Come Back to Eventide

There is a deserted hollow in the woods where no wildlife goes, no bird stops in flight, no insect makes a sound.
And fungus grows.
Nadine Forster, a former research biologist from the city, has been absorbed by the hollow.
The distinct sporocap of the local fungus is a basidiocarp, which covers the floor of the hollow as well as the decomposing wood on the ringing trees.
These Hymenogastrale do not resemble mushrooms, but false truffles; they are amorphous grey-green blobs flecked with unhealthy white.
In the spring the mass will sprout unique basidiospore; star shaped, fragile appearing growths from the fungal bed.
These will fragment in heavy rainfall, and dilute into a thick, sweet-smelling gel.
The gel will be washed into the groundwater and join the Stinkwood aquifer.
It is the diluted form of the fungus in the soil that has caused the red wriggler worms of the coastal region to evolve into the brindleworm.
The brindleworms maintain the topsoil of decomposing matter that gives Stinkwood its name.
The topsoil, with its peculiar boggy unstable nature, that has taken so many of Eventide’s young.
They won’t be returning.
Not this season, at any rate.

That place burned again, worse than before.
With the death of Sholto McCabe, there has been no caretaker at the cemetery.
The Reverend Young, horribly burned, somehow survived.
The local wisdom is that his brain boiled in the fires.
He is currently under sedation in a padded room in the city.

In Eventide Village, life goes on.
The salt-marsh scarecrows remain safely on their poles.
For now.

Only one tenant of the Dolores Squane Home for the Blind was lost during the fall storms.
Sadly, it was Edgar Tran, Mrs. Waverly’s personal assistant.
Shortly after, the epidemic of strep throat cleared and the blind regained their speech.

The Alderpersons have resumed their regular weekly meetings, minus Boyd Spencer who suffered a massive stroke on November 1st and passed November 3rd.
Lulu Rothstein, owner-operator of the diner, has been thinking about running for Alderman.
Miri Chaudhri and Glen Roth have begun meeting at the diner for breakfast.
The other day Miri asked Lulu if he smoked a pipe.
“Just a little weed. Medicinal. I gotta card,” Lulu scowled.
Miri and Glen smiled.

Walt Becker’s bait shop closes for the winter, and he heads down to Florida for a season.

The Bottin family, and the bed and breakfast overlooking the village green, are just as fine as ever.
Lloyd Bottin’s beard is well-kept; Pernia grooms and trims it for him.
They are thinking of adding a cheese and cider mixer to the b&b evening itinerary.
Old Maevis thought the autumn storms were just lovely.
She can’t wait till next year.

Roy Pepper keeps his swine, and watches the low grey hills for a clover of cats, led by a young girl.
The Mori Brothers tend the apples; Goro dreams of the cider press.
Jirou dreams of foxes and Ichiro.

The Groom returned to the big city, the engagement broken, the wedding called off.
He is undergoing therapy.
The former Bride, Louisa Welker, has decided to purchase a summer home in Eventide.
She is disappointed that the village will not sell her the lighthouse property.

It just so happens that the Jay residence has gone on sale.
Terrible tragedy, Mr. and Mrs. Jay; murder suicide.
Constable Weary and Judge Lyndon aren’t sure which did what, but that they are both dead by their own or each other’s hand seems undeniable.
Bud Miller and Robert Earl Mundin were hired by the village to clean the house after the inquest.
The two old friends probably drank half their pay during the cleaning process.
Not that anyone could blame them.
Still, inebriated or not, they did thorough work.

Judge Lyndon has appointed Chief Constable Rhonda Weary as Alice Jay’s guardian.
Alice Jay thinks that is just fine, and Constable Weary is ok with the arrangement.
Lillian Thuang has given Alice a promise that she can work the concession stand at the theater as soon as she is old enough.

Ezra Quint, mostly recovered from his injuries, keeps the grounds of the village green and paints the gazebo and oils the clock tower.

A new Reverend comes to village, climbing off the Trailways Bus with a twinkle in his eye and excitement at his first diocese.

And Letitia Thatch, that strange young woman who lives at the edge of the forest, continues to terrify the local crows into silence.

Some nights a black cat slinks through the village, pussyfoot in the shadows.
Some nights a click-clop can be heard, like an iron-shod horse-hoof.
Some nights the village clock strains somewhere between midnight and one, as if it wants to chime an extra hour.
Ah, Eventide.

The clock struck thirteen.

There is a particular click that can be heard on the front steps of the court house.
It is a gear in the clocktower locking into place before the chimes signify the hour.
On October 31st, it made that click at thirteen minutes past midnight.
Ezra Quint was standing on the front steps of the courthouse when it happened.
He held the long handled brush hook easily in one big hand, running a whetstone along the curved blade.
At the first chime, Ezra stepped down off the courthouse stairs.
Sholto McCabe stood at the corpse gate to the old graveyard, That place visible on the hill behind him.
Strange hymns were being sung outside That place by the elderly congregants.
The Reverend Young’s voice shouted hoarse entreaties and blandishments from within.
The sexton held his shears low.
At the second chime he looked up and began to walk towards the village green.
At the third chime, both men increased their pace towards each other.
At the fourth chime, Miri Chaudhri, bundled up in the cold at the gazebo, lit her twentieth cigarette of the evening.
Boyd Spencer’s pipe has gone out, but he was barely aware.
Glen Roth’s cigar was down to a stub.
At the fifth chime, the alderpersons watched as the sexton and the caretaker began to run towards each other.
At the sixth chime, Constable Rhonda Weary stepped out of the Village Cinema where she had been enjoying the creature feature.
She was holding a sleeping Alice Jay in her arms.
The child had eaten two buckets of popcorn and half of a third before passing out.
Rhonda stepped into the street on the seventh chime, to take the little girl to the constabulary and let her sleep on the cot.
Then she would make an official visit to the Jay house.
As she stepped past the pothole, she glanced down and saw black viscous liquid bubbling at the bottom of the crevice.
As of the eighth chime, the two large men clashed together like bears.
McCabe caught the downstroke of the brush hook between the blades of the shears, and wrenched his enemy’s weapon to the side.
On the ninth chime Quint released his hold on his weapon, stepped in and hammered McCabe’s burnt face with a closed-fist.
The sound of McCabe’s jaw breaking resonated through the village.
On tenth chime, Rhonda began to jog towards her office.
She heard hoof-falls behind her, clopping on the pavement.
She didn’t look back.
On the eleventh chime, Robert Earl Mundin let out a laugh that was also a sob, and broke the seal on his bottle of vodka and took a long drink.
His eyes were wild, as he stared at the creature walking down Maine Street behind the running constable.
It looked like a horse from the illustrated bible his gran had given him as a child; all red eyed and jutting ribs and smoking nostrils and a color that defied his brain.
It dipped its massive head towards the divot in the road and drank from the liquid that steamed and roiled there.
As the bell chimed a twelfth time, Quint locked his massive hands around McCabe’s throat.
The sexton drew the sharp file he used to keep the wrought iron fence free of rust, and dragged the coarse rasp across the side of the caretaker’s grimacing face.
McCabe’s shattered jaw hung at an odd angle, giving his already frightening visage further menace.
His eyes didn’t help.
Quint released McCabe’s throat with one hand and grabbed the sexton’s wrist, keeping the file from his throat.
On the hill, as the hymns reached a climax, That place burst into flames.
The clock struck thirteen.

Residents of Quaint Eventide (2)

There is a general unease in Eventide Village.

Neither Mori brother has spoken to the other in several days.
The skulk of foxes has spoken to Jirou twice.

Alice Jay has spent the last two nights sleeping in the back row of the Village Cinema.
Lillian Thuang is unaware as the theater is closed, waiting for the Halloween special double-feature.
Alice snuck in while Lillian was airing out the lobby after deep-scrubbing the carpet.

Constable Rhonda Weary has released Bud Miller from the cell in the constabulary on Maine Street and instructed him to stay the hell away from Roy Pepper’s hog farm.
Judge Lyndon has instructed Bud Miller to seek out a 12-step group in the town up north.

Bud Miller did go to town- or start to.
He pulled his truck over again into that same copse of trees, and has sat there thinking all through the night.
Why would hearing hoof-falls scare him so deeply, and what was he doing driving to the Pepper spread?
He doesn’t even know Roy except to nod at him.

Ezra Quint has gone to the Judge and told him that things are getting worser.
The striker in the clocktower seems to quiver every night around 1am, like it wants to strike more than just once.
Ezra Quint knows this isn’t rational thinking.
Judge Lyndon believes that the clock is due to overstrike, as it does thirteen times a year.
Only this time he is afraid.

The Groom-to-be moved out of the Bottin bed & breakfast, and into the Golden Anchor motel.
He convinced the bride it was to make their special day more special, but in truth the risk of seeing anything in any semi-reflective surface in the b&b has triggered daily panic attacks.

Nadine Forster, once a biologist, spends her nights at the Golden Anchor as well.
At dawn she limps carefully towards Stinkwood.
She never enters the forest.
She cannot work up the courage.

The Bride-to-be keeps taking long walks down Turkey Neck Road, which is the dividing line from the village proper and the south-tide.
She is fascinated by the scarecrows out on the marsh.
She visited the pier and asked Walt Beckers to rent her a small boat.
He wisely told her they were all in need of repair going into the off-season.

For the last week the Alderpersons have assembled at the gazebo in the village green at dusk.
Boyd Spencer smokes a pipe.
Glenn Roth smokes cigars.
Miri Chaudhri smokes cigarettes.
They smoke and stand, silent, watching first the courthouse, then That place on the hill.
Tuesday night Mister Spencer said: “Something is going to have to be done.”

Mrs. Waverly has been told that a virulent epidemic of strep throat has ravaged the Dolores Squane Home for the Seeing Impaired.
Now mute as well as blind, the inmates are giving the cooking and custodial staff, and Edgar Tran (Mrs. Waverly’s administrative assistant) the heebie-jeebies.
Needless to say, the afflicted aren’t having a good time of it either.

Every night, the clock tower almost strikes thirteen.
Every night, lights can be seen in That place by the elders holding vigil at the foot of the hill.
Every night gets closer.

The Sexton of Eventide

There is a weeping from inside That place shortly after dawn.
The Reverend Young is leaning back against a fire-warped pew, chest heaving.
His eyes are red but dry.
He is a man at the end of his rope, beyond exhausted.
His efforts to prepare the church for All Saint’s Day have proved fruitless.
Every day he finds the work he has done was less than he believed.
Thinking that it was vandals, he started sleeping in the sacristy behind the main altar.
Now he doesn’t think it is vandals.
Now the Reverend Young doesn’t know what to think, except maybe that he has gone mad.
“I can’t do it,” he groans.
The moment his mouth closes, the heavy door to the church creaks open.
The disfigured caretaker of the cemetery stands in the doorway, the right side of his body in the dawn light.
“You are needing a Sexton, Father.”
The Reverend Young looks away from him.
“This isn’t something you can do yourself. Let me help you.”
The Reverend Young’s voice is hoarse.
“This place, it… I dream of the fire, Mr. McCabe.”
Sholto McCabe stands just outside the church, nodding.
“Do you really think fire holds any fear for me?” he says gently.
He displays the left side of his face to the Reverend, who flinches.
“I can help you.”
The Reverend Young nods, wipes his hands together.
“Then invite me in,” says Sholto.
The left side of his face is always grinning.

Residents of Quaint Eventide (1)

There is a saying that running beneath a ladder is bad luck.
Alice Jay has heard people say it all her life.
Grown-ups are always telling her things that they seem to think are important.
But they also seem to be always laughing at her while they do it.
Don’t let a black cat cross your path, don’t spill salt without sprinkling it over your shoulder, don’t throw the hair from your comb into running water, don’t step on a crack.
Alice Jay thinks grown-ups are crazy.
Especially her parents, since the day she ran into the ladder in front of the movie theater.
Her dad has been up in the attic, muttering to himself and going through old trunks and dusty boxes.
Alice has put plates of toast and mugs of tea at the top of the ladder for him, but they just got ignored.
She found a mouse eating the butter from one of the pieces and stopped bringing the meals.
Her mother has been in the back yard, digging up the garden with her bare hands.
Alice tried to help her- it looked like fun- but mother just snarled at her and hurled her hamster, in his plastic ball, over the garden wall.
Grown-ups are crazy.
Alice doesn’t want to go back to her house anymore.
Her parents have left her alone, ignored the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms.
Alice watched a lot of TV the first day.
She ate a lot of cereal, toast, and peanut butter with apple.
But all night long she could hear her father muttering and stomping in the attic and her mother grunting and scrabbling in the garden.
Alice spent part of the next day in the Village Green playing at the gazebo.
Nice Mister Quint, who doesn’t seem crazy at all, let her help him snip weeds around the edge of the white structure.
But the winds got bad and some rain came and Mister Quint told her to go home to her parents.
She didn’t want to tell him that her parents were crazy.

Robust Agriculture of Eventide Village

There is a small canyon at the edge of Stinkwood.
It lies between two of the low grey hills west of Eventide Village.
It is several miles west of the stone path that winds through the wood.
It is further west than Roy Pepper’s spread, Letitia Thatch’s cabin, or the hunting lodge sometimes used by the Barlowe family.
The canyon is lined by a thicket of hardwood trees, hemlock, and lies along the Mori Brothers apple orchards.
Ken and Umeko Mori left California in January of 1942, ahead of Executive Order 9066 by a month.
Somehow, and quite by accident, they ended up in Eventide Village
Martin Williams owned the orchards at the time and was in waning health, he hired the young Mori couple to help run the place.
Their grandsons, Jirou and Goro, own the orchards and cider mill.
They specialize in cider apples, primarily Harrison apples and a variation on the Foxwhelp that Goro calls the Foxyelp.
Unlike the Foxwhelp, which ripens early in September, the Foxyelp is ready to harvest in mid-October.
Ken Mori (strong forest) Hard Cider is a prime seller along the local shore, and can be found in specialty shops as far away as California.
The Mori brothers also have been successful in cultivating a Fuji orchard as well as two Honeycrisp orchards to cash in on weekend tourism “self-pick” business.
There were five Mori children of their generation, two left Eventide as adults.
Jirou runs the business side of thing, Goro is the master of the apples.
Goro has seen a skulk of foxes gathered at the hemlock canyon several times in his life.
Their cry led him to the naming of his prize-winning cider apples.
Jirou has also seen the skulk gathered amidst the hemlock.
He remembers when their eldest brother, Ichiro did not come back from the forest.

Eventide Village – strong weather advisory

There were complications over the weekend.
Alice Jay’s pet hamster, in it’s clear plastic ball, was found running down Maine Street Thursday morning.
It was pursued by a black cat that no one remembered seeing before.
Constable Weary was called out to Roy Pepper’s hog farm Thursday evening.
Bud Miller, drunk and hopped up on pain medication, somehow drove his truck off-road through the low-grey hills west of the village and smashed into one of Pepper’s swine, a pregnant sow, killing the animal.
Nadine Forster, a biologist with a terrible limp, is staying at the Rusty Anchor motel.
The Gale Winds warning from the NSW was upgraded to a Storm Warning.
By Friday the 17th, Eventide Village was windswept and soaked.
The rehearsal for the destination wedding was meant to be on the 18th.
After deciding on the picturesque Lighthouse as a backdrop for wedding photos, the bride and groom were disappointed that inclement weather and peculiar tides made this impossible as a location.
The courthouse has been chosen for the actual ceremony, being rather more splendid in appearance than the chapel on Maine Street.
The rehearsal had to be called off.
The betrothed’s trusted officiate missed the parking lot at the courthouse entirely and drove well past it, and off the pier and into the channel.
The volunteer fire department pumped more mud out of his lungs than water, and the unfortunate pastor had to be transferred out of Eventide to the city.
The betrothed took a somber dinner with their attendants at the village diner as the storm raged.
Around dusk they watched, dumbfounded, a baker’s dozen of the older residents of the Village, wrapped in oilskins and clutching umbrellas gathered at the gazebo in the pounding rain.
After assembling, the group of waterlogged elders sloshed north towards That place for their nightly vigil.
The middle-aged counterman, Lulu Rothstein, shrugged and busied himself at the grill when questioned.
“Well they ain’t going to play Bingo,” he muttered.
The groom has been afflicted with insomnia, and stayed up during the storm, staring out the window of the b&b while his self-medicated bride-to-be (herself suffering from chronic nightmares, hence the cognac) snoring heavily beside him.
With the wind battering at the eaves, he felt like the roof was going to blow off.
The whoops of old Maevis Bottin- “Whooo-weeee! She’s blowing strong tonight!” did not help.
Nonetheless, the groom-to-be must have slept some, as the clocktower chiming midnight awoke him suddenly.
Startled, he went to the window and looked outside.
He saw a huge black animal, like a horse, striking it’s hoof on the pavement in front of the movie theater.
He was so discombobulated that he turned on the bedside light before returning to the window.
Now he could only see the wind-shorn rain droplets beading on the window.
That and his own reflection…
And something else.

The road to Eventide is dark

There is a Trailways bus northbound along the state road.
The driver has one passenger who has asked him to stop at the Eventide Village turnoff.
It isn’t a regular destination, but it is on his route.
The bus is mostly empty this early; a few regular commuters are snoozing on their way to the city.
The woman in the 2nd row doesn’t sleep; she sits with her bag in her lap starring forward into the pre-dawn dark.
The driver is keeping it at the speed limit.
A gust of wind shakes the bus as it climbs a hill.
“You been on this route before, I expect.”
The woman is quiet a moment and then nods.
“Yes, once. In the spring.”
“Ah, sure. I never forget a face.”
The miles fly by, the weather worsens.
“You were going there… not family.”
“Research,” the woman says. “I was a biologist.”
The bus slows and waits for oncoming traffic to pass before pulling out and around a fallen tree.
“Here we are miss,” the driver says, gently braking and pulling to the shoulder above the turnoff.
The tree branches are whipping about in the wind.
The road to Eventide is dark.
“It a long walk to the village?”
The woman shrugs.
“Couple miles.”
The driver hesitates- he noticed the woman limping as she climbed into the bus and some people are sensitive about stuff like that.
“I’ll be fine,” the woman says. “I’m going home.”

URGENT – MARINE WEATHER MESSAGE

URGENT – MARINE WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
129 AM EST WEDS OCT 15 2014
…GALE FORCE WIND GUSTS TODAY THROUGH TONIGHT
COASTAL WATERS OFF EVENTIDE TIDAL MARSHES FROM BELOW LIGHTHOUSE POINT, EXTENDING 20 NM TO 60 NM
…GALE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 1 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 7 AM EST THURS
A STRONG LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM WILL PASS EAST OF THE REGION THIS EVENING. STRONG SOUTHERLY WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP QUICKLY AHEAD OF THE LOW… WITH STRONG EASTERLY WINDS BEHIND THE ASSOCIATED COLD FRONT PASSING DURING THE EVENING HOURS. SUSTAINED WINDS OF 25 TO 30 KNOTS ARE POSSIBLE WITH FREQUENT GUSTS TO NEAR 40 KNOTS. THESE WINDS WILL LEAD TO EXTREMELY DANGEROUS MARINE CONDITIONS AND STRONG WINDS INLAND IN COASTAL REGION.

Groundskeepers

There is a groundskeeper who keeps up the Village Green and the courthouse.
His name is Ezra Quint, he is fifty-two years old and he is the only Quint still living in Eventide.
His mother and father died long ago, and his sister Jenny went into the woods when she was eight and never came back.
Ezra is a large man, with broad shoulders, big hands, and a thick neck.
He is exceedingly polite while minding the green or painting the gazebo or oiling the clockwork mechanism of the courthouse tower.
He has a gentle smile, but a famous temper.
Bud Miller found out the time he called Ezra “Pops”, and ended up with his first chipped tooth.
Quint’s slap to Miller’s face is a local legend, as bystanders report it as an exceedingly gentle, open-handed slap that nonetheless sent Miller sprawling into the street; his tooth chipped on the curb.
Quint plead guilty to simple assault, got six weeks community service from Judge Lyndon, cleaning up the green and maintaining the courthouse.
After his community service was done, the Judge offered Quint the position permanently.
The Judge could see that Quint is an exceedingly honest man.
“I lost my temper and I slapped him, and I knew I shouldn’t so I slapped him soft, though I should not have slapped him at all-“ he rumbled that day in court.
When Ezra Quint reports to Judge Lyndon that he can see no physical reason for the clock tower to chime “extra”, as it does, the Judge believes him.
Sometimes when Ezra is out on the ledge in front of the clock-face with his oil can and wrench, he turns and looks over the village.
From up there, he can see the low grey hills to the west, the Atlantic ocean out past the Lighthouse to the southeast, and the salt marshes to the south.
He can also see the old cemetery and beyond it That place, and beyond That the shadows of Stinkwood to the north.
When he looks to the north, he clenches his fists, combatively.
Lately, he has noticed a figure in the old cemetery; burnt McCabe, looking back at him, stock still, pruning shears held low.