A short story for Halloween:  The Feast

It was 11pm at night, the night of All Hallow’s Eve. Dan and Amy, both 18 years old, were walking hand in hand towards a derelict old house.  Dan had thought it would be fun to take Amy to his favourite place, somewhere where they could be on their own, alone, without any worries that ‘The Parents’ would walk in on them just as they got their clothes off.

Amy wasn’t so sure that the idea was that great to be honest, she’d never really had any desire to visit the house, it was far too old and decrepit for her, and she was quite sure that this particular evening was not the night to be walking into the old building.  She turned towards him, slowing him down, and voiced her niggling doubts:  ‘Can’t we find somewhere else Dan, I’m really not wanting to go there in the dark, it’s creepy enough when it’s light but right now it’s kind of spooky’.  Dan looked at her and kissed her on the nose.   ‘Don’t be daft love’, he said, ‘it’s the one place no-one’s going to bother looking for us and I’ve been in it loads of times – nothing’s ever happened’.  Amy shrugged and carried on walking up the windy drive towards the house – a drive which by this time, Amy noticed, was enveloped in floating curls of mist just to add to the creepy ambience of the whole adventure.  She didn’t find it at all romantic, seductive, or anything but scary though she didn’t say anything else to Dan.  He’d gone to a lot of trouble to make everything perfect for her, so he’d said.

Dan opened the creaking door and led Amy into the hallway.  Oh yes, the floorboards creaked as they walked along towards the stairs – of course they did, it all added to the atmosphere.  ‘You’ll like what I’ve done up here’ promised Dan, leading her slowly up the stairs, kissing her on the neck, the lips, and the ears as they went.  By the time they reached the landing Amy had forgotten about the creaking stairs, the floating, swirling mist, the dereliction all around them, and the fact that it was All Hallow’s Eve.  She didn’t give it a second thought when Dan opened the nearest door and introduced her to a heavenly sight.

There were candles everywhere.  A bed was placed in the middle of the floor, made up beautifully with white cotton sheets, cream coloured covers and, to top it off, drapes hanging down from the ceiling to the floor all around the bed.  There was a bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice on a little table to one side, with two champagne glasses waiting and ready.  There were warm rugs on the floor and the room had been swept clean.  Amy was so happy, what a perfect way to lose her virginity to the person she loved.

Just a few seconds later they were tearing each other’s clothes off, toppling onto the bed, laughing and tumbling around when they became aware of voices heading up the stairs.  No, not voices, but sounds of wailing, they pulled the covers up over themselves sure that they were going to be found out and worried about what their parents would say.  Then they heard cackling laughs just outside the door.  ‘Oh hey this is too much’, shouted Dan thinking his mates had cottoned on to his plans.  He was just about to get out of bed to open the door when it burst open.

The two of them opened their eyes wide in fright, as, before them, assembled a whole mass of swirling figures almost, but not quite, human.  They had faces but no bodies, white diaphanous figures with no feet, they didn’t talk but sort of sang.  Suddenly they began to swirl around the young couple, getting faster and faster, and their singing becoming more of a screech than a song.  Then, through the door, came another figure, darker this time, its face hidden by a misty veil.  The swirling stopped, the sound was silenced, and the darker figure loomed closer.  The misty veil dropped from its face showing a disfigured creature something between a wolf and a dragon, its jaws wide open, its teeth large and dripping gore, its eyes bright red.  The couple screamed and screamed as the creature opened its jaws wider, swooping down onto the bed and tearing their limbs from their bodies.  They never stood a chance.

In the early hours of the morning a police car parked up outside the house, having been called out by the owner of the house next door who had heard the screams.  Thinking it was just kids messing about on All Hallow’s Eve, the police hadn’t exactly rushed to the scene, the call being registered as ‘low priority’.  As it was the two policemen, who had been allocated the duty, walked up the drive slowly joking that they’d likely find a bunch of kids out of their heads on weed, dope or alcohol.  They were expecting to have to phone the parents to come out and take their kids home, hoping that they’d also give them a good talking to, but doubting it.   The younger one of the two opened the door and called up the stairs.  They could see a light emanating off to the right at the top of the staircase, a sure sign that someone was still there.  Cautiously the two men climbed the stairs and slowly they opened the door.  The sight that greeted them was one of total carnage.  Body parts strewn around the room, blood soaking through the floorboards.  Two decapitated heads had been placed in the middle of the room, on top of the couple’s neatly folded clothes, and facing the door. Heads that belonged to two young students whose families were well known in the small town.

It was the younger officer’s first experience of horrific crime.  He rushed out of the room, down the stairs and retched as he ran out of the hall and into the garden.  He retched until there was nothing left to bring up, and kept retching until his whole body hurt.  In the meantime, his colleague had rung for the SOCCO team, his training had kicked in and kept him going on auto-pilot.  His face was white and his eyes totally glazed.

Thirty minutes later the SOCCO team had arrived, the room was sealed off, and the property guarded so that no-one could enter

Dr. Andrew Prentice, forensic officer, slowly took in the details of the room, noticed the rotten skirting, the peeling paint, the cobwebs everywhere, and wondered why any young couple would want to indulge in a bit of hanky panky in such dirty, mouldering surroundings. Then he caught the smell of wax candles, found a strip of white cotton on the floor, a piece of broken coloured glass.  He sniffed at the piece of glass, identified alcohol.  Then he wondered why the room had been cleared, and who had cleared it.

Then he looked at the remains of the torsos.  The hearts had been torn out.  The bodies decapitated, the limbs strewn all over the floor.  The hearts missing.  He set his team to clearing the room of every particle in it.  He wanted to miss nothing which could help nail the sadistic killer or killers of the two young people whose faces he recognised.

Twenty-four hours later the room had been swept of every piece of evidence, every dust mote, every fingerprint, and samples taken from every blood stain.  The DNA tests showed no trace of anyone, other than the two victims, had been recovered.  No-one had entered that room apart from the two policemen, no-one had murdered the two victims, and no-one had decapitated them and butchered the bodies.  No-one, seemingly, had been there.  It reminded him of a case he had read about some 20 years earlier.  Two teenagers, found in almost exactly the same circumstances, at Halloween, their hearts missing too.  He felt ice crawl up the whole of his body, beginning at his feet and shafting through the top of his head.  There had been no answer that time either.

In the shadows the creature watched, its belly full, its anger sated – for now …

© Ruth Hughes 2015

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