This is my Friday Fright for this week on DarkMediaCity. Party, anyone?
For more years than anyone can recall, this rural New Jersey county has been home to the Halloween festivities conducted by the Hanf family. Even in the old days they came from miles around to see the spectacular holiday display on the lawn in front of the spooky old mansion: a building so ancient that many people said it was built by the Dutch settlers in the late 1600’s.
I don’t doubt that at all. On many of my treks through the old cemeteries in Sussex County, I came across many tombstones dated from that period. Some were so old and weather beaten that the dates could not be read. There are many stories passed down from generation to generation about mysterious happenings in the forests: strange beasts attacking and killing the residents of the sleepy villages and farms at night. The Dutch are a superstitious people.
So how exactly did the mansion pass into the hands of the Hanf family if the Dutch built it? The Dutch are not people to hand over what is there’s easily.
Being a Historian working out of Montclair State College, I am privy to many old records for most of the state of New Jersey. The Hanf name does not come up anywhere, other than things relating to the old mansion and the rites of Halloween. There are no burial records, no title agreements of any kind, or anything else that shows they exist at any other time of the year.
But the Hanfs are very much around at Samhain. The ground opens up on their lawn, and coffins rise out of it, thick layers of chest high fog concealing the unknown from the onlookers. And then . . . and then they can be seen: Vampires dressed to the max, with sharp fangs, and luxurious capes surrounding their bodies until they spread their arms wide and reveal that characteristic look from the old Lugosi movies. The Vampires on the lawn are classic in every way.
For two weeks, the show goes on at the Hanf mansion. I am enthralled by all that I see, as I have been for years. But this time around, something strange is going on. Don’t ask me how I know. I just know.
Halloween night arrives, and with it a heightened feeling that this night will be different. I have mentioned it to the police directing traffic around and to the mansion, but they have merely laughed at me. I guess the credentials of a History professor don’t particularly impress them. Okay, maybe I’m sounding a bit confusing and not giving them any facts to go on other than what my personal feelings are, but I am miffed that they are discounting everything I tell them.
The night starts as all the others, but the mist envelops the crowd, and bodies disappear from sight, blood-curdling screams echoing through the night. The crowd is enthralled and ventures closer to see this new aspect of the show, wanting to find out what else is on the horizon to tickle their horror fantasies. But this is not part of a show; this is cold, hard reality. This is happening, and they are being drawn into it.
Showtime is over.
While those still not aware they are part and parcel of terror such as they have never experienced before continue to press ever closer to the mansion, I attempt to work my way to the rear of the crowd. Yes, like that’s going to work. I am pushed ever closer to the front, not able to retreat; I am caught in a morass of excited thrill seekers who are seconds away from the experience of their lifetimes. However, this experience will not be the most pleasant one for them. Or for me, it appears.
Fighting with every ounce of strength in my body, I make minor gains in my efforts to escape only to be shoved forward once more. The stench of something old assaults my nostrils, and were it not for the fact that the throng crowding around me is holding me up, I would most certainly fall from the wretchedness of the mustiness in the air.
From everywhere they come, their shining fangs glistening in the moonlight, blood pouring from their mouths and adorning the once impeccably immaculate clothing they were wearing. There is no longer reason for them to conceal who they are. This night reigns supreme for them.
Ever closer I approach the center of activity for the Vampires, the evil minds of the bastards attempting to convince me to release myself to them, to allow myself to become one of them. Yet, I resist their calls to my mind, not willing to release my soul to what they have in mind. I would rather die and stay dead than face an endless future of immortality under the manifestations of evil present within the very confines of what their kind dictates I must become.
The dominant one stares at me and smiles. He knows I knew before tonight what would happen here. Stupid me: I should have stayed away and let the others assembled here to be taken by the army of the evil ones. And yet . . . and yet something pulled me to this place. I thought I could help, and yet I was no help to anyone else, or even for me. All of us are doomed.
The ones in front of me are mercilessly attacked, their jugulars ripped apart by the monsters, becoming food of the highest kind for those who feed on them. Others are not so lucky. The chosen ones, not exactly a term of endearment, are preyed upon by the vampires in more gentle ways, only enough of their blood removed to where they have been fed upon, yet it goes far beyond that. A desire wells within them to feed upon those who fed on them. The cycle is completed once the newborns suck the blood of those wishing to convert them.
There is no escape for me. The Master shoves a female Vampire towards me, and she gently takes blood from my neck, the experience becoming one of pleasure, and, oddly enough, one of sexual passion. Without reservations of any kind, I move my teeth to her glorious wrists and drink the luscious nectar binding us to one another. I am turned, and I find the experience to be unlike anything I have ever experienced or ever thought I might ever experience.
All around me the carnage occurs, but I only see the good in what is happening. I am content to be what I am. There are no misgivings, no regrets.
I am now a true Hanf . . .