Halloween was my favourite time of year – once – but not anymore. Now I’m stuck in this house, sitting in this armchair, staring at the now dead fireplace, I’m terrified. If I get up, I have to look at it.
At what? The portrait of course.
It started off innocently enough as a game of Wink Murder. You know the rules: sit in a circle and somebody is picked out as a murderer by the host of the party while everyone has their eyes shut. But, as a murderer, you have to be very sneaky in how you wink to get everyone around you… well, that’s before the portrait joined in and began killing off everyone at Sheryl’s party for real!
Her cat had died around August, right at the time of that last Sabbath, and so, she called down the Dark Lord and asked for him to help her with her grief of losing her dear cat called Marmalade. He was a nice orange/red kind of tabby who was sweet and cuddly and he loved everyone around him to distraction. But it was horrible when he died because everyone missed him like crazy; but none more than Sheryl. She worked on trying to get on with her life, but that cat really meant a lot to her as she had gotten him when he was a kitten and now they were both older and she was living in a place of her own, away from home. And Marmalade had made it through university with her as well (she had asked for special permission to have the cat, and the university allowed it, seeing he didn’t leave the room and he was well-behaved).
So, now, he was dead, she really didn’t seem the same. However, the Halloween party appeared to be the next stage of her getting over him to us. We all accepted and joined in the fun and games. However, I did noticed one thing about her place; and that was a new painting.
I don’t know why I noticed it, but I did. The moment I walked in the door, something about that portrait of Marmalade made me feel really creeped out, but I wasn’t sure why. The cat had been painted in brilliant oils and they were so bright and he looked so real. I didn’t think anything of it when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the portrait moved. But really, I blamed the few drinks I had sunk, thinking it may have been the booze going to my head, because when I looked straight on to the painting, it seemed as though the cat had moved – or had it?
Had anyone else seen it besides me?
I looked around the room of party-goers and found that nobody was looking as the music pumped and everyone danced. The sound of loud chatter filled the air and it seemed as thought I was the only one who was looking at the portrait.
Then, Mark bumped into me – Sheyrl’s old flame – and he looked up at me, “Hey, sorry.”
“No problems.” I mumbled as he went on his way. What the hell was he doing here? She hated him to the core as he had cheated on her. I perused the room again and found there were all kinds of people from Sheryl’s past and present – some I knew, some I didn’t – and they were all here getting down and drunk… right up until the Wink Murder game that Sheryl hosted. She happily picked out the murderer, then vacated the house quickly.
Now, it’s been over a day and I’m the only one left here. Sheryl hasn’t been back to the house since her party and I’m still sitting here remembering how everyone sat laughing at me while I told them about the portrait. Damn it, I can still hear their ridiculous laughter and how much they thought I was stupid and insane. Why would anyone ever think a bloody painting would kill anyone? Yeah, why indeed? Unless the painting was haunted or somebody had summoned the right demons and Gods at the right time of year, like during Lughnasadh; especially on the last day of it. I only know of this kind of thing because I’m a practising witch from a long way back; and have tip-toed around this particular holiday due to its darkness and how it’s traditionally the end of Summer and beginning of Autumn. Some ceremonies make this time of year a time of closure and darkness; and it appeared as though Sheryl tried out a spell for this particular type of thing for Marmalade; and it went too far, including anyone in her life she hated instead of finding closure for her grief for her cat. But when I tried to explain this to everyone, none of them believe me.
Then, it happened.
The portrait cat sneakily gestured at everyone.
I looked away just in time and lived.
I’m okay for now. But I’m really hungry, hung over and scared. And seeing Sheryl lived here alone, she really doesn’t need to come back, does she? But then, I’m beginning to wonder if she’s alive at all. Did Marmalade get his revenge on her as much as he got it on everyone else?
I can sit here for a while staring at the smouldering, dead fireplace. It’ll be another day before somebody begins to notice everyone here is missing from their parts of their world. And yet another day after that before they all begin to smell. I’m not sure what I’m going to do within the next forty-eight hours about all that yet. Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
But my thoughts are:
…for how long?