If you're looking for my What's Up Wednesday post, you can find it here.
This is my take on the prompt for this month's Write...Edit...Publish post: Haunting. It isn't a traditional haunting, but I hope you all enjoy it anyway! The idea came to me when I was researching the origins of Halloween. It's 828 words long, and I'm open to critique.
The Final Haunting
The veil lifts at nightfall. We swarm through the gateway together, thousands upon thousands of us, eager to return; most of us to see loved ones, though some with a more malevolent purpose. The demons, sprites, and mischievous fairies push past the rest of us, their favourite night of the year upon them; the night they could torment and terrify with no repercussions. We soar between the worlds behind them, wondrous sights passing us by, but we only have eyes for what is straight ahead; the world we used to know, where our loved ones live. It will only be a brief visit, a few hours before we must leave for our final destination, but nevertheless there is a childish excitement upon us, revisiting the place we know so well, and have missed for so long.
We drift slowly through the semi-familiar streets, confused at first; though it has only been a few months since we departed, it feels like much longer. Some died only days ago, while others have been waiting a year for this night.
We see many fires lit, the flames burning brightly, adults and children gathered around them laughing and smiling, trying to keep warm in the crisp winter air that we can no longer feel. Small children parade the streets with their parents, dressed as witches, ghosts, mummies, vampires; all of the monsters they believe do not exist. They don’t see us, spirits invisible to their eyes, coming back to haunt them before leaving this world forever.
We have become fewer now, as spirits depart to visit their families, their former homes. The rest of us continue on, bright lights shining just beyond our vision, guiding us home. Jack O Lanterns turn their sightless eyes in our direction as we pass, carved into protective spirits to scare away unwanted entities. Their glowing eyes watch us, ensuring we don’t intrude where we are not wanted, leering at us with lopsided mouths. Food is left on doorsteps to appease unwanted spirits and guide loved ones back home, apples are left at roadsides by kind strangers for those with no loved ones to leave them gifts.
The lights guiding me shine brighter than ever, and I know I am close. I separate from the crowd of spirits and glide down a dark street alone, the only lights are those shining through the windows of the cottages alongside me. The cottage at the end of the lane seems to shine brighter than any other, and I vaguely recognise it from long ago. A single candle sits on the windowsill, burning brightly, welcoming me home just for one night. I peer through the window into the empty living room, and forgotten memories flood through me. The clumsily carved pumpkin on the doorstep winks at me as I enter, then continues to protect the inhabitants of the cottage from more malevolent spirits.
I glide along the shadowy hallway, drifting towards the light at the end, and the voices I can hear. I enter the dining room, where five places are set at the small wooden table, though only four of those seats are taken. I take the remaining seat at the head of the table, and gaze at the family I thought I’d forgotten. They speak gently to each other, inquiring about each other’s days, not knowing they just gained an unexpected guest; the extra place was set for tradition. A feeling of contentment floods through me as I survey them; though they can’t see me, I'm certain they must feel my presence, my love for them seeming to settle in the air surrounding them. Every now and then, one of them glances at the seat I occupy, though they cannot see me there.
I continue to watch, to haunt them, as they finish their meals. Eventually they get up and clear away the remains, and I feel the irresistible pull, drawing me back to the other spirits, and away from my family. I look around one last time, taking in my surroundings, happy that I could visit once more before moving on.
I drift back out of the cottage, back into the dark street, where a thin mist has begun to descend. I rejoin the horde of spirits travelling quickly through the empty streets; it is late, and most people are back at home, not knowing their world is haunted, just for one night. If they knew, they would not be sleeping so soundly.
We begin to glide upwards, through the icy clouds, towards the stars glittering in the bright night sky. There is an air of finality among us now; this is it, the journey we've been waiting for.
We leave behind the world we used to know so well, the families we spent a lifetime with, so we can enter the final phase of our being. An overwhelming urge pulls us forwards, guiding us, until we finally reach our destination.
We can rest peacefully, now.
Copyright © 2013 Laura Clipson