Ghosts are everywhere now. Once we made fun of them by carving pumpkins into strange faces and placing candles within. We stuffed scarecrows full of hay and leaves and tied them to poles. We fabricated tombstones and placed them in our yards. “Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!” the call went out. Then the festivities began. We mocked death. We laughed at it. The more grotesque we could carve our pumpkins, the funnier we thought it was. It became a contest. Death became a contest of who could mock the end the most.
|Old and withered nests.|
But the laughter is all gone now. The false bravado we showed disappeared with the first wail of the banshee during the daytime. No longer confined to the night, the harbingers of doom now wander during the filtered daylight, and all festivities have ended. The Jack-o’-lanterns have shriveled and morphed with their facial features turning inward, like macabre dried and shrunken heads. We need only place them upon tall pikes whose ends are buried in the Earth in the front of our yards to show our enemies what befalls those who would cross us. Echoes of Vlad the Impaler.
The scarecrows, once plump and smiling at party guests, now lean over in twisted and tortured ways. Death has come to life. And every day, the ragged creatures seem to change their positions just a bit. At first we thought it was just the wind, but the wind does not make bodies of straw reach out in menacing ways. The wind does not cause hands of sharpened willow twigs to reach out and rake through our hair. The wind does not cause the sneer on the faces of the soulless greeters. No, something else is at work here.
Yet we knew it would happen, didn’t we? That’s why we played the game in the first place. We are not afraid, we told them. But we lied. We always lie. It doesn’t matter now. It’s not like we had a choice. The King was cut down in the Fall. The enemy has free reign, and even now we hear the Lord of Winter’s army approaching. The drumbeats grow louder and incessant, and the Earth shakes with the hooves of thousands of black horses. The day will come when we pray to have just the simple banshees again and an occasional murderous scarecrow.
These are the dark days.