Many of you might know my next guest in the 13 Days of Horror from the ezine, Soft Whispers, a place for artists and writers to connect, submit fiction, art, and poetry, and challenge their penning with frequent contests. But he’s also started his own podcast, Dark Movements:
You’re about to hear a story that takes place in our world, in our time. The phenom behind this story is elsewhere. A place where the living aren’t alive and the dead aren’t dead. The space, the time, the distance – what you’ve never seen, what you’ve never heard, until now.
This is Dark Movements.
Sounds fantastic. It is a pleasure to welcome author and avid writer, Jim Bronyaur, and his delightfully, wicked tale, Mary’s Night.
By Jim Bronyaur
It was the last few minutes when dark and light fought. The darkness pushed down like an iron fist, causing an amazing show of deep purple and hot orange colors that stretched across the horizon. The almost bare trees stuck out like crippled fingers, all pointing to the ground.
Towards rows and rows of headstones.
It was October 13 – “Mary’s Night”, as it was called in the small town of Annville, Pennsylvania.
Leading a pack of ten teenagers including himself, Jackie held a beat up piece of paper in his hand. In his mouth was a flashlight. He tried to read the paper but it only came out as muffled words.
Most of the teenagers were boyfriend and girlfriend pairs, holding hands, the girls with their heads placed so delicately on their boyfriends shoulder.
Amy hated seeing it. Part of her was jealous, like the burning in your stomach jealousy. She never understood why she couldn’t have a boyfriend. Especially on a cool, scary night like tonight. She walked last in the small pack and more than once, she felt like someone was walking behind her. Each time she turned, she only saw the rounded silhouettes of the gravestones as the impending night was winning the war against daylight.
“Ah-ha!” Jackie yelled. He pulled the flashlight from his mouth. “I think we got it.”
Jackie walked to the front of a grave and shined the light.
“Angels lead you,” he said reading the stone.
“Jackie, wait,” a boy said. “The stone doesn’t have her name on it.”
“It’s not supposed to,” Jackie said. “That’s what makes it so scary. Here, everyone circle ‘round here. But don’t sit on top of her.”
“Why not?” a girl asked.
“Because Mary will grab you,” Jackie said in a cold voice.
The small group sat on the ground, again the girlfriends rested their heads on their boyfriends shoulders. Jackie sat back a little so he could address the entire group. Amy rest next to the gravestone, a make shift boyfriend, if you think of it in a morbid way.
“The story’s simple,” Jackie said. “Mary was born into a rich family. And the family started to die, one by one. Weird deaths too. An aunt fell down a set of steps. A cousin was bitten by a rare poisonous snake. An older brother fell into a wood chipper.”
As Jackie’s voice grew louder and his eyes got wider, Amy smiled. She loved autumn. The colors, the changing weather, everything around her dying. And then of course, the small town traditions like Mary’s Night. Even though she was alone, she still felt welcomed.
“Then people started to point fingers at Mary. They put the puzzle pieces together, I guess you could say. They determined that when Mary was born, that’s when things started happening. But wait, the story gets deeper. A couple doctors started asking questions… how could Mary be so big so fast? She was two already but should have been born six months ago. Then it was revealed – Mary was adopted. I guess back then adoption wasn’t as common as now. Then with all the bad things happening, people went crazy. They said Mary was the daughter of the devil. Sent to torture the world. Her adoptive daddy, Mr. Bringsley, he fought everyone. He said he loved Mary. That too soon changed. See, Mary killed her adoptive mother. Mary was about six or seven when it happened. She stabbed Mrs. Bringsley in the heart. When Mr. Bringsley found the bloody body, he went crazy.”
Jackie stood up and clicked the flashlight off. He was nothing more but a dark figure against a dark sky.
Amy smiled some more. She loved the ending to Mary’s story…
“Mr. Bringsley took Mary here, to the cemetery. He buried her. Alive. No gravestone or anything. He just chose a random spot and buried her. She didn’t fight him either. She stood and watched him dig the grave and then he threw her in and shoveled dirt on her face while she watched. Then he went home and killed himself.”
The girls in the small group gasped for air.
“And on every October 13, on Mary’s night, she comes back from the grave to take one more soul… which one of the nine of us will it be?”
Jackie let out a long laugh.
Amy looked around the group and saw a girl with her hand on the ground.
Perfect, she thought.
Amy closed her eyes and thought about the story – every year, they told the damn story. Over and over. Reliving the pain. Usually the story was told elsewhere, in the wrong spot. But Jackie, he had it right. For the first time in twenty years, it was done in the right spot.
And that meant…
Amy grabbed the girls hand and pulled. Before the girl could turn or scream, she was gone. Amy kept her hand over the girl’s mouth as they sank back into the dark of the cool cemetery dirt. Amy held the girl and felt her body shaking and felt her trying to scream. She smiled and closed her eyes. She could hear the faint echoes of reality coming to the teenagers…
“Where’s Amber?” a shrilled voice yelled.
“Stop messing around!” Jackie’s voice yelled.
“I’m not… she was just here… she’s… gone…”
“What did you do Jackie?!” a girl’s voice screamed….
It would be headline news by the morning. Someone went missing on Mary’s Night.
Underground, Amy was restless. She wished there was a way to clear up two things. First, her name was Amy, not Mary. Mary was the name those people gave her when they adopted her. And two, she wasn’t the daughter of the devil… she just liked when bad things happened…
2010 © Jim Bronyaur
BIO: Jim lives in Pennsylvania and has been published in many anthologies including End of Days (volume 4), Inner Fears, Twisted Tongue, and Diamonds in the Rough. Other stories have been published in Flashes in the Dark, Twisted Dreams, Pow! Fast Flash Fiction, among many others. He doesn’t sleep, drinks lots of coffee, and listens to Guns ’n Roses. Jim’s web site is http://www.JimBronyaur.com.