ALL HALLOWS EVE 2012 – GUEST AUTHOR: Carol Goodman “Halloween at Fairwick College” & Giveaway (ends 31/10/12)
Halloween at Fairwick College
Here at Fairwick College, Halloween is a particularly frightful time. Like most colleges we’ve got the usual frat parties, complete with girls dressed up in an array of “Slutty Dental Hygienist” and “Sexy Lobster” costumes, and the boys trying to look like they’re not trying so hard in coolly ironic costumes that show off their pecs and their perfectly gelled hair. The English Department hosts their annual Lovecraft forum (advertised with a jokey poster of Cthulu) and the film department plays vintage Nosferatu along with the more popular slasher films. This year the Dean sent out a warning email reminding all faculty that mid-term evaluations were due “just before the clock strikes midnight” and, of course, to admonish our students to stay out of the woods on Halloween night. Because the difference between Halloween at other colleges and Halloween at Fairwick is that out behind the dorms, on the edge of campus, beyond the athletic fields and the old utility shed where the film club holds their experimental festivals, lies a dark wood. And in that dark wood lies a door to Faerie.
Over the years students have gone missing in those woods. A freshman from Long Island who’d left a kegger to relieve himself, a fifth year senior who’d wandered out of an Ed Wood retrospective with the sudden realization that if he changed his major to film now he could still graduate in his twenties, and half the spelunking club in the tragic spelunking incident of ’09. Some blame geography. Retreating glaciers have left the land here twisted and pitted with sinkholes. Some blame escaped mental patients from the nearby insane asylum. But those of us in the folklore department blame the Gentry, who ride out on All Hallow’s Eve seeking a victim to pay their tithe to hell.
Greta Andersen listened to her teacher’s lecture on the legend of Tam Lin in her Introduction to Folklore class and remembered Todd Goldman, the 5th year senior she’d met her freshman year at a midnight showing of Bride of the Monster. She remembered how he’d laughed at her when she told him her plan to graduate in three years so she could save her parents tuition and go on to Optometry School. But he’d also apologized for laughing right away, and given her his jacket because she was cold (she’d been snookered into wearing a “Sexy Optometrist” costume by her freshman roommate), and a puckish smile when he asked her to save his seat while he went out for a smoke. He never came back. She had figured he’d met someone else, or passed out, but when she heard he had disappeared she felt badly for misjudging him. When she heard the legend of Tam Lin, she wondered if Todd Goldman had been taken by the Fairy Queen.
For Halloween she dressed as Dr. Irvin Borish, father of modern optometry, in Todd’s tweed jacket, which still smelled like his clove cigarettes, but she left the Optometry Club party early and walked out past the athletic fields and into the woods. She’d only gone a little ways when she heard the jingling of bells and hoofbeats of horses. A beautiful woman in green rode past her on a white horse with a silver bridle, her slanted eyes glancing disdainfully over her. Other riders rode in her wake, beautiful men and women with the same cat’s eyes and haughty mien. But Greta didn’t have eyes for them. She waited for the last rider, a young man with long, tangled hair, a tattered Che Guevara t-shirt, and one fingerless glove on his right hand. “I wear it,” Todd had told her three years ago, “so I can write in my journal in the cold.”
She pulled him down from his horse, just as the heroine in the story pulls Tam Lin down, and held onto him. She knew what to expect. In the story, Tam Lin turns into a lion, then a snake, then a firebrand. But Greta wasn’t afraid; she knew the difference between illusions and reality. Todd stared at her through blurry eyes—who knew what drugs the Fairy Queen had been feeding him?—that became clearer as he looked at her. “You! The optometrist!”
Greta was gratified that he recognized her, although she would have preferred that he remember her name. Baby steps, she told herself, because already Todd was changing before her, his beard vanishing, his hair untangling and turning shorter, his tattered shirt replaced by a white lab coat.
“You don’t have to do the same thing as me,” she told him severely. “I want you to be yourself.”
Instantly he changed from an optometry student into an effete bohemian in goatee and beret, an unpleasant aroma of turpentine clinging to his hands.
“Really?” Greta complained, rolling her eyes. “Have you ever even painted anything?”
“No,” he admitted, shrinking to the size of a small boy in torn jeans and Yankees sweatshirt.
“Sheesh,” Greta cried, throwing up her hands. “Grow up!”
And he did. Before Greta’s hazel, slightly nearsighted eyes, Todd Goldman grew six inches, stood up straight and declared his major—and his undying love for Greta Andersen.
I tell that story to my folklore class every Halloween now, to remind them not to go out to the woods on Halloween night when the Gentry rides out looking for their next tithe to hell … but also to remind them that no matter how many changes we go through, the people we love will always see us clearly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Goodman graduated from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin. After teaching Latin for several years, she studied for an MFA in fiction. Her writing has been published in a number of literary magazines. She currently lives in Long Island, USA. Carol Goodman’s books have been nominated for the IMPAC award twice, the Mary Higgins Clark award, and the Nero Wolfe Award. Her novel The Seduction of Water won the Hammett Prize. (Photo © Jennifer May)
ABOUT THE BOOK: Callie McFay is the guardian of the last gateway between the world of Faerie and mankind. Seduced by a powerful incubus demon, she has succeeded in banishing Liam to the Borderlands but he still haunts her dreams, tempting her with the knowledge of how to bring him back.
But loving an incubus usually ends in death for a human. For her own sake Callie must learn to control her desires and ensure Liam remains trapped for all eternity in his watery prison. Only there is a more dangerous creature than Liam in the Borderlands. The Water Witch is also looking for a way back…
Ebury Publishing are giving away TWENTY (20) copies of Water Witch To enter the giveaway please leave a comment for Carol then fill out the form below.
This giveaway will have 18 winners UK / 2 winners international and ends 31st October 2012
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