Sunday, October 24, 2010

"The Halloween Tree" Chapter 12

Okay, so last we left them they were falling from the sky.  This chapter starts off announcing the order in which the boys hit the ground, and the final two names are revealed to us.

Tom hits the ground, then Henry-Hank, Ralph, George, J.J. (who is our Apeman), Wally, Fred, and lastly "Hackles" Nibley (dressed up as Death).  J.J. is the only one who doesn't have a known last name.

Now, yesterday I was complaining that there wasn't enough action.  Well, Chapter 12 has more than enough!  This chapter is positively frightening!

They have landed in a large field of wheat, and Moundshroud warns them all to lie low, for he sees the Druid God of the Dead: Samhain!
For a huge scythe came skimming down out of the sky.  With its great razor edge it cut the wind.  With its whistling side it sliced clouds.  It beheaded trees.  It razored along the cheek of the hill.  It made a clean shave of wheat.  In the air a whole blizzard of wheat fell.
And with every whisk, every cut, every scythe, the sky was aswarm with cries and shrieks and screams.
Towering above them is a massive figure wielding this dangerous scythe, and Tom shouts out, "Mr. Moundshroud, is that you?  Mr. Moundshroud, let us be!"  But it isn't Mr. Moundshroud, and I'm not sure why Tom would think that it was.  How terrifying to believe your guide and teacher would be trying to kill you...  but I suppose they still don't trust the man completely.  But it's not him.  It reallly is...
"Samhain!" cried the voice in the fog.  "God of the Dead!  I harvest thus, and so!  All those who died this year are here!  And for their sins, this night, are turned to beasts!"
The scythe swings down and almost kills Hackles Nibley, knocking him to the ground.  Luckily only his costume is torn.  But all those unfortunate souls... they weren't so lucky.
And the harvest wheat, flailed up, spun round on the wind, shrieking its souls, all those who had died in the past twelve months, rained to the earth... By the hundreds and thousands the wheat heads snowed up in scatters and fell down as spiders which could not shout or beg or weep for mercy, but which, soundless, raced over the grass, poured over the boys.
Not just spiders, but centipedes and leeches and frogs and toads and jellyfish.  All kinds of tiny, miniature animals or bugs.  The boys are revolted and terrified, and suddenly begin to ponder aloud over their souls.
"I figure," said Ralph, panting, leaping, tears on his cheeks.  "I been pretty good most of my life.  I don't deserve to die."

"I'll be good!" prayed Tom Skelton.
"Lemme live!" added Henry-Hank.
The boys get mad at this Druid God and begin to call him names like "Roach Transformer" and "Flea Squasher" until the God gets angry and yells out "No!  Samhain!  October God.  God of the Dead!" and stomps his foot, crushing even more souls.

The boys all run away, and Samhain throws the scythe after them, hitting a tree and causing apples to rain down on them.  They dive and avoid their deaths.  Samhain screams so loud an avalanche occurs nearby, and Ralph, terrified says, "England is no place to be a sinner."

And that's when they notice the dog.
A wild dog, mad with terror, raced up the rocks.
And its face, its eyes, something
in the eyes--
"That couldn't be--?"
"Pipkin?" said everyone.
"Pip--" shouted Tom.  "Is this where we
meet you? Is--"
whoom!  The scythe fell.
And yipping with fright, the dog, bowled over, slid down the grass.
An echo of the bark sounds like the word "meet" repeated over and over, and Tom wonders where.  Where are they supposed to meet Pipkin?

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