Vegan children’s story, Luke Walker and the Halloween Party, concludes today:
Luke decided to change the subject.
“Where shall we put these then?” he asked.
“Not here,” said Mr Beardsley, “or they might get eaten. Put them on my desk behind the screen.”
The boys did as they were told and made their way through small huddles of various royalty, warriors and poets, a couple of Shakespeares and a Jesus. No sooner had they placed the food on the desk than Mr Beardsley asked Joe to give him the treacle scones and string so that he could set up the game. They would be starting in about ten minutes he told them. Music was already playing and a few people danced self-consciously in the middle of the room.
“This one’s for you Joe,” came a familiar voice through the speaker when the record changed.
Luke and Joe looked around to see Simon Butler behind a turntable across the room, dressed in a short blonde beard; a gold fitted jacket zipped up to his neck; short gold trousers fastened below the knee; long socks and large-buckled shoes. He thought he was so cool because Mr Beardsley had let him be the DJ. The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum by Fun Boy Three filled the room and Butler laughed excessively at his own joke. Luke and Joe paid him a visit.
“So glad you took my advice Joe,” he said privately, “you look even more like a loon than usual!”
“I’m Pythagoras,” said Joe, holding up the right-angled triangle he’d made out of three rulers.
“Oh, yeah, I know you think so, lunatics often think they’re somebody famous,” he chuckled smugly.
“I’m not a lunatic! I am Pythag…”
“What are you s’posed to be anyway?” Luke interrupted their pointless argument to draw attention to Butler’s ridiculous ensemble.
“Sir Walter Raleigh,” Butler confessed without shame.
Luke cast his best contemptuous glance at his arch enemy and said nothing.
“Okay, switch the music off now Simon, it’s time for the games to begin,” Mr Beardsley called across the room.
Mr Beardsley and Thomas had put out four small tables at intervals around the room. They were set up with different traditional Halloween games.
“Take it in turns to play the games at each table,” Blackbeard instructed, “have fun!” He was the kind of teacher who didn’t believe in too much control. He liked to give the children enough room to find their own way and, since he’d already explained the games in class, he chose not to recap. “You can put the music back on now Simon,” he added.
“This table is for apple bobbing,” said Thomas who, unlike his colleague, preferred to make sure things were being done properly. “One at a time. Katia – you go first.”
Luke and Joe decided to come back later for apples and wandered over to see what was on the next table. Joe’s treacle-covered scones, with long lengths of string tied to them, were suspended above the table and dangled at different heights. Queen Elizabeth I and Boudicca were already tucking in. With hands held behind their backs, Tania and Isabel tried to bite the scones and every time they got a nibble, the sticky pendulums swung away and then back, bumping their noses, their chins, their cheeks and their hair. Boudicca, being less concerned about her appearance than the Queen, finished her scone first and bowed her grinning, sticky head in gratitude for the applause of her peers. Queen Liz, dignified in defeat, shook her opponent’s hand and went to the sink to wash her face.
“Us next!” said Luke, standing beside the table and leaning forward. “Go!” he shouted before Joe was ready, and tried to grab an untouched scone in his teeth.
Joe hurried to join in but found himself at a disadvantage when one scone stuck to his thick beard, just below his bottom lip, and prevented him from getting close to any other. Thomas laughed and reminded Joe that he couldn’t use his hands but he needn’t have said anything because Joe was not a cheater. Luke was the clear victor, finishing his scone in just four bites, and afterwards Joe was allowed to manually detach his scone from his beard and eat it normally. There were less hairs on it than one might expect.
At the next table were small plates with chunks of barm brack on them, cut from the fruit breads that Luke and a couple of other people had made.
“I’ve got a coin!” said Isabel as she broke up her piece with a fork, “that means I’m going to be rich!”
“I think you’re s’posed to just bite it,” said Joe, “it might not work if you pull it apart like that.”
“I don’t wanna risk choking!” Isabel explained sensibly.
“Plus it’s dirty,” added Tania, “money’s really dirty you know. Just think how many people have touched it without washing their hands.”
Joe had already bitten into his chunk of barmbrack and discovered that he too had a coin. He spat it quickly into his hand.
“It’s not dirty,” Luke assured him, “don’t ya think I washed ’em before I put ’em in?”
“Is this the one that you made?” Joe asked, a little relieved.
“Yeah,” said Luke confidently, “well, it looks …, yeah, definitely.”
Luke bit into his piece of bread and found only currants and orange peel.
At the next table were three large dishes of colcannon, accompanied by a stack of small bowls and spoons. The game was the same. If you found a coin it meant you would be rich; if you found a ring it meant you would find true love. Luke hadn’t had any rings to put into his baking, and he’d put all his spare coins into his barm brack, so he loaded his bowl from the colcannon he’d made himself, knowing that the only thing he was in danger of finding was a pile of delicious grub. Thoughtful as always, he didn’t spoil the game for the others by telling them that.
A few minutes later, Luke, Joe, Tania and Isabel, all happy in spite of finding nothing but cabbage in their mash, found their newly stimulated appetites craved more and made their way to the long table. It was a good job they hadn’t left it any longer as many of the other children were already digging in and the good stuff was going fast. Luke took a large paper plate from the pile and filled it with roasted sweetcorn, monkey nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, bonfire toffee and … oh no, Joe got the last toffee apple.
“Oh, do you want it?” Joe offered when his hand reached it just before Luke’s.
“Nah,” said Luke, trying to sound casual, “it’s yours.”
“We’ll share it,” Joe decided.
“Okay.” This was a good party.
Then he noticed something bad on the table. Something not in keeping with the celebration. Something odious. Something which was in shockingly bad taste: Scotch eggs.
“Hey! They can’t have them on Halloween! Who brought them?” he asked, pointing with disgust at the flesh food and surveying the faces around the table.
“What’s wrong?” asked Isabel.
Luke didn’t hear her. He angrily snatched the plate from the buffet, intending to dispose of the offending items.
“Mr Beardsley said it’s a Halloween tradition to be vegetarian,” Joe explained to Isabel, “so Luke is cross that somebody’s not doin’ it right.”
“So I see,” said Isabel as she watched Luke trying to move through the crowd holding the large plate of Scotch eggs above his head with both hands.
“Hey! Where you going with those?” Butler asked as Luke passed the music centre on his way to the toilets.
“Gettin’ rid of ’em!” said Luke, “they’re not Halloween.”
“Hey! Bring them back! My mum made them! Bring them back!”
Luke hurried through the cloakroom door with Butler close behind him. The music stopped and everyone could hear the two boys arguing loudly on the other side of the door.
Mr Beardsley hurried after them.
“Don’t come any nearer or I’ll drop ’em,” Luke threatened, forcing Butler to back off.
“You’ve got no right to throw away other people’s stuff!” he shouted angrily, “you think you’re better than everybody else! You think you’re so good but you’re not – you’re a thief! Give them back!”
“It’s no meat for Halloween!” Luke asserted, “dint your teacher tell you that?!”
“We don’t have to do what you say! Some of us want to eat meat – most of us actually – coz it tastes good! Mmm, I’d love a nice bacon buttie right now, or a nice bit of fish and chips, or a big juicy burger.”
His infuriating smirk pushed Luke to the limit and he lunged for the toilet door.
“Stop!” The boom of Mr Beardsley’s voice did not encourage disobedience.
Luke froze, plate in hand, his back to his teacher and his adversary.
“Could someone please tell me what on Earth is going on here?” Mr Beardsley asked more calmly.
Both boys talked at once: “He’s throwing my mum’s food in the toilet” / “Meat’s not allowed on Halloween!”
“Stop!” their teacher said again, “Luke, what are you doing out here with that plate of Scotch eggs?”
“They shouldn’t be here! You said people dint eat meat on Halloween! It’s tradition!”
“Yes, that’s true, I did, it is traditional not to eat meat on All Hallows’ Eve.”
“But my mum made them! He’s got no right to throw them away!”
“Simon!” Mr Beardsley quieted him, “no one’s going to throw away your mother’s food. Go back in to the party please and get the music going again.”
Simon reluctantly did as he was told and Mr Beardsley turned back to Luke.
“Give me the plate please,” he instructed.
“But they’re not …”
“Luke, now please.”
Luke handed him the plate.
“But you’re not gonna put ’em back on the table are you? They’re not s’posed to be …”
“Luke, I know you feel strongly about this and I respect that but you can’t force your beliefs on other people. Everyone has to be free to make their own choices.”
“Yeah right! Tell that to the chickens and pigs they’re made out of! If they’d had free choice they would’ve said NO THANK YOU VERY MUCH, I DON’T WANT TO BE A SCOTCH EGG!”
“Yes, alright Luke you’ve made your point. Now kindly return to the party and stay away from Simon Butler.”
Back in the classroom Luke found his plate and his friends and told them the whole story.
“You’re right,” said Tania, “Simon knew he was supposed to make something from the traditional vegetarian recipes Mr Beardsley gave us. He should’ve been reprimanded for not doing it right.”
“Typical!” added Isabel, “look at that, Beardsley’s just putting the scotch eggs back on the table. That flies in the face of everything he taught us! What’s the point of teaching us about historical tradition and saying you want to have a traditional party if you’re just going to let people be inauthentic?”
“Yeah! It’s fraudulent!” Tania concurred.
Luke hungrily polished off his sweetcorn while he listened to the impressive but unfamiliar vocabulary being employed by the girls and was in no doubt that they agreed with him.
“I think we should boycott this party!” Isabel declared.
“Whaddaya mean?” asked Joe.
“On the grounds that it’s a sham.”
“What?” said Luke and Joe at the same time.
“She means it’s bogus,” Tania explained, “spurious, phoney, false, fake.”
“Oh, yeah, it’s fake alright,” said Luke, catching up, “he’s ruined it. It’s not thentick at all now!”
“If we want a truly educational, authentic, realistic, traditional Halloween experience, we’ll have to do it ourselves,” Isabel went on, “we should go now and play the other game he told us about. The one he said we couldn’t play.”
The others gasped and then grinned.
“That’s ezzactly what we should do,” said Luke.
A noisy, activity-filled party with only two adults in attendance was easy to sneak away from. It hadn’t even been difficult to get the matches from Mr Beardsley’s desk drawer. Fortunately there had been no rain for a couple of weeks so it didn’t take long to find ample dry twigs and fir cones in the churchyard over the road. Now all they needed was a big stone each and that would be no problem either because Luke remembered seeing some different coloured pebbles, curiously arranged in the shape of a fish, close to the church entrance. They’d just been left there. No one was using them.
It was just after nine o’clock and very dark in the churchyard. Two owls hooted back and forth. Every so often bats flew overhead between the bell tower and the vicarage. Now it really felt like Halloween. The children made themselves comfortable on the ground near the oldest gravestones they could find. Covered in lichen, the writing on them was almost illegible.
Making sure there was nothing flammable nearby, Luke built a small fire with the twigs and fir cones on the crumbling horizontal stone base of one of the graves. He had no trouble getting it going with the few scraps of paper found in Mr Beardsley’s desk drawer earlier.
As their teacher had told them, the game was simple. On Halloween night, participants made a fire and when the fire burnt out they placed a ring of stones in the ashes, one for each person. The following morning they would check the circle and if they found any stone displaced, it was said that the person it represented would die before the year ended.
Luke drew a circle in the ash with another stick. Their pebbles were easy to distinguish from each other. Luke’s was the biggest and the darkest. He put it in the twelve o’clock position, closest to the gravestone. Joe’s was a little smaller and had a notch on one side. He placed it at nine o’clock. Isabel’s looked like it had a nose, hers was placed at six o’clock and Tania’s, the smallest of them all, was placed at three o’clock.
“What was that?” Isabel turned suddenly to look behind her.
“Just a rabbit prob’ly,” said Luke, “or a badger.”
“Or a fox,” added Joe.
The boys looked around eagerly, hoping to see some majestic nocturnal wildlife. They weren’t so lucky.
“We’d better get back,” said Tania, looking at her watch, “it’s nearly five to ten.”
“Wait!” whispered Luke as he ducked behind a tree, “that’s my dad!”
The churchyard was a short-cut between the school and Luke’s road so he might have known his dad would come this way to meet him. Everyone laid low until he’d passed.
“My mum’s probably at the school by now too,” said Tania.
“They’ll all be there, waiting outside the classroom for us,” said Isabel anxiously, “how will we get back in without them seeing us?”
Luke and Joe smiled at each other. For seasoned outlaws like them, this wasn’t going to be a problem.
“Follow us,” said Joe, and they led the girls to a little known entrance to the school which was always left open when the caretaker was around so that he could duck out quickly for a smoke without going past the kitchens or the offices. The door led to the school hall which had a connecting door to Mrs Tebbut’s classroom which shared a cloakroom with Class 5A.
“Don’t tell anyone about this,” Joe added as an afterthought.
Without raising suspicion all four of them rejoined the rest of their class as they emerged from the party. They parted with a secret promise to meet early Saturday morning and check on the fire circle. Each agreed to wait until they were all together before they looked.
When all children had been collected Mr Beardsley and Thomas returned to the classroom to clear up the mess. They were tired but it had been fun; they were glad they’d done it.
“Excuse me,” Mrs Butler put her head round the door.
“Oh, hello,” said Mr Beardsley, “are you looking for your plate? It’s in a stack in the sink. I’ll wash it up and send it home with Simon on Monday.”
“Er, thank you, no, I’m looking for Simon. Did he leave with someone else?”
Mr Beardsley’s jaw dropped. Filled with dread he looked at Thomas. Thomas shook his head. At that moment the classroom door opened again and Simon walked in.
“Simon! Where have you been?” his mum asked, awash with relief.
“Looking for you,” he lied, “shall we go?”
Ooh, – if you didn’t read the beginning of this vegan Halloween story, you won’t understand the ending 😀
Fancy some more vegan children’s stories? There’s plenty to choose from here 😀
Happy Vegan Halloween Everybody 😀