Listen closely and it can still be heard. Within the wind and the cold, dark tonal notes dance. Inside the fog’s memory, maniacal laughter reverberates. Wooden wagon wheels have etched trails into the earth leading off towards oblivion. It was here on this crimson field where horrors beyond comprehension flourished. For now… the Carnival is gone….but not forgotten.
Nathanial Crowe, remembered it well. He remembered the day he met that Ringmaster. The clown, whose face was masked in the shadows of night, simply asked for his land. He said that this place “just seemed right”. It had a long and bloody history. Used for early pagan rituals, many lives were sacrificed on it in the name of Samhain. For centuries since then, no living thing has prospered on this land. Just prior to Nathanial owning the property, a number of townspeople burned down the funeral home of a murderous, grave robbing caretaker killing him inside. Now this land serves only as a home to rotting pumpkins sold for 10 dollars apiece, by Mr. Nathanial Crowe.
“How’s business, Crowe.” The clown said through his mangled teeth. Nathanial suddenly struck with the tiniest twinge of fear- “Slow”, he responded.
“This land is cursed” the clown said. Nathanial was surprised at the statement, not because he didn’t feel that it was true but that it was normally exclaimed as a question.
“Always has been. Always will be” Nathanial said with a sigh. “I haven’t sold a pumpkin- hell; I haven’t sold, grown, or built anything on this land since the day I bought it. And that wasn’t for lack of trying either. So you can put your on your little carnival but don’t be surprised if the outcome of it all is just like those pumpkins…rotten and dead.”
“On that Nathanial Crowe, you can count on!”
For the first time Nathanial caught a good glimpse of the Ringmaster’s face in the moonlight as he spoke, His twisted, toothy smile promised him wonders no man has ever encountered. He told Nathanial that the land he has put blood sweat and tears into would finally pay him back with unimaginable power. Sensing nothing more than theatrics, Nathanial left the deformed clown to his business.
As though it happened overnight, the Carnival opened. The wonders the clown spoke of were amazing to Nathanial, in the way hell is wondrous to those who wish nothing else but to see its evils and bask in its flames. The dark carnival seduced Nathanial in ways that cannot be explained. Temptation and sin filled his soul with sights and sounds the devil himself would consider morbid. It opened his mind to evils no man should want to survive. But Nathanial did survive. While all other patrons of the Carnival were meeting untimely deaths, Nathanial always walked away unscathed.
“Why do you allow me to live when all around me perish at your hands” Nathanial asked this Ringmaster.
“You’ll see, Crowe! You’ll see!” The Ringmaster replied, with a laugh.
Those words echoed in Nathanial’s mind as he gazed upon his now empty field. Patches of soil now show only where tents once were. His fists clenched with anger.
“He promised me,” he whispered through his teeth.
Hatred filled his soul as he lamented on power and wishes the clown prince had vowed him and he had not received. For the first time he felt the cold. His hands now bled from being clenched so tightly. Feeling the dark liquid run down his palms and drip onto the soft soil below, Nathanial’s eyes caught a faded carnival poster flapping in the breeze. A large gust ripped it from the bloodstained telephone pole it was attached to. Nathanial followed the tattered poster with his eyes as it drifted effortlessly in the wind. Up and down until finally resting in the palm of his bloody hand. However, to Nathanial’s surprise, the poster was blank. No longer did it advertise the “Carnival of Carnage”. Instead, he noticed his blood soaking into the parchment. Like running down glass, his blood fanned along the paper’s fibers, forming letters:
Forgotten are the ways of old
Tradition’s blood, black and cold
Up through dirt, roots grow and burst
Evil’s return, you’ll see what came first
When Ravens and Crows made the night black
Pumpkins were carved to keep evil back
When the howl of the wind sent shivers up spines
Graves of our dead, covered in vines
When Black cats crossed paths and wolves howled
And true witches did more than laugh and scowl
Your Time Has Come, Nathanial Crowe
Outside the Box- you’ll think, you’ll grow
Terror’s Tradition, its ways you will demand
Halloween’s true self is at hand
The poem’s final words echoed. His mind raced as he tried to make sense of what he had just read. Looking down at the parchment once more- the letters turned back into liquid and raced back into his palms. Nathanial’s mind raced with visions… He Heard:
“…Think outside the box.…”
The Ringmaster cranks a Jack in the Box.
“We are the four…”
“…You will be my finest work…”
A film director lines up his shot.
“But five we’ll become.”
“…A true tale of terror…”
An old woman brandishes a pair of scissors.
A Caretaker produces a pocket watch.
“You Time Has Come”
The final vision Nathanial saw was his own face. Displaying the most evil expression, Crowe’s eyes disappeared and blackness replaced them. His jaw fell agape and candlelight appeared deep in his throat. The last thing he heard was a raven’s shrill ear-piercing call.
Nathanial awoke, lying in the cursed field he owned. Lifting his head and looking forward, Nathanial saw something unreal. Hundreds of the pumpkins he once sold had been positioned in front of him. All brandished carvings of faces in pure terror. Each lit from the inside, the candles burned in varied hues of red and orange. Just behind the rotting patch, hundreds of crows were perched atop a broken wooden fence. Their eyes glowed red and all were focused on Nathanial. Just as the moon crept from beneath the clouded sky, every bird in unison cried out and leapt from their perch towards him. Instinctively Nathanial tried to get up, however his cursed land had something different in mind. Mangled and porous roots shot through the ground with great force and stabbed through Nathanial’s appendages- pinning him. The chorus of crows flying towards him muffled his cries of pain. Landing on top of Nathanial, the crows began pecking his at his clothing and flesh.
Digging and clawing away, the crows tore deep into Nathanial. He was being transformed. For every crow that removed a piece of flesh, large or small, another was at the ready to replace it with a piece of rotten pumpkin and straw. Quickly and meticulously the crows ripped and replaced Nathanial’s body. The roots and earth that had once imprisoned Nathanial now had begun wrapping into his hands and feet creating earthy claws. While a crow pecked out his left eye, the ground forced Nathanial into an upright position. Looking now like a grotesque marionette the birds continued to peck away. His screams slowly transformed from a gritty liquid sound to deep resonating bellow as a roots ripped through his neck, grabbing his jaw and jarringly breaking it forcing it downward towards his chest. The skin around stretched and tore as another crow placed a candle from a nearby pumpkin into his mouth. The candle’s flame ignited a bright orange; its flickers lit the inside.
One by one the crows left the form that once was, Nathanial Crowe and returned perched atop the rotten pumpkins. Landing, they gazed at what they had created… Halloween itself. All the fears, blood, revelry and traditions that make that Eve so Hallowed was infused into the body of a man. The roots finally lowered his body to the ground as two crows carried a large brown duster that once costumed an average scarecrow not far away. Nathanial Crow was no more. Now, only Crowe, he was reborn. His land, which contained the souls of Halloweens past, had given him the great power he was promised. His only purpose… to let none forget the true terror that Halloween once was centuries ago. Simply put, to make the spirit of Halloween terrifying once again and uphold Terror’s Traditions.
Its ways he will demand
Halloween’s true self is at hand