Close the shutters. Bolt the door. Snuff the candle. Live no more. Must be quiet. Don’t be seen. In the dark. On Halloween.

A poor-as-dirt farmer went searching for his cattle in twilight one October when the wind carried long dead whispers through the pines. 

After many miles, the old codger sat on a stump to catch his breath, wondering where in damnation his cows got to. Striking a match to light his pipe, the farmer was startled to see a hulking satyr sitting on a fallen tree not 30 feet yonder. It seemed the flame of the match itself was frozen in fear as it never had a chance to burn the tobacco. 

“Look at your foot,” the woodland God hissed in the growing darkness.

“The hell you say?” the old man replied with his pipe drooping from the corner of this mouth.

The great beast let out a guttural laugh and pointed to the man’s worn-out rubber boots.

The farmer nervously slipped them off and was horrified to see a goat’s hoof where his right foot used to be.

The old coot’s first inclination was to run like a greased pig at a country fair, but he summoned every ounce of courage he had to play it cool.

“Are you the devil?” the farmer asked the abomination.

The thing raised its gnarly head and grunted, “Merely a disciple.”

“Why do you torment me so?” the farmer continued, his voice shaking.

“You have what our Lord wants,” the horned satyr replied.

“What could you possibly want from an old sod like me?”

The farmer was careful not to draw attention to his Grandpappy’s Colt 45 tucked in his waistband. 

“We want your cattle, old man, and after we’ve bathed in their blood, we want your wife and children, too,” the evil thing rasped.

The farmer suddenly felt sick; his insides knotting up like mating dew worms. His beloved Marta and girls, Ginny and Lou-Ann, were likely preparing dinner right now in the farmhouse.

With a boldness he could scarcely muster, the grizzled old crank said, “You could have done that already.”

The beast with the glossy red skin rose to its feet as the ground tremored. “Yes, but where would the fun be in that, without a fine audience such as yourself?”

The wind died, setting the stage for a deafening silence.

His 50 years of tilling soil and pulling triggers served him well as the Colt came up and the muzzle flashed. 

“This here pistol ain’t cleared leather in a coon’s age, but I reckon it’d still put a hole where it ought to be,” the old man whistled with new-found confidence.

The satyr stumbled backward and roared as the bullet tunneled under its left eye. Two more ripped holes in its chest, laying the beast to earth.

The farmer then bolted through the trees, wincing in agony as the arthritis gnawed at his hips. Gotta get home to Marta and the girls, his mind screamed as the wind now cackled through the pines. He thought he heard a crashing sound behind him but couldn’t be sure; he never looked back until he nearly broke down the door to the farmhouse.

“We’se got to git outta here,” he yelled, “the devil is on my heels as sure as the rains in June,” he croaked with hardly a breath to spare. “Marta . . . Ginny . . . Lou-Ann . . . where you be?”

The crackling fireplace was the only sound as the ol’ codger stumbled into the room where  shadows licked the walls.

“They were delicious,” said the hellspawn, dripping blood from horn to hoof as he sat in a dilapidated rocker.

A mile away, a timber wolf turned its head towards the scream from the homestead. After sniffing the wind, it turned and high-tailed it to the next valley where dawn was just breaking.

Close the shutters. Bolt the door. Snuff the candle. Live no more. Must be quiet. Don’t be seen. In the dark. On Halloween.

Lyonel Doherty, editor