"SOUL CAKES" - Keely Done
Billy stood on his tiptoes, trying to peek out a rough opening in the rear of the tiny home, his sweet chubby-cheeked face barely clearing the ledge. It was a special day, so Mamma said, All Hallow's Eve, a time to remember those who'd come before. Billy wasn't quite sure what that meant, but the mouthwatering smells of nutmeg and cinnamon had his little stomach growling. Mamma was making cakes, Soul Cakes she called them, but he wasn't allowed a taste, not even a bit. He'd already been swatted for trying.
His stomach rumbled again and he glanced over at Mamma, trying to gauge whether she was almost done. She wasn't really his Mamma, but she'd been pretty good to him. She'd found him, all alone on the side of the road, and taken him in, even though he could never remember where he came from. That was almost a year ago.
Whistling, she turned and removed another batch of cakes from the oven. Arranging them in a basket, she turned and wiped her hands on her apron.
"It's time Billy, are you ready to go a soulin'?"
Billy crept closer and studied the sweets. "If I sing, then I get to eat them?" He whined.
She swept his dark hair back and patted his cheek. "Yes, dear, sing well for the souls of the dead and you get to eat them. After all, soulin' is the only way to free those wicked souls from purgatory."
The word “wicked” piqued his interest and his golden eyes flashed once in the dim light of the cabin. Mamma stumbled and almost dropped the cakes.
Billy ran over to help. "Careful Mamma, I don't want to have to eat them off the ground."
She laughed and patted her hair back in place. "I don't know what came over me, just felt weak all of a sudden. Must be the heat of the oven."
Billy shrugged and pulled on his ragged sweater, small protection against the brisk breeze outside the cabin door, but it was all he had.
The small town was alive in the deepening dusk. Several of the townsfolk had hung lanterns outside their cabins, the wicks burning brightly in the gathering darkness. The drying cornstalks rustled in the wind, the last remnants of this years harvest. Somebody had even started a bonfire in the town square–a pathetic patch of dead grass where folks usually hitched up their horses. Children were dancing while their mother's sang and some of the gents were warming up with their fiddles.
Billy jumped up and down in excitement as his Mamma ushered him towards a small group of bedraggled children. According to Mamma, the songs of the less fortunate were sweeter to the ears of God and he granted more of their prayers.
The Pastor lined them up and they started down the street, screeching at the top of their lungs, "A soul, a soul, a soul cake!"
Mrs. Jeffries was hanging out her door when they arrived, a plate full of cakes in her hands. As they chanted their rhyme, she handed them out and Billy eagerly awaited his. The soft gooey cake stuck to his fingers and he hurriedly shoved it in his mouth.
As he gulped it down, Mamma exclaimed, "Well now my Billy, you've freed your first soul."
Billy's eyes flashed in the light of the lanterns and he watched as Mamma clutched her chest and dropped the basket she was carrying. It seemed to fall in slow motion and the cakes burst out from the basket, sinking into the mud. Billy groaned in dismay and then ran towards his Mamma; worried that something was terribly wrong.
She couldn't speak; she stared at him in horror, clutching her chest. Her skin had paled and her lips were turning a deep purple color. Mrs. Jeffries screamed. "Get the doc."
Billy fell to his knees at his mother's side, just as her eyes closed. Gripping her face in his hands, he cried as he watched her slip away. "Don't go Mamma."
Doc Fischer ran towards them, looking down at the fallen woman. "I'm sorry son, but she's gone."
Billy stood up, the expression on his face conveying not shock, but hunger. As his Mamma's soul fed him, he remembered who and what he was. Imbued with power, his golden eyes blazed in the darkness, illuminating the scene. The air went still, as if waiting.
Doc Fischer stepped forward to comfort the poor grieving boy and tripped, his lantern flying. It shattered on impact, a fireball bursting from its center and quickly lighting the Jeffries' house ablaze.
The wind whipped up and the air crackled. Like a flame to a wick the bonfire burst free of it's confines and raged through the town. Billy, eyes gleaming, began to pace slowly as wailing and screaming filled the air. Those he passed fell to the earth, and with each soul he inhaled he felt stronger. It wasn't long before the entire town was nothing but a pile of smoldering ash.
Satiated, Billy ran down the trail, out towards another town, another smorgasbord for his immortal soul. He stopped, hearing the sound of an approaching rider in the distance. His countenance changed, the doe-eyed face of innocence returning. He was, once again, just a helpless little boy.
BIO: Keely must have been born under a witching moon as she's always been fascinated by the gothic and dark. Give her a cemetery at dusk over a bright sunny beach any day of the week. Though she's never met one, that she knows of, she firmly believes that vampires exist and hopes that werewolves do to. She wishes she had magic powers so that she could finish her "work" in a blink and focus all her time and effort on her writing. She lives with her lovely gamer husband and geektastically perfect daughter in not so sunny Dayton, Ohio. Check out more of her work and random ramblings on her blog: keelyanndone.livejournal.com , or follow her on Twitter @keelyanndone