Plans were made and everyone was looking forward to the day they could set their spirits free. Gram Simms met his pagan wife, Lil, at a match making dinner that had been set up by mutual friends. He had heard nothing but dancing around the ’Maypole’ since the night he had placed the ring on her finger three months after they met, seven months prior. Lilith Giles was raised with a strong group of Wiccan women who had claimed the craft as their religion for centuries. Gram on the other hand knew little of his background, or chose to keep it to himself.
“Just ten more days, sweetie,” Lilith glowed with excitement.
“I know, you reminded me this morning,” Gram rolled his eyes, as he flushed the toilet.
“I thought you were excited about my family coming?”
“I was…I am. I just think it’s going to be a little weird being here with a house full of women and me the only guy.”
“I know, honey,” Lilith walked her five foot three, small frame over to Gram’s six foot two, one and wrapped her arms around his waist. “They’re old and they won’t be here that long.”
“Just how long is ’that long’?”
“Four days and nights, tops. Most won’t even go out with us until the eve of the 30th.”
“Can’t I just take a fishing trip with the boys? I mean, why does this Holiday of yours have to include me?”
“Babe, you promised,” she stepped back and looked up.
“I know, us dancing practically nude, without a care in the world? I get it, but in front of all of those people?”
“Once you meet them, and see that no one else cares, then neither will you. It’s the one time of the year that you can take off this ring,” she picked up his left hand, “ and not worry about me getting upset about other nude women being around.”
“Yet, I can’t have my nasty magazines in the bathroom.”
“Oh, Gram,” she smiled and walked out of the bedroom.
Gram went into the bathroom and finished getting ready for bed. Three hours later the world he found himself in was nothing compared to the one he left when he laid his head down on the pillow. He stood on the edge of a tree line, watching a group of individuals chant, swaying around a slender caldron that stood three feet off of the ground. All that circled the caldron were adult male and females, all wearing black robes, and all chanting words that he did not understand. As he watched, a bright blue glow took hold of the flame inside the cast-iron caldron.
Two large men stepped out of a tent made of black material, leading a young female, no more than eighteen. Her face was slack with meditation and her body completely nude. From across the clearing came two more men dragging a young male, much the same age of the young girl, fighting to be free of his captors, until his eyes fell upon the young nude female. “Kira,” he cried, and was knocked to the earth. Once the crowd moved, Gram could see a stone slab not half a foot off of the cool dark earth.
“Blood must be shed to assure a fruitful future. Ten moons have past and not one harvest has made gain,” an older woman spoke loud, turning for all to hear. “We have given word to the moon who listens and yet we have not paid homage to the very earth…” she paused as the wind blew. “That now demands payment for the treasures that lay before us. Our crops bring in half profit. Our wheat does not half fill our barns. We can barely feed our children, and the tax collector takes all we save to survive the winter. This Beltane, we pay homage in the ways of our forefathers. This eve we gave way to the Sun God. The children are A-Maying as I speak and now we will glory the ancients.”
The two men drug the young male over to the stone and tied him down, face up. He cried and asked what he had done, with no one giving more reply than a simple grin of queer satisfaction. The other two men stood the young girl in front of the older woman and then walked away. The girl swayed as if on drugs, and then began dancing to music that only she could here. The boy cried out her name over and over, “Kira, Kira!”, but she heard nothing but the cord in her own mind. The elder woman raised both hands, and the whole crowd circled the stone table that the young man was laying on. They all began to sing that chant, which sounded more to Gram like a spell than music. Yet, the young girl, the one he loved, danced with more rhythmic speed.
Gram grabbed the base of the tree that he was hiding behind when he saw the black clocks fall. Men and women of all ages stood in all their glory, as the one in control lifted a pearl handled, silver blade above her head. She spun around, as they all did, singing and chanting, and then all at once they stopped. The girl, Kira, stood on wobbly legs, rocking slightly as she glared at the shiny blade. The elder woman with strands of gray crossing her weathered face held it sideways, slowly raising it toward her. Kira stepped up and took it into her hand, smiling up as if she had just received a new puppy.
“The time is at hand to feed Mother Earth. You child, have mated and will bring forth a child as the wheat fills the barn. This night the moon will once again be sated and we the people of Hellsfire will once again live in prosperity. Now do what you were born to do my child.”
The young nude female knelt down by the stone slab, as the young male pleaded for her to cut him free so the two of them could flee from the place that held them prisoner. He made promise after promise, right up to the moment that the blade slashed him open from sternum to pelvic. Kira laid the blade down beside his warm body and stuck her fingers into the opening and filled her hands with his fluids. She then placed them in her mouth and licked them clean. It was then that the crowd went into a wild frenzy.
“Take of this sacrifice my children, for this is the night of Beltane. Take from one another as it was done in the days of our forefather. We are of the Celtic ancients and obey them we will. His body will be given to Mother Earth and she will reward us our great deeds,” the elder spoke, as the crowd swarmed the body and covered themselves with his blood, tasting their fingers as if he were sweet honey.
Gram slid on a branch, and the woman turned.
Lilith shook Gram several times before she got him to wake up. He grabbed her by the forearms and yelled out, “How could you?” then fell back onto his pillows. Lilith didn’t know what to think of her husband’s actions other than, that he had had a very bad dream. He got up and took a shower and she went in and made him breakfast. When he came out he grabbed a cup, poured himself some coffee and sat down at the small kitchen table.
“You must have had a really bad dream, babe,” Lilith said, flipping the eggs.
“Just a weird one. I think it was all that talk about what your family does.”
“Well, someone has to talk. You never talk about your past,” she replied, raising one brow, setting his plate down in front of him.
“I don’t think that I’m very hungry.”
“This dream really got to you, didn’t it?”
“I don’t think I want to be a part of this bringing in the new moon with you and your family.”
“Gram! This will be the first time that you meet my great aunt and her friends. My grandmother will be here, and Gran called and said that they had it set up for eleven on the thirtieth. We’ve been planning this for months.”
“No, Lil, you’ve been planning this. I’ve just been going along with it.”
“Please,” she walked around the table and wrapped her arms over his shoulders. “They’ll all be gone by the second. It will be another two years before they come back. Unless…”
“No one’s going to die,” he turned in his seat and sat her down in his lap.
‘They’re getting so old, and it’s been at least ten years since I’ve lived this close. It really means a lot to me Gram…Please!”
Gram agreed and went to work. Gram and Lilith had moved to the country community that she had been raised in, two months after they were married, due to her inheriting her father’s farms. Gram had taken the new position of the town Veterinary, while learning how to be a farmer when he wasn’t stuck at the office. Things had gone downhill on the farm years prior, when Lilith’s grandfather passed and both of her uncle’s we killed in a car accident. It would take two summers just to get it back into running shape, or that was Gram’s take on things. He had already got the pole ready to set up. Lilith had said it had been used in the family since before her time, that all in her religion had used the pole. All that was left to be done had to be done by those who knew, and understood the Beltane Holiday.
Lilith was on the phone when Gram came home from work. She had ribbons of all types and colors spread out all over the living room. She hurried off the phone to explain to him that it was part of the ritual of dancing under the moon. Gram was in a much better mood. He had forgotten about his nightmare and was getting excited about getting things set up, at least, the cook out portion of April 30th and where all of his troubles were supposed to melt away. He especially liked the part where she told him that it was the return of vitality, and passion. He couldn’t stop thinking about the freedom she spoke of, of the two of them laying among the trees becoming one on the blanket of Mother Earth.
“How many times have you done this, Beltane, thing?”
“I told you. I haven’t lived around here since we moved to Atlanta,” she gathered the ribbon.
“Then how do you know you can handle being nude in front of other people?”
“Is that what’s bothering you? Because you don’t have to strip down babe. Neither do I, I just want to go to another ceremony. I haven’t been since I was a young girl, not to one like this anyway. Gran said it was the time of the blue moon.”
“And, that means…?”
“I don’t know. But it has to be pretty damn special. She just told me that her coven was coming to bless our land, and in our faith that means we’ll have a great crop next year.”
“I work with cows and horses, babe. It’s not like I was going to get out there and making this big wow of a wheat, or corn field anyway.”
“So, it’s still a great honor. We went to this family’s farm when I was about five and I remember those people giving my family two spring calves the next year. People can’t do that when their farm is in bad shape. They were blessed, because the coven came.”
“Did a young guy get sliced up on a stone slab?” he whispered with a mock, while bits of memory seeping in.
“That’s fine, babe. Just don’t expect me to be able to hang around much. I have patients. Carol has two horse’s ready to drop. Bob has three milk cows that he’s calling me on every other hour…”
“I know you’re not a Wiccan babe, but we have a lot of faith in nature. Those animals will be fine come the eve of our Beltane.”
“I hope you’re right. I could use a break,” he smiled giving Lilith a hug.
It was the day before Lilith’s family arrived, and the couple was getting the two guest rooms in order. Gram had already been instructed that they were strong German women, and that most men in the family just stayed to themselves, answering only when spoken to. Even though the conversation of explanation was more than odd, Gram was in complete compliance with Lilith because he was more than happy to stay out of their way. It was the only time that Lilith had asked him to take his time at work, so that she could get them settled in.
Gram had left for work, and not ten minutes later, two cars pulled up. Seven women in all got out, but all attention was placed on the eldest, Lilith’s great grandmother. She hugged her, and then placed her hand on Lilith’s stomach. “Half the deed has been done” was all she said, while they took her in and settled her into her room. She and Lilith’s, Aunt Martha stayed with her while the others left to make other arrangements.
Meanwhile, back at work, Gram had a visit by an elderly man that he had never met.
“Do you have an appointment, Sir?” the receptionist asked.
“The young man will want to see me.” With that, the man walked through the swinging doors that led through to the back of the building.
“Can I help you? We were just about to close,” Gram said, replacing bottles back into a cabinet.
“They only come when the ground is hungry,” the old man said.
“I remember the day they took my older brother into that very field, I was four, or…”
“I’m sorry, do we know each other?”
“Doesn’t matter. They only want one thing young man. Best be for taking that bride and leaving while you still can. The Giles’ is a family that…” the old man grabbed his throat.
“Sir, are you okay?”
The old man fell to the floor as blood seeped from his nose and mouth. “Kelly! Call an Ambulance,” Gram set the elderly man up to keep him from drowning in his own blood. The man choked, sputtering the words, “stay out of the field” then died, right there in Gram’s arms.
Buy the entire Hellfire Book of Beltane collection and enjoy more awesome stories, just like this one. http://www.amazon.com/Hellfire-Book-Beltane-Volume-ebook/dp/B0052ACBJG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334512055&sr=1-1