TALES OF UNEASE 1: BEGGAR’S NIGHT

Just after sunset, a flaming sky

We’re approaching a shifting, liminal time of year; it’s halfway to winter in the northern hemisphere, and halfway to summer in the southern lands. Many cultures have celebrated at this point. For the ancient Celts, some believe it was the beginning of their year. For others, it was the gateway to Winter or to Summer. In modern western cultures, the time between the end of October through January 6th is woven of old myth, ghosts, and returning ancestors.

In the American Midwest, where I grew up, Beggars Night was the local name for the night before Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve). Older kids (mostly but not always boys) would try to wheedle candy out of homeowners. There was always the threat of a Trick in the background–lots of TPing trees that night! I’ve lived over half my life in Texas, which introduced me to the festival Día de Muertos. This usually, but not always, two-day ceremony has a long and interesting history that involves indigenous observances, an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, and the Roman Catholic observations for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

To honor the coming of the dark side of the northern year, I’ve written some vignettes. They will probably end up as writing snippets in my new book, because one of the characters is a writer who has a slightly skewed vision. I think of them as Tales of Unease.

Because I don’t care much for the gore of horror. But those teasing stories of suggestion?

Oh, yes. . . .

BEGGARS NIGHT

You’ve walked past that small white house a million times. With its bright red door, velvet soft green lawn, and neatly-trimmed poodle bushes, it rates but an amused glance.

But three feet up the concrete walkway, there’s a chiseled, four inch jog in the straight path. Only once. It doesn’t go around anything. There is no tree stump or fairy ring. It’s as if you step sideways and you’re on another path.To another house. Another place. Another time.

Or not.

But still. . .the walkway hooks left.

Just four inches.

–Tales of Unease by Kat Kimbriel (2017)

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