1st Prize: £250.00 – Adam Ford
2nd Prize: £150.00 – Katy Young
3rd Prize: £75.00 – Richard Thompson
The Graves End Pact
By Adam Ford
As the moon glinted through the darkening clouds, two figures began their journey through the murky undergrowth of Porters Wood, their hesitant footsteps heralding the difficulties in the overgrown trail ahead of them.
“Do you think they will come?” Alex asked, his breath frosted in the cold winter air
“We made a pact didn’t we?” Carter demanded, “Don’t a pact mean anything to you?”
“Yes, yes of course it does, just that it might be difficult….” Alex’s voice trailed off as he caught sight of the house at Graves End, even from this great distance, he could make out the glow of pumpkins that blazed a welcoming trail down the long drive to the porch.
“Oh my God,” Alex breathed, “they really have come”.
Carter swallowed hard, it was everything that he had hoped for but hadn’t been able to completely believe. This was going to be one hell of a Halloween party.
“C’mon,” he ushered Alex forward, taking a swig of his beer before clambering on through the brambles that sprawled like evil tendrils across the path. The beer burned his throat with a bitter taste but unaccustomed to alcohol; he liked the immediate hit as the alcohol surged through his brawny frame. When the bottle was empty, he threw it into the undergrowth, as a heady rush made him feel suddenly dizzy.
Finally, the house loomed in front of them, foreboding in its architectural design and with no electricity, it had an eerie atmosphere with windows gaping like widened eyes and the massive porch, becoming an extended giant mouth about to swallow them up.
“The pumpkins are awesome” Alex murmured, “Wow”. Alex spun around on the spot, fantasizing that the grotesquely carved pumpkins were emitting a life-force of their own as the power of the flame forced the shadows back across the path and surrounded him with an ethereal glow.
‘This would have taken a lot of work’ Carter thought watching Alex lost in the moment, how could their two mates have done all of this on their own? Suddenly he was filled with self-doubts, what if they were gate-crashing another party and they would find themselves surrounded by hoards of stupid girls from that posh girls’ only school up the road? He hoped that he was wrong, this place was theirs. It had to be theirs alone for tonight.
Suddenly Carter flinched and clasped his left wrist, as pain surged through the jagged scar. Even through the overwhelming pain, he was aware that Alex was clutching his arm too and tears were rolling down his cheeks as he grimaced. As quickly as the pain arrived, it was gone and both straightened up, wiping their own tear stained faces, shaken to the core. They looked at their wrists, the scars both glowed from a light surfacing underneath the jagged edges.
“Do you think..?” Alex began.
“It means they are here and we should go in” Carter put his arm around Alex “It will be ok-honest” he whispered, knowing that there was no way back anyway. He felt for Alex, he was so young to have gone through all this in his meager twelve years.
United they walked into the porch way, flinching as unseen cobwebs brushed against their faces. More pumpkins lit their way down the darkened, derelict corridor as roaches scuttled across the floor in front of them. “There is no music” Alex complained, “It’s so quiet”
“We will make our own don’t worry” Carter smiled, trepidation and anticipation rising up within him threatening to choke him.
He reached out to push the door to the old sitting room open. It creaked on its hinges and sent a shiver down his spine. He could see his breath frosted on the cool breeze that swept in from the open porch, his skin felt chilled to the bone and the hairs on the back of his neck had frozen erect. The room looked empty, ears straining for the slightest sound but there were none, apart from the sound of his own labored breathing, Carter acknowledged, as fear threatened to strangle him.
Walking in to the room, Alex spotted them first…”Lance…you made it buddy” he ran forward and clutched the hand of his friend. From behind Lance, a tall geeky lad hidden in the half shadows moved forward, his smile wide.
Carter reached forward with arms outstretched and hugged Regan, “God man, it’s so good to see ya…it’s been…”
“Ages!” Regan extracted himself from Carter’s eager embrace “Beer?”
The four boys sat huddled in the corner of the room for warmth enjoying the feast of snacks that Lance and Regan had managed to bring with them. Carter felt himself relax, the beer warming his body. It was all going to be ok, their friendship and the blood pack had brought them back together and they had honored their vow to meet up here every Halloween. Carter breathed in sharply, his memories were so alive at this minute that they felt like a physical ache threatening to tear him apart, but may be it would always be like this.
“We really wanted to get here for tonight but it wasn’t easy” Regan began “Lance and I had to creep out of our house, it’s a ten mile trek to get here but we were lucky and stowed away in Ol’ Man Pasco’s truck and it took us most of the way”.
“I wish you had never moved away” Carter said bitterly, “it’s not been the same since you left..”
“We’re glad you made it anyway, “Alex interjected, “not sure if we could have stayed here on our own” he mumbled, his mouth stuffed full of chocolate.
“Didn’t get much choice really” Lance sighed, “My scar started to burn like hell and only eased off as we got here, Regan’s scar did the same. Bloody hurt”
The four looked at each other, aware now of the true strength of their blood bond, only one of their group missing and yet, the one they all wanted to see.
“It’s nearly midnight,” Carter cried, “ do you think……?” his voice trailed off as the pumpkin candles around the room began to flicker and an icy wind filled the room. Huddled together they started calling out a name, united in desire and intent, their voices resonating around the empty room, shattering the eerie silence.
From out of the darkness, a shape began to materialize, Glenn, their childhood friend who had been stolen from them only 12 months before. This eerie, long forgotten house had become his resting place as they had enjoyed their Halloween party, just the five of them and a pact so strong that it would bring Glenn back from beyond the grave. Glenn had always been the most vivacious of them, so full of life that it seemed unthinkable that his life force could be extinguished by the fall through rotten floorboards on that Halloween night. Death had claimed him in seconds.
For a few seconds only, Glenn’s materialized form drifted forward and became enveloped in the circle of friendship that would last a lifetime.
“Happy Halloween Glenn – we will never forget..” and as their voices trailed off, Glenn disappeared from their midst and the boys were left alone once more and strangely bereft.
“I miss him” Alex cried, choking back his tears.
“We all do, but we’ll be back…next year and we will see him again.” Another pact formed as the boys placed their scarred wrists on top of each others. United once more, the boys began to blow out the pumpkin candles and made their way out of the house.
“Nice work with the pumpkins by the way” Carter said, wiping the tears from his eyes and taking a deep breath to steady himself.
“We didn’t do anything, could never have carried pumpkins with us” Lance admitted and laughed emotionally “I’m guessing that somehow buddy Glenn had something to do with it, he knew we would be back after all and I guess, he wanted to welcome us.”
As they all turned back to look at the house, one final light in the window was extinguished as if a ghostly breath had erased the flickering flame and the house sank back into darkness and peace once more as the boys turned and walked out into the night.