People shouldn’t be allowed to die on days that are marked by celebration or festivity. My mother died 23 years ago at Hallowe’en and it has changed the time of year for me without a doubt. In truth the day on which a loved one dies, doesn’t matter in terms of how you remember them, but when that day has some specific significance, it changes the day for you forever.
Now if you have already read any of my books you’ll know what I can do with a sprinkle of darkness. I have always enjoyed Hallowe’en and I have fond memories from my childhood of our rather meagre celebrations compared to the celebrations of today. Costumes were hand made, we didn’t trick or treat, we visited neighbours to look for help with the ‘Hallowe’en party.’ It is funny how American movies have transformed a tradition that began on this side of the world.
So I was reflecting today on loss, on ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night and I thought I’d share some of the more recent dark additions to my life. Regular readers of my blog, will be familiar with my occasional dark, shadow-man. I call him Mr. Squiggles, to soften the fear he infects me with whenever he calls. I still cannot explain him away, much as I’d like to. He has stalked me ever since I crossed back through the light, two years ago.
Perhaps some might believe that I brought him back with me from the other side. I don’t see that. He only comes when I least expect him and he has the feel of something portentous. Mr. Squiggles is nothing if not punctual and he always turns up at precisely 03.35, my personal witching hour. But of course I don’t believe in ghosts. I need an explanation and even in the absence of one, I still disbelieve what I see and experience, instead choosing to believe that I just don’t have the tools to answer the question. But an answer must exist.
I have always been visited by strangers in the dark. As a child an old woman with long hair and a little boy watched me and I never felt they were benevolent. Some things you keep to yourself and I feared what would happen if they became real by my speaking about them. But that was my little frightened boy’s mind. I am long past boyhood now and sometimes I wonder if such darkness comes from a different place.
Our new house has had some oddities since we arrived. We hear footsteps when no one is there and even our three dogs get alerted to the sounds. Sometimes, we hear the front door close when there is nobody there and it is a heavy, double locked beast that makes an unmistakable sound.
This week things have moved around by themselves. They are small, but significant items whose movement carries no explanation. To be fair, even though I cannot attribute specific logic to these events, there is the potential that there are logical, physical reasons behind these events. Floor boards stretching with heat and cold, wind blowing other doors closed that may sound like the front door, our forgetfulness or absentmindedness, leading us to mistakenly believe things may have moved when they haven’t. Yes it is easy to dismiss one thing or maybe two, but as the frequency and variety grows, one might begin to think that there is something else at play here. But then there has been another thing. Something far more sinister and disturbing, and while I have to repeat my scepticism, I have no explanation to satisfy the new change.
There has been the sense that someone is there or watching us, someone other than Mr. Squiggles. We’ve both had our visitors but I can only speak to mine. The latest was something new and while I didn’t recognise him, I felt him and he frightened me. Now I don’t scare easily but this creature of the night walked across my eye-line and paused to look through me for just a moment. It was long enough for me to know him and know he meant me harm.
The night is setting in now, darkness is bedding down and soon the souls of All Hallow’s eve’ will skit about the place looking for a place to settle. Amateur ghouls will knock on doors carrying bags to be filled with goodies and finally all will go quiet on this very dark night.
My thoughts will go to my Mam. I miss her very much. I chose not to talk of her this weekend and instead I kept the sadness of her sudden departure from my life to myself. I will never really get past that loss. I thought I had but I think perhaps not. I don’t believe in ghosts nor am I religious but when she died, I prayed that her ghost might visit me but my prayers were unanswered. How can there be ghosts when the ones we love and need the most abandon us?
I don’t believe in ghosts but I know something is happening here. Something has shifted and my Mr. Squiggles has gone quiet of late. Perhaps he is busy elsewhere, maybe it’s not yet my time to go with him and he only tends to visit when I am at my weakest. But it’s not Mr. Squiggles I am worried about. There is a new dark shadow man in town, and this one feels more impatient… Happy Hallowe’en everyone …
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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