Read Summer's End Online

Authors: Lisa Morton

Summer's End



Summer’s End



A Halloween Novella



Lisa Morton









© 2013 by Lisa Morton


rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means,
graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping
or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission
of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles and reviews.


is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations,
and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously.


books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting:




views expressed in this work are solely those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby
disclaims any responsibility for them.


     978-1-940161-03-7 (sc)

     978-1-940161-18-1 (hc)

ISBN:      978-1-940161-04-4 (ebook)


of Congress Control Number:   2013941617


in the United States of America

rev. date:  October 4, 2013


Design:         Denise Daniel

Art:              Harry Morris

by:                Norman Rubenstein





For the real-life Ricky,

who knows better than to leave me
alone at Halloween





"With her new novella,
, Lisa Morton achieves something rare, arguably unique: she creates a
genre that can be defined only by this piece of work. This challenging,
exhilarating, darkly-humored, heartbreaking work is hands-down brilliant, the
best work she's ever done; it's been a long time since the boundaries between
the book and its author have been so expertly blurred, trapping the reader in
the oppressive , nerve-wracking gray area between. Don't start reading with any
preconceived notions about horror *or* storytelling because they'll be shredded
into confetti and scattered to the dark winds.  Just steel yourself for a
reading experience that will rival any other piece of work you will encounter
this year." –
Gary A. Braunbeck
Bram Stoker Award-winning author of
To Each Their Darkness


, Lisa Morton has created something so strikingly unique that it stands
alone in the genre.  All writers pull their work from inside themselves, but
Morton has literally put herself inside the work, and she has pulled it off so beautifully,
so seamlessly, that it does not read like fiction — it reads like an account of
actual events.  Her extensive knowledge of her subject and her impeccable
skills as a writer and storyteller are combined in a wicked and delightful
potion that gave me
chills, and reminded me
that horror fiction can and
frighten the hell out of the reader. 
Summer’s End
is a thin volume, but it is a formidable achievement.  I'll
never look at a jack-o'-lantern the same way again."  –
Ray Garton
Live Girls





“Samhain, says Lhwyd, is compounded of
, summer and
the end: this is a false derivation…the
Druids taught that Samhain at this season called the souls to judgment; hence
was named
, or Dominus
mortis, for
is Lord, and


Charles Vallancey, “Of Allhallow Eve”
Collectanea de rebus Hibernicis Volume 3



Vallancey, though a man of learning, wrote more nonsense than any man of his time.”


Quarterly Review,
April 1818






October 31, 2012


Almost Midnight



My name is
Lisa Morton. I’m one of the world’s leading authorities on Halloween. And this
year I discovered that everything I thought I knew, was wrong.





October 20, 2012



It’s been less
than two weeks since the world started to fall apart.

the third week of October, I received an e-mail with the subject line “Samhain
query.” Of course, I get a lot of e-mailed questions this time of year:
Requests for interviews, reporters searching for illustrations for Halloween
articles, someone trying to identify and appraise an odd Halloween collectible.
This year I had a new Halloween history book out, so I was trying to set up
book signings. I’d even been invited to sign at a store in Salem, home of
America’s own homegrown witch-hunting tragedy, although they couldn’t find me a
place to stay; hotels there book up a year in advance for the October

two things stood out about this e-mail: The first was that it asked not about
Halloween, but about the holiday’s ancient Celtic forebear. The second was that
the sender’s address ended in “”

clicked on the message and read:


Ms. Morton –


a linguistics professor at UCLA specializing in Latin, and I’m currently
working with a team from Ireland to translate a manuscript discovered in a
recent archaeological dig. The manuscript was written mostly in Latin, but was
believed to belong to an Irish Druid circa 350 C.E. It includes numerous
references to Samhain, many of which I’m frankly having difficulty making sense
of. I found your book
The Halloween Encyclopedia
in the campus library,
and you seem to have extensive knowledge of Samhain. Your bio says you’re in
the Southern California area, so would you be open to a meeting? Thank you. My
contact information is below.



Wilson Armitage


checked the e-mail headers to make sure this really had come from UCLA, because
otherwise I would have smiled and dismissed it as an early Halloween prank. The
Celts’ Druids—essentially their priest caste—were notorious for
passing all
of their lore verbally; they didn’t believe in writing anything down. To have a
Druid “manuscript,” then, was virtually impossible. And in Latin? There had
been cases of Celts who had integrated into Roman society and become quite
adept in Latin, but they were from the Gaul tribes of continental Europe, not

But, if this was real…

Scholars frankly know little
about the Irish Celts, and less about Samhain. What we have are the tantalizing
bits passed down in legends transcribed by early Catholic missionaries. Stories
about heroes who fought malicious
, or fairies, on Samhain Eve
. Horror
tales involving hanged corpses that returned to vengeful life on that night and
asked for drinks, which they spit into the faces of those who were foolish
enough to supply them, causing immediate death to their benefactors
. Romances
about princesses who turned into swans on October 31
and who flew
off with their true love
There were suggestions that the Celts had celebrated “summer’s end” (the
literal translation of “Samhain”) with a three-day long party of drinking,
feasting and horse racing. One debate raging among those who study Halloween
questions how much our modern holiday owes to the Celts. Some believe that the
festival has a completely Christian history, and that its grimmer aspects
derive from the November 2
Catholic celebration of All Souls.
Myself, I fall largely on the side of “summer’s end”—I think Halloween
unquestionably inherited some of its lore from Samhain, like belief in
supernatural forces being prevalent on the evening of October 31
or the notion (held mainly by the old Scots) that fortune-telling was likelier
to be successful if performed on All Hallows Eve.

There’s another camp, however,
which holds that Halloween is little more than a pagan festival renamed;
fundamentalist Christians go so far as to condemn the holiday as a celebration
of “Samhain, Lord of the Dead.”
What the fire-and-brimstone preachers don’t know is that their “facts” stem
from the fanciful work of one Charles Vallancey, an eighteenth-century British
engineer who was dispatched by the government to survey Ireland. He fell in
love with the Irish/Celtic language and culture, and spent most of the rest of
his life collecting information, which he transcribed into a massive opus (pretentiously)
Collectanea de rebus Hibernicis.
Except…Vallancey was frankly an arrogant fool. He was obsessed with the notion
that the Celtic tongue could be traced back to Indo-European roots, and in his
quest to find connections he frequently disposed of the facts. He somehow
decided that all of the other scholars (and there had already been many even by
1786, when his Collectanea was published) were wrong, and that Samhain had not
been a new year’s celebration and in-bringing of the harvest, but was rather a
day of judgment when the Celts offered sacrifices to their dark god “Bal-Sab.”
Vallancey’s books found their way onto library shelves around the world, next
to volumes that both reiterated and decried them, and so Vallancey
inadvertently created a strange alternate history of Halloween. By the 1990s,
some American church groups were calling October 31
“The Devil’s
Birthday” and they consequently banned trick or treat. I wondered if they were
simply miserable people who didn’t want their kids to have any fun, either.

now I had been presented with what could potentially, possibly, change our
understanding of Samhain and perhaps finally lay the ghost of Vallancey to
rest. My schedule was pretty booked, but I had a rare free night tomorrow, and
my significant other, Ricky, was working on a movie that was shooting down in
South Carolina (he’s an actor, and is most well known for his performance as
“Henry the Red” in Army of Darkness). I answered Dr. Armitage and told him I’d
be happy to meet tomorrow to discuss his project. He responded within minutes,
suggesting a time and providing his UCLA office address.

least Armitage was legit, and he wasn’t likely to be the kind of man who could
be fooled by a scam. What would I find out? Was Samhain mainly an
administrative function when the Celts extinguished all their home hearths and
relit them with an ember from a fire kindled by Druid priests (for which
services they were duly taxed)? Was it really a three-day kegger? Was it
possible that human sacrifice had been performed?

was twenty-four hours away from finding out.

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