All Hallows’ Eve: Part 1


Photo by Sean MacEntee

The house on the hill.

It is late October of 1982 and autumn has enveloped Salem, Massachusetts. The trees sway in a chilled wind and the leaves crunch below my worn leather shoes on the cobblestone paths. I pass the house on the hill. A Victorian mansion left vacant for decades, rumored to be taken up by spirits. I can smell what seems like rusted iron as well as the scent of rain mixed with the earth. The sky is a blanket of hazy gray, much like my thoughts. I swiftly turn down an unlit alley and leave Main Street behind. 

In a few moments, I reach the threshold of the unscathed apothecary. I step inside and my presence is made known by bells softly ringing. An aging woman in clothing that is outdated by about two centuries approaches me; she is also a witch, and one of the only other known ones in town. We tend to keep to ourselves, as life is easier and safer if our secrets are kept shoved into the back of a closet. I walk out the door with a potion in hand. The brown faded label reads “Deadly Nightshade” and that is all I need to finish what has begun…

12 hours earlier

Dawn is approaching, yet I have been awake for hours. Sleep will have to wait another day though as it is All Hallows’ Eve. For man, it’s a time of celebration to welcome the fall harvest. Pumpkin pies by the thousands, children dressed up as ghouls and royalty, and the annual witch hunt. For me, it’s a haunting reminder that I will never truly be a part of this world. My name is Willow, and I come from a long line laced with witches. My ancestors were originally hunted in Salem, and I’ve returned for university and to learn what drew them to this town in the first place. My life here is spent in the shadows and leaves me constantly feeling like every time I take a step forward, ten more are taken back. All Hallows’ Eve is a death sentence for people like me. One false move, one step into the light, and I’ll be barbarically hanged in the town square as if it’s the 17th century all over again. Even with new inventions and innovations, humans are still controlled by one thing: fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what lurks at night. And most importantly, in Salem, fear of witches. 

Witches are not all green, covered in warts, and seen riding a broomstick with a black cat in tow. In fact, we are more human than anything. Still prone to a wide range of emotions, driven by goals, and hunted by our fears. However, All Hallows’ Eve awakens something inside of us. An ancient and primal instinct to let chaos unleash itself. It’s pure magic. It’s as if our humanity is left to fall into an inky abyss for one day, only for us to wake the next with all of our preexisting worldly concerns and stress. Which is why I plan on spending the entirety of the day confined to my studio apartment. Blinds drawn, doors locked, and hands chained. I can already feel it flickering to life inside of me. I know that the few other witches in the area will be doing the same as me. One would have to be controlled by the Devil himself to grant themselves freedom on this haunting night. 

The old crooked clock on the wall reads 5:55 a.m. I sit in utter silence during these last moments of consciousness. I can feel my heart pounding through my knit sweater. My hands and face are glossy with sweat. And suddenly, the world goes red.

I’m in a forest. Time has slipped like a phantom thread through my fingertips. The moon waxes and wanes, the grass grows and dies, and my mind is empty yet I’m thinking more than I ever have before. I can feel everything around me. I’ve developed a sixth sense, losing all previous notions of reality. I don’t think I could even remember my own name if I tried.

I wake with a jolt. 4:44 p.m. “Where am I?” Memories come flooding back to me, and I’m lying on the cold floor. Something is terribly wrong. Outside I can hear no sounds of celebration. Only screams. “What has happened?” I shrug on an overcoat and unlatch my door while the dazed feeling I was enveloped in moments before begins to fade away. I step outside. And what I see will be written in the histories yet to come.

Death incarnate. Savagery not seen since the Great Wars. I move past vehicles left discarded and shops abandoned. Salem is in bloodied ruins. I’m drawn to the house on the hill. A purple glow is coming from its stained glass windows, and my feet take me there without warning. I climb the rickety porch steps and find the door already open. I step inside and am guided by a trail of candles to what I assume is the study. Rotting books line the shelves and a fire is roaring in the hearth. It feels warm and welcoming despite the carnage just outside its walls. And sitting in a worn armchair is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. His hair is dark and there’s something almost too perfect about him. Dust is settled on every surface in the room, yet he is untouched. He’s grinning but there is no emotion behind his jade green eyes. It’s unsettling. His hand reaches for mine and he offers me a cup containing a liquid that can only be described as pure starlight. My hand trembles as I reach for the cup. I’m frozen. Unable to move as I hear the door close behind me on a phantom wind. “Hello Willow,” he drawls.

Read our next issue for the second part to this haunting story…