Do You Have a Head I Could Borrow?
PART IV (of VII)
by Sara Dobie Bauer
“It’s just some guy riding a horse in the forest. At midnight. On Halloween. Right?”
“Angie, I really think you should run.” The sound was getting closer.
“And just leave you? What the hell are you talking about? Let’s just get out of here.”
But it was too late. The horse hooves were close—very close—so close they could hear the sound of a horse breathing hard. It was hard to see anything with the utter lack of moonlight, but when a flash of lightning illuminated the darkened field—really, a flash of lightning—the figure appeared, and it glowed from inside: a rider, headless, with a glowing Jack-o-Lantern, on a black horse the size of a damn Clydesdale.
“No. Freaking. Way,” Angie shouted.
“Holy shit, it’s true.” Jonathan latched onto her arm and started to run in the opposite direction.
“Wait.” She struggled against him. “Jonathan!”
“Angie, come on!”
“Stop!” she shouted, and the sound of her voice sent Jonathan flying onto his back as if a strong force had shoved him in the chest. He turned around in time to see the Headless Horseman, sword drawn, riding directly at the girl he yearned for. Her palm was held up toward him, as if in greeting, and she was saying something … something … Jonathan couldn’t quite make out the words.
“Angie!” His throat hurt with the volume of his voice, but she didn’t waver.
The horseman, now mere inches from lopping off Angie’s head, suddenly stopped as a green light emitted from the ends of her fingers. The green light spread to form a cocoon that covered the Hessian like a reinforced spider web. He fought against it and fought … and fought … until Angie turned away and pulled Jonathan to his feet.
“Now we run,” she said.
“What the hell just happened?” He tried to keep up, but she could move a lot faster than she looked.
“We have to get to my apartment. The web won’t hold him long.”
He grabbed her by the shoulders. “What? The web? Wh—no, we have to go to my family and warn them.”
She tore away from his grasp. “No, we have to go to my apartment first.”
Although disgruntled, she knew he had no choice. She knew Jonathan Crane was a much better guy than just about any other guy on campus, so she knew he would follow her wherever she went just to keep her safe. They ran together down Main Street, running not only from a Headless Horseman but from an incoming thunderstorm that followed them in echoes all the way to her front door.
The longer it took to find her keys, the closer she felt the Hessian was to killing them both, but finally, she dragged out her keychain and unlocked the door.
“What are we doing here?” he shouted once inside her apartment.
“We’re getting the book.”
“The book? What book? The Bible?”
“The Bible? No.” She ran to her bedroom and opened her closet, but Jonathan was right behind her.
“Angie, what the hell happened back there?”
“I did … what I do.” Where was it? Where was it? She hadn’t used it since she’d moved to Tarrytown. She pulled down sweaters and old children’s books from her days as an innocent little kid. Finally, her fingers felt leather, and she knew she’d hit the jackpot.
“What? What do you do?”
“Jonathan.” She hugged the leather bound book to her chest. After the tumble in the woods, her witch hat was gone. Her long black hair fell loosely down around her shoulders, which seemed in character, under the circumstance. She went on to explain, “I’m a witch. I’m not from Podunk, Massachusetts. I’m from Salem. My last name isn’t Duncan. My name is Angela Good.”
“Yeah, as in Sarah Good. One of the first three women executed during the Salem Witch Trials. Can we talk about this later? We really need to get to your family’s house.”
“Okay, so the people they executed in Salem, most of them were innocent, but some of them weren’t. My relative? Not so much innocent. In fact, I heard she was a real bitch.”
“Yeah, and I didn’t leave my old school because I stole some girl’s boyfriend. I left because I stole her boyfriend and made all her hair fall out.”
He exhaled, loudly.
“Jonathan, we have to go.”
“You’re a witch?”
“You’re being chased by a freakin’ Headless Horseman. Why is this such a big deal?”
“Did you put a spell on me?”
“No. I don’t put usually spells on people. Oh, except Max, I used my mom’s ring to put a spell on him.”
“Okay, there’s gonna be a dead dude with a huge sword and no head here in, like, five minutes. We really need to move. If your family is smart at all, they’ve probably had someone like me put a spell on your grandma’s house so that he can’t come in. I don’t have time to do a protective spell on my apartment right now. We need to go. Okay?”
“I’m freaking out.” He did look pale, and Angie didn’t want to consider carrying him to wherever the hell his rightfully superstitious family lived.
“Sweetie.” She stepped forward and put her hand on his chest. She knew what he felt when she did it: calm. She was pouring every ounce of calm she had into the center of his chest, and she could see the change based simply on his skin tone. “Hi.”
“Let’s go, okay?”
“Okay.” He nodded, and in that moment, he was back, holding onto her hand and pulling her toward the front door.
She had no idea where they were going. Angie could barely make her way around campus, let alone into the outskirts. She followed him anyway, because she trusted Jonathan. She had trusted him since her first day in class—something she sensed.
They walked up the crowded Main Street where most kids were happy in their ignorance. Apartment balconies were full, and the bars overflowed onto the sidewalks. Everyone was in costume, even the bouncers. It would have been a great night, if not for … well.
When Jonathan turned a corner to head up a dark alley, the sound of a horse’s nay just about sent them both into hysterics.
“Hey!” One of the campus security horse police pulled back on the reins of a beautiful off-white palomino. “Watch where you’re going.” As he walked his horse around them, they heard him mutter, “Damn kids.”
Angie heard Jonathan expel a loud breath before he started walking. Of course, being in a dark alley, their trials weren’t over. A pack of about five guys exited the shadows, each holding bottles in paper bags. “Look at her! She’s hot.”
Jonathan batted this first boy’s hand away and shoved him in the chest, which brought the unwanted attention of the other four. Not only were these guys acting like a gang, they were dressed like one: all in black leather jackets with black jeans and ski masks pulled back on top of their heads, revealing pale, inebriated faces.
“Don’t worry, bro.” One of them snickered. “We’ll take care of your girlfriend for you.”
Jonathan spun around and headed back for Main Street, apparently not in the mood to fight with four immature hoodlums. Again, they heard the sound of the horse, but Angie knew immediately, this was no trained palomino.
“Holy shit.” She pulled back on Jonathan’s hand just as the Headless Horseman rounded the corner on them, sword raised. “DUCK!”
Jonathan and Angie crouched low, just in time to hear one of the wannabe gang members shout, “Nice costume,” followed by a telltale chop and a blood shower.
Angie couldn’t help herself. Hugging her spell book and Jonathan’s hand, she shrieked.
“Come on, Angie!” His voice got her moving again as the Hessian went about dismantling the rest of the alley rats. Luckily, the noise from the alley caught the policeman’s attention. The cop and his horse were headed in their direction when Jonathan said, “I’m about to doing something really illegal.”
“Okay.” She tried not to notice the blood dripping down her face and arms.
As the cop rode by, Jonathan let go of her hand. He latched onto the horse’s rider and dragged him to the ground. The out of shape officer was too shocked to even speak. He rolled around on his back like a turtle as Jonathan threw Angie onto the back of the horse and then climbed on himself.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he kicked the horse into gear.
Over the sound of hooves, Angie muttered, “You know how to ride a horse?”
He guided the animal off Main Street and up a series of inclining hills until they finally reached a summit, surrounded by trees that had to be older than Tarrytown itself. Up the drive and past an impressive guest house was the Crane family mansion, which Angie took in with shock and awe … or maybe that was because her ass was firmly planted against the pelvis of the guy she liked. Either way, she ran on adrenaline.
When they got to the front door, Jonathan slid off the horse and lifted her down from the saddle. “Come on.”
Angie had never seen a house with such an entrance: several wide stairs led to a double door that could have easily fit a school bus. “This is where you grew up?”
Still latched onto her hand, he used his other hand to try and open the front door: locked, of course. Why wouldn’t it be, with a damn Headless Horseman running around? He sighed and started knocking with all his might. Angie had time to notice beneath the gold porch light that he, too, was covered in some poor kid’s blood. Together, they looked like a John Carpenter nightmare.
Which was probably why the poor middle-aged woman who answered the front door screamed when she saw them. “Jonathan!”
“Hey, Aunt Marie. This is Angie.”
Through the guts and gore, Angie smiled. “Hi.”
(Are you having fun yet? MWAHAHA!!! Part V goes live Friday. Then, we finish the story next week. Hope you’ve been enjoying your very special post-Halloween present.)