The smell of burning birch accompanied the colorful leaves as they scampered down the street among the excited children. The sun was set, the sky overcast, and the streetlights created streaks of light in the fall night. There was a fine mist in the cool air that kept threatening to manifest as a light drizzle before reconsidering and fading back to being a thin haze. The trees kicked around in the gusts. Kids shouted and squealed, running from house to house. Old men sat in their living rooms, watching their screens and trying to ignore the ruckus while their wives passed out candy, beaming and complimenting every costumed kid that came to the door.
It was, all in all, a perfect Halloween in Dartmouth.
Evan Seaghach, and his older brother Caleb, had a pretty good haul so far. Evan hefted his pillowcase. It was more than a quarter full.
“This thing is actually getting heavy!” He said.
Caleb laughed. “Just throw it over your shoulder and carry it like a burglar.”
“You mean like Santa.”
“Not like Santa! Dummy.” Caleb shoved Evan toward the curb and the younger boy skipped up on it and walked it like a tightrope.
They boys had not spent much effort in their costumes. Evan had draped himself in an old brown fur rug and bought a plastic bear mask. The elastic on the mask was loose and it kept sliding down to his neck so he stuck it on top of his head. When they got to houses for trick-or-treating he’d tuck his chin and look at his feet to show the mask. Based on the candy they’d gotten, it worked well enough.
Caleb had pulled the rubber grip off of his bike handle and stuck a smooth stick into it to make a hilted sword. A laundry-basket lid shield, big winter boots, and a red beach towel cape rounded out his knight costume. He’d created a silver cross on his grey sweater with duct tape.
“Where to next?” Asked Evan.
“I think we should go across the creek and hit the other side of town.”
“We didn’t finish this side yet.”
Caleb pointed his stick sword in the direction he wanted to go. “There’s more houses, closer together, over there. We’ll get more stuff.”
Evan wasn’t a hard sell. He’d follow the candy. “Which way? Up to the bridge or the bike trail?”
Evan might have guessed that. It wasn’t any shorter, was dark, and there were no houses to hit along the way. But it was wooded, winding, and creepy. It was an adventure. Exactly the sort of thrill Caleb relished. Evan didn’t mind. Although sometimes his brothers wild decisions made him nervous, it was never enough to stop him following.
He growled like a bear and took off for the trail at a run. Caleb outpaced him and took the lead, cape flapping behind him. By the time Evan rounded the corner behind the school and the row of bushes came into view, Caleb had already vanished into the dark seam that was the unlit entrance to the trail. Evan slowed to a walk as he got closer. He couldn’t hear the pounding of Caleb’s boots anymore. His brother had gone into his sneaking mode, obviously preparing to try to ambush him on the dark trail and frighten him.
Evan was ready for it. Unafraid of his brother, he followed him into the shadow as quietly as possible.
“It’s not gonna work, Caleb. I know you’re in here.”
Of course there was no response. The game wouldn’t end so quickly. Once past the bushes it was too dark to see anything but Evan knew the trail well enough. He followed it straight until it widened and he entered the small forest. Even in the dark, he could make out the big tree where the dirt path took a turn left and down. He skipped off the trail and crunched along in the fallen leaves. He was loud, and sure that Caleb could hear him, but he was sure his brother was lurking somewhere along the trail. A trip through the brush was sure to outsmart him.
It didn’t take long for him to realize it was a bad idea. His fur costume snagged on everything and attached so badly to a thorn bush he had to stop. By the time he untangled himself, he wasn’t sure of his direction. He stood there, in the damp cold, and tried to orient himself. If he could hear the creek, he’d know which way to go. The wind in the trees wasn’t helping. He held his breath and listened as best he could.
A hushed voice, not far from him, made him almost jump out of his skin.
“Seaghach…” It drew his last name out, slowly.
Reflexively, Evan backed away, startled. “Ha ha. You got me. Real funny, Caleb.”
There was a noise, like something shuffling its feet through the leafy ground, moving toward him.
“Seaghach…” It repeated.
It was dark, too dark to see more than an outline, but it was enough. There was a figure, moving in the murk.
A dark pact with an ancient spirit leads to a horrifying sacrifice for the Seaghach family. Over twenty pages of Halloween horror available when you sign up!