Here is a free story from my book WE ARE ALL MONSTERS about Walpurgisnacht, or MAY DAY. Enjoy!
“Enough! This superstitious nonsense must stop!”
“Or what? Do you know why we have the May Day Festival? Truly?”
“I won't hear another word of this. Get out of my office.”
“You say we're superstitious, and yet you let your lives be ruled by the fear of Hellfire and Brimstone.”
“Get. Out. Of. My. Office!”
“Fine,” she said and picked up her hand bag. “Cancel the festival. Deny our cultural heritage. See what happens when you do.”
“You know what will happen? Nothing, because none of that is real. The Baptists have money, you don't. They're using the fairgrounds today, because they can pay for it, and you can't. It's as simple as that.”
Mrs. Calvera tisked the councilman.
“We shall see Mr. Bundy. We shall see. I'd wish you a good weekend, but...it's far too late for that.”
“Whatever you are planning, I suggest you stop.”
“Me? I will be doing nothing but praying for us all.” Mrs. Calvera left, shutting the door gently behind her.
“Superstitious old hag. There's nothing here.”
Mr. Bundy went back to work, answering e-mails about millage proposals and counting down the hours until his shift ended.
Mrs. Calvera stood at the edge of town, her heart dropping to her stomach as she stared at the big banner they had put up for the Tent Revival. They had canceled the May Day festival and let the Holy Rollers in to use the sacred land.
They had really gone and done it this time.
Their little town in the middle of nowhere in Michigan's Upper Peninsula wasn't known for much, just a little centuries old crumbling church and monastery that held the mummified body of a local saint.
Festival attendance had waned over the years as jobs started to disappear and the younger generations moved on to greener pastures.
The remaining locals started to lose interest in their cultural heritage. It really was a pity.
Now the town council decided to not hold their May Day festival. The one they always had since the place had been settled by French Catholic missionaries.
Because a new fundamentalist Baptist church had moved in, and people loved to throw money at those con men.
Mrs. Calvera walked past the old mission grounds where the Baptists were raising their tents. One of them looked her way, smiled and waved, and starting walking towards her.
She pulled out her Saint medallion and kissed it, praying to God for strength, but it didn't come.
“Will you be joining us in celebrating the Good Word of God?”
“Have you found Jesus Mrs…?”
“You are going to have to try harder than that.”
“I'm Catholic. We don't believe in proselytizing. We believe in doing good works.”
“Ah. I see. Well, you're more than welcome to join the service this evening.”
She gave the earnest fool a long, steady look.
“I don't think anyone here will be joining you. It's a holy night.”
“Well, all the more reason to—”
She waved a dismissing hand at him.
“Save your speech. I know your type. You'll whip your congregation up into a frenzy and set them loose, foaming at the mouth to 'save us.' But we're not the ones that need saving. It's you. You've already upset the natural order of things. Do us all a favor and stay out of the old mission chapel tonight. It's a sacred place.”
“Beg pardon?” the revivalist said, frowning.
“In the old days, May first was a sacred night, a night to celebrate and to ward off the evil spirits. Walpurgisnacht; the night of the witch. You won't find that in your Bible young man, so don't bother looking. There's a reason those festivals are still held in holy places you know.”
“It's a heathen practice. It should be stopped. It's an abomination to God.”
“No.” She wagged a finger for him to lean closer so she could whisper. “You ever wonder why the Catholic saint relics, the ones made from the saint's own body, never decayed?”
“Because they were mummified.”
“Yes, but why are they all mummies?”
“Because of how their bodies were kept?”
“Wrong. It's because the body of the saint was used to hold an evil witch's spirit. It's the ultimate prison for a witch. Being stuck for all eternity in holy man's body. Can you imagine?”
The revivalist stared at her, then grinned.
“You're pulling my leg.”
“The May Day festivals are held every year to erase all the evil power that the witch's soul accumulated over the dark, cold, winter months. The fires and burning effigies sends enough holy power out to stop it. But, that is not going to happen this year, now is it?”
“Maybe you should come to the revival tonight. You really seem to need Jesus in your life. All this talk of idolatry and devil worship, it's worse than I thought. The Minister was right. This place is possessed by Satan.”
“No. Not this land, just the saint's body that is interred in the bottom of the old monastery.”
The man looked back at the building, the shadows cast by its uneven roof made it seem all the more sinister in the dying sunlight.
“I'll be sure to pray for you,” he said, a little too loud.
“You have your ways young man, we have ours. It would serve you best to respect that.”
“There some trouble here?” the minister said loudly, wiping the dirt off his hands and pant legs as he started heading their way.
“No. No trouble. I wish you luck on your Revival.”
“Why, thank you, Mrs—”
Mrs. Calvera abruptly turned and walked away.
They should have started the festival an hour ago.
Mrs. Calvera could feel the witch stirring. The old evil woman’s spirit was waking up, and she was furious at being held captive in such a holy place.
It was only a matter of time before night fell and the moonlight gave the witch enough strength to crawl out of the tomb and out into the dark, where the people had gathered to worship.
She crossed herself and hurried home. She locked the door, pulled the drapes, grabbed her chihuahua, and hid in the closet. She began praying fervently for forgiveness, even though she knew it was too late.
By sunrise, they'd all be dead.
“Welcome to God's Great Assembly! Tonight, we're going to sing praises to Jesus, all the way up to heaven!”
The tent revival had pulled in a small group, many of them people from the next town over. Most came for the ice cream social that was to take place after they held worship.
They applauded and one of the drunks near the back of the crowd was hollering and cheering them on.
Typical Yoopers.* Always in it for the food.
(*Yoopers are people that live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, locally referred to as the U.P.)
The councilman stood in the back near the entrance to the old mission chapel, thumbing through the stack of hundreds the preacher man had given him.
Easy money. That old woman wouldn't stand a chance getting her May Day festival back after this turn out.
The revival was loud: they had speakers hooked up to an electric keyboard and a guitarist wailing away as they sang praises to a God that the councilman never believed in.
It was all superstitious nonsense.
Every last word of it.
He stood there, enjoying the feel of cash in his hands and, distracted by the loud revivalists singing off-key, he didn't notice the old wooden door shuddering.
The lock rusted and crumbled to dust.
Dried, desiccated, gnarled fingers pushed the door open.
The councilman laughed as someone spilled water on themselves. He didn't even see the mummified hand reach out and grab his throat, crushing his trachea in one clamping motion, like the death grip of an alligator's jaws.
The councilman fell to the ground gasping for air, thrashing about like a fish before he suffocated and died. The witch looked down at him through dead shriveled eyes.
She grabbed his soul as it started to float away and devoured it.
With a vile cackle, the mummy staggered out of the mission chapel and lurched towards the crowd, dragging a useless broken leg behind.
Screams echoed through the streets as the citizens fell one-by-one.
Before anyone even had a chance to call the police, they were dead.
All of them.
Their souls sucked right out of their bodies by the evil that lay in wait in the mummified saint's bones. With each kill, the witch grew stronger. With each kill, she drew closer to the Calvera residence, to the last remaining descendant of the French Missionary that forced her soul into the hideous desiccated body that burned her soul and kept her trapped within.
Mrs. Calvera cowered in her closet, trembling worse than her little chihuahua on a cold winter's night.
She heard the witch when she burst through the flimsy screen door and deteriorated the security door with a wave of a skeletal, leathery hand.
Her time was up.
The prophecy was being fulfilled. She was the last of their line, the remaining descendant of the priest that founded the town. With her death, the witch would have her 666th soul and be reborn.
Her chihuahua growled and quaked as the mummified remains shuffled towards the closet door.
“Mother Mary, please, forgive me. I tried. They wouldn't listen. Please, forgive me.”
The door hissed and sizzled, bubbled and popped, and finally fell to the floor in plops of paint and wet wood pulp.
Mrs. Calvera held her breath. She was staring at the mummy's feet, terrified but yet unable to stop herself from raising her gaze up, inch-by-inch, until she met the mummy's dried eyes. They looked like raisins that glowed with star points of silver hellfire. The image seared into her mind, the way the sun burns into the retinas if one stares at it too long.
She heard whispers of the hungry dead, the victims of the evil witch, as the mummy's hand reached out and clamped down on her neck.
With her dying breath, she understood why they had struggled for so long to keep it asleep. Inside that body of a saint, was the soul of pure, unadulterated evil, and it had won.
There was nothing anyone could do to stop it now that the witch was finally awake after so many long, cold centuries.
The fury of the witch was nothing that mortal man could handle, and with Mrs. Calvera's death, all knowledge about how the missionaries trapped her inside a holy man's corpse was destroyed.
The witch was finally free to roam the earth and do her Dark Master's bidding.
They say that during May Day, right after dusk, you can hear in the wind the cries of the dead that she killed; their souls doomed to wander the forests and rocky shores of Lake Superior until the end of time.