tagErotic HorrorBless and Keep Us All Hallow's Eve

Bless and Keep Us All Hallow's Eve

byClodiaP©

Anyone who has read the essential 1926 "History of Witchcraft and Demonology," by the brilliant and tormented Augustus Montague Summers, educated at Trinity College, Oxford (a "fourth," in theology-but Oxford!), ordained a deacon and curate in 1908, but never after promoted because of accusations of Satanism-and improprieties with young boys (for which he was tried and acquitted)-will realize that if we are unaware of the presence of witches in our midst, and of their ever-present rituals, it is because our souls have not the courage to admit the truth.

As a boy reared among the goodly farmers and staunch townsmen of a southern New England rural paradise, whose white steeples were sentinels above an elm-shaded village, I had no inkling of the dark inheritance of centuries that lay upon these woods, meadows, quiet homes, and barns.

Ah, Holden, nestled as in the navel of our state, far—I would have insisted, then-from Salem, where, some 200 years ago—for me, it might as well have been Biblical Jerusalem-old Robert Calef recorded these proceedings:

"And now Nineteen persons having been hang'd, and one prest to death, and Eight more condemned, in all Twenty and Eight, of which above a third part were Members of some of the Churches of N. England, and more than half of them of a good Conversation in general, and not one clear'd; about Fifty having confest themselves to be Witches, of which not one Executed; above an Hundred and Fifty in Prison, and Two Hundred more accused; the Special Commision of Oyer and Terminer comes to a period."

If once there was a New England where on the Sabbath the preacher warned of evil, dark powers, even as he exalted virtue and salvation, well—I heard none of that at our good Congregational Church in Chaffins. Our minister was not one to alarm and awaken small boys, for I recall not one thing he said in any sermon, and, by my eighteenth year, when my story begins, I deemed him an adviser on family affairs and current events in Washington.

In no case will I inform the reader of the precise year during which my soul awoke from innocence to know things scarcely imaginable. (Ah, but how well imagined by our forebears.) To but hint at given time would expose to who-knows-what-retribution some still living in our midst. And names used here are part of that discretion.

It is at the end of October, when Nature festooned our town in reds, oranges, and yellows—colors no carnival might match—and the bounty of the hard-earned harvest filled every field—that this story begins.

Conducting our final class of the day, Miss Clovis, the Civics teacher at our senior high school, had worked herself into a fine rapture, discoursing upon the "toleration" that characterizes New England in our day. I recall still that she said, taking a deep breath,"and so we are free! Free to worship as we wish! Live our truth! Day and night!"

I confessed that I grinned. Miss Clovis was earning her nickname, "Goody Clovis," but I deemed it a fine sentiment nonetheless. I gazed as the pretty face grew radiant with passion, the full breasts in the snug yellow sweater swelled, as the young widow consecrated herself to our enlightenment. She came from a very old New England family, the Boston Clovises, and attended our fine Episcopal Church.

I was nodding my approval when Paul, leaning toward me from the next desk, whispered, "Yeah, Goody better hope they tolerate her day and night!" Paul was almost 20 and so "old" and "big" for the class; except for his lessons, he knew it all—and never spoke without a certain smirk on his face.

I glanced first to the front of the room, where Miss Clovis was writing on the blackboard, and muttered, "Tell me later, okay?"

As I said, Paul had not passed through our Holden school system on schedule; he was about three years too old for this class. Puberty had kicked in long ago, so he was tall, with broad shoulders, a deep voice, and a mop of black hair with an oily sheen. His mouth was wide and loose and he flashed teeth over-sized and extraordinarily white.

Naturally, he took neither orders nor suggestions from me, so he went on whispering: "Where do you think she'll be tonight?"

"Who knows," I whispered, annoyed. "It's Halloween. Who cares?"

"You want to see her tits?"

We had ridden our bikes to Chaffins Pond. If my parents had known I was going to ride my bike at night-and that at 11:00 p.m. I would still be out-I could not have left the house. But "a party on Mt View Drive" and "maybe some trick-of-treating" passed muster. Tomorrow, and in days to come, I would pay the price.

Just beyond the old railroad bridge, to the right, was the yellow house of the old guy who rented rowboats at Chaffin's Pond. But he did not rent them at 11:00 in the evening. I was discovering that Paul, if he didn't do so well in English and Algebra, knew a few things.

We ditched our bikes in heavy shadow near the bridge. The half-dozen rowboats, pulled onto the grass beside the pond, each had a chain fastened to a stake in the ground. "What are we doing?" I asked, panicked, as I followed Paul toward the boats. I glanced up to notice one lighted window on the second floor of the little cottage.

"We need a boat."

"Steal it?"

"Borrow it."

"They're locked," I whispered hoarsely, too loudly, but with hope and relief. Alas, Paul had bent over, big shoulders hunched, both hands on the stake, and was straining. He made a slight noise, not moving, then almost fell back, holding the stake in his hands.

He turned, grinned, shrugged. Then he said, softly, "Get in the boat. And shut up! Here on, shut up, Walter!"

I crept back and sat in the boat's stern, he shoved off, scurrying to the middle seat, and grabbed the oars. He began to row, noiselessly, and I glanced up again at that lighted window. All quiet; couldn't be easier. I was a thief. I whispered, "Paul, I got to get home."

He glanced over his shoulder once, only once, and in the shadows, his big, loose-muscled face was menacing. "Am I coming back there to shut your mouth?"

"No."

It was her damned chest that had gotten me into this. Miss Clovis's pretty, rounded bosom. I never, ever, had seen a "real girl" without her clothes, even her top, but there was nothing on earth, I say to you, solemnly, that I wanted more to see.

The sound of the oars, pulled by Paul's powerful arms, as he bent forward and strained backward, barely reached me, but the boat shot across the pond. Once, I turned and saw, not far ahead, the black stumps of trees dotting the water. I leaned forward and whispered, "We can't get through!"

"Yeah, we can. Part. Then we slog it to land." We actually were curving around behind the spit of land on which the cottage—the one we just robbed—sat.

"Paul...where are we going?" I sounded reasonable, merely interested. Paul glanced up. "Just where she's going," he said.

What? As he spoke, he was looking at the sky, the full moon turning his upraised face the color of milk. I tilted my head, staring up, my arms braced on the seat beside me.

That...was...WHAT? It shot past, across the moon, a silhouette, and to me seemed a paper cutout zipped across the moon's face by an elastic band. I stared, seeing now only the low white disc of an autumn moon, what we called, in New England, a "Coon Moon." And then it happened again!

"Shit!" I whispered, and heard my voice quiver. "What was that?" I had the urge to dive into the bottom of the boat.

"What did it look like?"

"Look like? A woman riding a goat! But what was it?"

I saw the big shoulders shrug. "You saw it."

For a few moments, the boat had been bumping against tree trunks, navigating a channel away from the pond into the dark, stagnant water, oily and whitish beneath the moon. Paul whispered, "Shove us off those stumps, if you can."

With a job to do, I leaned from the stern, gripping my seat with one hand, and tussled with the slimy black trunks. Ahead, they grew thicker; now I was darting from side to side, sometimes deflecting us, sometimes not. At last, Paul shipped the oars, stepped like a dark cat to the bow, and tied the hawser round a stump.

"We leave it here. Try to keep one hand on a stump. Usually the mud isn't deep, but there are holes." My whole body spoke protest, but, before I said a word, Paul said. "Shut up and stay here. I'll be back. I'm going to have a look at naked girls, really nice ones, dancing—and doing things you've never seen. Miss Clovis and girls you know. Then, I'll be back. See you."

He swung a leg over and then was beside the boat, holding the gunwale, waist-deep in the autumn-chilled, slimy water. Already, he had seized a stump and was churning the still surface, moving away. He meant it!

Did you ever hear, "I would do anything to see her naked?" You didn't know what it meant. I called, in a whisper, "I'm coming, wait!"

I half rolled on my belly, half slid, catching myself on the side of the boat as I slipped into the water, and called in a panicked whisper, "Wait!"

It was that way until shore. Paul was ahead, gaining on me; just a head, big shoulders, a back silhouetted against a moon-bright purple sky over serene Chaffins. Then, he seemed to rise, so I saw his waist, his butt. I was gasping, hauling myself through the clinging mud by my grip on the slippery trunks, terrified to be left. The loudest sound was my rasping breath.

Then, the stump-pierced, dark water ahead became a rising backdrop of trees beneath a moon-bathed sky, and Paul's massive form was heaving up out of the water. A moment later, he stood, a hulking black shape, legs spread, arms crossed, waiting.

"Okay," I gasped. "Okay," and my hands clutched dry grass, real land, and I was heaving on my elbows, then rolling my hips onto shore. No more questions. I was initiated. I was "in."

I stood up, still breathing hard, looked at Paul. He nodded, turned, and trotted off toward the pitch-black trees. Just where we passed into the woods, he turned, said, "No more talking. No more noise. You know what happens if they catch us?"

My voice, even to me, sounded small, submissive, awed: "No."

"You'll be naked with'em all, and nothing you can do. Nothing."

Young Goodman Brown would have prayed to his God; Augustus Summers would have prayed. I was born in a different world; we wished on falling stars and said, "Now I lay me down to sleep..." But when it came to the crunch, we knew we were on our own. No petitions to heavenly saviors.

"Okay, then." And he was gone, almost vanished, among the trees. I sprinted ahead and in a moment was fending off brush, whipping branches that threatened my eyes. Ahead, I heard, "Quiet. You know what I told you?"

For Halloween, it was warm; we have some chilly October nights, in Holden—frost on the pumpkin-but this was mild as a warm breath. It's a good thing, too; I was soaked, so that my dungarees squished as I walked, just keeping in sight the hunkering darkness that seemed to travel so swiftly ahead.

First, I only heard. We were perhaps a quarter-mile deep in those abandoned woods, and just a mile—but a world away-from friendly Zottolli's Garage, Swenson's market, Hilda's little variety store. As though, within Holden, we had passed from the 1953 to 1792, from the good Congregational Church to that stern, oak-paneled courtroom in Salem, where grave men looked upon shivering half-stripped girls and saw only the handiwork of Satan.

Voices chanting somewhere ahead, a song in words unknown, a mocking lute, lute of a satyr, urging the dance, faster, wilder...

Now, Paul waited. When I came up, he looked at me, but I could not see his face in the deep shadows. Only fingers, I felt, which closed on the back of my neck, firmly—and so we moved ahead together. And now I saw, between the black boles of the trees, the glow of fire rising out of the blackness, as though some preternatural light washed the trees trunks high above us.

It was silly, really, but to me so thrilling. I saw them hanging on branches; they were only white brassieres, a dozen or more, cast over limbs, one cup swinging, or panties draped on the fork of a branch. The night woods seemed decorated with lingerie. I was so young! I don't know how dumb Paul actually was, outside school, because he turned right then and grinned at me, knowing exactly what I felt and thought!

The pressure was on my neck, again, and I yielded. We went down on our hands and knees, now, moving ahead. Beneath us rustled and stirred the dry leaves, with that nutty odor of autumn, but the sound of our movement was drowned out but the throbbing frenzy just ahead.

Another shove, I was lying flat, belly in the warm leaves, elbows bent, my head raised a few inches. Ahead, as though I gazed across my lighted living room, I saw the scene.

Surely, now, they would turn, alerted and outraged, and charge toward us, because the sound of my heart in my chest, my ears, was a roar. My face in the warm night burned. My cheeks felt stiff with the expression that jacked wide my eyes, my mouth, and dropped my chin. And beneath me, in the leaves, where my muddy dungarees pressed the earth, I felt an intolerable swelling urgency. I might have been hypnotized, I stared so.

This was Halloween!

I had only imagined, dreamed, and then but vaguely, the ways bare limbs, and backs, and swelling loins could move in sinuous, swaying time to the music. How what was beneath that snug yellow sweater of Miss Clovis could seem, stripped bare, so indescribably tantalizing in their full, perfect contours even as she moved here, then there, and they altered the profile of their loveliness.

For a moment, I saw only her. But there were others, for now she seized their hands, whirled about them, frenzied, twisting herself to smile over a shoulder, beneath a raised arm, at their brazen beauty. And there was good gentle, shy Miss Lester-the librarian who scarcely lifted her brown eyes above her busy desk when we stamped in from the cold—who now flung back her arms, her head, and thrust forward her body as though to the mercy of the fire. In that brilliant light, her hips seemed determined to push toward that fire, until it burst into flame that curling place on her belly... And suddenly she darted almost into the flames, thrust out her belly, and gave a hoarse yell of pain, leaping back, one hand darting down to the triangle at the apex of her thighs.

At the center, the fire at his back, sat a great horned apparition, the obscene goat, about whom they whirled. And yet, as I stared at him, his big hands spread on his knees, I saw, in the firelight, that the third finger of his right hand was missing. The hands moved rhythmically, in time with the hypnotic music, but the stub remained. I could think only of...of the minister of our own church, that hand... It could not be, of course, not the long legs, white and bare, the fire illuminating them up to his very belly and its huge and obscene projection...And now and then, a frenzied dancer would swoop close and deliver a slap that set the rigid reddened thing quivering.

In that orgiastic glow of Satan's bonfire, each body seemed to me more madly desirable than I could have imagined Eve in the sedate Garden of Eden. When, at last, I saw "her"-not a "grown-up," once remote, now on display-but her, my older sister's shy girlfriend, pure blonde and proudly erect—not yet 20-I could bear no more. I reached out, blindly, found Paul's arm, seized it and tugged, whispering: "I'm going. I have to, Paul. I have to leave."

He looked at me for a moment, as though reading a warning, and nodded. We turned in the rustling leaves, not rising, and began to move, like soldiers beneath the whining, famished shot, crawling off into the shadows. It was then I heard a shrill woman's cry of alarm, a cry that I hear now and never will cease to hear: "Look! In the woods!"

We were up, then, running, Paul ahead so branches he tore past came slapping my face. I felt nothing. I had run only a few steps, but I was panting, my heart like sprinter's. Terrified to glance back, terrified not to see... I think I began sobbing...

Then, in the same instant, I shot a glance at Paul, gaining distance, leaving me, and started to cry out to him. At that instant, a flying weight hit my back, clung there, and I was falling forward—shrieking in horror. The soft leaves seemed to fly up from the earth, hit my face, smothering me as would a pillow. My mind dissolved, then, in a whirlpool called horror, horror ghastly, yet without content.

Only thing only penetrated my consciousness: that swift hands were tearing at my belt, ripping down my zipper, and I felt hands—how many hands?-dragging off my dungarees. I reached back frantically grabbing for them and babbling into the leaves, "No! No! Please! Oh, please!"

But already fingernails raked my skin just before I felt my underwear hooked by fingers on either side, jerked down, and then my hips were heaved up as hands hauled everything off my legs and I fell back into the leaves, stark naked. I wildly sought to squirm away, working my elbows, but again the weight landed on me. I felt smooth hot skin against my own bare skin, and near my ear I heard a voice that jolted me, a shock of familiarity, the eager voice I had heard just that afternoon, saying: "Free to live! Day and night!"

But now the voice was hoarse, lustful, gloating as it murmured in my ear: "Walter! I've got you, now! How you love to stare at me in class! Dirty little Walter! Look what you've got NOW!" And a hand clenched fiercely around that helplessly stiff and swollen thing that none but I ever had touched so that I shrieked into the moldy leaves.

My straining arms and back gave me just enough strength to lift my face above the smothering leaves, to gasp for breath again.

And I heard the other laughter, too, that crude laughter of Paul's, the dirty laughter, from somewhere away in the autumn woods.

Chapter 2

In the humid, enclosing autumn woods I stood shivering. Not because I was naked and cold—the Indian summer night was mild—but with a tumult of horror and desire. Miss Clovis gripped my upper arm; I sensed another body just behind me, blocking my escape; but in any case I could not have broken free. Inches from my bare arm were Miss Clover's bare breasts that I had tried to imagine a thousand times, now pale, smooth, so full, lush-yet aloft, lifted and thrusting so that her forward red nipples might brush my arm.

Barely daring to glance at her face, I yet perceived no transported, licentiousness as when she whirl round the fire; instead, her eyes seemed only preternaturally large, reflecting in their blue hints of the fire. So pale and perfect the oval of that face, framed as though virginal by the blond hair: But I had witnessed the abandoned dance round the coven's flaming pyre, the obscene thrust of her loins toward the inferno. I had to look.

I could not help it. I glanced downward along her pale and rounded body and, for a moment, saw the rich patch of blondish hair at her belly's base. I jerked my gaze away, only to meet her abandoned grin. "So now you see it all, little Walter! Staring in class, day after day, devouring me with your eyes! So look! Look at it all!"

With that, she fiercely gripped my hair, pushing down my face, and, at the same time, thrust out her flat belly to push forward her mound of Venus. She seized one of my hands, and clapped it flat on her fluffy bush. I jerked at my hand and whined—sobbed, I think—in denial, apology—and my whole body bent as though in retreat.

Even in my agony of fear at what was to come, I felt my dreadful arousal, somewhere "down there," and could not control it, could not hide it. Her nakedness so near to me was like a narcotic, and, as she held my hand over her warm and curly belly, I lost all control.

"So!" she cried, and her hand seized me, encircled me, and gave my stiff penis a fierce squeeze. For a few moments, the wanton hand rudely, roughly rode up and down me, rolling the skin over my swollen prick, jerking me. "Oh, please don't!" I begged, pulling back, even reaching down to tear away her hand. But even as I wailed, "No," I prayed for nothing more than for those pulses of thrilling pleasure to keep buiilding.

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