the Old Religion they call it
It's a night when the walls
between the worlds grow thin,
and spirits of the Underworld
walk the earth.
A night of masks and
balefires, when anything
is possible and nothing is
quite as it seems."
~ Brigit in Beauty
Happy Halloween! Not much
else to say. It's been a hectic couple of weeks and I'm glad to
have anything to send at all (even if it is barely proofread)! I
hope you enjoy the story below
and in two weeks I'll be sending another, preferably much shorter,
Jenni aka Etain the Celtic
Butterfly Goddess (so what are you dressing up as? ;-)
PS- Thanks to everyone who suggested Halloween costumes for their
characters! Loved em!
The Walls Between the Worlds
The last three months had not
been kind to the people of Dyeland.
While there had been a few joyful, friendly celebrations; there had
also been much sorrow and stress. From major mechanical problems
at Willy's factor to the loss of friends, so many people had been left
feeling disheartened and drained. Andrew himself had been the
a Dyeland-style intervention. The months had passed in an
emotional blur as Andrew jumped straight from harrowing assignments to
time spent at the deathbed of an old, treasured assignment to being the
confidante of well over half of Dyeland. The strain began to show
and at last the ladies of Dyeland prevailed upon the angel to return
Sitting in the Cafe in Dyeland, Andrew was
very much aware that his human friends couldn't rely upon the same
retreat. The angel
looked from Lady Beth to Yva to Rose to JenniAnn to Countess
Jennifer as they sat around him at a table. Each looked either
stressed, heartbroken or anxious. All had grown far too
serious. Andrew knew he had to do something. Something big
and fun and childish and... Andrew inhaled sharply as the idea
popped into his mind: he would have to spearhead the annual Halloween
"I think we should go
shopping today. Get some things for the
trick-or-treating we're having for the Tunnel kids," he announced
JenniAnn shrugged. "I talked to Vincent. He said the kids
would understand if we canceled since everyone's a bit down."
Andrew shook his head. "I'm sure they would because they're great
kids but we made them a promise and, you know, I think a celebration is
just what we need. Not just for them but for us."
Yva smiled at Andrew. "You're sweet. We all know how much
you dislike Halloween. Are you sure you really want to go
shopping for it, Andrew?"
"We still have a week. We could order some things online and have
them shipped express," Lady Beth suggested. "You wouldn't have to
go shopping and put up with all that creepy propaganda, Andrew."
"I don't want to go Halloween shopping by myself. I don't want to
do anything... Halloween-y by myself!" Andrew declared, wrinkling his
nose at the dreaded H word. "But I
think it'd be great for us all to go together. We need to get
out. Have some fun! Besides, the population's grown since
last year. We don't have enough dishes and things like that."
Rose giggled. "I think we should go. Andrew's offering to
go shopping for Halloween. That alone is a feat so monumental it
has to be celebrated."
Andrew chuckled. "There you go. We need to go shopping to
celebrate my triumph." The angel of death grew serious
then. "I want to do this. I just want everyone to be happy
again and maybe if we spend a little time shopping for the kids...
well, maybe we'll get back some of that child-like energy and
Countess Jennifer nodded. "I think this is the best plan I've
heard in a while. So where we headed?"
"Laja, didn't you say there was a store you used to shop at as a kid
that had a lot of Halloween stuff?" Andrew looked to the woman
who was still absently stirring her coffee.
"Huh? Oh yeah. Actually," she began to brighten, "it was
really awesome! I mean it had tons of Halloween stuff but also
lotsa craft stuff. We could not only do trick-or-treating for the
kids but also have a craft area. You know, make ghosts outta
lollipops and paint pumpkins and design witch hats!"
"Everyone does need their own custom witch hat," Andrew responded with
Yva laughed. "Okay, I'm on board with this idea. So...
everyone to the Jolly Green Giant?"
Andrew pulled his car keys out of his pocket.
"Shotgun!" Rose called.
"Hairspy!" Lady Beth shouted.
Andrew did a double take. "Wait, shotgun I know. Passenger
seat. But... hairspy?"
"JenniAnn, why don't you tell Andrew what hairspy is since you made it
up," Yva asked with a wink.
JenniAnn blushed. "Well... hairspy is the seat in the car behind
the driver aka you."
"And?" the angel of death prodded.
"Well, whomever gets that seat gets the best view of your hair.
Hence it's hairspy," she continued. JenniAnn's own blush was
replaced by a stream of giggles as she watched Andrew's face redden.
"C'mon!" Countess Jennifer called from her position near the
door. "If he turns any more red he's going to clash with the
So on the grounds of aesthetics, the five women and the angel left the
Cafe and headed to Andrew's garage. Andrew no sooner turned the
key and backed out than they were cruising down a quiet road in
"I love how that works." Rose rolled down her window and breathed
in the autumn air.
"So where is this place, Laja?" Andrew asked, peering back at her in
"Ummm... I can't remember. I was kinda hoping this would be
one of those 'need to know' things for you."
Andrew looked heavenward and then smiled. "We'll be there in ten
The car was filled with cheers as Andrew drove on.
Lady Beth and Countess Jennifer had
entered the store ahead of the others. They came back with a
report of the areas of the store with the densest population of grim
reaper paraphernalia so Andrew could steer clear. Once inside the
group disbursed with Yva off to look at costumes, JenniAnn in search of
butterfly wings for her Halloween ensemble, Rose and Lady Beth to
and Countess Jennifer on the look out for decorations. Andrew
headed straight to the craft aisles after they all agreed to meet at
the center of the store in ten minutes to report on their findings and
then make selections together.
Andrew was pricing craft kits and imagining his friends in custom witch
hats when he realized the ten minutes were nearly up. He
hastened to the center of the store and waited. Though the store
was quite large, Andrew became nervous when he realized he couldn't see
a single one of the ladies. Twelve minutes. Andrew decided
he needed to go look for them. He averted his eyes away from a
display of skeletons hanging from ghastly branches and ghouls holding
weapons that reminded Andrew a little too much of certain assignments
during the Middle Ages. He let out a sigh of relief when he
reached the costume area. At least JenniAnn and Yva might be
The angel spotted JenniAnn first. Sure enough she was in a
costume aisle. Andrew smiled. No doubt she'd gotten
distracted by a princess dress or hippie jewelry. But as he
approached Andrew realized she was neither entranced nor
impressed. Stunned or confused would have been more
accurate. "Laja?" he called, placing a hand on her
"Whoa." Andrew stared at the costume that had so affected his
friend. "That's... suggestive." He turned JenniAnn around
to face him.
"I don't get it," she muttered.
Andrew shuffled uncomfortably. "You don't need to."
JenniAnn blushed. "I get the idea. I'm not that
sheltered. I just don't get why someone would wear that."
She sighed. "I hate Halloween."
"Oh, Laja. No you don't. That costume isn't what
Halloween's really about," Andrew consoled, leading her away, past
"Sometimes I don't get humans," she whispered.
Despite the awkwardness, Andrew laughed. "Me neither. Not
all of them, anyway. Now, let's see if we can find Yva."
Andrew groaned as he turned into another aisle, still with JenniAnn in
tow, and saw Yva staring at something. Her head was cocked to
the side and she looked at the item on the rack with concern. As
they approached she looked up at them.
"Hi, JenniAnn. Andrew. Look, I don't think you're the only
one that gets a bad reputation this time of year." The woman
motioned to a costume.
A long black cape, blood-drenched fangs, and a bloodied bag with a
small hand reaching out of it.
"That's horrid," JenniAnn exclaimed. "Bram Stoker-ian... but
horrid. Poor Mick."
"Poor Josef," Andrew added.
Yva reached up and switched the costume so it was behind a more
one. "Poor whomever has to answer the door on Halloween and see
that. Whatever happened to firefighters, super heroes, and
cartoon characters? I always thought Halloween was supposed to
give us a chance to be kids again, not remind us of the worst it means
to be an adult. I'm not sure I like Halloween any more."
Andrew frowned. He'd tried to swallow his own antipathy for the
date and show his friends a good time. Instead it seemed his
distaste was spreading to them. "Maybe it's just the costume
section," he suggested, ever hopeful. "Let's go check in with
Rose, Lady Beth, and Countess Jennifer... er, I mean Beth and C.J.,"
Andrew covered, remembering that titles were best left in Dyeland lest
undue attention be shifted onto them. "They're probably
waiting. It's been over ten minutes since we were going to meet."
"Oops. I guess I lost track of time," Yva apologized.
JenniAnn nodded. "Me too... Easy to do around this
Andrew prayed that whatever the others' had come up with would bring
some much needed amusement. They walked straight past the candy
aisle, knowing nothing there could equal Willy's treats, and arrived
at the dishware section where Lady Beth was holding up a wine glass
with red paint dripping down the side.
"I think this is what Josef would call a 'poser's cup,'" she guessed.
"Lovely..." JenniAnn smirked.
Andrew ran his hand through his hair. "They don't have anything
shaped like, I don't know, pumpkins? Something involving spiders
Rose turned into the aisle just then. "Ask and ye shall
receive." She beamed as she pushed her cart towards them.
"Aww!" JenniAnn cooed.
Yva picked up a mug from the basket. "These are really cute,
Rose. The cutest thing I've seen here. Oh look at the
little teddy bears trick-or-treating!" She reached for another
mug and smiled.
"They'll be perfect for the cider and hot cocoa. Great
find. Nothing even remotely offensive to AODs or... you
knows." Lady Beth motioned back to the hideous "poser's cup."
"Are there any festively adorable and unyucky serving trays?" JenniAnn
"Festively adorable and unyucky serving trays... 3 o'clock."
Andrew pointed further down the aisle.
"Too cute," Rose exclaimed.
"Aren't they?" Andrew picked up one covered in smiling spiders.
"I meant you," she explained, just waiting for the telltale blush.
Andrew did not disappoint. "Thanks, Rose."
The group selected a few trays and then went off in search of Countess
Jennifer. Andrew grew increasingly sluggish as they neared the
"I'll wait back there with you," JenniAnn offered, pointing to the
housewares aisle, once they'd reached
Andrew squeezed her hand but kept staring at the black cloaked
figures. "I'll be fine. Thanks, though. Let's go find
The group of five silently walked past the regiment of reapers.
They ignored the bloodsoaked vampire mannequins. The jagged
sickles. The zombie heads.
Andrew sighed and began to wonder where the nearest exit was so he
could make a run for it as soon as they'd found Countess
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" sounded a jolly voice.
Bewildered by the unseasonable greeting, the Dyelanders
turned around to find themselves staring at Santa. But this
wasn't just any Santa. Nor was he alone. Countess Jennifer
was smiling beside him.
"And have you decided what you want for Christmas, young man?
Young being extremely relative," Santa asked Andrew with a wink.
"Adam?" Andrew squinted at the approaching saint.
Adam lowered his voice. "Hello everyone. I'm interviewing
for the store Santa position and I thought I heard C.J. muttering about
this gore." The angel of death rolled his eyes as he looked
around them. "Andrew, you look as pale as, well, a ghost, buddy."
"The atmosphere is getting to us all, I think," Lady Beth explained.
Yva was transfixed by
Adam. "You're a splendid Santa! That
beard really brings out your eyes."
Adam chuckled. "Thanks."
"He absolutely thrilled a couple little kids that saw him."
Countess Jennifer beamed at Adam. "No small feat considering they
were holding grim reaper costumes when they came up to him."
"Speaking of costumes... Adam, yours is lovely! Wherever
did you get it?" JenniAnn asked, awed by the rustic but beautiful
Adam looked down at his attire and smiled mysteriously. "I
borrowed it from a friend who has some familiarity with the
Andrew burst out laughing when he saw each of the women stare at Adam
with increased awe. "Well, buddy," he began, "I'm glad we ran
into you. We're picking out stuff for the Halloween party for the
children but... it's proving a little difficult. We'd rather not
traumatize them. Vincent wouldn't be happy. I don't think
Father would, either. Any ideas? C.J., did you find
The woman frowned. "A jack o'lantern centerpiece. Some
black cat and spider stuff." She waved to a few items in the
basket she carried. "Everything else... like you said, we
don't want to traumatize the kids."
"It's becoming pretty demoralizing," Rose added.
"I can see that. I didn't feel too comfortable coming in here
myself." Adam shook his head as a young woman carrying a costume
package emblazoned with the title "Stripperella" walked past.
Andrew did a double take and then looked back at his old friend.
"I just wanted to show everyone a good time. You know it's been
difficult lately and I thought maybe we could recapture some of
that child-like spirit but..." He looked at the ground as his
voice trailed off.
"Aww, Andrew. We all know that your intent was very good and
kind. I'm just sorry I ever suggested this place," JenniAnn
added. "It was so fun when I was little. Now it's just
depressing. I'm glad my younger self can't see this." She
gestured to one of the vampire mannequins.
"You couldn't have known," Yva consoled. "We've spent the last
several Halloweens in Dyel... well, you know. I guess it made it
easy to miss how the holiday's changed."
"I'm sure we can still manage something amazing for the kids. I
have a half
hour before I need to be any where. Maybe I can hel...
Hey." Adam's voice cut off when he felt a sudden pressure against
There was a tiny boy, no more than three or four, wrapped around
"Santa's" right leg and sobbing.
For a moment the adults all looked at each other, baffled. Then
Andrew stooped down to be level with the child.
"Hey there, my name's Andrew and I'm one of Santa's... helpers," Andrew
introduced with a warm smile. "Did you lose your mom or dad?"
The little boy's face was still plastered to Adam's pants leg but he
"We could take him to the front desk. Have his mom or dad paged,"
Lady Beth suggested.
Adam nodded. "Son, do you know either your mom's or dad's name?"
The little boy looked up at the elder angel. "M-mommy!" he cried.
"Could you tell us your name?" Rose asked.
The little boy shook his head adamantly.
"Could you tell Santa?" Andrew motioned to his old friend and
smiled at the little boy.
The little boy nodded and Adam crouched down as he whispered in his
"Well, Caleb, of course!" Adam smiled at the little boy and
tousled his hair. "Caleb, how about you, me, my trusty elf,
Andrew, and these lovely young women go ask the people up front to page
your mommy so she can come find you?"
Caleb nodded and let Adam lead him up to the front desk with the rest
of the Dyelanders following. Andrew smiled as Caleb kept staring
intently back at him.
"Andrew, why's the kid recognize you?" Countess Jennifer whispered.
Andrew chuckled. "He doesn't. Look where he's looking."
The women tried to nonchalantly follow Caleb's gaze.
Caleb tugged on Adam's arm. "Santa, why doesn't the elf have
pointed ears? And why is he so tall?" He continued to stare
at Andrew's very standard ears.
"Ooh, I can't wait to hear this." Yva laughed and looked
expectantly at Adam.
"Well..." Adam began, "he looks that way to blend in. It makes it
easier to get things done. Otherwise people might always be
asking him about the North Pole and what presents I'll bring
them. When we're here we don't want a lot of people to know who
we are. But you're special."
"Surprisingly accurate, well, except for the North Pole part."
Andrew lowered his voice so only the five women around him could hear.
At that point they'd reached the front desk and Andrew approached the
nearest employee. As the page was broadcast all over the store,
the seven distracted Caleb by asking him all about his plans for
Halloween. The little boy's face lit up as he talked about going
to his grandparents for a party and dressing up as Batman and
collecting mountains of candy and watching "Charlie Brown and the Great
Pumpkin." He had begun to list off all
the types of candy he hoped to collect when a woman came running up to
the bench where Caleb and Adam sat.
"Caleb! Oh baby! Oh... I was so worried!" the woman cried
and scooped the boy into her arms. For his part Caleb clung to
the woman's sweater and kept murmuring "mommy" over and over.
At last the teary eyed woman pulled her eyes away from her son's
face. "Thank you so much for taking care of him. I-I don't
know what happened. One minute he was right there with his hand
on the basket and I turned to grab something and... and..." She
hugged Caleb even tighter. "Oh I wish you were still little
enough to sit in the cart!" She smiled at him and kissed his
before redirecting her attention to her son's rescuers. "They
grow up so fast! Thank you, again, for watching over my boy."
"You're very welcome, ma'am," Adam responded. "You two have a
After a chorus of good byes, Caleb and his mother left the store, eager
to put the very real scare behind them.
"Well," Andrew began,
"this has been quite an ordeal. If everyone
wants to head back... I think it's okay."
Rose shook her head. "No, I think we need to stick to our plan."
"I agree," JenniAnn added. "It's like Caleb's mom said.
Kids grow up so fast. I don't want to waste a single Halloween
before... I dunno. Jessie becomes to cool for us lame
grown-ups." She sighed wistfully.
"Or Gary goes away to school or gets a job," Yva added.
"And it *is* Jacob's first Halloween," Lady Beth pointed out.
Countess Jennifer put a hand on Andrew's shoulder. "We'll avoid
the reaper section this time. Let's just get the crafts and then
we'll get out of here!"
"I think you should listen to the ladies, Andrew. I don't want to
have to fire my favorite elf for lack of spirit." Adam grinned at
his friend and wagged his white gloved finger.
Andrew chuckled. "I'll go, I'll go!"
The group made their selections quickly, each choosing a craft to
demonstrate for the children. The basket soon filled with
material necessary for jack o'lanterns and witch hats and ghosts and
spiders and... turkeys which Adam, of course, had chosen.
Once they had checked out, the group bid Adam good bye and then piled
into Andrew's van. It was a quiet ride, each thinking of the
numerous images of Halloween they had witnessed at the store.
For all its ghoulishness and debauchery, it was still a day that
brought joy to a little, lost boy. It was still a day for inner
superheroes and fairy tale characters. It was still a celebration
of the all-too-brief innocence of childhood.
Rose broke the silence and
looked around at her friends.
"We're going to be glad we did this."
Andrew smiled at her in the rearview mirror. "I know."
"Maybe Halloween's always been a lil... out there. But the
grown-ups I knew always made sure we had a good, safe, happy
time. They were probly annoyed and bothered themselves but they
put it aside for us and, ya know, probly a had a good time themselves
cause of it," JenniAnn suggested.
"And so we're the grown-ups now?" Yva asked with a teasing smile.
"I'm not sure about that."
"Children at heart. But, yes, grown-ups," Countess Jennifer
Andrew laughed. "That's great! I'm officially a grown-up
now. Only took me..."
Rose gasped as she waited for Andrew to finish his sentence, hoping
he'd slip and reveal his long sought after age.
"Mmm-hmmm years," the angel of death closed and then smiled impishly.
"Mmm-hmmm!" Rose repeated, exasperated. "That is NOT a number."
"You don't know that. Maybe I was created before the English
language. Maybe I just gave you a very exact answer in... in
Angelese," Andrew defended, his smile growing.
"You just wait until I put mmm-hmmm candles on your next birthday
cake," Lady Beth threatened, laughing at the thought.
Rose sighed. "I know someone who is definitely getting a trick
for Halloween and not a treat!" But the smile she gave Andrew
showed that any such trick would not be much to fear.
The group was still laughing as Andrew pulled into his garage and they
began to unpack their Halloween treasures.
At dusk on October 31st, the Fields
of Gold were brimming with activity and myriad characters.
as Bo Beep, Yva and her husband-turned-sheep demonstrated to the Tunnel
children how to make Halloween scarves for their teddy bears.
Oberon and Titania, otherwise known as Vincent and Catherine, danced in
the moonlight while their wee Puck sat on the lap of his grandfather,
Father Time. JenniAnn was keeping in theme with her Celtic
goddess costume and telling some of the older children about the
origins of the festival of Samhain. Willy the Mad Hatter was
instructing Lady Beth and Henry, dressed in the finest of Highland
garb, on how to make chocolate shaped like pumpkins. The usually
dignified Nigel looked even more so in his Mr. Darcy costume and was
taking turns with Adam, dressed as Gulliver, giving people
hayrack rides around the
field. Rose, in a poodle skirt and looking like she had
stepped out of the 1950s, was getting Lindy Hop and Jitterbug lessons
from Mick aka Prince Charming while Snow White Beth looked on and
laughed. Meanwhile, Logan the Jedi Knight, Bunny/Elmer Fudd and
Countess Jennifer the Unicorn carved pumpkins. Everywhere was a
scene of joy, romance, or creativity.
All this activity was observed by a scarecrow sitting on a bundle of
hay with a basset hound temporarily dubbed Dorothy sitting at his
feet. Andrew the Scarecrow smiled as he watched his friends laugh
and play. Though at times he had doubted it, his plan had
worked. Halloween was bringing joy and childlike spirit to
"You did it," JenniAnn announced as she and Rose approached.
The two women sat down on either side of the angel. "Gave us the
we all needed, just like you said," Rose responded.
Andrew smiled and caught JenniAnn looking at him and laughing quietly.
"I'm glad I could. Why are you laughing?" Andrew tilted his
head in confusion.
JenniAnn sobered and then shook her head.
"I think it's your costume. Maybe the flannel. The very,
very lovely flannel," Rose guessed with an appreciative glance at the
"What? You don't like it?" Andrew examined his ragged
shirt and jeans with their patches of straw self-consciously.
JenniAnn shook her head. "No, it's not that! I love
it. When I was little I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz and,
well... the Scarecrow was my first crush. And now my last
crush... well... you're an even
nicer looking Scarecrow."
Andrew blushed as he laughed. "Thanks. But... the
Scarecrow?" he looked doubtfully at the blonde woman.
"Hey, I was four! I didn't have as refined tastes as I have now,"
JenniAnn answered pointedly looking at Andrew who only blushed
more. "But, seriously, your costume is, like, the perfect symbol
for how I feel tonight. It's like something from my childhood has
come back but only better."
"It may be ironic but I think you saved Halloween around here, Andrew,"
Rose added. "This has been a wonderful night. It's been
everything Halloween should be! I mean look at all the great
candy Willy brought and that pie Lady Beth made and the cider and hot
"And look at all the creativity it brought out in the children!"
JenniAnn waved to Jessie who was showing off her witch's hat to Adam as
she sat beside him on the hayrack.
Rose closed her eyes. "And the music. Beautiful, haunting."
They all listened as Nigel played a soft, centuries old melody on his
wooden flute while Yva and Sir Sven, Catherine and Vincent, Mick and
and other couples danced.
Happy children, blissful couples, good friends, great food... Andrew
took it all in. He bowed his head for a moment in silent prayer
and then looked to the women on either side of him. "You want to
"Yep, your age," Rose answered without missing a beat.
Andrew chuckled. "No, Rose, not that. Something else you
never thought you'd hear me say."
"Go on," JenniAnn encouraged.
"I actually think I might come to love Halloween." Andrew smiled
at their stunned expressions.
After they were over their shock, JenniAnn and Rose each gave Andrew a
"What's going on over here? You alright, Andrewkins?" Yva asked
she approached after Nigel's number had ended.
Andrew pulled away from his other two friends and nodded at Yva.
"You know, I'm feeling really great. In fact... I want to
dance. I think we all should."
The angel made his way over to a CD player and soon "I Put a Spell on
You" was blaring over the speakers in the field. Everyone
gathered at the middle of the field and began to dance in a variety of
Mick and Beth had stepped into the woods for a moment and when they
returned looked on curiously at the scene.
"Aww, look at Vincent dancing with Jacob!" Beth cooed.
Mick had his eye brow raised. "Why is Andrew waving Logan's light
saber around him like that?"
Beth laughed. "I remember JenniAnn saying something about an
umbrella and him doing that... wow... he looks... You know, I
just never pictured the angel of death as a scarecrow waving around a
light saber. And that a Celtic goddess, Highland lady, and a
throng of others would actually be impressed by this. Go
Andrew." Beth smiled benevolently at the crowd.
"Our friends are nerds," Mick concluded with a grin.
"You want to be a nerd, too, don't you?"
Mick nodded eagerly.
Beth took her boyfriend's hand and soon they, too, were dancing
joyfully (if not altogether beautifully) with the group.
On that night typically associated with monsters and ghosts, God looked
upon the crowd in the Fields of Gold. He watched His children,
human, angel, and vampire, dance and He smiled. It had been said
that on this night the walls between the worlds grow thin. That
night in Dyeland this was true. Grown-up and child, mortal and
immortal; the distinctions didn't seem to matter.
As the song ended the crowd's attention was captured by a soft
noise. They looked up at the moon and saw not a bat or a witch
fly across it but a dove. They smiled at each other upon seeing
this reminder of the love that truly united them all not just on one
night a year but in every moment.
Have a safe,
(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by
an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon
Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)