Photo by Rhett Wesley

The Night is Halloween, Madeleine

by Calie Voorhis

London, UK, October 31st, 2031, age 63 (The 7th Tiend)

Madeleine stalks through the streets of London, her net transmitting a careful stream of instructions, left here and right now. The voice of her AI is Bowie, his proper Britishness soothing, with a hint of the devilry she’d heard in her Thomm’s voice, so many years ago she’d forgotten.

Fuck, he’d be 28 and she was 63. Still, with the shadow of full crone-ness hanging above her like the scimitar moon, her boots clanking on cobblestones, rowan twigs strewn in her hair, and the plastic gun light in her pocket, she thinks she just might dance along with the retro Cure playing across the communal net channel.

She’d spent the last period training as hard as any final girl in the apocalyptic movies of her 80’s youth, earned herself biceps worthy of Linda, and the determination of Ripley. She’d printed the light gun in her pocket in fifteen different cafes, even though she doubted anything mundane could defeat the Faerie Queen and rescue her Thomm.

“Turn right. Your destination, Bersey’s Black Cabs, in service since 1897, will be on your left.” The coal-black door of the heli-cab swings open, revealing two pristine leather seats, though there was only one of her on this fool’s mission, this last attempt. Twenty-five minutes later, the cab swirls back up into the crowded London skyway, leaving her behind at Mile’s Cross Farm, shivering in the damp October night.

Mile’s Cross in Jamestown, NC would’ve been her first choice for this last confrontation, certainly cheaper, or even Mile’s Cross RV Park in bumfuck Australia, which would have been warmer, but here she is, at the last one and all her shaking isn’t just from the cold night, or from the venomous music trickling through Bowie’s soothing voice on the communal channel, but from the fear this last chance at rescue will slip through her grasp, like the snake she knows is coming.

Goths of all varieties, some old and Southern, known from long-ago college nights, most newly fledged chickss—posing and sneering without the weight of experience or the meaning of loss to give weight to their snarls—saunter up the road.  She steps to the center of the highway, though only the British, or parts of Wyoming, can call a one-lane road covered in sheep shit a highway.

The crowd flows past, parting around her, none touching; and behind them, the lane clears. A light spins out of the mist, bobbing up and down, and she realizes that the Queen is going old school this teind. The black horse, a sullen prince of night, rears up in front of her, hooves flashing silver, pawing at the air, then at her, sharp claws and decaying breath, large white teeth, filed and honed to points, snap.

This is nothing like the southern version. She’d braced herself for rednecks and wolf-packs, a caravan of cars, not large beasts with fangs.

Jamestown, NC, October 31st, 1989, age 21 (The 1st Tiend)

Madeleine shivered, on the edge of Mile’s Cross, the only intersection she’d found in the state of North Carolina, and of course, the crossing was in Jamestown. Jamestown, home of the Collard Festival and famed for a junior Okra Queen who’d gone on to win Miss North Carolina. Also, Jamestown, North Carolina, home to this year’s closest teind parade, and her only chance for seven long years.

She tried to peer over the State football players in front of her, tall and wide in their red Wolfpack hoodies. Her mohawk, deep blue, and already drizzling in the light mist, made her effectively taller, but they still blocked her view.

She shoved in between two of them.

“Well, pardon me.”

She didn’t respond.

“Hey, y’all,” another one said, the burliest of the three.  “I thought the freaks were supposed to be part of the parade.”

She could see the road now, the yellow lines blurry from fog.

The music preceded the procession, this parade that she had staked her hopes on, the chance to win him back. If he still wanted her, even after what she’d done. The heavy thumps of “Stigmata” pulsed through her, and the crowd tensed, all sixty or seventy of them—all either grizzled locals with heavy drawls, or frat boy types from the Triangle—State, Carolina, Duke, and Wake Forest, all in pre-requisite school hoodies, mostly jocks—looking to hassle the Goth parade.

She held firm, feeling the State boys pressing against her back. One of them reached up to touch her hair, the other two shrieking at delight with the daring. They had no idea of bravery.

Bravery was shivering through a funeral, held in another state, one she hadn’t been able to afford plane tickets to, so she’d held her own vigil in the old graveyard, by herself. Courage had been going to the clinic, by herself, and then back again by taxi to hide in her concrete tower dorm.  Fearlessness had kept her going through the cramps and the loss of everything.

Hope had brought her to Mile’s Crossing.

The first of the parade cars, a black hearse, rusty and squealing with age, lurched out of the fog on a chill marsh breeze. The goths surrounding the car danced, like spiders, or angels picking cobwebs from the sky of doom.

“Ignore the white,” he’d said, her Thomm, that last fateful night, before he’d died in the freak accident. Single-car, the cops had told her and “was he suicidal?”. So many times over the past month she’d doubted. Him, their love, everything.

Yet here the hearse was, followed by an old brown incongruous Volvo, made memorable only by the skulls adorning the roof.

“Hey, freak, aren’t you going to join in?” One of the football players again, though she was starting to identify them. This one was Podgey, as opposed to his fellows Stogey, and Moron.

“I’m a punk,” she replied, shoveling an elbow hard at the ribs of Moron behind her. She took care to slam her foot down at the same time. “Totally different sub-breed from goths.” Moron grunted agreement. “More violent,” she said, turning back to Podgey, “for example.” His pig eyes held hers, then slid away and the three shifted enough to let her get back to the front.

The music and the crowd intensified, captivated by the white hearse, the window open enough to catch a glimpse of the Queen. She might have dyed her hair white, to match the hearse, and her eyes might now be blue, as opposed to a violet deep enough to trap her Thomm, but she supposed the Queen never could master anything other than a distinct sneer of disdain for her mortal court.

Once, she had caught them, hiding around a corner where she wouldn’t be seen except by the kitchen staff, in the shadows of a dark giant fake palm, smelling like stale grease. She’d been in the corner when they kissed, when Thomm whispered something in the Queen’s ear, and for a moment, she’d seen. Truly, and without artifice, the Queen’s face had dropped, flattened, then smiled, triumphant. And she’d just watched, hiding behind a fucking fake plant, hands guarding her belly.

Gliding along, the white Lincoln Continental arrived on a wave of the wall of goths – jasmine, coffee, cigarettes, and sandalwood, all in equal amounts, with an underlying reek of moldy desolation. Thomm stood up out of the moon roof, also all in white, from the blaze of his straightened blond hair, topped with a rakishly black bowler hat. She would have known him anywhere, by the tilt of his chin, the impish grin on his face, or from the sway of his body as he bopped along.

Her Thomm, not the Queen’s.

A hand jerked her back.  “Don’t you wanna dance with us?” Moron snagged her hand and took a few steps, shuffling as though this were a shag beach event. When she tried to draw her hand back, he held fast, and when she met his eyes, they were red and somehow wolf-like, along with a snarl to his smile. She stomped his foot, wrenched free and danced into her tribe, melting in with the swaying moves, her hair just another choice.

She sidled closer, spinning in circles pulling to Thomm. It wasn’t her imagination; he was scanning the crowd.

Her stomach cramped again even as her heart lurched and thudded, out of sync with the pulsing wall of sound and black. Only the Queen and Thomm wore white, the rest were in all the shades of black, from eggplant to a heavy dark maroon.

She reached the Cadillac and snagged the side mirror for balance, bumping against the immaculate car.

“Thomm,” she shouted.

The music stopped. The crowd, the goths, all silenced by a single wave from the Queen, now emerging from the hearse and locked eyes with Madeleine.

“You dare to challenge me?”

“Thomm,” Madeleine said again, putting all the force of her love and desolation into his name. His ice blue eyes met hers, and for a second, just a moment, glanced down, then back to her eyes, with a question in the set of his shoulders.

She had to look away, her hands tight across her empty womb. “You weren’t here,” she said, the words fading away as soon as spoken, melting into the fog and southern Halloween.

The Queen laughed, tearing at the world, shivering the sky with a sudden bolt of lightning.

Thomm disappeared into the Lincoln, the moon roof slid shut, and the procession rolled off into the night, echoing blasts of ethereal siren singers, leaving her alone, on the side of a dirt road, surrounded by frat boys and local rednecks, at Mile’s Crossing, Burgaw, NC.

Mile’s Cross Farm, Dorset, UK, October 31st, 2031, age 63 (The 7th Tiend)

The riderless black horse, caught in a split second, is a flash of time suspended in mist, a silhouette rearing. The hooves slash, the horse’s scream rattling her soul, but she is past, trying not to stumble on the gravel, or the slime of sheep manure.

The brown horse, rider sitting tall, proper, booted heels dug deep in the stirrups, faces her. Both beast and elf wear a proper goth disdain of something so mortal, someone so old and with the wrinkles of time etching every moment on her face.

The court presses her forward, she cannot let them surround her, and the darts in the gun firing from her hand, training and instinct in full throttle, will only stun them so long. She could not bear it if she killed them, even now, so many years later, although they do not, will not, cannot, recognize her, she knows them.

The gun fires. Ivan clutches his neck, a flash of recognition. He falls, slumping to a black rag pile. One of the Heathers, the red-haired sylph, parts her black lips, ready to bite.

She fires.

Heather crumbles, then the brunette Heather, then the blue-haired, mohawked Heather, the trio crumpling together in a flail of tattooed arms and spiked leather.

Hwy 85, NC, October 31st, 1998, age 28 (The 2nd Tiend)

On the road to Jamestown from Wilmington, her head throbbed with a righteously deserved hangover, and to the beat of the song that’d set her off the night before. Bowie wailed from the speakers, about the joys of being beginners, through her bones, then out the open windows to trail behind her, over the full moon coastal marsh. For seven years, she’d put Jamestown and Halloween firmly in her memories as a bad dream, a hallucinatory memory of a flashback combined with clubbing nights.

Yet the song, played by her sole bridesmaid, in innocence and out of Angela’s knowledge of her abiding passion for all things Bowie, had triggered memory, of another club, back in Chapel Hill, when she’d danced the night away with the Queen’s court and her Thomm. That recollection, so specific she’d almost smelled his Aqua Blue cologne, had jolted her to her core. Later that night, she’d seen his nonchalant silhouette out of the corner of her eyes, in every flickering light along the dark river, fog roiling in from the ocean, covering the cobblestones, and spilling out into the downtown, and though she’d danced along in the fog with Angela, her eyes kept betraying her heart.

She crossed over the final bridge, a flat tidal one, exiting the marsh created by the Cape Fear River, and onto solid ground. The sign, 14 MILES, flashed green as she passed, the night faded, the air crisp and clear and warm from a late Southern heat wave that’d brought all the tourists to the beaches of Wilmington, a last frantic wave of pink thong bikinis.

Without noticing, she rounded a curve, and onto a four-lane highway. It took her a moment to realize the change from the two-lane county road, although all eight lanes, both coming and going, were empty. Somehow, she’d ended up on I-40, the new section. She’d known the highway was in construction, had taken legs of it before, she just hadn’t realized that they’d paved all the way to Jamestown.

She hit the gas, speeding up the old Civic until the tiny blue car shook. The next sign said 50 MILES to Raleigh.

There had to be an exit before that. Shit. She looked for a median crossing, desperate for an emergency entrance, but the only one was occupied by a police car, which she blew by, not realizing both her opportunity and her destiny until it was too late, and the headlights were the color of the Queen’s blue eyes, flashing in the night as the dour cop wrote her a ticket for excessive speeding and then, to add insult to injury, followed her another 45 miles, until the Cary exit just outside Raleigh.

At 12:30, hunting for Mile’s Crossing still, she realized that the highway had obliterated it, and her chance, and well, her wedding was tomorrow, now today.

Mile’s Cross Farm, Dorset, UK, October 31st, 2031, age 63 (The 7th Tiend)

The white horse prances down the road, a Lipizzaner stallion by the dance, male, vehemently so. Buzzing fills her head, a white noise roaring with hope. This is real, the acrid smell of tense horse, the mud drying scratchy on her cheek. Even the music piping in through her feed is real, and theme song perfect. For of course, her Thomm had always loved an entrance. There is none better for him, for her, for them, then “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.

Bauhaus provides only a moment’s distraction.

She grabs his thigh, her hands slipping to get a grip on the polyurethane leggings. He slips out of the saddle, the horse breaking his fall, and the sweat of his neck rubs against her as they embrace.

For a moment, they are twenty-one again, with the world ahead of them, defying the court and Queen. Scars on his face, slashes of old damage in faint lines and ridges. Wrinkled forehead and permanent creases of time on hers. Still and for an eternity, the soundless communication of need, still, tugging at the parts of her she’d thought dried and buried, sheer lust shaking her hands.

“Trust me,” she whispered in his ear, then swings him in front of her and presses an iron knife, hard, against his throat.

“If I can’t have him, neither will you,” she says. The timid words hang in the air. The Queen’s coach stops, the horses jerking back at the departure from routine. “You’ll never hurt him again.”

His broad back presses against her, knobby spine young and unbowed, as she peeks over his shoulder.

The Queen emerges. Fog and mist foam around her, the court at her back; champing horses and a flock of goths, as “Love Will Tear Us Apart” segues into the ultimate cliché of goth, true and fake at the same time, “Bela Lugosi”. Dead and undead, the Queen’s court dances for her, sharp knives flinging starlight and October moon.

The Queen. She’d forgotten how the Queen affects her, had mercifully forgotten flushes of shame, of mortality, of stringy brown hair, of thick glasses, of complete failures to do a perfect cat’s eye, of black lipstick refusing to stain deep enough, of earnest nights of study, and, through all the small shames, woven deep in the cloth, the biggest shame of all, that she’d chosen for them both, last time, and although it was a choice she would always make, that abortion had been the hardest necessary choice. Thomm had died in the accident. Only he hadn’t. The abortion is not the shame ringing through her now. Today, in this seventh teind, the shame the Queen gives her so graciously, was that she’d believed he would turn away from her because of it.

That was what he’d whispered into her ear in the seconds before the knife. “I never blamed you.”

“Hold him, if you can,” the Queen says.  The world erupts.

Nowhere, November 1st, 12:01 AM, 2003, age 35 (The 3rd Tiend)

She kissed her Thomm, pressed him to her heart, rubbed against his warmth, while his hands stroked her hip, her back, round the side of her ribs.  His breath tickled her ear and his hair smelled like cinnamon clove cigarettes, smoked to sweeten his lips.

“I can only hold her favor so long,” he said. She murmured, muttered, and shifted. “Why don’t you come for me?”

The clock said 12:01 am in blinking green lights, flashing like an alarm. The hotel room was empty. She sat up in the cold, trying to tell herself it had been just a dream, a remembrance of a morbid anniversary. The pattern of the parking lot trees danced and swayed against the wall, doing nothing to assuage the long burn of guilt in her stomach.

Mile’s Cross Farm, Dorset, UK, October 31st, 2031, age 63 (The 7th Tiend)

“Hold me tight,” he says, her chin set against his back, his rib cage, gaunt and vibrating. Her right hand keeps the knife steady at his throat. “No matter what.”

The wind roars, a fury of screeching guitars and rage.

“I’m ready,” she says. “This time.”

She holds a snake, writhing and constricting, the knife piercing the edge of a giant scale, blindingly white. The triangular head lunges, a fang grazes her neck. She shivers. Once he’d kissed her there, gentle nibbles, and once, a fierce bite that had led to her wrestling him to the ground.

“He is mine,” the Queen says. The Queen’s voice pierces through the swirl of the dancers, of the knifes and swords, and the stomp of thick leather boots. “You are nothing and never have been more.”

She holds a bear, or rather the bear hugs her, thick claws digging into her back and heavy, dank breath huffing in her ears.

“I’m no longer young,” she tells the bear, her Thomm. His fur, crystal ice, coarse and rough against her skin, feels like velvet hope. “I never was pretty.”

The bear growls, a snarl of rebuke.

She holds a lion, now clinging to the fur on his back, arms entangled in the snowy mane.  The lion roars.

“I made a choice,” she tells him. “I thought you were dead. I left you to her. She shall not hurt you again.”

The lion snarls, spinning her around. She faces the Queen, mounted on the lion, and feels the giant cat, her Thomm, tense, ready to pounce. Waiting for her word.

“You cannot have him. They said you died in the car accident. I didn’t mean to leave you to her. Never again.”

“He’s still young,” the Queen says in the sudden silence. “You are not.”

“I grew old,” Madeleine says. “And I never was pretty. But he never loved you. How many times did you have to force him? How many times did you take away his ability to say no? And how many times did he ever say he loved you?”

The world silent.

October 31st, 42, 2010, Wilmington, NC age 42 (The 4th Tiend)

She’d done her research, gone back into the clubs, trawled through them in the faded ruins of her marriage. Most of the court had grown older, established, less inclined to go dancing on an October night in full regalia. But there were the others, and they’d brought her here, to the new Mile’s Crossing, this time in a new subdivision in Wilmington proper.

Even now Ivan danced in the field by the still unpaved dirt road, a black crow dipping around and around as Peter Murphy blasted from his sensible SUV, child-seat still strapped in the backseat, and a full October moon hung in the clear sky.

The crowd around them slowly grew, the suburban construction festooned gradually by the lights of cell phones ready to capture the event, by the embers of swirling cigarettes.  The goth danced.

She held herself steady, heart thumping. She ignored the Queen’s car, this time a stately Bentley, a haughty profile glimpsed through glass, window closed tight against the chill. Then the brown car, once again a strange ornament of skulls grinning from the roof, and finally, the white car, a convertible this time, and him.


Ignoring Ivan, she dove through the dancers, familiar steps guiding her inward, into the mist of jasmine, the sweet stink of herbal cigarettes of all varieties, cookie fumes of electronic cigarettes, perfuming the mist. Fractured, she fought her way, bumping against the car, sliding over the hood. Sprawled like a figure in an action movie, she clutched a mirror for balance. The car jumped over a pothole, trying to buck her off, throwing her chin up.

To meet his eyes, her Thomm’s. She knew that eyes weren’t the window to the souls –eyes themselves had no muscles, no expression, other than the iris widening or closing, this she remembered from one of the biology lectures she’d bothered to attend.

“Help me,” his eyes said. “Lust” and “fear” said his rapidly expanding irises, the black threatening to swallow his blue. They flickered to her left hand, bare of rings, to her stomach, still flat. “Sorrow,” he said, and then she scrambled into the seat next to him in an undignified puddle, but she had hold of him, clutched herself to his form, ignored the bumps of collision, the jolts of the car, kicked at the hands trying to pull her out, burying her in a pile of bodies.

He changed.

A lizard, life-sized and leering, with Thomm’s blue eyes, incongruous, claws scrabbling at her. A snake, wrapping around her shoulders, and her neck, fighting her grasping hands, the swarm of goths, circling the car, snatching at the upholstery, the driver, head slumped forward. Hands tore at her side, scratched through her leather jacket, sharp talons.

Next, a bear in her grasp, her arms unable to encircle the snarling beast, smelling of sandalwood and tangy rage. She held fast, not knowing why, until the lion roared and hot saliva dribbled down her cheek. The noise shocked her, startled her, loosened her arms, and although she tried to tangle her hands, to snarl them in his hair, the crowd, the court, her old friends now dulled by the Queen’s sorcery, tore them apart.

Shoved her back into the dance and when the crowd finished spiraling around her and she scrabbled to her feet in the muddy, rutted road, only Ivan remained; dancing still with the crows on the hill; the construction no longer ruined castles, but suburban construction.

Mile’s Cross Farm, Dorset, UK, October 31st, 2031, age 63 (The 7th Tiend)

The army, friends no longer, not in this here and now, cluster around the Queen, a wave of attacking bats. Their dark lips curve in snarls, while the throb of the communal channel vibrates to a familiar moan of basso voices in chorus.

Well enough, she knows this song too, knows the patterns of thudding boots. Together, her and her Thomm cat, charge.

His claws slash, his mouth tears, arcs of blood spiral in the air, full of fall’s retribution, a rush of revenge. She clutches him tight with her legs, muscles straining but never, ever, letting go.

“Mine,” the Queen says, her white dress staining red and tattered with mortal mud at the edges. The Queen doesn’t move, just sways to the beat with her Lolita lips, raven hair streaming in the wind.

“Once upon a time,” she says, as the Thomm cat rears again, “a Janet won and told the tale. Did you think I’ve learned nothing in all these years?” She pulls the sharpened rowan twig from her hair, strands of gray catching in a brief pain. Thomm tears another goth down, another puddle of velvet falls into the road’s muck, bringing them closer.

Now they touch the Queen, now the skies open with a fall of chill, rain and mist suspended, in a flickering peek-a-boo. Seen then unseen and superimposed, the wraiths of the court, skeletons of youth held too long, turn into the ribs of dry autumn leaves. Eyes, all of them, eyes, full of recrimination, trying to turn their own shame to her in a rush of chaos.

She stabs the Queen, the strawberry lady, the twig pierces her neck, the iron hilt penetrating. Disintegration. Ashes.

The world goes icy hot, the cat underneath her legs, burning, an iron bar pressing into her labia with a heat so intense the shock shatters.

The Queen laughs. “Did you think this would be that easy?”

Nowhere important, US, 2017 (age 49) and BF Nowhere, 2024 (age 56) (The 5th and 6th Tiend)

Madeleine got serious, followed the dark side of the net into all the rabbit holes, finding conspiracy theories everywhere. Only a few mentioned the Queen and her court, and those that did, gave no clues, only fawning adoration of the type usually reserved for serial killers and politicians.

She re-enrolled in college and spent six of the seven-year wait researching mythology. Her doctoral thesis on the Faerie Queen and Spenserian Feminism earned her the title of doctor. She took a picture of the diploma and kept it in her phone’s slide show, along with pictures of her black belts, plural, in a variety of disciplines.

That night, the fifth time, she had planned to go armed into battle, with a carry permit and pistol, an almost uncanny ability to recite quips from poems, and a refusal to allow herself to flinch. She would not let go.

Instead, she spent the 5th (and the 6th) barfing in an unclean hotel toilet where she had ample time to curse cancer, radiation, the Queen, reoccurrence, repeating the cycle, fervently, while observing the stains of previous occupants, all her preparation for naught, her plans down the drain. Twice.

Each time, she woke the next morning, and looked in her journal to find messages from Thomm she didn’t remember. “Hurry,” he said the fifth.  “Even if I can hold her favor, she’s never gone past seven.”

And, from the sixth seven-year anniversary, “The things I do for love of you,” she’d written. Alongside it sat a note, also in her handwriting, “He has bruises, scars, cuts on his eyelids.”

But she had no memory of any dream, and in any she remembered they were both still young and dancing with the Queen’s court, in smoke-strobed clubs and abandoned fire-lit warehouses, swaying together in lust.

Mile’s Cross Farm, Dorset, UK, October 31st, 2031, age 63 (The 7th Tiend)

Her cunt flames, the iron bar pressing into her, blurring time until she finds herself in the clinic, in the stirrups, still on the battlefield, in the mud.



The three of them, the court, in the club on the hill, on a Thursday night, the Thursday night, when she’d arrived late, to find her, the Queen, kissing her Thomm, his back to her, her hands wrapped ivory tight around his waist. And she’d known, by the Queen’s smile over his shoulder, the truths of a betraying clove kiss, and the reality of a positive cross on a peed stick, that her world was over.

She’d run away. Thomm had died that night, only he hadn’t. She blamed herself for not having faith, for having turned the Queen and the court into hazy memory, for allowing herself to wish it all away. She’d left Thomm as much as he’d left her.


an iron bar

still her love

turned away


Not now.

This time, she faces the reality, the Queen, the choices she’s made, her Thomm. This time she fights


rowan twigs and love, a guilt set free into the October English cricketing night, age and wisdom. This time, this last time, she holds on to him. And when she thinks he’ll burn her to her soul, when the flames eat at her so fiercely she screams, at the end, in the heart of the blaze,


And her Thomm, beside her, their hands clutching together, her wrinkled and spot-ridden tight in his taut palm.

“You’re mine,” she says.

“I always was,” he says. “The Queen was just a moment of fear, of doubt, that became a cage.”

The Queen looks down, the court falls back, a phalanx of black wind resolving themselves to their goth-ness, once again spiked heads bobbing to the communal soundtrack, another Bowie, her Bowie, their Bowie – “Absolute Beginners” beginning again.

“You may have him,” the Queen says. “The second Janet, the first Madeleine. But I will take his youth and leave him without age’s wisdom.” The Queen laughs, a chortling cackle that morphs into a thousand ravens’ shrieks, an explosion of feathers, and then the rave, is just a rave, a Halloween’s night revels, the court of the goth released from their obligations for a season, dancing and swirling, pretentious and self-consciously conscious, with the drifting oak leaves, on the muddy Mile’s Cross road.

Madeleine reaches into her jacket pocket with shaking hands, pulls out a pack of clove cigarettes, lights two, and passes him one.  He licks his lips after a deep exhale, then presses hers to his, tasting of cinnamon sweetness and together, they dance away from the court.