Here's another story to scare you silly. Please R&R.
*********************************************DEAD BEFORE DAWN
Not sure what prompted the sour note, but Halloween really didn’t seem to be all it should have been this year. No one in class seemed to have the spirit of the holiday, if you’ll pardon the pun, and Travis Harding went right along with the crowd.
Being thirteen years old seemed difficult enough, but having the school demand all students come in costume on Halloween day and participate in a party after school made even his frown frown.
Travis never liked living in this small Nebraska town, because all the farmers’ way of doing anything, even celebrating Halloween, seemed dorky. The poor kid ran his fingers through his tousled dusty brown mop of hair, while the teacher rattled on about the Halloween party. Did he care? NO!
Looking to his friend, Bart, he saw that he felt the same way. The face he made at Travis seemed like a good indication. People here in
Crete appeared very obsessed with Halloween, All Saints Day or as some called it All Souls Day.
The bell couldn’t have rung soon enough. Travis and Bart beat it for the door, when Mr. Petrie, the teacher, caught the boys by the shoulders and asked if they would volunteer to decorate the gymnasium for the big bash the day after tomorrow.
“Volunteer?” whined Travis.
“Volunteers don’t have to be asked.”
“Glad to hear you say that. I knew you wouldn’t let me down. Here,” Mr. Petrie released the boys and handed them a book. “This will give you some ideas on decorations,” he smiled, knowing he’d tricked the lads.
“Mr. Petrie,” whined Bart, scrunching up his face. “We don’t want to…”
“I know you don’t want to make the other children envious. That’s why I asked you in private. Do you know how many of your
classmates asked for this coveted calling?” grinned the gray haired old fellow.
The lads shook their heads. Waving the book at the teacher, Travis and Bart shuffled out the door without a word.
The City of Crete was located in southeast Nebraska near, Lincoln the state capitol. Nestled in the Blue River valley where the Blue
River runs right through it, Crete did have its own traditions and customs unlike any other town in the state. Not many residents knew that Mr. Petrie, the principal and faculty harbored a secret which tonight’s festivities would soon unleash.
Travis and Bart raced to Bart’s home. The boys lived across the street from each other, so each day they took turns going to one another’s house first.
As they barreled through the back door, both nearly fell over with surprise when they found Travis’ parents meeting with Bart’s. The adults appeared giddy and filled with thoughts of Halloween and the party. Why didn’t they just let kids go trick-or-treating like other towns, like normal folks? Why did the entire town need to attend a big costume party at the local middle school? Should we say, the only middle school?
The boys frowned and shook their heads, as they ducked into a little hallway, which led to the staircase. Quickly and quietly, they raced upstairs to Bart’s room. Here they tossed their books on Bart’s bed, along with their jackets.
Travis opened his mouth to speak his mind when he saw the title of the book, Dead Before Dawn
. What did this mean? Bart noticed
it at the same time and grabbed up the book.
Inside, they found spooky drawings and a ton of text and several pages of what to put up in your home, office or whatever the edifice, to ward off the Barghest. In the north of England, especially Yorkshire, the Barghest was the name given to a legendary monstrous black dog with huge teeth and claws. Sometimes commonly referred to as a “devildog” or “hell hound”.
None of this information did they want to read or know. What crazy teacher would give two thirteen year old boys a book called Dead before Dawn
, containing all sorts of crazy stuff in it? This had to be a joke. Certainly they’d heard of a “devil dog” or “hell hound”, but only as a horror movie or some short lived TV series. Stories like this cannot be true.
At this, the boys argued quietly among themselves. Bart had read an old book called The Witches
by Roald Dahl, which told such a myth, as well as Sir Arthur ConanDoyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles
. Folklore and myths what else could you call these stories? Travis recalled something like it in the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons
. Again, not real; folklore and myth. Mr. Petrie must be playing a trick on them.
As they muttered and complained to each other, Bart removed his backpack and rummaged through it for something sweet. Upon finding the two bars of candy, he drew them out quickly and handed one to his buddy.
While the boys munched their candy, they noticed how quickly the sun set and something seemed to urge them to look out the window. With the lights out and only a dim glimmer of sun faded over the horizon, the boys noticed something peering out from the
rose bushes. The silhouette looked like an animal; a dog. A glint of red flashed in the last dying rays of daylight.
Travis couldn’t resist another look, and so scooted to the window in a crouched and most uncomfortable position. His heart raced so fast, he feared it may leap right out of his chest. Bart shook so, his teeth chattered.
Cautiously lifting his head, Travis gingerly parted the drapes and peered out the window.
Nothing! Not asingle sign of the creature.
The young boy swallowed hard and almost choked on a piece of
peanut from the candy bar. His buddy refused to look out the window again. So the boys grabbed a flashlight and huddled together on the floor by the bed to read that infernal book, Dead Before Dawn
According the book, which could not rightfully be called a text book or novel, but rather a Book of Shadows written by a person of the
Wiccan faith, a Barghest was a ghost that had to be summoned. This creature feared nothing, but since it came from the underworld, it had to acquire a body, which allowed it to feel pain and it could be stunned, and knocked down. However, whatever you did to the
thing, you’d have to do it fast and in a group; at least with one other person for it to effect the beast.
Many tales have been handed down through the centuries about
this big black dog from the inferno, but all such yarns agreed on one thing; Barghests show the living no mercy
If the lads had not seen the beast for themselves, they would have considered the stupid book the guide to a role playing game. Trick-or-treat held nothing for them now. They had to read on to discover what they needed to do to ward off this spectre which hated the living so badly. They had to save themselves and
their families; they had to save the entire town. No big black dog from h-e-double tooth picks would take away their happiness and life. The mere though, made both boys swallow hard and nearly choke on the last bite of candy.
Before flipping to the next page, another ghastly sketch of
the monster stared back at them:
Halloween day seemed to come upon the two friends so quickly. Neither of them hesitated in choosing a costume. Travis dressed like
Spiderman and Bart hid his dark blond hair under his green hood. At first, his mom assumed he had chosen the Robin Hood look, but no, even with the arrows and quiver, not Robin Hood, but rather Green Arrow. It appeared the two young friends felt like super heroes and wanted to dress accordingly.
The gym had the usual scary Halloween decorations, from the black and orange crepe paper twisted from one end of the ceiling to the other, along with a couple of large bundles of herbs and heaven knows what else wrapped in burlap. Yes, burlap proved a test and trial to find, but so did the angelica root and wolf bane.
Travis took care to prepare the punch. Whatever the book called for, he made sure to put it in the punch along with a cherry flavoring and a hint of almond extract. This made the cherry very strong
and overpowering to the herb powder he mixed in.
Each door had a few words calligraphed in Latin, to forbid entrance of any unwanted spirit, wraith, or being of mystical origin.
The families of the all the students of Crete Middle School brought a savory or sweet dish for the grand festivities.
Of all the Halloweens in their years, this had to be the best one yet. With or without trick-or-treat, bringing the families together brought love and unity among all the students, their families and the school faculty.
By the end of the evening, the two friends wondered if the creepy Barghest lurked outside in the shadows of All Hallows Eve. They had to know. So, quietly, amid the final hour of the festivities, the two
slipped out into the hall and scurried to an exit, to peer outside through the glass door.
To their relief and surprise, a full moon shone bright and almost romantic, if you like that kind of mush and the trees swayed in the
“Looking for something?” asked a familiar voice, which startled and made them jump in unison.
“What’s the matter super heroes? Got a bad case of the jitters?” smiled old Mr. Petrie, dressed like George Washington, white wig and all.
“Geez, Mr. Petrie! You about scared the life out of us,” Bart finally took a deep breath.
“I wanted to say thank you for all you did tonight and what a wonderful job you did in decorating the gym and preparing the punch and…”
“…and saving the entire town of Crete?” piped up Travis, removing his mask since he started to perspire.
“Saving the entire town? Huh?” the old man grinned. “So you were saving the town, not just helping to make a successful Halloween
“You know, the Barghest. You gave us the book,” Bart sputtered.
At that moment, a shadow popped up and momentarily blocked
the moonlight from outside.
The boys screamed, again in unison and tried to make a run for it, but the old teacher caught them by the shoulder and made them
Petrie’s gentle dog, Old Bingo sat on his haunches outside the door, panting and playfully scratching to get in.
The lads exchanged puzzled looks and then turned to their teacher. “Dead Before Dawn? What’s up with that?” Travis narrowed his eyes at the old man.
Petrie opened the door and let his dossal old dog in and answered the question while patting Old Bingo’s head.
“We only wanted you and your families to bond. Get closer to each other. What better way than a family activity? If you had read the
end of the book or even taken a look at author, which was me, you’d know the book’s title wasn’t meant for a human. Should the celebration be a success, hatred, animosity and all jealousy would be dead before dawn