A council of spirits
Written by Sorina-Cristina Șchiopu
Once upon a Halloween’s Eve, spirits had gathered for the annual spooky council. The sun had already gone into hiding, leaving both the human and the ghost realm in the shadows.
“Welcome, fellow phantasms and creatures of the shadow kingdom, we have gathered here today to -”
“To drop the formalities, indeed!”, a tiny phantom intervened. “We’ve been doing this for decades and none of us is that amnesiac, really. Let’s get this over with fast and listen to the annual story.”
His last words dried away like autumn leaves and he sat himself quietly back in the chair.
“Very well”, said the spirit that had opened the discussion. “Fellow apparitions”, he began anew, throwing daggers with his glance, “the Meeting of Spooks shall commence. Let us get scared by your spooky stories , spirits!” No one uttered a single word and silence descended upon the room. The wind was howling in the human world as the setting was being prepared for Halloween. Even so, only boredom was creeping around the spirits. The host of the event sighed, but chose not to say anything else. He waited. They all waited.
Until…someone stood up from their chair. It was a ghost child with a severed hand. He seemed frail and scared.
“I have a story to tell!”, he said, his tone of voice unlike his appearance. “A tale that will make you all shiver…” He inhaled and continued:
“This is a story about a child who didn’t listen to his parents.”
There was a weird, uncharacteristic emotion in the ghost’s words and a few of the other apparitions giggled. He didn’t let this affect his storytelling.
“This kid had left his home on Halloween, even though his parents had prohibited him to do so. It was a moonless night so he had brought his jack-o’-lantern. He was finally out in the dark, ready to explore the neighboring town. His parents’ house had been built along with a few others at the edge of a deserted town and it was exactly this town that he wanted to visit. The adults would always tell him off whenever he showed interest in its story. And usually by explaining that its inhabitants had been killed off one by one by the plague. And that even now, decades after the tragedy, the souls of those who have died were still roaming around, ready to get their vengeance on the living ones who hadn’t even bat an eye at their pleas for help. However…this tale had never scared the child. Quite on the contrary, it made him curious. He wanted to meet the ghosts of the regretted ones.
So…he left his home and made his way to the deserted town. The wind was howling much like right now and the crows were up in the sky, fluttering their wings. They made quite the creepy sound, but it brought a smile on the kid’s lips. He liked it. Loved it even. It was filling him up with adrenaline. He stepped even further in this deserted land and started to feel his blood boiling. The branches were moved by the wind and were casting amorphous shadows on the boy. And then, suddenly, a crow’s croaking later, he could hear loud footsteps approaching him. Startled, he turned around, trying to light up the darkness. Nonetheless…there was nothing there. The child inhaled sharply as he realized that his hand holding the lantern started shaking a little. He grabbed it using his other hand and stared with unyielding eyes in the distance. Whoever was there couldn’t scare him! Not even in the slightest.. .
But then…there was another sound. Glass shattering and more footsteps. They couldn’t possibly belong to one single person… . Looking behind, there was still nothing. Just plain, empty darkness and a chilly wind that brought him shivers. Around him ruled tension, a tension so thick it was slowly robbing him of air. But since there was nothing, he forced himself to continue his path.
At one point, he could swear he was almost hearing voices quietly singing something. It occurred to him that they sounded like the sirens who would sing and then drown the men of the sea. A shiver ran down his spine once again. But still, he continued. It was like a waging war, what he was doing. Slowly and quietly, he was reaching the other end of the little town. The croaking of the crows started to fade away and the darkness seemed warmer. A grin spread over his face. He was pleased, he had managed to bring his little journey to an end, in spite of everything the adults had told him. So, he turned around, facing the path he had until then walked on. And it was at that moment that everything changed.
A laugh echoed in the dead of the night and he spotted someone’s figure from the corner of his eye. His whole body started shaking uncontrollably and he ran, ran back to the entrance of the town. He tripped over and over again as he kept hearing sounds behind him. Laughter, sounds of wood and glass breaking and footsteps. Those cursed footsteps. So he ran, ran until he couldn’t feel his feet anymore. But suddenly, he couldn’t hear anything anymore and he turned around, curious if he was still followed. What he saw there made him trip anew and… blind with despair, he fell right into a ripped pole, causing his flesh on the right hand to be ripped apart.”
The ghost stopped talking for a second to scout the look in everyone’s eyes.
“Did he survive?”, someone inquired.
“I’m not sure”, came the answer, yet the ghost seemed to be shielding his arm from their eyes. A chilly air filled the room and it seemed as if a collective shiver plagued all the spirits. They were all staring at the child, a question in their eyes. Yet no one asked. The ghost’s expression underwent an interesting metamorphosis however and a smile embraced his features.
“Did this spook you?”