The Witching Hour
They came for us at the witching hour. When it was dark and there was not a star shining in the sky. They came for us while we were at our weakest. When we were at our most vulnerable. We tried to fend them off. We grabbed our torches, chanted in tongues, danced around the flames. But still they came.
Nanna was the first to go of all of us. She was the oldest, the frailest. The weakest. She always said she would accept it with open arms. She would not fight; she would give herself over. But when the time came, they took her kicking and screaming, flailing her limbs about. Like we said. Weak.
Johnny was the next and perhaps the most surprising. He had fought of worse, much worse in the wars. The wars that he accredited his hard muscles and hard face for. The wars he sometimes pretended never happened. The wars that still woke him up in the middle of the night, screaming and wailing, covered in cold sweat. But in the end, nothing he found against, none of his hardships, did anything to prepare him for it. To prepare him for them.
Next, they came for Susan. Poor, sweet Susan, who was barely out of childhood. Who still slept clutching an old, ratty teddy bear. Who still silently cried covered in blankets because she was scared of the dark. She was so small that they were able to steal her out of bed while she was sleeping, not even bothering to wake her up as they came for her.
Then they were gone. For several nights in a row. Giving what was left of us a false sense of hope. For the first few nights without them, we sat up uneasily, taking turns not sleeping and keeping watch, cursing ourselves every time we felt our eyes slipping close. But after several days, we started turning in earlier and earlier, worrying less and less, thinking that the trouble was over.
But how wrong we were.
They must have been waiting, biding their time. Growing stronger. They came back stronger than ever the next witching hour.
Their first night back, they went for the twins. The twins did everything together, so it was fitting that the they were taken together as well. The rest of us did not even here them coming, we just woke up the next morning and the twins were gone; their beds were still warm as the sun was rising. It was their first time taking more than one in a night, so that had us all a little on edge. Our numbers were dwindling, and it was getting harder to even pretend like we were going to be able to fend them off.
The next night was a feast. They came for all of us, and they nearly succeeded. When the remaining few of us left woke up the next morning, it was eerily quiet. Going from bed to bed, it felt like we were just missing them; the beds were warm, and the blankets were a crumpled mess: a hasty get away.
As the few people left, we all vowed to stay up and wait for the witching hour together; waiting to ambush them. We sat with our backs against the trees, gripping torches and various weapons. But one by one, we drifted off to sleep.
I awoke to an ear-splitting scream, but as I wrenched my eyes open, there was no one there. The early morning sun shone brightly, and I squinted my eyes as I darted around, my eyes confirming the worst: I was the only one left.
They came for them at the witching hour.
And then they came for me.