Darkest Night

Rated 14 & Over

Danial was a black fox, standing a rather short 5'6", and weighing less than 150 lbs. He was an exchange student from some large city (he never said which one), and was well known for his cleverness.

Such a fellow should be popular amongst his peers, but for some reason, Danial was not. For one, he tended to be rather reclusive, aside from making his presence well known through elaborate tricks. For another, others were simply uncomfortable around the fox. No-one could say exactly why. "Just something in his eyes," seemed to be the consensus.

It would be the longest night of the year, called Darkest Night, traditionally when all the powers of darkness held sway over the world. It was now a time of great fun and pleasure amongst the furs, who either went trick-or-treating, told frightening tales, or simply had themselves a scream-fest, where everyone would try to be the loudest screamer.

To everyone's surprise, Danial invited 12 other furs up to his dorm room, where they would try to tell tales to raise each other's fur. The number of invitees made sense, of course. What better number to gather on this night of superstitions than an unlucky 13?

Morris, a polar bear, was the first to be invited, along with his girlfriend of the same species, Nala. The wolverine triplets Skandar, Karris, and Toltrec were invited next, then Shandar, a wolf. The 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th to be invited was Brocus and Brakus, identical twin badgers, along with their girlfriends, Torya (a lynx) and Kandyce (a cougar.) The last two invited where Khanton, a lion, reputed to be the King of the Jocks, and Sharaan, a big tiger who was Khanton's rival and lover.

"Enter freely, and of your own will," said Danial, smiling at the group, as they filed in, and arranged themselves on the floor - or chairs, for the first few to be in. "Welcome all, to this little gathering." He grinned, filling cups with beer, which were gladly accepted. He, however, poured himself some peach schnapps. Morris looked up at him, with a slight grin. "Don't you drink beer, dude?" he asked.

Danial shook his head. "No. I have a very sweet tooth, and beer disagrees with me," he said.

There was some chuckles about that.

Danial only smiled. "So, let us relax, take our ease, and tell tales of fear and delicious horror, in hopes that we will have the satisfaction of your fellows remaining sleepless this night!," he said. "Who will start?" He looked around, and finding no volunteer, he chose one. "Morris," he said. "You begin."

Morris nodded, and grinned. "All right," he said. "Lemme tell you a story that happened in my own family..."

Morris' Tale.

"It happened about 80 years ago, to a family of immigrants from the Northlands. It was their custom to hold a wake for deceased relatives back then, before burying him. One of the family, an old bear named Ragoar, had been bent over for many years, and when he died, he was still bent over.

"To get him into the coffin, the family had to strap him down with 2 straps over his legs, and one strap over his chest.

"The day of the wake came, and the family gathered around the coffin, to view old Ragoar one last time. Suddenly, the strap across his chest snapped, and he shot up into a sitting position in the casket.

"Well, that just freaked everybody out, and they all ran for the door. But they calmed down a bit, realizing what had happened. Anyways, one of them looked at the old bear, and said 'Look, Ragoar. If you're getting up, I'm going home!"

That cracked everyone up, and Khanton raised a joking toast to Ragoar, which everyone agreed to. Danial grinned, and, like a good host, collected the mugs, and refilled them.

One everyone had been so served, Nala offered the next story.

Nala's Tale.

"About 100 years ago, there was a dreadful plague of cholera in a city. Furres were hastily buried with very little ceremony, for fear of spreading the disease.

"The plague had subsided for a few days; some people were buried, but there were no new outbreaks. About this time, a store owner was closing up shop for the day, preparing to go home. He was at the counter, counting the money for the day, when he looked up, seeing a vixen dressed all in grey, with a veil over her face. Her fur was grey, too.

"Surprised that he hadn't seen her come in, he asked her what she wanted. She merely pointed to the milk. He gave it to her, and she took it, and promptly walked out the door without paying.

"He was a bit unhappy about that, but shrugged it off. But then, the grey vixen showed up again the next night, silently pointing to the milk, and walking off with it without paying.

"By this time, the grocer realized something strange was going on. He got several friends to stay with him at the store. A third time, she appeared, a third time she pointed to the milk, and a third time she left without paying. The grocer and his friends decided to follow her.

"Her path was winding, but her followers were getting the increasingly fearful idea where she was leading them. She made one last turn, and their dreadful guesses were confirmed: She was headed for the graveyard.

"They followed her to a grave that seemed to be freshly dug. They got some spades from the gravedigger's shed, and dug out the grave, and opened the coffin. They saw a recently dead young vixen - clearly the vixen who had appeared in the store - and her kit, who had been buried with her. They stared in silent sadness, then in shock as the kit began to whimper. It had been buried alive.

"They gently lifted the kit out, and as they did, they saw something else: three empty milk bottles."

There was silence for a while after that story, and finally, it was Danial who broke the silence. "A lovely tale, Nala. Beautiful."

Kandyce agreed. "That's so sad," he said.

"Question," spoke up Torya. "Did people really get buried alive?"

Danial nodded. "They did indeed," he said. "In those days, people were not normally embalmed, and often, especially during times of plague, they'd be buried in haste, without being thoroughly checked to see if they were indeed dead. Sometimes, an unfortunate soul would awaken in a grave."

"Ew, that's gruesome," replied Kandyce.

Khanton laughed. "Hey, while we're in the mood for gruesome, I got a story."

Khanton's story

"A lion had taken a lioness out on a date, and it had gone well, so he figured, hey, he'd take things a bit further. He pulled over, shut the car off, and said he was out of gas.

"Well, the lioness decided not to buy that line, and told him to wait until they got home to have some fun. So he restarted the car, and started driving again.

"A few miles down the road, they really did run out of gas, and he told her to wait in the car, until he got back. She agreed to wait. A few hours later, she was wondering where he was. She started hearing a scraping on the roof, kind of like the scraping of branches.

"She was puzzled, but decided to ignore it. About an hour later, she was getting worried. Suddenly, she saw the headlights of a car coming, and the flashing lights on top marked it as a police car.

"A cop took out a megaphone, and told her to walk towards the cop car, but not to look back. She was almost at the cop car, when she glanced back... and discovered her boyfriend's body hanging upside down from an overhanging tree. His claws were scraping on the roof of the car."

That got a good amount of shivers, but Torya spoke up. "I've always found that story a bit sexist," she said. "Makes the girl look like an idiot."

Khanton smirked. "You got a story that makes a guy look like an idiot?"

Torya smirked. "You bet I do. This one takes place nearly 100 years ago."

Torya's story

"A certain lion was a very controlling husband. He'd married a lioness who was an aspiring musician, claiming to admire her art, but after the wedding, he made sure she could never play music, keeping strict control of the household expenses so she could not buy an instrument or any music.

"He sired a daughter by her, who began to show an interest in painting. At first, he indulged this, until he discovered that she might become commercially successful, by selling her art pieces to friends.

"He took her out of her art class, and put her into French classes instead, never heeding her or his wife's protests.

"The lioness could not live under his autocratic and harsh rule, and slowly faded away, growing weaker and weaker, until she died. The lion made a show of mourning, which few believed.

"However, from the time of her death, ill luck landed squarely on his shoulders. He owned an accounting firm, and suddenly he found himself the target of an audit himself, an audit which revealed many discrepancies, which he thought would go unnoticed. He lost several contracts because of this audit, which pushed him closer to financial ruin.

"Worst of all, his daughter simply packed up and left home, and he had no idea where she went.

"He sought a way to put an end to this curse. Finally, lowering himself to visit a medium, he learned that there was a ritual, which could only be performed on the Darkest Night. It was called the Feast of Silence, and it would invite his wife in from beyond the grave, so that he could put things right with her at last.

"This was something the lion would never normally stoop to, but desperation makes us do strange things. Following the medium's instructions, he set out her favorite foods, and played her favorite music. All the gas lights had been turned off, but the fireplace had a fire going in it. He had remained silent throughout the preparations; to say anything would ruin the ritual.

"Finally, all was in readiness, and he sat down, waiting for his wife to appear. At the stroke of midnight, she came.

"'Greetings, husband,' she said, but her voice was completely devoid of love. She looked around the room. 'So. Finally, I get what I want, which you never did give me while I was still alive.' She looked at him, her voice the flat voice of such great emotion there was no expressing it. 'Why did you break your vows, husband? You promised that you would allow me my music, but then you deprived me of it! I thought you loved me!'

"He found himself utterly unable to answer, but he could still think freely. Was he not the most precious thing in her life? Did she love music more than he?

"His wife sneered at him. 'At one time, I did. I would have gladly given you my music a gift. But you did not care enough for me to keep a simple promise. A woman cannot love a man that does not love her.'

"He wanted to rise, to pound the table, to rail at her, but he couldn't move. His wife smiled coldly. 'I could have forgiven you. Even in death, I could have forgiven you. But then, you started to destroy our daughter as well!'

"He was confused. Had he not given her all a girl could want?

"The wife laughed coldly. 'But you never gave her what she wanted. Yes, you indulged in her art, but the minute you discovered she might be successful, you took her away, and shoved her into French classes instead! You often asked why she didn't seem to love you, when the answer was the same as it was with me: you never loved her!

"'But I did get my revenge. It was my doing that you were audited, and by my advice, she ran away. She's now well-known, as much as you detest that thought. And now, my revenge is nearly complete.' The lioness smiled coldly. 'There was one thing the old witch did not tell you, something I made sure she did not tell you. The Feast of Silence puts the living in the power of the dead. You will not move, unless I give you leave to. You know that light, which I always asked be left on, for fear of the dark? There's another reason I wanted it left on: it leaks. A small leak, which is rendered moot when it's lit. But now, the natural gas has been building up for a while. Before long, the fumes will reach the fireplace.'

"She giggled playfully. 'See you soon, dearie'"

The room was silent, as the others nodded in appreciation of this story. By this time, they'd all greatly relaxed, looking half-asleep.

Danial applauded. "Bravo! Bravo indeed, yes!" He looked around at the others. "Any more?"

There was some discussion. "Not really," said Skandar. "Guess we're kinda too relaxed to think."

"Well," said Danial, "I have a tale to tell you."

Danial's tale

"A few years ago, in the city of Morestown, 13 furs gathered into a room on the Darkest Night, to tell tales. 12 were strong, powerful predators, the 13th's identity is a mystery.

"The 12 told a series of fur-raising tales of ghosts, death, and grief. But what they did not know was that the drink had been drugged, to make them relax. You see, their host, the 13th fur, had more than tales of death on his mind, but death itself. When the tales were ended, he rose up with a knife, and slew them.

"Drugged as they were, they could not defend themselves. And who would notice screams on a night of screamfests?

"The police found the 12 dead in the room. The 13th had utterly disappeared."

"Damn, that could almost be us," said Skandar. "I mean, 12 big predators, we've been telling tales... spooky."

Khanton tried to make light of it. "If the only survivor utterly disappeared, how do you know what happened?" he joked, causing general laughter from the room.

Danial smiled, standing up. "Simple. I was the 13th fur in that room," he said, pulling a knife. "I was the killer."

Author's Note

I cut this one kind of short, to make it before Hallowe'en. The stories, with the sole exception of Danial's tale, are hardly original. Torya's story was based on The Dumb Feast by Mercedes Lackey, the rest are old ghost stories I recall.

But I hope you enjoyed them, and eventually, I will get the rest of the stories written down.

John-David "Lynx" Kraaikamp, aka Mr. Initial Man.