Only in Spirit by Kate Hofman
Bianca Saint-Antoine hurried out of her house, high heels clicking on the sidewalk of the quiet street leading to the much busier Front Street, where her friends Garth and Moira Palmer lived. They were giving their traditional, justly famous Halloween dinner and party. In her haste, she hadn’t noticed four young men, slightly drunk, veering toward her from across the street. Now that they were querulously yelling at each other, she became anxiously aware of them.
“Hey, guys,” the loudest of them bellowed. “Looky here. A lonely li’l fox in an orange dress, ready for some Halloween screwing.” He leered at his comrades. “Let’s give it to her.” Bianca began to walk faster, hoping to outdistance the somewhat lurching foursome. A hasty glance behind her showed that, in spite of their varying degrees of inebriation, they were slowly gaining on her. I should’ve taken a cab. Why was I so insane as to think I could walk, unmolested, on Halloween?
At that moment, the least drunk of the quartet grabbed at her, but only managed to get hold of her black velvet wrap, lined with the same tangerine silk as her dress. Content, at first, to start clowning with it, putting it around his face, he soon tired of his antics, and came at Bianca again. “Dontcha dare run away from ush, you li’l fox. We know you wanna be shcrewed, an’ you gonna get a g-great shcrewing over, lemmetellya…” He tried to turn Bianca around, only to find her knee slamming into his groin. With a scream of pain, he released her. “Bitch, goddam bitch… ow…..” he groaned, sinking to his knees, clutching his crotch. Bianca now began to run in earnest, but two others soon caught up with her, grabbing her arms and dragging her back to where the first assailant was still crouched, and the other stood, unzipping his exceedingly filthy jeans.
Valentino’s Ghost by Gwyn Lacy
Camilla saw an angel by the basement window. She blinked and it was gone. She touched her head gingerly. Her vision was messed up. The angel was just a vision, a distortion of the column of sunlight that shown through the window. The boy wanted to save her, but she knew she had to save this boy. He said to run when she saw the moment. A voice from behind her said, “This is the moment.”
Camilla looked towards the door at the top of the stairs. She knew it was not locked. Neither Jude nor Rowan would worry about her trying to come up the stairs. There was no house phone. They had their cell phones, but she could not get to them.
Camilla looked at the basement ceiling. She heard steps and the front door slam. Shortly after she heard the creak of a truck door open and shut, and an engine start. Rowan was leaving for town for the pizza and beer.
Camilla’s eyes followed the sound of Jude’s footsteps on the floor above her. First he went to the bathroom and then to their bed. She heard the mattress squeak as he lay down. She listened for sounds of the boy. But she heard none. She knew she had to hurry if she would save him from a night with Jude and Rowan.
Jude and the boy were alone in the house. Perhaps she could sneak up and let him out while Jude slept. Maybe they both could flee.
Camilla wrung her hands. If she failed, the boy and she would suffer much, much more. It wasn’t worth the risk. No, she needed to get help. Something waved in her peripheral vision. Stained yellow curtains billowed in front of one of the basement’s windows.
Rowan and Jude no longer feared discovery, so an open basement window was of no consideration. They were so far out in a rural area of Colorado and there was no one to hear their victim’s screams. They had simply opened the window to cool their sweating bodies as they inflicted unbearable pain.
Camilla’s head throbbed from the beating and she felt weak, off balance. Her vision wavered as she looked at the billowing curtain. She staggered across the floor to the wooden table below the basement window. The sun shone through the window like the light to the stairs of heaven. She climbed up on the table and glanced back at the ceiling. She did not hear Jude’s footsteps on the floor, just the muffled sound of his snoring.
Wood slid against wood above the ceiling of the basement. She flinched. She listened for the location of the sound. The sound was from the kitchen. It sounded like a kitchen drawer opened. But she heard no footsteps and Jude was still snoring.
Who or what made that sound?
Camilla’s breaths were quick and hard. Could Rowan be back? No the truck hadn’t returned. Sweat formed on her forehead. She looked toward the ceiling where the rhythmic sound of Jude’s snoring was an anchor to his location. She listened for sounds from the kitchen, or any other unusual sound in the house, but there were none. Camilla put her hand to her pounding head. The pain kept rhythm with her pulse. “God help me,” she prayed.
“Help me God!” she whispered again and again and looked up to the guiding light from the basement window.
Camilla climbed on the table and reached through the basement window. She grabbed the trunk of a large bush with both hands. She pulled against the trunk, moving her body upward and through the narrow window, then pushed with her feet against the table. Her thin frame slid through the window with only scrapes to show for her efforts. She lay on the ground blinking at the sunlight that beat down on her body.
I’m out. I’m out. I’m out.
Camilla rose up on one elbow and pushed her long black hair out of her face. She trembled as she looked about the yard. No one was about. She rolled to her side on one elbow and saw a deep a large field of green, tall corn. The field was so large she could not see the end of it.
Hide! Hide! Hurry!
The green cornfield called to her. It was thick like a jungle. She thought of the boy and rose to her wobbly knees and then crossed the yard, and hid behind the propane tank.
Camilla looked back at the house from her hiding spot behind the large oblong tank. The house looked as if it had an evil life of its own. It bulged and swayed towards her. Camilla’s head throbbed and she vomited. She raised her eyes toward the evil house and wiped her mouth. She looked towards the tall, green cornfield, ducked down and made a dash for it.
Once inside the thick, hard stalks and fragrant, sharp leaves, she looked back at the evil house. It hadn’t moved and no one was following her.
There is no going back, she frantically thought. She entertained for a moment the thought of sneaking back in before Jude discovered her gone, but she willed her body to move and ran along the furrows.
Camilla stumbled and fell hard in the deep furrow. She lay on the ground smelling the sweet fragrance of the corn. The wind had been knocked out of her and she gasped for breath. She wanted to rest, her head hurt so much. The memory of the boy’s eyes and the determination to save her, shamed her into moving. Perhaps if she saved the boy, she would have paid the penance for the sins she had committed as a prisoner of Jude and Rowan.
Camilla had to reach out every few strides and grasp onto the yellow green stalks of corn. She steadied herself and pushed on. She stopped again for breath and looked up to the blue sky through the canopy of green, narrow leaves of corn. She fell to her knees, she could go no further.
“Please, God. Por favor!”
Castle on the Moor by Bill Haworth
In the dim and distant past – magic, sorcery, witchcraft and superstition vied with religion in an attempt to explain the mysteries of the age. Those privy to the workings of such matters kept their knowledge a closely guarded secret, for it could mean the difference between life and death.
Places intended for the indulgence of such matters were selected for their relative isolation; quite often a fortress or a castle such as the one that still stands today overlooking a bleak moor. Always appearing a dark, brooding, forbidding place; forever, it seemed, cloaked in a grey mist. Built upon a small tor (hill) it had a commanding view of the grim vista below and beyond. It dominated the scene for miles, like a malign blot on the landscape and could be seen from at least three leagues away, if the weather ever cleared.
It was rumoured to have a curse upon it. People avoided it like a plague. Local villagers kept shy of it. Travellers gave it wide berth as they passed. No animals grazed or foraged nearby and no birds flew over it. Folklore has it that this sentinel was a place of evil, a fortress of malevolence best left alone to crumble to dust and take its black secrets with it.
No one had lived there for centuries. It was believed the spawn of dark powers did reside within its walls. Bad luck and worse befell anyone foolish enough to have dealings there. Plunderers of its stones came to grief. They who would chance ransacking its rooms either died or went mad. Although barren and deserted for ages, on moonless nights it was reported that strange lights had been seen emanating from within. No one in his right mind dared to investigate. The castle’s eerie fables were too awe filling, too frightening and too powerful to ignore.
One rain-soaked and Godless night, a luckless old beggar had taken shelter there from a storm. He was found the morning after rambling on the moors – mad delirious. He never regained his sanity and died in an asylum. To the end of his days, he ranted about the castle’s occupant; the spirit of its one time lord, an evil man who dabbled in sorcery and abominations.
For his past sins, the lord had been cursed to roam the castle for eternity until able to make atonement. Only then would the powers that condemned him release him from his earth-bound purgatory. Without human intervention, the spirit of the old lord was unable to atone for his sins in life - therefore his tormented soul still haunted the castle.
The old spirit was trapped between one world and the next, for no one dared set foot in the place. How odd then that the castle would receive visitors at all. Wise folk knew to leave well enough alone, but every now and then – when things were just right - when the moon was full - when the planets lined up, and when the wind cried the names of souls long departed; once again, fate would confirm the wisdom of the old saying…….”Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.” This would prove never to be more true than on such a night as this one………All Hallowes Eve.
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