October 31, 2017

A lone hill, a substantial bump on the otherwise flat prairie, overlooked the town. A barrier fence of barbed wire circled the hill. It was hardly needed, for no resident of the town ever dared to consider for a moment setting so much as a boot toe on the hill’s flank. Terror of the hill had settled on the town hundreds of years in the past when The Terrible Incident had unfolded in gruesome detail. Since then, on Halloween, the people all descended into their root cellars and waited, not emerging until well after the sands of their hourglasses had run out and been turned to run out again 24 times.

The hill was hollow. Inside she waited, head tilted, listening. Patient. She was oh so patient. A single sound would be the signal. A single sound on Halloween would release her to feast, exulting in the bloody gore dripping from her lovely chin. The single sound she longed to hear was the fall of a foot on any street in the town.

Little Jodan did not fear the hill and thought The Terrible Incident was just a scary story, a myth. On this October 31, when the hourglass had been turned twice in the root cellar, and his parents and brothers were gathered in candlelight around the table playing cards, he managed to creep up the stairs, lift the trapdoor enough for him to crawl onto the kitchen floor, and then carefully and quietly lower the trapdoor shut. Jodan got up, tiptoed to the door, opened it, and stepped out into the street.

In the hollow of the hill she smiled.

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