The Halloween Bonfire

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful
Seasonal tales from beyond the shadows.

Submitted: October 06, 2018

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Submitted: October 06, 2018



She could tell immediately that the folks moving in to the old house on the coast road would not fit in around here. It would be apparent to a blind man that they were neither fashionable nor wealthy enough for such an exclusive place as Dark harbor. That old abandoned house had been on the market for ever but no one had shown any interest up to now, the fact that the local planning regulations had forbidden the demolition of the old building made it an unattractive investment. The plot it stood on was prime development land with its panoramic views of the wild North Atlantic Ocean, but the house itself was grotesque and creepy. So year on year the asking price for the old house had plummeted, these people had obviously bought it for a song.

Marcy Quinlavan watched the new arrivals through binoculars from the veranda of her palatial home, they scurried in and out carrying cardboard boxes from the back of the ancient looking car. For all the world, the old car looked like a hearse from a bygone era, this served to infuriate Marcy even more. The thought of that obscene looking car parked next to her Mercedes C112 , caused a shudder down her spine. Nothing would please her more than to burn that eye sore of a building to the ground, and it would be much sweeter if those dreadful people were inside the house as it burned.

 Marcy like most of the other residents in the town was a new comer, one of the upwardly mobile people who had colonized this little corner of the coast. She and her likes had turned Dark Harbor into the prestigious area it had become, and she was damned if she would let people like this bring the tone of the area down. This place had been a forgotten backward little village before Marcy and the others discovered it, they had developed the village into what it was today. Dark Harbor was a much sought after address and the price of real estate had rocketed, it was now an exclusive community for the nouveau riche. It would be over Marcy’s rotten corpse that she would allow the likes of these people to settle here and ruin it for everyone else.

Marcy slammed on the brakes causing the tires to squeal in protest; she sat gripping the steering wheel and staring in disbelief at the automobile parked in the front yard of the old house. Up close now the car not only looked like an antique hearse, it actually was one. What kind of people were these new arrivals, did they seriously believe that this kind vehicle would be acceptable in her town? This was the final straw as far as she was concerned, one way or another, these people had to go. Stamping on the accelerator she drove off in a cloud of smoke leaving the smell of burning rubber in her wake.

The little gathering of women sat silently and listened attentively as Marcy detailed her plan, none of them even daring to sip from their wine glasses as she spoke. Each and every one present knew better than to interrupt Marcy while she was in this kind of mood. More than one woman present looked horrified at what she was suggesting, but none had the courage to contradict her. Marcy Quinlavan was a very dangerous woman to cross, especially if you intended to remain living in Dark Harbor. Marcy finished speaking and began to slowly stare each and everyone in the room directly in the eyes one by one, invariable no one spoke they just nodded in mute acceptance of her plan.

Over the next few days the women who had attended Marcy’s little get together, appeared at her door one by one and handed over their bundle of cash. Not one of them made any mention of what was discussed at that meeting, opting instead to part with their money and leave her company as quickly as possible. In reality more than a few of them believed it would never happen, but they were still willing to part with cash just to appease her. Those among the group that really knew Marcy were not as convinced, but they too secretly hoped she was just letting off steam.

It was the last week in September and the first storm of the season had come in from the sea, the night was dark and wild and the only illumination came from the flames erupting from the roof of the old house. By the time the voluntary fire service had reached the house it was already too late, before they even got the hoses rolled out the house and occupants had been lost. Marcy Quinlavan was the chairperson of the local council and it fell on her to oversee the inquiry into the tragic events, in the end it was decided that faulty wiring in the old house was to blame. Life in Dark harbor continued much as it had before the fire, except for the fact that Marcy now had an uninterrupted sea view from her veranda.

Over the following few weeks the residents prepared for Halloween, but with less enthusiasm than previous years. An air of gloom hung over Dark Harbor that seemed to affect everyone, that was everyone except Marcy. She threw herself into the seasonal spirit as if nothing had ever happened, she even sent out invitations for a grand party and bonfire to celebrate Halloween. Few people among the community had much interest in her party; however her fearsome reputation prevented anyone from refusing her invitation. The fact that most of the women of the community were party to her guilty secret ensured that they would dutifully attend her gathering. Marcy had cemented her position now in the community for all time; after all she had a terrible hold over them all now. After all nobody wanted their name associated with arson and murder, and equally nobody doubted the fact that Marcy was capable of shifting the blame from her and on to them.

October 31st arrived and the local children went about their usual trick or treat activities, while their parent’s minds turned to Marcy’s grand celebration. Once the children were all tucked up for the night, the adult’s donned ridiculously expensive costumes and dutifully made their way to Marcy’s big house. The drive way that led to the front door was decorated on either side with pumpkin lights and lights in the shape of skulls. Marcy greeted her arrivals adorned in a designer witch’s costume; everything about the celebration was lavish. A massive banquet had been assembled by professional catering staff, and the champagne flowed like water. However the only person who genuinely seemed to enjoy the party was the hostess, Marcy swanned about like royalty laughing and mingling with her guests.

The hostess was too caught up in her activities to notice the grime expressions of her guests, most everyone attending were too guilt ridden to even make eye contact with each other. Just approaching midnight the tinkling sound of a spoon striking a glass drew the attention of the people in the room. All eyes turned to Marcy as she began to address the gathering. “As the witching hour approaches us, I invite all the good people of Dark Harbor to join me in the garden for the Halloween bonfire. A celebration of our hard work in making this town the close knit community it has become”. Marcy then led the procession of people outside where a huge bonfire had been set; the wind blowing in from the sea was just getting up as Marcy ignited the torch.

Had there been any survivors they would have been hard pressed to describe what happened next. Marcy held the lighted torch aloft in an almost triumphal manner before plunging it into the pile of dry wood, at first the wind blowing across the remains of the old house below threatened to extinguish the torch. But suddenly the bonfire ignited in a great whoosh, the flames fanned by the strengthening breeze appeared to leap directly in Marcy’s direction. Within seconds the witch’s costume was on fire and Marcy’s piercing screams split the night air, flaying her arms and screaming for help she ran towards the crowd. It was then that things got really strange, the first person she bumped into burst into flames also. Burning figures ran hither and thither igniting everyone the came in contact with.

The flames had died out long before the fire service had reached the big house, and apart from the over powering smell of burnt flesh there was little evidence that a fire had even taken place. Not a single scorch mark appeared on any surface of the grand house, except for the pile of smouldering human remains in the garden everything else looked normal. Experts were called in from the city the following day, but despite all their expertise the cause of the tragedy in Dark Harbor was never determined. Appeals were printed in all the papers and news channels for the driver and passengers of a vintage hearse seen in the area that night, but no one ever came forward. Dark Harbor returned to being a backward forgotten place again, it is rarely mentioned now apart from in ghost stories at Halloween.


© Copyright 2019 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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