Crackling flames protected the four friends from the chilly night air. Spirits were high, despite a little car trouble. After all, it was Halloween and they had an ice chest loaded with craft beer.
Mist filled the surrounding forest as they lugged the red Coleman cooler from the Oldsmobile’s trunk. Clouds passed over the full moon and they could hear strange, ominous noises in the distance. It was good to sit down, especially next to the primal protection of the fire.
Barley beverages began to open and the group started to loosen up. Help would be on the way soon and they would finally make it to the holiday party. Relaxation set in — along with a little inebriation — and they decided to entertain themselves with a few spooky tales…
Henry went first. “It was in Colonial days. He was black as night with a light tan hat. New York is the setting, legends say, and from the Southern Tier. They said he preyed on the weak, like an apex predator. Ruthless, he would wait until the bewitching hour and use his dark powers to magically appear at the bedside of his victims. Then he would feast. Doomed meals would smell the scent of fear and pumpkin spice, with some creamy vanilla to boot. Fond of ale, his favorite was an 8.6 % imperial stout that tasted of scorched caramel followed by charred malt. Sweet throughout, this full-bodied brew finished with substantial notes of nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. They called this Master of the Underworld The Warlock.”
Sheila swallowed the final last bit of her bottle and her mischievous smile transformed to a stone cold stare. She trembled as she began to speak. “No one was sure how it all started, but it had been prophesied since the time of Nostradamus. February 28th, 2028 was the day that everything would change for each day thereafter. It began on the west coast of the US — in Blue Lake, California. They’re fairly certain it all started from an onyx hued elixir near the Mad River Brewery. It was dark and hoppy, the men in black classify it as an IPA. Records are sketchy, but many describe it as delicious with roasted grain, burnt malt flavors, and slight chocolate overtones. Many said it was irresistible with a little spice evident near the bitter end. It spread across the U.S. then went global — there was no stopping it. People were advised to limber up and check the back seat, among other suggestions. It was aptly dubbed Serious Madness and it changed the face of mankind. A few lived to tell the story and the human race survived… so it’s foretold.”
Ash volunteered next, speaking nervously. “Way back in pagan times, before Christianity, there were four friends sitting around a fire. It was a night much like tonight, a cool breeze blew and the woods felt alive. In fact, they were celebrating Samhain, which is an ancient Gaelic holiday commemorating the end of the fall harvest and the coming of winter. Later, it became All Saints Day, All Souls Day, All Hallow’s Eve, and finally as it is known today… Halloween. According to Celtic lore, it was a day the souls of the dead were summoned and, among other things, attracted by bonfires. Scarlett-colored ale was being drunk that evening and the stories began. Soon, eerie whispers could be heard and the trees sounded as if they were alive. Demon spirits emerged from the woods and began to move around the four. Some believe these ghastly entities wanted the smooth, creamy, Stout known as Guinness Red Harvest. Who could blame them? This Irish native was darn tasty — easy drinking, medium-bodied, and slightly roast-y in flavor. Soon the friends were surrounded and the attack began. First the evil ghouls went after the booze, then they started on the humans. Blood began to splatter and flesh ripped from bone. Screams could be heard throughout the wilderness. Somewhere in the midst of all this though, the longtime chums realized they weren’t being attacked but rather freed from their existence in this dimension. These spirits were actually tearing away associations and guilt that bound each of the pals to this earth — they were here to help. Finally, all four let go and joyfully joined their ancestors.”
Linda replied “Wow, thanks Ash, for scaring us all.” Then they all laughed and opened another Guinness.
Sirens could be heard racing up the wet highway. Flashing lights were soon seen and the spotlight shined on the Oldsmobile. The officer sighed as he got on the radio. His voice cracked: “Single car crash. Four dead, it looks like they were headed to a Halloween party. Poor kids.”