I ended up needing to add a new scene to my WIP, and so that’s my story for today. It’s a rough draft, and obviously some of it won’t make sense because you won’t have read the parts of the manuscript that come before this. But at least I wrote something!
It’s Halloween in 1992. The character of Deva is dressed as a witch. Linnie is a cat. Thank you for reading.
Every Halloween Lake Belle threw a party downtown. Main Street and Central Avenue were closed off, white, orange, and purple lights were strung from lampposts and trees, and most every shop and restaurant put up Halloween inspired scenes.
The used bookstore had a great Edgar Allan Poe inspired pendulum over the door and fake blood splattered over the sidewalk. The café had a small toy black cat on each sidewalk table. Two shops across from each other rigged up ropes and pulleys to swing ghosts from one side of the street to the other. The first few hours, the area would be mostly families, and as the night wore on, the celebration took on a much more adult hue.
People walked by in Homer Simpson and Batman costumes. There were boys dressed as Michael Myers and Jason and Freddie Kruger. There were mummies and vampires and werewolves and witches. Deva looked at the other witches with a strange mix of emotion. She had just blown up a gas station. She really was a witch.
A group of boy zombies whistled and moaned after the girls when they walked by, but neither Linnie nor Deva paid them any attention. They overheard a couple talking about the gas station explosion—How do you think that happened?—but they turned around and headed in another direction.
Music pumped from speakers set up in the corners of the main intersection, and the girls stood next a lamppost watching the few people willing to dance this early. Later, after most of the kids were gone and nearby bar filled up with customers, more and more adults would take to making fools of themselves to the music. A few individuals actually could dance, and the girls watched them. Usually they danced too, but the shock of the explosion held them in place.
They didn’t even talk, but Linnie looped her arm Deva’s arm, and she rested her head on her friend’s shoulder. An older woman, dressed as a witch and a basket of candy in one hand, stopped next to them. She seemed to be watching the dancers, and it took Deva a moment to realize the woman was talking to her.
“How are you girls this evening?” the woman asked.
“Fine,” they chorused.
“You enjoying Halloween?”
“It’s been eventful,” Linnie said, lifting her head and standing up straight. “How’s your Halloween?”
Deva studied the old woman, and something about her felt familiar, but she couldn’t come up with any memory of her. “That’s a great costume,” she said. The old woman’s costume was stunning. She wore the traditional witch black and the pointy hat, but the dress flattered her figure. The dress had layers of black fabric, the outer layer being delicate lace. The sleeves draped dramatically and black ribbon encircled her waist. Polished black beads wrapped her wrists and her neck. She wore high heel black boots that laced up the back of her leg.
“Thank you, dear,” the woman said. “But it’s not a costume.”
Linnie pursed her lips together and gave her friend a look of sympathy.
“Oh, I just thought—” Deva began.
“It’s an easy mistake to make tonight, of course. I made it myself, and it’s what I asked to buried in, which I must admit, might be scary to some people.”
Deva and Linnie exchanged looks. “Well, that’s interesting,” Linnie said. “I’m glad you’re able to wear it out and about, you know, before the end.”
Deva winced and laughed slightly at the same time. “Do you make a lot of clothes? Because that’s really beautiful.”
“I have a talent for making things,” the woman said. “It runs in the family.”
“Are you from around here?” Deva asked.
The old woman shook her head. “I’m from up north, but my spirit was called down here on unfinished family business.”
“Oh.” Deva didn’t know how to respond. Something about the woman unsettled her. Deva assumed that between the explosion and Halloween, her nerves were stretched too thin. If she wasn’t careful, she’d start seeing real ghosts. “So, your family’s here then, is it?”
The old woman smiled serenely. “Yes. My daughter and my grandchildren.”
“Interesting,” Linnie said. “Usually it’s the other way round. People come to Florida to see grandparents.”
“This is most tiring,” the old woman said, “walking around like this, being seen. But I had to say hello to you, Deva.”
Deva started. “How do you know my name?”
“I know I should have seen you before it was too late.”
Deva stumbled for words. The woman had come across as eccentric, but now she was rather frightening. “I don’t know you.”
The old woman smiled. “I have neither energy nor inclination to explain. Honestly, it took so long for everything to be put into place, I can’t ruin it all by saying the wrong thing.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” asked Linnie, taking a step toward the woman.
“But when you have power,” the woman said, “ don’t be afraid to use it.”
At that a moment, a crowd of partiers walked right into them, cutting between the girls and the old woman. Their costumes, with large hats, fairy wings, or other strange parts, prevented Linnie and Deva from seeing anything around them. And when the troupe was past, the old woman was gone.
“Okay, that was weird,” Linnie said, looking around in every direction.
Deva let out a deep breath. “Who was she? How did she know my name?”
Linnie took her friend’s hand. “We know half a dozen people around here. I bet it’s part of that lady’s Halloween joke. She finds out a stranger’s name, says something freaky, and then disappears. She’s probably in the back of a shop right now having a good laugh.”
“Yeah, but considering the day we’ve had…like, what if she was my grandmother?”
“No. No. No. You’re just freaked out over the explosion. Dead people don’t walk around Lake Belle, even if it is Halloween.”
“How do we know everything that is possible?”
An En Vogue song boomed over them. Linnie, still holding her friend’s hand, stepped off the curbed and into the intersection where many costumed people were dancing. “Let’s have fun, okay?”
“Linnie,” Deva mumbled. She didn’t know what to think.
Linnie pulled Deva into the dancers, and she began to move to the beat. Her cat tail swung behind her. “Free your mind, girlfriend. And the rest will follow.”