To read the full story in sequence, use these links:
Part 1 – The Mandrake of Harfinsain by Jane Basil
Part 2 – The Vicar of Harfinsain
Part 3 – Edna of Harfinsain
Edna was in too deep a sleep to hear. She’d had a busy day what with one thing and another. Halloween preparations were in full swing. This was busy season in Harfinsain with tourist buses arriving on the hour, every hour of every day.
There was much to do on the morrow, she thought, as she climbed into bed. It was already past midnight. A dreamless sleep of sweet repose was just what the doctor ordered were her last thoughts before sleep overtook her. Edie, however, had other plans.
Edna…. Edna…. Edna…
Not a stir. Edna was in a deep sleep.
Edna! Edna! the voice this time was much sharper. Impatient. Edna’s not so gentle snoring continued unabated.
EDNA! WAKE UP!! the voice yelled. Edna stirred, shifting into a more comfortable position.
For God’s sake woman! You haven’t changed a bit, have you ? the irritated voice snapped. WAKE UP, DAMN YOU !!!
Huh? Edna slowly opened her eyes and looked around the room. She could have sworn she’d heard her sister’s voice. But Edie had been dead these past ten years. Shrugging her shoulders, she settled down, preparing to go back to sleep.
Don’t you dare ignore me, you lazy cow!
This time Edna sat up, wide awake. Who are you? And more to the point, where are you? What do you want? she asked irritably.
It’s me, Edie. You know damn well who I am, don’t go pretending you don’t. I’m right here in your room. That’s right! Of course I’m dead! I’ve come to pick a bone with you.
Edie, huh? Why don’t you just go back to being dead and leave me alone. Surely you’ve got better things to do than wake me up. You always were an inconsiderate bitch.
What, not surprised that your dearly beloved dead sister is talking to you? Not even a hello? Not curious?
Oh hell, you’re not going to give up are you? Alright then. Hello. What do you want? And make it snappy. I’ve got a busy day tomorrow. I need my beauty sleep.
It turns out Edie had decided that at 114 years of age it was time for Edna to join her on the other side. Edna had other ideas. She wasn’t ready, she said. Much talking later, Edna was convinced that Edie was having way too much fun without her. But she wanted to depart in style. Her OWN style.
Between them they hatched a plan. Tomorrow, Halloween, was the perfect time. Not a second could be wasted on sleep. Edna and Edie, for the first time ever, worked in perfect peace and harmony to get everything ready for The Harfinsain Twins Grand Finale.The day dawned cool and eerily misty. Perfect, Edna thought. All was in readiness. She was looking forward to her last performance. Well, here on this earth anyway. If Edie was to be believed, there was plenty more scope where she was going next.
In the village, Harfinsainians were stirring. Halloween had become a Harfinsain tradition, along with all the usual Edie generated tours and talks that continued to attract flocks of visitors. Eager anticipation filled the air with a sense of magic, mystery and a touch of spookiness. After ten years of the Edna experience, expectations ran high. She had promised the biggest, bestest, baddest Halloween ever.
The Vicar stretched himself awake with a sense of resignation and more than a mere smidgen of dread. A long time ago, he had decided the phenomena of the Harfinsain Twins, as he liked to think of Edie and Edna, were his personal, private burden to bear.
Edna’s antics far surpassed anything Edie had ever done. Why, she even got up at Church on the odd Sunday morning to deliver a sermon! He could never predict when that was going to happen, try as he might to second guess so he could prepare himself. She always caught him off guard. There was nothing he could do to stop her. The congregation cheered, laughed, clapped, egged her on in the most unholiest of manners. And that, of course, inspired Edna to sprout even more outrageous stories of how God moved in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. The only saving grace was that the coffers were filled to overflowing on those days. And attendance at all services was at a record high. People did not want to miss an Edna sermon.
The main event of Halloween was to be held by the ‘tree that turned into a man and ate female children’ in the Old Man of Drake Lane. Given this was the prime location for a lot of tourists, the Harfinsain Tourist Bureau had removed the old twelve foot high fence, cleared some space, and erected a stage.
Today, it had been decked out in true Edie style. Ghosts and ghouls fluttered in the air held up by invisible string amid brightly coloured feather boas and scarves, crucifixes, long necked giraffes and armadillos. Cathedral-like huge candelabras dripped wax into the exotic footwear left in piles as if at the entrance of a mosque. The over-all effect was bizarrely eye-catching.
Old Man Drake had wearied over the years. Eyes closed, his limbs looked arthritic. Now he was regarded as a harmless novelty. No female children had disappeared under mysterious circumstances for so long his fearful reputation was a mere whisper of shady memories.
The Main Event of the day, a closely guarded secret, was to take place at noon. Crowds had started to gather early. They wanted the best vantage points. Buskers entertained with ghoulish song and dance. Halloween treats and souvenirs were snapped up by hungry mouths and bargain hunters. The more grotesque and bizarre, the better it seemed. Harfinsain was richly rewarded with tourist dollars on this day.
At noon the church bell tolled. Excitement mounted. Breaths were held. Where was she coming from this year? What would she be wearing? And, more importantly, what would she do? Bets had been laid. She had promised to deliver something stupendously spectacular. Thus far, she had not ever failed. There was no reason to expect she would this time.
Absolute and utter silence reigned after the bell stopped tolling. No-one dared move. The suspense grew to fever pitch. Listen, someone whispered. An eerie sound could be heard emanating from – could it be – Old Man Drake? People gasped. Some screamed. Yet others fainted.
It was at this point that the one of the ghosts floating above the stage started to moan. To some the voice sounded curiously familiar.
Edna…. Edna…. Edna… come to me, Edna….
Edna rushed on stage, frantically grabbing for the out of reach ghost. Edie, she cried. Edie. You’re here!
The ghost began to drift away, beckoning. Edna …. Edna… come to me, Edna…
Don’t leave me Edie. Please! Don’t leave me! With that, Edna sank to the floor, moaning, hands clutching at her breast, tears streaming down her cheeks. With one last mighty gasp, she lay still.
The crowd stood stunned, expecting Edna to get up any minute. But she didn’t. Edna was dead.
The funeral was grand. Edna’s life was celebrated in a manner as unique as she – and her sister before her – had been. People came in droves dressed in the most outlandish and bizarre outfits they dared to wear out in public. Huge cuban cigars adorned the mouths of many. The stage decor was moved into the church. The coffin was draped in feather boas and covered with exotic footwear.
The Vicar, bless his little cotton socks, outdid himself. Some said it was his finest moment. Recordings of Edna’s sermons were used to create a eulogy only befitting to one such as she.
© Raili Tanska
Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth. Anon.
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