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All Hallow's Eve

by Joseph A Todaro 2 months ago in Horror
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A short story

All Hallow's Eve
Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. Abandoned… Or so everyone in town had thought.

It was such that over the years, the empty cabin had achieved a level of urban legend status amongst the children and adults alike. Most people could not even honestly recall what, if anything, had actually transpired there. Everything from murderous homeless people to monstrous eldritch horrors inhabited the run-down house at one point or another. In town, it was just understood that you didn’t invade Old Lady Claire’s place. The glass was intact, there was no graffiti, no hidden messages of lover’s pacts carved into the wood of its frame with pocket knives. It was simply left alone.

No one ever wanted to talk about the history there. No town historical committee would ever seek to erect a plaque to commemorate its centennial, although it was old enough to nearly warrant that honor twice over. As the story goes, Claire came over from England or some such with no husband in tow and only an older, dedicated, if somewhat Levantine-looking man servant named Roland. She claimed that the family had long-standing ties to her own, but never a word more. They lived on the grounds for years. A grand house was built, draped in fineries and decadence. But, as time moved on, Claire came into town less and less, eventually falling into the category of recluse amongst the townsfolk.

One day, a fire swept through the property, no one really knew why. The manor went up as if it were made of matchsticks, Old lady Claire and her porter trapped inside. The only part of the property left untouched was Roland’s cabin. Plenty of secrets and hearsay made its way around town. Plenty of lurid and scandalous stories wild enough to make the greatest storyteller blush or scoff depending on which they heard.

Today the cabin still stood, empty as it had been for over a hundred years and perhaps it will stand for a hundred more. Its doors shut tight, its windows dark and empty, now save for one glass portal into the edifice. In the dark, the light of a single candle showed what lay beyond its sealed barriers. Daring any who would chance trespass to learn of its secrets. But, for this nighted time, what walked there, walked alone…

* * *

“Hey, you see that?” the smallish voice stage whispered.

“Yeah, that place…”

“No, dumbass.” the whisperer chastised. “Look at the far window… the light.”

He focused his eyes a moment, adjusting the binoculars to better see what his friend was talking about. It was still daylight, just into the earliest point of the evening. The dim glow of a candle was not immediately apparent with the surrounding ambient light to mask it. But, he could see it after a minute.

“Maybe it's some homeless guy or something,” he replied in the same hushed tone.

As if coming to some blatantly obvious realization, Al shook his head and cocked a quizzical eyebrow. “Why the hell are we whispering?”

Quick to defend himself and his cautionary choices, Doug snapped his head around to face Al and prepared to hurl a chastising retort… When one wasn’t exactly forthcoming, he shook his head in a conciliatory manner and confessed he had no idea.

“That place just creeps me out,” he confessed. “That’s all.”

“No shit,” Al agreed, basically admitting silently to himself that although they were hundreds of yards away, separated by a treeline, a chain-link fence, and most of Mountford Park beyond… He understood perfectly well the need for caution. It may have been up in the forested hills… But still…

But, perhaps raw elemental fear of the unknown demons in the woods wasn’t the best thing to admit to your childhood friend who would either dog you for being a chickenshit… Or become infected with the same fear as he totally agreed with you.

From behind their vantage point, which was little more than a bench in the park facing out over the highest hill before the forest began, a rough voice called to both Al and Doug. A voice that made their blood cold. Its utterance of their names made them immediately seek an exit from the situation. It was a big park, but to leave the area in any direction that wasn’t Mountford Woods, or “Claire’s Woods” if you subscribe to eldritch myth and legend, meant going through… him.

Rudy…

“What are you two up to?” Rudy asked, not really caring for or expecting an answer.

His large hands, moist with sweat shot out to Doug and grasped the pair of binoculars from the smaller boy. “Ooh, binoculars. I could spy on Mrs. LeRoux tonight with these!” He brayed a laugh and continued

His outburst was genuine and he turned over the small metal and glass instrument in his hands, inspecting them.

“Give those back, Rudy,” Doug demanded, trying his best to sound tougher than he felt. “Those are my Dad’s.”

“What were you losers using them for?” Rudy asked without much interest. “Watching birds or some other boring shit?”

A slow smile crawled halfway across Al’s face. An idea was forming. It was a spur-of-the-moment plan, it very well could land him in the hospital, but it was worth a try.

“No, We were checking out the old Servant’s cabin. There’s a light in the window.”

That statement stopped Rudy in his tracks.

He turned his head as if in slow motion, casting his eyes as far as they would travel to the left to look sidelong at Doug whom he had walked through while examining the binoculars.

“Let’s see if they even work.” Rudy said with an air of disbelief about him.

He scanned for the cabin and then raised the binoculars to his face. Scrunching up his whole face to squint through the lenses, Rudy’s unsteady hands made it nearly impossible to focus in on his intended target zone. he moved the glasses uncomfortably back and forth in slight arcs as he tried to zero in on the window they were talking about.

A blur of movement stole his attention and caused him to freeze still as a statue. His focus narrowed and he managed to get the window in frame. For the briefest moment, there was no candle in the window, but instead, a form, not unlike a human body, one devoid of every stitch of clothing caught his eye. The curves were slight, the skin color a milky pale hue. There was also the impression that he had seen a shock of long black hair.

Had it been a woman? Where had she gone?

“Holy Shit!” Rudy exclaimed. “Did you see that?”

“No, Asshole. You stole my binoculars.” Doug blurted out before he had a chance to filter it.

The larger kid seemed to pay his insult no mind. His complete attention being focused on the cabin. He turned to them and spoke conspiratorially, grabbing both of them by their jackets and drawing them nearer.

“I’m going to get a closer look,” Rudy told them. “I saw a woman in there.”

Al shifted, trying to get out of Rudy’s grip. He overbalanced and fell back, sliding his jacket out of the other boy’s hand and bouncing his own ass off the grassy earth. “It’s probably some friggin’ hobo.” Al had said, attempting to dismiss Rudy’s fantasy.

“Dude, she was naked!”

He shook his head, only halfway through the conversation. The other half of Rudy’s child brain was lost in some abstract hormonal fantasy about the naked woman he knew he had glimpsed for the briefest of moments in the window.

“I’m going,” He declared, turning to walk away towards the fence separating the park from the woods. “If you want your binoculars back, you better come with.”

“Come on Rudy, it’s gonna be dark soon.” Doug protested.

Doug sighed and spoke quietly, somewhat pleadingly to his friend beside him. “Tomorrow is Halloween. If I get grounded over this shit, I’m gonna be pissed.”

There was no further response. The larger boy had already nearly made it to the aluminum fence. He had strung the binoculars over his head, allowing the lanyard to hang them at his chest.

Alistair and Doug looked at each other for a few seconds. As if they had debated in some psychic arena, weighing the pros and cons together, they both sighed angrily and headed out to catch up with Rudy who was already landing his feet on the far side of the fence.

* * *

Despite using the binoculars from the safety of the park, the walk to the actual cabin was pretty rough. Long gone was any remnant of a path and the going was slow and hard. The boys were held back by underbrush, overhangs, and all manner of creeper vines hanging down like a living barrier meant to keep them away.

… to keep them safe?

“This place didn’t look so far when we were at the bench,” Doug said.

With a half-smile, Rudy antagonized “Maybe it’s old Witch Claire. trapping us.”

“Oh, fuck off Rudy,” Doug said, slowly becoming more emboldened in direct contrast to the situation.

“Hey, watch your mouth shit head.” Rudy scolded, stopping dead in his tracks and spinning clumsily on a heel. “After the town burned her house down, she cursed the forest. It grew up and spread all across the border of town. She swore that the woods were hers and so were anyone lost in them. That's why the park is bordered with the fence.”

His embellishment of the story, was both a build on what little he had known about the legend of Claire and the extreme length to which his limited imagination was capable. But, it came out so crisp, that he even started to scare himself a little bit.

“So…” Al began. “Tell me again why the hell we are here…”

Doug looked at Al, then to Rudy. Rudy stared blankly as if Al had spoken a foreign language, then looked to Doug as Doug turned to look at him. Both of the smaller boys were now staring a challenge to Rudy. When it finally cleared his mental switchboard that they were expectant of some kind of explanation, he doubled down on his previous stance and simply ignored them. He turned and began to walk back in the direction of the cabin.

They walked on, unsure whether accepting the rebuke of Doug’s dad, as well as a verbal lashing on responsibility from both sets of parents was better than being in the woods with Rudy Bledsoe. After what seemed like another 30 min, Doug had finally had enough and pulled on Al’s sleeve.

“Okay, enough is enough.” He began, frustrated and more than a little out of breath. “Has it occurred to you that we can’t see anything anymore? Not Mountford Park, Not the Cabin.”

“How the fu-” Al said as if coming to the realization all at once. “How did that happen?”

Doug, finally beyond all reasonable limits of aggravation “Because this douche nozzle got us lost!”

“You want a few less teeth, Asshole?” Rudy roared.

Waving a dismissive hand between the two boys, Al said “Knock it off, both of you.”

The silence moved in on the area, oppressive in its phantom weight. The sounds of the forest quieted. With the dying of the volume of cicadas and bird sounds, it became apparent that the sounds of industry and technology had also dissipated. They were somehow deeper into the wilderness than should have been possible.

“Does anyone hear anything like town? Or a car engine?” Al asked. “Something is not right.”

In a wave of uncomfortable understanding, Al also made the realization that they had not been traversing an incline for the last twenty minutes or so. But, how was that possible? Mountford park faces on hilly forest going gradually uphill away from town. And now, there was no town to speak of… Anywhere!

Dense forest had encroached on their vision in all directions with no variance of elevation in sight. They took turns turning in place as they all sought to disprove Al’s revelation.

“What was that you were saying about Claire, Rudy?” Doug asked.

Rudy shook his head as if to say: I didn’t mean it. “I made most of that shit up.”

He began to blubber and hyperventilate. He was trying to calm himself and began to force a deep breath. As he started to exhale, a Loon cried out, it’s disturbing alien call echoing through the trees. He let all his air out in a panicked wheeze as the bird terrified him.

With a troubled sigh, Al said “It’s going to be dark soon.”

No one disagreed.

“Then we’re really fucked.”

* * *

The last glimpse of honest sunlight withered and faded beyond the line of the trees. The previous pinks and purples of the evening sky gave way to the deep navy of the night in the extreme east. The air became busy as the wind picked up and carried an icy chill telling of autumn’s end and the soon-to-be winter on its breath. It whistled through the trees, rustling the leaves and rattling branches together to make a sound like the clattering of old bones falling into a pile.

The three boys put their hands to their ears to block out the now roaring wind. They closed their eyes against the flying detritus that threatened to rip at their delicate eyes.

“What the hell is going on?!” Rudy yelled.

But the wind stole his loudest voice and masked it as if he were whispering at a polite dinner party.

“I can’t see!” Al yelled.

“Where are you?!” Doug hollered at the top of his lungs.

No one child heard the other.

The wind finally died down. It was a gradual decline at first, that died slowly at first and then became stale still air laden with the scent of turned earth and old pine. When he, at last, felt the silence close in on him, Al removed his hands from his ears. He no longer felt stinging winds and opened his eyes, squinting hard at first. He then relented and opened them completely. Both Rudy and Doug were nowhere to be seen. The forest was dark and full of liquid shadows that glided across the absence of light. There was a tremendous feeling of icy fear that raised his nerves to high alert. he could feel his pulse pounding in his temples, in his neck, his chest.

“Guys?” He called out.

Alistair?

What was that? Did he hear someone call his name?

“Guys! Where are you?”

He could feel the purest fear well up inside him. Tears began to burn behind his green eyes and threatened to escape.

“Guys…”

Al wandered in the direction where the foliage was thinnest. As he made his way through the brush, he could hear things moving unseen amongst the shadows. Walking with his hands before him to prevent his face from getting hit my branches and leaves, he felt the wetness of the twin streams running down his face making clean streaks on his dirty cheeks.

Alistair… a voice called to him in his mind.

His limit was close. He was very near to the upper echelons of stress before his mind finally broke. Then it wouldn’t matter. lost in the woods, phantom voices, nighttime coming on, can’t find his friends…

Do you want to go home?

“Yes!” he proclaimed excitedly. “I want to go home!”

* * *

When the winds receded and the madness bled away, Doug found himself standing in the dark forest at night overlooking a ravine. THe immediate sense of vertigo flooded through him and caused his stomach to lurch as if he were at sea. His arms began to pinwheel as he backed his feet up and brought himself to a more safe vantage point.

“What the fuck?” He cried. “How did I-”

Douglas… A voice called sing-song seemingly inside his head.

“Hello?” Doug yelled, hoping for a more solid response. “Where are you? I’m lost.”

SIlence.

“I had two friends with me. I can’t find them.”

“Master Douglas. Come with me.” a deep accented voice spoke from Doug’s left.

In the treeline, partially obscured by foliage was a strange olive-complected man with an iron candle holder in his hand. He bore a simple white cotton shirt and his curly black oily hair looked like he belonged on the cover of a novel about the Seven Voyages of Sinbad.

Without allowing any discussion, the strange man simply said “Follow me.”

“How did you know my-” Doug began, but the man had already turned away and began to walk.

He ran to catch up and repeated in question in full this time. It seemed as though the man had no interest in answering him for quite some time. But, seemingly at random, or precisely when the man meant to, he spoke. His eyes never altered course from dead ahead.

“Master Alistair told me you were out here.”

“And who are you, sir?”

Before he could answer, they came upon a clearing in the foliage and a quaint clean cabin sat on a sprawling lawn of rich luxuriant green. A number of facts hit Doug’s mind at this point. This was, in fact, the cabin he had spied with his father’s binoculars, only it is newer, cleaner, and not overrun by the forest. The cabin was supposed to have belonged to a man named Roland who was Claire’s butler… or something. All of was impossible. All of it. He wheeled to see the man who had led him here, but as he turned the candle went out. In the darkness, he felt only the rush of air as the animated remains of Roland's ancient corpse embraced him.

Much like the pitch darkness of the starless night sky, Doug’s world went black and he knew no more…

* * *

Al made his way through the darkness of the blackest night he had ever known. He felt his way along through the trees and plants hoping against hope to stumble on the road or the park. It had to be here somewhere. Also, where the hell was Doug or Rudy? He had called out for them, but was afraid of drawing the attention of whatever had spoken to him when he first got lost. That voice was terrifying. It was cold, female, and devoid of any emotion.

When it spoke, he felt like a deer in the sights of a hunter’s rifle. He began to sob as hopelessness overtook him. There was nothing else for it. He couldn’t hold it in any more.

“I said I wanted to go home…” he whined. “I just want to be home.”

In the darkness, Al began to make out a definitive shape of a structure in front of him. It was a small house or a cabin overgrown by vegetation and mostly covered by tree litter and dead plant detritus. he raced for it, not caring about the stinging slaps and whips of hanging plants and vines. The front door faced before him standing partly ajar. He immediately slowed and, still crying, began to pace carefully forward and reached out a hand to open the door.

“Doug? Rudy? are you guys here?”

From within the confines of the house, Doug’s voice replied quietly “Yeah man. I’m here.”

A feeling of elation raced through the young boy and he threw the door open and bolted inside. Only, once the visage of what awaited him in the darkness manifested in his limited sight, his sanity broke in one bolt that ripped through his mind like a shard of glass. In the darkness, a figure of an ancient dessicated corpse adorned with black matted hair and rotting clothes over flesh that had long since dried and rotted held an iron candle holder that bore a wax pillar topped with a weak flame. Beside him was a smaller form that was far more familiar. Doug was there, looking as though he had been mauled by a bear in everyway a body can be.

The door slammed shut and Al whirled around just in time to see the form of a beautiful naked woman, her skin pale and smooth, her hair long and black. As the form whispered again…

Alistair…

She moved on him enveloping his child’s body with impossibly strong arms as cold and clammy as the grave. She drank in their essence and their bodies withered away, falling to little more than dead flakes or… leaves. With almost prissy care, she placed the candle in the far window and waited.

* * *

Rudy walked along Center St, his Halloween costume already on even though it was still beggar’s night.

He had to hurry if he was going to make it to Maxine’s house before her party started.

He knew who would be there.

He knew what he had to do.

Bring me more and you may live…

He knew what he had to do.

The End.

Horror

About the author

Joseph A Todaro

I am a long time writer of fantasy, horror, and adventure stories. My fantasy work is the culmination of over 25 years of writing&world building. My horror work is my other passion. I love the psychology of fear and the need to overcome it.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (6)

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  • Carol Townend22 days ago

    Fantastic and terrifying. I will certainly be watching where the kids go tonight!

  • Garry Morrisabout a month ago

    Finds a rhythmic flow after the first few paragraphs and glides smooth between voices and scene from then on with a beautiful panache. Well done.

  • Sasha Austinabout a month ago

    Great story! I loved it!

  • SM Nolanabout a month ago

    This was awesome, well written and such a good read. -SM

  • Taaj Bowers 2 months ago

    This was great!

  • Mark E. Cutter2 months ago

    Good story. I enjoyed it very much. I must admit that your writing style gives me hope that sooner or later, somebody might actually read one of mine! Keep on writing!

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