The street is alive with festivities but my house is sombre and silent. The neighbourhood knows I am a widow in mourning, that I want to be left in peace, but that doesn’t prevent those roaming little brats from ringing my bell.
“Trick or Treat!” they shout, over and over again until I finally come to the door. In my black hooded cloak I look the part. No harm in playing along. I let out a deep evil laugh, throw handfuls of candy at them then slam the door as they plunge into a frenzy. I hope that is the last of them; it is close to midnight and I have work to do. The veil is thin.
I almost nodded off as I sat through your funeral; the monotonous voice of the priest was like a soothing lullaby. It is typical that you choose to be buried in an obscure, old cemetery on top of a hill. I’m sure you were delighted that we had to trek uphill through wet grass, as if we were on a pilgrimage to your holy grave. However, there were more important things on my mind than your egocentricities. My gaze was lowered but not with false humility. I was watching the lake. At the bottom of the hillside, the dark body of water lay silent. Surrounded by thick, long grass and shrouded in early morning mist, it was a festering pit of smoky gloom. I wrung my fingers eagerly as my plan fell into place. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty but some dirty work is below me; I would need allies.
I let you lie in peace for a while before I returned. Enough time for the worms to have feasted sufficiently, reducing you to rotting scraps. In the cold night, I stalked the bank of the lake, summoning the Fae. What kind of fairies frequent cemeteries? The ugliest kind, both in nature and appearance. They pretended they couldn’t hear me as they played in the fog. They provoked me with their foolish fire, bright sparks of blue and orange fizzed on the water’s surface. Their deceptive lights have lured many unsuspecting souls to misfortune. They are stubborn, petulant things but I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse and reluctantly they came forth. Their deformed little faces emerged from the shadows, wicked eyes glinting like polished emeralds at the promise of a feast.
I paced impatiently as they shovelled dirt with sharp little claws, grunting as they worked frantically. They squealed and scattered as I hacked open the coffin with an axe, then flocked around eagerly to see your corpse. Your suit remained immaculate, the blue satin tie and handkerchief straight and neat. You were still a little bloated, chest puffed, as indignant in death as your were in life.
I commanded the Fae to deliver me your head, which they did with glee. It made a pleasant sound as it was torn from your shoulders like the peeling of thick bark from an old tree. I held your head gently in my hands surprised by the lightness of it. Your face had sunken upon itself, black leathery flesh clinging to an empty cavity, your brains long dissolved into a festering mush. The remaining flesh was streaked with the meandering tracks of larvae; deep within the empty eye sockets tiny writhing creatures slumbered, breeding.
I wrapped your head in my cloak and left, not looking back as the orgy erupted. As promised, the Fae were free to do with your remains as they wished. Descending the hill, I noticed they were dragging you back with them, limb by limb, down into the murky depths of the lake.
Samhain. Day of the Dead. All Hallows Eve. All Souls Day. It matters not. The old ways are dead; they have merged and morphed into meaningless pageantry. People parade happily in elaborate costumes, a parody of darker times. They have not seen what I have seen. They have not survived the curse of incurable disease or the plague of devils in robes, travelling from village to village, burning, burning. They have not seen Nature stretching her jaws, unleashing her motley minions to charm and confound. Once the Fae, Pixies and Elves occupied their rightful place in the scheme of things; now they have faded from our eyes and I can hear their ghostly wails. The sacred thread of truth, carried through generations, is strained and weak but it cannot be distinguished completely. The old ways are dead. New ways will rise.
I can hear the faint rumble of music and laughter outside as I kneel within the circle. I recall the hush of the ancient forest, the collective intake of all breath, a pregnant pause. I long for an eternal night, deep, dark and silent. The pact is black. The veil is thin. I begin to draw the sigil; my own innermost blood is the medium. The blood drips and sprinkles and runs lines down the walls, glistening in dim candlelight.
Your head is where I have always wanted it, on my altar. I am not ready to let you go. An acidic hate burns within me; it spurs me on and fuels my ritual. An ancient tongue writhes in my throat and spits in a long lost language. I am shaking as the voice rises and terrified as I watch. Your dead skin changes colour, from rotting tones of black and green to fresh shades of pink. Slowly your face begins to grow plump, cheeks and chin fashioned from living clay. Glutinous grey balls form in your eye sockets, streaks of slime seep from the corners like tears of joy at your rebirth. A black sphere darkens in the centre, your iris. A thin translucent film of skin collects around the milky globes, forming eyelids. Your fresh eyes stare at me with the wild madness of a newborn.
I’m not sure if it is complete but then your eyes blink. They roll side to side like the mechanical eyes of a toy. I let out a small gasp of surprise. They say the eyes are the mirror to the soul and I have claimed yours. I have snatched it out of the ether and brought it home.
Your jaw falls open, the joint grinding loose. A black sludge is coagulating in your mouth, creating your tongue. Perhaps I will grant you a voice but for now, the thick muffled grunts that emerge from the hollow will suffice. Such a peculiar expression on your new face, much like the stiff grimace of carved pumpkins that decorate windowsills this time of year. You will be my lantern, glowing throughout the night, shadows cast by the play of light.
~ Magenta Nero
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