Portrait of a senior woman with book and candle

31 October 2011

by Pedro

pedro@awesomedude.com

From her vantage point she watched the groups of kids going from house to house offering 'Trick or Treat'. These were preteens. Earlier in the evening it had been younger children accompanied by a parent. Not long ago there was seen no need for such direct oversight. She thought the change a sad reflection on how society had altered. Not that she was concerned about the tradition. She could see no purpose in it. All Hallows: a day to celebrate the memory of the lives of the dead she could understand. But this newer tradition? It seemed to her to be the business roleplay of an old-time mobster. Was it a precursor to the way the kids would treat each other and the world in later life? What she knew of the human race gave credence to the idea.

Later she studied a group of young teenagers. From past experience she guessed that this would be their last year acting on the tradition. She found it interesting to watch groups like this. Who were the leaders and what qualified them for the role? Who had little interest in proceedings, having other things demanding their attention, like the boy and girl hand in hand or the two boys, arms around each other. She smiled as she watched the two boys, pleased that they could be so open. The acceptance of such behaviour was something she had worked for and she looked on it as one small gain in support of her wider objective. The boy and girl however evoked a less favourable reaction, for it was their kind that meant that objective seemed more remote with each passing year.

The group moved away and she turned to look at the objects on the table by her side. A candle flickering in the still air illuminated a ledger lying open, a bell and a quill. The quill from a victim of the Thanksgiving celebrations earlier in the month in the land north of Kaniatarowanenneh — the big waterway.

As intended, the light from the candle was insufficient to attract the attention of the revellers. She had no wish to be required to take part. The flame caught her gaze. The flickering of a candle in still air is said to show the presence of a ghost. She preferred to believe it showed the passing of souls into and out of the world. The candle flared briefly, as if it was marking the passage of one hundred more.

Staring into the flame, she contemplated the lack of success she and the like-minded had had in bringing some stability to the world. Things were getting worse, not better. In spite of the signs, the so-called leaders chose not to see, even ignoring the weather's warnings.

The candle flared again although there was no draught. Over the years flares had become more frequent, occurring now each forty seconds.

Some understood her message, their voices drowned by expediency and the ever-increasing demands of the population.

There were those who would ride to her cause but she knew their indiscriminate ways. She preferred more subtle means if only they were heeded. She feared she would have no choice.

The candle flared with exceptional brightness and she knew the inevitable had happened on this night.

She rang the bell, then taking the quill, inscribed in the ledger that seven billion humans now walked the earth.

Sighing, Gaia turned to the Four Horsemen who had appeared in answer to her summons and instructed them to make their plans.