Continuing with my theme of spooky stories for October (or at least a bit out of the world stories), I present a bit of harmless Halloween fun. Or is it?  You be the judge.

This story stands alone, but Chuck Wendig has a challenge this week to write the start of a story, for others to finish. And it occurs to me that this could also be just the beginning, so I'll link it in there and see if anyone bites. And if not...there it stands.

Witching Weather


“Fog’s rising.” Jack made the observation in a detached sort of way, not sure if it mattered.

“More fun that way,” Jill answered. If he was unsure about the weather, she was not. She straightened the tall, pointed hat that kept threatening to tumble from her head. “It sets the right sort of mood.”

The boy and girl grinned at each other. Both wore sweeping black robes, rather in the fashion of the students of Hogwarts. A close observer might have even thought they had come from the costume shop, but with the fog settling in and the daylight gone, no one could be sure. Jack wore a silver circlet around his forehead, while Jill sported the afore-mentioned pointed hat.

“At least half the kids will be spooked before we even begin,” Jill went on.

Jack nodded, seeing her point. “And the other half will be spooked soon enough after,” he boasted. “Let’s get started.”

“Where should we do it?”

“Over by the old Hadley house, of course,” Jack answered. “That’s the best place for spooks and magic.”

Jill frowned, a little. When Jack mentioned the Hadley house, she thought she felt a chill draft on her back, though she wore a warm sweater under the admittedly lightweight robe. The night wasn’t cold, for all it was foggy. It was October 31st, but there wasn’t a hint of frost. Jill shivered. Then she shrugged and dismissed her momentary discomfort as a bit of stage fright.

The friends scampered off in the direction of the abandoned house that most of the locals figured was haunted, ready to have some fun at the expense of the other children.

They moved a little less eagerly when they neared the Hadley house. The house dated from an extravagant era when ceilings were high and the wealthy adorned their homes with wooden lace and decorative towers. All of that and more had made the Hadley house the town’s showpiece until an earthquake had cracked the foundation, leaving it uninhabitable.

It had stood empty for decades, slowly decaying. The wood lace broke and drooped, and shutters tore loose. The garden grew wild, until the showpiece of the town became “the old Hadley house.” Most people were happy to believe it was haunted. The town’s elders saw it as haunted with memories of another age, but the children believed there were ghosts. On a foggy night, they believed it with a greater force than on a sunny day.

Jack and Jill ran a bit slower as they neared their destination. Somehow, they felt a little reluctant to play their tricks after all.

“Suppose old Hadley will get upset if we pretend to be him?” Jack didn’t know who the ghosts were, but supposed there must have been an old Mr. Hadley sometime.

“You aren’t going all sissy and worrying about ghosts, are you?” Jill demanded. She tried to ignore her own sense of foreboding. This was going to be fun! She ignored a voice that suggested she shouldn’t have to work so hard to believe that.

“Not me,” Jack vowed. “I’m no sissy and you know it!” He ruined the effect some by checking over his shoulder for whatever might be there. There wasn’t much to see. The fog was thick enough now, and the streetlights poor enough, that they couldn’t really see the house. They only knew it was there.

Jack thought of a new problem. “No one’s going to come by here,” he said. “It’s just the house on this side and the park on the other.” It felt awfully lonely to him, and he couldn’t see the other children poking around the haunted house on Halloween night.

“They have to,” Jill said. “To get down there.” She pointed to the three houses that formed a cul-de-sac beyond the park. They were large, new, expensive houses, and every kid in town knew that they gave out the best candy—full sized Snickers bars and slabs of chocolate.

“Fine.” Jack gave in, and handed Jill one of the pairs of home-made stilts he’d been carrying. The pair had been practicing for weeks, until they could stand and walk as well as if they were on their own two feet. Setting her stilts aside, Jill pulled out a jar of something.

“What’s that?” Jack asked, suspicious.

“White-face make-up. I liberated it from the drama club.” She began smearing the gooey stuff on Jack’s face before he could protest. “Now you do my face.”

He rubbed the white make-up onto his friend’s face, and grinned through his own mask. “You’re right. This is perfect. Now let’s mount up. I hear voices.”

Stalking out of the shadows of the over-grown Hadley garden, black robes billowing around their towering forms and faces inhumanly white in the dim light of fog-shrouded streetlights, they had just the effect they had been hoping for. Children shrieked and ran, and more than one dropped his candy bag.

Jack and Jill repeated the trick twice more, despite a growing feeling of unease.

“Maybe we should get out of here,” Jill suggested. The effort of using the stilts had her sweating a little under her robe, but there was a cold patch between her shoulder blades, as though an icy hand lay there.

“Let’s do one more,” Jack urged. “We can wait to get them when they come back from the rich people’s houses this time. We’ve been doing it wrong.”

“Fine.” Jill wasn’t going to be the chicken if she could help it.

They took up their position and waited. The fog thickened. Jack couldn’t hear any other children now, and a cold wind swirled around his ankles. He couldn’t see his partner.

“Jill, let’s get out of here.”

No answer.

“Jill!”

He couldn't see the streetlights now. The fog was too thick.

Witching weather, he thought, just before an icy wind tangled his robe and his stilts, toppling him with a shout that brought only the dimmest echo from Jill.
###

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!