It worked! We roused her! Uncaged has risen, and with her a story of, well… arisings — from dark and dreadful places, no less! Sorry about all the exclamation points but I’m so excited! I’ve never posted two stories by the same author back to back, but this time it seems fitting. Of course it could be a coincidence. Pulling Monday’s story out of the Waltvault might not have been what stirred the tomb, so to speak, but I will take credit where I can. Or think I can. And I’m talking too much. Check out The Weary Traveler if you’re all, like, what the…?
And go to October is Coming if you want to get your Halloween on!
Hallow’s Eve: Party for Two
Hallow woke to the sound of his own gasp echoing in the void. The air tasted of dirt, the black kind that feeds living things with a smorgasbord of dead things. The darkness was cold and squirmed against his skin, wriggling inside his nostrils and ears. Gnawing on his bones. He tried to move, but his body was frozen in place. His breath, though forced, seemed to be free from the confinement of flesh. An odd sensation. Odder to him still was that he didn’t find any of these sensations remarkable.
The wriggles that tickled his outsides and insides were interrupted by vibrations that tingled and stung sharply through the thin frayed strands that pulsated around bone and deteriorating bits of skin and muscle. A series of dull thumps, like something heavy hitting hollow wood, followed a painful scraping sound. Dirt sifted down between his teeth with each blow, while something small and quick scuttled to safety through the back of his jaw. He choked a little. Rotten wood soon gave way to heavy metal, and dirt poured down his throat.
In a flash, the full moon beamed like a spotlight onto his orbital sockets, blinding the one eye that was left in place. An optic nerve clung to the bone of the other socket and held precariously to his good eye, which dangled down the side of his cheek.
“Let’s make hay while the moon shines!” The knobby figures cackled and bellowed over Hallow’s grave, while one fluid silhouette, a menacing jelly-like figure, floated in the air and turned up a jug of something fermented and foul. The liquid poured into the apparition’s mouth and splashed onto the ground below. Hallow groaned and waved his obnoxious friends off. But insistent hands reached down, took a hold of the meat sack choking on dirt, and yanked him upright. Pops and snaps startled the stale air, which now reeked of moonshine and rotting flesh. Hallow’s stiff joints cracked as he stretched and spit the dirt out of his mouth. That’s when his dangling eye caught a glimpse of familiar striped stockings. He picked up his eyeball and tilted it one way and the other, looking Eve up and down.
She was hideous and covered in warts. She was beautiful.
Eve’s laugh pierced the haze and made way for the gang of four: a trumpet announcing the arrival of long-awaited guests. Together they walked, and like a marionette at the hands of a child, Hallow awkwardly made his way with them through the minefield of carved granite. When they reached the gate, a swish of Eve’s wand dropped the chains that bound the entrance. The apparition had already crossed over.
Their rank clothes transformed into white pantsuits that flared at the ankles, and big flowing hair and white smiles replaced the matted heads and toothless sneers of the diseased malevolent crew. Golden chains beat against the ghost’s chest with each pace, while they all strutted down the road in four-fourths time in slow motion.
Children dressed in costumes scurried to and fro with little screams and bags full of candy. Parents stood in plain clothes, waiting along the curbs with flashlights.
A violent hiss let out from behind a pear tree that hanged little silky ghosts from little rope nooses, and the children ran in terror. A guttural howl turned into a quiet, high-pitched breathy laugh as the Countess stepped out from behind the tree, doubled over in amusement. She licked off her orange-, yellow-, and white-striped canines and gobbled them down like candy, exposing white fangs that shone like glass. The Countess was an old, Romanian, cynical piece of work.
The apparition disappeared into a house party and reappeared with Solo cups, one in each jelly hand, and downed the contents. Frothy brew spilled onto the asphalt as it passed through the ghost. He hiccupped.
“You need to learn to hold your liquor,” Eve told the ghost, who immediately passed out.
“I’m going to go make my own brew. Care to join?” She asked, turning to the Countess. But the old bat declined and took off.
“I can’t remember the last time I ate,” Hallow told Eve. “You hungry?”
“I hear that brains are good this time of year,” said Eve.
He gave a wobbly nod. “You make the drinks, and I’ll keep an eye out,” he said back.