Stephany Simmons Halloween Fun With Lian and Figg
“How do we get back?” I tried to keep my voice steady, to not have a complete freak-out on Lian who was the only person who might be able to get us back.
“We have to be smart.” Lian said, “Everything here is about balance. We were sent here magically, we can get out that way.”
Lian’s theory was great, in theory. “The problem being that neither of us can do any kind of magic.” I grumbled.
“A minor technicality on this side of the veil.”
On the other side of what might have generously been called a road, a pinpoint of white light appeared and continued to grow into an oval about my size. Lian pushed me behind him, ready to confront whatever might be coming through. A figure fell onto the gravel emitting a string of swear words that would have made a sailor blush.
“The worst thing about being a ghost,” Boyd stood and brushed off his vertical striped bell bottoms, “is that you have to wear the same fucking outfit for eternity.” He raised his pant leg, revealing a pair of serious platform boots. “These were not made for a goddamn gravel road.”
“Look at the bright side,” I said, “You could have been wearing Bowie makeup when you died.”
“I was the night before,” Boyd said, “it was fabulous.”
“Right,” he said, “Carl is losing his shit over there, he sent me to find you even though I told him it’s not like I can do anything to get you back. Does he listen? Noooo!” Boyd huffed. “So, I have to run around creepy ass Ireland trying to find you.”
“Did you see anything when you were looking for us?” Lian chimed in. “Any houses, structures of any kind?”
Boyd seemed to ponder the question for a couple of heartbeats. “Nothing you’d want to visit,” He said, “just a couple of hanged bodies over there.” He pointed to his right.
In the soft glow Boyd was still emitting, Lian’s expression changed. “Two hanged bodies on a gallows?” He asked.
“That’s it.” Lian said, dragging me by the hand into the pitch black. “If we can beat Nera there, we can get the sword.”
After only a few yards of using Boyd’s soft glow as a lamp in front of us, Lian gave up and boosted Boyd onto his back. With our ghostly friend leading the way in his platform shoes, we’d never make it to the gallows in time.
Along the way, Lian did his best to prepare me for what was coming. “The story says that demons and spirits tormented whoever tried to complete the challenge.”
“What exactly is the challenge?”
“To tie a twig around the ankle of one of the dead men.”
“Huh. Sounds easy enough.”
Those were the famous last words of the night. As soon as we left the gravel road, following Boyd’s direction, a figure with a lantern appeared, blocking our path; a small, elderly man with a dramatically bowed spine, leaning on a gnarled, wooden walking stick.
“Is that a Leprechaun?” I asked.
Lian rolled his eyes. “He looks harmless, but be careful.”
“This path is death.” The old man hissed, his vocal cords obviously as crusty as he was. “Turn back.”
Lian thanked the small man for his warning and we pushed on through the field of waist-high grass. With the gallows in sight, and no one but the old man bothering us, I felt myself start to relax, the tension falling away. We could be on our side of the veil before long. Suddenly, I felt like I was walking through goo. My movement, becoming slowed as Lian and Boyd trudged ahead.
“Sleep.” A familiar voice hissed in my head. “Sleep young one.”
“Lian!” I yelled, feeling hands close around both of my ankles. I was sinking into the earth as if I were standing in quicksand.
Lian dumped Boyd off of his back and ran to me, dragging me out of the earth. He pushed me aside and backhanded the little old man from the beginning of the path. I hadn’t even seen him standing beside me.
“Come on.” Lian took my hand and we ran toward the gallows that seemed farther away than it had been a few seconds before. The little man screamed behind us and a wall of glowing white spirits popped up between us and our target. Like a supernatural game of red rover, Lian and I burst through the line and made it just as another man was approaching the corpses.
Miraculously, the man stopped, a woven chain of braided twigs dangling from his hand. Lian didn’t bother saying another word, he punched the man, knocking him off balance. Snatching the twig binding, he climbed up onto the gallows, and quickly tied it around the ankle of one of the dead men.
As soon as it was done, we were alone. The man Lian called Nera, the Leprechaun and all the ghosts including Boyd vanished.
“Water.” A harsh voice startled me. I was coming from the gallows. The man whose ankle Lian had tied the twig around was pleading, milky eyes wide open, staring at nothing. “Please, I need water.”
“Ignore him.” Lian said. It’s a trick.
“Ailill!” He yelled into the inky blackness. “Your challenge is complete!”
A large, bearded man with a simple, silver crown on his head walked out of the blackness. He held out a sword. Lian bowed his head and snatched the prize out of the man’s meaty hands.
“Move.” Lian whispered.
He didn’t have to tell me twice. I kicked off my shoes and ran toward the only place that made sense, the side of the road where we’d crossed over. I hoped the feet that were gaining on me belonged to Lian and not one of the beasties we’d encountered, but I didn’t look back.
“Here.” Lian’s voice stopped me. “This is pretty close.” He raised the sword over his head and sliced the air. It cut the scenery like it was a paper backdrop, letting through a blinding light. Lian and I stepped through. He was right, the spot he opened wasn’t exactly right, it was better.
We were on stage with the druids who were still chanting. The crowd seemed to be in nearly the same state of undress as they’d been when we were sucked through the veil. We hadn’t been gone long.
Lian poked the lead vocalist in the back with the sword, getting his attention. “It’s over.” He said.
The guy turned around, breaking the concentration of the rest of the band. As soon as they stopped chanting, the semi-opaque spirits were gone and the crowd seemed to come back to their senses.
“Better luck next year, ay.” The singer smiled and winked at Lian, then poofed into a bird and was gone.
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