The Barlow Clan – Chapter 1

*All characters and places in this piece are fictional and do not reflect anyone alive or dead. Flathead National Park is a real place, but as far as the author is aware, it is not haunted. This story may have content that some readers find offensive or disturbing, so discretion is advised, especially to those under the age of 13.*

I

The rustling leaves of autumn drew Callie outside, filling her distracted mind with the sounds of nature. She sat on the ground and watched them gently dance in the breeze. She heard Ranger Stevens before she saw him. He had a distinctive way of walking. “Hi darlin’ you talking to the trees again?” Callie blushed as she quickly rose to her feet to face him. She was hyper-aware of her hand-me-downs clothes and ancient fleece that had either belonged to Hep’s or the twins. No one knew anymore. “Hi, Ranger Stevens, I was just taking a break. Can I help you with anything today?

Callie I’ve told you it’s ok to call me Mike, I’m not a police officer or anything.” His face lit up as he grinned and Callie swayed a little on her feet. Her homeschooling had limited her interactions with real boys.  She didn’t consider her brothers to be real boys) and Mike happened to be a particularly handsome one, but it didn’t matter, Callie Barlow would have been awkward with any boy. The only boys she really knew were her brothers, Hep, Are and App. “Sorry, Mike, how can I help you today?

Well I’m looking for your father actually, is he around?” He took off his hat in anticipation of speaking to Lucas Barlow. Callie was certainly among the softer of the Barlow family siblings. Her eldest brother was exceptionally rough and ready despite all the classical training their mother Joanne had given them. He was very much a carbon copy of his father Lucas. Who was known as crass, angry and loud.  Yet Lucas Barlow was well regarded in the town of Mirth and the Barlow family had lived in Flathead National Forest for generations. “Daddy will be back soon he was doing his morning rounds of the land. Would you like to wait and have some coffee?” Her voice cracked nervously as she asked this, but she was relieved when Mike nodded almost furiously.

That’s great if any of your brothers are around I might speak to them too?” Callie’s heart sank. If it was a palaver with her brother’s Mike wanted, she wouldn’t get a word in. Mike seemed to notice this, and said kindly, “of course you know these woods just as well as them, so you will certainly have some useful input to give Callie.” Callie blushed again at this. Not just because he was so kind, but because he had noticed her disappointment. Nobody took much notice of Callie when her brothers were around. She nodded and beckoned him inside.

Halloween Horror Stories. The Barlow Clan.
Halloween Horror Stories. The Barlow Clan.

It was early morning and the sun had only just risen in the East, but the Barlows had been up since before dawn. It was the family way even before Callie was born, and she knew no different. They would begin their studies at 9am. Well, she would, Hep and the twins had already taken their SATs. Beforehand the chores would need to be done. Chores from which Callie had been skiving off from. “Callie, are you finished checking on the deer jerky?” Her mother Joanne had an ability to appear from thin air. Both Callie and Mike jumped. They had thought themselves alone in the quiet kitchen. “Yes ma’am, mother. I invited Ranger Stevens in for coffee while he waited for Father.” Joanne folded her arms and took in Mike silently. A silence descended and as expected, Mike nervously filled the gap.

I’m sure you could help too Ma’am, Mrs Barlow, it’s about another missing tourist. Two actually. They went into the forest last night. It was meant to be an overnight camping trip, but when they didn’t call their girlfriends this morning at the crack of dawn as promised, well the girlfriends got frantic and called the police. You know the reputation these woods have so the coppers asked Chief Ranger Makowski if he’d look into it. I thought that since Mr Barlow, and your family have had such luck with turning up missing people in the past, knowing the woods so well…” Joanne finally smiled and Mike trailed off. “No problem Mike, I’m sure Lucas would be delighted to help once he returns from his rounds. In the meantime let me get you some breakfast.

Oh you’re very kind but if you could just let Mr Barlow know we will be mounting a search party down at the ranger cabin that I would be very grateful.” Callie’s heart sank. Mike would have happily stayed for a chat if her mother hadn’t appeared. Callie had been so sure her mother was out back feeding the chickens, but Joanne Barlow had a way of knowing when to appear uninvited. She didn’t like Callie talking to outsiders, especially not men, despite what was thought of the family in town. “Are you sure Ranger Stevens? I was about to start breakfast, the boys always come back from their rounds, ravenous.” Her eyes glinted in the early morning light, and Callie could see Mike audibly shiver.

Much obliged Ma’am, but I best be on my way, thank you now.” He dipped his head and slipped back out into the yard. Callie watched him as hopped onto his bike and quickly disappeared down the path from the Barlow homestead. “So, you think he’s cute do you Calliope?” Callie froze, she could feel her mother’s eyes on her. As if feeling into her mind somehow. “Sure, in an awkward kind of way.” She tried to laugh it off, making her tone light, but her mother always knew. “Stay away from men like that Callie, I’ve told you before. They want what’s between your legs and nothing more.” Joanne began making breakfast, and Callie simply fell into the morning ritual once more.

II

Listen this is official Park Ranger business, you know I can’t tell you that information. Besides, they aren’t technically missing persons yet, they’ve only been incommunicado for 3 hours or so. Really, any information we have from their girlfriends and the state coppers is private.” Chief Ranger Makowski was an imposing specimen. Standing at 6 foot 4 and about as broad, it was difficult for most people to argue with him. Of course, Jacob had known Ingrid Hanson since she was a small girl, and her tenacious nature had always endeared her to him. Although he admired her spirit, he was protective of the Ranger service which he had served for decades. It had increasingly come under fire for their inability to locate the mounting missing persons list. He would enforce the rules and regulations, in public at least.

Ingrid, as soon as I get the go-ahead, you know I’ll call you, but right now it’s a private matter.” He smiled a rare smile and Ingrid rolled her eyes. “Alright curmudgeon, but I’ll be back.” Makowski huffed. “No need to throw your fancy college words at me, young lady.” He was still smiling in spite of himself though, as she flounced off.

landscape-2268775_1280
Halloween Horror Stories. The Barlow Clan.

Ingrid was thinking about how good a large coffee would feel to ward off her sleepiness and the cold of a Montana morning when she bounced off Chief Stevens. She landed on her ass and looked wearily up at into his face. There she observed in him the same equally dazed state. She simply groaned. “I’m not caffeinated enough to process this yet.”

Oh Ingrid I’m so sorry are you ok?” He tried to help her up but she shooed him away. “I’m fine Mike, no worries, it was my own fault. It’s an early start and I skipped my morning coffee to get here. Chief Makowski won’t talk to me yet though, so I needed have bothered.” Her keen eyes studied the slumped posture of a man who usually stood proud in his newly earned Ranger uniform. “You ok Mike? You look like you could use a pick me up yourself.” Mike nodded gently. “I was just up at the Barlow homestead…” Ingrid normally wouldn’t have to ask for details, she knew the Barlows as well as anyone else from Mirth. However, her inquisitive nature was the story and she decided this might as well be included. “Let’s grab a coffee and have a chat, Mike.

III

So that’s all she said? That they would be ravenous?” Asked Ingrid doubtfully. Mike looked wounded. “I know but it’s the way she said it, and her eyes…” Ingrid nodded in understanding. Although it didn’t seem like much, Ingrid knew the look Mike was talking about. She had known Mike for most of his life too, she’d palled around with his older sister Mary in school, and he wasn’t a liar. No, there was definitely something weird about Joanne Barlow and it wasn’t her choice of words exactly. It was the emphasis she put on certain things that gave kids the creeps. Her sons were similarly weird if not more rambunctious. Yet Lucas was a typical Montana man. Quiet, hard-working and private. Well respected. The match between them had always struck people as odd.

Some had even gone so far to say that Joanne had used witchcraft, learned from her native ancestors, to trap Lucas. Ingrid always thought that was bullshit. Plus she’d always been uncomfortable with how old-seed Montanans had used ‘witchcraft’ as to describe a woman behaviour when they acted in a way they didn’t like. Ingrid had often thought if a man acted the way Joanne did they would just be labelled as unusual or strange. Joanne Stone had gone to university, which had been unheard of in her day. She’d studied the ‘classics’ whatever that passed for these days, and she’d insisted from day one that her children would be educated at home with her. It had worked so far. Though the boys had only gone to the local college for the environment or natural science, word on the street was their SATs scores where something to be very proud of.

              Joanne had named her children after the Greek gods. Hephaestus was her eldest, Ares and Apollo were her twins and her youngest and only daughter was Calliope. This was the one and only thing that Lucas had pushed back on. He’d wanted to give his children family names. So the compromise was that their middle names were Greek, and first were good old fashioned Montana names. Yet they’d never gone by their first names. Heck Ingrid couldn’t even remember what they were. There was a good chance they were John, Joseph and Thomas, but she couldn’t be sure. She would need to look that up…

She snapped back to her conversation with Mike. Why would she need to look the names up? The Barlow family weren’t the story. The missing men were the story, and the rest of the missing in their droves. Flathead Park had a 78% higher missing persons rate than the national average. She’d found that out from intensive Google searches. “It really seems like Callie is the only ‘normal’ Barlow and I say ‘normal’ very lightly. She was listening to the trees when I arrived at the house this morning.” Ingrid tilted her head and frowned. “What do you mean listening to the trees?

Stevens, get your ass in gear, we’re heading out in 10!” Came Chief Makowski’s bellowing voice. Mike promptly jumped to his feet. “Sorry Ingrid gotta go, I’ll chat with you later, send me a text.” Ingrid nodded languidly as Mike hopped off to his newfound duty as Park Ranger. “You’re a long cry from playing dungeons and dragons with your friends Mike Stevens.” She sighed as she gathered her things. Now to sneak into the Rangers cabin to listen to the meeting.

IV

Ingrid was met with an eye-roll from Makowski, but he didn’t ask her to leave. Truth be told, he was starting to worry about the increased disappearances and incessant attention it was getting from young people. They were doing over-night challenges in the supposedly haunted forest which they filmed and subsequently uploaded to their social media. We spent the night in a haunted forest and you’re not going to believe what happened. They were putting themselves in danger, and it was up to the Rangers to get them out of it. Maybe if someone like Ingrid covered the story it would prove a cautionary tale for future inexperienced campers.

Halloween Story, The Barlow Clan
Halloween Story, The Barlow Clan

It was customary for the Park Rangers to fall silent when Lucas Barlow entered the cabin. His presence was suffocating. Unlike Chief Makowski, Barlow was not a particularly tall man. It was his energy that naturally pulsated and disarmed you. His blue eyes could freeze, and although he was not considered to be a warm person, he helped each and every person that found themselves lost in the woods.

What’s the 411 Makowski?” Barlow croaked as he lowered himself onto the bench, his sons looming behind him. “Simply put, two college kids approximately 21 years of age, go camping last night in the woods. They promised their terrified girlfriends that they would call in at 5.30am no later, on account of the ‘reputation’ our forest seems to be getting.” Barlow’s eyes narrowed at that. “When they didn’t check-in, they call the police, they called me, I called in the staff.” Makowski moved his arm to display the fine team of men and women assembled. He looked at Ingrid closely when he said the next part.

The girlfriends also sent us a video that the boys sent to them around 3.30am this morning, before daybreak. It’s not very clear, but it appears as though the boys are being attacked. We cannot verify this for sure, or even if it is real, however, we will proceed with caution. If it was a lion attack we will need to be vigilant. I will now show you the video.” Chief Makoswi cast the video onto the large wall projector. Stevens turned off the light so they could get a better view, but the morning sunlight was started to make that difficult.

The video started with content which is common on YouTube or other social media these days. The boys joking around, filming each other. Setting up a poor camp. Chief Makowski skipped along until they got to the pertinent part. Boy number one spoke up in the darkness. “What the fuck was that Aiden?” He panned the camera around in the swift jerky motions. “Did you hear that, what the fuck was it?” Boy number two answered. “I don’t fucking know I’ve never heard an animal make a noise like that before.”

Shuffling noises, like leaves and tent canvas. Silence, all but for the heavy breathing of the boys. Then an inhuman screeching noise, which started out low then built in a horrific crescendo. Even hardened Rangers seemed disquieted by the sound, as they shook their heads, shifted in their seats and even covered their ears. When the screeching came to a halt,  the maddened sound of a predator racing towards the boys and their own version of screeching began. Then nothing.

Now the girlfriends say they received no message with this video as if it was set to automatically send to them. Like I said, we don’t know if this is a hoax or not so I would advise caution. We all know wild animals can make a variety of noises…”

I’ve never heard one that sounded like the damned goat guardians of hell before though!” Called out one of the senior rangers and laughter erupted. When Makowski and Barlow didn’t join them it quickly died down. “Like I was saying. This could all be a joke, but it’s our duty to check it out regardless. However, we do not put ourselves at unnecessary risk so be on the lookout for lions or even bears. Now we will break into the usual parties of 4. Someone is designated as the leader…”

Not that anyone would have noticed, but Makowski and Barlow weren’t the only ones not to laugh at the Ranger’s poorly timed joke. Ingrid’s eyes had glazed over as she began recalling her interviews with those who had been recovered from the forest after being missing for days. She remembered how they had described the exact sound she had just heard from the missing boys’ video.

 

*Chapter II will be available next Friday the 11th of October, until then click here for some more stories to keep you going*

 

Copyright © 2019 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Agency

My agency is a fallacy born of the human condition.

Copyright © 2019 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Other stories and poems: Here.

Past life: Finland circa 1100

Allwen of Finland. The beloved youngest daughter of a Lord in Finland, loves her country and its beauty is mirrored only by her own face. She is in love with a local nobleman’s son, and they plan to wed in the Spring when the weather warms.

Allwen begins to feel poorly. Her skin turns pale and grey. Her beautiful hair of sunshine becomes dry and falls out in clumps. Her mother stays by her bedside until she recovers, but it takes many months.

Past Life
Past Life

During her illness, Allwen worries her betrothed will forget her, or worse, no longer want to marry her now her beauty was failing. He had not visited in recent months the thoughts of it consumes Allwen as much as the illness.

Finally, she is well enough, so she wraps her head in silk. She applies cosmetics to cover her grey skin and sunken eyes. Her betrothed is invited to visit with her in her favourite tea parlour in her Lord’s keep.

She sits and waits by a fire, the only thing keeping the cold out. Deep winter is upon them and the days are short. Her love arrives and she notes his strange behaviour. His normally jovial nature is muted, he smiles not once, and barely looks into her eyes.

All she’d feared is coming to pass. Her beauty is gone. He no longer wants her. She presses him and he finally blurts out, “I am sorry my Lady I can no longer marry you, I hope you can forgive me.”

He leaps up, bows his head, and is gone. Allwen does not cry, her eyes already ache from her long illness. She rises and slowly climbs the stairs to her tower room.


 

Past Life
Past Life

Her father finds her staring out her window at the beautiful landscape which surrounds his keep. “Our country is so beautiful father, it soothes me, even in my illness.”

He sits beside her. “He will not marry you.” Not a question, just a statement. “No father. I’ve lost my beauty and I’m no longer worthy of him.” A single tear rolls down her cheek as dying light rests on her face.

Your beauty will return to you once your strength returns my darling daughter.” He takes her hand, but her eyes never leave the window. “The King has honoured me, child. He is sending me to rule the land of Denmark in his stead which he has recently conquered…

I require a new bride as your mother is too old to produce an heir, so we have decided I will take you as my bride. You are to be the Princess of Denmark darling Allwen.” Allwen stares at him in disbelief. “Mama is ok with this?

Yes she knows and approves. We leave tonight, please prepare yourself I’ll send your servants to you so you may pack your belongings. I’ll await you after sunset in the carriage.” He kisses his daughter’s lips and leaves her to prepare for the journey.

Allwen is torn, disgusted by her father. Despondent that her mother would bless such a union and allow her to be taken away. With her love taken from her and the prospect of leaving her beloved Finland Allwen now openly weeps.

She makes her way to her chambers main door and locks it. She walks to her wardrobe and selects her favourite white and blue gown, kept for special occasions. She prepares her hair and writes a simple note explaining that nothing awaits her outside the borders of her beloved Finland.

She opens her balcony door and walks out into the bitter evening air. The sun has already set below the flat plains and night is upon her. She was born here. So she will die here.

She climbs up on the stone, takes a final deep breath, and jumps.

Her mother’s screams rings in the frozen grassland at the sight of her dead daughter, sprawled in the garden, at the rear of the keep.


 

Past Life
Past Life

Allwen’s beloved stalks through the sheets of snow, passing the keep Allwen called her home, tears streaming down his face. He is drunk and slips on the icy paths, knocking his head off the ground.

He comes too, and sees Allwen before him, dressed in her white and blue gown. Distressed she asks. “Why didn’t you love me? I loved you deeply and I would have been a good wife. You broke my heart. I had nothing left to live for.”

Scrambling to his feet he sobs, “Allwen. Allwen. I was a coward. Your father threatened me, said he would ruin our family if I didn’t break off our engagement. I love you, regardless of your illness. I feared for your life. When you recovered I was overjoyed, I believe we could still marry, but your father…

Between sobs he reaches for Allwen, but she was nothing more than a shadow.


Her mother sits in her chamber, as she had in the days since her daughter’s death. It is cold, the fire has gone out. She hadn’t troubled the servants to relight it. Her breath hangs in the air, her cheeks slowly turn blue from the chill.

She has no care for the cold. Her beloved daughter is dead, having killed herself. God would not allow her into heaven, and she would be alone forever. Even in her own death, she would never see her daughter again.

Mama?” The older Lady rouses at the sound, Allwen’s voice vibrates in the cold dark room. Her eyes focus on the apparition of her daughter, silver and beautiful in her melancholy. “Allwen? Allwen?” She tries to stand but she is weak with grief and the chill. “Mama, I’m so sorry I left you, I wish I hadn’t. Father demanded that my beloved should not marry me, why would he do such a thing!?”

Her mother’s eyes are wide with fright. “Allwen, he didn’t approve of the match. He poisoned you so you would become ill and lose your beauty in hopes your suitor would be put off, but it didn’t work. He became more fervent in his devotion, even when your hair fell out, your cheeks lost their robustness and your eyes their lustre.”

Allwen wails. “Why would you let him mother? Why would you abandon me? So he could take me to Denmark and make me his new wife, so I could give him an heir? Where is his Princess now!?” Allwen sees the genuine shock on her mother’s face and realises the truth now. Her mother knew nothing of this plot.

“Your father told you this? It is untrue, I would never agree to that.” She finally rises from her chair. “Now I understand his true purpose for chasing your suitor away. He always showed too much interest in you but I thought it was the interest of a devoted father. Wait for me Allwen, I will be with you soon.”


The Lady acquires the poison from the cabinet of the keep’s healer. She makes her way to her Lord’s chamber and knocks. He bade her enter. She walks to his drinks cabinet and stealthily laces two glasses of lakka with the poison.

She offers one to her Lord and says. “Here is to our beautiful daughter, I pray to God that someday we can be together again.” They both drink deep and the Lord tastes the poison, but it is too late. His face betrays his folly, but his wife offers no comfort. “I will join our daughter in oblivion so she will no longer be alone. You, however, will go to hell, where it is colder than the coldest winter here, and freeze for the remainder of eternity.

They die.

Copyright © 2019 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

 

I hang out with Queens only…

art-2369664_960_720

My hands are cold,

Don’t worry about reaching for them.

Warmth is in my lipstick, my colours.

When we are almost something,

Or are we already that fact?


 

rangoli-593790_960_720

This is safe for me, safety in numbers,

The creatives are bright.

Quick the bell rings, and my laughter peels out.

These friends are not blanched.

We make up for distance with time.


 

insert2

You think you know what we are?

Unsung heroes of our tribe.

Covered in the ink of our exploits.

We learn, chuckle, and transcend age.

Among other traits.


 

Holding in your jealousy will only make you greener.

Join us, and you can be any colour you like.

 

Copyright © 2019 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Reality’s Fault

Reality’s Fault

Could I restart my heart?

Some awakenings are too painful to be true.

In dreams, we quarrel thick, and I wake to pounding pain.

An anger so powerful, I’m not sure it’s mine.

If it is, may I use it? Transformation through proclamation.

Mirror mirror on the wall who’s the rightest one of all?

 

None of us are.

 

Stop talking so I may speak.

Listen to me, I have earned that right.

It’s in my bones, my ratiocination.

You have sublimation, and I have the rath of God.

He is the God of truth and perspective.

 

Still not one of us is real.

 

Reality is as reality does. Performance through pain.

My weakness, is my fragility, is my nightmare.

Please do not make it worse by your facts.

There are too many for this world to be sincere.

Therefore thought is existence, and that is our adversary.

Not differing points of view.

 

In the end, we are a balance of passion and faults.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

I am Invisible

I am Invisible

I am invisible, they never learned to see me.

My form has been hidden beneath shallow waters,

Inside the grey and the blood, where the pain hides.

You child, have much to learn. Don’t tell me how I feel.

You’ve barely begun yourself, and you have not lived my war.

Fuck off.

 

When I went and laid my life story out before her,

She did what I paid her to do,

She told me my life story, and I wept when it was true.

 

I nearly wrote you a letter about all the good things you were.

Then I remembered you took comfort from someone else,

Who doesn’t know the full truth, of your actions.

You dug into my wounds and twisted them.

You, quick to anger and bitterness,

Once again never thought about my misery.

 

My regards to your own ego.

It serves you well.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Granny Phillis

The fire, a welcome contrast to the descending mist outside, was soon obscured by all seven grandkids. As they fought over who would be directly in front, the youngest Seán, decided that he would sit with his beloved great granny Phillis. “Hello granny! Happy Halloween. Would you like a sweet?” Her marble eyes found him, and she squinted. “Is that you Georgie?”

Seán smiled, unoffended. “No, it’s me Granny. It’s Seán. I’m Georgie’s son!” Her solum face lit up. “Ah it’s me little pet Seán, how are you love?”

“I’m grand granny I got loads of sweets would you like one? I have the sucky sweets you like!” As she reached out Seán was already obliging with an orange flavored glazier. “Thanks pet, and by the way, we don’t say happy Halloween.”

Seán, a wise nine-year-old, knew not to question his great granny. His sister Susan however, was a boisterous twelve. “My teacher taught me it’s polite to say happy Halloween to your friends and family.” Granny Phillis sat up straighter in her armchair. Seán often wondered if granny was born in that chair because he rarely saw her out of it. Although in fairness, she had been 85 when he was born.

“Susan, don’t talk to your granny that way!” Her mortified Mother squeaked. Susan gave a familiar look. One that normally resulted in an argument. Tonight, however, Susan had a big bag of sweets and wasn’t about to relinquish them. “Sorry, granny Phillis.” She muttered.

Seán cast his eyes over to granny’s face. Although not as indignant as it had been, she still looked annoyed. “Why shouldn’t we say happy Halloween granny?” He asked gently. Phillis glanced at her great-grandson smiling. His resemblance to her husband in both manner and looks had always given her pause.

“Well, young man I’ll tell you why once your father gets me my Halloween treat.” His father Georgie promptly lept up from his seat and went to the kitchen to get her a double whiskey. Seán offered her another sweet and when Georgie returned with her whiskey she took a good swig.

“Now, Seán. Do you know what Halloween is?” Seán tilted his head. This seemed like a trick question. “Oh, I know this!” Susan shrieked. “It’s a festival to celebrate the harvest.” Waiting for her obligatory pat on the back for the correct answer. Her shocked face, when it didn’t come, was glorious to Seán.

“Listen to me. Halloween is a very dangerous night of the year. Why do you think our ancestors had the bonfires? As a way to be grateful for the harvest? Nonsense. They were trying to keep the light going until midnight when it was safe again.” At that Seán’s mother jumped in. “Now Phillis no need to scare the children, come on everyone I think your Granny Tricia has the tea ready, quickly now, into the kitchen.”

The rest of children, grateful to be finally allowed leave their eccentric great granny Phillis alone, milled out of the room. Seán remained, as unlike the rest, had a soft spot in his heart for the elderly. Phillis knew this, and her heart swelled. “Who were they afraid of Granny?”

Phillis shuffled in her chair so she was facing Seán. Her glassy eyes shone in the firelight. “You see Seán, there are many things out there, especially in Ireland. We have the likes of the banshee, the faeries, and the tricksters. Now most of them, are not much trouble. They live alongside us, as hidden as they may. Now you don’t have to worry about them. The banshee weeps at the dead, the faeries love treasures, and the tricksters are feckin’ annoying.”

Seán’s eyes widened. “Faeries are real!?!” Granny held up her hand. “Don’t interrupt me Ghassan. Now those entities have been around longer than us and will be long after we’re gone. They’re in our world but they’re not, and most of them are happy with that. It’s the dark ones that you need to worry about.”

Granny’s eyes deepened, and she sipped at her neat whiskey. Moments went by and Seán had to nudge her. “Sorry pet, I was just thinking back to when I was your age, now that wasn’t yesterday or the day before.” She glanced down at her hands. “85 years or so now.” Seán’s head comically shook in disbelief. Although he knew her age, he never thought about it like that. He had certainly never thought of her as a child before.

“So when I was your age, Halloween was no laughing matter. We didn’t go around begging for sweets from our neighbours. We battened down the hatches as if there was a storm coming…” Sip. “Yes in those days we feared the dark on Samhain, it’s not like it is now. There is always light available when you go outside these days, but when I was a young wan. Well…”

“Must have been Halloween 1932. No no, it was 1933 I think. Whatever year it was, I was a young girleen, about your age Seán. I was sent to me granny’s to check on her, It was early enough in the afternoon around three or so. I was to be back by five. She only lived down the road sure.”

Seán shifted uneasily in his seat, chewing slowing. Granny Phillis loved to tell him tales of her childhood. This time, however, his arms were trembling. “Getting to my granny Síle’s house was one thing. It was another one entirely getting home. You see, the mad McDonagh woman caught me, unawares. She stopped me and started babbling about things I weren’t in the habit of thinking about.”

Phillis shook her head. “In those days regardless of how mad they were, you respected your elders. She was babbling about the demons, and how on Halloween a young girl like myself shouldn’t be out alone. When she was a girl she would be burning a fire with her family, like it was proper, to ward off the bad spirits.”

“Eventually I had to tell her my Mammy was expecting me, and oh God!” Granny Phillis laughed. “She actually gave me a wallop and said, ‘then what are you doing standing around here for, have you no respect for your mother, get home now you brazen brat!’ Well, I hopped off as quick as I could with my arse stinging from the slap.”

She looked up at the door as if to make sure no one was going to correct her swearing in front of the children. “It was already getting dark then, and although normally I felt safe walking the 20 minutes from me granny’s house to me own, I felt frightened that night.” She sipped on her whiskey, and then looked at Seán directly. “I’m not scaring you lad, now am I?”

Seán held his breath for a moment and shook his head. Although this was a lie, he wanted to hear the story. He wanted to hear what happened to granny all those years ago. She nodded and patted his hand. “You’re a good boy Seán, you remind me of my husband Jack God rest his soul.” She tipped her glass to the sky at this declaration and Seán felt the need to tip the bar of chocolate he was holding. Phillis cackled and she took another sip of her whiskey.

“Ah God, back in those days I was so innocent Seán. I thought nothing could hurt me, because they all told me the monsters in the woods weren’t real.” She looked at him directly now, her vitreous eyes filling up. “I’m saying this because you might get a bit scared pet, but you need to know the truth. There are things we know nothing of only legends and hearsay, and most of it is crap. But some of it, well some of it is real, and it came after me that night while I was walking home alone in the dark.”

Seán shuddered, realising he was still wearing his jacket, but the fire gave him no warmth. A charge spiked down his back, and he seen Phillis looking worried too. “Granny are you ok?” She nodded as firmly as her old neck would allow. “Oh don’t worry pet I’m fine, it still just gives me the chills to this day.”

“Well I was walking down the road just before I turn down the lane to my family’s old farmhouse. That house is long gone now. When from the thickets, I heard someone calling my name. Except they weren’t calling me Phillis like most would. They were calling me Philomena.”

Seán’s brow furrowed. “Philomena?” Phillis nodded furiously. “Sure that’s me full name pet. Bet you didn’t know that. The only people who ever called me Philomena was the local priest Father Martin, and me granny Síle. So naturally, I thought she’d walked behind me and got stuck in the hedges or something beside the road.”

“I stopped walking. It was dead quiet at this stage. I heard the voice again. ‘Philomena?’” Granny stopped and finished her whiskey off. She placed the glass on the table beside her. “The voice almost sounded like me granny Síle, except, there was something not right about it.”

Seán couldn’t move. He had lost all interest in his sweets, his eyes transfixed on his great granny Phillis. “I looked around. It was dark now, the moon wasn’t quite out yet. It was that great half dark.”

“My eyes were adjusting to the dark, so I looked into where the voice was coming from.” She paused. “When I tell you I can’t truly describe the horror of what I seen. I’m doing it justice Seán. It was a thin white creature, mostly hidden by the hedges, but what I could see was spindly and sharp.”

“Its eyes were the worst though. They were sunken dark holes. No matter how many times I call up this memory, my brain tells me that the creature, whatever it was, was evil. Evil like the demons of hell that Father Martin used to talk about. And it was calling to me.”

“Well Seán I hightailed it out of there. I was sure it was chasing me the whole way back to the house. Even though I stared out my bedroom window all evening I didn’t catch a glimpse it again. A week or so later I finally plucked up the courage to ask my Granny Síle about it. We were very close. I needed an adult to tell me that it was my imagination, and I was safe.” She glanced at her whiskey glass, willing it to be full again.

“She did to some part. She told me I was safe because it wasn’t Halloween anymore. The things in the dark couldn’t get at me any other night of the year. On Halloween though, the walls are soft…”

“They can creep through, and they want a warm body to possess, and sometimes they succeed. That’s why there’s true evil in the world Seán, because that one night a year, God can’t see what they are doing.”

Silence fell on the room. Seán’s imagination ran wild, scaring himself to almost epic proportions. “How do I protect myself granny I’m scared!?” Granny Phillis turned to him with her shining eyes and grabbed his arm. “My dear boy we are doing it now. The fire, the whiskey, the company of another. They cannot reach where light and love is. I just want you to know that there are risks, but you are more than safe here with me.”

Seán’s fear melted away. He was just about to ask Granny Phillis another question when Susan burst into the room. “We’re leaving now Seán say goodbye to great granny Phillis.” Susan came over and made a show of hugging her great granny, Showering her with kisses. “Love you granny Phillis bye now, you mind yourself.” Her flattery didn’t go unrewarded and she left with a five euro note in her hand. “Thank you so much granny!” She curtseyed and left the room.

Phillis turned to Seán. “My young boy, I love all my grandchildren equally. Do you understand that?!” Seán nodded kindly and hugged his grandmother tight. He was rewarded with a twenty euro note, and a small photograph of his great-grandfather Jack. She put her finger to her lips, and Seán nodded gratefully. As he was walking out the door, Phillis spoke once more. “Remember Ghassan. Let the light burn, even if it is within you.” Seán nodded as if he understood, storing these words in his brain forever. He left his almost blind great-grandmother staring into the fire.

 

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Want to stay safe? Read this poem.

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/30/consecrate-fire

Consecrate Fire

Bronze dead chattels,

Fading to grey, in the mist. The veil ascends.

Catch it before it clutches you.

 

They are waiting, patiently eager,

Vibrating into view, atrophied senses, madness-inducing.

Dimensional shrouds have their limits.

 

The whiskey slowly warms,

Burn the fire, oxygen combusts, creating florescent beings.

Gatherings create havens for the living.

 

The dead are beyond.

Do not let the Mephistopheles trick you of your elemental form.

Dybbuk will cede your soul.

 

Let the light burn, even if it is within you.

 

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Previous poems and stories!

https://thinkingmoon.com/category/stories/

 

The Great Dalcassian Clan

*If you want you can listen instead of reading, I have linked to my YouTube below where I read my stories aloud*

Swarms of salty seagulls squawked sinisterly. “Matron would have insisted the seagulls were portents,” muttered Lady Sheenagh. Her eyes rested on the beach below, waves crashed upon it in the darkness of the storm. The shrieks of the seabirds became unbearable. Slamming the shutters on her southward facing window, Sheenagh swung herself onto her soft bed. A bed worthy of a spoiled rich girl, stuffed with feathers, and yet, what good did her spongy cot do her now? In a matter of hours, the traitorous snakes would be here to slaughter the remainder of the Dalcassian household.

High-born Lady Sheenagh Delcassian, with satin skin, scorched red hair and sensitive eyes, had been considered a real beauty in her youth. Now a girl of almost nineteen she was swiftly racing past marriageable age. Her father Lord Eóghan Dalcassian struggled to find suitors for her in the wake of the rebellion. The unrest among the peasants resulting from several years of weak harvests followed by silent snowy winters. Although during this time her family never went without, food was scarce among those in the villages surrounding her ancestral home Caisleán de Thomand. The peasants had been recruited by the surrounding Lords, seeking the weakness in the Dalcassian dynasty for over a century. Now standing at the end of the uprising, Lady Sheenagh Dalcassian awaited the demise of her family’s sovereignty. Her tear stained face, though stunning, conveyed agony in her doom.

As a well-read nobel, she understood the fate that lay before her as a high-born woman. She beseeched the family’s guiding spirit Aibell to lend her a quick death. If faith had something else subsequently planned, she prayed that Aibell would grant her the strength to endure in honour of her family’s heritage in even her death throes.

Her Matron, who raised, taught, and loved her, died earlier that year of consumption. She whispered stories to Sheenagh, on her deathbed, of what happened to young women under siege, and she begged her to run. Tears had streamed from her blue eyes, but this she could not promise. Bravery was required for the Dalcassian house, not cowardice.

Please Matron, you know I cannot promise you these things. I must display dignity for my clan, please do not ask me to flee, it is not in my nature, I must stay and fight.” Matron’s brown eyes shone with tears. Nodding, she beckoned Sheenagh closer. “My dear sweet Sheenagh, I have loved you as though you were my own, although you were not spawned of my own womb, your shining virtue fills me with pride even death cannot dispell. I am forever your humble servant.” Her already shallow breaths slowed to a painful stop.

Sheenagh shook the now lifeless body, unable to control her sobs. “Matron, please do not leave me. I cannot live without your guidance. Who will tell me the wonders of the world, all the while I am secure in my lonely tower.” Shaking she lay her face on the still warm body of her beloved Matron. “Please, I am scared.

Childhood had been serene for Sheenagh. Her nature was that of a goddess on Earth, through it she displayed sympathy and grace. As the third daughter of Lord and Lady Dalcassian, and the seventh child overall, from an early age, she displayed nothing short of a virtuous temperament which gave joy to all those whom she encountered. As a child, Matron would bring her for walks across the countryside. She shared her lunch with peasant children she encountered. She gave them gifts of toys she had outgrown.

It was as if Aibell herself brought her forth from her own rib. Her singing voice echoed through the halls of Caisleán de Thomand. Villagers gossiped that King de Lench of Ireland himself, would someday wed one of his sons to her. Making her the princess they had seen in her from birth. Throughout her girlhood, many sons of the gentry asked for her hand in marriage, but her father could not part with her. He must have believed himself when the sons of King de Lench beheld her in court, one would fall desperately in love with her. Thus seeking her hand in marriage.

Sheenagh remained unaffected by those whispers spent her days reading, singing, and befriending peasants. Her parents laughed at her strange affinity for the poor and though others in their position may have stopped the friendships, they allowed them as it brought her satisfaction.

Sadly, these interactions bred a slice of contention which brought down the Dalcassian supremacy. When the rebellion broke, many who had played with Sheenagh as children displayed no essence of love or loyalty. Bitterness and subversion spread towards the clan of Dalcassian. They seen what Sheenagh had, and they wanted it. Thinking it unfair that but one family in all the land of Dal Cais should have such riches. While the rest scrimped for their supper.

The rebellion had stunned the household. They were not prepared for the ruin it would bring to their family. The betrayal of Lords in the lands adjacent, seen to the decline of her father, whom mere years ago had been a tall, powerful man. His hair had naught but a few greys shining through his red mane. Now, four years into the rebellion, he was suffused with sadness. One betrayal, in particular, had taken him by grisly surprise. The subterfuge of Lord Teague Uí Caisin of Breifne. Whose son, Murtagh Uí Caisin, had wed  Lord Dalcassian’s eldest daughter Lady Clodagh Dalcassian. This treachery had come at a price. Lady Dalcassian took to her bed for several months. Though she had convalesced, she was never quite the same. Her beloved daughter and her grandchildren lost through treason.

Sheenagh had wept at her vanished sister, yet the feeling within the Dalcassian household was still one of faith. During the final years of the rebellion, hope sprung from the small Kingdom of Wexford. Lord O’Neill had offered troops to the Dalcassians in exchange for  Sheenagh’s hand in marriage to his son Lord Aodh. While Lord Aodh was known to be slovenly and grumpy in nature, Sheenagh solemnly stood at the chance to bring victory to her family.

Sheenagh could still remember her father summoning her his study, the grave appearance on his face. A letter lay open on his desk, beside a quart of wine. His face was shadowed by the fire behind. Sheenagh sat and waited patiently for him to speak, her graceful accommodating nature piercing her father’s heart. Though parents claim no favourites among their children, Sheenagh had a special corner reserved in her father’s heart. This was the reason she could not have been swiftly married off. He had thought it too late with the rebellion until the arrival of Lord O’Neill’s letter.

“Sheenagh, Mo Croí, I must speak with you regarding a matter of the most sensitive nature.” Sheenagh perked up, she would not miss one word her father spoke. “I received a letter this morning from Lord O’Neill of Wexford, he has offered us troops to fight off our rebellion…” He trailed off when he looked into Sheenagh’s eyes. His silences informed Sheenagh more than any words he ever spoke. “However, he’s asked for an alliance between our families. An alliance through a marriage, of course, to his son Lord Aodh O’Neill…” Sheenagh pursed her lips, knowing already what was coming. Prepared to accept without question. She knew that although her father spoke as though she had a choice, daughters did not control their destinies. To be spoken to with such high esteem from her father was all the respect Sheenagh could ever ask for. “I will accept father.”

Lord Dalcassian took a sip of wine and offered Sheenagh a glass. Another veneration, an offer to drink with her father. “Father you honour me, both with your council and offer of wine. However, I know my place in this world. As a woman, I have but little to offer my family. A strategic alliance by marriage is one of the few. I duly accept the privilege you bestow upon me this day.” Her father smiled warmly at her, though his eyes held a melancholy which sent a shiver down her spine. She knew that a marriage to Lord Aodh may be fraught with severity. He was well known to be a man of onerous countenance. She straightened her back smiling bravely at her father. “This will save our family and the glory of the Dalcassian clan father, I am exalted.”

That alliance never came to be. Lord Aodh and his men were viciously attacked on the way to Caisleán De Thomand a week hence.  It was then the spy within the great walls of Caisleán de Thomand was exposed. A wretched sour ward by the name of Donal Bóruma. He had been taken by Lord Dalcassian when his own father had died under impoverished circumstances. This monumental betrayal had cut her father down.

Sheenagh had surveyed from the North tower window. Onto the courtyard where Donal Bóurma was beheaded by her father. His screams raged throughout the morning air. “Your family line is ending you arrogant waste. The villagers hate you and the Lords in the lands adjacent will sack your castle, rape your woman folk and…” Lord Dalcassian swung the axe, and the traitor cried no more. Fresh blows were sustained following that. From a family of seven children, all but the traitor Lady Clodagh Uí Caisin, and Lady Sheenagh remained. Each of his four sons perished in battle, and Sheenagh’s remaining sister, Lady Bronagh Mathghamhan of Oriel, died in childbirth along with the babe she bore.

Sheenagh spied the oncoming swath of rebels marching towards the castle from the North tower. The house was near empty now. Her stately mother had taken poison, not half an hour hence. She lay lifeless on the bed near Sheenagh, her skin slowly shifting to grey. Sheenagh remained calm as her simmering prayers flowed asking Aibell for scrutiny. Her earthly life drawing to a close. Her family would not be sullied in history, she knew better. Although victors forge history, she believed Aibell would carry the legacy of Dalcassian’s into the future. The glory of the Dalcassian Clans would never die.

She heard a great boom, as the rebels swung a large log into the gate of the castle. Sensing the end, her stomach twisted as she vomited out the window. She would find her father and spend her final moments with him. Besides, her mother had done dishonour to the Clan by taking her own life. She beseeched Aibell to remove this from the tales surrounding the great Dalcassian Clan. She rose, washed her face of vomit and grabbed her black veil.

Outside of her father study, she heard the cracking of wood. She assumed the great castle door had been smashed in. She knocked on the door and waited a moment. She tried the handle, but it appeared locked. Frightened she knocked and shook the door frantically, “Father? Father please it’s just me, please let me in!” Panic gripped her. Had someone gotten to her father already? With great effort, using an axe, she broke the door down, shattering pieces of wood all around her. She stumbled through the door and her eyes found her father. Strung from the ceiling boards, his corpse swung gently from the wind of a nearby window. The fire crackling near its cusp, untended for hours. Sheenagh was frigid in her realisation that she was the final tenant of the house. The servants had long fled, and she alone represented the Dalcassian clan.

A small note was left by her father that brought her little comfort. It spoke of his undying love for her and his cowardice. His words begged for her forgiveness. She would not relent. She inhaled deeply and climbed on his desk. She cut down his body and allowed it to fall to the floor. She burned his suicide note and the noose. Perhaps it would appear as though he died from heart strain from the stress. Her mother’s body could not be helped, but her father, no. He would not die a coward, though a coward is what he was, she thought rancorously. No, she would tidy him up, place him in his chair, at his desk in his study. Then she would bravely face the invaders alone.

Lady Sheenagh was found beside her father. It is believed, through the mouths of rumours and time, that Lady Sheenagh Dalcassian suffered significantly at the hands of the invaders. The rebels, expecting at least the Lord and Lady of the castle, were enraged when they found them dead. All their resentment was then directed at the delicate Lady Sheenagh.

Some, afterward, were shameful of their behaviour. The blame for the rebellion was often disputed. Surely sweet Lady Sheenagh Dalcassian of Dal Cais was not to blame? Others hissed that she was to blame. She had her chance to desert, but she remained. Even at the moment of her death, she did not renounce her affiliation. Though doing so may have saved her life. She remained the sole representative of the Dalcassian namesake, at the sacking ofCaisleán de Thomand on an Autumn’s eve in 1017. Her mutilated body, along with the body of her mother and father, hung in the courtyard of the castle for many days. It is rumoured that the bodies were taken down and buried. Hidden by villagers still loyal to the family. The castle was subsequently occupied by the traitorous family of Uí Caisin, of Breifne, whose son Murtagh Uí Caisin and wife Lady Clodagh Dalcassian lay claim to the ancestral home.

Legend speaks of the torture the Guardian spirit of the Dalcassians Aibell, levied upon all future occupants of the castle, and of the villages adjacent. Sicknesses, accidents, and stillbirths remained terrors the villagers and Uí Caisin’s endured for decades. However, occupants of Caisleán de Thomand had been known to say otherwise. Some tell tales of a radiant red-haired apparition, with silky skin, and shining blue eyes. A siren song with no owner would echo throughout the halls. After her presence is seen or felt, however whether in dreams or a waking nightmare, an elegant face once sweet turns to menace. A horrifying death ensues. Deaths similar to those suffered by beautiful Lady Sheenagh Dalcassian, who remained to defend her family name when no one else would.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved


 

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

If you liked this try out some of my other stories! Like this one:

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/02/15/shadow-self/

WordPress.com.

Up ↑