Wednesday, February 24, 2010

V I S I T O R S , Downstream, part 3

V I S I T O R S , Downstream, part 3
Link to part 2

"I can understand a bunch of tanked up hooligans playing out at that old house are apt to see about anything," Cynthia Parker whispered too loudly to Janet Broderrick after mass last Sunday. "But I'm certainly surprised that Joanna--and even poor old Emma Salem--would go along with the charade. And that awful foul-mouthed Frank Long! I don't know about you, Janet, but me and Harry aren't sad to see the back end of the likes of him."

Although Janet Broderrick nodded knowingly, her eyes blinked too much and her face carried a frozen mask of uncertainty. A fish-shaped pink burn, that had healed over, swam across one high cheek bone.

"Shame about what he did to his family though," Cynthia went on.

"Mister-Big-Shot-know-it-all-from-New-York-City didn't know as much as he thought. I swear, you just can tell about a person . . ."

Alice had been the subject of that kind of talk before and she simply did not have the strength or courage to do it again.

No, no, not again . . .

So the nightmares continued, and Alice, who had listened to Joanna's warnings about trying to stay awake at night, grew ever more agitated and weary as her haunted days and nights rolled into a carpet woven with fear, doubt, and shame.

The Saturday before Halloween, Alice peeked out through her drawn blinds at the radiance of the October full moon. She had spent the entire day raking crispy black leaves into dark mounds. By bright moonlight the mounds looked like giant licorice gumdrops leading snakelike to the lapping shores of the Rove. In Alice's mind, she could hear the leaves rustling subtly, like taffeta skirts. The crackling leaves seemed to be trying to tell her something.


Were they warning her?

Trying to shake off a feeling of foreboding that had dogged her all day, Alice yanked a fat manilla folder from her briefcase, snapped on her desk lamp, and prepared to busy herself with work. The children had each written a page long essay on "Halloween In Our Town" and Alice wanted to grade the papers before Monday. She smiled to herself picturing the childish works, complete with brightly drawn covers, attached to family refrigerators all over town. And just in time to ring in the quickly approaching ghostly holiday.

An hour later, as Alice marked a B+ in the top right-hand corner of the last brightly drawn essay cover, she realized that she was bone tired. 

Suddenly her eyes ached from reading the childish scrawls and the muscles in her arms screamed for a rest after the full day of raking abuse they had received. Removing her reading glasses, Alice closed her weary eyes and laid her head across folded arms on the desk: a position imitated from her own students during the fifteen minute rest break they received each day after lunch.

The powerful nightmare gripped her with teeth of steel. And, although Alice knew she was dreaming, she was powerless to wake up. Her head felt like a very large pumpkin rooted to the desk.

They're manipulating us through our dreams.

The thought beamed into her pumpkin head out of nowhere and burned into her skull like a candle flame.

Again Alice found herself hovering on the Rove shore in her back yard.

Small leafy piles whispered to her, but she couldn't quite make out the words.

The cloying smell of rotting fish wafted to her across bright beams of moonlight.

They're coming.

The bouncing thought raised gooseflesh across her body; her cold hands squeezed the night air like tortured caterpillars.

A cold, slimy touch on her bare foot and Alice uttered a startled yelp, leaping backwards and landing close to one of her raked mounds. The leaves hissed and muttered in a brief, fishy smelling breeze.

Continued in my next post

Halloween: NightDance

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