The Beltane Massacre
By Robin Renee Ray
“Who are you?”
“There,” the old man pointed.
Gram turned around and saw a stack of hay in the corner, then turned back to look at the horror of his nightmare. The man was gone and he now stood alone with the sharp tools swinging more rapidly. He reached up to block one coming right at him and sliced his forearm open from elbow to wrist. He screamed and woke with Lilith shaking his shoulders.
“Gram? Wake up, honey, you’re having a bad dream,” she cried out, frantically trying to wake him.
He threw his arms up, seeing nothing but the walking dead of so many young men, that he couldn’t see past the crowd of bloody hands that were coming down on him. He doubled his fist and swung out, hitting Lilith right across the jaw. She flew off the side of the bed as Gram sat up swinging at what only he could see. Lilith cried from the floor, begging him to wake, when her grandmother walked into their bedroom. She simply walked over and touched his foot, and he laid back down as if in a deep sleep.
“He didn’t mean it, Gran,” Lilith got up holding her left cheek. “He was having a horrid nightmare and I was trying to wake him up.”
“The others try to speak to him. You must have him drink the tea, and do so often, if you wish him well for the evening’s events.”
“He doesn’t like it,” Lilith disagreed.
“Then place the herbs in his food, just make sure that he holds them here,” the elderly woman grabbed her own stomach.
“I don’t remember anything like this, Gran. Why is he so important to you? The gathering is for us believers.”
“Do not question me,” she turned and walked back to the door. “You do as you are told!” Then she walked out and closed the door.
Lilith paced the room waiting for her gran’s touch to wear off and allow Gram to wake up. She knew about her grandmother’s touch from past years. She had witnessed others coming to her grandmother’s house for help, when she would spend her childhood summers with her. A light tap sounded at the door and she went to see who it was. Her aunt crooked her finger, telling her to come out into the hall.
“We have flowers to gather. The others will be here soon and things must be ready,” her aunt scolded.
“I know, and it will. I have all the fresh flowers that are growing in pops already on the back porch. The tables can be set up before the sun sets, so we have time.”
“You should hold that temper, young Lilith. You are still but a child and have much to learn.”
“I know, Auntie, and I am sorry. I’m just worried about Gram. This is all so new for him.”
“Have your breakfast with him, make sure he drinks his tea,” Martha said and turned to walk away.
“Why is this drink so important? We’re already pregnant.”
“They are simply for good health,” her aunt turned to look at her. “The drink is good for the blood.” Then she walked away.
Gram was getting dressed when Lilith walked back into the bedroom. He immediately told her that he was going to be working in the back barn, while she did whatever it was that she had planned with her family. After a few minutes of pleading, he agreed to have breakfast with her before he left the farm house for the morning. Even Lilith was shocked to see her aunt and grandmother standing by the smaller kitchen table when they came out. Two plates were set and both filled with eggs, bacon, and pancakes.
“This looks amazing,” Gram said as he pulled Lilith’s chair out.
“Wait until you taste Lilith’s grandmother’s tea. It has been in our family for years, and drunk for good health,” Martha spoke as she set the two cups on the table.
“I’m not much of a tea drinker,” Gram glanced over at Lilith. “But, I’ll give it a try.”
Lilith’s face lit up. “So, what are you going to be doing in the back barn?”
“Just doing some cleaning right now. I need to make room to pull that plow in if we’re going to get it to work.”
“You have a fine new barn. Why not just work on your equipment in there?” the grandmother asked as she dried her hands.
“It’s big enough alright, but we have other plans for the barn,” Gram shoved a huge bite of pancakes in his mouth to keep from further explaining himself.
The elderly woman’s face contorted into a harsh frown, becoming so upset that she left the room with Martha on her heels. Lilith waited until they were out of the room, and then scolded Gram for not going along with her Gran, rather than doing what he wanted anyway. He ate part of his breakfast, sipped the tea once, then shoved it away and got up. He walked over to the refrigerator and took out a bottle of water.
“I know you ladies will be busy all day so don’t worry about my lunch. I have to run into the clinic to pick up a few things.”
“You’ll be back to get ready by five, right?” Lilith got up and grabbed his hand.
“Of course, I just don’t think you need me around right now,” he winked and kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll be out back well before lunch.”
He stretched his back as he stepped off the back porch. He heard the aunt cough and walked around the side of the house in time to hear her say that she would kill the goat if Lilith refused. His stomach clinched into a knot as he hurried back towards the back yard and out past the garden area that led to the old barn. As soon as his hand hit the base of the Pecan tree he threw up. No one, not even his wife had mentioned anything about slaughtering an animal. He wasn’t ignorant to the fact that humans were considered goats in some ritualistic religions. They had been mentioned in the books he had read, that Lilith had around the house.
The barn leaned to the left, supported by the trees that had grown at its base through the years. Weeds reached waist high and every other step was filled with broken bits of wood and odd parts of rusted, used farm equipment of long ago. Gram pulled back on the offset double door, cracking the left side open just enough to step through. It was lit by the slashes of daylight that came through the gaps in the walls. Dust filled the air as his boots hit the sawdust covered earth. Ropes hung down from the rafters in different lengths, all swinging as his body passed by.
The very spot that the elderly mans corpse stood in his dream came into view. That’s when he turned and looked back to where he had been pointing. The stacks of hay had turned into one large mound of debris and several things had been piled on top. Gram began moving them, noticing most were one type of cutting tool or another. He lifted a sickle with half the handle rotted off and smiled at the thought of someone actually using it to cut wheat. It was almost unbearable to breathe by the time he found the bottom of the solid earth floor. He sat back, still puzzled at what he was hoping to find. He was thinking he would find some sort of treasure chest, but there was nothing on the floor but good ole mother earth.
He laughed, looking up, seeing a small bright glint in the corner. He stood, looking back once at the spot where the man would have been standing and realized he was pointing at the corner, not the stack of hay. He leaned down and began moving the loose hay and other debris. It was a handle, a round brass loop handle, attached to the only wood that he could see on the floor. He yanked and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge. He walked back over and grabbed the sickle, placing the tip in the crease of the opening. He grabbed the handle and pulled as he stomped down on the curve of the blade and the small hidden hatch flew open.
Down on his knees he reached in and pulled out a dark leather book, which was wrapped in a knapsack type cloth. Gram was fixing to take out the other wrappings when he looked down at the name on the binding of the book. Gilbert Simms, eighteen hundred and sixteen. “What the hell?” he said as he sat back and lifted the book. He untied the small leather string and opened the front of the book. Harvest of the Blue Moon, was inscribed on the first page, with the same date right below. Turning back the first page, he read something that put chills up his spine.
She comes with long gray curls on the eve of Beltane to take another of our line to feed the earth of her coven. In age she stays but death never comes. Her glory to the dark side of her faith feeds her black soul as the Simms’s blood feeds the earth of her line. Gram, flipping the pages, saw four golden symbols. Below them it read, ’Take to the four corners and breach the soiled earth. Call upon the work of her hand to reverse in the ground that holds the blood of the keepers.’ After flipping through a few more pages, he looked down into the opening that held other wrapped objects.
Gram took out the first, which was about two feet in length and removed the knapsack cloth. Its golden shine filled the rustic glow of the old barn and visions began dancing in his mind. He saw an old man placing the items in the small opening. The old man swung his head around as if waiting for someone to appear. He took out a silver dagger from the flap of his shirt and shoved it deep into the whole. He then closed the lid and covered the top with hay. The old man stood, taking a blade through the chest. He dropped to his knees and died right there where Gram now knelt. The figure moved to fast in Gram’s mind for him to see who or what had killed the old man, but he felt that the old man was his kin from long ago.
Gram set the golden rod on the ground by the book and reaching in, found the curved dagger. When he was finished taking everything out of the hole, he had four, two foot long golden rods, one curved dagger, and a smaller book with symbols in and on it that he couldn’t understand. Plus, the one large leather book which spoke of murder and evil minions that lived in little old ladies. The same little old lady that he feared now, ruled a coven of women that loved their Mother Earth, and worked with ignorant minds. Puppets ruled by the very blood in their veins.
Gram sat until well after twelve reading from the book that was left by what he now knew was his great, great grandfather, Gilbert Simms, once known as Simmons. Names changed twice, to flee from the Celtic curse which caused the blood line to feed the earth and be keepers of the harvest. “Kill the woman, break the chain,” he said, as he covered the items back in the hole. The only thing he kept was the smaller book with symbols, sticking it in his back pocket.
“Gram,” Lilith called from the back yard. “Honey, are you back there?”
He hurried to cover the hatch, hiding it better than when he found it.
“You have cleaned that barn for a long time,” Martha said not ten feet from the front of the barn, cutting wild flowers as Gram stepped out.
“Well, I think what I do on my own time is my own business. Good day,” he replied, and closed the barn door.
“You should watch your mouth on this Holy days eve,” she turned gripping her sheers.
“You got it,” he sarcastically replied, then walked away.
Lilith was standing in a white sun dress, her dark brown hair hanging free with wild flowers braided in small strands down both sides. Her smile made his heart grow two sizes bigger and a warm sensation ran through his body. There was no way he was letting this wicked woman take this life from him. At that moment he knew that he would do what his forefathers could not. He would break that chain if it killed him. His thoughts were brought back to the day at hand when three vehicles came driving up the road toward the farm house.
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