This all started because he’d seen an old movie where some stoned chick with an 80’s crop cut said something about when you grow up, your heart dies. (You’d know the flick; kids in detention.) It was supposed to be funny, but it scared the shit out of him. Nothing funny about compromising your soul, he’d thought. That’s why they were out here in the cold, freezing their tits off. This was about never losing sight of your soul.
The mask was a little tight against his face- it felt right. The fox had cost him $17.99 at the costume store, a small price to pay for immortality, and it was one with him now, a new face. His true face. The book of voodoo had said they had to choose masks they thought reflected their character, their true selves. It said this was the most important part of the ritual. Before you could change something about the world and your place in it, you had to know, really know, who you were inside. In your soul. That’s why voodoo doesn’t work for grown-ups in the West: they’re all dead inside.
His breath in the cold leaves little beads of condensation that run down the inside of the mask and out the bottom. He watches them and listens to the crackle of the fire underneath the languid, off-time clapping that seems to pervade most any pagan ritual. The children’s chanting is hushed now, but it’ll grow, feverish and in leaps and bounds, to a frenzied crescendo when the moon is brightest. He isn’t sure they’re speaking the right words, but he hopes whatever gods they’re praying to get the jist. Through the slitted eyes of the fox he tries to count the number of snowflakes the fire touches. He can’t. There’s too many, a million. If the magic works, the flakes will never melt. The inevitable thaw that follows the cold will never come, and they’ll endure, ageless, in the depths of winter.