The Horrible Events of This Night

Here’s a Halloween story I wrote a few years ago – only a few days late!

”I take my pen in hand to record for all Posterity the Horrible Events of this Night, the thirty-first Day of the tenth Month, the Day they call All Hallow’s Eve…” Henry stopped, put his tired head in his hands, and rocked gently from side to side. He took a look at the few words he had scribed and almost balled up the paper to use as fire starter, but stopped himself at the last minute. Quill pens he could make for himself, as he had feathers a-plenty gathered from when the fox had gotten at the fowl, but paper and ink were dear and should not be wasted in a frivolous fit of pique just because he felt his poor words were not adequate for the situation.

He sighed, dipped his pen afresh and continued. “Last month, when the ravening Beast burst from the Forest and rent the flesh of my own dear Constance, I was terrified first for her life and then when she rallied and began to improve, that she might have contracted the Rabies, that dread Disease that drives men mad with Thirst though they cannot drink. I had no Clew that she would contract something far worse. Indeed, either instant Death, Death of a gangrenous Fever, or even the Rabies would have been preferable to this. This insufferable possession by a demonic Beast – the Loup-Garou. Yes, when the Moon rose this night, she turned and ran at me, and then burst through the door of our humble abode, tearing her clothing from her Body as she tried to tear away her own skin, writhing in terrible Pain as skin and bone shifted and teeth and hair grew. I watched, frozen in horror, as she finished her Change and turned to me, a fearsome light glowing maniacally in her Eyes. I knew her not, and slammed the door to our cabin in terror as she – or it – lunged at me. I could hear the thuds the Beast’s body made as it tried to reach me, to rend my body as hers very nearly had been rent on that Day one short Month ago.”

Henry stopped again, gazing into the distance as he remembered the events of the day. His hand was shaking slightly as he took up his pen and continued his narrative. He paused, breathed deeply and then began again with a steadier hand.

“It was not long before I could hear the Beast crashing through the underbrush near the cabin, moving farther and farther from my Home. I turned to the cradle by the fire where our infant Patience lay sleeping, still wrapped in her swaddling bands, innocent of her Mother’s terrible Transformation. For the first time, I truly regretted my decision to uproot my small Family and bring them to this New World where there would be no Family to fall back on when Help was needed. The Hunger has been bad since the Crops failed, and I was worried, too, when our goat and pig were taken by wild Animals, and when our nearest Neighbors all died last week of some foul Flux I was starting to doubt my Wisdom. Starvation or Disease seemed unavoidable. But I reasoned, at least we still had one another, and could take our few Possessions and leave, possibly finding a new place to settle before we expired from Hunger. But now, with Constance taken by the Beast of the Night and small Patience with no Mother to nurture or nurse her, I realize that I am lost. Even if I am not taken by the Beast tonight, there will be more Nights and yet more when the Beast will lurk about our small cabin – whenever the Moon shines full and bright in the Sky.”

The ink became slightly smudged as Henry’s head dropped down, as he dozed off briefly. He started awake again when the baby stirred and fussed. Carefully, he changed her and patted her and fed her a bit of the last of the family’s gruel that warmed by the fire. “Ah, child, I know that this is no substitute for thine own mother, but it is the best that I, thy father, can do.”

Eventually the baby settled down and fell back asleep again, and Henry took up his pen again. “The Dawn will break soon, and I must take the Babe and try to make it to a place of safety for the both of us. If things go well, I will find a wet-nurse for the Child and then – then, I will return to do battle with the Beast that has consumed the gentle, loving Constance of my Memories.”

A loud thump sounded at the door and Henry jumped, his pen leaving a streak across the paper. Cautiously, he made his way to the door and looked through the peep-hole he had drilled there.

Dawn had broken, and it was light out now, the morning sun shining on the snow. The blood-stained snow. He flinched back and then looked once more. As he put his eye to the hole, another eye met his. He started back in terror, and then realized that the eye was the same color as that of his beloved Constance.

He carefully looked again, and there was Constance standing there in the snow, the rags of her dress pulled about her, her hair wild and tangled and her face smudged with dirt and God alone knew what else. But the light of reason was in her eyes, and she looked tired and harmless.

As if she knew her mother was nearby, little Patience began to howl with hunger. Constance looked at his eye peering out at her and said plaintively, “Henry, it’s cold out here.”

Steeling himself, Henry opened the door. Constance stepped through, grabbing the leg of a deer as she did and dragging it in with her. “I did a little hunting last night, Henry. I brought home some meat – we’ll not starve now. Wouldst thou like to go and butcher this while I clean up and tend to the baby?”

Old building in black and white(c) 2007 Jane W. Wofinbarger

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