Snuffy woke up and bounced out of bed at ridiculously early o’clock each morning, ready for another day hiking her trails. It was still dark outside, but she had planned on that; Snuffy liked to beat the sun at getting up in the morning. Today would take her up and over Snohomish County’s Lord Hill, preferably not in the rain this time. She packed her Paleo lunch and her GPS, tied her laces and set off.
As she walked past the last houses in Blogtown she thought for a moment and left a note on Plot’s veranda.
“Gone Hiking on Lord Hill, fancy a pint in the Blogger’s Arms later? See you in there about 6:30pm Love Snuffy”.
She pinned this to the veranda where even Plot couldn’t miss it and felt smug at the idea of killing two birds with one stone. She had been meaning to catch up with Plot for Ages, and as an experienced hiker, Snuffy knew if you were heading off the beaten track, it was always good practice to let someone know where you were going and what time you expected to be back; y’know – just in case the worst happened.
Not that it would, she was well prepared and really, the idea that a disastrous accident would happen at Halloween was just too clichéd. She smiled at the thought, obviously despite a lack of nights out, Plot’s melodramatic over imagination was rubbing off on her. As she swung her day sack over her shoulder, Snuffy headed off with a spring in her step towards Lord Hill, just visable in the distance as the peak was just emerging from the purple darkness.
Much later, Plot was enjoying a coffee on the veranda with Lorna and Cherie. Pumpkin spiced lattes were a bit beyond Plot’s ability, but she could make a damned fine Americano and the smell of ground Colombian coffee beans mixed with freshly baked brownies wafted through the house out to where Cherie and Lorna were enjoying the view of Plot’s garden.
Cherie leafed through the local paper as they enjoyed their coffees. The Viral Post had a headline screaming about the disappearance of some notable bloggers recently, and followed with some speculation about the folklore tales peculiar to the area.
Years ago, there had been talk of mysterious creatures that only appeared at Halloween, apparently a bloodless body had been found dismembered in the woods and the sight of this had led some witness to go mad.
One hanged herself from an ancient redwood tree soon afterwards, and another appeared to drown himself in the lake, though his body was never recovered, only a pair of boots left by the water’s edge remained. But since then there had been talk of hauntings; the loggers refused to work there now, and the few hikers that ever used those trails often seemed to have a run of bad luck.
Cherie snorted. “What a load of absolute shite” she spluttered “This bloody paper is getting worse! With all the adverts, there’s barely an article in it any-more, and if this is the quality of what they write, it’s no wonder its going down the tubes!”
“I mean, who believes this stuff?” Cherie continued to flick through the paper.
“This is new though! Have you ever heard of a mysterious woman seen washing tea towels by the lake? Apparently it happens when a tea shop is about to close down, she can be seen crying and washing the tea towels for all the cups of tea that will never be drunk”.
Plot stuck her head through the door “I suppose that makes her a Ban-tea rather than a Banshee then?” she quipped as tumbleweed rolled past the front door. “Don’t tell Gemma, she’ll be horrified at the idea of no more tea. But I agree about the disappearances, it’s not exactly newsworthy. ”
Lorna nodded, with a mouth full of brownie. “I know” she agreed, “Bloggers disappear every day, it’s not like this is a phenomenon, it’s just part of the gig. One day there are here, then they are gone and you never hear from them again, it’s a bit pants, but it’s how it goes. Have you tried these yet, they are really good!” Lorna offered the brownie plate to Cherie.
“Thanks, I probably shouldn’t, but I’ll be out all afternoon on the pumpkin patch, so I’ll definitely burn it off”
“What time are you back? Will we see you in The Arms later?” Plot had found Snuffy’s note and was mentally reinforcing where and when she needed to be there.
“Dunno” Cherie replied, “we’ll see how it goes later – I might be on a promise with Dirk”
Lorna choked, “TMI!” she coughed
“Ah, but we have costumes and all sorts” Cherie continued, “Dirk has a skin tight, sparkly Devil suit, and he’s got me a sexy…”
“STOPIT! Enough already!” Lorna cut in, “I don’t need to know, enjoy yourself picking your pumpkin later”
Plot chuckled, she knew Cherie loved winding Lorna up, and she waved at her friend as she headed down the road. As she did so, she thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye, then it was gone. “Trick of the light” thought Plot and she headed back to Lorna on the veranda. “What are you up to later?” she asked.
Lorna had been on a few road trips recently. “No plans, as yet, Isla
may will want to go trick or treating, but at least it’s no distance over dinner tonight, I’ve had enough of eating in the car.”
Lorna’s eyes twinkled.
“What?” asked Plot
“Cherie, isn’t the only one with a costume later” Lorna grinned, but don’t ask, you’ll have to wait and see.”
Meanwhile up on Lord’s Hill Snuffy had got to the lake, where she sat down to get a spot of lunch. She unpacked her bag, and took out a bag of home made, paleo trail mix. As she munched, something caught her eye on the other side of the lake, she couldn’t make out exactly what it was, but whatever ‘it’ was, it moved quite fast and sparkled, before disappearing back under the cover of trees. “Probably a bear, thought Snuffy” though that didn’t explain the sparkle, “A bear with a camera,” she reasoned “Bear’s Photos, That would be a good blog” she thought out loud. Just as there was a rustle behind her.
Deeper in the woods the faint knocking sound was Bryntin banging his head against a tree.
Down in the Valley, Cherie was with her family looking at ever more intricate pumpkin displays, there were knights on horse-back and castles, and pumpkins with every conceivable design cut into the skin. As the light began to drop the lit pumpkins flickered and cast an eerie light all around. The dancing candle light made some of the displays look as though they were alive.
Cherie had become detached from the rest of the group and was beginning to feel a bit cold and tired, but she perked up when she saw a display set up like a pole dancing set, complete with music. Cherie had some experience of pole dancing clubs, and thought this couldn’t be any worse so she went over for a closer inspection.
It seemed robust. It seemed to Cherie that it was crying out for some real action. The “pumpkin stripper” was a bit static, and since there was no one around, Cherie vaulted over the pumpkin audience and took her place on the stage; taking up position by the pole and striking a pose that she intended to perfect with Dirk later.
There was gloved applause; Cherie was not as alone as she thought.
“My word, what I’d give to see the rest of that show” a sleazy voice came from the shadows.
Cherie was taken completely by surprise and in the process of disentangling her leg from round the pole she tripped, pulling the display down with pumpkins and splinters going in every direction. The noise brought Dirk and the manager of the pumpkin patch over like a shot.
Cherie poked her head out from the pumpkin pile.
“Anything hurt?” Asked Dirk
Cherie was as white as a ghost, “I’m ok” she whispered, “but I don’t know about him” pointing and a charred heap of bones that appeared to be impaled by the wooden dance pole.
“Bloody Vampire” muttered the manager, “it’s been stalking these parts for years, well done for finally getting rid of it Ma’am, though I don’t know how you had the strength to pull that pole out of the display, we thought it was as secure as it could be!”
Cherie gulped, “sorry about your display, I can try and help fix it if you like?”
“Naw don’t worry a thing about it, replied the manager, It would be coming down soon anyway and I suppose the sight of an impaled vampire will be more appealing to visitors anyway”.
Dirk looked at Cherie “Nightcap in the Bloggers Arms and then head home?” he asked with a twinkle
“Deal” Cherie replied, picking her steps through broken pumpkin pieces.
A group of friends were all sitting in the Bloggers Arms, it was a quarter past seven, and there was still no sign of Snuffy. Plot was beginning to get quite worried, it wasn’t like Snuffy to be late.
The door of the pub opened, letting in a draught of cold air as a bedraggled figure leaned against the doorframe.
“Come in or go out” barked Bryntin, but either way, close that bloody door, there’s a gale blowing through here.”
“Give us a hand, here then!” Shouted Snuffy from behind the slumped figure. At the sound of her voice, everyone jumped up and raced over to pick up a very feeble (and very glittery) Fatty McCupcakes, who was at the edge of her endurance. “Apple beer and cider doughnuts!” She whispered in a broken voice.
Snuffy plonked herself down in a chair. “Phew! I didn’t see that coming today” she exclaimed over a pint. “I found her up by the lake, totally disorientated and muttering about sprinkles, cider doughnuts and apple beer. From what I can gather, she had been doing an art class with her pupils before going to meet friends at Apple Hill. I think she took a wrong turning somewhere and it seems she’s been roaming about looking for a cider doughnut with sugar sprinkles for over a week now. No wonder she’s famished.”
Fatty was now midway through a pile of doughnuts that was the height of her chin, and the rasping had been replaced with a contented animal like snuffling.
Plot looked over at Cherie who was melting into Dirk’s eyes again. All in all it had been a more eventful Halloween than in years, “If I wrote about it, you’d never believe it” Plot thought to herself, as she supped her pint and got lost in conversation again.