Day 41 of the ‘100 Pleats in 100 Days Challenge ……….. Happy Hallowe’en everyone.
(And please note ….I do NOT apologise for my correct spelling ! )
Well, today my French pleat is just a plain and very ordinary pleat …..but with the special Hallowe’en addition of scary SPIDERS !!!!
Actually, these little arachnids are rather too colourful and pretty to be very scary ……. but I thought they were perfectly appropriate for Samhain.
I have written about Hallowe’en quite often in the past ………. Though I do not like the commercialisation of the day …I do actually like this ancient, pagan event. It isn’t only American …as I often see erroneously posted on Twitter and FaceBook ….it is a very ancient celebration that is observed in a number of countries.
The Trick or Treating custom originates from the 16th Century. Irish, Scottish and Welsh people, particularly, used to dress up and go round the houses in their village or town and ask for food in exchange for entertainment.
The Dressing up originated in the 11th century. Celts believed that the barrier between the living world and the spirit world was thinner on All Hallows Eve and so some spirits would be able to pass through and walk among us. The folk dressed up in scary outfits; painted their faces white …. or did anything they could think of to ensure that any passing spirit would believe the villager to be already dead and so leave them alone. The church even joined in and began a tradition known as ‘souling’ ………. Apparently children would go door to door and ask for ‘soul cakes’ in exchange for praying for the souls of the dead. Another precursor of Trick or Treat ……?
So, you see, you can’t blame our American cousins for Hallowe’en ….can you ?
And as for the commercialism …..that, like the commercialisation of everything else …… can always be ignored ! !
I wondered which of my stories to post for you today …….. something scary, of course. I really couldn’t decide so I thought I would post the following one today ….and possibly another one tomorrow …… perhaps ….
“ Wham !” ….
The asteroid slammed into the side of the space-ship, causing the protective force-field to rupture. A shock-wave rippled through the craft, sending all loose objects flying through the air. The intrepid ‘hero’ bounced, heavily against the fuselage, receiving a black eye and a broken arm in the process.
Simultaneously, the ‘life-bar’ across the top of the screen, flashed ominously and a little red heart disappeared from the display in the bottom, left-hand corner.
Jane sighed and automatically pressed ‘F’ to replenish the space-man’s vitality, thus using the last ‘life‘.
” Humph !”,
She was rather bored with this game. It was not really ‘her thing‘; far too gung-ho and macho !
She decided to make a cup of tea, take her medication and then browse through the other games in her ‘Steam’ library.
Rising from the sofa, she placed her laptop on the coffee table and glanced at her watch. It was 7pm and she grimaced as she realised that she had been playing computer games for over two hours …….. but what else was there to do, on one’s own , on a winter’s evening, in a remote cottage in the Cotswolds ?
Jane had been ill for a couple of months with a particularly virulent form of glandular fever. Now, finally out of hospital, the doctor had ordered complete rest and quiet; not easy to find in her flat in Central London.
Thankfully, her cousin, Millie, had come to the rescue. Worried about Jane’s much bonier appearance and the gaunt look on her face, Millie had offered Jane the use of this delightful holiday abode. Deep in the verdant countryside, it was absolutely ideal and would give Jane all the peace she needed.
However, lovely as this place was, it could also be a little boring; especially as Jane was not well enough to go pony-trekking or do much walking. So, thank goodness for a stash of books, her trusty laptop and a good broadband connection.
The broadband was very important because Millie had introduced her to the ‘Steam’ gaming community and the wonders of computer games. This had evolved into something of an addiction. Her books were cast aside and the time simply flew by as she immersed herself in the virtual world of gaming.
An owl hooted as she put a tea-bag into her mug and poured boiling water. Millie had told her that a barn owl had come to roost in the old out-buildings. The hooting was usually a comforting sound, but tonight it had a strange eeriness, an almost unearthly creepiness……….. If she were a superstitious person ………….
She swiftly dismissed the thought, then was suddenly startled by a noise from the laptop, so hurried back into the sitting-room.
‘Steam’ had gone offline and a ‘pop-up‘ was now flashing madly on the screen. Accompanied by strident music it was advertising some new ‘smart’ phone.
She “tutted” in annoyance and checked the router………… Everything appeared to be okay.
“ Let’s see if ‘Steam’ reloads” she muttered, as she pressed keys and deleted the flickering advertisement.
The owl hooted again and she shivered slightly then went to the window and peered out at the garden. It had been dark for over an hour, but a bright, full moon was casting luminous pools of light on the gravel path and the few remaining, bedraggled Michaelmas daisies in the herbaceous border.
In stark contrast, beyond the pale picket fence, the bare trees and desolate barns loomed, large and menacing. Their black shadows morphing into maleficent monsters as, abruptly, dark purple clouds scudded across the face of the moon.
There was a storm brewing !
Jane loosened the tie-backs on the heavy curtains and pulled on the thick, silken tape, to close them and shut out the night. She placed two huge logs on the already blazing fire and then cursed as she remembered the tea-bag, still steeping in the mug in the kitchen.
Carrying the beverage carefully, cradling her hands around the mug to warm them, she returned to her computer.
Steam’s homepage had still not returned, but there was a new tab open on the screen………….
“HELLO JANE. THIS IS YOUR INVITATION TO PLAY A NEW GAME. IT IS COMPLETELY FREE ….. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. PRESS ‘ENTER’ TO CONTINUE “
” Hmmmm “ she thought, “Probably another ad for a flipping iPhone “
But, of course, curiosity won. She pressed ENTER.…….
There was a pause while it downloaded and then …………..
” Welcome to “MORPHEUS” !! ”
And the screen was filled with the most magnificent 3D images of shadowy roads and other phantasmagorical, dream-like scenes.
“Oh, a role-playing game !” Jane mused, ” How marvellous. This must be one of those demos that they send out to persuade you to purchase the complete game.”
Sipping her rapidly cooling tea, she sat down and began to play. It was, indeed a ‘RPG’; a spell-binding adventure of the ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ type. The aim seemed to be to travel through a variety of fantasy arenas in order to find and destroy a mysterious ‘stalker’ who was murdering various characters in the most grisly fashion,………….after first putting them into a deep trance, a magical reverie from which they would never wake.
Jane was immediately drawn into the game. The controls were so simple that it almost played by itself. The story-line was riveting and the graphics were totally alluring and realistic………….. She loved it.
Her fingers flew over the keyboard as she guided the characters around the game. Level after level; on and on she played.
She was oblivious to the storm rampaging outside; deaf to the rain and hail, battering against the windows; the doors of the old barn, squeaking as they swayed to and fro in the tempest.
Sometimes she thought she was close to exposing the villian, but each time the computer defeated her. Another victim was cruelly slain and the ‘stalker’ melted, once more, into the shadows of the next scenario; the mysteries of the next level.
“ I’ll catch him this time. Before he pounces on anyone else” she uttered to herself.
The alarm on her phone reminded her that it was time to take her final pill of the day.
“ Good grief” she thought, as she instinctively gulped it down with a swig of water from her bottle of Evian, ” Its 11pm !”
The fire that had, earlier, burned so blithely in the quaint, inglenook fireplace, had now almost died, leaving just a handful of faintly glowing embers and a half burnt log. The chilly air, from outside, began to slowly seep into the room. But Jane was unconcerned. She hugged her fleecy throw tightly round her shoulders and continued; enthralled by the game. She was edging closer to the monster’s lair, she could almost taste victory………………
But, exhilarated as she was, she was also battling her medication. Eventually, around 1am, she could fight it no longer.
Her eyes felt as though she had washed them in sand and her eyelids became heavy. Her tongue felt thick in her dry mouth and her head ached. Her fingers constantly missed the keys. Her body was succumbing to the opiates in her sleeping pill………………
The room was quiet. The storm had passed and now everything was still and calm. The only sounds in the cottage were the faint, but steady “Tick, tock” of the grandfather clock in the hall and the slow, soft breathing of the sleeping woman on the chintz-covered sofa.
Two, pretty Tiffany table lamps illuminated the scene. The fire has long since died; only a single, charred piece of a log remained in the grate. Grey ash had spilled out onto the hearth.
Deep red curtains covered the window, their colour matching that of the warm throw that was draped around Jane’s slender form. She was lying on the sofa, supported by plump cushions, Her head tipped back; her slim, white neck exposed; limp arms hung by her sides. She was in a deep, drugged sleep.
The laptop was safe on the coffee table and the game was still playing, but now all the characters had been defeated ………….. The game had been lost.
Morpheus stared out from his lair in the depths of the old sewers ……….. the woman was asleep………. he was slightly disappointed ……. this would be far too easy.
With one stride he exited the game and entered the room. He smiled malevolently and with a depraved, evil look he closed the laptop.
Now he was free………. With filthy, gnarled fingers, he opened his razor and leaned over the sleeping woman ………………. ………….
I feel there ought to be a “Muhahahaha …………….” at the end …………………