All Hallows Eve

It is tradition, on Halloween night, for the All Hallows to gather at their cave in the woods to witness the mortal world collide with the realm beyond. However for whatever reason, something terrible happens. Worried about the consequences of the event they witnessed, Barney Smith and his fellow Hallows begin to notice things becoming very strange in Hollowsville. The question on all their minds is "Who is the new girl, Victoria?"

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1. Into The Night

It was a particularly dark evening. The sky was an inky dark blue and the only sources of light were the hollow pumpkins lining the pavements. Thankfully, there was no rain or harsh wind that would threaten to ruin the evening. Everything was perfect.

A group of little zombies giggled, tugging on the wrists of their parents who insisted on chatting to neighbours. There was a gaggle of teenage witches snickering as they reviewed the loot from the previous house. Two children, one a werewolf and the other a ghost, trailed down the street after several older siblings. The street echoed with the sounds of laughter, shrill shrieks and a chorus of "Trick of treat!" 

There was a special sense of occasion in Hollowsville; The council had gone so far as to cover the street lamps and trees with so many festive lights and decorations that it now resembled the tangled mess of a spider's web. Each garden was littered with plastic limbs and polystyrene gravestones. One house was covered in rubber bats and arachnids, another had a six-foot grim reaper stood menacingly on the driveway; however, the most effort had come from Mrs. Gremlock at number 17. Her garden had been carpeted in crushed bones and skulls but the highlight was her centre piece - a sticky red liquid was oozing from her normally pristine pond fountain. 

Spectre Street was widely considered the best destination on Halloween night. 

"Yes, you might be given a full size snickers on Redjay Avenue" Thomas Badley would always lecture on the school days leading up to the big night, "But on Spectre Street - expect maybe three or four galaxy bars plus a handful of Reece's or skittles." 

"But it depends on which houses you hit." Daniel Grove added to which Thomas would nod. 

"That's true. The Farfarphers are always guaranteed to be stocked up on those jelly snake things but last year, I heard that when they ran out of them, they gave out whole bags of Sour patches!" Thomas was a prophet to the tubby goons that surrounded him. Most had to clamp their Jaws shut to keep saliva from spilling out. "The Gremlocks are different every year. Last year I think it was... Cinnamon Shocks but the year before that- Giant Gobstoppers!"

The youth scene in Hollowsville meticulously planned for October 31st as if it were a military operation. Schools would be shut for the week following the big night as an epidemic of sorts spread throughout the community most likely caused by the excessive consumption of chocolate and sodas. Each and every street would be closed as a work force of around 300 people descended into the chaos to begin the clean up operation as there was not a square metre of turf or Tarmac free of tin cans, plastic packets or half enjoyed candy bars). Hollowsville (post-Halloween) was a fairly bleak, unpleasant place that bared many similarities to sights of bomb strikes and nuclear disasters. Then starting in late November, the town would be blanketed in a metre of snow that would regularly remain until early February. Even the summer was cold- Thick smog-like mists descended into the valley accompanied by the howls of gale force winds. But on October 31st not a thought was spared for the rest of the year. Men, Women, Children were all lost in the excitement. 

Stood away from the swarms of costumed kids and excited adults, at the end of the street, hidden by the shadow of a thorny, leafless tree was a single figure wearing a crude sack mask over their head. A crooked smile had been stitched into the fabric with two large black eyes painted on. Each corner was fraying and the mask had obviously been worn year after year without seeing the insides of a washing machine. This person was clothed in tattered brown cloths and cloaks bearing menacing looking purple stains. Their arms hung low by their sides with fingerless cotton gloves covering their hands. Several bony fingers (which which bore dirty jagged fingernails) were gripping a dirty pillow case that had been dragged along every muddy verge and rocky track possible. Despite how it seemed incredibly dated and obviously homemade, it was by far more fear inducing and plain creepy than any latex zombie mask or high quality glow in the dark vampire fangs. The figure stood for a good while, observing the street party but not moving a single muscle. No words were spoken. They stayed completely still, observing.

After a while longer, the figure turned and began lumbering away from Spectre Street, down the deserted neighbourhoods and dragging the dirty sack behind. Street lights became fewer and fewer. Now, the feint glow of moonlight was the only offerer of light. The outskirts of Hollowsville shared no DNA with the bright bustling Spectre Street. Here, Graffiti caked the walls of each building; These were boarded up and uninviting. The pavement was lined with a rusting metal fence. Tree tops rustled in the wind, whispering to one another about the strange person eerily making their way towards the woods. 

This figure trudged towards the flimsy metal gate that guarded the woods and stopped dead. Visibility was poor through their sack mask but it was still quite clear. Opposite stood another masked silhouette, shorter and slightly plumper but with a different variation of costume. This one's mask was made out of itchy red hessian and had a dodgy unhappy expression stitched into it with pale thread. There was silence for several seconds as both stared each other up then down. Quite suddenly, the red masked one stepped forwards and pushed away the gate, stepping onto a carpet of pine needles. The other swiftly followed, staring up into the darkness of the trees. The taller figure slowly reached up and removed the cloth that concealed their identity. A slim looking boy of around thirteen was revealed with messy brown hair that stuck up in odd places. He may have had pasty pale skin - however it was hard to tell in the darkness of that evening. Emerald Green irises sat in centre of each of his eyes. 

"You can take it off Danny. We're here..." The red mask was removed, releasing a plump, sweaty looking, blotchy faced boy sporting thick rimmed glasses. Very short dusty black hair grew on top of his round head.

"Where are the others Barney?" Danny Bobby questioned, blinking to adjust to the dim light. He had a voice that was somehow booming, and at the same time incredibly high pitched. Barney was still admiring the beauty of the woods. 

"Toni said he would meet us there... With the others of course." Danny bit into his startlingly red lips.

"And... What about Peter?"

"Look, they'll be there!" Barney took a deep breath. "Come on. It's still a bit of a walk away." 

For the first part of the trek they walked in complete silence. Danny rustled in his own sack, inspecting his haul. Barney caught this and frowned.

"Danny-"

"I'm not!" He snapped. "Just.. Seeing what I got." Barney was strict about tonight. There were rules. The biggest (and probably toughest to keep) was no eating of any candy until the morning. It was disrespectful. And plus, if they offended the dead their trek out into the middle of the forest would be completely pointless. The several other rules were more straight forward: You keep your costume on ALL NIGHT, You don't blow out any Pumpkins, You play tricks on those who don't embrace the spirit of the evening and so on. 

These woods were thick, consisting of twenty metre tall pines spaced only a foot apart which made these woods a claustrophobic place. Danny always resented traveling through the woods- especially in the dark. That was the only reason why Barney had agreed to meet him early. He would have much preferred to arrive alone as he believed the calm of one's own company was perfect time to get lost in thought, a pass time he very much enjoyed indulging in. Due to his perhaps peculiar mannerisms and beliefs, Barney Simmons was not the most popular kid in town, a favourite target of brutes such as Thomas Badley or Corey Catts. Luckily though, Barney had the nerve to stand up to them, unlike Danny. Danny had it far worse that most losers. He received a constant stream of verbal torture and the occasional physical session (A favourite activity of Corey Catts was to simply chase him long enough for Danny to have an asthma attack and cough up a segment of his lungs). But the poor boy wouldn't help himself, most Mondays arriving with a new list of allergies or disorders he had been diagnosed with over the weekend (Due to his "dyspraxia" he tripped every twenty metres of the woods). This of course was perfect fuel for the bullies. 

Barney's loud inhale startled Danny. They had arrived.

"It's about time ladies!" Echoed a voice from the treetops. 

"Get down before you fall and break another rib!" Barney retorted. There was dull thud behind them as Stephen Farfarpher jumped down from his perch. He was a height in between Danny and Barney but had completely unique longish blonde hair. His spotty face looked as if it constantly wore a smirk due to the creases and dimples decorating his cheeks.

"Oh nice... Scary." Barney tugged on Stephen's tacky store-bought clown costume. 

"Yeah - It is! What are you two meant to be? The haunted homeless?" He snickered at the hilarity of his own wit. 

"No- There meant to be the ghosts of two potato sacks!" This was another new voice who had spoken. Toni Vincetti, a short lad with quite dark skin emerged from his own hideout. There was a thin layer of fuzzy black hair on top of his head.

"It's Frankencetti! The monster forged from every continent!" Stephen dramatically shrieked and limped around like a zombie. Toni sprung forward and punched him rather hard in the shoulder! "OW!"

"You're just jealous 'cause you're not African-Italian-English!" Toni did bear the traits of many different races and was quite disapproving of his friends taunting. "And.. This looks like an all time low for the once costume king! Store bought!? That's rubbish." This sent a look of disgust skidding across Stephen's face. 

"How can you say that? Clowns are absolutely terrifying!" Barney smiled at this, turning on his heel to face Toni. 

"I distinctly remember somebody actually peeing themselves at the circus!" 

"I never said Clowns aren't scary!" The boys all began chuckling, reminiscing about Vincetti's meeting with Chuckles the clown at the town fair a couple of years ago. The laughter dissipated slowly, leaving Barney worriedly peering out into the shadows. 

"We're still missing Peter.." 

"When isn't he late?" Toni reminded him to which Barney acknowledged with a nod. Danny was chewing on his fingernails to pass the time. Stephen was toying with eyeballs on his rubber mask. Momentarily there was silence again- Until the feint murmurs of heavy panting drifted towards them. "And that of course, signals the arrival of our good friend, Peter Binkson." Toni began a sarcastic sort of clapping which Stephen joined in with. Peter was the tallest of them all, the only one above 5'6, but he shared Barney's floppy brown hair. He was especially lanky and seemed to have strange elongated features. Not a day went by when Stephen wouldn't theorise that Peter was immediately placed in one of those medieval stretching machines ("a rack?" Barney would always correct) when he was a baby.  Currently hurtling towards them at a modest speed, Binkson had to keep pressing his thin wiry glasses further up his face so they would not fall off. He clumsily came crashing to a halt and collapsed in front of them. He was dressed in a top notch mummy outfit that, on closer inspection, was comprised of lots of toilet paper, tea stains and paper mache. 

"I'm..gasp..here.." He gazed up at his peers. Danny offered a pudgy hand and helped him to his feet. Barney's lips twisted into a  smile. They were all here. The All Hallows. 

Barney had lead this gang/club, The All Hallows, for a long time now- It must have been approaching the latter end of a decade. He hadn't been the one to start it though; He was either brought into it by an older friend or stumbled upon one of their meetings and asked to join- it was a very long time ago and his memory was fuzzy. For as long as he could remember it had been just the five of them: Him, Peter Binkson, Tony Vincetti, Stephen Farfarpher and Danny Bobby. So, essentially the social outcasts of the school. Danny might have been the main recipient of the bullying but each Hallow would be straight up lying if they said they encountered no nastiness towards them. Perhaps it was because everyone decided they "didn't fit it" or they were too "wierd". Barney somehow maturely understood this; They weren't trying to blend in or follow the crowd, of this he was proud. For a young teen, Barney was mentally very mature and a natural leader for the All Hallows to follow. Also, it should be noted that the All Hallows were not sexist. They had, on multiple occasions, asked a real human girl to join but were sadly turned down (and not at all politely). It had been a night in August last year when Stephen made the bold (yet idiotic) move to ask Amy Refforé, the most popular and gorgeous girl in their entire year, to join the Gang. She had stared at him in bewilderment for several seconds before the laughter and taunting began. The following week was particularly rough for each one of the Hallows.

"Ready?" Barney whispered with a hint of excitement.

Hidden under a gargantuan entanglement of brambles, weeds and undergrowth was the mouth of a deep cave. The entrance was grand, tall, wide and hard to miss in amongst all the trees however never had they seen another soul stray near this cave. The All Hallows came here often, perhaps once or twice a week to conduct their secret meetings which consisted mainly of dares or games (with winnings including mainly hoards of sweets) and also planning that year's Halloween. The most important night of the year. 

Stephen drew back the curtain of ivy and other assorted vines that hung across the entrance like a curtain. Usually he would reach inside to find the light switch but as per usual on Halloween, Barney instructed him otherwise. The cave had been transformed into a fully functional clubhouse many years ago- Barney had quite forgotten if he had installed the wiring and decorated it or if some other previous members had accomplished the feat. A system of ancient multi-coloured lightbulbs dangled from the cave ceilings in place of stalactites. Several wonky bookshelves had been assembled long ago to now be home to a mound of unopened chocolates and fizzy drinks. The prize feature of the cave were Peter's speakers which he had build last summer, enabling their meeting to now be accompanied by a lot of pop punk music. Aside from these comforts, the only things that made this damp dingy a clubhouse or "den" as Toni referred to it as, were the collection of posters lining the walls with most depicting Tim Burton movie characters or their favourite bands. These additions to the cave made it a warm, fun place to hang out most of the year- but tonight it emitted a different vibe. 

Barney produced five cream coloured wax candles with long wicks and dealt them between the Hallows. Stephen, being the pyromaniac of the group brought out his lighter and illuminated each one. Doing final checks to ensure everybody was prepared for what they were about to witness, Barney proceeded into the dark of the cave. 

It was about fifteen metres from the entrance into the main cavern however in the dark it felt much closer to fifty. The mouldy, fungus covered walls lacked their somehow inviting feeling of summer, having adopted a much eerier unnatural nature. 

"Toni- Stop stepping on my toes!" Danny squeaked in annoyance.

"I can't help it! I have oversized feet!" 

"I keep telling you you're not normal." Toni followed Stephen's voice and gave another brisk punch to the figure it originated from. "OUCH!"

"That's rich coming from-"

"SHHHHHHH!" Barney stopped dead still in the middle of the pitch black tunnel causing each of the other boys to smack into one another. He whipped up a gloved hand to signal for silence and the group obeyed. Nobody moved. Breaths were held. Barney's eyes were desperately scanning the pathway ahead. After almost an entire minute, Barney spoke again but now in a hushed voice.

"I heard... Just keep quiet Ok?" And they began inching forward at a much slower pace. Despite the suddenness of this strange incident, it induced no fear into any of the boys- They had come into the cave knowing they were in for something like this. 

They had come so far inside now that no moonlight managed to make its way inside at all. The orange flickers of the candles created dancing shadows on the stone. Barney trailed his fingers across the cold walls, concentrating hard to mentally place his location. The boys behind him walked in absolute silence now. Not a squeal came from Danny, no panting from Peter- even Stephen was giving the poor jokes a rest. As they took another step forward, the candle light spilled out into a large open space. They had reached the cavern. 

"We.. Here?" Questioned Peter hesitantly. He squinted to catch Barney's slow nod whose mind seemed preoccupied, his eyes darting around as he spoke to them:

"You know how this is done. You don't speak, you don't cough, you don't sneeze, you don't move! Do not make yourself noticed. When we go in, spread out to the edge of the room and when I give the signal... Blow the candles out. Got it?" The murmuring of the Hallows indicated that they had indeed got it so Barney beckoned them to move ever so slowly into the shadows of the cavern. 

Spacing themselves far enough apart, the Hallows all looked to Barney who gently blew the orange glow of his own candle from existence, followed by others. They were now all submerged in utter darkness, awaiting the night's entertainment. 

It began a mere minute after they had arrived. A stale breeze had snaked it's way into the cavern, encircling the perimeter, inspecting each of the unmoving figures who were pressed against the walls. The wind spiralled upwards, gaining momentum until quite suddenly it was gone. The silence resumed once more. Toni frowned

"What happ-" 

"SH!" Barney sharply cut him off. Angrily, He locked eyes with Vincetti- And this was when a revelation hit him. Barney could quite clearly see Toni sat across the cavern, beside Peter's large speakers. Danny feebly raised his arm and pointed upwards. Following the direction of his indication, The boys witnessed a glowing blue orb, no bigger than the size of a pea, spinning slowly towards the floor. No one spoke, too mesmerised to comment. 

This was normal. Normal in the fact that it happened every year on this night. No one could remember when the tradition began or how it was discovered, but for as long as they had been together, every evening of October 31st, the group would travel to the clubhouse cave but leave it in total darkness. They were able listen to the whispers of... Something; There was debate over what it actually was. Danny believed it was the way certain gusts of wind whipped through small pours in the rock however this argument was normally countered with the fact that it only occurred on Halloween. Stephen thought it was invisible creatures that came to breed in the cave every October. Barney, however, knew exactly what it was. These cries and whispers were the voices of the dead, making their way into this world when the two worlds (the afterlife and the world of the living) were closest, specifically on Halloween. 

The orb's movement was tranquil and fluid and it was increasing in size every inch closer towards the ground it came; When it reached eye level it was the size of a tennis ball. Then, without warning it zipped vertically down and exploded on contact with the floor, hot white flames dancing away across the cavern! A thunderous rumble shook the cave causing hundreds of sharp little shards of rock to break off and fall like the Devil's confetti! Sounds of a raging hurricane echoed as several luminous figures with bodies of mist rose from the tallest fingers of the fire! Each of the Hallow's wore an expression that could only be labelled terror aside from Barney who was transfixed with the spectacle before him. Voices erupted, the words too murmured and rushed to be decipherable! The misty spirits were morphing into beings that more resembled decrepit humans, Faded faces appeared bearing certain sharp defined feature such as eyes in their sunken eye sockets and stretched, torn lips revealing jagged teeth. Large bony arms sprouted from their sides with insect like fingers! Their voices increased in volume, now forming clear phrases.

"He knows... They speak but now..." These cries were layered atop a background of tortured screams and moans of the dead. Danny shoved his lumpy paws over his ears and screwed his eyes up tight. "They see... A darkness... Never ending!" And this was when Danny broke! Never had it been quite as intense as this! He began wailing only for Stephen to dive over and clamp a hand over his mouth. The ghosts continued, diving and thrashing through the air as if they were executing some sort of demonic gymnastics routine whilst continuing their tortured song. "One has the power to leave... The other a power to love... The darkness forever entraps us... But life had of us far enough.." 

Thunder ceased. Suddenly they had been plunged into darkness and silence once again, the spirits nowhere to be seen. Only the sound of heavy breathing rung through the cavern- and the crunching sound of jaws sinking into a soft chocolate bar. Hairs stood up across Barney's back.

"Danny?" He whispered urgently.

"Mmh?" The boy mumbled back through sobs.

"You aren't... Eating your candy are you?" The boys held their breath. 

"Uh- .....oops." 

The flames erupted again, this time taller, brighter and so hot that Peter's eyebrows were completely singed off! A dozen translucent beings exploded into existence and reached out with their ghastly claws toward Danny Bobby who screamed! All hell broke lose as Danny was hoisted high into the air with Toni leaping after him, managing to hook a hand around his friend's trainer! 

"Toni!" Barney stood bolt upright, watching as another phantom circled the room and swiped Toni away. He flew across the cavern, hit the wall with a sickening smack and collapsed motionless at Peter's feet. 

"The living" screamed the Ghosts in a million different, yet all hoarse and grainy, voices all overlapping. "They taunt us... They trick us!" Stephen crawled across the floor and started vigorously shaking Toni.

"Toni? TONI? Frankencetti?" There was no reply. The spirits were lifting Danny higher and higher until he was simply pinned up against the ceiling of the cave.

"The living are greedy, insulting and deserve to take our place..." The bony fingers that were keeping Danny aloft were swiftly brought away in one sharp movement causing the boy to begin dropping at speed to the ground! The sight of Danny flailing his arms madly as if he were swatting away a swarm of insects as he fell was enough to snap Barney out of his trance. Sprinting forwards, he held out his arms in preparation to catch Danny, however he discovered this would not break his fall slightly too late. Danny collided with him like a meteor and sent them both slamming into the floor. Stephen had taken to throwing rocks at the spirits which merely shot straight through them. 

Whilst all this was happening, more and more vaporous beings were rising from the flames and further crowding the cave. The noise created by all the deathly screams and wails was enough to cause Peter to collapse with his hands clamped over his ears and Stephen to begin shrieking in pain, thereby adding to the already ridiculous volume. 

The All Hallows were broken; Each boy was either pinned down, knocked unconscious or collapsed in a fit of pain. It was at this moment when the hundred or so Ghosts that had congregated in the cave all floated upwards with great force, cracking the cave roof causing huge chunks of gritstone to clatter downwards. Barney caught a pale glint of moonlight as he helplessly watched the Spirits disappear out into the night whilst the cave fell down around him! 

Amongst all the confusion and destruction, Stephen had managed to drag a limp Toni out into the the tunnel, away from the falling rock. He shot a piercing look to Barney, indicating the had to leave and quickly! Danny was on his feet but spinning round and round in a daze. Peter put an arm around him and rushed towards the entrance. Barney limped forwards and turned to look at his ruin of a clubhouse. Now, dozens of spirits were rising from the ever expanding blue fire every second then slipping through the opening and out into the sky. 

"Barney! Let's go! Now!" Stephen's warning was not a second too late as more shards of the roof catapulted down centimetres from Barney who fled! As he desperately scrambled out into the woods, Barney wondered if the entire town would soon come rushing into these woods to investigate the thunderous commotion- then he remembered that Demon Drums, the best and loudest Band in town, were playing in the town square that night. 

He crashed to his side, rolling across the uneven pine scented ground in time to watch the rubble, boulders and assorted destruction barricade the entrance of the cave with a crack. A cloud of greyish dust was ejected towards them. This sent Peter into a coughing fit. Stephen smacked Toni repeatedly across his chest until the unconscious body began spluttering and sat up. Another moment passed where heavy panting was the only thing to be heard. Stephen tiredly stepped back to review the damage.

"There goes our Clubhouse." Toni's lips curled into a smirk- But then he saw the mangled look of anger, amazement and distress on Barney's face- so he adopted a more neutral oh god this is terrible expression. 

"Did.. Did that just happen?" Said Peter who was tenuously helping Danny up. Barney finally spoke.

"Yep." He choked. "Yes, it regrettably did." The word "regrettably" sent each of the boy's eyes to rest upon little Danny. Not noticing the four gazes upon him, he inspected the small cuts that had tattooed his forearm, but after a few moments silence, he rose his head.

"It... I didn't..." Bobby knitted his brow and searched for some sympathy amongst his friends, who all looked like they would like to have stern words with him (or perhaps give him a good beating). Peter was the first to speak, losing his previously warm, helpful vibe and pushing Danny away.

"If you hadn't eaten the stupid chocolate bar-"

"What? I was scared!" 

"Oh so you decided that was a good enough reason to break the rules?" Danny was looking increasingly distressed.

"Barney!" He whined. "I didn't mean to-" Barney shook his wrists violently, struggling to find the appropriate words. 

"Just- Be quiet. There's no point in placing blame is there?" The All Hallows turned to their Leader looking for reassurance. "We don't know what happened or why it happened here tonight. What we do know is that something that began the evening in that cave managed to escape-"

"It was the Ghost!" Spurted Toni excitedly. 

"Maybe... Who knows." Stephen jumped up.

"My Dad will know. He's really good at-" 

"NO!" shouted Barney angrily. He regained his calm composure and continued in a mellow tone. "No. We tell no one about this. Not friends, parents, grandmas, postmen, pets. No one." Sounds of the trees beginning to creak in a new wind could be heard as this new ultimatum sunk in. Barney raised his eyebrows at Stephen, waiting.

"Got it... No one." 

"Why?" Asked Danny suddenly who immediately regretted it as, for the second time in several minutes, all eyes had turned to stare at him. 

"Because-" Spat Peter who was becoming more unnerved and riled up by the second.

"Because" interjected Barney, preventing Peter from actually lamping Danny, "we don't want another Vampire incident do we..." He was referring to the time that they became a temporary laughing stock to the entire town last year when trying to convince the community that Mr. Hain, their slimy English teacher was a real life Vampire. Did anyone believe them? Of course not. And they were ridiculed for weeks. This obviously painful memory was certainly enough to ensure the All Hallows would keep their large mouths shut. Barney was hesitant to speak again as the boys in front of him began to realise his seriousness. "Let's not speak of this ever again."

 

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