‘Tis with great regret I write to tell you that I have been attacked this night; from the darkness came the spirits of writers past, claiming back the awful stories kept hostage in my grey loft. Surrendering to their threats, I write this message from within the crypt where my dearest memories reside.
Stars dare not cross this sky. Light flails and gasps as the shadows suffocate said emerging spectrum, swallowing its presence with their hollowed souls. Soft gossamer drifts from the ceilings, reminding me of a tale once told many years ago. There was a girl, probably thirteen years or more, who was driven from her home by the vulgar associates her mother entertained. Left to fend for herself, she soon stumbled into an avenue only fit for those who enjoy the benefits of dark nights and full moons. Unbeknownst to this girl, her tantalizing scent and throbbing pulse was all she needed to reside with these pale strangers. Summer came and went and soon autumn set in. She was the subservient messenger for her new found family. Their delicate frames and sharp canines were enough to keep her in check and if she felt an inkling to leave the fine establishment she now called home, the claws of the young, hairy cousins were enough to change her mind.
Halloween approached with the swiftness of death, calling out to all who supported the shadows and skulked in the basements of the decrepit surrounding buildings. At the request of the almost porcelain elders, who sat at the high table all day and all night in the attic, she sifted through the cupboards and larders, searching for something festive. Soon she found a linen closet well equipped for the romantics. Soft gossamer in gold and silver swished through her fingers, drifting on invisible air towards the uneven floorboards under her naked feet. Excited, she ran through the house, hammer and nails in hand and soon the rooms felt like Bedouin tents awaiting pale concubines to perform the sensuous dance of the seven veils for their blue tainted captors. All the residents were pleased with her efforts and promised her light for the first time in that year. Candles were carefully lit and placed around the property, highlighting the gaunt ceilings now chipped and flaking; the gnarled door handles barely capturing the soft light emanating from the waxy tall spires of light. Sadly, that was the last thing the quiet residents saw as the gossamer caught aflame, sucking up the heat with great fervour. Before anyone could escape, the crumbling residence was engulfed, the screams of the girl the last thing passers by heard.
To this day, if you listen carefully, gossamer cries through your fingers as it slinks away, flittering like candle flames from your fingers.
Alas, dear readers, my gaolers have returned to torment me further. They say my stories lack a certain scary quality befitting the day. Apparently, pulling my fingers back and tearing my toe nails is deemed appropriate torture for such a crime. My only solace is knowing that my ears have not been touched, unlike the little boy from No. 16. When he was three, his mother decided to teach him a lesson about listening to her. She decided to scare some sense into him and chose the Halloween night when all the other good children were happily celebrating the existence of witches and ghouls, and gorging on sweets. This tall witch herself, decided to take her dear littling out trick or treating, but with evil intentions, wandered closer and closer to the forest just behind the houses.
Once out of view from the other parents, the nasty woman persuaded her son to follow her into the forest, whereupon she left him for the foxes and wild pigs to devour. The poor child tried to listen out for the direction of her footsteps to find his way out of the labyrinth of statuesque trees looming above him. She laughed and darted to and fro, in and out of sight, calling to him to listen better. What horrible torture for a child so young. Now, deep inside, we all call for the woman to fall to her just desserts, but it is with sadness I tell you what happened next. The wild pigs were not interested in the morsel crying out in front of them. They saw fit to chase and eat the harpy screaming to her young one to follow and listen. The young boy watched his witch of a mother serve a greater purpose in life. Horrified at the sight of her being chewed to nothing, the boy collapsed. The pigs, sensing the youngling’s need for guidance, revived him and led him deeper into the forest where the animals congregated on special occasions. It was decided that they would watch over the child until he was old enough to leave the forest and join the evil mankind who tortured their young. This was never to be. The child stayed young, forever reliving the halloween night.
To this day, if you leave your window open at night, you will hear the cries of the child as he cries for his mother who tried to teach him to listen. Some say it is the cry of the tawny owls, but now you know better.
Thinking of the youngling never growing old, never leaving that forest, brings to mind certain spirits we were told about by our grandparents when we did not behave: the tokoloshi. To some Afrikaans people, it means, little spirit. To me, it meant little demon! Whenever my grandmother found me doing something naughty (which was often) she would tell me that the tokoloshi would come and teach me a lesson. It terrified me to think that something tiny could reach me and torture me, but to be honest, these spirits holding me down now have similar qualities. I guess our fears never leave us, no matter how old we are and the myths surrounding our childhoods follow us into our old age.
In this welcome, I will bid you farewell. Listen out for the gossamer and the cries of the babe in the woods and think kindly of me, dear reader, for warning you before they come to get you and your half stories awaiting to be told.