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by Lauren Triola 7 months ago in Fantasy
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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge: Story #31

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

The neighborhood is decorated in pumpkins and skeletons. Spiderwebs stretch across porches and over bushes. Everything is in orange, purple, green, and black. There’s a chill in the air, a light breeze tossing the fallen leaves about. The sun is setting, and children are walking down the sidewalk, dressed in a mix of homemade and store-bought costumes.

I love this time of year. I love this day. I set up a few gravestones in the yard and a bowl of candy on the porch. I won’t be answering the door, though. I have too much to do, but I want the children to enjoy. I want everyone to enjoy.

This used to be a time of great celebration. Not a commercialized, sugar-coated day of spooky fun. It was once a sacred day. A day when the veil between worlds lifted, when the dead could walk among the living.

A day when I was at my peak of power.

People worshipped me. People feared me. People spilled blood in my honor, burned herbs and muttered vows. This was my time, the time of the ancients, awoken and free to tread in this realm of life.

Of course, some of us are never truly gone from this world. I am always here, a whisper on the wind, a branch scratching at your window, the old woman down the street who tends a garden of flowers you’ve never seen before. I live in both worlds, but my power grows on this day, my true form can be perceived.

But the people have changed. Where once they sacrificed and chanted, calling upon me to transform, now they watch sordid movies and eat candy.

It’s not the same. But it will do.

I am no longer openly worshipped by the masses—a few faithful linger on, much appreciated—but that doesn’t mean I wither and fade. I remain in this world. I will always remain. On this day, whether the living mark it or not, I and my fellow ancients rise and feast. And this frivolous holiday still lends us some power. It is diluted, as distorted and processed as the food they eat, but it is still power. For they still recognize it as a day of death, even if their version of death is a sparkling lawn ornament.

We are the ancient gods. We are the bringers of death, of winter. The harvest has come and gone and now the world falls into frozen sleep. Without us the balance is upset, and chaos is unleashed. Without us the wicked spirits, the restless dead, will breach the veil and consume the realm of life.

So we don’t mind so much that this day is no longer marked by bonfires in the fields, by animal sacrifice and offerings. We have a job to do, and if all we can feed upon is the terror brought on by horror movies and the excitement of children getting treats, then so be it.

The sun has set fully now, the crescent moon shines above the trees. I hear music from a party next door, I hear children giggling and scampering down the street.

I step out into my backyard. The fences are high, the trees thick and tall, so no one can see the center. The moon peeks through, the crickets sing, the leaves rustle around me.

The veil is thin. I can see the other side. My body transforms, a mix of shadow and mist. My kin stand around me, all of us brimming with power.

Tonight is the night the world dies. But it will be reborn anew. As it is every year. We are the ones keeping the balance.

It is time.


About the author

Lauren Triola

I'm mostly a fiction author who loves Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but I also love history and archaeology. I'm especially obsessed with the Franklin Expedition. Occasionally I write poetry too. You can find me at my blog or on Twitter.

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