by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Editors Choice in the October 2020 Fantasy Newsletter
Dark whispers carried by the chill October wind brought shivers to many that Halloween night. They etched shadows into the lines of faces old and young alike. “Doctor Gloom’s carnival has arrived, is setting up under the light of the full moon.”
Some said witches, ghosts and creepy crawlies doing their bidding were cursed to bring the magic spell into being. The sound of black crow cawing, blacker cat hissing and blackest magic hung in the wet fetid air. Todd Wright’s eyes shown in the moon’s reflected light.. “Now’s my chance.”
He’d always and forever since he could remember wanted to ride a moonbeam, tame it and teach it how to fly him free as a bird, higher than the trees, aloft where he commanded the entire earth beneath. He was a sickly lad, in his twelfth year of agony, only hope keeping him alive. “Now. Now or never.”
His bedroom window slid up with a tired sigh mingling with his own. Skin and bones fought against his will. With a twist and turn they complied. Down he clambered through thick and thin ropes of vines snaking around him. Mist curled where his feet made contact with dried up dead grass. Cloudy vapors bore the sweat and scent of unearthly danger to be met.
“Show me the way. I’m not afraid,” but he was. Terror was more like the feeling flowing through his veins.
It made him restless. Night was his element. Albino skin and red eyes made daylight torture. He wore his Halloween costume every day of the year. Todd Wright bit his lip. Needle sharp white vampire-like teeth sucked at his own blood, gaining nourishment and what little courage remained there. “Go, feet.” They did, carrying him forward among the racing shadows newly born. The moon glowed red, blinked and disappeared behind the promise of a brooding storm tossed sky.
Carnival lights shown on the town hill graveyard like winking evil eyes. “No going back.” Todd breathed the words in and out, tasting their chill on his tongue. He coughed, wheezed, felt his lungs billow, his breath whistled through his nose.
It made him laugh. “If I should die here and now, at least I tried.” The copper taste of blood in his mouth pushed him forward in a hurried pace.
The familiar path through Master Clements hay field was soon left behind. Todd’s feet were grateful the harvest was done. It made walking all the faster. The boy gave a final wave to the scarecrow protector with its Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin head, eyes lit and flickering lively, a beacon revealing the way. “Thank you Jack. Keep the light on to guide me back.”
It was a climb both physically and emotionally exhausting reaching the far rise. The mist filled the valley behind and below. Beyond the carnival gate,a Ferris Wheel ride with nightmare horses pawed their hooves, striking lightening sparks turning the night blood red. “I’ve ridden you enough in my dreams. You won’t carry me where I want to go. Be still,” and they were, breathing their smoke and fire through heaving nostrils waiting for less wary night guests still in their midnight beds.
There was the roller coaster ride, a snake slithering up and down bleached white bones rattling together held by dried up sinew, a beast rising two stories high. “Not for me. The highs may offer a high nothing else in life might do, but the lows, so low I’d become bones myself, added to the rest and a final rest it would be.”
Todd passed beyond them all to the main feature, the haunted house creaking to itself, waiting with ghostly attendants appearing and disappearing at will. Each had once been a Halloween visitor such as he. Their dreams, hopes and quest vanished. None had been traded well for their lost souls. They moaned their warnings, empty mouths become cavities threatening to swallow every thought of continuing onward, the boy might have.
It was easier than he thought to close his eyes, walk through them, take the worn wooden steps up to the door. It yawned open at his approach. Slammed shut enclosing him in a darkness only a tomb could possess. “You know what I want.”
The sound of his words demanding his innermost need be fulfilled surprising him with their strength. It left him, only the terror and fear remained. His bones began to shake. His body was not his own. It danced against his will. Feet tapped a staccato of his heartbeats. His breath became shallow, each gasp fought to not be his last. “Take my body if you want.”
That was not what the ancient house wanted. Todd knew it in his bones. “You want my soul?”
The cackle of witches split the night. They swooped on brooms, dark capes flapping, scaring away ghosts, red-eyed demons and strange shaped creatures unleashed by their spells.
He felt his soul tugged as gently as a thought between his ears. Doom sung inside him so lonely, Todd hesitated as the feeling washed through him. “What? Never ever left this deadly graveyard place? A witch’s spell holds you locked, chained, forever more? You're not a haunted house. There is a haunted spirit living here in this empty shell.”
Rafters groaned, shed three hundred years of dust floating down among spiderwebs coating the boy. A fire sprang up in the fireplace with a warmth invading Todd's chilled bones. “Come fly with me.” Todd urged. “Let this ramshackle haunting go.”
Rage increased the flight of a full coven of witches surrounding the hill. Mist rose in waves only to be cast into utter darkness from magic wands spilling chanted black magic from their tips.
Thunder cracked into lighting seeming cast from the full moon, itself. A torrent of rain turned hail beat down from the falling sky. The wind began howling back at the demons, becoming a vortex tumbling them into a tornado funnel leading down into hell.
One witch after another gave chase, calling them back, only to be caught up, chewed up and spit out by mother earth herself. Pockets of earth opened up where witches fell and landed, closing in after them until the next All Hallows eve might magically free them to renewed mischief in another carnival display.
This last carnival ride would not be stopped until it was done. The final witch's angry spell was cast aloft, boomeranged back turning the witch bitch into a fiery comet arching up to become lost in a cloud of smoke.
The haunted house quivered, shivered the fire into a vomit of heat climbing up its walls. An instant later, the fire reached the boy held captive and clothed him, eating at his fear, cleansing him inside and out of all the darkness, despair and longing for the lost dream he'd come to find
The wish Todd wished for another broke the evil spell. A searchlight moonbeam played its length towards a broken window coated with ageless grime. “Free. Free at last,” the boy’s spirit shrieked.
“Ride. Ride the wind.” He became light itself, carried aloft over hill, dale, and forested darkness below.
The old haunted house became a skeleton of itself, tumbled into its own self made tomb. "Am I dead? I don't feel like it." Todd's spirit sang with joy.
Below, the Ferris Wheel Nightmares raced after, unable to reach the moonbeam’s height. Ghosts formed, chased him only to become lost in low flying clouds that wept a bitter acid rain.
A sheltering warmth, the soul embedded by the curse in the haunted house rode with him. "Free. Free. You free'd me."
The two mingled karma's becoming close, blending into one. Todd flew above the travails of earthly worry and evil haunting, marveling at the rise above all else. Hope flowered into a strength as warm as a summer day, healing and calming into a miracle Todd had only hoped for. A swerve, a loop and before it should be, it was over.
"How do I get back into myself now that my flight is done?"
At dawn’s blush, the moonbeam returned to Todd’s window. He slid down back to where the night had begun. He closed his mental eyes, imagining him back into himself. The pulsing moonbeam split, giving birth to a glowing image moving about the familiar bedroom. It touched one well remembered item, a book about another Halloween carnival night by Ray Bradbury with oft turned and worn pages.
"You didn't see everything there was to see but you were there." The voice firmed, touch became real, sight and scent followed. Todd stood before the window, closed it, saw his mirrored reflection bringing him back into the shape of himself.
He had no further wish than what he had received. Shape shifting with moonbeams wasn't for him. He felt the kiss of its offering fade as easily as it had arrived.
“I’ll never be lost alone again.” The warmth kept inside him promised a future just begun.
Todd never spoke of that Halloween night when he’d risked sanity to find his dream and make it real. He never lost sight of how casting the light within only makes us stronger. Light when captured and rode in the darkest night filled with the worst monsters imagined, carries us to a better place.