "He remember us," flickered faster than a candle in the wind amongst the pale group.
Milady smiled benevolently as she assured, "Most fondly does the Prince remember those that floated with him during the Mafiosi Uprising."
The pallid ghosts gleamed like a dim light bulb under their Lady's praise. "Now my children, let us fly while the veil is weak and the moon high. Show these mortals that they have rested easy for the last time on our memories and blood. Bestow on them visions of the despairing world that they will rise to in the morning," Milady eerily commanded.
The ghosts howled around the dead tree as their spirits rose to the highest branches and flew apart in what any observer would call a shooting star.
Clouds began to cover the pale moon and wind began to blow leaves from trees as the ghosts approached the nearest town. A final clap of thunder turned what little moonlight there was the color of blood.
One by one ghosts entered the houses of the sleeping inhabitants who were snugly in their toasty beds.
In the first house a woman wearing a tattered skirt and bonnet cruelly smiled as she entered the mind of her target. The man had the same sneer in his sleep as the judge who had condemned her, and she was delighted to stand here and show him the future that awaited him.
Slowly the form of the woman sank in to the sleeping man and his body turned blue for a moment as his mouth opened in silent horror.
Inside his mind the woman cackled, "Young Sewall, the time has come for you to taste the payment due for the crimes of your ancestors. Once you cross our realm, not even God will save you!"
"I don't know who you are," he whimpered.
Her ghostly face smiled in rage, revealing rotten teeth as she whispered, "The judges son doesn't know a Good? How cruelly then, will it be as flood drowns you at the stake?"
The cracked and cackling voice of Good sent goose bumps up young Sewall's spine as he was flung towards a stake that popped up from the fertile ground strewn with grain. Quickly ropes bound him as a stone sprung up from the earth. Stacks of kindling and firewood surrounded his feet as blood fell from the sky.
Young Sewall's eyes widened as the fertile ground turned to blood and slowly began to rise. "Dear God," he horrifically uttered.
"He's not here to save you! As in life we make our own choices after death. He may hear your screams, but he'll not answer them, young Sewall. Thanks to the laws of the After Life, God has a strictly hands off policy.
"How does it feel to be alone and bereft of help through no cause of your own? How does it feel to be one of us," Good snarled.
"Please, I never wronged you," young Sewall pleaded.
"Do you not recognize a witch? While alive, I never wronged anyone either. My soul refuses to accept the fake apologies of your ancestors," Good sneered.
"That was centuries ago," young Sewall panicked as the blood crept up the rock he was confined to.
"Vengeance takes eternity to serve," Good spat.
"Why haven't you taken your rest after the courts declared you innocent? The judge professed his guilt in those dark times," he whispered as the bloody water inched ever closer.
"They wouldn't believe me when I was alive, why should I believe them when I am dead. Their mortal words mean nothing to one who has eternity to watch," Good coldly explained.
"Taking my life won't help you now," young Sewall pleaded.
"True, but an oath I have sworn and keep it I shall. They took my life and you shall drink blood for it," Good viciously informed as the bloody water lapped at young Sewall's feet.
Young Sewall gazed at Good with horrified bewilderment. "Good, you're making no sense. What happened was a tragedy!"
"As a God fearing man surely you can understand that an oath has to be kept," she icily soothed.
"It's not too late for your soul Good! God will forgive you for this," young Sewall pleaded as the blood encompassed his ankles.
Good cackled as a silky male voice smoothly intoned, "Weren't you listening? Your God has a strictly hands off policy when it comes to the living and the dead.
"I, on the other hand, reward my faithful; and they have decided the fates of those that wronged them."
Young Sewall looked around frantically, his eyes darting in directions that his head could not swivel. "Who are you? Stop this madness," he demanded from his bound stake.
A dark chuckle filled the air before an answer was forthcoming, "I am Vlad Tepes. Vovoid of Wallachia. In my time I was a great man, known for rewarding my faithful.
"Tell me, why should I deny Mistress Good her just reward, after such faithful service," Vlad queried condescendingly.
"Because I'm innocent," young Sewall screamed from his post.
"So was she, and not a single mortal cared to proclaim such," Vlad sneered as young Sewall slumped against his post allowing the bloody water further up his calves.
Such a pathetic sight cause Good's cackles to turn from cruelty to delight.
Vlad sneered and responded, "Have they changed so much that the innocent still suffer?"
The cold sneer of Vlad's face was such that the metallic smell of blood mingled with feces, causing Good to cackle once more.
Vlad looked to Good as midnight skies began to lighten and bloody water faded to pure. With a light sneer on his face he commanded, "Mistress Good, our time on this plane is nearing an end this solstice eve. I would suggest you warn this modern man of that which awaits him upon crossing over to us," he finished in a cool whisper as he faded from thought.
As the lightening flashed once more Good watched the blood drain from young Sewall's face and assured, "Worry not young Sewall, you shall greet the sun once more. But when your time in the mortal world is through, your soul belongs to the Salem 19. We will see you again," she promised as her shade faded with the calming waters.