Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's Good to be Afraid-- 22, October


The sun was out. The boy couldn't feel it, but he could see the amazing things the sun's rays were doing. After the past couple of nights touring alongside his friend, the scarecrow, the boy had learned much. The world was at least 10 times as vast as it had ever been before. Now that he was dead, he was more awake than he had ever been in his life. He had no need of sleep any longer. He could wander day and night with no fear. Not only could he leave his home without permission, but, much like the event he had experienced in the graveyard, the geography of the world was changed to him.

The land of the dead was labyrinthian and made no logical sense. He could enter the cemetery and emerge in the woods on the other side of town. He could follow a straight path north and wind up 30 miles to the east. The world of the dead was, ironically, a living thing, and a constant mystery.
The boy had plenty of time, though, so he wandered.

So much went on around the living that they had no idea about. William passed family homes that were full of spirits. They watched him from the windows. Most of them were indifferent. Occasionally one was pleased to see him, and they would wave through the glass. More commonly than that, they hated him. These figures were usually warped, their features torn apart by anger. They would stand at the windows and lash at him like a caged animal.

The boy knew he had nothing to fear from them. He couldn't reach them, and they couldn't reach him. Within a house, the bonds of family and relation created a home. A home was a barrier to the supernatural without. The beings inside were bound to it like gravity.

Without the scarecrow's help, William wondered if he ever could have left the farm on his own.
The boy found himself at the town center after a while. It was Saturday, and a huge fall festival was being held. There were a few carnival rides at the middle of the intersection. Around them, on all 4 joining streets, were various stalls.

One street held tents for local churches, and a farmer's market was set up, selling corn, gourds and apples. Another had tables set up for the red cross and other local nonprofit organizations. The third street was full of food vendors-- which were unfortunately no longer of any interest to William.

The fourth road, Hammond Street, housed tents and pavilions of people selling arts and crafts, t-shirts, jewelry, flowers, pumpkins and home-made baked goods.

William wandered through it all. A little ways away from everything, a row of Porta-Potties were set up. He appreciated not being able to smell this area. He watched as a woman emerged from one, then went to join her waiting friends. Moments after, another spirit emerged from within, watching the woman leave.
“I knew it!” William said. “They do watch you!”

The spirit grinned at him toothily, then slunk off into the crowd.

Even if William had the ability to inform the woman, he wondered whether he really should. Perhaps she would be better off never knowing what was really going on around her.

The boy forgot about it quickly, as there were so many other sights to take in. He stopped at every art stall to see what people had made. Most of it was pretty boring. One pavilion was stocked with home-made stuffed animals. They had certainly been sewn together with a lot of care, and yet they were boring and featureless.

Eventually he reached Hammond Street and its food vendors. It was on this road that he felt a strange pulling. There was a familiar sensation, like something lost, a plan forgotten. He didn't know what was drawing him, but he followed it.

He came to a black tent. Only a few people were around, but he heard the sounds of business being conducted within. Shortly, a woman emerged, placing a Tupperware container into a bag. William peered around the tent flap. There were 3 more people within purchasing the same containers. He could see they all contained some sort of reddish brown liquid.

Once the three of them made their purchases, he could see her: the witch. She sat behind a table, looking satisfied with her recent transactions. She was surrounded by piles upon piles of containers holding her stew.
It was here that the pulling sensation was coming from-- not the tent, but the dozens of boxes. He knew it was the pull of his bones, ground up, mashed, liquefied.

The witch looked at him, smiling. She could see him. She nodded slowly, confirming his horror. Pint by pint, she was selling him.

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