It’s coming……. by David Macfie
The night is dark. A stiff breeze rattles the branches of the ancient forest. Many leaves have already fallen as autumn turns to winter. The wind plays with them, throwing them into the air and making them chase each other like manic butterflies, twisting, turning and racing in all directions. The plaintive hoot of a hunting owl sounds like the cry of a restless ghost and bats flutter and flit in search of delectable moths. Cobwebs stretch from branch to branch in bushes and in the trees. The forest is cold and dank and thick, wet mist wavers and streams between the trunks.
A full moon then slowly rises into the stormy sky and shows up fleeting clouds in the ragged heavens. Illumination falls into the forest, casting shadows and illuminating the mist. The effect is hauntingly reminiscent of stage-smoke in the spotlights of a performing rock-band.
I wander slowly through this amazing landscape, enjoying the atmosphere, and alert for every sound and movement. I’m on my way to the annual meeting of the denizens of the forest to prepare for our biggest event of the calendar.
Increasingly, I see and feel shadows whisk past me in the now-half-light. My eyes are drawn to the sky and I witness shapes flashing in front of the luminescent circle of the moon. Sounds start to intrude on the pleasure of my evening ramble and everything seems to be moving in the same direction. My anticipation grows and I can feel the excitement building all around me.
I am determined that this year will be the biggest and best event ever. Not only from the point of view of the extent of the festivities, geographically. But also from the perspective of the range of activities we will implement. And, finally from the intensity that we will apply to those activities. This year we will surpass all of our previous attempts and spread the awareness of us and our capabilities to the very ends of the earth and beyond. We will reign supreme again. We will reclaim our heritage. We will exact revenge on those who have belittled us over the years and reduced us to the level of a parlor game at worst or a party at best. My anger grows but still I do not hurry. I must dally until the others have all arrived. It just wouldn’t do for the host and leader of our convocation to have to wait. I must be last as befits my position. I must make an entrance to remind the gathering that I have a vision of our rightful place in reality. And, not only that, but also that we have a responsibility to return to our former glory. The night chill is setting in but I am warm in my ecstasy. The others must prepare for me. They must prepare our venue, set the fire and organize the refreshments. When I join the group, everything must be perfect.
I slow my pace and look around. Shadows still dash past and sounds still invade the peace of the night. I begin to hear the rustlings and murmurings of a large gathering but the activity nearby indicates that not all are there yet. I slow still more. My mind is focused on the night around me but also on the night to come. I think over my suggestions and recommendations for the event. I’m sure I have covered everything but I review and check anyway. Nothing must be left to chance. My adrenalin soars as I begin to see the flickering of a large fire in the distance. Good! The bonfire has been lit. Soon the fire will spread to the hearts and minds of all present. I am pleased.
Still I saunter to let the tension grow and the fervor strengthen. My followers mustn’t be weak-willed at a time like this. I notice that there are even more bats overhead and an owl hoots three times. I smile at the superstition linked to that – If you hear an owl hoot three times you are going to die soon. Oh yes, maybe you are but I am unafraid.
The fire-light is strengthening and the moving shadows near me have almost come to an end. My time is close. The noise of the gathering increases and I feel the anticipation, the tension, the, almost palpable, inevitability of the outcome of this meeting. I reach the edge of the hole in the forest.
I remain in the cover of the final trees and look over the assembly.
The sacred bonfire is burning fiercely and the witches are cavorting around it, brandishing their brooms. They look less fearsome like this than they did as shadows crossing the face of the moon. The warlocks are gathered together watching and glowering at the other groups.
I see the vampires and werewolves in separate groups but near to each other. The ghosts of the dead are also together but there are many of them so they occupy a large arc of the clearing. Just beyond them the zombies are clustered, silent and still. It’s strange that even here the groups do not mix. Kind stays with kind. On the far side I catch a glimpse of the devil, surrounded by his demons, their red eyes glowing like coals and red halos surrounding their glowing bodies. Near them, providing the comfort of great heat and flames, the cooking fires are busy roasting the bodies of large animals or boiling the contents of bulbous cauldrons filled with hell-only-knows what ingredients. Everywhere around I see Jack ‘O Lanterns glowing in the dark and each containing the soul of someone dead and trapped in purgatory.
Good, everything is ready and all are here. I move slowly out of the trees and into the crowd. At first, I am not seen, but soon my passage through the crowd is noticed. In an instant all activity ceases. All present sink to their knees in homage and I move to a large stage.
I climb the stairs to the platform and turn to face the convocation. I raise my arms and the firelight glints on my scythe.
“I declare this convocation in session,” I shout. “I am The Grim Reaper and Halloween is coming.”