I watch them.
The children hurrying from door to door in their ridiculous costumes, clutching grab-bags full of chocolate bars and sugar candy, skittering and shrieking. Small tongues wrapping themselves around each morsel of poison, eyes bright as weasels.
The girls in their ripped fishnet stockings and thigh-high boots, their new-grown breasts luminous under the pale street lights, their red lips and their witch’s lace, thinking it’s all a game, a laugh…
The adults sighing. “I forgot to buy candy last Friday, had to pretend we were out…little buggers.” “It’s an American thing, you know, this Halloween nonsense!” ” Well, if the ghost of my great-aunt turns up, I’ll make sure to ask her where she put that silver teapot…”
Ah, but it’s not Halloween. It is Samhain, the night of the long dark, when the living and the dead walk side by side, and the Sidh tread the paths between, seeking a crack, a gap in the shadow wall through which they may squeeze and creep. Laugh and sport all you like, spend your money and eat your sweets, for I will find a way to you, my sweet-smelling darlings of the sunlit lands.
The others brush by me, crying out to descendants who have long forgotten them, desperate for someone to turn a head, tilt an ear. They want to be touched, heard, felt – poor vain things. They reach out with long grey fingers, but the mocking young prance on, unheeding.
Not I. I search, and seek – and I find. A tiny rent in the curtain, a hole in the wall, and I am through, and drifting amongst them, breathing in their sweat and laughter. I breathe upon a tender neck, curl around an exposed belly, leer up between ripe thighs and plunge a cold hand down a black-clad bodice. I linger, a shiver, a wisp, waiting – until the chosen one turns aside for home and staggers out of the teeming street, her senses fuddled with drink. I follow her with patience, drinking in the sound of her healthy young heartbeat, savouring the bouquet of her rich and lovely flesh.
She walks alone – no, not alone, for I am with her. I cast my cold arm across her shoulders, I look into her startled face – and she stumbles back from me, her mouth open in panicked dread. But she has spirit, this one.
“You can’t hurt me, you’re dead,” she squeaks, looking into the hollows of my eyes, her own wide and black-ringed. I laugh, and tell her the truth.
“It is you who are dead – you and all who walk on this side of the divide. On the other side of the wall, life is eternal. Would you like to join me there?”
It’s a rhetorical question. I swallow her answer as I devour her sweet, foolish heart, and the red river runs down the silent gutters to the sea. For we, the ever-living, have but one chance to feed upon the guileless dead, and it is this night – Samhain. In the old tongue of the Celts, it meant summer. In our tongue, it means Feast, and so, feast I will.
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash