The Wild Hunt

The wild hunt flung itself through the nearly 400 year old streets of Stoneham last night. On sleepy Chestnut, in the shadow of Nobility Hill, the winds started with the dark. The rain came as I tucked my children into bed. I put my youngest not in his own nursery room, but rather at the side of my bed. The dark crag of a dead tree shadows his room, and I feared that it would not stand the night.

Adam and I watched the first episode of Stranger Things II with old friends. They were staying with us in those awkward in-between times, when you’ve sold one home and not yet closed on your new one. Their moving van was parked across the street, well away from the oak with its spreading limbs.

We turned off the lights and I laid in bed listening to the breathing of my son and husband, until the wild wailing of winds and roaring of waters drowned them out. I listened a long time before I fell asleep.

At 4 in the morning, still very dark, a horn sounded. Not once, but continuously. Adam got our friends up in case it was the rental truck (sort of thing a rental truck would do!) but it wasn’t. The lashing rains were abating, but far from gone. It was our neighbors down the street, whose car had just up and decided to honk without ceasing.

We’d just settled in after that when Tiberius began setting up an awful yowl. He moaned at our door, scratching, begging, persistent. Twenty minutes of trying to pretend I couldn’t hear him, and I got up and locked him in the bathroom.

I’d just drifted off when Thane bolted upright on the floor and flung himself out of the room. Adam called after him. “I had a nightmare. It was about cannibals.” I snuggled my little boy as the winds calmed down.

Then the horn went off again. The storm being over, I moved to my son’s room to attempt to get an hour’s more sleep before the day started.

It was like this for the whole street. Another neighbor’s smoke detectors went off in the middle of the night for no reason. A tree dropped on the car of a neighbor further down the street. The entire region seemed blanketed in every last leaf, small branch or needle that could be wrested from a tree. Throughout my commute rotting wood had been dashed to the ground.

All Hallow’s Eve is Tuesday. But the spirits will be quiet – they already had their ride last night. And that old dead tree, overlooking my son’s bedroom, is still standing with a red X now painted on its heart.

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