The Sprites of Spite
From the bedroom window, I watch the children as they weave from door to door. Halloween, another commercial holiday. Costumes bought ready-made. No Paper Mache messes on the kitchen tables of today’s busy households. Decorations up, turning it into another money market. ‘Let’s make Halloween, Christmas.’ I hate that meme. Christmas is Christmas. Halloween is a special holiday. Jason is on the television again. How they forget about Abbot and Costello, Bob Hope and The Ghost Breakers. What about The Ghost Train or Arsenic and Old Lace? Great black and white movies, with enough atmosphere to keep you jumping and laughing. Nowadays it’s all blood and gore.
I turn from the window. The moon is half full, bathed in white as it casts bright shimmers of light on the street. That’s okay, I can still perform. The circle is set, and candle flames flicker, casting shadow dancers on the wall. From the small desk, I collect the letter I wrote earlier. Tonight, I’m going to have fun of my own with this little town. All the vampires and werewolves won’t be able to save them.
I close my eyes and hold my hands high. As I chant, the wind picks up and a shiver rolls over my body. From the deep recess of the shadows of my mind, I conjure his people. My eyes flutter open, and I smile. The crew has arrived. Now I’m off to have some fun.
No-one notices me in my cloak as I mingle with the crowd. As I pass 48 Sycamore street, I glance to the bedroom window. The light is off, yet I make out Dilys as she peeks from between the curtains. Last year, she was one of many who terrorised the streets. Chasing Mr Higgins dog on to the road where he was hit by a car. After the visit, she changed. No longer does she play her mean tricks on others.
My companions and I walk to the end of the path, turn right and then left. We’re where we need to be. The garden has an ornament of some kind. I think it’s supposed to be a zombie. The dead aren’t impressed. I know this as I have three of them with me. The porch is gaily decorated with pumpkins, skeletons, and dancing ghosts. The door is slightly ajar as Neil is expecting guests. I push the door as I step inside. The lights are off, and several candles burn. Such foolishness for a boy of fourteen. My gaze sweeps the room. It’s empty of guests. Of course, it is. Didn’t I send them a text saying the party has moved to Johnny’s? Johnny’s still in shock at hosting the unexpected event. I smile as I walk further into the room. Neil looks up, his hands rub his arms as a breeze blows through the room. His gaze is on me, but he doesn’t acknowledge me as he turns towards the window. His gaze flitters up and down the street. He’s probably wondering where his friends are.
Poor fool. Tonight, he’ll receive his just desserts. Mrs Cormac was seventy-eight. She’d have lived for a couple more years if he hadn’t thought it fun to climb into her house and frighten her. I turn to my companion and smile at the old dear. There’s a gleam in her eyes. She knows the rules. Damn, the woman was feisty as we went over what could be and could not be done.
Neil’s mobile rings.
‘Hey Garth – where are you?’
‘At Johnny’s. You need to get over here. It’s awesome.’
I settle into the seat as a scowl mars the youthful beauty of Neil’s flesh.
‘What do you mean - Johnny’s giving a party? It’s been arranged for weeks for you all to come to mine.’
‘Hey, you sent a text – Said you had to cancel.’
As the conversation between Neil, and his friend heats up, a glass falls to the floor. Neil spins from the window and mutters under his breath. If I’d been a lady, I would have blushed at his language. He mutters as he puts his mobile in the back pocket of his jeans, and bends to collect the glass. Another expletive fills the air as blood seeps from his fingers, and I smile. Mrs Cormac has stepped on his hand. It was accidental, I’m sure. Neil, sucks at the blood as it runs freely from the cut.
Mr Simpson, Neil’s grandfather, who died before he was born, bumps into the boy who rocks on his heels. His gaze searches the room. Mr Simpson, bumps into him again, and Neil is unable to prevent his fall, as he stumbles and lands on his ass. He bangs his head on the wall. Okay. Jason and Halloween are good for ideas. There’s more muttering as Neil collects the broken glass and takes it to the kitchen. With his free hand, he flicks the light switch and the room brightens. Aunt Helen flicks the light off, and another oath fills the room as Neil walks into the kitchen table. The tinkling of glass clattering onto the counter echoes in the silence. Then he’s back at the switch. He flicks it, the light comes on, Aunt Helen flicks it. The light goes off. It’s a game they play for several moments before Neil gives up with another oath and returns to the hallway.
His coat hangs on the bannister post, and he goes to collect it. Just as he grabs it, it falls onto the stairs. He bends to pick it up. It slips across the bottom stair. He mutters as he reaches for it. It slips further into the hallway. As his fingers curl to grab the coat, Mr Simpson slips the mobile from Neil’s pocket. Neil drops the coat he’s managed to catch. His mouth hangs open as he watches the phone float, and steps back, banging into the bannister.
‘Shit – Hey you guys. A joke’s a joke. Stop it.’ His gaze flickers around the hallway as he grabs the mobile which Mr Simpson, pulls out of his reach.
‘Come on guys. This isn’t funny.’
‘Does he know it’s us?’
I turn to look at Mrs Cormac, the grey of her eyes bright, and I smile.
‘Not yet. But soon.’
‘Johnny – Garth – Come on guys.’
Neil continues to shout at the mobile as it hovers out of his reach. With a chuckle, Mr Simpson drops it and it lands with a soft thud onto the fallen coat. Neil grabs the phone and runs into the living room. His fingers search for and finds the light switch. Aunt Helen watches him as his gaze flickers around the room. Only when he sits on the red leather sofa and reaches for the television remote, does she switch the light off.
‘Damn it guys. Stop with the stupid games.’
Mr Simpson chuckles as Neil ignores the light and switches the television on. When he places the remote by his side, and seeing he’s no longer playing the game Aunt Helen wants to play, she grabs the remote and switches the channel over. Neil jumps from the sofa. His gaze on the floating remote.
‘Who’s there. – Is that you, Johnny?’ The colour in his cheeks fades as he searches the room.
Mr Simpson’s chuckle is loud. ‘Not tonight young man.’ He throws his voice around the room as his body shimmers into focus, then out again. Neil blinks, and another oath involuntary leaves his mouth as he wipes his hands over his eyes.
‘Garth – The jokes over. Stop it.’
‘It’s not Garth, either.’ Mr Simpson rumbles.
Neil jumps as Aunt Helen places her fingers on his shoulder. Her breath, cold against his ear as she whispers something I’m unable to hear. Neil’s body shudders as he breaks free of her cold grasp. Then he’s stumbling onto the chair as Mr Simpson makes himself visible. He quickly jumps back onto his feet, then slips again, when he sees a visible Mrs Cormac, whose lap he has fallen into.
‘What?’ Neil’s voice is tangled in his cough. ‘What do you want?’ His voice is still unclear, and his fingers tremble against the arm of the chair as he pushes himself off the old lady’s knee.
‘Why to play, Neil.’ Aunt Helen shimmers into focus. ‘You like to play don’t you Neil.’
Neil steps away from Aunt Helen’s advancing body. Only to halt as he realises he’s surrounded by his visitors. Their hands clasped as they dance around him. Their voices, vocal in song. Their heads thrown back as they let loose, loud laughter that screeches in the air as the pitch becomes louder and higher.
Neil’s hands cover his ears as he closes his eyes and huddles into a ball on the floor.
‘Stop it. Stop it.’
‘But the fun’s just begun.’ Mr Simpson sings.
Santa has his good and naughty list, and I have mine.
© By Wynter Aodh.