Friday, October 21, 2016

Supernatural Friday: All Hallows Eve

Eleven days till All Hallows Eve, or Halloween.

What is it about? How did it get started? There must be more about it than just a reason for candy, scary movies and scary books. After all, my ghost books and horror fiction sell all year long.

It all started with a Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced sow in or sow an), and even a Christian one called All Soul's Day (November 1st). Though some folklorists claim that it goes farther back to a Roman feast of Pomona, goddess of seeds and fruits, or even to a festival of the dead, Parentalia. The Celts on Samhain built bonfires on All Hallows Eve, where they burned animals and crops as sacrifices to Celtic deities.

The Celts believed that the veil between the mortal world and the spirit world was thinnest on this one day of the year. That spirits, demons, monsters, and other frightful beings, could enter more easily. Harmless ghosts of ancestors were made welcome by family, while those who meant harm to mortals were warded off.

No doubt this was how the wearing of masks and costumes came about. Someone wanted to get home, or go to a friend's or relative's. They would wear a costume and mask looking like a dark spirit, so that they would be left alone. Over time this changed to people wearing costumes going from door to door in medieval times, this called souling. And centuries later, it became children going from door-to-door, trick-or-treating for candy.

Trick-Or-Treat did not come about officially until possibly the late 20s through 40s. Before that there was vandalism done by kids. Adults wanted a way to stop this, so they thought up an idea of children being allowed to trick or treat, earning candy for their bags at each home. To the joy of retailers who sell candy, this has become a tradition since the 50s. Americans spend 6.9 million on candy each Halloween, making it the second largest commercial holiday.

Today, it is more than just a kids' day of fun, even adults have joined in. Why not?

Just beware of when you go out that night. After all, the worlds of the living and the dead are blurred this very day. And that partner you're dancing with just might not be human.... or alive!

And now a chapter from my collection of spooky short stories, Spectre Nightmares and Visitations. This a story set on Halloween. The story is copyrighted, and if you want to read the rest of the stories in the book, you can buy the paperback and the eBook at

The House on Green Street
Pamela K. Kinney

It was a very cool, breezy night, the crescent moon hovering high in the black sky like some malefic spirit ready to do mischief. Children dressed in costumes of assorted themes ran up to doors, pausing to ring doorbells, and yelling, “Trick or treat!” in high-pitched, demanding voices. Jack-o-lanterns, flickering with bright light, sat on door steps or in windows, lending a cheerful context to the night of Halloween.
But my cousin, Jim and I only paused for a moment to savor these special sights and sounds of Samhain. We trudged up to a small apartment complex on Green Street where our friends, the Collinfines, lived. Next door to the complex was an old house, empty for years and reputedly haunted. Normally a scabby sore on the upscale street, tonight, it added to the Halloween atmosphere.
Inside the apartment, we found a loud boisterous party, with people dressed in grownup versions of the costumes of the children outside in the night. In one corner some bobbed for apples in a tub of water, while others were lodged firmly in front of a large 53-inch television, watching the movie “Halloween”. Others just sat around, munching on party food and gossiping. 
Jim, dressed as Count Dracula, tried to put the bite on a pretty red-headed that was my function for the party, fortune telling, along with telling ghostly tales. Spying an empty spot, I set up shop at the coffee table in front of the big blue couch and sat down.
Someone turned off the TV set and the place grew quiet as people began to gather around me. I spent the next hour telling fortunes. When everyone who wanted had their fortunes told, I began to relate some scary ghost stories. It was after I had just finished the story of a haunted room in an inn where that no one could ever spend an entire night in and live that a tall dark-haired man in the back of the room spoke up.
“Do you believe in ghosts?” 
Someone turned off the TV set and the place grew quiet as people began to gather around me. I spent the next hour telling fortunes. When everyone who wanted had their fortunes told, I began to relate some scary ghost stories. It was after I had just finished the story of a haunted room in an inn where that no one could ever spend an entire night in and live that a tall dark-haired man in the back of the room spoke up.
“Do you believe in ghosts?”
I eyed him, weighing the question carefully, and then answered him. “No. I believe that all things like ghosts can be explained scientifically, if given time to figure out what is causing the phenomenon.”
Then with a shock I noticed his eyes for the first time. They gleamed blood-red in the black light, which made the Halloween decorations glow in the room. He smiled, but it looked more like a grimace, and I saw sharp, razor-like fangs gleaming between his parted lips. Then I remembered that it was a Halloween party and that what he was wearing was only a costume, frighteningly lifelike. A very effective costume, nevertheless. He walked toward me like a wolf or large panther stalking their prey. A few chills ran up my spine. Others must have felt the same, for they parted like the Red Sea, letting him through and not allowing even the ends of his black cloak to touch them.
He stood in front of the coffee table and stared down at me. Feelings of uneasiness swirled inside me. Something about him bothered me. I wanted to jump up and run away from him, but I forced myself to stay put.
Bending down, he placed one large hairy hand, with fingers tipped with sharp fingernails, down flat upon the shiny surface of the coffee table.
“Well, I have just the bet for you,” he said.
His voice raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
“What’s that?” I asked, staring unflinchingly into his bizarre eyes, determined not to show any fear.
His smile grew more feral. “Why, there’s a supposedly haunted house next door. I say that if you stay the whole night there and returned here in the morning—unharmed—you will have proven to me that your theory about ghosts not really existing is true. Do you accept, Miss Jenner?”
I paused, wondering how he knew my name and reflecting on his strange request. “What’s wrong with the place next door? Do people go into it at night and disappear or something?”
His eyes lit up. “Why don’t you stay there and find out?”
Indecision filled me, until I heard the whispered murmurs reaching my ears, whispers that I was a coward. Throwing caution to the winds I stood up and said, “Oh, all right. But who’s going with me?” I heard the edge of false courage lining my voice.
Jim, a glass of wine in hand, spoke up. “I will, Leslie.”
 He looked like he had been drinking pretty good for some time now, and I didn’t think that he would make the perfect companion for ghost hunting, but as no one else volunteered, I accepted his help. He turned and gave a sloppy grin to the redhead he had been fawning over since we arrived. No doubt he was doing this not because he wanted to back me up, but more to impress her. It seemed to work, as she simpered up at him, a silly look on her face.
Jim, a lurch of drunkenness in his step, and I left the party and headed over to the house next door. An old dilapidated place, it looked like it once had been a lovely shade of blue, but had faded to a dirty gray, flaking in places. Armed with only a couple of flashlights and blankets to keep out the cold, we stood before it and stared up at a broken brown porch covered in shadows of the night.
I aimed my flashlight and in the light, discovered the door, ajar.
Apparently kids or someone had broken in before, making it easy for us to get inside.
We picked our way through the debris on the porch (Jim actually blundered through the mess) and entered the house through the black-as-pitch doorway.
We found ourselves in a large room, empty of furniture and life, filled with debris, and there was a curious mold on the fading wallpaper covering the walls. Jim, not too steady on his feet, fell down onto his rump with an oath and slipped into a loud snoring as he went into a drunken sleep. 
I covered him with his blanket and left him there as I decided to go ahead and explore the place. I peered closely at the mold, but decided it was better left alone, and passed through an open doorway into what once had to have been the kitchen.
I rifled through the cabinets while watching out for brown recluse spiders and rats when I heard a racket coming from back where I had left Jim. It had to be him, and I heard him stumble up the stairs to the second floor above. His clumsy feet banged around up there, and then suddenly, grew silent.
I raced back to the living room and called up the stairs. “Jim! Are you okay?”
Total silence. Worried that he had hurt himself, I ascended the stairs. I searched all the rooms on the second floor, but couldn’t find him, injured or otherwise. I worried, knowing he was too drunk to slip away and hide, playing a joke on me. I kept calling his name but didn’t get a response. The silence felt creepy to me.
A loud bang came from the ceiling above me.
“Jim!” I called out.
Loud footsteps erupted. Following the sounds to the end of the dark hall, I discovered steps that lead upwards, to the attic, I supposed. Slowly I climbed them, angry. Here I thought Jim was hurt when all the time he was up in the attic, fumbling around, safe and unharmed.
Just you wait, Jim Conners.
I halted at a closed door and pushed it open, entering. The room was pitch black and freezing cold. The door slammed shut with a loud bang, locking me in.
I cussed Jim out for making me even come in here when, with a swish of air, something slapped the flashlight out of my hand and sent it clattering into some far, dark corner. Even though I couldn’t see who, or what, did that, I figured it had been Jim, who wasn’t as drunk as I thought.
“Jim, that’s not funny. When we get out of here, I promise you’re going to be sorry.” But he didn’t answer me, and I forged more deeply into the attic, slapping at unseen cobwebs. I kept calling, receiving nothing but silence and I grew angrier by the minute. I now felt that Jim, some people at the party, and that horrible man had conspired to pull a stupid prank on me. This joke had gone on long enough.
“Okay, Jim, you guys have had your little joke. Now please, unlock the attic door and let’s get back to the party,” I said, trying to cool down. “You want to know something? I’m still not even the tiniest bit frightened. Angry, yes, scared, no.”
“Not frightened, Miss Jenner, but oh, you soon will be.”
The whisper breathed like a slight breeze into my ear. I turned my head to the right and saw the dark-haired man with the reddish eyes standing by my side, a green glow surrounding him. He had a nasty, feral smile plastered on his face.
“How did you get in here? We left you at the party.” I shivered, but not due to the increasing drop in the temperature, which had grown worse since he had appeared.
 He snickered like some demented child.
“Did you, my dear? I decided to help you really celebrate Halloween, in a very special way.”
“Where’s Jim?” I asked, my voice squeaking higher in pitch.
“Why, he’s here with us . . . forever. As soon you will be, of course.”
He pointed to a corner in the room. Jim lay there on his back on the floor, encased in a greenish glow. At first I thought he was just unconscious, but then I saw the slit under his chin, a red liquid trickling down from it.
My God, the creep had murdered Jim.
Frightened, I backed away, groping behind me for the locked attic door as I kept my eyes on the crazy person in the place with me. My fingertips touched the splintered wood of the door and with one hand; I grasped the door knob and tried to open it. But it stayed locked, steadfast. The man and his strange light vanished just then, leaving me alone in the dark. My heart thudding painfully and with the metallic taste of fear in my mouth, I whirled around and began pounding and kicking at the door.
I broke off when I heard a familiar ghastly whisper in my ear. “Now you will be part of the house on Green Street. Forever—”
I screamed.
Excuse me, but I have to go. However, I do have final proof that ghosts really do exist, because, now, I’m one of them, a part of the house on Green Street. Forever.

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