The real halloween, p.1

The Real Halloween, страница 1


The Real Halloween

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The Real Halloween



  Grace Jolliffe


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


  Published 2013


  Text copyright 2013 Grace Jolliffe

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any form, or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical including photocopying, taping and recording, without prior written permission from the author.

  Published 2013


  Text copyright 2013 Grace Jolliffe

  Illustrations by Megan Archer

  Cover design by Suzie Hunt











  I love Halloween. I don’t mean the pumpkin-carving, mask-wearing, sweet-gobbling Halloween that we have every year here in boring old Ballyyahoo. That’s for the kids! I mean the real Halloween. The Halloween of Fear. Samhain, the Irish Halloween. In case you don’t know it, during the real Samhain, the dead return to the mortal world.

  Every Halloween, whether it’s cold and wintry or not, I leave my window open and lie in my bed, perfectly still. I love to watch the curtains blow from side to side and feel the cool draught around my neck, like the cold but gentle grasp of a ghost.

  When it’s very windy, I listen as the gusts make my window frames rattle. They sound like chains clanking, chains from ancient times, chains that could once have been clasped around the ankles of someone long dead.

  I imagine a Halloween long ago, when some villain, a murderer maybe, from the ancient village of Ballyyahoo was on his way to be hanged when he escaped.

  I imagine him hiding in the graveyard for days until thirst and hunger drove him out in search of food, only to find a row of guns ready to be fired and pointing directly at his head.

  I imagine that he was shot with three cold bullets. Since he was killed in a graveyard on Halloween, I imagine that he ended up being left to wander around the graveyard forever, with his chains clanking every time he passed too close to a grave. I love to imagine!

  Another thing I do on Halloween is place an ivy leaf in a glass of water. I read in a book that if the leaf is still okay the next day, then you will live to see the following Halloween, but if when you check the leaf in the morning it’s covered in spots, you are doomed! So far I’ve made it!

  My mother says I read too much. My teacher says there’s nothing wrong with reading, but it depends on what you read. They both say kids like me should only read books teachers and parents approve of, but the thing is, they never approve of books that I like.

  You see, the only books I ever want to read are scary, terrifying, petrifying stories. Stories that give me goose pimples, stories that make me quiver, stories that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

  If I could, I’d read ghost stories all day long. There isn’t a whole lot else to do here. You see, Ballyyahoo is a tiny town on the west coast of Ireland. It’s so small that it’s nothing more than a narrow finger of land that sticks out into the Atlantic – a bit like a sore thumb.

  Ballyyahoo is a town that nobody knows about and a town where nobody goes. They should have called it Ballynowhere.

  My mother gets annoyed if she hears me saying things like that. She loves it in Ballyyahoo, but then she would, wouldn’t she? Old people like boring stuff and boring places, and you can’t get any more boring than Ballyyahoo. She also gets annoyed when she catches me reading my favourite book, The Big Book of Gruesome Ghost Stories. I like to read it under the covers in bed. She tried to stop me by turning off my light and listening carefully outside the door, to try and catch me sneaking out of bed.

  I tried reminding her about my right to light, but she’s not interested in my rights, never mind my right to light. She just wants to stop me reading my stories. As if anyone could stop me. I would always find a way to read, and if I couldn’t read, then I’d just make up a story and tell it to myself.

  Besides, I could keep reading with or without the light. You see, my mother had forgotten something, and it was something very important. She had forgotten that Grandad had bought me a brilliant, blue torch for my last birthday.

  So the second she turned the light off, I would listen carefully for the sound of her footsteps tiptoeing down the stairs. I always heard her, even though she tried to avoid the seventh step, the one with the coffin-lid creak that she said was loud enough to wake the dead.

  When I was sure she’d reached the bottom step, I’d take out my little blue torch and shine it on my book. Reading by torchlight is the best way to read scary stories. Torchlight makes the white pages glow in the dark, and it makes the shadows dance around the side of your bed like a floating circle of grey ghosts. Grandad always says that sometimes the scariest ghosts are the ones you conjure up yourself.

  But, last night, something changed, and unfortunately for me, it wasn’t a good change. I made a mistake, a really bad mistake, not as bad as getting lost in a graveyard at midnight, on Halloween, without a torch, but nearly!

  You see, I’d been out with the lads, scaring people and getting sweets, and I was late getting to bed. I fell asleep still reading my book, and it fell on the floor. Unfortunately, my mother’s hearing is so good that she can hear the seeds blow off a dandelion. She came running in, and caught me torch-handed.

  She lifted the book off the floor, and it fell open at the page with my favourite picture. The picture was of a hooded psycho-killer with a knife sticking out through the top of his head and blood dribbling down his face.

  “This is rubbish! Stupid book with these stupid pictures! Why can’t you read something nice?” she shouted. She was so mad at me that she went on and on and on, and on. I can’t remember every single thing that she said, but it was something like this: “Now, you listen to me, Sean, I’ve told you before, and if I have to tell you again, I swear I’ll have to put you up for adoption. These stupid, stupid stories will suck the brains right out of your head. From now on they’re banned – all those books are banned! Forever and ever!”

  I reminded her that she couldn’t ban books forever, because one day I’d grow up, but that just made things worse, a whole lot worse.

  “Grow up! Listen to me, Sean. You’ll be lucky if you make it as far as twelve, never mind grow up, you little divil! If I had answered my mother back like that when I was your age, I would have had more than an axe sticking out of my head. I would have been hung, drawn, and quartered!”

  By the way, she always exaggerates when she’s annoyed. I am pretty sure no kids were hung, drawn, and quartered when she was young. I mean, she’s thirty-five, which is really old, but surely they haven’t hung, drawn and quartered people in Ireland for at least a hundred years. Even in Ballyyahoo!

  I didn’t ask her, because she was in the middle of a rant, and anything I said would only have caused the rant to go on for days.

  “Do you hear me, Sean? No more torches! No more ghost stories! You are going to read some real b
ooks! Educational books! You’re going to pull your socks up and put your head down in school, or you’ll end up digging the roads in the rain. Like your poor old Grandad used to do before they brought in education.”

  She always says that. I mean, what’s so bad about digging the roads? I wouldn’t mind. It couldn't have been raining all the time. I bet if I’d been digging the roads with Grandad, I would have found lots of skeletons, I love skeletons. I asked for one last Christmas, but my mother just asked God to give her strength, and said she was going to have ‘words’ with Grandad.

  I hoped that she wouldn’t ask him not to tell me stories. He tells brilliant stories, like the one about the coffin!

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