Friday, October 25, 2013

Night of the Cauldron: Part I, The Cauldron


Night of the Cauldron
Part I
The Cauldron

Traci brought the freshly carved Jack o' lantern out of the house.  She set it upon the railing at the edge of the deck.  She moved the bowl of candy to the small table beside the steps.  Turning the Jack o' Lantern so that it fully faced the driveway, she paused to admire her handwork. She adjusted her witches hat and her black skirt, being careful not to knock off her fake fingernails.  She was ready for the trick-or-treaters.

Her father was preparing a fire bowl further back on the deck.  Suddenly there was cackling laughter behind her.  She started and sighed, glaring at the source.  Hanging from the fence at the deck's edge was a creepy mechanical grim reaper that cackled, lit up, and shook whenever there was movement nearby.  She hated it, but her father enjoyed how it scared the other kids when they came up the side stairs to get their treats.  She swiped at its tattered robe and stuck her tongue out at it.  The reaper shook its scythe in mock menace.

The Sun was nearly set and everything was taking on an orange cast from the fading light.  Traci watched her father stack logs into the fire bowl, an antique looking cauldron.  It was stout with three paw legs and was covered with small designs.  She admired the strange faces that the three handles created.  Her father rearranged the pieces inside the cauldron into a wooden teepee and stepped off the deck to collect more from the stacked pile near the fence.  She noticed that the handles all had small runes embossed in them.  She traced them with her finger.

"Dad...Where did you get this again?"

"I found it cheap at that estate sale last month.  Figured it'd be a good creepy set piece for tonight."

"I don't like it."

"Why?  It's just a fancy pot."  He made a small pile of wood beside his nearby chair and went to collect more. "Go get the second bowl of candy from your mom and put it with the other."

"There's a second bowl?!?"  Traci giggled and ran inside the house.  She returned shortly and placed it with the other.  Adjusting the bowls for maximum treating.  She popped a caramel in her mouth and worked on its chewy sweetness as she sat in the chair beside the cauldron.

She looked closer at the cauldron.  The edge of the top of the bowl was covered in the runes much like the handles, but interspersed with the runes she could see small figures.  They didn't seem quite human but they were so small she couldn't read them properly.  They appeared to be dancing around a fire.  She felt a strange tingle in her belly.  The wind blew gently and crisp yellow leaves darted in the air around her like small flames.  She ran her finger across the edge of the bowl.

She jumped.  There was a whisper over her left shoulder.  It felt as though someone had just breathed a deep sigh in her ear.  Her neck and shoulder tingled.  She swiped at them as though she'd found a bug on her shoulder.  Her father was returning again with a bundle of sticks for kindling.  They splayed out at the end like a broom.

"I don't think we should use this.  It's covered in runes and stuff."

"All the creepier."  He sprayed the pile of wood generously with lighter fluid and coated the ends of his handful of sticks as well.

"I've got a bad feeling about this thing Dad.  Do you know where it came from?  Who's estate was it?"

"Some Scottish family I think - Traci its doesn't matter.  It's just a prop."

"Dad.  It's a caul-dron."

He lit the ends of the sticks and began placing them one by one into the cauldron.  The flames caught on the lighter fluid and began to dance over the logs.  The shadows deepened beneath the cauldron.  Traci saw black shapes undulating there that seemed to move all their own.   Claw like shadows reached out from beneath the cauldron towards her fathers feet.  Traci stood up and took a step back.

"Yeah and?"

"Dad, you're lighting a fire...in a strange cauldron...on Halloween."

Her father's face had screwed up into an expression that she knew well.  Her questions always seemed to bring it out of him.  He sighed heavily and began forcing the burning sticks into the cauldron.

"Traci, enough.  It's just a prop.  If I hadn't bought it would have been somebody's trash.  Nothing is going to happen!"  Frustrated, he shoved the remaining sticks into the fire.  Green sparks shot up into the air and the shadows beneath the cauldron shot out across the deck like thick black smoke.

"Dad - Don't -"  There was a deep hum and the air seemed to rush in towards them.  Traci grabbed her father's arm and yanked him away from the cauldron just as it exploded.

There was a loud whoosh as flames inside the cauldron took on a bright green cast.  The wood inside the cauldron seemed almost to melt and disappear into the bowl.  The deep hum came again and the flames shot higher up past the roof and into the sky.  Traci felt the hum deep inside her.  It made her teeth ache.  Within the flames a face seemed to be staring back at them.  It grinned and disappeared into the flames, rushing up into the sky.

The cauldron shook visibly as the flames continued to pour out of it into the sky, out shining the remaining sunset.  Traci and her father backed away as the green flames continued to rise.  The flames twisted and formed a burning cyclone. High overhead the sparks and flames began exploding like fireworks.  Soon, fine sparkling bits of green descended all around them.  Traci and her father slowed backed away from the cauldron and towards the house. 

As the sun finally set, everything around the house was cast in the bright green glow.  The hum had faded into a quiet rushing sound as the flames continued to pour into the night.  Traci grabbed her fathers arm tightly and pulled him close.

"Daddy."

The mechanical reaper was climbing off the wall towards them.


{8x5.33  Sharpie and Uni-ball Vision Elite Pen with tones added in Adobe Photoshop}


Enjoy all the stories from Night of the Cauldron



2 comments:

Eddie said...

Love the description of the cauldron's explosion/eruption. Very cinematic. Reminded me of the scene in Ghost Busters when all the ghosties get released into the city.

Jesse Campbell said...

I do have to admit a certain amount of inspiration from Ghostbusters. That scene is one of my favorite creepy moments where you know the shit has hit the proverbial fan. For a comedy movie, it creeped me out as a kid.

Also many moments from Night of the cauldron were also inspired by the Inferno crossover from Marvel Comics X-books from the 1980's.

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