I had to write a Halloween themed story for a writing class one fall semester back while I was going to Polk State, this is what I came up with. Nathaniel posted the same story last year. Sorry for the repeat, but it’s really the only Halloween story I’ve ever written and I do kind of like it.
A Timeless Tradition
By Stephen Langenkamp
“A soul, a soul, a soul for a soul cake.
Come save a soul for a so-oul cake.
Two for Peter, and one for Pa-aul,
And three for the Lo-ord who saved us all
Put your hand in your pocket and draw out your ke-ey.
Go down to the cellar and draw what you please.
Give us cakes and ale and have thee no fear,
For we’ll come no more souling unti-il next ye-ear.”
“You’re supposed to say “trick or treat”.”
The three boys smiled at their addresser, a large middle age man sporting an exercise shirt, a four o’clock shadow, and an unpleasant scowl. “If thou gives us a soul cake we shalt pray for thy soul and the souls of thy deceased relations.”
“I don’t have any Saul cakes and my dead relations don’t need your help!”
The door slammed in the children’s still beaming face with force equal to the rejection they received. Unperturbed the trio of children turned and strolled down the cobbled street singing their afore related song.
“Knock, Knock” the musical young men rapped upon the great oak door of the next picturesque timber frame house. The thick wood seams that ran across the exterior of the house were highlighted in the light and shadow that escaped from the dense cloud cover that hung in the night sky. The timber frame and the jettied upper floor of the house blended perfectly with the atmosphere of the neighborhood. A place of quaint beauty carved in the heart of the bustling port city of New London, Connecticut. Though the neighborhood was new, its founder, Amond Norswetch, had taken great had taken great pains to insure the enchanting medieval atmosphere, even to the extent of installing only gas streetlights. The dim flicker of their flame backlit the boys perfectly as they eagerly waited for the enormous door to open.
“My, what adorable costumes!” chimed the slim young woman form the doorway. Anyone who trick-or-treated annually knew this to be the standard greeting the former Miss Smithe gave to all her candy seeking visitors. Perhaps this was the reason the trio paid no heed to her compliment.
“A soul, a soul, a soul for a soul cake!” Chanted the youth in perfect unison.
Mrs. Hardesty stood with her mouth open, dumbfounded, until the last note, of the last line, of the last verse of the song, and for some time after that. Finally, she roused herself. “Well, that was…that was lovely.”
She smiled. Placing her hands on the hips of her casual blue jeans she leaned forwards towards the youth. “Now how would you three little boys like some candy?”
Turning she produced a large bowl full of plastic wrapped bits of kid heaven.
“I’m hardly a boy,” retorted the oldest almost crossly.
This roused the middle child from his quizzical examination of the contents of the bowl.
“Thank you kindly.” He interjected hurriedly, “But we would really prefer a soul cake.”
“I’m almost fourteen,” the oldest muttered indignantly.
“Your only twelve years old,” chimed the youngest enthusiastically.
“I’m twelve and a half, and our father says I can do the work of any man.”
“Please, if thee mind not, we would appreciate a soul cake,” begged the middle child.
Mrs. Hardesty glanced from the middle child to the oldest her face as white as her comfortable tee shirt. Her wide eyes rolled back in forth in her head as she tried to decide which dilemma she wanted to handle first.
“I’m sorry,” she panted at last, “I’m quite sure you’re really quite grown up.”
Suddenly the frown on the boy’s brow disappeared. “I jest,” he laughed, “I will be a lad while I can. All things come to pass in their time. Now, if thee have them, we would take a soul cake in exchange for prayers for thy ancestors.”
Mrs. Hardesty scratched her head of fashionably short brown hair, her bewilderment was hardly lessened.
“I’m afraid I don’t have…that.”
“No matter, thank you kindly sir,” smiled the oldest boy bowing slightly. He spun about and marched off towards the next house. The other two boys strolled behind.
Mrs. Hardesty still stood on her doorstep as still and blank as a telephone pole, her eyes and mouth as opened as wide as humanly possible. Her shock and insult was hardly abetted when she heard the youngest boy’s voice float back to her on the crisp autumn breeze. “Rather young for a land owner and oddly fair in features.”
Mrs. Hardesty could just comprehend another’s assent, “Aye, but that will change with time.”
They continued talking amongst themselves as they walked on. They paid little heed to the other costumed youth that swarmed the narrow streets filling it from gutter to gutter. This really wasn’t a great feat, nor does this fact convey a disproportionately large number of children in the neighborhood, or an exceedingly bulky younger generation, for six normal sized children could effectively clog this street. It was designed narrow and built narrow, so narrow that at points the jettied second floors of the houses on either side almost touched. The size of the roads made it quite hard to navigate a car through the gated community, but that was undoubtedly part of Amond Norswetch’s plan, for he also forbade any car to enter his perfect little town. All cars had to park in a special lot outside the large wrought iron fence that encircled the community. The lack of immediate auto transportation was taxing on the inhabitants of the community, particularly on the children, but it did add immensely to the atmosphere. The quaint stillness and antiquated beauty blended with the crisp breeze created a perfect ambiance for Halloween. To be quite candid this was the one day in the entire calendar that all the neighborhood children could agree that they liked this boring old place.
The next boring old house was just that, boring. The lights were off and no one opened the door. This did not stop the children from knocking and singing their song.
They started up another chorus of their song and ambled up the walk to the next house. At the same time a group of candy laden kids rushed passed. As they darted to their next destination several of the zombies laughed and a plastic faced Superman shouted, “Hey, who let the bums in!”
“Oh what lovely singing voices, like a pack a angels,” another mocked.
“If only they could smell as good as they sing,” laughed a third, who apparently had gone trick-or-treating wearing a costume of himself.
Of all the children in the group, only the princess did not laugh. She stared at the singing trio blinking her wide eyes as they walked passed unabashed. After they had passed she turned her head of blonde curls to stare after them. They were different, and different is interesting. Gathering up her glittering skirts she ran after the singing trio.
“Hi there,” she called.
The just finished with their song, the boys turned to face the princess.
“I like your costumes,” she whispered.
The oldest boy seemed unusually quiet, he stood as if searching for something he just lost.
“Thank thee fair damsel,” replied the middle child, without any hint of mockery or irony, but also without any sign of emotional attraction.
“You went as beggars?”
“We are begging,” explained the oldest finally finding what he was seeking.
“I never thought of that!” exclaimed the girl her wide eyes widening more.
“And you are a lady?” His voice restored, the oldest now dominated the conversation
“Yah,” murmured the princess her eyes fluttering excessively, “My Mom made it.”
“Truly, she is a noble woman,”
The four of them stood for a minute not sure what to say next.
“Oh, I better go before all the candy is gone!” the princess suddenly cried.
“We are seeking soul cakes.”
Her heels clicked on the road as she ran off. Moments later her voice could be heard quietly, but distinctly like the quiet patter of rain. “Do you have any soul cakes Mrs. Hardesty?”
“Me thinks we have been walking for an exceedingly long time,” asked the youngest.
“Strange creatures out tonight, but not all unpleasant,” the oldest remarked.
“Just knock on the door Edmund,” interjected the middle boy exasperatedly.
This door was opened by a pirate no taller than the oldest of the singing trio, who now we must call Edmund.
“Ha!” cried the pirate, “You dressed up like homeless bums for Halloween? What kinda dopes are you?”
Of course the trio had a great reply ready.
“A soul, a soul, a soul for a soul cake.”
“Are you all retarded?” the pirate shouted over the song, “It’s trick-or-treat you idiots!”
“Come save a soul for a soul cake.”
“Didn’t you hear me I said…”
“Johnny!” interjected a woman’s voice, “Don’t talk to our guest like that!” A slim woman ran over to the pirate carrying a bowl of candy. Smiling she listened to the rest of the song. “My, that was beautiful.”
“Thank you ma’am” (the woman was wearing a grey dress so the boys had no doubt as to her gender).
“You look like beggars in those rags,” sneered Johnny ignoring the glare of his mother.
“We are begging for soul cakes,” the youngest boy announced proudly.
“Is that a family tradition?” inquired the mother at the doorway.
“Everyone begs for soul cakes on All Hallows Eve,” explained Edmund proudly, but puzzled.
“Johnny! You can’t be intolerant of others, we must accept all people and customs. You must forgive him,” she smiled at the boys, “it’s just what you’re doing is a little unusual here.”
“No apology is need ma’am,” Edmund assured her, “I realize it is a little unusual for nobility to go begging, but we wanted to show our little brother Thomas a bit of fun this season.”
The smallest boy grinned widely.
“Oh,” said the lady, “how nice, but you know there is no nobility here.”
“True, we are all the same before the Lord,” Thomas agreed.
Just then a tall dark stranger walked in. Actually he did not seem much of a stranger to the lady of the house for, after all, he was walking through her house. When she saw him she shouted, “Henry, look at these cute little boys! They’re begging for…for soul cakes isn’t it?”
Henry’s beady eyes screwed in for a scrutinizing survey of his visitors, “Indeed?” He asked in a heavy English accent.
“Indeed, indeed,” replied the middle child.
Henry’s eyes narrowed even more, “Just where you do chaps think you are?”
“London of course,” explained Edmund.
“You mean New London.”
“It’s not really new at all,” said Thomas thoughtfully.
“What ever gave you the idea of begging for cakes on Halloween?” interjected Henry irately.
“They’re nuts,” sneered his pirate son.
“It’s All Hallows Eve,” Explained the middle child calmly, “every Englishmen goes souling.”
“Yes they did, in the 12th century.” Henry snapped.
“You idiots,” laughed the dread pirate Johnny, “It’s the 20th century.”
“Actually Johnny, it’s the 21th century,” corrected his mother.
“It doesn’t matter it sure as cricket isn’t the 12th!”
“It twas when I walked through the irons gates into this place,” gasped Thomas.
“I am sure it still is. We did not travel to times that have not yet been,” Edmund reassured his brother, “These people are clearly jesting, or mad, or possessed.”
“It tis All Hallows Eve,” stated the middle child calmly.
Henry had heard enough, “Alright I’ll settle this once and for all. You boys come with me.”
He marched the boys outside and pointed around him, “Alright see if that looks like the Middle Ages!”
Just then, the clouds rolled away to reveal the moon and in turn all of the surrounding scenery. Henry’s jaw dropped his hands hung to his side. His entire body went limp save for his eyes which bulged out of their normally accommodating sockets. He stared too at the nearby stone walls and tower that rose higher than the fences of the gated community, at the rustic cottages, the farmland, and above all he stared at the open space in the sky that used to be filled by the big city buildings.
As he stared, dumb to all else, he could hear in the background the voices of the boys as they walked away. They grew louder and stronger as if joined by a multitude of boys all chanting the same thing.
“A soul, a soul, a soul for a soul cake.”