Chapter 11 – The Festivities Begin
Eight prisoners knelt on the ground, with their hands bound behind their backs and hoods over their heads. The sounds of their sniffling and crying emanated from underneath the black hoods, their fear almost palpable. In front of them was an enormous bonfire, behind them, all the townspeople of Glarus in their different Halloween masks, except for two, who saw a car pull up at the top of the hill that leads to Glarus, followed by someone attempting to hide that car behind a set of trees and get out, walking into town. The two men went to investigate who was sneaking around on the most important night of the year.
The townspeople all stood on Jim Ranger’s massive plot of farmland, towards one end of a cornfield, a large area of which had been plowed beforehand. Past the cornfield was acres and acres of woodland, dead trees, mere skeletons of the beauty they held during autumn, their final leaves falling only days before. From behind the large gathering of Glarus townspeople walked Jim Ranger, draped in the Cloak Of Skadegamutc.
That year’s Master of Ceremonies made his way to the front of the crowd, stopping between them and the bound, hooded group.
“Welcome, people of Glarus!” shouted Jim.
The crowd responded with an uproarious cheer.
“We begin this evening with the recitation of the Word of the Skadegamutc. Please bow your heads.”
The townspeople abided, and all simultaneously recited the words they were ordered to speak.
“From the deepest, it walks. From the fearful, it feeds, From the givers, it takes. In his perpetual grace, he allows us to live in peace, in exchange for the smallest favor, the offerings we present to him to today. He will consume the given. He will hunt the unprepared. He will give us one more year of Glarus!” projected the crowd.
“Mr. Bancroft, if you would please remove the hoods from our sacrifices.” ordered Jim.
Mr. Bancroft, a Glarus native and father of two, whose daughters were in the crowd with him walked over to the captives and one by one removed their hoods. The people of Glarus looked on with excitement as they couldn’t see the prisoners, but heard clearly their sniffles and whimpering. Fear drafted through the air with every gust of wind, washing over the sadistic townspeople.
Jim Ranger walked around the captives to face them and address them directly, the flattened talked of corn crunching underneath his boots.
“Hello, all.” said Jim, addressing the bound and helpless sacrifices. Naturally, they didn’t return his salutation. “I understand you must be rather frightened right about now. But just know this: you are a part of something much bigger than yourselves tonight. Something much more important than the trivial matters that comprise your lives, my life, all of our lives. In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel implored to tell you, that you will be dying tonight.”
The captives’ whimpers grew louder and the tears streamed down their faces with even more force.
“But your deaths will not be in vain, oh no. You will be dying for the rest of the world. You will be dying so others may live. And is that not the most noble life one can give?” asked Jim.
The captives struggled the free themselves from their bonds, but to no avail. They begged and pleaded to be let go, but their words fell on deaf ears.
“As my fellow Glarus residents know, I’ve never been one for long, drawn out theatrics. So without further ado, let us get on with the ceremony!”
Jim Ranger lowered the hood of the Cloak of Skadegamutc and tilted his head backward. Meanwhile, Richard Bancroft walked over to a small table that had been set up to the left of the crowd, on top of which, something was resting under a black blanket. Bancroft removed the blanket, revealing a large, blood-stained deer skull, one with an impressive set of antlers.
Bancroft took the deer skull in his hands and walked it over to Jim Ranger, who in turn took it from him, and placed it upon his own head.
“Bring Mr. Glaruson here for the First Viewing!” announced Jim.
The large group of Glarus adults separated down the middle, making a path directly to the sacrifices and the fire. From the shadows behind the group, down the opening between the Glarus townspeople, came two people dressed in red cloaks, one of them with the handle of a leash wrapped around their hand.
As they walked down the path, the other end of the leash crossed the threshold into the pathway. It was descendant of John Glaruson, the Skadegamutc, the cannibal from the bottom of the well. Gauntly malnourished from a diet of only children for the past year, Glaruson wore only a tattered pair of jeans that were cut off at the calves. Blood streaked across his body from the myriad of victims he’d brutalized at the bottom of the well every few weeks for the 51 weeks. The two individuals in red cloaks brought Glaruson to the front of the sacrifices, where Jim Ranger knelt before him. The blood-caked area around Glaruson’s mouth stretched into a smile.
“It is a great honor to serve you, Skadegamutc. I do hope I bring you pride.” pledged Jim.
Glaruson let out a howl in response, which brought a smile to Jim’s face underneath the deer skull.
Mr. Bancroft then walked behind the sacrifices, removing their hoods one by one, revealing each captive to have been gagged. They sniffled and sobbed as Glaruson examined each one of them one by one, sniffing their faces and neck, smelling their hair, and on Maddie, licking the side of her cheek with his blood-crusted tongue.
Just then, the two men who went to investigate the person who exited the car at the top of the hill, Allan and Mark, came walking back, only this time they had a guest: a man with his hands tied behind his back and a black hood over his head.
“We got another one!” yelled Allan.
“Caught him sneaking around, looking in the well.” added Mark.
“Bring him here.” demanded Bancroft.
The two men abided, leading the intruding man to Bancroft, who swiftly took the hood off of his head.
“Who are you?” asked Bancroft.
“I’m no one. I haven’t seen anything. Please just let me go.” said the man.
“What is your name?”
“Ad–Adam.” said the man, too frightened at what he was seeing to think of a lie quickly enough.
“What are you doing here Adam?” Bancroft asked, displaying a tone that let Adam know he wasn’t going to get out of there without answering his questions.
“I…I came to see my grandparents.” said Adam, who had thought of that answer long before he was asked the question, just in case he were to be found.
“And who are your grandparents?”
“El…Elliot. Elliot Kern.” replied Adam, hoping his grandfather would be able to get him out of the predicament he was currently in, and too absent-minded to mention his grandmother.
Jim Ranger and Mr. Bancroft shared a laugh.
“Damn boy.” said Bancroft. “I have to say that that is the unluckiest name you could have said. You know why?”
“…why?” asked Adam, not particularly excited to hear the answer.
“Because of everybody in Glarus, he is the one man who isn’t here to vouch for you. And his wife, your “grandma” she won’t vouch for you, she’s damn near the queen of this here shindig! Bancroft hastily explained.
“And we’ve already started the celebration, and we’re not stopping. So get in line!” yelled Jim Ranger, which elicited a roar of cheers from the Glarus townspeople.
Mark and Allan handed off Adam to Bancroft, who brought him to the end of the line where Glaruson was waiting. He ripped the hood off of Adam’s head, and the first thing Adam saw was the monster he’d seen in the well so many years before. It made him scream out loud, which made the townspeople laugh, and made Glaruson howl in a high pitch in response.
“We will wait no longer!” shouted Jim. The crowd cheered, hooted and hollered.
“You will have three minutes to run as far away from these fine people as you can. After the three minutes is up, the hunt will begin.” he said to the sacrifices. As he spoke, Allan and Mark joined Bancroft and five other people who had each lined up behind one of the sacrifices, holding blades.
“Release the sacrifices!” yelled Jim. As soon as the words left his lips, each of the people behind the captives cut through the rope that was binding their hands. The prisoners all got up from the ground and began running out into the cornfield that sat behind Jim Ranger’s home. The crowd cheered as a woman named Joan held a stopwatch, eagerly awaiting the three minute mark.
As she watched the time, the residents of Glarus readied all of their weapons. Some had knives, others machetes, some with hatchets, axes, hammers, screwdrivers. Guns were strictly not allowed during the hunt. It was common knowledge that the hunt lasted until every sacrifice was accounted for and either recaptured for Glaruson or killed.
The stopwatch counted down for what seemed like an eternity, and once the ten second mark came, Joan lifted her right arm, the hand of which held a white flag. The townspeople prepared to run as the final ten seconds counted down.
Joan dropped the flag and every townsperson in Glarus took off running, each more bloodthirsty than the last. But not one of them was more bloodthirsty than the descendant of John Glaruson, whose leash was removed when the stopwatch reached one second. He sprinted at the head of the pack, ready to hunt, ready to kill, ready to feast.