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Night of Freedom


by silent_snow

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The last night of October was the one night of the year that It looked forward to.

     It zoomed around the prison-jar with the others, waiting, waiting. It could not see the few rays of light which dared to enter the witch's tower through the walls of the prison-jar, but It could still tell that the sun was setting, for the air around It was growing colder. It felt the temperature slowly decrease, and waited for the sun to finally set.

     The wait was always too long, too long, but in the end the time came. A part of the prison-jar came away, revealing a world beyond the darkness, and It shrieked in triumph. The others flew out through the opening, and It joined them.

     The world beyond the darkness was the witch's tower, and the ruler of the world was just as confining as the prison-jar. It and Its kindred ricocheted off the walls of the tower, but there was no escape, no slit to crawl through. Edna's magic sealed the walls so that they could not pass through, and It could not escape.

     Edna laughed and raised her hands, and It watched as a glowing green luminance began to form around her. That was the magic that she used, the magic that they all knew far too well. With the magic on them, she would let them escape for one glorious night- but it was the magic that compelled them to return to their dark, lonely prison when the moon began to fade. The magic was not freedom- it was a bind.

     It desperately searched for even the smallest of holes through which it could crawl through, escape, so that no magic would be placed upon It. And then, there it was. The smallest, tiniest crack in the stone wall, through which a tiny shred of moonlight shone. It shot through the crack just as Edna released the magic, and It was not bespelled.

     It flew out over the Haunted Woods, tasting freedom, real freedom, for the first time. Behind It, Edna opened her window to allow the other spirits to zoom out for one night only, but It was outside for good.

     It rode on the winds, finding the sights, sounds, and tastes more exhilarating than ever before. Now there was no time constraint, and It could do as It pleased. It zoomed down upon the surface again, barely above the flattened grass. Here, tonight, there was much to see.

     A group of young Neopets trotted happily past It, and It decided to follow them. They moved from dwelling to dwelling, taking colorful items from the people who would stand behind the doors and stuffing the candy into their plastic bags. It watched, and waited.

     Then, as the group entered a darker street in which no moonlight could shine through the trees, It swept through them.

     The young Neopets all shuddered, their faces blanching underneath their fur. It knew that the fun of the night's adventure for them was gone, replaced with a nameless fear. They could not see It, but they knew that It had arrived.

     Now the young Neopets started walking again, but more quickly and clumped closer together. It followed, occasionally shaking a branch nearby or scaring a neighbor's Meowclops to keep the group tense. The group murmured worriedly about heading back home, but It had other plans.

     It gently blew a paper towards them, which the oldest pet in the group picked up. The paper was an advertisement for an all Halloween night campfire storytelling session, conveniently located only a block away. The group murmured again, came to an agreement, and headed towards the site.

     In the campsite, It had even more fun. The adult Neopets were telling stories dark enough to give the children chills even without Its help. As it was, It made sure to occasionally fly right next to each little child, to send goosebumps up their arms and worry into their innocent minds.

     Soon, It could tell, the adults grew worried. They could see as well as anyone that the children were not enjoying the spooky tales, that in fact some of them had been scared speechless. The adults murmured out of the others' hearing range that it might be better to take the kids home, so that they could get to bed. But, as quiet as they were, It still heard them.

     Now It worked on the adult Neopets, gliding slowly over the arms of the Neopets until the adults clamored for jackets, emitting gloom right next to an adult's ear until the adult was judged far too boring to tell any more stories, and causing fear in more obvious ways- like dousing the fire, and then lighting it again before someone had even grabbed the matches. The adult Neopets grew too scared to even want to leave the circle of dim light around the fire, and It had more fun than It had ever dared to hope for before.

     The night passed quickly, and the dawn approached with great speed. Normally, Edna's magic would have drawn It back to the tower right before dawn, but It felt no undeniable urge to return like It had all the years before. It circled the campsite once more in glee, and listened to the horror stories being told in the last ten minutes before the dawn, and the end of the haunted night.

     "Ghosts? Soon enough you won't need to worry about those."

     It froze, and focused Its attention on the tall Skeith who had just spoken. The Skeith, apparently less affected by Its presence than the rest of the adults, was ruffling a little Meerca's fur in a kind way, as if he was answering a silly question.

     "You see, ghosts, spirits, whatever, they can't live in sunlight. The sun, it kind of- vaporizes them, I guess. You only have to worry about them during the night, and the night will be over in just a few minutes. I'll take care of you until then, 'kay?"

     It slowly realized what was going to happen, what complete freedom would mean. If It stayed, it would have the smallest chance in finding a place that was completely dark and living in it until nightfall- but was that a comforting life, having to constantly be alert for any sunlight, instead of having all the worries taken away by a magic spell? The last thing It wanted was to return to Its prison, but there was nowhere else to go, not if It chose the easier, simpler, and safer life.

     With a shriek of fury, It flew back to the tower, the haven of a prison.

     *****

     Edna watched as one last spirit flew through her window and into the jar. With a relieved sigh she snapped the lid in place. Only a second later, the first rays of the sun peeked over her windowsill.

     That year had been close, far too close. Obviously she needed to find a spell that would get the spirits back more efficiently for the next time she let them out. But then again, the next Halloween was a whole year off.

     Her captive spirits would have a long time to wait, indeed, before they next roamed free.

The End

 
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