Read Summer's End Online

Authors: Lisa Morton

Summer's End

 

 

Summer’s End

 

 

A Halloween Novella

 

By

Lisa Morton

 

 

 

JournalStone

San
Francisco

 

 

 

Copyright
© 2013 by Lisa Morton

 

All
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.

 

This
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.

 

JournalStone
books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting:

 

JournalStone

www.journalstone.com

www.journal-store.com

 

The
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.

 

ISBN:
     978-1-940161-03-7 (sc)

ISBN:
     978-1-940161-18-1 (hc)

ISBN:      978-1-940161-04-4 (ebook)

 

Library
of Congress Control Number:   2013941617

 

Printed
in the United States of America

JournalStone
rev. date:  October 4, 2013

 

Cover
Design:         Denise Daniel

Cover
Art:              Harry Morris

Edited
by:                Norman Rubenstein

 

 

 

 

For the real-life Ricky,

who knows better than to leave me
alone at Halloween

 

 

Endorsements

 

"With her new novella,
Summer’s
End
, 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

 

"In
Summer’s
End
, 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
real
goosebumps,
real
chills, and reminded me
that horror fiction can and
should
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
Author
of
Live Girls
and
Meds.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Charles Vallancey, “Of Allhallow Eve”
from
Collectanea de rebus Hibernicis Volume 3
(1786)

 

 

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

 

London
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.

During
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
festivities.

But,
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 “ucla.edu.”

I
clicked on the message and read:

 

Dear
Ms. Morton –

 

I’m
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.

 

Sincerely,

Dr.
Wilson Armitage
[1]

 

I
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
Ireland.

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
sidh
, or fairies, on Samhain Eve
[2]
. 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
[3]
. Romances
about princesses who turned into swans on October 31
st
and who flew
off with their true love
[4]
.
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
nd
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
st
,
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.”
[5]
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)
called
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
st
“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.

So
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.

At
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?

I
was twenty-four hours away from finding out.

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