THE FESTIVAL OF SAMHAIN
CHAPTER 1- THE AFTERMATH
The loud ringing of the telephone awoke Sheriff Joshua Barnes, who was nestled into a deep slumber on his sofa.
Like most nights the past ten years, Sheriff Barnes was still in uniform. And like most nights, he fell asleep on the sofa before he could even change and go to bed. The young, naive police officer looking to cut his teeth in a small town was long gone. In its place was a grizzled survivor forced into duty because of the death of his friend and previous sheriff, Don Robinson, who, along with most of the department, fell victim to Michael Myers and his evil path of rage. Ever since that day, the town had looked to him almost by default to keep them safe. And hell, for the past ten years, that's what he'd done. That's what he had thrived on. And slowly, but surely, everything was beginning to return to normal.
Stumbling over to his desk, he picked up the receiver after the fifth ring.
"Barnes," he groaned in a deep, guttural voice. He was surprised to hear Sheldon Forster, his top deputy, on the other end of the line.
"Sheriff," Forster said, speaking slowly as he collected his thoughts. "It's Forster out here at the Rabbit In Red. We've got a problem."
"What kind of problem?"
"It's a bloodbath, sheriff," Forster somberly responded, careful in breaking the news to his superior.
Surprisingly, after a short pause, Barnes guffawed.
"Oh, nice try, Sheldon!" Barnes fired back, clearly thinking he'd been the victim of a prank. "You should know it's not wise to play Halloween pranks on me."
"I wish it was a prank, sir, I honestly do," Sheldon replied, trying to convince him otherwise.
"Okay, Sheldon, who was it? Lauder? Templeton? Who put you up to this?" Barnes persisted.
"I'll bet it was Magnetti, that crazy son of a bitch."
"JOSH!!!" Forster yelled, almost screaming into his phone.
"One of the dead bodies is Madison Mauberry."
Suddenly, there was nothing but silence on the other end of the line. If Forster didn't know any better, he might think that Josh had hung up. But in reality, the quiet spoke volumes that the truth had finally begun to sink in.
"You're serious???" was all Barnes could manage to spit out. He was clearly floored by the mere mention of Madison's name and the fact that Forster was indeed telling him the truth.
"Yes, sir," Forster continued. "We've secured the crime scene, but it's only a matter of time before the press gets wind of this. Then we'll really have a shitstorm to deal with."
"I'm well aware of that," Barnes told the deputy. "I'm on my way."
Setting down the receiver to his phone, all Barnes could do was stare off into space. A million thoughts rushed through his mind just then, but all he could manage to mumble was, "Oh fuck."
An hour later, Sheriff Barnes pulled up at the Rabbit in Red, which was already taped off in yellow caution tape. Almost immediately, he spotted Deputy Forster and a number of other officers scurrying about the scene. Several police cars lined the parking lot, along with two ambulances with their red lights still flashing. Forster noticed him parking, and made his way toward his squad car.
"Sheriff," Forster said, greeting him with a handshake. "Sorry to call you out so late, but once we identified the bodies, I figured you should know."
"What's the count?" Barnes asked, walking toward the building with Forster at his side.
"Six," Forster responded as they reached the front door. At the same time, orderlies wheeled out two gurneys containing black body bags. Underneath the first, Barnes noticed the jacket of one of the bodies as it went by, but could only make out the word 'Perdition' from where it was uncovered. "Make that eight."
Barnes stopped the second gurney and unzipped the top of the bag. There, almost unbelievingly, was the body of Madison Mauberry. Her throat was slit from ear to ear and her eyes were wide in their sockets, but despite that, she still appeared to be smiling.
Barnes lowered his head and grimaced in disgust. He didn't want to believe it, but the proof was right before his eyes.
"Pace requiescat," Barnes stated in Latin, lowering Madison's eyelids with his fingers. The sheriff then zipped the bag back up and motioned for the orderlies to continue on their way.
The cool, damp evening was typical of late October. The crisp fall wind sent several dead leaves spiraling about the night, along with one particular item that wrapped itself around the leg of Sheriff Barnes. Picking it up, Barnes saw it was an orange flyer with black lettering:
FESTIVAL OF SAMHAIN!
HALLOWEEN RETURNS TO HADDONFIELD!
LOCAL VENDORS! TONS OF FUN!
BRING THE WHOLE FAMILY!
"I want everyone on duty tonight," Barnes told Forster, handing him the flyer.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Forster asked inquisitively. "We have a shoestring budget as it is. This won't go over well with the council."
"Fuck the council," Barnes affirmed. "I want this town safe. No matter what the cost."
"Yes, sir," Forster concluded. Not long after, Barnes spotted the WWAR news van pulling up to the scene, and knew it was going to get ugly fast if he didn't contain the situation.
"Oh great," Barnes mumbled, trying to sneak away to his squad car. "The vultures are circling."
Forster knew exactly what he meant, and immediately funneled several reporters away from the restricted area. However, one managed to sneak by, and made a bee-line for him, her cameraman in toe.
"Sheriff Barnes...SHERIFF BARNES!" piped out reporter Kerry Carson. "Kerry Carson, WWAR. Can you tell us more about what happened here?"
"Hell happened here, that's what," was the sheriff's bold, yet poignant, response.
Carson, somewhat taken aback, paused before attempting another question. She was interrupted by the sheriff, who continued his statement. "M'am, this is a crime scene. Please stay behind the yellow line, and we will provide more information once it becomes available. Until that time, we will have no further comment."
Not satisfied, Carson persisted, asking, "Sheriff, have you identified the victims? Do you have a suspect in custody?"
Barnes did not respond. Instead, he partnered up with Deputy Forster and began the process of moving Carson and several other reporters back behind the taped off area.
As much as he didn't want to admit it, the scene reminded him too much of ten years ago, and the fact that one of the victims was Madison Mauberry sent chills down his spine. His last thought was fear. Total, unadulterated fear.
He prayed he was wrong.
Proceed To Chapter 2
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