Author's note: This was a Mid-Week Story challenge on the Holy Ground forum that I did for Halloween, 2000. You were supposed to have any immortal of your choice used in the story and use some appropriate lyrics for it too. The immortal of your choice was to have an encounter of the unearthly type on Halloween...(and that was the groundwork for this piece.)
It's a small part of a story I'm writing in spurts as I can called "Ashes of the Heart" which someday, I might get done! Enjoy!
Lyric: "There's no time for us,
"There's no place for us..."
The phone rang and the clerk picked it up as she rang up yet another sale. "Bell, Book and Candle, may I help you?"
"Do you sell beeswax candles?" said an accented voice on the other end of the phone.
"Yes, we do. What size do you need, have anything in mind?" The salesclerk smiled and nodded at her client as she turned and walked out the door. "Thanks, come back!" She then grabbed a notepad so as to ensure she got down the caller's information correctly.
"Any and all sizes would do fine. Do you deliver?"
The salesclerk pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at it and shook her head. Some people! "No sir, not normally. I mean, we may make an special exception once in a rare while but for the most part, no."
"Make the exception for me? I'll make it worth your while and will take all the beeswax candles you have."
"Yes. Deliver them to this address--"
She wrote down the address and double-checked the address. "Hudson Street? Yes, mmm-mhmmm, at the antique store. Right. Got it. How would you like to pay for it?" There was a pause. "That will be fine." She scribbled furiously on the pad and nodded. "You can expect it this afternoon. What's that? Yes, front door, very good. Thanks for your business!"
The phone clicked dead and she hung up and looked at the it. "Wonder where he's from? Funny little accent I must say!"
Brass and iron gleamed under the soft cloth that lovingly burnished it in the warm glow of the afternoon light that filtered down from the skylight above. Strong and supple hands brought it up closer into the light for a close inspection to ensure that it would hold up to another wearing even after the centuries while a hand ran over the toughened leather halberk that the metal was attached onto to see if any tears or cracks could be detected. None were found.
Good, the man thought to himself. It was All Hallow's Eve; he thought he might try to get in the spirit of things by recycling some of his older things into a semblence that to some would be a costume but to himself it would be a reminder of things past. He carefully placed the halberk to one side and stood up to stretch then looked at his watch. His order should be arriving soon; he was almost sure of it.
He walked back up the short three steps to head back out to refill his tumbler with another round of Scotch even though it was still daylight. As he walked up the last step, one hand reached out to touch the long peacock feathered cloak that hung reverently on the wall; he smiled and softly said, "Haggis!"
He walked to the bar, refilled his glass halfway and then went over to empty a couple of bags of candy into the bowl he had sitting on the counter. He liked the neighborhood children to stop by on this day when he was home so he could see their costumes and live vicariously if only for a moment, in this time, their excitement with the trick or treating with them. He grinned in anticipation of this year's menengarie of monsters, ghouls, heroes, and fairy princesses that would come knocking at his door.
He checked his watch again then went over to the wall of windows that faced the street and peered outwards to the world below. He noticed a small van pull up with the words, BELL, BOOK and CANDLE written on the side. His eyebrows flew upwards at the site and he nodded. "Good, they're here."
He trotted upstairs to take his private elevator down to the lower floor and met them at the door. Opening the door for the young man who was trying to manuever two very large boxes through the doorway on a dolly, he stepped back and pointed to an empty spot on the floor. "Put them there."
The young man complied and then held out a small electronic clipboard. "Sign here." As the older man signed it, he looked around the place and whistled. "Some place you have here!"
"It'll do." The older man fished in his pocket and withdrew a handful of money that he quickly counted out before pressing it into the delivery man's hands. "Don't spend it all in one place, OK?"
The young man began to count it and his eyes grew bigger the higher the total became. "I can't take this! you gave me--" he protested yet was amazed at the amount all the same.
"Just the right amount. Now go and have a safe Halloween!" The elder man laughed in a short burst of sound then pushed his visitor out the door. "Goodbye!" He slammed the door shut then turned to take the boxes upstairs, then decided to leave one downstairs for atmosphere when the children arrived.
He went back upstairs and unloaded the box he had brought with him, placing all of the candles it held within all over his upper living area in whatever nooks and crannies he could find. Big and little, short and tall, wide and thin, the candles were placed with care then, if not placed where it met satisfaction, with where the man had in mind on second thought.
Soon, all was unloaded and ready for whatever the night held. Surveying the living room, he nodded. "Perfect!" He turned and bounded up the stairs two at a time to go and change as the day was now turning to night.
With loving care, his careless tee was removed and in its place, a tan shirt made of homespun cotton with lacing at the collar to keep it together was put on. On top of that, he began to wrap and fold a very long and large piece of plaid around and around himself until it became obvious that he had formed a kilt for himself. He threw the excess length of the cloth over one shoulder and placed a large metal pin through the multiple folds of the fabric and the cloth of the underlying shirt. He then wove the pin so that it was kept in place by a larger circle of metal that was Celtic in design. A large and heavy belt went about his waist to hold the entire plaid on him; he buckled it in place and smiled in satisfaction.
He walked over to the small mirror that was attached to a small stand, glanced at himself and nodded. "Well, MacLeod, some things one never forgets how to do even after all this time!" He cackled off a laugh then went to finish his so-called costume.
Before long, he strode to the elevator and looked back over his shoulders at the living room. All over it, the candles were now lit?there wasn't any trace of electricity at all in it. A fire burned in the fireplace against the wall; the shadows danced eerily amid the modern sculptures and ancient pieces of memorabilia collected through the centuries. A slow smile traced its pattern across his features and then he went down to greet the children who he could hear ringing impatiently at his doorbell.
"Trick or treat!" five children chorused at him when he opened up his door, candy bowl in hand. They all eagerly held out their bags for the candy they knew would be coming in large handfuls from Mr. Nash.
?Well, well, look what we have here!" Nash chuckled. "A Mickey Mouse, a ninja, a--whatever that is."
"It's a Imperial Guard, Mr. Nash! Don't you know anything?"
Nash grinned broadly then squatted down so he was eye to eye with the young child. "Sure I do, but this time, I forgot." His eyebrows raised a fraction. "Forgive me?"
The child nodded emphatically and for it got a extra handful of goodies from Nash. "Sure---thanks!"
Nash looked over the other children's bags and then gave each a little extra for stopping by. He glanced up to see one mother eyeing his outfit.
"You sure look authentic in that getup, Mr. Nash. Nice knees!" She grinned and then twirled her finger in mid air. "Turn around, I want to see the whole thing! I've always wondered how it's held on."
Nash held his arms out to his sides and slowly turned about making the fabric of his kilt and sash sail about him. "It's held on with a prayer." Nash dryly commented. "And with gravity."
The comment made the woman laugh and Nash shyly smiled. It had been a very long time since he had heard another woman other than Rachel laugh.
"Well, it certainly suits you, I'll say that much! What clan and wherever did you get it from?"
Nash grew silent for a moment; his smile faded. After a long pause he replied, "It's been in the family for a very long time. I hear that it's the MacLeod tartan though I haven't ever confirmed it."
"Really? Interesting!" She smiled back and glanced at the children, noting their growing impatience.
The children began tugging at her to go on to the next place in line before it got too dark and too late for them to be out. "Momma, c'mon!! We want to go to the next place!"
"Yeah, Mom, stop talking!" one of the older ones chimed in.
The mother shook her head and laughed, then shrugged in a helpless "what can you do" gesture. She turned around and marched them off to the next place after waving gaily goodbye to Nash.
Nash watched them retreat back off into the darkness then closed the door. He turned to face the golden glow of hundreds of candles all lit that were scattered about the office, and sighed deeply. For some reason, the silence inside his home seemed deeply ominous and disquieting at the same time especially after listening to the excited giggles of the kids and the inquisitive mother's questions.
He went over by the desk and sat the bowl down then sat beside it after moving a few things about. "If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the Highlands, Heather," he whispered out loud. He closed his eyes and a sadness that went beyond the soul flashed across his face. "I can almost feel you again--running down the mountainside, remember?"
He withdrew a solitary candle from the folds of his kilt; set it upright and then lit it. "Happy birthday, Blossom. "
"Con--nor?" a trace of a whispered memory whisked past his ears.
A single tear seeped out from under his eyelashes then spilled onto his cheek where he swept it away hastily then opened his eyes to look at what he knew to be New York City.
"Co--nor! I'm here!" the voice whispered at him again making him jerk his head upwards at the sound of it.
His heart in his throat, he glanced about but saw nothing. He was quite certain he had heard it--had heard the voice of his beloved wife, Heather, dead now for centuries. "Heather?" He went to the elevator and took it upwards to his living room upstairs; when the doors opened he stopped dead in his tracks.
In front of him, glowing with an unearthly blue glow, was his wife, holding a lamb in her arms, just as he remembered seeing her over the years until she had sickened and died. The apparition smiled broadly when she saw him, her face reflecting all the love she had ever held for him. "Connor!"
Connor nee Nash fell to his knees at the sight of her. His hands gripped at his sides across his abdomen; he felt as if he had been kicked by a mule. He glanced about trying to see if he could spot what could be causing such an appearance. He managed to croak out to the silent walls, "If this is someone's idea of a sick joke--I'll have your head."
What felt like the tiniest of breezes rustled through his hair and he shivered for the room seemed to have become much colder. He turned his attention back to where the apparition had been only to be confronted with it right in front of him, face to face. "Heather?" All the years of loneliness and of longing filled that single word along with all the pain he had suffered through the years.
Heather or whatever it was, smiled gently and giggled at him. "You've changed, husband."
Connor gingerly reached up to touch her hair but paused as the form shimmered brightly then swiftly faded away leaving him howling in tears feeling like he had lost her a second time which was almost more than he could bear. "Heather!!! Heather!!!" he begged the night air. His sobs barely hid the underlying words, "I love you..."
"Who wants to live forever, anyway?"