“The time is twelve ‘o’ clock in the am! That’s right folks, time to lock your doors, board up your windows, sharpen those swords and lock and load. Strap yourself in tightly, it’s going to be one hell of a night!”
The upbeat radio broadcast did little to calm my nerves, on this the most dangerous day of the year. In my vast experience of past October onslaughts, I had over a period of years devised a system that worked for me. First and foremost, I don’t go outside for anyone. If you’re unfortunate enough to be outside when the clock strikes twelve, you need to learn to be more time conscious.
The clock tower in the centre of town chimed. It had begun. I sat in silence peering out between two wooden boards that covered my window. The eerie choir of wicked screams and shrieks increased in volume and the infamous red steam rose from the drains and gutters. Suddenly a young man ran down the street constantly looking behind him. The panic was etched on his clammy face, his breathing descending into a heavy, laboured wheeze. A demon emerged from a shadowy side alley. His blade plunged deep into the man’s abdomen. The blood leaked from his chest and streamed down the pavement like a crimson waterfall. His lifeless body fell to the ground and the demon disappeared into another dark alley, his maniacal cackle echoing through the night.
The minutes passed by slowly. I looked at the clock; 2.48 in the am. I traced the scar on my stomach with my index finger. It protruded like an enlarged vein, a constant reminder of why I don’t leave the house on this particular day. I got lucky that night. I was foolish in the exuberance of youth. Zane made the ultimate sacrifice for me and it’s a debt I can’t repay.
My train of thought is interrupted by ear-splitting screams; I rush to the window. A gang of demons have surrounded a young woman. Their toying with her, prolonging the suffering. Zane wouldn’t stand for this. I grab my machete, my revolver and my bulletproof vest. It slips on comfortably like a Christmas jumper. I unbolt the door knowing all too well there’s no turning back. The creak of the door alerts the demonic gang, their eyes burning red with an insatiable bloodlust. The first four fall in a hail of bullets and the fifth lunges at me with his bloody blade. I grab him by the wrist and elbow; the blade drops to the floor with a metallic thud. He winces as I bend his crimson forearm. The bone cracks and splinters under the pressure. He screams in agony and falls to the floor as I withdraw my machete, glimmering in the jaundiced light of the streetlamps. I stabbed deep into the demon’s stomach and watched the light fade from his eyes. My hands shook from the adrenaline, my heart ready to burst through my chest.
“Thank you.” I’d forgotten why I had ventured into the concrete wastelands in the first place. The woman sat in the middle of the road, beads of sweat gathering on her forehead. She was unconventionally pretty; wild, brown hair and hazel eyes.
“You’re welcome,” I said flatly, as I wiped the sticky, red glaze from my machete on my jeans. The screams began to amplify once more and the gentle rumble of fast-paced footsteps in the distance were ascending into a roar.
“We can’t stay here it’s too dangerous. Do you have a place we can stay until it’s over?” Her eyes shifted from side to side as she thought quickly.
“My father’s house is not too far from here. It’s well protected too. I’ll lead the way.” We started to run; they were getting closer. As we ran, I noticed there were more bonfires than there used to be on this night. Portals to the underworld. The world was far more evil than it used to be. The fires burned orange and transformed to a cordial lime green and then back again.
“So why were you out tonight?” I asked. She paused.
“I was with my friend and we had car trouble. We got separated and I haven’t seen her since.” She looked down at the ground the entire time she spoke. She looked more ashamed than saddened.
“How much further?”
“At this pace, we’ll be there in five minutes max.”
The screams echoed all around us.
A light fog hung over us like the lost souls of the night evaporating towards the heavens.
We finally stopped at the house. It was small in stature, standing out amongst the towering buildings of the inner city. The woman knocked four times on the door and it unbolted with a heavy, steel clunk. The door cracked open slightly and we were met by a pair of anxious, blue eyes peering out from under a black hood. I stepped inside and scanned the interior of the house. A rotting, wooden chair sat in the centre of the room, the floor beneath it stained red with blood. I turned to run but it was too late; he hit me and I fell into the darkness.
I slowly came to as the unconscious haze lifted. I’d been out for some time; sunlight was starting to creep through the wooden boards like an unwelcome voyeur. The woman sat to the left of me, the shame still hanging heavy on her shoulders and I was tied to chair; the rope chafed me badly. The blue eyed man entered the room. The anxiety had faded into a malevolent stare.
“Do not place your hatred on her head my dear. Every year she brings me one living soul to feast upon and sacrifice to the underworld and in return I let her live.”
I looked at the woman, a solitary tear streaked down her cheek. The man raises his hands skywards and the flames begin to form in his palms. They burn from orange to green just like the bonfires. The lunacy burns deep within his blue eyes. His pale human skin is invaded by a slow, burning red. His shape shifted, he became taller and vicious horns protruded from his forehead. His feet curled up into hooves and the flames in his palms swirled and danced. The woman sat upright at this point and wiped the solitary tear from her cheek. He is transfixed on me and I am ready to go. I shut my eyes and waited. My luck had run out, but I was ready. Zane had perished so I could save this woman. I had repaid my debt and I could leave this earth knowing I’d done right. The gunshots whistled beautifully through the air. My revolver. The blue eyed spirit slumped to the floor with a thud and she put down the gun and untied me. The air tickled my rope burns. I opened the door and the sunlight burst through magnificently. We walked through the centre of town and the klaxon sounded off. We both sighed in unison. Suddenly the large LCD screen in the town centre lit up. The fresh-faced broadcaster addressed the masses.
” The time is twelve ‘o’ clock in the pm! And if you’re hearing my smooth, dulcet tones right now you have survived the annual Samhain! If you are seeking medical attention, emergency services have now resumed. Happy November 1st everybody!”