Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
“Beatrice!” Hughbert yelled angrily from the kitchen table. “How many times I gotta remind you that I want my gravy on the mashed potatoes only? Never on my chicken!” Beatrice stood silently wide eyed near the kitchen sink, as her faded floral dress hanging loosely from her thin frame. Her tawny shoulder dull hair did little to accentuate her bland features as she continued to stare at her husband blankly.
Her mouth was always slightly agape and her eyes tended to exude a far off stare; often giving one the impression that she was not the “brightest.” Hughbert rolled up his soil stained shirt sleeves with annoyance. As he grabbed on to his overall straps he leant back in his cold metal chair. “Beatrice, look at this woman,” he said as he coolly grabbed a biscuit from off his dinner plate. “It’s cold! And my sweet tea which is supposed to be cold is warm!” He threw the biscuit on the plate in disgust as he snapped, “Can’t you do anything right?! Especially after I work so hard to take care of you! This is what I get – garbage.”
Beatrice gently padded forward across the linoleum floor. “I can throw it out to the pigs, if you don’t want it,” she said timidly. “I’m sorry,” she added as she dropped her head low. “Give – give this to the pigs?” snorted Hughbert. “What – and poison the animals? No way!”
Grumbling under his breath to himself, he leaned forward and picked up his fork and knife. He continued, “I’ll eat this trash. But if I ever keel over some day – you’ll know why Beatrice. Take some notes from one of those cooking shows or something. And for Pete’s sake – where’s the butter?!” Beatrice continued to wait upon every whim of Hughbert as he finished his meal under the pale fluorescent light bulbs.
This was a standard evening within the Wilkin household. Hughbert was a rather unsavory man to come across and often kept to himself. He refused to take part of society beyond the standard business on his farm. Beatrice herself was limited by him on when she was allowed to so much as leave the house for a trip to the local supermarket. Quite the controlling man, he allowed no one into their lives and never ventured outside of their small circle of privacy. To him, everyone was an imbecile and he had no time for idiots.
Later that same evening, chatter and laughter echoed from the small television set in the living room. Faint brown wallpaper splattered with little patterns of cacti adorned their living room walls. A small clock on the wall ticked on as Hughbert lounged in his favorite dusty armchair. Beatrice soaped and scrubbed away dutifully at the dishes in the kitchen all the while. Suddenly the doorbell rang.
“It’s 9 o’clock at night!” yelled Hughbert exasperatedly. “Who in their right mind would come all the way out here to bother a man within the comfort of his own home?” Beatrice had come to stand near the arm rest of the sofa out of curiosity. Hughbert lazily heaved himself out of his chair. Cocking and loading his shotgun, he sauntered to the front door. “What do you want?” questioned Hughbert as he threw open the door.
The porch light flickered as moths flew into the light, their frying in the heat emitting the only sound around them in the night air. Hughbert looked around and saw no one. “What’s that, Hughbert?” Beatrice was now by his side wearing a puzzled look upon her face. Directly in front of them sat a small black wooden box.
Hughbert bent down and lifted the lid. Blue silk lined the inside of the box. An old parchment styled flyer gently rested upon the contents of the box. Raising the flyer to the light he read aloud:
‘In honor of the town’s favorite farmer with the best produce, you are cordially invited to The Blue Corn Moon festival as Guest of Honor. Your special night of honor shall be celebrated on Saturday the 22nd at 7p.m. It is the Night of the Wolf. The enclosed necklace is a gem passed down from our ancestors. It is reserved only for the most honorable of our society. It is to be worn during the celebration.
–The Town of Rose Rock’
“Ya see that Beatrice!” exclaimed Hughbert as he withdrew the necklace from the box. “Everyone around here appreciates all my hard work. Guest of Honor,” relished Hughbert as he placed the leather strap around his neck. A smooth oval stone dangled round the center of his chest. “Hughbert, it’s glowing,” said Beatrice wide eyed as she gazed at his necklace. Swirling white and blue light emitted from the stone.
Hughbert smiled greedily as he patted the stone. A smooth breeze blew through the warm night air. Hughbert sniffed the air and shouted “Beatrice! I suppose ya decided burning my dessert would be a great way to finish my night off – right?! Get your butt in that kitchen and do it right this time!” Beatrice hopped at his shouting and was already in the kitchen before he had finished yelling. Leaving the box on the ground, the screen door creaked on its hinges. He slammed the house door shut behind him and resumed his place in front of the tv for the night.
The night of the 22nd had arrived, and it was now 6:30p.m. “Beatrice, move it!” Hughbert shouted as he started the ignition to his rusty old truck. The engine rumbled as he sat waiting impatiently. Beatrice hurried down the front steps and slid quietly into her seat.
Her hair had been neatly braided to one side, a purple flower adorning her ear. She had even had time to apply some basic makeup for once. It made a tremendous difference which made Hughbert feel slightly uncomfortable. She gave a weak smile with her pale pink lips as he eyed her floral lavender dress. “Well,” began Hughbert “you look nice.” He put the truck in drive and sped out of their dirt driveway as he added, “For once, you won’t be a complete embarrassment.” Her smile fell as they drove down the road toward the center of town.
A series of large elaborate streamers of blue, white, and silver were dangling from every golden glowing street light. A large decadent sign hung above the main street entrance to the town square of Rose Rock which read, ‘Blue Corn Moon Festival.’ Hughbert had parked the truck alongside the road, and Beatrice followed him as they proceeded on foot to the center of the festivities. Confetti littered the streets as they made their way towards the large crowd before them. The entire town of Rose Rock had gathered together.
Children laughed and chased one another about with blazing sparklers in their hands. Women in their finest dresses discussed recipes over a large spread of homemade pies. Groups of people bobbed for apples out of old washtubs, as old women sampled one another’s homemade preserves and jams. The men of the town had mostly gathered round the barrels of Rose Rock ale. Laughing raucously, the men clinked their mugs together in cheers. A clown on stilts cut through the joyful crowd as a group of jugglers followed in his path.
Hughbert smoothed his hair to the side as the mayor of Rose Rock spotted him and exclaimed for all to hear, “Mr. Hughbert Wilkin! Our treasured guest of honor! Please – follow me! We have a beautiful evening prepared in celebration of our community’s finest contributor!” Hughbert chuckled shyly as he shrugged off the compliment. “Oh no, truly only the finest candidates are even considered for such a special occasion. And you have been deemed worthy by the whole town as the Guest of Honor for tonight. Please, come,” motioned the mayor as he led Hughbert and Beatrice to their seats.
The awkward couple were seated on stage in the center of the festival. As the mayor announced Hughbert’s arrival via microphone, the town sounded with roars of joy from all sides. A cream colored awning dripped in decorative white lights and shaded Hughbert and Beatrice under the late night sky. They reclined peacefully in the plush cushioned chairs provided for them. Sumptuous town dishes and desserts were laid before them as Hughbert’s glass was repeatedly emptied and immediately refilled with the crisp cold ale.
A series of performances were held throughout the night as Hughbert enjoyed his place above the rest of the town. He was clearly the best man in town-he knew it- and now the whole town agreed he was too. Clown acts, children’s plays, frenzied eating competitions, strongest man barrel lifting, timed corn shucking, and best face paint competitions were all judged by Hughbert. The night stretched on and hours later all of the food, ale, and excitement had finally made Hughbert’s eyes grow weary. He was ready to go lay in his beckoning bed at home.
Hughbert stood stretched his legs and yawned. The mayor quickly made his way over to Hughbert’s side. “Is there anything I can get for you Mr. Wilkin?” “Nah,” yawned Hughbert again. “I’m just real tired. I think I’m ready to call it a night now and head on back home.” “Oh, no, no, no,” gasped the mayor as he gently pushed Hughbert down into his seat. Hughbert looked at the fat old mayor bewilderedly.
“There is one last ‘special’ performance which has been made specifically for you. Please, enjoy the show. Then you may go if you like afterwards.” “Well, alright,” Hughbert agreed with some annoyance as he remained seated. The mayor walked over to the microphone. “All right Rose Rock,” said the mayor. “It’s time.”
With that, the mayor walked off stage. Everyone grew silent, not a sound was made. Four men walked on stage and removed the awning. Other attendants removed the table and Beatrice was whisked off into the crowd. The town rock for which it was named was brought on stage; a red boulder that was smooth all along the top. Hughbert was pulled from his chair and guided by two men to sit atop the boulder. Baffled, Hughbert sat quietly facing the crowd.
The moon was at its largest, high into the night sky. The beams of light made the necklace around his neck glow an even brighter shade of blue. “Hey!” shouted Hughbert to the crowd. “What’s going on here?” Not even crickets chirping in the grass could be heard. “This some kind of weird joke or something’?” Silence met his ears. Then, the crowd stirred.
Far in the back, the crowd parted in two all the way to the front of the stage where Hughbert sat. He could see a lone figure walking slowly towards him. As he watched the figure draw near, he saw that it was an Indian Chief. The man wore a large hat and loin cloth of matching blue and red feathers. Green face paint smeared his cheeks and pointed nose. Looking solemnly up at Hughbert, the Chief’s deep black eyes bore into his.
The chief removed a dead chicken dangling from his side and slit its throat. He waved the chicken rhythmically back and forth as it sprayed blood on the rock where Hughbert sat. The Chief began chanting in a language Hughbert could not understand. The Chief removed kernels of corn from a small pouch and threw them into the blood at the base of Rose Rock. “What in the hell kinda show is this supposed to be?!” yelled Hughbert angrily.
“Long ago when our ancestors settled this land,” the mayor explained from a gazebo loudly for all to hear, “they had to make a deal. To appease the spirits that claim this land, a blood sacrifice is required once a year. The Night of the Wolf is the night of the required sacrifice. Ya see,” went on the mayor now facing in Hughbert’s direction, “you were the lucky candidate chosen for the job this year. It is quite an honor, Mr. Wilkin.”
Hughbert’s head had begun to spin and he felt unnaturally sluggish and dizzy. A thick purple mist had begun to creep in on all sides of the town. “Feeling a little lightheaded?” questioned the mayor with a chuckle. The whole town let out a loud peel of laughter. Hughbert grabbed his head as he slumped to his side on the rock. “No!” shouted Hughbert, “No!” The laughter continued to fill his ears.
“Oh don’t worry about the dizziness Mr. Wilkin, that’s just from all the drugs we put in all your food and drink tonight!” exclaimed the mayor wearing a grin from ear to ear. The purple mist had completely swallowed the town; Hughbert could only see the crowd now. Everything around had faded. Suddenly the crowd fell silent as the rumbles of growls could be heard.
Hundreds of glaring yellow eyes peered out from the mist at the crowd. The stone around his neck glowed brilliantly as the eyes followed the blue glow through the mist; like ships in a storm to a lighthouse. The crowd continued to watch as the army of massive wolves gathered on stage encircling Hughbert. A wolf jumped onto his chest and howled loudly at the moon as the mist immediately retreated. “Nooooo!” screamed Hughbert as the wolves tore into his flesh from all angles. Unable to move now, the farmer was utterly defenseless.
The now clear sky and bright moon lit the entire event as the crowd remained stock still. “Beatrice!” shouted Hughbert for he had spotted her in the crowd. “Beatrice!” he yelled once again extending a bloody hand. “Help me!” The wolves continued to snarl and rip away at him. Beatrice snapped the clasp on her purse open and reaching in said, “Well, I remembered the butter this time for you!”
She proceeded to throw some sticks of butter that hit him squarely in the face. “It felt like centuries waiting for this night,” said Beatrice as she rolled her eyes and nudged a friend beside her. Eruptions of laughter broke out throughout the crowd. The Chief turned and exited through the parted crowd quietly into the night. The town’s people watched on with amusement as they waited for the spirits of the wolves to complete their ritual feast upon Rose Rock.
Credit To – miss ivory