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A tale for halloween, p.1
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       A Tale for Halloween, p.1

           Colin Garrow
 
A Tale for Halloween


  A Tale for Halloween

  By Colin Garrow

  Copyright 2016 Colin Garrow

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  Origins...

  This is a story I wrote many years ago for a Halloween storytelling event in East Yorkshire. Myself and two other storytellers gathered in the woods, while groups of parents and children came round to each of us in turn, to hear our tales.

  I was last in line and waited in a clearing in the darkest part of the woods, with only two small lanterns for company. Three times I waited n the dark for the next group to come along the trail, then I'd tell my story and watch as they left me alone in the dark. Again. I'm not sure if I scared the kids, but I definitely scared myself!

  I hope you enjoy it.

  A Tale for Halloween

  Come all, come here on this magic night

  And listen close by candle light

  To a tale of things that are sometimes seen

  On a night like this, on Halloween.

  In the heart of every wooded glade, in the deepest part of every forest, in the middle of any stretch of woodland lies - a castle. But not just any old castle, a particular kind of castle. Where a particular kind of creature lives.

  Of course it's not a castle you can see with your human eyes. Not a castle you can touch with your fleshy fingers. Not a castle you can smell with your sniffy nose. Although, you can see it, on one particular night of the year. For at the stroke of midnight, if you should happen to be standing in a certain place, and looking in a certain direction, reaching out with your fingers, and smelling the air with your nose, you might just see, you might just touch, you might just smell something you might just wish you hadn't.

  And I once heard of two people who did. Who happened to be in a particular place at a particular time, quite by accident, of course. Although they do say that there's no such thing as an accident...

  Not many years ago, a boy and a girl went to a party. It was the party to end all parties. There were hundreds of boys and girls from all over Yorkshire. Everyone who was anyone was invited. It was in the village, you probably know it - just along the road there.

  Sarah and Simon, the boy and girl I mentioned, were dropped off at the gate by their parents at seven o'clock sharp. They were so excited. They'd been looking forward to this party for ages.

  All their friends were going to be there and they were going to have the best time ever. Inside the house there were lashings of food and drinks of all description, there were games to be played, jokes to be told, songs to be sung. In fact, everything you could possibly want at a party.

  Sarah and Simon couldn't believe their eyes. There were more cakes than anyone could ever munch their way through. There were more drinks than anyone could ever gurgle down their throats. There was a huge range of music to play and videos to watch. This was the coolest party ever.

  Just then, they saw their friend Peter. Peter was eating a huge cream cake. 'Come on,' he said, 'Bet I can eat more than you two.'

  At nine o'clock, when everyone had eaten and drunk as much as they could, it was time for the Halloween lantern competition. Sarah and Simon had spent hours making their lanterns. They were confident of winning. But the competition was fierce. There were lanterns made from turnips, lanterns made from pumpkins and even one lantern made out of a very large melon.

  Everyone gathered in the garden to admire the lanterns. And because it was a very dark night, the lanterns shone and flickered in the darkness, casting wonderfully grotesque and weird shadows across the lawn. Simon and Sarah spent ages looking at all the other lanterns. There were small ones, fat ones, dainty ones and funny ones, lanterns with wide gaping mouths, lanterns with yellow piercing eyes, lanterns with scary smiles and wicked grins.

  After a while, the children realised they had hadn't seen Peter (his lantern was the one made out of a melon). They looked all around the garden, but there was no sign of Peter. Or his lantern. They looked in the house, in the cupboard under the stairs and in the garage. They even looked in the dog's kennel. Luckily, the dog wasn't in there at the time. But nowhere could they find Peter.

  Of course, they hadn't looked everywhere. And that was their first mistake. They'd forgotten to look in the most obvious place: they'd forgotten to look in the bathroom. If they had looked in the bathroom they'd have found Peter - being sick. He'd eaten far too many cakes and drunk far too much pop. What a shame. But Sarah and Simon didn't look in the bathroom. Instead, they asked all their friends if anyone had seen Peter.

  'I saw him on the stairs', said Michael. 'Well, I saw him by the front door', said Joanna. 'We think we saw him sitting on the front step,' said Amanda and Harry. 'Oh, I saw him by the garden gate', said a voice they didn't recognise.

  Simon and Sarah took their lanterns and walked around the side of the house. No sign of Peter. They looked up and down the main road. Not a thing. No-one was about. Everyone was in their own house having their own party. The streets were deserted, and very, very dark.

  'There he is!' said Simon. A little way up the path, they could just make out a light swinging back and forth. It must be Peter's lantern. But where on earth was he going? They'd better bring him back.

  Sarah and Simon started walking towards the light. It was quite a way ahead so they began to walk a little faster. Then faster still. Very strange. The light never seemed to get any closer. Before they knew it, they had reached the edge of the woods.

  'I'm not going in there', said Sarah. She was the sensible one. 'It's far too dark'.

  'Oh, don't be silly, ' said Simon. 'We've got our lanterns haven't we? And besides, we can't leave Peter alone. He might get lost.'

  So they made their way into the woods still following the light that swayed back and forth. The deeper they went into the woods the darker it became. The branches of the trees tugged at their clothes and the plants brushed their legs. After a while the light appeared to have stopped.

  Perhaps Peter had sat down for a rest? This was their chance. They ran through the trees, tripping over branches, kicking through the wet leaves, the cold autumn air filling their nostrils. Suddenly in front of them was the source of the light. It wasn't Peter. It wasn't even a person. It was a huge dog - the dog from the party.

  But he wasn't interested in Sarah or Simon. He had his nose in the ground, snuffling around, searching for something. And then he found it. A bone! The dog picked up the bone in his mouth and looked up. And as he wagged his tail the light began to move again. It was a torch. Someone had fastened a torch to his tail for a joke. And as he wagged his tail the light swung back and forth, back and forth. Sarah and Simon began to laugh, but the sudden noise seemed to frighten the dog and he turned and ran off in another direction taking the bone and the torch with him.

  Simon's lantern began to flicker. The candle had burned very low and in a few seconds it went out completely. Sarah's lantern too, was almost burned away. They had to get out of the woods quickly while they still had some light.

  Simon put his lantern down on the ground. It was no use to them now. 'This way', he said, and he began to walk along the path.

  But Sarah stopped him. 'No, it's way, i
sn't it?' Simon looked. They both looked. There was more than one path. In fact there were five paths, all leading in different directions. Which was the right one?

  And as they stood wondering which path to take, Sarah's lantern flickered and the flame went out. They were in total darkness. After a moment, their eyes became used to the dark and they could see a little way ahead of them. Sarah took hold of Simon's coat and Simon began to walk slowly along one of the paths feeling his way as he went. He was pretty sure they were going the right way. 'I'm pretty sure this is the right way,' he said.

  They walked for ages, peering through the darkness, the branches of the trees tugging at their clothes. After stumbling around for over an hour, Simon's foot kicked something. Oh no. It was the lantern he'd left on the path. They'd gone round in a circle. They tried another path. Again, Simon walked in front with Sarah holding onto his jacket. After a while, the trees on each side seemed to be closing in, the path became narrow and more difficult until it disappeared altogether.

  They stopped. They couldn't go any further. Simon could hardly see his hand in front of him. Then a sound came to his ears. 'What's that?' It sounded like some weird kind of music, but not music. Perhaps it was just the wind blowing through the trees?

  As they stood together in the darkness, listening, somewhere in the distance a clock struck the hour. And as the last chimes of midnight rang in their ears, their fingers touched the cold, clammy stone of the castle walls, and they smelled the witch's breath in their nostrils, and they saw her cloak spreading out as it fell across them and pulled them down into the black, black night.

  And they were never seen again.

  ###

  I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please take a few moments to leave a review via your favourite retailer - it doesn't have to be much, just a few lines about why you liked (or didn't like) the book.

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  Sincerely,

  Colin Garrow

  Books by this Author

  Books for Adults

  Death on a Dirty Afternoon

  The Watson Letters - Volume 1: Something Wicker This Way Comes

  The Watson Letters - Volume 2: Not the 39 Steps

  How the World Turns (and Other Stories)

  Girlfriend Interrupted (and Other Fictions)

  Stage Plays

  Love Song in Sixteen Bars

  Towards the Inevitability of Catastrophe

  The Body in the Bag

  Non-Fiction

  Writing: Ideas and Inspirations (or How to Make Things Up)

  Books for Children

  The Architect’s Apprentice

  Mortlake

  The Devil’s Porridge Gang

  The Hounds of Hellerby Hall

  The House That Wasn't There

  Connect with Me

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  About the Author

  Colin Garrow grew up in a former mining town in Northumberland. He has worked in a plethora of professions including: taxi driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor, and has occasionally masqueraded as a pirate. All Colin's books are available as eBooks and most are out in paperback, too. His short stories have appeared in several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, Word Bohemia, Every Day Fiction, The Grind, A3 Review, 1,000 Words, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine. He currently lives in a humble cottage in North East Scotland where he writes novels, stories, poems and the occasional song.

 
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