#287 Dance of the Dead

#287 Dance of the Dead

 

“There will be no Halloween activities this year. That day will be treated as any other day,” The 12th grade teacher, Mrs. Olsen announced.

“That sucks. What’s with her?” Billy asked Johanna who sat beside him in English Lit.

“You weren’t here last year. Were you?” Johanna said.

“You know I only got here a month ago.”

“Oh yeah, sorry. Lots on my mind.”

“Well?’

“Well what?”

“You going to tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“You know, what happened.”

“It’s a strange story that you may find hard to believe.”

“Tell me anyways.”

“Okay, but I warned you. There were two boys, Johnny and Marvin. They rigged up a holographic image projection device.”

“A who, what?”

“A device Marvin’s father used in the gulf war to fool the Iraqi’s into thinking they were shooting at his jet, when they were actually shooting at a holographic image that he projected onto the sky. The projector displays a three-dimensional visual image, that’s almost impossible to tell isn’t really there. ”

“No way. Stuff like that is science fiction.”

“Yeah tell that to the Iraqi’s who wasted all their ammo shooting at holograms.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“Marvin said his dad told him it provided a distraction while he bombed his target. Then he showed him how it worked.”

“Yeah sure, he had one sitting in his living room.”

“No, it was in his basement.

“You’re lying?”

“No, I swear, I’m telling you like it is.”

“Okay, so tell me, what did they do with this holographic thing?”

“Well, last year, Mrs. Olsen was in charge of Halloween festivities. She gathered the entire school in the auditorium and announced, ‘There’s no better place to celebrate Halloween than outdoors. The dark, spooky night is the perfect backdrop for fun and creepy Halloween activities, the moon is going to be full, so we can all pretend to be Wiccans.’”

“Wiccans?” Billy asked.

“You know, witches.”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Then Mrs. Olsen said, ‘We can light a bonfire that will keep away the chill of the crisp autumn evening. But I think I should tell you that bonfires are symbolic during Samhain, that’s what Wiccans call Halloween. One of the Wiccan rituals that are celebrated on Halloween night could be fun. We can write down any aspect of our lives that we want to get rid of; it can be anything that has left us with feelings of anger, worry, or regret. After we’ve written our problem on the paper, we’ll cast it into the bonfire and watch it burn. As it burns, imagine that negative aspect disappearing. But if it does disappear, don’t credit it to magic, credit the power of positive thinking. Dress warm and meet me on the soccer field at 9: p.m.’”

“Ha, I can’t imagine Mrs. Olsen being awake at 9: p.m.”

“Oh, she was awake alright.”

“Well, come on, tell me.”

“Marvin got a brainstorm and recruited Johnny to help him.”

“Alright, I’ll bite. What did he recruit Johnny for?”

“Marvin improvised a film he had with witches flying on brooms, and duplicated twelve of them. Then he asked his dad to make a hologram out of it. He did that same day. Marvin had been taught to use the device years ago, and used to practice making three dimensional images appear all over his basement. He figured he could do the same in the night sky. They took the projector to an unused room in the school that overlooked the soccer field. Set it up, and then took wireless speakers, and put them in trees surrounding the field for sound effects.

“Marvin knew they’d be a harvest moon that night’”

“What’s a harvest moon?”

“It’s the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox.”

“Okay, I’m not going to ask what that is. Go on, what about it?”

“He figured the moon would be a great backdrop for his flying witches.” They got everything set, turned the sound down and projected one witch across the moon. It looked so real, they almost believed what they saw. Anticipating the fun to come, they turned the sound track of cackling screaming witches to full volume so when it was switched on, everyone near the school would be able to hear in stereo.  They sat back and waited for the fun to begin.

“Mrs. Olsen and three hundred students crowded the field at the designated time, and lit a roaring bonfire. The students wrote out the things they wanted out of their lives and marched by the bonfire, and threw their scraps of paper into the hungry flames, to be burned, and hoped that their written down worries would vanish as the ashes floated to the sky.”

***

“Now’s the time,” Johnny said.

Marvin turned the projector on, and Johnny snapped on the sound system. A horrendous shriek startled everyone on the field. Cackles followed the scream, heads turned, groups gathered together in fear. All looked for the source, when one pointed at the moon and yelled, ‘Witches.” Silhouetted against a full harvest moon on their brooms a dozen figures cackling loudly randomly flew, intent it seemed to harass and employ their magic on those who watched from below. They wore black hats and flowing robes as they dangerously skimmed across the night sky.

Students and teachers alike made a mad dash for the safety of the school.

Little did anyone on the field know the witches they saw were only apparitions coming through a holograph machine triggered by Marvin and Johnny, who rolled in mirth at the discomfort they caused, until Marvin counted the images they had wrought and found there were now thirteen instead of  a dozen.

“Something’s wrong,” he shouted. “There can’t be thirteen. I only made twelve.”

“Maybe the projector is duplicating one?” Johnny said.

“Marvin checked and ascertained it only projected twelve witches. He was upset, because he couldn’t understand why it projected thirteen, and he had to know how number thirteen got added to the mix.

“He tried to fix it so there were only twelve, but looked up when he heard Johnny yell, “Holy Mollie! He pointed to a flying figure lit by the moon and said, “That one’s flying so fast it looks like supersonic speed. Look out! She’s headed right for us.”

Marvin jumped up just in time to see the speeding witch crash through the school’s brick wall, and she flew around in their little room. She was as ugly as could be, surely made in hell they thought when an ear splitting scream sprang from her blackened lips. It turned into a cackle that could only be created by a witch. You boys fooled me tonight. I thought by joining the group I made number thirteen, but to my dismay I discovered I was the only one, so for your dirty deed I’m going to make you pay. I know you’re only boys  and don’t know any better , so I’ll turn you into girls, then from now on you’ll know better than to mess with a witch.”

Marvin and Johnny tried to scramble out the door, but she cast a spell, and they couldn’t move.

“Tell you what boys, if you don’t want to be girls, you can accompany me to the Monster’s Ball, and if you’re very nice, and dance all night, I may allow you to forego a gender change.”

Convinced she was for real, they both agreed to go, but they asked, “Before we go, can you tell us, what the Monster’s ball is?”

She let out a loud cackle and explained, “The monster’s Ball is where on every Halloween Night the dead are allowed to dance and enjoy living life. You’ll dance with me and any other who may want to hold some living flesh instead of cold damp bones. “

“You mean, we have to dance with dead people?” Johnny asked.

“On this night in the place that we’ll go, everyone lives for the night.” she said, and flew around the room in a blur and cackled so loud, the boys had to hold their ears.

She put on her broom brakes and stopped in front of the boys, “Hop on,” she said, and pointed to her broom.”

“No way,” both boys said.

“Okay then, you want to be girls.” She pointed at them, but before she could say a word, both boys jumped on her broom.”

“Hold on. How do you know all this?” Billy asked.

“I have a very close relationship with Johnny,” Johanna said.

“He’s your boyfriend?”

“No, we’re much closer than that. “Anyways, the boys sat on the broom, Marvin wrapped his arms around the ugly old witch, and Johnny wrapped his arms around Marvin. The witch cackled and said ,”Up, up, and away.”

The boys were about to protest, when the broom received her orders and took off, headed for the moon at a speed that dazzled the boys. Marvin screamed from fear, Johnny almost peed his pants as it seemed the broom would go all the way to the moon. Johnny looked down, and he saw the twelve holographic witches still flying around the field.

After a short time the boys began to feel safe and saw they were over the ocean, and both prayed the broom wouldn’t run out of fuel, or do anything other than return them safely to land. A brightly lit landing strip made especially for brooms came into view. They had to circle while waiting to land and saw they were the only multiple occupant broom in the air.

“Should be an express lane for those of us with passengers,” the driver of the broom grumbled.

All the other witches waiting to land pointed and smiled their toothless grins at the two boys on the broom.

A witch on the ground waved them in, and their broom laden with three almost crash landed, but an extra magic spell the witch said, helped them to safely land on the ground. There was a long rack made especially for brooms, and there were hundreds hung on it this night.”

A mausoleum large enough to be a palace stood right next to the landing field. Surrounding it was a graveyard that went as far as the eye could see. The ones not yet at the ball were digging themselves out of the ground and grooming their flesh and bones with handfuls of mud. Once groomed, they waltzed and shuffled their way to the mausoleum, where sixteen skeletons played music on their bones.

A dance floor stretching from wall to wall was crowded with those doing the dance of the dead.

“Boys, I didn’t tell you before, my name is Griselda, and I’ll be your witch for the night. If any want to dance with you, you can’t refuse, unless you tell them you’re with me,” Griselda said.

“What will happen if we refuse and don’t tell them your name?” Marvin asked.

“Simple my boy, you’ll be dancing once a year.”

A tall beautiful woman dressed in a white gown took Johnny by the hand, “Come dance with me,” she said.

A smile lit Johnny’s face at the sight of a beauty here amongst the living dead. He took her in his arms and asked, “Are you really dead?”

“Yes, it’s been a week.”

“Were you wearing this gown when you died?”

“It was my wedding day.”

“I’m sorry. What happened?”

“The church was old, and once the vicar said, man and wife, the bells were rung. One came loose and fell on my head.”

“She turned and Johnny saw the side of her face she had kept turned from him, and he saw maggots crawling from the part of her head that had been crushed. He turned in revulsion and wanted to stop dancing with her, but she held him tight and pulled him close so his face was against the side that used to be her head. An odor of rot overcame him, and he puked on her shoulder, and couldn’t believe his eyes as the maggots, preferred a hot meal of vomit that puddled on her shoulder, dropped from her head onto the steaming vomit.”

“I’m with Griselda, he finally managed to say, and she let go and grabbed a rotting hunk walking by, and continued to dance.

He saw Marvin dancing with a witch that wasn’t as ugly as Griselda, but when they floated by, her rotting smell hit Johnny and he puked again. Another hot meal for the insects, clinging to the dead.”

“Marvin broke free, and begged Griselda, ‘Please, please, take me away from here. I promise never to mess with a witch again.”

“Me too,” Johnny said.

“A look of disappointment washed over her face as she checked out her broom from the rack. We took off and went back the way we came. Marvin and Johnny were relieved to be alive.”

She took them back to the school and said, “Sorry boys, you didn’t dance all night. I’m going to turn you into girls.”

“No please,” they begged to no avail.

“Quite a story, but you don’t really expect me to believe it, do you Johanna?” Bill said.

“I know you may doubt my word, but ask anybody. At this time last year, my name was Johnny!” Johanna said,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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