On Samnhain Night – Revisited

by duncanr

[this tale by a friend, has appeared on Madhatters before but I thought it was time for a re-telling]

ghostly skyWhen the veil between the worlds thins, other things come out to play at end of day, on Samnhain night.

Wolves born of the Underworld lope, slavering jaws and ripping claws – be bereft of hope all travellers caught, unwary, along the dark and lonely roads tonight.

The Wild Hunt rides the dark night skies and spies out souls to carry away, lost travellers gone, never seeing again the light of day.

Ghosts and ghouls abound and round the trees and hills they screech and shout, drop into their clutches, you`ll never get out…..

Witches dance in circles wild, naked, throwing spells into the air like glittering enchantments, tonight is their night, the night of the witch, cousin of the ghost.

And in a room in a small house sit . . .

three young girls, for they’ve been told, tonight, out of all the nights in the year, tonight is the one to scry for your future love, in an old ritual of cast apple peel over shoulders, of inky water stared into, mirrors looked askance at, this is a do-able thing for them, hungry to see if this year will bring their one true love to them.

ouija boardSo in secret, in a derelict building, they huddle like MacBeth`s three crones grown young, around an upturned box, but instead of the innocent rites of apples and water, they have the ouija board spread out before them, a shiny clean glass stolen from a mothers kitchen there in the middle, ready for eager fingers to touch and set moving.

And in the centre of the room one solitary candle burns, because “it`ll add atmosphere” and so as not to attract too much attention to the house they shouldn`t be in.

And it does add atmosphere, for around the halo of the flame wisps of smoke gather and twirl into impossible shapes, unseen by the three who whisper and giggle, excited to be playing this occult game.

One by one the fingers touch the top of the glass…”No shoving it, mind! It has to do it with the help of…(said in a trembling, spooky voice thick with laughter) the spirits…”

And when the giggling has died down, and the fidgeting has stopped, the oldest girl…by three months, a positive matriarch, she feels this makes her…announces self consciously to the darkening night air…”Is there anybody there?”

And they wait….

and in the darkness a thickness gathers, like a cloak about to be drawn around the room, blanketing, potentially smothering….

but the girls don`t notice, for the glass begins its slow shuffle around the board and slides, grating, to “Yes”….

Eyes wide and mouths gasping, they stare at one another, half convinced each has moved the glass, half hoping they will get what they desire, such shallow desires, too….

“We want to know the names of our boyfriends please..the ones we`ll meet this year….”

And what could a helpful spirit say, to such a question, if it has been used to the deep and meaningful inquiries of other, more enlightened seekers sat at such boards for the past hundred years?

The glass moves again and the girls sit rapt and silently mouth the letters out one by one, like children learning to read…..


and frowning at one another, each girl turns to see, fingers no longer on the glass but trembling at their lips now….

On this night when the veil between the worlds of living and dead are thin, such a helpful ghost, in the true spirit of Halloween, decides to gift these mortal girls what they desire, the love of men….

And from the shadows behind each girl a figure walks forward into the meagre light of the flickering candle, and as that light softly illuminates what comes to greet them, each girl screams and scrabbles backwards for escape, towards a door which can no longer be opened, tight shut and locked it is…

And no passers by on the street outside the house will hear those screams for after all, sane folks are safe inside their own homes this chancy night, and after all, those screams are short lived as each girl is united in eternal love, as she had dreamed, with her new beau….

And after all, did it matter, if those boys had been so long dead and buried?

No? The helpful spirit didn`t think so either….

girl screamingAnd the house has new inhabitants, who each Halloween peer out of darkened windows with desperate eyes and wide but silent mouths, screaming in terror….

And in the cellar of the house, the heart of it, a helpful spirit giggles and laughs and enjoys the darkness of Halloween night.

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