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 A Halloween Tale 
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Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:26 am
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Post A Halloween Tale
(( Not having anything properly holidayish to do today, I ended up making up a story for a friend. Since I was writing it in real-time there might be various spelling errors and whatnot, but I think it should be serviceable. I was going for a Nathaniel Hawthorne style, so if you enjoy this, you might try looking up his short stories. ))

"You might not know," the elder man began, peering down over his grizzled beard at his youthful grandchild, dressed up as a ghost and sitting upon the thick carpet peering back into his eyes, "but I had a brother, lost to the world many years ago."

"'The spirits, they come out on All Hallow's Eve!' So they say. 'Make sure to wear a mask and frighten them away!' All the young ones these days run about dressed as fairies and cops, laughing and giggling, running about. But let me tell you little miss, what they told me as a youth was true. The spirits, they do come out on All Hallow's Eve."


I was just a lad, three years younger than my brother, Michael, back in 1941. He 15, me 12. The night of the spirits had been a rainy and bleary eve, and our parents had kept us fast indoors throughout the night.

My parents were simple folk raised in times much darker than today and they were anxious and pale throughout the day, muttering words to God at every shadow.

Through the schoolyard though, all the week previous, we'd all traded stories of horrors and monsters, the older boys preying on the younger to give them a good scare, daring them to go out on the night of Halloween without a mask. They all would chuckle and chide the younguns as they'd get scared, but my brother took it in his head that he would do just that you see.

I remember him coming over to the side of my bed to let me know he was going, but I was already half asleep and it was too dark to even see his face. Michael's whispering voice above my ear, "I'll wake you when I return." A creeking sound upon the floor, and then my brother was gone.

The sound of crows washing in the puddles beneath my window was what woke me in the early hours of the morning. Waking and rubbing my eyes, I looked over to the far side of our bedroom, expecting to see my brother there in his bed, but his sheets were all amess and pushed to the side.

"Michael must already be awake." I thought, though the morn was scarcely more than black. Throwing my own covers to the side and putting on my slippers, I made my own way out of the room, searching through the entire house but my parents room. He wasn't there.

I checked even the closets, behind the furniture. I went outside and ran a circle around the house, right up along the forest wall, yelling out in a whisper Michael's name.

But no answer came

Before long I had told my parents and the two of them were soon out searching the countryside, myself left alone at the house sitting upon the front step, watching for anyone to return.

It was near midday when finally I saw a slender white shape wandering up the hill to our house, wavering from side to side like a man upon a ship in a storm. Approaching I could see that it was him, and I called out! But Michael was gaunt and listless as he came up and passed me by to go in.

I found him in our room, flopped down upon his stomach with his eyes wide open, staring aimlessly at the wall. "Are you alright?" I ask him, "What did you see?"

Michael tells me that he had seen sights so horrible and so beautiful. He said that it was as though he had already lived an entire life all in the span of one life and now it was lost.

By the time our parents had returned my brother was sobbing and curled in his bed.

It was like I was living with someone entirely different from that day on. Michael barely would ever say more than a word or two in answer to any question, and he muttered--not anything I could understand, becoming furious if he noticed you listening. He refused to go out, his skin becoming pale, and my mother could scarce get him to care for himself, his fingernails growing long and his hair tangled.

All until Hallow's Eve once more drew near, and then he perked up once anew. Still he mumbled gibberish, but not with a certain glee, and he would laugh suddenly just walking down the hall or between bites of food with no provocation.

I knew he would be going out again on the night of the damned, a bundle of supplies was slowly gathering beneath his bed and when that night came he wrapped them all up and slung them over his shoulder. I tried to warn my brother, but he couldn't even hear me over his demented giggles, simply raising a finger to his lips before heading out into the night, late that eve.

I waited up as long as I could, that night, but as the ticking sound of the grandfather clock echoed through the house, even that terrified little boy that I was fell into deep slumber.

The sound of anguished wails is what awoke me, my brother huddled upon the floor was crying. Again, I asked him what had happened during the night, but all he could manage to say was that nothing, exactly nothing had happened. His love was lost.

He drew her, his love. As the years went on, hundreds of sketches and paintings. Not like a normal painting of a woman, for she was pale and translucent, hovering in the air. "Surely she's just a dream! Just a spirit shown to you on All Hallow's Eve!" I would tell him as the years past. He would silently agree, but he said that even though the real world didn't have one fifth the horrors of all that he had seen that night, that coming back was like living in a land of greys, with every face simply a puppet, walking around without any soul guiding it. And no woman so beautiful as that dead spirit that had flashed but momentarily before his eyes.

Michael became obsessed with sensations, either beauty or tragedy, just as giddy regardless that which crossed his path.
For years he disappeared. I had grown, started a profession as a lawyer, met your grandmother and married her. Rarely did I or anyone else in the family speak of Michael to anyone. My life was blessedly normal and busy, and such dark and troubling things as had happened many years before in the time of my youth becoming forgotten.

It was only by chance that we were to become reacquainted, my brother and I. Apparently, he had travelled the world, going to the Orient and back, learning their secrets of jewelry and of clockwork, becoming proficient in the creation of artifacts of such beauty that monarchs came from all Europe to have his personal creations.

But he had given one item, a small wooden box, to a young woman. She had seen him going about day-to-day, so quiet--looking always pensive. She caught sight of the beautiful things that left his house and had convinced herself that a man who could create things of such beauty must be the most magnificent of all men. She had fallen in love, having traded scarcely a few words with him in all that time.

And so she had found way to make contact and make her thoughts and feelings known. And then, as the court testimony said, he had locked himself into his house for nearly a month.

Returning once more to the world, she had given a cry of joy to see him again, rushing to take his hands. But, in Michael's hands was the box.

He had looked into her eyes and he told her, "Satan himself cursed me with sight of the most beauteous vision that could ever exist in this planet--love its very self fashioned into human form. In this box, you will find the most beautiful of all things ever created by man upon this Earth."

"But, madame, believe me when I say that I am cursed. Man was not meant to see things to lovely nor so horrible as what was loosed upon me one fateful night. I could never match such things as were exposed to me, and even yet, you would surely be cursed by looking upon the thing that lies within this box."

And so he had given it to her, a plain, unfinished box with a small latch that could be easily opened, and then he had turned to go back inside his home.

Alas, the young woman did open that box. Her description of what happened next was as though a hundred gold and isinglass butterflies had flown up out of it, fluttering through the air. So beautiful were they that she could not control her own body, giving chase, trying to catch them.

And for each time she touched those gossamer wings, it cut through her.

The young woman I saw in the court as I defended my brother had scars all across her face, her hands wrapped in bandages to the elbows. Had my brother drugged and attacked her with a knife? Was her account of that night factual, and did my brother plot that such a fate would befall her?

The testimony that Michael gave led to his forced confinement in a mental institution. The doctors told us all that his stories of Halloween night and of isinglass butterflies were but fanciful creations of drugs and a deranged mind.

< To Be Continued >

Cheer. It is happy-making.

Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:25 pm
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