Alice Winterborne stepped into the kitchen holding a basket of last-minute cuttings she wanted placed around the formal parlor. She handed the basket off to one of the party planners gofer assistants – as she nicknamed them – with instructions on where the cuttings should be displayed. The kitchen was buzzing with activity. The chef keeping a watchful eye on the main courses as his assistants prepared and arranged finger food platters. She headed to the main parlor where the principle party planner, two personal assistants and her butler were waiting for a last walk through of the party preparations. Tonight was going to be special, she thought, as they began their review. Experience taught Alice to listen to that little voice, she made sure to pay close attention to the details of this event. All the pieces had to be perfect before the guests arrived and magic happened. Something was happening tonight, her gut was telling her. What it would be, well, she hadn’t a clue. She was going to leave it up to the Fates tonight, as their powers shine brightest on All Hallows Eve.
The house is a truly striking construction taking inspiration from the House of Seven Gables made famous by the haunting story by Nathanial Hawthorne. Traditional English hedgerow gardens surround the front and sides of the house and a classic kitchen garden and green house fill the back landscape. The construction of the house generated reams of gossip laden articles in the local news rag and endless blog posts speculating on the design and the curious woman who planned to make this place her home.
The widely speculated home belonged to Alice Winterborne, A silver-haired, self-proclaimed witch with a strong marketing bent who has become widely known as the Martha Stewart of Wicca. Over the years, she created a popular lifestyle brand based around all things natural, organic and Wiccan. There are rumors swirling of a television series in the works, but one never knows with Alice. She keeps her cards close. Tonight, she is opening the doors of her spectacular home to a select number of guests and media. As a nod to the silly gossip reports of witchcraft going on in this home, Alice chose All Hallows Eve as the date of this event. Always the good marketer of her brand is Alice.
“Make sure the Orb is prominently placed on the mantle and with that I believe were are good to go’ Alice stated. ‘What a lovely piece of art’ observed Polly. The party planner admired the quality craftsmanship of the orb and asked of its history. “Ah, this old thing’ Alice exclaimed cheerily. ‘It was a gift from my great-grandmother. It is not made of glass, it is a solid piece of quartz crystal that was shaped into the sphere you see here with water and abrasives powders placed into a container while constantly turned for decades. The orb is speculated to have been a gift from Chinese royalty to my great-grandmother, However, we have no definitive proof of that exchange.’ Alice winked ‘But it does make a good story to tell the grand-kids.’
‘Wow, that’s impressive’ replied Polly. ‘I’ve heard orbs are known to have scrying powers or at least that’s what I’ve seen in Lord of the Rings.’ Alice laughed. ‘The only power it has is what you believe the orb is capable of; all it does for me is collect a remarkable amount of dust.’ The group laughed at Alice’s joke and began filing off to complete last minute chores.
Alice paused and gazed at the orb for a few seconds, as flashes of blue silica particles began swirling through the orb. ‘Excellent! Still in working condition.’ Alice thought to herself before heading off to prepare for her guests who would be arriving within the hour.
Lucy blinked, then blinked again as she regarded her costume in a mirror. It’s going to take time to get used to the outrageous false eyelashes her friend Monica talked her into wearing with her costume. Lucy had to admit, the lashes completed the look. Who ever said fashion must be functional? Dramatic lashes were the least of her annoyances with this costume. The corset apparently was of the style that considers breathing an optional activity, but the shape it gives..damn what a look. “So, in short, I won’t be able to see or breathe in this costume’ Lucy said to no-one in particular. Actually, that would fit with the theme of the costume Lucy chose, breathing and sight are not requirements for a sugar skull. Lucy’s apartment was taken over by her three closest friends as they excitedly helped each other craft the perfect Halloween costume. They all had scored an invite to the event of the season, if not the year, Alice Winterborne’s halloween open house.
‘For the love of all that’s holy, why won’t this eye stay in place.’Peter huffed annoyed. Monica looked over and offered to share skin glue with him. “Do you really need the eye?’ Simon asked as he adjusted his cape. ‘Of course I do. What self-respecting Zombie does not have an eyeball hanging out of its socket.’ Peter snapped back at Simon. ‘Whoa..it seems someone forgot to snack on brains today’ Simon threw cotton balls at Peter. ‘Boys behave!’ Don’t make me go all Khaleesi on you’ Monica glowered at them. Actually, she didn’t need the costume to put people in their place, she had that commanding air about her that people either respected or feared. Lucy stepped out the bathroom. Stepped is too kind of a description for someone who stumbled about with legs of a newborn foal. ‘Oh boy, this is going to be interesting.’ Lucy whined internally. ‘Hey girl, what you on?’ joked Monica as she guided Lucy over to the sofa. ‘Breathing is a skill I’m going to have to practice and the eyelashes are..interesting.’ Lucy replied. ‘Give me a few minutes to adjust to this corset and I’ll be fine.’ As Lucy caught her breath, she looked at her friends and thought, damn they look good in costume. ‘The Bela Lagosi dracula suits you Simon.’ Lucy observed. ‘What’s wrong with your eye, Peter? Also, no one mess with Monica tonight. Ahh, Monica, is that a real sword? We are all made of awesome tonight and I still can’t believe we are going to the Ball.’ Lucy said excitedly. ‘It’s an open house’ replied Simon ‘A real freaky looking open house on Halloween – what could go wrong’ Peter wryly observed.
Thirty minutes later and minus the eye lashes, the four friends set off to enjoy an evening in the most talked about homes in their small town.
Alex with Marie following along entered the grand foyer to greet the hostess of this event, his aunt, Alice Winterborne. ‘Auntie, this house is stunning. Well done.’ Alex admired as he embraced his aunt in greeting. ‘Aunt Alice, I would like you to meet my friend Marie.’ ‘Girlfriend’ Marie clarified. “Of course.” Alice replied. ‘Welcome to my home, please feel free to wander where you may.’ Alice replied evenly. Marie trotted off to check her costume in one of the french mirrors lining one wall of the parlor. ‘I can almost finish your sentence, Auntie.’ Alex mused. Alice smiled and queried back at Alex, ’Girlfriend or friend with benefits?’ Alex shifted his stance, placing his hand over his heart ‘Oh you wound me, Auntie,with your laser-like insight.’ Alex smirked back at her. ‘I’m simply seeking further clarification, Alex.’ Alice said. Uncomfortable where this conversation will lead and he has been down that road far too many times, Alex refocused the conversation admiring the spiraling blue particles in the Orb. “I see you broke out the Orb for this event. Are you expecting company?” Alice raised her eyebrow before answering his question. ‘Nothing I can’t handle, dear boy. It is more to confirm a suspicion than detect a threat.’ The Orb is more than a pretty piece of art work. This orb was created as a detection system when one of their kind is near. It does not differentiate between good or evil, it simply reveals the presence of an Other in the local area. To the ordinary human, the orb is a beautiful piece of artwork; to the Others, it is a stealthy way to detect more of their kind. “Oh, you suspect there is an Other in your guest list?” Alex asked. ‘I have my suspicions’ Alice replied cryptically and said no more on the topic. ‘Go gather your ‘girlfriend’ Alex and help yourself to some of Chef Raoul’s appetizers, I have more guests to welcome.’ With that Alice bustled off to greet the Mayor and his wife who where just escorted into the foyer by Alice’s ever faithful butler.
11:30 pm and the party was in full swing. Alice and her friends arrived three hours early and somehow managed to enter the home through the kitchen instead of the front door like most normal guests. It was all because Lucy saw a dog she had to follow. The little Westie lead Lucy and her friends through the side gardens into the kitchen garden before running off and hiding. That is how a Sugar Skull, Khalessie, Bela the Vampire and the Walking Dead made a rather awkward entrance through the kitchen pantry into the main dining room. Simon mumbled under his breath that this was the last time we get an invite to this house before glaring at Lucy. Simon, the walking dead, was a stickler for protocol and manners. This rubbed his dangling eye the wrong way all together. ‘Stuff it’ replied Monica ‘Khalessi’ as they began mingling with the other guests before finding the courage to greet the renown Alice Winterborne.
Simon was in his element, the guy was a born showman. In his white tie tuxedo and fake fangs he round among the guests charming them with his wit and style. That is the authentic Simon shining through his costume, Lucy thought as Simon cracked a joke making Khalessi laugh out loud. They are so cute together, why don’t they see it? Lucy questioned as she laughed at his joke. Lucy took a step back bumping into a blonde Amazonian woman dressed as Raggedy Ann reimagined as an employee of Heidi Fleiss. ‘Sorry, my bad’ Lucy apologized. The woman glared at her for a moment then moved on without a word. “Whatever’ Lucy sighed and returned to the conversation.
Lucy’s stomach growled which was a good sign, that meant she was getting enough oxygen to feel hungry. She went to select a few appetizers and that’s when she saw the Westie sitting up on its hind legs, pawing at the glass door. ‘I’ve got to see this dog’, Lucy thought. She turned handing her appetizers to Simon. ‘Here eat these, I’ve a dog to follow.’ Simon rolled his eyes, grabbed the appetizers and waved goodbye to Lucy.
Lucy slipped through the French glass doors and followed the Westie down the garden path. She kept calling for the dog to come to her to no avail. The dog kept looking back and moving on down the path with Lucy following where he led.
Alex stepped out into the crisp night air and took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The moon was full tonight and lit up the garden with its light. None of the guests wandered out into the kitchen garden and Alex was very grateful for that, he needed a quiet place to clear his head and refocus. Society gatherings were always awkward at best for Alex and Marie’s presence added salt to this wound. He needed a quick break before rejoining the crowds. Ah, the silence is absolutely needed, thought Alex.
Lucy quickened her pace to catch up the the dog. Maybe she can outrun him and make him stop. Her corset was saying something else entirely. The Westie turned around and barked at Lucy before rounding a corner. Lucy raced around the same corner and found herself slamming into none other than Haven Fall’s #1 Eligible Hottie – Alex Winterborne.
‘Oh crap’ thought Lucy.
“What the hell!’ Alex griped
“So sorry! I am so sorry for running into you.’ Lucy pleaded awkwardly
‘And you should be’ Alex replied
‘I was following a dog, a Westie, he ran into this area, did you see him?’ Lucy asked
‘No. No dog ran across this path. I’ve been here at least ten minutes’ Alex replied coldly
Lucy stood stunned for a moment, catching her breath. She finally took in the visage before her. Wait a minute..was Alex trying to dress as Raggedy Andy? Seriously, what is with the sequin pockets? Is that a red mop on his head? Ha! This jerk thinks he can look down on me when he’s the one wearing a mop on his head, Lucy fumed silently.
“Maybe your dog turned down a different path.’ Alex said gently, feeling bit guilty about his recent attitude toward this woman dressed as a sugar skull. Alex perused this strange woman’s costume. A sugar skull? Really? Does she have any idea of the otherworldly connection sugar skulls have? Probably not just a typical girl latching on to the latest costume craze.
Lucy took an inward deep breath before responding. ‘There is no other path, the Westie turned into this section of the garden, I was two feet behind him. Perhaps the sequins scared him away?”
Alex snorted ’Touche’.
Lucy smiled. Then gasped. ‘Oh, you’re Raggedy Andy…Heidi Fleiss..er..Raggedy Ann’s partner.’
Alex bowed at her connection. ‘The one and only.’
‘Well, I can see the inspiration for you costume’ Lucy jabbed pointedly.
‘Oh, what was yours?’ Alex rejoined.
‘Sugar skulls are representative of the link between the living and the dead. This is the night the veil between the living the dead thins allowing spirits to visit loved ones, if you believe. I think this is a proper historical costume for this evening.’ Lucy responded.
‘Impressive. That’s not just sugar in your skull. So, tell me, do you believe in ghosts?’ Alex asked.
‘Doctoral student in biotechnology, thank you very much. And no, there is no conclusive evidence to support the theory of life after death or ghosts for that matter. It is the colorful traditions passed down from generation to generation that is the real magic of this day. ‘ Lucy stated with clear resolution.
‘How do you explain the dog you’ve been chasing tonight?’ Alex asked
‘He must has scrambled under a bush or you did not notice the little guy running by. There are lots of theories here to pursue.’ Lucy replied.
‘Of course. By the way, I Alex Winterborne. Pleasure to meet you.’ Alex could not contain the smirk as he teased this sugar-addled woman.
‘Alex, I know who you are, you’re Haven Falls #1 Hottest Eligible Singleton.’ Lucy smile did not reach her eyes as she replied to his comment. ‘Although, not for long, since you found your Raggedy Ann.’
‘What would you know about a solid relationship? Alex rose to the implied challenge of her words.
‘Well, I can say the basis of solid relationship is one where two people can comfortably sit down to a good cup of coffee before taking in a classic movie.’ Lucy replied ‘ But they better have a firm understanding where to get a good cup of coffee. If not, the relationship is doomed.’
Alex just stared quizzically at her.
A beat more and the sound of cat singing the song of its people or Marie calling for Alex floated in the air.
‘Sounds like you’re being summoned by your one and only’ Lucy observed as she made to walk past Alex.
‘Wait, what’s your name?’ Alex asked quickly.
‘That’s my secret. Farewell Alex’ and with that Lucy walked the few feet to rejoin her friends in the main dining room.
Midnight, the witching hour, all hell breaks loose as Simon finds he can no longer contain the contents of his stomach and finds the nearest skull/wastebasket to contain his vomitus. Lucy runs over to Simon hold his head as he retches, asking Peter to gets some towels and water. Simon finally purges his stomach, turns over and slides down the wall to a seated position. ‘I really don’t feel well’ is all he manages to say before retching anew.
Monica finds the butler and informs him of her friends illness and implores him for help. The ever efficient butler springs into action, gathering ginger soda, towels and cool water he helps Simon get to his feet escorting him to the pantry. He wets the towel with the cold water and places it on Simon’s forehead and practically forces him to drink a ginger concoction to stop the nausea and vomiting. Thirty minutes later, Simon begins feeling better. His friends decide it’s best to leave the party and make sure Simon gets home safely. Lucy takes this opportunity to venture into the main foyer to say her goodbyes to Alice and explain her rather rude entrance. Alice is holding court, as she is known to do, with several of the towns leading politicians and socialites. Lucy mentally tipped her had to this woman, she is a marketing machine as the success of this party reflects.
‘Leaving so soon?’ Alice looked genuinely upset. Yes, I’m afraid so, Simon has fallen ill and I want to make sure he gets home safely.’ Lucy explained. “I had an extraordinary time tonight and thank you again for your kind invitation.’ Alice replied ‘You haven’t met my nephew yet.’ Lucy decided the less said the better ‘Perhaps you can invite him to the coffee shop. Right now, I have to get Simon home.’ Alice resigned ’Of course, dear, you are a good friend.’ Alice hugged Lucy goodbye and wished her safe travels. Lucy turned to leave when a object caught her eye. A perfectly polished crystal orb rested on the mantle of the fireplace. It appeared to have bright flashes of blue silica twisting through the core. “Alice… what a beautiful orb’ Lucy remarked transfixed by what she was viewing and was startled to see Alice right behind her. ‘What do you see, my dear’ Alice asked carefully. ‘The interior of this crystal is glowing with flashes of blue silica. How did you get that to happen?’ Lucy asked. ‘Just an old parlor trick. I’ll show it to you sometime. Right now it is best you attend on your friend’ Alice answered. Lucy hugged her friend one more time before departing to collect Simon and head home.
Lucy and her friends traveled home safe and made sure Simon was okay before sending him home. What a heady night for all of them. Indeed.
After the last guest departed, Alice summoned her nephew. ‘We have to talk. It seems there is a new Other in our midst.’ Alice revealed. ‘Really, who?’ Alex replied sipping a draught of brandy. ‘Lucy Green apparently. A good steady girl but I don’t think she realizes her capabilities. The Orb was glowing like I’ve never seen before, she is powerful, indeed.’ Alice spoke thoughtfully. ‘Have you met her?’ Alex replied by shrugging his shoulders. “She was here tonight dressed as a sugar skull’ Alice noted. Alex choked on his drink, that was Lucy Green? Oh boy, he thought, the less said the better. ‘There were so many people here tonight…’ Alex replied lamely. Alice pondered his response ‘Oh who am I kidding, you had Raggedy Ann distracting you all night. I’ll set up a meeting in our coffee shop, what do you think, Alex?’ Alex paused before responding ‘How about I talk it over with grandpa before making any moves, okay?’ That answer seems to mollify Alice for the moment.
Two weeks later on a sunny Sunday morning in November, Alex knocks on Lucy’s apartment door with two cups of coffee and a pair of tickets to an afternoon showing of Casablanca.
Clearly a touch more than 100 words. This is when Alex and Lucy meet one another. Just ramping up for Nanowrimo this November.
Jimmie Bise – Here I stand
Big Gator 5 – Sincere Pumpkin Patch
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