~ About ~
All Hallows Eve is a magical time where things that go bump in the night come out of the dark to find you…
So you think you know the story behind the Jack O’Lantern? Would you believe that what you think you know is only a small part of the story? Quinn Carter, an American illustrator on an extended holiday, tumbles into a world of love and betrayal, of myth and fable. She’s about to find out that magic is real, that fairies do exist, and that love and redemption are possible for anyone. In Jack, she finds a promise for a new tomorrow; if only she’s brave enough to reach out and take it.
“What happened here?” I asked, looking at the sky, stopping short of actually looking at the creatures that wanted to make me one of their own. I let my gaze wander along the blackened stone walls before returning it to my unlikely savior.
“A fire,” he said softly and shifted uncomfortably. He was handsome. A white man, like most of the guys around here, with long dark hair in a ponytail.
“Who are you?” I asked.
He smiled, and said, “You ask a lot of questions, you know that?”
I shrugged. “What else is there to do?”
He chuckled. “A fair point, lass. A fair point.”
“My name is Jack. Jack O’Laughlin.”
I frowned, “Your name is Jack O’Laughlin… doesn’t Laughlin mean ‘lantern’ in old Irish?” I’d had a discussion about names with the girl in the village café my second day here, and Laughlin had stood out because it almost sounded like ‘lantern.’
“Indeed, it does!” he cried, and he sounded delighted. He had a nice smile, but I quickly dismissed that notion when I blinked, long and slow signaling silently that I thought this was some bullshit.
“Jack O’Lantern… and you expect me to buy that?” I said. “That I just so happen to meet a guy named Jack O’Lantern on Halloween night? Seriously, what is this? Is this some kind of a trick or a show? Where’re the cameras?”
“No tricks, no cameras,” he said sincerely. “I swear to ye, this is as real as it gets. Outside, the Wild Hunt is after ye. You’ve seen it with your own eyes, and surprisingly, remain sane, and yet having seen that, you don’t wish to believe that my name could be what I say it is?”
“Okay, not a trick. No cameras,” I said, eyeing him carefully. He was way too serious, way too calm. I tried rationalizing in a different direction. “I’m dreaming, right? Like, any second now I’m going to wake up back at Mrs. O’Leary’s and this is all going to be a bad dream.”
“Alas, for your sake, I wish it were so,” he said apologetically, “But this is as real as it gets.”
“Bullshit,” I muttered, simply not wanting to believe it.
“Oh, aye, then you’ll be going out to chat ol’ Gwynn up, then will ya?” His grin was a slightly reckless one when he said it, but it did nothing to take the sting out of his words.
“I didn’t say that,” I said, my mouth suddenly dry just from the thought.
“You know he’s not so bad to look at, when he’s got that old ram’s skull off his head,” he muttered, gazing in the direction of the collapsed doorway, out into the madness out there.
“I’ll, uh, take your word for it.”
She searched my face, lips still parted in surprise but slowly coming together in a grim line of resolve.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said and closed herself off again.
“Aye,” I said. “Then a long night’s ahead of us both if it’s to be a night of silence.”
“I just don’t want to talk about that,” she said. “I didn’t say I didn’t want to talk at all.”
“Oh, aye, but maybe I do want to talk about that. It’s the first interesting thing you’ve said so far. I can’t be letting it go that easy.”
She scoffed, those lush lips of hers parting in surprise, high spots of color drowning out the adorable freckles across her nose and cheeks, like faded ink spattered across old parchment, only slightly darker than the page itself.
“Wow,” she said sarcasm thick on her tongue, “You really know how to keep a conversation rolling.”
“What did I say?” I asked bemusedly.
“The first thing interesting I’ve said? Way to be a jerk.”
I hung my head and chuckled without humor. She had a point. It wasn’t one of the finer things to come out of my mouth. Honest, yes, but not terribly polite. I had, perhaps, been too long among the Fae, who prized being rather direct and literal, but perhaps, didn’t practice the finer points of human civility as a result. They found humans tiresome and boring. I didn’t always disagree, except in the case of the fine creature at my side this night.
“Great,” she muttered. “Now you’re laughing at me.”
“Oh, now you’re just jumping to conclusions. I was laughing at me, lass.”
She looked back up at me, her hair a static cloud of soft curls around her adorable round face. I found myself wondering if those very curls were as soft to the touch as they looked but resisted the urge to ask. She searched my face with almond-shaped brown eyes that were several shades lighter than my own. A rich Irish coffee with a touch of caramel cream, versus the deep darkness I held in mine.
Text Copyright © 2019 A.J. Downey DBA Timber Philips
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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