The Beltane Massacre
By Robin Renee Ray
The ambulance came and took the man away, telling Gram that he was the town loony, and not to take stock in anything he said. After everyone left, Gram and his receptionist began cleaning the spots of blood that the old man lost on the white tile floor.
“Did you know him?” Gram asked.
“No, Doctor Simms, I’ve only seen him walking around talking to himself. The whole town has.”
“I guess we’re closed for the next three days…wife’s orders.”
“I’ll be there,” Kelly quickly added.
“At the farm,” Gram turned as he took off his white work coat.
“Sure, I’ve been Wiccan all my life.”
“Lil, doesn’t remember a lot.”
“Oh, no need in asking me either. I hear this year is something straight out of the book of ancients. I’m so excited I can’t stand it.”
“What’s the book of ancients?” he stood and threw his wash rag into the bucket.
“Some covens, a very few mind you, live by the old way…the way of the Celtic’s. It’s said that in the old days the coven gave sacrifice under the blue moon, but that was like hundreds of years ago. We offer a feast now, only this year it will probably be huge.”
“Sacrifice, huh,” he said, turning off his desk lamp, vividly remembering his dream. “What did they sacrifice?”
When he got no reply he stepped out of his office.
“I have to go now Dr. Simms. I’ll see you at the ceremony.” Then she simply walked out the front office door.
“What the hell was that all about?” Gram asked aloud, and then gathered the rest of his things.
He opened his cell phone and dialed Lilith.
“Is it safe to come home?”
“Yeah, but don’t grab me like you always do. Gran might not like that. Just kiss me on the cheek,” she whispered.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, Gram, I am. My family is very old fashion.”
“But you’re my wife.”
“I know, sweetie, but she’s old…Please,” she became quite.
“Okay, want me to pick anything up?”
“No, I have supper ready. Oh and babe, please don’t mention the smell.”
“Why? What’s the house smell like?”
“My aunt likes to burn incense. She says it helps her meditate.”
“Yeah, okay Lil. But no one’s touching me with that voodoo crap, and I mean it.”
“It’s not Voodoo,” Lilith snapped.
“I’m sorry. It’s just starting to really freak me out. I’ll see you soon.”
“Love you too.”
It seemed that every car Gram passed, the driver was looking at him. Everything about the evening was strange, right down to the lack of birds singing in the trees. There was a group of women getting in their cars when Gram pulled into his driveway. None of them looked his way, they just hurried getting in and drove away. He stood beside the passenger door, scratching the top of his head, thinking he was supposed to meet his wife’s family. Gram shrugged and took it as a blessing. A blessing that he wouldn’t have to be sitting in a room filled with chatty women.
The door opened as he was walking up the sidewalk and Lilith stepped out, smiling as she always did when he came home. Had he been letting things that meant nothing, get to him when he should have been putting his thoughts on what his eyes now devoured, he thought as he switched his bag to his left hand. She looked back and closed the door as he took the first step. “Gram,” she whispered.
“Just one,” he whispered back, as his hand slide around her small waist.
Their bodies pressed tight as they kissed their ‘hellos’, then Lilith stepped back, lowered down from her toes and avoided his eyes. “My Gran’s even a bit different then I remember. She and my aunt are putting stuff all over the house and I wanted to tell you out here before you see it and say something.”
“How bad can it be?”
“Gram, there’s red and black scarves covering my new tables, and candles that stink so bad I feel like I’m going to get sick every time I turn around,” she complained, walking him back down the steps. “My Gran gave me these, hippie looking head things made out of baby’s breath and wild flowers, for us to wear at the gathering.”
“It’s okay, Lil. As long as it’s not like it use to be, and we don’t have to get naked, it will be fun. Didn’t you say that you were looking forward to this sunrise feast thing?”
“Yeah, but I didn’t think our home was going to be taken over,” she smiled.
“Now look who’s being the pain. I’ll meet your family, be polite, and even offer to help with the dishes. Let’s just eat and go to bed. I’m tired so if I have to stay up all night tomorrow night, then at least I have an excuse to go to my room early.
They kissed one more time then walked in to find Lilith’s aunt standing behind her grandmother’s chair, both staring at the door. Lilith lowered her head then brought it back up, taking Gram’s medical bag. “Gran, Aunt Martha, this is my husband, Gram Simms. Supper is ready if everyone wants to go to the dining room.” Her grandmother held up her hand.
“You came to this land of your own free will?” the elderly grandmother asked, crossing her hands into her lap.
“Yes ma’am. I came to start a new and exciting life with Lil. I mean Lilith,” he quickly added when her brows came together.
“And you have embraced our Lilith’s way of life, in whole?”
“If by that you mean her religion then no. Not completely. I have to be honest and say that I don’t understand too much about it, but, I’m willing to learn for her,” he reached out to take Lilith’s hand, but she pulled away, clasping her hands like a small child.
“Then you will celebrate Saint Walpurga with us, as the old did in the days when things were done in accordance with the moon. Those things have changed, some of us remain the same,” the elderly woman spoke, as she reached for a glass of iced tea. “Make your man stand no more, child. Martha will ready the table while you help him relax.”
Lilith looked at her aunt, who in turn nodded her head once, then turned for the kitchen. Gram told Lilith’s Gran how nice it was to meet her, and then excused himself, with Lilith on his heels, to change out of his work clothes. No sooner than he closed the door, he began talking. “We’re going to celebrate what? I thought you called this gathering the Beltane, or the Maypole. And what the hell is that smell?”
“It’s the incenses they brought,” she walked over to the door, “and keep your voice down. I don’t want them to here you.”
“Your aunt didn’t look to happy to see me,” he spoke as he took his shirt off. “I don’t know if I want to sit at the same table with them or not.”
“Please, Gram. It’s just for a few days. We head out tomorrow when the sun goes down, we have the morning feast, and then they leave two days later.”
“Why do I get the feeling that, that’s not all, Lil.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing, I just had something strange happen at the office today,” he said as he slid off his work shoes. “A little old man came in. He looked fine, then when he started talking he collapsed. He told me to stay out of the field.”
“Oh my goodness Gram is he alright?” she asked as she handed him his jeans.
“No, he’s not. He died right there, right after he said that.”
“I’ve been having these weird dreams too, and thinking about them during the day. I’m excited to see the younger people run out into the woods, and I can’t wait to see you dance around the bonfire…” he paused to put on his sweat shirt. “Even cooking all that food outdoors sounds great. I’m actually ready to see how well those pits I dug work, but I can’t shake this uneasy feeling.”
“I have something that might make that feeling go away,” she smiled, leaning over and taking his hand and laying it on her lower abdomen.
“For sure, there’s no doubt,” he smiled back.
“Doctor Parker’s office called yesterday. I wanted to tell you with us having a romantic dinner, but I just couldn’t wait.”
Gram yelled out, as he picked Lilith up off the ground and spun her around. “Shhh, they’ll hear you.”
“I want the whole world to hear me. I’m going to be a dad and I think that is amazing!” he yelled, as a light tap sounded at the door.
“Just a minute,” Lilith called out, trying not to giggle as she shimmied her way out of Gram’s arms. “Go to the bathroom and close the door, and then come out after we leave the bedroom.” With a mouthed ‘thank you’ she walked to the door and waved him toward the bathroom.
Gram leaned into the door, hearing her tell her aunt that they were just playing and were almost ready for dinner. In a deep harsh voice he heard her aunt reply, ‘your grandmother waits’ then the door to the bedroom closed. He stepped out wishing he had asked more about what was going to be going on, other than getting half nude and dancing to the sounds of the like of Lilith’s, Aunt Martha singing. He cringed. After sitting on the edge of the bed for five minutes, trying to block out the young man strapped down to the stone slab, he stood, straightened his sweat shirt and walked to the door.
He wanted to say how good the meal smelt, but the overpowering stench of the incense was just too overwhelming. So, he took his seat at the head of the dining room table and lied. “It all smells wonderful, ladies.” Lilith shot him a glare then shook her head lightly as she walked back into the kitchen. He then remembered that these women were used to men being seen and not heard, of course, unless they were first spoken too. Gram had heard of families with strong, even overpowering women, but nothing to this extent.
“Drink your wine, it will help you rest this night,” Lilith’s grandmother, spoke as she took the seat across from Gram.
“Yes, I hear we have a long night ahead of us,” he replied not knowing what to say.
“Tomorrow’s eve will become clearer. You have done well with the family farm, but the ground is in need of tending. Do you plan on bringing in a good harvest next year?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have time to plant. We were thinking of just making part of the farm my practice,”’ he explained, almost causing Lilith to drop a bowl of green beans.
“What he means is, we have plenty of room for him to work from an office in the front barn, so he doesn’t have to drive so far to tend animals at neighboring farms.”
“The field craves life, Mr. Simms, it has been deprived far too long,” the elderly lowered her head and glared.
“Yes, well, we both agree it’s going to take time to get the place back into running order, and with my being able to work closer to home, the sooner things will be taken care of.”
“Your husband has a strong will, Lilith. I think this land will be well suited with his mending its needs.”
Gram smiled at the aunt who was still staring at him.
“I told you he was wonderful, Gran!”
The dream hit swiftly, only this time he wasn’t standing behind a tree watching a gathering. He was standing inside the oldest barn at the back of the property, with what looked like an elderly man standing with his back to him. The man was slumped over with his head hanging to the side. The barn was filled with old tools, that hadn’t been used in over a hundred years. Though somehow, these tools held a shine of moments of just being sharpened. The man moaned as the tools began to slightly swing. Gram reached up and immediately felt the skeletal frame under the flannel shirt on the man’s shoulder and stepped back. The old man turned and yelled out, “Stay out of the field!” Gram jumped back at the site of the elderly man’s face. His eyes had rotted from their sockets and his skin hung on by sheer will alone. “Ready yourself to kill the wicked, for your blood will stain the ground…just as your forefathers.”
After the old man spoke, a thick gray worm slithered from his mouth and dropped to the floor, where around his feet were thousands more. They squirmed as he moved forward and Gram stumbled back. “They come to sate the earth’s hunger, for it calls for a thirst from a curse laid down by the ways of the old. It is sour here, Gram Simms.” The elderly man shuffled, snapping his head back and forth with his effort as one bony hand came up. “Ready yourself, or consecrate the earth for the wicked. Call upon the souls that fed this land before you. Bring forth the wrath and lay this wicked way to rest.”
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