The full moon was shining through the bare branches casting eerie shadows on our path as we walked along the hard, cold path. A cool breeze was blowing sending leaves dancing noisily across the forest floor. I remember thinking to myself that this night was truly the kind that you imagine when you listen to a terrifying tale. Holding tightly to the person next to you, just like I was holding Gillian, my best friend, as we walked that evening.
The path we walked on would take us past the old church, which had the most frightening cemetery, where all the people from hundreds of years ago lay at rest, the graves were made from grey stone covered in dark, green, moss. We chose this path because of it being the night it was. We were feeling young at heart and out for an imaginary adventure. An adventure that led us into the heart of the towns legendary witches circle. We called it this because many years ago when many people were accused of witchcraft the church was where they were brought before trailed to rid them of their evil.
As we walked past the church a group of mischievous youths came jumping out from behind some tombstones and trees. My heart was in my throat and I felt Gillian give a startled jump. “Oi, what the hell do you think you’re doing! ” shouted Gillian. One look sent them laughing as they ran to find their next victims. My expression was still a look of terror and when Gillian turned to see if I was all right, she started laughing too. I wasn’t amused so I gave a short scream and the expression on my face was a look of panic and she slowly looked around looking even more worried than I.
I began to laugh once she turned back around to realise that I had taken vengeance on her. Then quickly turning I ran for the shelter of the forest where I hid silently waiting to jump out on her. I had settled in behind a rock above Devils Den an old entrance to an underground mine. It had been closed up but youths decided to pull it down and used to stash whatever they could. Feeling pleased with myself, I waited for the sound of crunching leaves. I listened intensely, but what broke the silence was not the sound I expected to hear. From below, in Devils Den, I heard chanting.
The sound reminded me of an old movie about Salem’s witches you would see on late night television. I slowly turned around to see who or what it was that was doing the chanting. Suddenly, from behind, a strong arm grabbed me. I opened my mouth to scream, but it was quickly covered by a second hand. As I struggled to get loose I wondered what had happened to Gillian and if she was all right, but fear struck in me was I all right, what if I was going to die this Halloween night. Reality set in when I heard Gillian’s voice whispering my name.
When I finally settled down, she whispered for me to be quiet before she released her hold over my mouth. As she released her hold I was about to shout out at her but she placed her hand quickly over my mouth and told be to be silent and just watch. My eyes drifted down to the strange sight below. ” Oh my God! ” I whispered. I turned to question whether I was really seeing what was below me I kept blinking hoping it would be a joke and Gillian would laugh and say it was a hoax. But the look on her face gave me the answers to my unasked question.
In the valley below, surrounding a large stone altar stood twelve figures. They were dressed in long, black gowns with hoods that hung over their faces nothing could be seen only the blackness of their gowns, giving them an eerie appearance like that of the picture of death. As they stood encircling the altar their soft chanting could be heard. Soon my body was covered with goose bumps, I found myself unable to move as their voices softly filled the night air and there chanting became louder and louder. From the cover of the night we knelt watching in silence.
Then there was silence as a man leading a goat appeared out of the darkness. They tied the goat to the altar while a new figure entered the light. In his hand was a large dagger that he carried to the head of the altar then knelt and chanted softly as the others stood and watched. Slowly he rose, raising the dagger high into the air, then with a loud cry he lowered the blade into the screaming goats chest. With ease he sliced open the goat while it cried and squirmed. Then, as if it was nothing he began to peel its skin from the body.
When he finished he held the head and skin high into the air as he praying to his god. He called for power as he placed the goat’s head in place. The skin was still wet with blood and it clung to his back. Blood covered his face as it ran from the goat’s head before falling to the ground. Then he turned and spoke to the darkness. On command a young woman entered into the light and in her arms she carried a small child. There was no expression on her face as she placed the child upon the altar before turning and walking back into the darkness.
The child laid cradled in the open carcass of the goat as the leader fell to his knees at the side of the altar. The other twelve, still encircling the altar, continued the chanting. Their cries became louder and louder raising into the night. Suddenly there was silence as the leader stood. He raised the dagger into the air, a cold dark expression on his face as he again prayed to his god. Just as he was ready to plunge the blade into the child, a scream pierced the night. Their eyes searched the darkness for the intruder and soon all eyes were on me.
My eyes locked with the leader of death as his staring eyes seemed to penetrate my soul. I began to run as fast as I could, Gillian was right behind me, the trees were like hands, as though they were going to grab for me. I kept screaming not looking back, faster and faster I ran until we came to a road. It was a road I often walked along, we smiled at each other knowing we were in a familiar place and began to jog along the side of the road, but I had not been drained from fear, did the child survive, I did not know, all I knew was to get to safety.
In the distant was light, it was a car I waved my hands in the air to grab its attention. “Thank God! ” I thought, “thank God we’re safe” he offered us a lift to the police station we didn’t tell him what we saw only that someone in trouble. In the car Gillian and I were quiet, we were shocked by what we had seen, the man kept looking behind through the mirror there was something strange about him, but I did not dare speak. I looked outside the window my eyes opened wide as I realised the police station was in the town in the opposite direction, we were being led back to the church!