GPPL Short Stories: An Atmospheric Halloween Tale

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The wind was very cold, an icy, biting presence that turned the strands of her hair into whips searing her frozen face. She kept her hands on the sleeves of her jacket to keep warm and told herself that it was enough. It had to be enough. Still, he made his way through the forest, following the salty brine smell of the ocean and the distant crashing of the waves against the cliff. The dim path in the woods was old and familiar.

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Oh, but it was cold.

And dark.

Storm clouds, dense coal against the night sky, had come in from the Atlantic faster than seemed possible. It was a dark and stormy night, he realized wryly, almost laughing out loud at the thought. Did something good ever happen on a night like this?

Her foot slipped on the wet leaves, the smell of sudden decay and then she was gone with the wind, and she stumbled – down – her bare hand reached out to grab a tree branch. The pain of the scraped skin became an afterthought as he pushed himself forward.

There wasn’t much time left.

The peak of the witch hour in Samhain was a very short window.

With one last burst of speed, he cut through the trees and into a clearing no bigger than a car, creating a perfect semicircle against the sheer side of a cliff. It should have been dark, but he could see enough to say he was in the right place.

He dropped his backpack to the ground and shook his hands, shifting his weight from one foot to the other as he checked the time. 43 seconds wasn’t time to spare, and she felt rushed as she kicked off her shoes, the cold, dead grass smacking against her warm toes.

And he took a step forward, toward the circle.

The wind kept up a fierce beat, almost pushing her away from the ledge. A flash of lightning illuminated the rain that was still coming in the sea.

A breath. In and out. Focus on herself.

And later –

He raised his hands to the sky, drawing an ancient symbol against the canvas of the storm. It was a precise job that needed skill; He had worried that he couldn’t do it with his hands as cold as they were, but the movement of his hands took on a brilliant shape, suspended until the last movement of his finger.

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The air was still and silent, a void of absence: time trapped when the enchantment ended.

A different world glowed behind the current reality, gold and blue in a phantom light. The echo of a sailboat crossed the horizon and for a moment he stopped in shock.

It worked.

“Daughter,” said a voice, carried by the wind that was gone. A hand reached for her, disembodied through a door she couldn’t see. “Come,” the voice called.

She took his hand and didn’t look down.

Charlotte Anderson / Emerging Technologies Librarian at Grande Prairie Public Library

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At the Grande Prairie Public Library:

Do you love short stories? All 34 th The theme of Collins’ annual writing contest for this year is “Beyond.” Be creative! Explore the topic of “beyond” in a short story. Stories must be unpublished, 2000 words or less, and the work of a single author. Registration deadline: Monday, February 28 at 8:00 p.m.

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