“You know, just once,” Allen Parker grumbled, “I’d like to go trick or treating with my friends instead of sneaking around the woods on Hallowe’en Night.”
“To be fair,” his older brother Dale replied, “I’m not really sure what we’re doing would be considered sneaking, not with you running your mouth every five seconds.”
The two brothers were on a deer trail, on the north side of Goose Creek, crunching through fallen leaves on their way toward a hilltop rendezvous. Dale, a sophomore at Converse High, had found a mysterious note left in his locker that read:
Nos Galan Gaeaf Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta ei eni
gwydd cilfach / carucrefft bryn
byddai’n drueni os byddwch yn ei golli
At first he thought it just gibberish, but when he showed it to his dad, paranormal author Steven Parker, the Parker patriarch had recognized it as Welsh. After consulting the family library, a veritable treasure trove of supernatural lore, they came up with a rough translation that promised that on Hallowe’en Night, a black sow would be born to a witch between Goose Creek and Lovecraft Hill. The note concluded by stating that ‘it would be a shame if you missed it’.
The elder Parker had laughed, sure it was an elaborate prank being pulled on his son. Dale wasn’t so easily convinced. After promising his father that he’d ignore the invitation, he immediately made plans to do the opposite and enlisted the aid of his younger brother, Allen.
And now, here they were, deep in the thick of the Mississinewa Forest, a waxing orange crescent watching over their slow ascent up Lovecraft Hill.
“What do you think you’re going to find up there?” Allen coarsely whispered toward his brother, several feet ahead of him and nearing the top of the rise.
Dale looked back and held his finger up to his lips, begging silence from his little brother, but instead a cry of alarm escaped the middle-schooler’s throat. A flash of light erupted from the top of the hill, as flames climbed high into the night sky, licking the canopy of Ash and Elm that clung to the hillside.
Shielding his eyes, Dale climbed forward, cresting the hilltop where a circle of camp stones did little to contain the unnatural blaze before him. He sensed his brother taking his place behind him and they both stared in wide-eyed wonder as the flames subsided and they saw standing in the smoldering embers, dark, acrid smoke rising all about it, a black sow with red eyes aglow, burning with a fire all their own.
A cackling laugh split the night and the sow joined in, grunting and snorting, its hooves clawing at the fire’s remnants. It bolted forward, impossibly fast, and the two boys screamed as it barreled into them, sending the brothers tumbling from atop Lovecraft Hill toward the muddy bed of Goose Creek below.
—to be continued—