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.