Halloween Haunts: All Hallows Eve from Someone Who Knows Enough to be Scared
by L. Marie Wood
Pumpkins and goblins and witches galore… those are things that Halloween is for! Ok, mayb e not, and I thank you for sitting through that random rhyming start – the rest of the post will be better… I promise. 😊
Lost of people talk about Halloween an its origins, what it means, and what you could (should) do on that day, but how many of you know about All Hallows Eve? The day before the one where children dress up as Elsa and Batman, their only quest getting as much candy as they can fit into their baskets, or if you are of a certain age, pillowcases. The day before, when everything seems normal, when everything seems safe.
Some cultures revere it.
Many cultures fear it.
But some people don’t know enough to be afraid.
All Hallows Eve is the day that spirits walk to earth and exact their revenge on those who have wronged them, some say. Others say there is no such event, no such things as ghosts, no way that the dead can reach out beyond the grave to touch the living.
But many know the truth.
One brave soul shared his story below. Read it. Consume it. Ruminate on it a bit. And then tell me… do you believe?
Ole Hallows Eve
By L. Marie Wood
Do you know de real story of Halloween??? NO?? Ain’t no s’prise ta me, no suh. I’s sho’ lots a folks don’t know de truf ‘bout Halloween. Ain’t like I wants to know dis horrid tale. But I do. I knows it like it be de bac’ a’ my hand, yes I do. You wanna know what really be happenin’ on Halloween night, do you? You really wants to know? Gader ’round, chil’ren, while I tell you dis story. You be frozen in fear when you hears it, yeah. Just like I wuz when I saw it be true.
De night ‘fore Halloween has a ancient history, dates back furda den I kin r’memba. De kids like to call it Gate Night nowadays. Dey ain’t all that far from de truf, really. It used to be dat de town would gatha togetha on Ole Hallows Eve ta sit infront de cemetery all night. Dey wuz tryin’ to keep de dead in. You heard me. Erry Halloween de dead be walkin’ dis eart’ wit us. Even now, dis day. You don’t be seein’ dem ‘cuz yo’ mama and pappa be makin’ sho’ yous safe. But deys scared cause dey can hear dem a’comin’. Dey feet be draggin’ on de groun’ cuz dey done been sleepin’ dey death sleep and dey ain’t got no kind a’ coordination to speak of, you know. Sometimes, if dey fresh, dey guts be fallin’ on de groun’ and lettin’ off de foulest stench you ever did smell. Don’t boder dem none. Deys busy tryin’ to get where dey be goin’, and dey gotsta hurry, ‘cuz dey ain’t got but one night to do dey business in. We wuz tryin’ to keep dat from happenin’.
Seem like a mist start to form ’round 10:00 p.m. erry Ole Hallows Eve. It travel ‘cross town to de cemetery an’ hover over de tombstones. Dem thar gates started a shakin’ and de leaves wuz whippin’ up a storm. Folks say dey hear moanin’ and rustlin’ in de cemetery. I don’t know ’bout dat m’self. Alls I heard when I wuz down dere wuz screamin’.
I went wit my daddy one year to ward off de dead. We wuz all dressed up in our scariest masks to disguise our faces sos our dead relatives wouldn’t be knowin’ who we wuz in case dey got out. My daddy tole’ me dat as long as dey cain’t recognize us and we looked dead an’ evil enough, dey would tink we wuz one a dem. So, we and ’bout fiteen uders sat infront de gate of de bigges’ cemetery in our town. Dere wuz ‘posed to be people sitting at de lil’ cemeteries too, but I don’t belie dat happen like it wuz ‘posed to.
It got to be ’round 12:00 ‘clock befo’ we started to hear de noises. It sounded like dey wuz tryin’ to come out de groun’! De fog wuz so thick I couldn’ see my own han’ in front of ma’ face! It happened so quick! I called out fo’ my daddy, but he didn’t respon’. I saw figures moving t’ward where we wuz sittin’. Dey didn’t look like my daddy an’ de men I went out dere wit. Dey wuz tall and dey shadows wuz long. Dey looked ragged in de shadows, and dey wuzn’t walkin’. Look more like dey wuz glidin’ t’ward me. I got up and ran off to my right, scared out of my wits. Seem like dem ole stories I had heard wuz true! I figured I could out run dem cuz dey wuz movin’ so slow. Just when I got past one of ’em it said ma’ name, low and gurgly-like. It scared me so bad I wuz stopped in my tracks. Den it reached for me. A cold, lifeless hand tried to grip ma’ arm, but I pulled away…and took off runnin’. I screamed bloody murder all de way home.
De next day when I woke up, mama asked me where daddy wuz. I tole’ her I couldn’t find him out dere and dat I think I lef’ ‘im. Her face clouded over in grief and she held back a sob. I tole’ mama I would go back an’ look for ‘im but she said he wuz gone. Ain’t notin’ we could do now.
I went anyhow. I had to find my daddy. But mama wuz right. Wuzn’t nobody dere. De cemetery gates looked like dey had been taken out de groun’ an’ de plots wuz all torn up. Some of de caskets has risen to de top, and de doors wuz broken off. De gate wuz splattered wit blood. All over it looked like all de blood a body could hol’ wuz dryed on it. Infront de gate wuz one thing that I will never forget. My daddy’s wedding ring shinned brightly in de mornin’ sun, while his finger decayed underneath it.
I wore a diff’nt mask that Halloween night. And I’ve worn a diff’nt one ev’ry since. Me and mama.
Marie Wood is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is the recipient of the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper, as well as the Harold L. Brown Award for her screenplay Home Party. Her short story, “The Ever After” is part of the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology Sycorax’s Daughters. Wood was recognized in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 and as one of the 100+ Black Women in Horror Fiction. Her novel, The Realm, a horror mashup that speaks to the core of human fear, will be released by Cedar Grove Publishing on October 29, 2020. Her vampire tale, “The Dance”, will be released in Mocha Memoirs Press’ groundbreaking anthology, SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noir in October 2020. Learn more about L. Marie Wood at www.lmariewood.com or follow her on Twitter @LMarieWood1.
Back cover copy:
You thought you were dead.
Waking up and looking all around you, you realize all you learned about The Afterlife was a fantasy. You don’t know where you are, but you do know it’s not a pleasant or suitable place. You need to run. Hard and fast.
Eventually, you meet others doomed to live in this terrifying Realm with you. Here are gathered the newly dead from all over the universe. A formidable race of giant beasts hunts them. The likes of which have never been seen by those in the living world. This place is like nothing you ever learned about in life – neither Heaven nor Hell, neither Purgatory nor Sheol.
You encounter clusters of people huddled together for safety. You’re a lone wolf – they don’t trust you, nor you them. Perhaps with good reason.
Patrick is key to the future of The Realm. He must right old wrongs and fight against all the terrors it has in store. He must fight to save his family and, most importantly, all of his descendants. His revelations will impact the living world, as well as what comes next.
Patrick is the future of humanity.
Can he succeed?
Check it out at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/TheRealm
Read an excerpt from The Realm by L. Marie Wood:
It didn’t happen the way they said it would.
No angels came to greet him; no bright light funneled a path through the darkness. No relatives called to him from the beyond.
He didn’t feel warmth, acceptance, or love – he felt emptiness.
He saw nothing in the moments before death. Just an impenetrable darkness that crowded his vision like oil spreading in water, encroaching on the faces of his son and daughter-in-law, blackening them: obliterating them. He could hear them after his eyes dimmed, standing open and blind like black holes. His tear ducts dried up as his son cried over him.
The sound of Doug’s grief, the guttural moans roiling and meshing with his pleas—his barters with God to save his father—was more than Patrick could take. Trying but failing to lift his hand from his side and stroke his son’s head, Patrick silently prayed that his hearing would dissipate as quickly as his sight had.
Patrick could only imagine what Doug and Chris were seeing as his body broke down in front of him. Images of eyes ruined by broken capillaries filled with blood, his slacked mouth allowing a discolored tongue to peek through tortured his mind. He struggled for every breath now, death’s grip holding fast and firm. The thought of the kids seeing him fight for air, his face a twisted mass of pain and effort, upset him more than he thought it would. Death was not pretty.
Doug moaned and Chris cried while Patrick’s eyes grew drier and his skin grew paler. He thought it would never end, the display, the sick, cruel game death was playing. That he should witness it, that he should have to hear the calmness his son usually displayed crumble and fall away, was torture if ever there was a definition of the word. The devil, then. It was his work after all, he supposed. He was on his way to Hell and this was but a taste of what was to come.
And then there was silence.
The sound of his son’s anguish was gone, mercifully. The hum of the respirator, the clicking of the rosary beads the man in the next bed held, the squeak of rubber soles on the sanitized tile floor as the nurses and doctors hurried to his side – all sound had disappeared. He wondered what would be next to go. His memory? He quizzed himself just to see if it was already gone. What’s my name? Patrick Richardson. How old am I? 59. Was is more like it, he corrected himself. After all, he was dead. Dead. Gone. Finished.
Patrick stood in the pitch-black silence confused and unbelievably sad. He was dead. He would never see the baby that Chris was carrying, his first grandchild. He wouldn’t ever watch another boxing match with his son and friends over beer and pizza. He wouldn’t get the chance to watch the waves break on the shore from a beach chair in the Caribbean. He wouldn’t do anything anymore—not eat, drink, or fuck—ever again. Because he was dead.
And death was dark. Impenetrably so.
How did this happen? he asked aloud using a mouth he could no longer feel. He thought back to that morning, when he was taking out the garbage. He could remember walking to the back of his house and getting the garbage can. The damned cat had gotten into it again; the little stray he left food and water for had knocked the top of the can off, torn through the garbage bag, and gotten to the trash inside. The little monster made a hell of mess too, strewing soggy newspaper, chicken bones, and juice cartons all over the brick patio. Patrick remembered cursing out loud and casting his eyes around the backyard, looking for the cat. He remembered turning back to the bowl he’d left out the night before and finding it full of food. ‘That’s what you were supposed to eat, damn it!’ he’d said as he bent down to clean up the mess.
On his way back into the house to get another garbage bag, a piece of the dream he had the night before came back to him. It hung in front of his eyes like a transparency over real life, framing everything with the hazy film of familiarity, all soft edges and anticipation.
As usual after those dreams, the dark ones that made him wonder if he was there, really there, walking, talking, living within them, he wondered if he was the character whose face the audience never sees.
The memory was faint, as it always was the morning after, but he knew what happened next. This time the scene was identical to his dream. There was usually something askew, some crucial piece off center, but this time nothing was out of place. He knew he would turn away from the door instead of going inside to get the garbage bag. He knew he would squint from the sun when he did, and that he would place his hands above his eyes, shading them like a visor. He knew it just as well as he knew his name, for as easily as that knowledge came, it dragged heavy fear and worry in its wake.
He obliged. It wasn’t like he had a choice.