Halloween is and has always seen, at least in part, a time to gather around and share some of the things which nibble at our unease. Years ago, Neil Gaiman solidified that with a delightful tradition known as “All Hallow’s Read,” in which writers are encouraged to spread the fear with free tales from the dark for a day, a week, however they want to do it, really…
Last year, for me, that included an ode to the dead. This year, it takes a slightly different tack. The story which follows is unpublished, brief, and just spooky enough, I hope, for Halloween. It’s called “Dusk.”
And if you prefer to have someone read to you by the campfire instead, well…you can also hear my own reading of it at Soundcloud. Just turn off the lights and wait until dusk for full effect.
Dusk. I can hear them in the walls. The chitter of their legs rattles plaster.
Their poison stains the floorboards. My own is still with the fear of it, of the slow wine burn of their drink. They cannot be bated. Everywhere, the traps lay; they ignore them, build new roads into the dust and dark.
Mother takes them for the creak of trees in dead of night. She cannot hear them. Will not hear them. Heavy lies the whispers: do not be afraid, little fly, we just come to play. Can you hear the whispers? The world is walking by.
I weep for the dark, for the shadows of their web. Another moonless night. Do spiders know our words? Because they tell me things. The shameful things brother watches. I hear them scuttle through the laughter of their claims: have you heard what teacher says of his students behind their backs? I don’t want to know, but all the same they whisper.
They weave it into their webs.
I close my eyes to blot out threads winding through the cracks. Breathe in. Breathe out. Drift. They are playing games with me.
Another whisper wraps me tighter. They are here. I am awake, but I will not open my eyes.
Simpering spiders, they say I do not understand. Secrets pour from the walls and their fangs lick my veins.
They just want someone to read their tapestry.