Welcome to Rhodes End where All Hallows’ Eve is celebrated on the Town Green.
A huge bonfire lights the night where excited children toast marshmallows donated by Nelson’s grocery store and parents drink heated apple cider from Styrofoam cups. Peter’s Pluckers’, a local blue-grass band is stomping out ‘Turkey in the Straw’ to loud clapping at the gazebo strung with bobbing skeletons and ghosts. Johnson’s Orchard donates huge tubs of shiny green Granny Smith’s for bobbing. The dripping faced kids hardly wait to be dried before running off to another game. Colorfully attired townsfolk escort laughing, excited children from event to event. Everyone wants to keep the little ones safe tonight.
The full moon rises as the evening wanes and the younger children are taken home, protesting through wide yawns. Parents cast uneasy glances into the shadows. Older children drift to the games and food offered inside the church halls. More and more are encouraged to return to the safety of home as the hour grows late.
Under the huge silver moon, the townsfolk circle the bonfire as midnight approaches. Thankfully, a full moon doesn’t occur every All Hallows’ Eve. The churches shoo the remaining families home, shut off the lights and lock their doors.
A few brave souls linger, nervously glancing over their shoulders. The air is electric with nerves, fear tickles. A dozen witches gather to one side. Shadows conceal details, but a gleaming fang or claw occasionally reflects the flames. Hair, hide and patchy skin conceal the wearers. Too many red eyes reflect the light.
The Congregational church clock bongs, once, twice, and the flames explode up in a column of sparks. Three, four, five…chanting echoes across the Green. Six, seven, eight, nine… skeletal figures twist and turn, stretch clutching fingers from the seething flames, almost breaking free. Demons howl. Ghouls curse. Ten, eleven… the chants strengthen until they drown the unearthly noise. The threatening figures shudders with rage. Tonight is their night to walk free!
With a weary sigh, the fire shapes disappear. The fire dies. Only embers remain.
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