by Kelly Casey

That feeling washed over her again. Like the blackness washing over the light. It creeps in gradually enveloping the earth, devouring the last traces of the struggling dusk. Suddenly, with the dark, plump and full on its feast of the light, everything turns a little bit uneasy, and the world shifts on a weary axis.

That is how it starts. Slowly it crawls inside, eating away at her until she is filled with the dark sensations most others never admit to having. She weakly resists, as does the light; but they both know, they will never win, it's just a force of nature for the both of them... beyond their strength, and beyond any reasoning…That is just the way it always was, since the birth of them both. She found this amusing, how her and the light had so much in common…and yet she had the feeling, whom ever it was that made them, were not of the same.

She no longer fights as hard... Usually muses over memories while it enters. Has "he" always been with her? Yes, she knew he had. Been with her before her mortal maker. Chosen for no particular reason she knew. Like the winner of the world's most unlucky lottery. Whatever the reason, he breathed the water of her mother's womb with her, and blew sour heat into her lungs on her first draw of air.

She rallies up an exhausted laugh when she thinks of the days she used to fight it... Fight it with all her heart and soul, and believing she could win. How amused he was and strangely touched by her strength. So much so, he let her live her teen years like the rest of "them." After awhile she started to forget him, and after more passing time, he was nothing but a nightmarish imaginary friend she had had when she was small. This is when he decided to crawl out of the dark corner he was crouched in so patiently... Like the people who leave home and make it big they often forget where they come from. He would never allow that. She couldn't forget, it wasn't a very grateful gesture.

Tonight was the night….finally. And how appropriate. On Halloween. Of course this date really didn't mean anything to him... she figured this was his twisted attempt at humor. Time is non- existent where he lives, and she had a feeling there would be no clock or calendars on the walls of her new house.

She need not pack any bags or kiss her mother goodbye. He would knock on her door like a proper suitor and her mother would answer. After that there would be no need to explain. At the very first sight of him, mother would go insane, and there was no sense in trying to stop him... He was very persistent.

So she waited... impatiently to just get it over, yet knowing this was only the beginning. She wondered if she would be able to hold onto some trace or aftermath of humanity…To store remembrances of the ones she will never see again, and realized she hoped she didn't. After he came, she was sure she would want to forget all of them.

He never meant to hurt her. And in a way she knew no other would ever understand, he loved her. She felt it very strongly. She also knew if she could pass on the love he has for her to another like a cold, or a nasty bug, they would die. They would burn up instantly, if that is, they didn't die of fright at the first hit of it. Not her thought. She has been conditioned. Given small doses long before her soul took shape.

It was different tonight she did notice, but of course this was the night. It start hotter, and became increasingly more uncomfortable. Her heart started to beat uncontrollably and beads of sweat broke at her temple as the heat grew faster like a fever the could drive a person to delirium. All of her senses became heightened to a point beyond human, and she could actually hear her blood pumping through her, listening to a furious ocean coming from inside out. She though it might break her eardrums, but was sure she wouldn't be able to feel the pain... She was above that now. Yanked above such feelings with each burning moment. Strangely enough, her last mortal though was a song lyric... "Fire is the devil's only friend?" "What song was that from again?"

She quickly recognized the sounds of the beating hooves as the "HORSES." She dreamed of the "HORSES' many times. Black and wild, running with the force of a million mad man off to war, blowing steam and smoke from their nostrils and frothing at the mouths like rabid dogs. Pounding through red clay with the all of the courage and anger of a kamikaze pilot, willing to do anything to reach her, having no other purpose in life, needing no other, and willing to die to accomplish the goal.

She knows he is at the reins of the wild beasts and he has just enough room in his chariot for one more passenger. He's always only had room for one. Room for her, and he has waited an eternity and beyond for her to sit by his side. The sounds of the slamming hooves grew closer, and the heat grew to an intensity that make her skin glow like a lit jacko-lantern. She held her hand up to in front of her face, mesmerized at by the orange transparency of her skin. The sight of rushing blood and cracking bones that she could barley feel. Through her hand, she received her first view of him. He was everything she thought he would be and worse.

For many years to come, people would tell stories around the campfire of that night. The stories told by their father's fathers, of that Wicked Eve. The night the clock struck midnight and there was a homicidal scream heard throughout the entire neighborhood, that hung in the air like the stick of dead fish in their small New England town. The screams of a manic, or the scream that is produced by the sight of one. Of course the people who were still alive to live to tell the tale, were said to be exaggerating for the sake of the story. That of course there were screams. Screams of that came from the heart of "her" mother... No one know what led her over the edge, maybe the strange disappearance of her daughter. Maybe she was heart broken over her running away, the girl was known to be troubled.

What ever the reasons, those were the screams that the tall-tale-tellers are exaggerating about. Yet those of them who knew, those of them who heard it that night, well they still have troubled dreams near and around Halloween. Usually they dreamed of "HORSES" and heat.

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Nightbride, 14 December 1996