The Feast Of The Dead

A well-manicured hand emerged from the bed covers striking blindly and repeatedly until the snooze button was found and deactivated.  A long yawn escaped from a young woman’s mouth followed by a pair of olive skinned arms stretching out from under the covers. The thud of her feet could be heard stomping on the floor as she sat at the edge of her bed wondering what she had done in a previous life to deserve this.

She looked down at her painted toenails and thought of changing the strawberry colour to watermelon, she rolled her deep brown eyes before standing up. She wanted to do nothing but stay home, she had just had a nasty breakup with her boyfriend Rami and knew that by the time she got to college she would be bombarded with hundreds of questions.

She unhurriedly made her way into the bathroom, the shower pipe rattled slightly when she turned the hot water on. She examined her face intensely for any spots before slipping off her rather short and revealing silk pyjamas, she breathed in the steam from the hot water before slightly adjusting it with the cold.

After her shower, she brushed her teeth and started the process of making herself look presentable for college. “Thana,” she heard her mom shouting from downstairs, “you are going to be late!” Thana had just finished drying her hair and was looking for something to wear when her door swung open. “Dad!” she shouted at him to which he over dramatically shielded his eyes, “I’m leaving in five minutes if you want me to drop you.” He explained before shutting her bedroom door. Thana looked out the window at the rain before looking at the temperature on her phone. Her weather app showed it was four degrees out, “better dress appropriately for the weather then” she mumbled to herself.

She jumped slightly as a raven smacked into the windowpane. She opened the window and looked down to the ground. It lay stunned, its foot was jerking slightly before its wings spread out and seemingly died. Thana closed the window and got dressed, she could hear her father leaving while walking down the stairs. “Where is he going?” she complained running towards the front door, but he had already pulled off.

“He told you he was leaving in five minutes,” her mom simpered. Thana shrugged her shoulders and picked up her bag by the door. “You do realise that its cold outside?” Her mother asked looking at the short dress her daughter was wearing. “Beauty knows no boundaries Mother,” she kidded picking up her jacket. “Eat something!” her mother jestfully pleaded raising her hands in the air as Thana walked out the door.

Her skin burned slightly from the cold, she connected her headphones to her phone and played Lana Del Rey – Love as she walked to college. Thana looked up towards the Black Mountains, the mist had dropped lower than usual giving the woodland path she normally cut through an eerie feel. She stopped for a moment, contemplating if she should take the path or take the long way around.  In the mist a figure lurked without Thana noticing. She decided it would be quicker to cut through, “what’s the worst that could happen?” She asked herself while continuing.

While walking she was repeatedly plagued by the scene of how she was caught driving under the influence, and how disappointed her parents were. It was haunting her every day; her bad choices had put her in many tricky situations over the last three years, she had hurt so many people. She thought about her ex-boyfriend Rami, the way they split up, the way she had been treating him for months because she was unhappy.  She just wished that her family never moved to Black Mountain. While deep in thought someone emerged from within the mist behind her. With every step she took they were gaining on her at an incredible speed, she let out a scream as a cyclist almost knocked her off her feet. She pulled her headphones from her ears, “idiot!” she shouted out looking at the mud splashed against her legs, the cyclist stopped and turned towards her. “Look where you’re going princess,” he derided before flipping her the finger. Thana unzipped the front of her bag and took out a small bottle of hand sanitiser and a tissue. “I hope he falls and snaps his neck,” she vented while cleaning the mud off her legs. Her attention was drawn to the sound of branches breaking within the woods, she put her sanitiser back in her bag and threw the tissue on the side of the path. She sighed noticing some mud had got into her newly dyed blonde hair. Thana disconnected her headphones and made her way towards college.

A few feet behind her a figure emerged from the woods, watching her walk, they stood there in silence for a moment before disappearing into the thick mist.

While making her way towards the college she heard a familiar voice shouting out her name, she looked across the road and smiled at her friend. He walked up to her and hooked his arm into hers. “Are you okay?” He asked to which she frowned. “I will be,” she groaned looking up at the college. “This is the last place I want to be,” she explained to which her friend smiled. “Then let us not be here,” he said pointing to his car. “I’m in so much trouble with my mom and dad already Finn,” she grumbled, “I don’t need another strike against my name.” She concluded.

Finn raised his perfectly shaped eyebrows while widening his blue eyes; “the offer is there if it all gets too much for you today,” he assured her. She could feel someone staring at her and looked up and her heart sunk. Rami was staring at her from one of the windows, Thana could feel a heaviness in her throat as her bottom lip quivered slightly. She swallowed heavily before walking up the stone stairs towards the entrance.

Finn unlatched his arm from hers, “see you later,” he said winking at her before walking off into a lively crowd. Thana felt uneasy, people were looking at her and whispering as she walked down the corridor. Her heart began to beat faster with every step she took. Her breathing became heavier as she became anxious. Thana stared down the corridor straight into Rami’s eyes. He just stood there with no emotion on his face, she turned to the right and entered the girl’s toilets. She slumped against the blue toilet door after she entered. She let out a deep exhalation before realising she had three girls staring at her from the basins.

Thana smiled weakly and made her way into one of the cubicles. She turned the latch locking the door, she put the toilet seat down and sat trying to regain her composure. She looked at all the different notes written on the walls in pen. She giggled reading one that spoke about her friend Ava being an ice queen. With her mind momentarily distracted she started feeling better, “you can do this,” she whispered to herself before standing up. Thana frowned while reading one of the graffiti comments. “It knows when I am sleeping,” she read out loud.

Thana opened the toilet door and walked out to a now empty space, she looked at her face in the mirror. She stared for a while, the distain in her eyes that she had for herself was overwhelming. She picked the flecks of mud out of her hair; before she could think any more about how dreadful she was the bell rang, she ran to the door swinging it open making her way towards her classroom. Unluckily she ran straight into Rami who grabbed her by the wrist, she didn’t speak to him or look him in the eyes. “We need to talk,” he begged but she pulled away ignoring him. “We need to talk!” He shouted as she made her way through the crowd.

She entered her classroom with the biggest fake smile she could put on. She made her way to the back of the classroom to where another blonde girl eagerly awaited. “I waited in the quad,” she moaned at Thana. “I was avoiding Rami,” she grimaced. “That’s a cute dress,” her friend complimented her while feeling the texture of it. “Is it comfortable?” She asked frowning causing Thana to crack a real smile. The classroom quietened down as the teacher entered.

“Samhain,” he said walking towards the front of his desk. Thana licked her bottom lip as she watched her handsome educator push his luscious dark quiff back. “Does anyone know what I’m talking about?” He asked leaning backwards on his desk while he crossed his legs. Thana was focusing intensely on his strong jawline to which he caught her, he smirked. “Any idea Thana?” He asked to his now red-faced student. She swallowed hard as her knees slightly weakened. “Halloween?” She answered shrugging her shoulders. That was her safest bet with it only being a day away. “I thought it was a country in the West,” her friend piped up to which the teacher laughed. “It’s not a country to the West Ava,” he confirmed while walking to the blackboard.

The class moaned as the chalk squeaked while sliding down the board, “he is so fit,” Ava whispered to Thana before pulling out her history book. “I haven’t seen that book all year,” Thana joked to which Ava opened it showing her the concealed iPad. “A text book cover for your iPad, I’m impressed.” She said giggling, Thana suddenly became silent, she began replaying what she had done while driving drunk and how she treated Rami. Beads of sweat formed on her brow while it felt like someone was slowly shutting her throat closed. “Snap out of it,” Ava insisted snapping her fingers in front of Thana’s face. “I’m fine,” she lied to her friend. “Am I interrupting anything?” the teacher asked them both. “Not at all,” Thana assured him to which the teacher frowned slightly hiding his gorgeous eyes, “the one day you don’t need your history book you bring it to college,” he teased Ava.

While Mr Quinn paced back and forth in his tight jeans he explained the origins Samhain, but most of the girls were focused on his buns of steel, and to be fair a few of the guys as well.  Thana stared out the large windows into the mist and drifted further away into her own mind, continuously beating herself up for the things that went wrong. Mr Quinn could have been speaking about the tooth fairy or Krampus and she would not have known the difference. “Christian religion has adopted this day as All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day” he concluded. Ava nudged Thana under the table as he began making his way over to them. “Are you paying attention?” he asked Thana to which she nodded, “So what was your favourite part about this lecture?” He tested her.

Thana looked at him, “the fact that superstition claims that the dead can walk among us on Halloween, the Lord of the underworld himself apparently” she said nervously. “But also, that it was known as the feast of the dead,” she continued as the words seem to flow effortlessly out of her mouth. “That this sabbath was celebrated by Celtic countries first, and that they even left food out for wandering dead people.” Mr Quinn smiled at her, “I loved the story of stingy Jack and how he tricked the Devil more than once into doing his bidding; but how it left him kicked out of heaven and hell when he died, to roam between the worlds stuck forever just walking with his carved-out turnip and his burning coal he got from the Devil.” She smiled remembering her father telling her that story. “And how that myth gave us our carved-out pumpkins, or jack o lanterns.” Mr Quinn smiled, “thank you for that answer Thana.” He said turning around and walking back to the front of the class. “But there is much more to Samhain than just that,” He continued.

“Where the hell did you suck that out of?” Ava asked astonished. Thana shrugged her shoulders, “I must have been listening while daydreaming,” she said thinking that could be the only explanation.

A slight cheer circled the classroom as the bell rang. “Wow, you really make me feel wanted,” Mr Quinn joked watching the kids scramble out of his classroom. “Thana,” he called out before she walked out the door. “A moment please.” Ava waited in the doorway for her friend, “it’s okay Ava” Thana told her. “I will catch up with you,” to which Ava “If I don’t see you in a while I will see you at the party tonight,” she said smiling and walking off into the crowd.

“How are you feeling?” He asked her concernedly, “I’ve been better,” she replied abruptly. “You know I’m here for you,” he assured her. Thana pulled her hand away as he touched it. “I know,” she replied abruptly once more. “I just need time to figure things out you know.” Mr Quinn nodded, “take all the time you need.” Thana turned and walked out of the classroom. Emotions began to stir, and she could feel she was about to break down. She looked for the closest exit and ran…

She found herself in the back of Black-Acre College looking up at the pine trees, the mist edged forward; it was so thick, but she felt at ease, almost as if the mist was embracing her, holding her, and hiding her from the world. She stood silently crying and noticed a black cat at her feet. She smiled curiously as it watched her weep. It ran off when she bent down to stroke it, she sighed and stood up right. “Pull yourself together,” she gave herself a pep talk. “Right,” she said walking back towards the College.

She swung open the blue doors leading back into the corridor. She had to leave, she couldn’t deal with anything now. She pulled out her phone and sent a text to Finn. Where are you? It read, and within a matter of seconds he replied, behind you with a face with a stuck-out tongue emoji.  Thana turned around smiling but it turned quickly into a frown, “Rami,” she barely could say his name. Finn grimaced and stood to the side as Thana was face to face with her ex. “Can we please just speak for two minutes,” he begged. Thana was not in the mood and the expression on her face explained that all by itself. “I see you made a few new guy friends online.” He said tightening his lips, she looked at his face and missed snuggling into his tiny bit of bumfluff on his chin.  Thana looked down to his hands and noticed his knuckles were bruised and cut open. “I don’t have time for this Rami,” she pretended not to care and tried to walk past him. Finn shouted at him as he pushed Thana against the wall. “Don’t act like a whore Thana,” he said through gritted teeth, “because people might start treating you like one.”

Finn pushed Rami to the side to which he then put his arms up, “I’m sorry Thana,” he begged, “you’re driving me insane!” He shouted out. Thana and Finn walked out to the front of the college. “What the hell?!” Finn said completely shocked at Rami’s behaviour. “Has he been violent with you before?” Thana began to whimper, “let’s get out of here.” She told Finn.

They made their way to his car, she looked up at Black-Acre College and something inside of her knew she would never see it again. She climbed into Finns car and looked at the rabbit’s foot dangling from the review mirror. “It was a gift from my mom,” he clarified with his pale cheeks turning a little rosy. “Where do you want to go?” He asked.

“Anywhere but here,” she replied to which he started the engine and drove off.

Finn raced into the thick mist; the winding roads of Black Mountain were wet, and Thana could feel the car slipping slightly. “Shit!” he moaned when he heard something scrape under the car. He pulled over to the side of the road, “give me a minute” he told Thana while he inspected his baby. Thana’s mind was slowly consuming her, the dark thoughts she could block out were now so fierce they were overriding every thought she had. She opened the car door and began walking down the road, “Thana?” Finn called out as he noticed she was gone. “Thana!!” He shouted out into the mist. She heard him call but she needed to be alone.

Her phone began to vibrate, she pulled it out of her pocket and swiped to the right to take the call. “Where are you?” Finn asked, “I just need some time alone okay Finn,” she explained and for a while there was just silence. “Do you want me to wait for you?” He asked to which she answered simply “no” and hung up.

Thana began walking into the wooded area, she could hear Finn drive past her. She just needed to get her mind right. She needed to figure it all out before it ate her soul. She found herself at a clearing deep within the woods. The trees reminded her of the fables her dad used to tell her about; Ogres and Trolls towering high into the sky in plain sight under the disguise of ancient trees. But as soon as that beautiful memory entered her mind it was pushed out by the memories of her bad behaviour.

She dropped her bag to the ground and used it as cushion to sit on, while she wondered what to do a figure appeared within the mist. It watched her, it patiently waited, as a predator would its prey… Thana looked at all the mushrooms growing by the trunks of the trees. Maybe I should just eat them and hope they’re poisonous she thought but then remembered she didn’t like the taste of mushrooms. Especially at the Black Bear Pub in town, they were awful. Out the corner of her eye she noticed the figure, so she quickly stood up, she picked up her bag. “Finn?” she called out, “that you?”

She began walking towards the figure, but the mist enveloped whoever it was, and they vanished. “And now on top of everything I’m seeing things,” she said out loud practically scolding herself. Thana felt a sudden pressure at the back of her head, she dropped to her knees, she looked up fell backward. The log used to strike her was thrown down next to her, “please,” she whispered before her vision began to blur. Thana recognised the scuff marks on the person shoes, she frowned before passing out…

She awoke to a man screaming in the woods, she sat upright and held her throbbing head. Thana looked at her hands and they were full of blood. She winced as she touched the back of her head. “What happened?” she asked out loud, the mist was thicker and was accompanied by a strange wind. She looked for her phone, but it was gone, she looked at her wristwatch. She squinted her eyes barely making out the time; it was nine pm, Thana was afraid, she was enveloped in mist and it was dark.

Her heart began to race as the wind picked up, she heard something fall to the ground from the trees. She kneeled to find a gold bracelet, “I’ve seen this before,” she commented turning the bracelet over. She was startled when she heard a loud thud behind her, Thana began to tremble as she approached what looked like a person. She began screaming as she turned over a girl in a hospital gown, she had a noose around her bruised neck. Thana looked up into the trees and could see so many people hanging in the trees.

Paraphernalia from their bodies began to fall to the ground as the wind blew ferociously.  Thana began to run back to the road, she could see a cars headlight shining through the mist. She ran over to it, “Finn!” she shouted seeing it was his vehicle. “Finn!!” she shouted once more but he was nowhere in sight. Thana jumped into the car but slid on the seat, the car was covered in blood. She looked at pieces of scalp and hair scattered on the dashboard. “What is going on!” she screamed jumping out of the car. She twisted her ankle and fell into the road, she cried out as she fell into broken glass. She looked at Finn’s car, the gaping hole was in his windscreen. He must have had an accident, she thought getting back onto her feet. Blood was running from her legs, she didn’t know where to run to. While she tried to survey the area, something walked past the headlight causing it to go dark for a moment. “Finn,” she whispered but there was no one there.

The sound of metal churning and twisting startled her as she jumped backwards, in the middle of the road she could see the tar split open… “What the fuck is going on!” she shouted out before feeling faint. She dropped once more to her knees, her head bopped side to side like a rag doll, she swayed before vomit spewed from her mouth. “Help me!” She pleaded before passing out…

Thana’s body jolted, and she sat up, she looked at empty beds in a ward, she was in the hospital “oh God,” she complained feeling a large bandage wrapped around the head. Thana’s vision became slightly blurry before readjusting. The sheets and blankets were so tightly tucked around her legs that she could not move them. Her anxiety gripped her as it felt like someone was squeezing all the air out of her lungs. “Help! Help me!” She screamed out while the heart monitor she was attached to beeped uncontrollably. She let out what felt like her last breath of air before dropping backwards, her head hit the pillow while she gasped for air. Heels echoed from the floor in the corridor, “please,” she begged, “please come here.”

Thana looked over to the dark blue curtain hanging from the window. She frowned looking at its pattern, it was skulls and bones from the canine anatomy. After a while she composed herself and sat back up, her head still throbbing. The hospital was silent, not one orderly had walked by, not one patient besides herself. Thana winced while pulling the drip out of her arm, blood trickled from the hole before she held it closed with her thumb. She slowly wriggled out of the tightly tucked covers, her bare feet did not welcome the cold floor. Thana walked towards the door and could hear the heels echoing once more in the corridor.

“Hello,” she shouted out running towards the door. She swung the door open and stood in front of a nurse that had her back to her. “Excuse me?” She said politely, “can you tell me what happened to me?”

The nurse did not answer, Thana could hear the nib of the pen scratching against the paper while the nurse ignored her. Thana looked at her grey pencil skirt, it had flecks of blood on it. Thana’s mouth opened in shock as blood began to gush out from the pencil skirt. “What is wrong with you?!” Thana screamed grabbing the nurse on her shoulder, she spun her around but fell backwards at the sight of her.

The nurse had no face, just a sea of teeth from chin to forehead, grinding back and forth from side to side. Thana lay on the cold grey marbled floor paralyzed in fear, the monstrosity leapt forward and shrieked standing before her. Black gunk dripped from is gnashing face onto the floor. Thana began sinking, “what is going on!” She screamed repeatedly as the cold floor began to boil; her arms were sinking into the boiling floor. Thana’s skin separated from her body as she tried to lift her arms. She sunk deeper, the pain was like nothing she had ever felt, her flesh was being consumed by the hot molten liquid, she began to convulse, her head lay back, she could feel her brain boiling and her eyes began to dissolve and run out of her face.

Her body finally felt nothing, and she vanished into the floor…

Thana gasped for air and found herself barefoot and huddled into the corner of a cornfield, she was sure that she had gone insane as she had just felt herself die. She looked at her watch, it was still showing 9pm, in the distance she could hear people laughing, “the party,” she said out loud, Ava and Finn should be there she thought to herself. She began walking through the cornfield, she cut her feet many times on the hard shoots from the corn as she made her way through what seemed like a maze. She stumbled into a part of the maze that was filled with pumpkins, all carved with grotesque faces.

They lay at the feet of a scarecrow, but a scarecrow like she had never seen. It was not placed up in a crucifying style to scare off birds but stood more on its own feet, Thana felt frightened, but she was drawn to it. She moved in closer while the candles in the pumpkins flickered. Its face was sewn out of skin, most probably animal hide she thought. It had no mouth, just two deep set eyes, one that was filled with cobwebs and two slits for nostrils. Heavy staples that were now rusted were used to keep the leathery face together, it had no hat and the straw that came from its head gave it a more feminine look. Thana looked closely at its tarnished tartan clothing, she squealed as a rat crawled out of its shirt. “I need to find my friends,” she asserted before slowly retreating from the odd scarecrow.

Thana began to push on but kept looking back, she repeatedly played the scene from the hospital over and over. She thought she may be dreaming and all of this would go away as soon as she opened her eyes, she hoped that would be the case. She took a left turn and stood in a puddle of muddy water, it squished between her toes. She hated dirt, she hated anything filthy, she stood there for a moment and cried…

But her tears stopped abruptly after hearing something close to the sound of metal striking a rock, Thana moved hastily onward but ended up back by the pumpkins and the scarecrow. But this time she noticed a scythe beside it. “Was that there?” She asked herself, she thought the best thing to do was to take it for protection. Thana slowly walked up to the scarecrow, she looked at its feet which were nothing more that roots from some corn, she never broke eye contact once with it while she bent down and picked up the scythe. She turned to walk back out again into the maze but did not realise that the scarecrow’s head moved slightly.

She walked for what felt like miles and finally made her way to the middle of the field, she could hear people partying and laughing but there was no one there. She was so confused, she felt someone bump into her, but could see no one. She could smell beer and food, and that is when she could hear a radio warning everyone to stay off Black-Acre lane. She looked down and watched how footsteps appeared in the mud, she threw down the scythe and frustration completely took over her body. She began to run forward, “If I run in one direction I should end up out of here!” She shouted out, Thana ran, her feet bled but she soldiered through.

A burst of adrenaline made her feel invincible as she broke out of the maze, she stopped to catch her breath on the side of the road. In the distance a pair of bright shining headlights approached her, she stood in the middle of the road jumping up and down, “Stop, Stop!” She begged but as the bright lights grew closer it looked as if the vehicle was not going to stop. Thana jumped to escape but the bright lights pierced right through her, suddenly, she was back in the cornfield.

The cornfield seemed much darker, and Thana could hear what sounded like bugs crawling. She slowly made her way down one of the paths, she could see some flickering pumpkins in the distance. That is when she looked at the corn, “Jesus!” She shouted, the corn was covered in locusts, as soon as she screamed they all took flight. Thana was now running between hundreds of thousands of locusts that were digging their tiny spiked feet into her skin. She was beyond hysterical to a point where she wished you could just end her own life right there and then.

Thana ended up back by all the carved pumpkins and at that moment the locust ascended leaving her alone, the heavy buzzing from their wings was making her skin crawl. “Where is it!” She screeched out. The scarecrow was gone, she bent down and picked up the smallest pumpkin. She needed the light it gave off, she needed any advantage she could get at that moment. Thana could still hear the locusts above her, but they had not descended, she walked slowly onwards. Making her way through a muddy area of the maze a foul smell crept up from the soil, Thana stood on something that moaned, she got such a fright that she dropped the pumpkin.

Thana could see the cornfields soil was covered in blood and intestines, the sound that followed was that of something digesting something else. Thana turned to the corn itself and shone the light onto it. The corn was gone and replaced with hundreds of tortured people. Some had been impaled while others disembowelled, they begged for help stretching their arms out and grabbing her hair. She screamed as they pulled her deeper into their human crop. Thana could feel her back being sliced open from the bones of the human remains as she was being dragged along.

She wriggled and finally got her hair free, she stood up still holding the pumpkin but as she turned she stood face to face with the scarecrow. It snuffed out the flame leaving Thana in total darkness.

She felt the scarecrow pick her up and throw her over its shoulder, she could smell the soil on its clothes. It ran at an incredible speed through the human crops towards the lit pumpkins. She groaned as it threw her to the ground, her ribcage felt like it was on fire, and she could taste blood. She tried to get up, but the pain immobilized her.

She watched in terror while the scarecrow pulled a fishing hook and some tackle out of its chest, it threaded the hook before staring at her. It grabbed her with its left hand and pulled her to her feet, Thana looked at the torn glove on its hand and could see a myriad of bugs moving within it. The scarecrow took the rusty fish hook and pierced her top lip with it, she kicked and screamed and ended up back on the floor. The scarecrow sat on top of her, he took a hand full of soil filled with centipedes and stuffed it in her mouth; and then held her lips together with one hand and sewed them closed with the other, each stitch felt worse than the last, tears rolled down her cheeks as he viciously pulled the hook up and down, even striking and piercing through her gum.

The earth began to shake as Thana lay there; the soil opened, and the human crop began to sink, the scarecrow picked up one of the pumpkins and lifted it above its head, as it struck the pumpkin down Thana closed her eyes…

She heard a familiar sound…

A well-manicured hand emerged from the bed covers striking blindly and repeatedly until the snooze button was found and deactivated.  A long yawn escaped from her mouth followed by a pair of olive skinned arms stretching out from under the covers. The thud of her feet could be heard stomping on the floor as she sat at the edge of her bed, what on gods earth was I dreaming? Thana was so relieved it was a dream, deep down she knew it was.

She unhurriedly made her way into the bathroom, the shower pipe rattled slightly when she turned the hot water on. She examined her face intensely for any spots before slipping off her rather short and revealing silk pyjamas, she breathed in the steam from the hot water before slightly adjusting it with the cold.

She stood in the shower for a while, thinking of all the crazy creatures she had encountered. “Just in time for Halloween,” she said to herself before turning the water off. Thana felt the cold shower curtain touch her as a gust of air entered the bathroom. Before she could turn around the shower curtain completely enveloped her, suffocating her. Everything grew dark and she could feel her soul slipping away, but in that moment, something changed, Thana found herself at the top of the Black Mountains. The light then came flooding back and Thana gasped for air, she couldn’t move, she moved her eyes to see that she was plugged into so many machines. She tried to talk but she couldn’t, her heart began to race, she could hear the heels echoing in the corridor. Her eyes widened as a nurse entered the room, “page Dr Fields immediately!” She instructed, but all Thana could look at was how big her mouth was and how garish her braces looked. Thana moved her eyes and noticed the nurse was wearing a grey pencil skirt, “Dr is on his way now,” she smiled showing off her gnashers.

A few moments later the Dr entered, “your parents are on their way,” he informed Thana, shining his torch in each eye. “Follow my finger,” he instructed to which she did. Dr fields was blind in his right eye, his hair looked like straw and his skin was weathered and his wrinkles looked like pleats in leather. “You broke your jaw, split your lip right open and lost a few teeth,” he explained, I had to act fast, but I sewed you up pretty good,” he said confidently. Everything Thana encountered was starting to make sense. She closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them all she saw was the scarecrow and the nurse with teeth for a face. She shut her eyes tightly, but they hurt so much she opened them once more.

They were normal again, just a doctor and his nurse. Thana looked over to the window, there were skulls and pumpkins and a load of gifts in the corner by the curtain. “Your friends have been here every day,” he explained, “Your friend Ava was insistent that you wear her lucky bracelet, but hospital policy would not allow that,” he said smiling and pointing to her IV drip. The bracelet Thana saw in the dream was Ava’s, it was hanging above her head the entire time.

At this stage her parents burst into the room, they were so overwhelmed. Her father cried as her mom tried to hug her but was cautioned not to by the nurse. “We thought we lost you,” her father could barely say. You and Finn had a terrible accident going down Black-Acre road, “she doesn’t need to hear about that now,” her mom tried to stop her dad. “I was on my way into town and I found you in the road.” Tears began to roll down Thana’s cheeks.

She recalled a memory of the car sliding and Finn hitting something, she saw him being flung out the car and all she could see was pieces of his hair and scalp on the dashboard. She tried to get out, but her seatbelt was stuck and that’s when the car began to burn, she lifted her arms and her skin stuck to the seat, she finally got the seatbelt off but then there was the sound of metal churning. Another car struck into her from behind flinging her through the shattered windscreen. She heard her jaw snap as it connected with the tar, her teeth rolled liked dice chattering on the road. She could taste blood and her ribs felt as if they had broken through her skin. She remembered her father standing before her, the scuff marks on his shoes. “She needs her rest,” Dr Fields clarified, “the fact that she is even alive is a miracle.” He continued, “It will be a long road, but I have faith she will pull through,” while they discussed going forward Thana looked down to what looked like a sheet covering her arms, it must be for the burns she thought.

Thana drifted off with a peculiar grin on her face, over the next few months it was a difficult road, but Thana became strong once again. She had to deal with the loss of Finn and after months of refusing to see Remi he finally got the hint.

It was time for her to finally go home, Thana couldn’t wait, she was sick of the hospital although her and “gnashers” as she dubbed her had become good friends, she was strong enough to do what she needed to do. And that was to purge the souls of those that had done her wrong.

You see, while Thana lay in the road and pain ate away at her like a rabid dog, she begged and pleaded for help. She prayed, and the darkness answered, if Thana’s soul was strong enough and could withstand the purgatory she was about to be dragged through she could have another chance. But she was always her own worst enemy and when she found herself at the top of the Black Mountains where Samhain awaited, Thana’s soul was deemed irreparable, so it was fed to the mountain.

Samhain absorbed Thana’s memories effortlessly, while she lay in that hospital bed she played the fragile daughter and the survivor of the horrific accident so well.

The best way for Samhain to feast is not on the dead but on the living, one possession at a time…







The Beast of Renshaw Forest

The Beast of Renshaw Forest

The wind howled repeatedly battering a young man’s olive skin as he ran through the Renshaw forest. He stopped momentarily to look back, his brown eyes caught a glimpse of grey fur dashing between the trees. Letting let out a cry of despair he continued running, hoping to escape the monstrous forest, into the safety of the road. One of his expensive trainers slipped off while he was trying to climb over a mossy boulder, he looked down noticing it lying by a creeping vine but was forced to leave it behind. The rain stopped suddenly, the wind picked up.  The young man could see the road in the distance, and he began laughing and crying from exhaustion and terror making his way towards safety.

He looked up at how the trees had woven their branches together, blocking out the meagre sunlight struggling to break through the dark grey clouds above. He stumbled to the edge of the forest and looked down the embankment at the road.  He noticed a blonde man in a black car had stopped.  The passenger, a blonde woman, was looking up at the forest and straight at him. He screamed as he stepped forward, his ankle was mauled by what looked like an ancient bear trap. Dropping to the ground, he whimpered watching his means of safety drive away.

He sat still, he could hear a faint panting. He desperately tried to open the trap using a branch, but screamed louder as it snapped the wood and cut deeper into the bone. The panting gradually become louder and, as the sound of a beast snarling filled his ears, he resigned himself to the fact that he was about to die.

He trembled feeling its warm breath on the nape of his neck. He hung his head down and prayed for salvation. Seconds later he heard someone shouting in the distance. He heard whatever was behind him run off followed by a woman’s voice echoing through the trees.

“Hello!” she called.

Instantly worried what the beast would do to her, he shouted a warning, “There is something in the forest!” “It’s coming after you!” He heard the woman scream, he tried again to free himself. His ankle pained but he tried to get his foot out of the wrought iron trap. Positioning the branch between the rusty iron teeth and using his other foot to lever it open, he finally got his mangled foot out of the trap and heard something approaching him. He dragged himself towards one of the big oak trees but realised he had left a trail of blood. He rested against the tree, his heart began galloping.  He heard panting again, he closed his eyes and sat still.

“Are you alright?” he heard a woman ask, he opened his eyes.

“I thought it had got you,” he said, the woman knelt down looking at his ankle.

“You thought what had got me?” she asked seeming confused.

“I heard you screaming and then…” he was interrupted, by the woman who was looking at the severity of his injury, she studied the bear trap and then glanced back at the man.

“Those damn traps,” she mumbled.

“What happened to the wolf?” he asked.

“Wolf?” she chuckled. “There are no wolves on Black Mountain Island,”

His vision became blurry with a large amount of blood pouring from his wound.

“We will never get to the hospital in time,” she stressed, she tore the bottom of her shirt.  She took the rubber band that was holding her hair in a ponytail and used it in conjunction with the ripped shirt. He groaned, the woman wrapped the material around his ankle and then put the band in place to hold it together.

“Don’t put any pressure on that foot,” she instructed him, looking for the easiest route to take. “There is a man living in the heart of this forest,” she explained helping him up. “I will take you to him and he will stop the bleeding.”

The young man did not argue, he was in such a numb state of shock that he just blindly went along with the helpful stranger.

“Well, stop the bleeding and any infection, then we can take you to the hospital,” she concluded, he slowly limped along with her help.

They hobbled into the forest, the body of a woman lay half eaten not far from where the young man initially heard the screams. Something tugged at her body before it was ripped into the bushes, bones could be heard breaking as she was being devoured. A pair of ochre eyes glared out of the bushes before the blood-stained beast streaked past at lightning speed, vanishing into the autumnal foliage.

“What is your name?” she asked the young man, as they made their way deeper into the forest.

“I’m Harkin,” he told her. He noticed her smile. “Why are you smiling?” he asked, observing her pale cheeks becoming flushed.

“I’ve not heard that name before,” she answered, he looked before him, they ended up in front of a small stream.

They both stood still, they could hear something moving through the forest.

“Don’t make a sound,” she whispered, slowly pressing him against a great oak tree.

“What are you doing?” he whispered before she let go of his arm.

“I’m going to go see what that is” she replied. “Before it comes to see what we are.”

Harkin felt sick at the thought of trying to run in the shape he was in.  Walking two steps forward a great red deer leapt out, almost trampling her. She gasped and she jumped out the way of its foreboding antlers.  It stopped and looked at Harkin before darting off.

“Could it have been a deer that was chasing after you?” she asked, putting his arm around her neck.

“I saw grey fur,” he said with conviction in his voice. “It was a wolf.”

The woman was silent for a while as they walked.

“In winter the red deer tend to turn a greyish colour,” she explained.

“It’s autumn,” he said frowning at her.

“I know that!” she raised her voice slightly, “But if you start telling people you are seeing wolves in the forest can you imagine what they will think?” she asked. “I’m just trying to spare you from ridicule.”

The entire time they chatted they were unaware that they were being tracked by the beast, it stalked patiently, watching, waiting…

“Would it not have been easier just to wait in the road?” Harkin asked, realising that they were making their way even deeper into the forest, to which the woman shook her head.

“You could have been sitting by the side of the road for goodness knows how long,” she moaned. “I did what I thought was the right thing.”

Harkin looked at her, her eyes kept flitting and she seemed slightly on edge, he wondered if she knew something and didn’t want to worry him.

“What is your name?” Harkin asked the stranger.

“You can call me your saviour,” she joked, trying to lift his spirits.

He looked down at his ankle, blood was seeping through the torn grey shirt.

“How did you know what to do with the wound?” he asked slowing down slightly.

“Endless hours of medical shows on television,” she joked and Harkin finally cracked a smile.

They heard something ruffling in the autumn leaves behind them.

“It’s a deer,” she assured him, before moving carefully over the mossy ground. The trees deeper in the forest looked much more ominous. You could see that humans had rarely come to these parts, and the pathways were disappearing in the overgrowth.

“How do you know there is a man in the heart of the forest?” he questioned her, when she seemed unsure which way to go when the pathway came to an end.

She pointed to what remained of a pathway. He looked down and observed that underneath the weeds and moss there were cobblestones. They both looked back hearing branches snapping.

“It’s a deer,” she repeated herself.

But she was wrong. The beast snarled watching them. Its nostrils twitched feverishly picking up the scent of Harkin’s blood. It descended into one of the many burrows of Renshaw forest and threaded through the maze of damp muddy passageways beneath Harkin and the mysterious woman.

“How do you know about the man in the middle of the forest?” he asked again. “And what were you doing in the forest?” he continued to question her.

“Settle down Detective Harkin,” she joked.

Harkin stood still, “just tell me what you were doing in the forest!” he insisted.

“I can see you are in your running gear,” she pointed out. “Did you stop to think that maybe I was doing the same thing?”

Harkin looked at her clothing and realised she was probably out for a walk or run herself.

“Happy Detective?” she mocked, Harkin nodded.

“How do you know about the man in the middle of the forest?” he persisted.

The woman tugged Harkin’s arm to carry on moving, but he pulled back.

“I’m waiting,” he told her staring into her baby-like face.

“My father lives in the middle of the forest!” she shouted. “Jeeze Harkin, how to kill the air of mystery.” The woman yanked him by the arm continuing forward.

“Why didn’t you just tell me it was your father?” he asked but noticed she seemed slightly embarrassed.

“Where are you from?” she asked, avoiding his question.

“Ireland,” he answered.

She laughed. “That explains the accent at least.” she jested, to which Harkin smiled.

“So, have you always lived on Black Mountain Island?” he asked, to which she simply nodded.

“You seem very guarded,” he told her. “Do you live in the middle of the forest with your father?”

A pain shot up into his leg that immobilised Harkin. He yelped with pain dropping to the ground.

“We are so close,” the woman assured him, trying to get him back up.

“I can’t!” he shouted, his leg felt as if it was doused with petrol and set on fire.

“Get up!” she screamed. Her entire demeanour changed towards him.

“What is wrong with you?” he shouted at her as she stood back.

“We need to get out of the forest and into my father’s cabin,” she said trying to lift him again.

He pushed her away, watching her shake her head.

“You snivelling, whiny, idiot!” she sneered at him.

Grabbing him by his dark brown hair, she dragged him with sudden supernatural strength, deeper into the forest. Harkin’s hands were cut open by the vines and branches which he tried to grab hold of while he was dragged away. The woman hummed the most peculiar tune hauling Harkin down a misty path towards a stone cabin. She pulled him through some tall spiky grasses, Harkin pleaded with her, but she ignored him.

“Why are you doing this?” he begged for an answer, he heard the sinister growl return.

He yelled as she dragged him over a jagged rock, then pulled down hard on the stone and finally got out of her grip. Desperately, he tried to crawl into the long grass to hide but she was too fast for him. She grabbed him by the wounded ankle. He howled in agony, she continued to drag him along. His head fell back, staring in horror at the pitiless eyes which suddenly appeared through the gloom.

“The wolf!” he shouted with the beast growling, its blood-stained grey fur emerging from the mist.

“It’s right behind us!” he warned the woman, who finally stood still.

She dropped Harkin’s leg and turned towards the long grass. The beast snarled and sprang from the mist. Harkin lay on the ground paralysed in fear.

“Finders keepers!” she shouted out.


Harkin could hear the beast growling. Lightning ran across the grey sky and the heavens opened up; torrential rain began to bucket down and the ground quickly became a quagmire. The smell of wet dog suddenly hit Harkin’s nose. He tried to crawl away, but it was too late. He could feel how the beast’s blunt teeth entered his flesh and crunched into the bone of his good leg.

“Please!” he continued to beg wetting himself.

The woman ran hastily and grabbed Harkin by the arms and the beast had him by the leg.

“This one is mine!” she shouted to the beast, it growled, still holding Harkin’s leg in its jaw.

Harkin screamed as the beast ripped the muscle from his leg exposing his shin bone. Harkin began to lose his mind, he thought he heard the beast speaking when the woman swore at it. The creature let go at the same time the woman did and Harkin fell onto his side.  He looked down at his calf muscle lying beside him.

The woman ripped off her torn grey top, the rain came down much harder now. She screamed, running towards the beast. It jumped forward colliding with the woman, striking her down into the thick mud.  Harkin began to go into shock watching the beast sink its jaws into the woman’s neck, she was trying to strangle it. The beast jumped back and the woman got back onto her feet, blood was pumping from her neck but it did not seem to bother her.

Harkin turned onto his back and looked up at the sky as he could feel the blood leaving his body; the rain drops hitting his face as the beast howled. He could no longer hear the woman shouting at the beast, he readied himself for the inevitable…

His eyes widened as he felt a cold wet nose nudging his leg that was injured in the trap. He gasped when he heard yet another beast howl.

“Two of them,” he whispered to himself, the sound of a lock could be heard opening. The beasts took Harkin by each foot, and a trap door sprung open beside him revealing a blood-stained white glove. Harkin screamed as he was snatched halfway into the underground passage like a trapdoor spider would ensnare its prey. The beasts ripped at his legs and he could feel his hips dislocating. The trapdoor repeatedly smashed down onto Harkin’s body, until with a sickening crunch, his body was severed in half.

The beasts ripped his bottom half in two and ran off into the forest each sporting a trophy while Harkin lay in the dark passageway. With his life ebbing away, he could hear a maniacal giggle.  A pair of enormous jester shoes with bells on was the last thing Harkin saw before his tormented soul left his body…