And We Wait
It has come again, the night when the little ones come to us with fingers coated in sugar and guts stuffed with treats. Oh happy night for our old hunger! Happy, happy night when they pour into the park wrapped in red and gold like candies and nobody cares if two or three come to stay with us in the pond.
I raise my head above the water. I can see them prancing through the trees and the breeze is delicious with the smell of their spleens. Sheila smells it too and she huddles close to me, her limbs quivering and craving. She’s still young and the reek of her rotting brains taints the sweet, sweet air.
Lenny isn’t far behind and now there’s a stirring from the deeps, where the elders sleep their dreamless sleep, to stalk this earth only when the Hunter’s Moon bleeds red.
As dribble runs from my shattered jaw a fly bursts from the yellow scab near my ear and lands on Sheila’s lipless teeth. With a loud crack, she snaps her mouth shut and swallows it.
There’s a panting and a dog explodes through the bushes barking, growling, sniffing. Did it hear us? Can it smell the blood on the moss, or that white stuff that splattered the reeds when Lenny’s stomach relinquished those tiny toes a fortnight ago?
Come closer, dog. That’s right, this way. Let us reach out and pat you. What’s that bulge you have? Could it be? So many heartbeats… so many more packed tight inside you! Oh, what a treat! Happy, happy night! That’s right, put your paw in the water. Now the other one. Just a little closer… closer…. closer….
It’s one of the big ones. We are many now and he doesn’t see us huddled together on the edge of the black pool, still as shadows on a headstone in the autumn twilight.
Kneeling down to fasten its leash, he grimaces. “What’s that sme—”
His stare falls right into my froth-spewing orbits. He stiffens like one of our own, his widened eyes invaded at once by a vision of despair and putrescence like a sea of writhing maggots, never to be erased, never to be excised even if he should fish out his pupils with his very hands.
His crazed pulse pounds the sides of his neck and we freeze, roaches on the wall caught by the fleeting beam of a lighthouse. The moon burns bright but we are cherished by the night under the old oak’s shadow.
He gags and dry heaves on the dead leaves. His eyes are vacant now, his gaze has fallen through cracks in the ground. He stumbles to his feet and pulls the dog away with a slow, mechanical gait, his skin as pale as a shroud bleached with moonlight. He doesn’t look back.
Sheila moans a muddy rattle. She lashes out at the water, clawing and biting the lilies. Cheated of dog this Halloween.
No matter. Long is the night and soon it will be November with its days so dim and its shadows so thick so deep so true, like black puss spurting from an infected sore.
Our hunger is great but the children roam so many and so lost. And the grown ones—ah, the grown ones—refuse to see what lurks so real beneath the surface.
We have been here since the hills were young. We huddle and fester in the deeps.
And we wait.
Loris John Fazio lives in Catania, on the sunny island of Sicily, where he earned a B.A. in Philosophy. He writes both in English and Italian and some of his poems have appeared in publications such as Frogpond, The Heron’s Nest, Better Than Starbucks, Presence and Black Petals Horror Magazine.