As the minute hand crept its way closer to the top of the clock, Jaime sighed. It was time to begin the ritual. Like every year, she began with her ablutions; she washed her hands, feet, and face with warm water and soap made of goat’s milk. As the water eased its way into her pores she relaxed, her muscles easing. After filling the bucket up she retreated to the living room where she emptied it onto the fire. Embers swirled around her, ashes floated to the floor, and smoke filled her lungs. The room fell dark, a heavy smoke fog obscuring any view she might have had of the clock.
Guessing she probably had a few minutes left to spare, Jaime made her way over to the big window and drew open the curtains. An orange tinted light spilled in from the blood moon, glazing the room with a speciously warm coloring. Everything was still, save for the smoke and moonlight which danced an eerie duet. The ominous BONG began in the distance; the town clock had struck twelve. With a deep breath, Jaime flung the shutters open, letting a gush of cold night air in.
From across the field she could see the corn stalks rustling. They were coming. As they did every year, on this night, at this hour. Crossing worlds could only be done on Halloween, after all.
From the fields, shadows emerged stretching over twenty feet of her lawn. They approached slowly, and steadily. Jaime knew she should hide, but there was still some time for that. She liked to watch the shadows come upon her for a while. This had been the case since she was little. Fear mingled with curiosity in a way that only made sense to her. Over the years, she had tried to explain it to people once or twice, but it was always a feckless endeavor. Nowadays, she mostly kept to herself year-round. She tended to her crops, sold her herbs, and waited in eager hunger for this night – the night when they would come.
She would hide, and they would seek. She knew as well as they did that only someone with a gift as powerful as her own would be a worthy opponent; a worthy prize. Knowing her own strength that way was nothing short of exhilarating. Admittedly, Jaime liked the chase, liked being hunted, liked outwitting the hunters. Then the clock would strike six, and a new day would dawn, casting them away for another year.
Maybe one night she’d surrender. Let them take her. See what all the fuss was about her there on the other side. But not tonight.
Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©