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New in Town

Some party. I had involuntarily been ordered to accompany my younger sister to a bonfire party in the midst of the swamplands near the county line. Apparently, this was a typical invitation for fresh faces arriving in town. Disgusted not only by the horrid odor choking my nostrils; but also by the individuals surrounding me with their typical, meaningless conversational tendencies. Small talk was simply a persuasive tool encouraging outsiders to bond. I disliked the idea.
I nodded in agreement as my eyes explored the rally point, partially enclosed by shallow, murky bodies of water on all sides. The dark sky was desolate and appeared to be a mere shadow cast over this particular setting. A fire provided enough infrared light to illuminate the small area, and allowed me to glimpse facial expressions as they alternated smiles with an excited demeanor. Seating was positioned in a circle around the fire, each reflecting a feverish appearance of the individual across from them, save my own. One wooden seat was abandoned, occupied only moments before by my sister. Girlish giggles escaped her mouth as she was escorted away into the obscured night.

Again, I was acknowledged long enough to answer a question regarding previous Halloween parties in my hometown. It was simply stated and offered no distinct value nor provocations for the rest of the crowd. Finally, a guy younger than myself, not formally introduced, extended his hand eagerly. A grateful appreciation was admitted as I accepted the beer and gave a quick smile. He trailed back to his seat and stared at me with an intent look; however, the intentions were at most quirky, but unclear. His face was of sickening detail, appearing as if the life had been depleted of any emotions. It was the look of a simple man; carelessly unattractive and void, but simple. Maybe inbred, I thought to myself and took a sip.

I repeatedly scanned the dark horizon as the minutes slowly ticked late into the evening. Silent questions began to interrupt my thoughts; questions regarding the disappearance of my sister. When inquiring to the younger gentlemen of her whereabouts, he simply shrugged and avoided the answer by targeting the individual beside him with a comment about needing to prepare the already established fire. I felt the side of my thigh above my pocket although I distinctly remembered that my cell phone had been left in the vehicle.

The vehicles were nearly a quarter mile from the fire. Unsure whether the phone would receive a signal, I decided that a slow walk down an unfamiliar trail, guided only by moonlight, would outweigh my second option of waiting here. Besides, a silent walk through the eerie wetlands alone may give this Halloween party the cutting edge it was currently lacking.

I stood and casually turned as if making my way to urinate in the darkness. A couple glances suggested that nobody quite cared whether I trek into the woody vegetation alone. I strode out of sight and gazed at the moon as if requesting guidance in the direction of the vehicles. Regardless of the somber setting, only one path directed it's travelers out of this sweltering, mosquito infested wasteland. I followed it hurriedly and was quickly too distant to distinguish any sign of the bonfire gathering.

I noticed the glint the moon cast off the windows as I neared the closest available parking spot. Again, silence except for the chattering of the swampland insects stalking the night, but no signs of whether the girls had visited the vehicles since. I reached the vehicle we had arrived in, an older model of a Jeep Cherokee owned by my sister's newfound friend. Incidentally, each door was locked. I cursed words of frustration under my breath. As I turned in retreat I stopped before reaching the trail back. Just maybe, I thought. Evidently, she had neglected to lock the trunk as I yanked the door open.

Blinded by the night sky, I rummaged through a pile of supplies and hauled myself over the back seat before finding my phone. I clumsily backtracked out of the vehicle when I accidentally kicked a book out into the wet dirt. Reaching for it, I gaped in horror as I read the title. "Ritual Sacrifices of the Occult." Surely not. I hastily flipped through the pages before halting on a picture of a women being burned alive.

Impulses did not hesitate, and only a moment after I was racing dark the trail slapping away protruding branches interfering along my path. Suddenly, dizziness clouded my senses and slowed my retreat to a mere walk. The dark shapes ahead blurred and shifted in and out of focus as I restrained from collapsing due to the light-headedness. I dropped to my knees and was comforted by soft, damp vegetation. The beer, I thought. Chills fluttered down my spine as I heard the breathtaking scream that jerked my head in the direction of the agonized call for help. Without a doubt, it was my sister. With all my strength I lifted myself and awkwardly stumbled along the battered path. The scream was bitter and chilling, as if unbearable pain was being afflicted to the bearer. I abruptly noticed another atrocious smell as it engulfed my senses....the scream was dying down....I was being choked by the savor of burning flesh....and I unknowingly dropped into the arms of my male companion. His face maintained the same void look as he grasped me tightly and dragged me back towards the bonfire setting....my body numb with poison.

Although my senses were anesthetized by their malignant concoction, I could distinguish the shapes the fire illuminated as I was thrown frantically against the ground. The shape was of human form and positioned directly above the fire, ignited by flames and slowly roasting as it hung from a cross-shaped post. I could scarcely notice the hands tugging at my clothes and the cool, earthly essence as it embraced my naked skin. Benumbed and nearly insensitive of emotion, a tear sneaked from the corner of my eye as I welcomed the demise. No prevail or resentment could refuse the carelessness and willingness to pass this dreadful moment....and I knew it would all be over soon.