Night Harvest: Blood Moon by Jamie Adams

Posted by on Oct 24, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest | 0 comments

Night Harvest: Blood Moon by Jamie Adams

Welcome to the Night Harvest. For the entire month of October, we’ll be featuring scary stories and illustrations from talented authors and artists around the globe. I hope you stay awhile. After all, the Night Harvest is quite a scream. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.

 

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Blood Moon

by Jamie Adams

October 31

There’s a legend in Wellsey that if you stand outside under a full blood moon at midnight on the third and final night of Hadris, the harvest festival, you’ll become immortal. Nobody has ever disproved it – who would want to risk accidental immortality on the off chance the legend is correct? Besides my family, I mean. Grandma did it first, seventy years ago. She’s 84 now and wrinkled as a deflated balloon, but as cranky and sharp-tongued as ever so – experiment inconclusive. My two aunts did it on their fifteenth birthdays, so like a ninny, my mom did it when her turn came too. And then again, when she was 20 and wanted to make sure my Dad would be as immortal as she is, if that comes to pass. Next was my brother, then my sister. Now me. Tonight it’s my turn to test the legend for myself.

Not that I’m alarmed. We’re still waiting to see if someone in our family will get around to dying, and if they do die we’ll still have to wait to see if they come back, so the whole thing appears pretty unremarkable. But no one has ever come through unscathed.

Grandma has a scar from her left temple to her chin. Mom took up smoking after that first time, and her hands always shake. Dad roams endlessly. He’s only been home a total of six months, give or take, in my life. Maybe I wouldn’t worry so much about them, since these changes happened before I was born and all I have for evidence is stories. But I saw my brother go overnight from a boy who wanted nothing but a farm to an embezzler and thief. My sister started a business in the garage, and ever since there’s been a steady parade of black SUVs and men wearing suits and earpieces all around town. They never make a move towards her, though.

So any other idiot would look at these bits and pieces, these people with messed up lives and a clear trail back to a night under the moon and figure out maybe they should give Hadris and the blood moon both a wide berth. Unfortunately, I’m the kind of idiot who can see the answer in front of me and still NEED to know it for myself. This is the record. For later – just in case.

Caddie Matthews
Fort Walsh, Idaho

 

 

 

I fold the envelope and stuff it under my mattress. The last thing I need is someone finding it before tonight – or ever, really, because the odds are I’m just being dramatic.
I’ve had every female lead Fort Walsh High has ever had, so I’m decent at being dramatic when the moment is right. But I’m also very good at being prepared.

I sling my backpack over my shoulder and tip down the steep, narrow stairs from my attic bedroom to the kitchen. Silas is already there, warming his hands by the refurbished pot belly stove in the corner. The red checkered curtains at the windows are pulled back to show the velvety darkness swallowing the backyard and the remains of our grilled cheese and tomato soup dinner are still scattered over the long oak table. Bright light and warmth flood me as I cross the creaking wooden floor and I feel even sillier for being nervous. Maybe I’ll just burn that stupid letter in the stove when we get back.

“I thought I told you to dress for the occasion.” I lift my chin up to Silas and curve my lips for a kiss.

He plants a quick, innocent peck on my mouth with a glance to the living room where my mom, grandma, and brother are watching football. “I did. These jeans already have two holes and a bunch of paint stains so my mom won’t kill me if they get ruined.” He says nothing about his army jacket with the six gold buttons in pairs down the front. I couldn’t have reasonably expected him to wear anything else.

“You should have worn something you won’t freeze in.” I pull on my knit gloves and grab his hand. My black leggings are lined with fleece and under my tunic is a tight heat retaining top I stole from my sister’s closet. “Mom, we’re leaving!” I call as I snag the thermos of hot chocolate off the counter.

She doesn’t take her eyes off the game as she gives me a wave. When I pull the door shut behind us and step down onto the frost-dusted grass, the crunch of my boots against the ground and the burn of the crisp air against my cheeks feels more like home than that perfect, warm kitchen.

Silas’s breath is a thick white cloud in the night outside my house.  “I thought you said this Blood Moon watch was a big deal. Like this grand family rite of passage.”

Cold clenches my lungs. I pull my scarf tighter. “It is.”

“Then what kind of sendoff was that? They acted like we’re going to the grocery store.”

“Who cares? You know my family sucks at family things. That’s what I like about you. You know me and stick with me anyways.” I reach back and touch my bag. I know everything’s there, I’ve checked twenty times. I don’t – do NOT – need to check again.

My yard borders up to the woods on one side and low hills on the other. The edge of town suits us, and provides the best access to the highest point for fifty miles. My calves burn almost immediately with the ascent, and before we’ve been gone for ten minutes I’m short of breath with the cold and the climb.

Silas gives my hand a squeeze and yanks me up a few fast steps. “Hang in there. Ceremonial reaching of mountain heights is supposed to be spiritual, not end in a 911 call.”

“I play soccer. You play videogames. I got this.” To prove it, I break into a run and drag him several feet up the hill behind me, tucking my chin into my scarf in an effort to warm the air in my lungs and hide my gasping.

“Okay, surrender, surrender.” Silas coughs into his sleeve. His breath rattles.

My bones feel rattly too, like a skeleton, all sharp angles and weird knobby bits slung together a bit too loosely. We’re only halfway up the hill and my nerve is fading.

In front of us, our shadows lengthen thin and dark over the whitened ground. Behind us, the blood moon rises.

We make good time and reach the top at ten minutes to midnight. Silas flings his arms into the air and screams. His voice is raw, his throat sounds torn. The echoes of his tone, high and keening and a note shy of triumphant, ricochet off the low hills and dip into the valleys around us. Firs and pines stand thick along the slopes. Fort Walsh is a cluster of soft golden lights and short, squat buildings built into the curve of the world as we see it from the hill top.

Five minutes to midnight.

Silas puts his hands on my waist, pulls me in close. The clouds of our breath mingle together.  “So. Ready to be immortal, or whatever?”

“You don’t have to be so flippant about it.” My tone is sharper than I like. I turn in his arms, facing out over the cascading forest and beyond to the bright golden fields, brimming with ripe wheat and shaded, like everything, with the crimson cast of the moonlight.

“Sorry. But you even said when you invited me that it was probably a joke. No big deal, right? Maybe we live forever, maybe we just tell this story every time we get drunk at parties.”

Three minutes to midnight.

I turn and lay my hands on Silas’s upper arms. His skin is pink in the moonlight. Wind crackles against the stiffened leaves and grass, snapping like bones. “You do a lot of things when you get drunk at parties.”

Silas is very still against me. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I know about you and Rebecca Whittier.”

“Rebecca Whittier is a sophomore.”

I tighten my fingers into his arms as he tries to back up. He doesn’t need space. He needs to give me some answers. “I don’t think the grade she was in was something you were super worried about at the Fourth of July fair.”

“You weren’t even here. We were on a break, Caddie.” Silas’s hand travels up and down my back soothingly. His cheeks are bright pink, his lips darker red than usual. His eyes search mine cautiously. “I drank a little too much, and I didn’t have any reason not to say yes when she came on to me. It was nothing against you. We weren’t together.”

“A break is not the same as not being together.”  I take a step back, swinging my backpack down and tugging the blanket out from inside it. It rests angled against the too-hard grass.

I sit down, lounging back onto my hands and tipping my head to meet his eyes. “And we both knew perfectly well we still meant to be together. It just didn’t make sense when I was going to be out of town. It wasn’t an invitation to go jumping every girl in town.”

Silas drops onto his knees next to me, brushing his cold fingers over my cheek.

One minute to midnight. Immortality is overhead, in the swollen curve of the fat blood moon languishing among the bright pinprick stars.

“Yeah, it happened, and it wasn’t a great idea. But we can still be together. At least I didn’t lie, right?”

“Right.” I’ve practiced this a hundred times. My backyard is full of holes, carefully covered over with grass again, and inside every one of those holes is a heap of feathers and shreds of pillow cloth. In one motion I reach into my bag, draw the knife, swing it forward, bring it up and twist. “I did.”

Silas gasps, but no white cloud forms in front of him. There’s no air left.

I don’t even wait to watch until it’s over. It’s a minute past midnight. The blood moon is full overhead. I’ve got a bag of money, an ID forged for me this summer by a guy with greasy hair and wandering hands, and a change of clothes. When they realize it’s my blanket, they’ll search my room and find the letter. They’ll probably look for me for a while, but the seeds of doubt will already be sown. Legends. Insanity. Something just beyond the human ability to understand.

I take off down the opposite side of the hill, through the towering pines and over the creek. A layer of ice thin as plastic covers it, crackling all around the fallen tree I use for a bridge.

Ahead of me is my shadow, thin and dark. Behind me is the red, red moon.

I’m glad I chose tonight. I’ve known for weeks what I wanted to, needed to, do, but without this night – the legend, the cold, the moon – I don’t know if I could have pulled it off. But I have, and there’s a sick hot bile taste in the back of my throat and an electric quiver of power down my spine.

I don’t know if the blood moon makes you immortal. I’m sure of one thing though – the moon will make you wicked.

 

 

 jamiesept15

Jamie is a YA and MG writer with a fondness for shoes, musicals, and fall.

When not writing, reading, or corralling small children, she can be found making music, rewatching Parks and Rec or Sherlock, and cooking – with occasional success.

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About Jessi Shakarian

Jessi is a lit junkie - you can either find her reading fantasy books, writing about reading. or reading about writing. When she's not doing that, she's the Publishing Coordinator at Pen and Muse Press, an editorial intern at Month9Books, and writing a novel about the '50s. You can find her on her blog posting cat pictures (listentomuses.wordpress.com) and twitter (link: https://twitter.com/listentomuses).

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