Submitted for the Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave ‘Em Wanting More
Assignment: For this week’s writing challenge, explore using the More Tag as a way of building a sense of anticipation into your post. Take advantage of customizing the Read More link to offer a tongue-in-cheek continuation or thoughtful segue into the next portion of your post.
When Jones and Smith LLP closed the New Jersey branch, Kara chose to relocate to the corporate office in Salem, Massachusetts. It was not a difficult decision as she no longer had family ties to New Jersey. Her only close relative, her grandmother, Catherine had passed away last summer and except for some distant relatives that she barely knew, Kara was all alone in the world. The company provided a relocation allowance and Kara packed up last month, found an apartment in Salem and was now settling into her new life. Although the incentives to relocate were very good, none of her other colleagues chose to move to Salem so the settling into her new life also included getting to know people in her new office and her new neighborhood.
One bonus about the location of her apartment and her office is that she could easily walk to work. Even when winter came, the five blocks would not be too difficult with warm clothing and a pair of good boot. The winter snows were a few months away but it being October, mornings and evenings were starting to get a little chilled. This morning, Kara decided to go a slightly different route to the office as part of her getting to know the area. She put on her jacket, picked up her handbag and walked two blocks over to Essex Street instead of walking down Derby Street. Both streets lead to Hawthorne Boulevard the location of her office.
Essex Street was a picturesque avenue with beautiful Japanese Maple trees lining both sides. Kara noticed that even with it being the middle of morning rush hour, there was no traffic or people on Essex Street. The houses along the street were set back far from the road and although well kept, they didn’t look inhabited. Kara decided that her little adventure this morning was enough and this would be the last time she chose this route. She arrived at the office in time and shook off the unsettling feeling she had during her commute.
Since it was the end of the month, Kara worked late to close out her employers financial statements for the month. To keep her company in the office at night, she turned on the radio to listen to music. Just as Kara was shutting down her computer for the evening, the announcer interrupted the programming to report on a bus accident on Derby Street which resulted in the police closing off the roadway and sidewalks. All traffic is being routed down Essex Street. Hearing this announcement brought back the unsettling feeling from the morning but Kara didn’t know what to do about it so she put on her jacket and picked up her handbag. She turned off the lights, locked the office and started for home.
When she reached the intersection of Hawthorne and Essex, she crossed the street and began walking down Essex. “Where was all the traffic that was being rerouted” thought Kara. The street was deserted and not well lighted. After a block, Kara saw a property with a big stone wall and a dilapidated wooden gate. “I didn’t see this when I came this way in the morning” thought Kara. “I would have remember it as it looks quite spooky.”
Just then a small child appeared out of nowhere. At least Kara thought it was a child as the person was small but the hooded cloak prevented Kara from seeing the person’s face. “Can you help me?” whispered the person. The voice was so faint, Kara almost thought she imagined it. “Please can you help me? My ball went over the wall and I can’t open the gate to get it back,” said the little girl. Kara was sure now that it was a female child but why does she have her face covered with that hood?
Being generally a helpful person, Kara walked toward the gate. It was in such poor condition, she wonder if she would be able to open it. After some difficulty, Kara pulled up the wooden latches and just as the gate began to creak open, she heard a malicious laugh from behind.
On the other side of the gate opening Kara saw a group of people standing around in a circle. They all wore cloaks like the child with the malicious laugh. As she approached she could see that there was a bonfire and one of the cloaked persons was chanting. Kara didn’t know what was being said but she knew the man was not speaking English. Kara couldn’t see very well in the dark and tripped over a branch. The noise made the chanting man stop and look toward Kara. A small gust of wind blew back his hood and revealed his face. Kara let out a bone curdling screamed and then fainted as the hooded man was her new boss, Zachariah Jones.
When Kara revived from her faint, she was laying on a blanket still inside the stone wall. There were people all around her with the black cloaks but now their hoods were down. She could see some of the other men and women from the office. Kara didn’t understand and started to sit up.
“What is going on? What do you want with me?” yelled Kara.
Just then her boss came over. “Are you feeling better Kara? You gave us a fright,” said Mr. Jones.
“I want to leave. I’m quitting and going back to New Jersey,” returned Kara. “I can’t work for a devil or witch, whatever you and the others are.”
“Please calm down Kara. You are confused. You are entirely wrong about what you saw,” chuckled Mr. Jones.
“What I saw is that my employer and my coworkers are all dressed in evil cloaks and practicing devil worship or witchcraft, said Kara with a tremble in her voice.
Mr. Jones continued to chuckle. “What you saw is the rehearsal for a Halloween play. Each year at Halloween there is a theatrical competition and many of Salem’s businesses go all out to win.” “Jones and Smith LLP is the reigning champion and we hope to keep that distinction for another year,” explained Mr. Jones. “Since only employees with at least three months working for a business can participate, we were unable to add you to the cast. I hope you stay with the company and can join in the fun next Halloween.”
“What about the child/thing with the malicious laugh that lured me in through the gate?” questioned Kara.
“That would be my niece, Josie. Her favorite pastime is practical jokes,” said Mr. Jones. “I am sorry she scared you.”
Kara felt foolish but when she looked around at all the performers working on props and sets and all the laughter all around, she began to laugh too. She was looking forward to the Salem Halloween theatrical competition.