Street lights twinkle like stars as cold wind tears across the streets. The long hand on the clock tower begins to click towards midnight. However, the clock never strikes twelve. Time slows to a thick jelly and all things normally hidden creep out of the gutters, sewers, rooftops, and shadows. The stars begin to sing a song not meant for mortal ears as logic and science pause their eternal waltz.
The witching hour begins.
You’ve probably never heard of it, and it’s almost certain you’ve never experienced it. The witching hour is a time of freedom and terror. It’s a time of cold winds and deep fogs, a time of burning secrets and buried ideas. It’s the ghosting hour, the ghouling hour, the magic hour, the fearful hour. The tempestuous hour between 11:59:59 and 12:00.
Your laws don’t apply here so if you ever happen to have the misfortunate luck of getting caught inside witching hour don’t bother arguing over what is “Possible” or “Impossible.” Most wouldn’t enjoy your skepticism and would find it insulting. Your shadow would find it funny. Don’t be alarmed if it mocks you.
Time works differently in these moments, as does gravity. Laws of physics are seldom obeyed during these times. Let your rigid concepts of life melt, it will make the transition easier. If things are being difficult for you try walking slower. Never crawl, some beings will think you are mocking them.
Never try and involve yourself in the activities the residents of the witching hour indulge in. This is their time, not yours. Don’t forget that you are an intruder here and even if they aren’t initially offended by your presence, remember that you are never wanted. Spectate respectfully from the sides and if you are asked to leave depart quickly and do not dare look back.
Never make the mistake of closing your eyes. Life is dangerous enough with them open. If you’re faced with something you don’t want to see simply look away.
The beings of the witching hour have no tolerance for mistakes of intruders like us. A single insult can be one's undoing. Often things that resemble shadows possess dimension. Do not step on them. To be safe don’t step on any shadows. In general, be careful with where you step. The creatures might mock you (in their defense it looks pretty silly.) but they will always prefer respect to carelessness. If you do insult someone run fast and far. Do not waste air or time apologizing, unless you are caught. An apology will never be the difference between life and death, it may be the difference between a long death and a short one.
If you ever find yourself caught inside the witching hour, try indulging in some stargazing. The sky is brighter during this time, and in the sky, galaxies glitter like shards of broken glass. Don’t bother looking for constellations. The ones you know are not there. Feel free to wish on these stars. They listen better than the ones back home. Nevertheless, don’t talk at them endlessly without any room for them to respond, it’s fairly rude. Listen to what they say. Their words won’t be in your language but, next time you fall asleep your dreams will help translate their words.
Inside the witching hour the world is completely anew. It would be foolish for you not to explore it. Walk down the concrete sidewalks and feel the wind cut across your face. Run your hands gently over the sides of a building. Even if you walk past these places every day this time will be different. Take notice when your heels click against the ground. Always stick to roads you know. This will keep you from getting lost with the added bonus that the glory of the witching hour will be easier to notice. When you cross the streets, be cautious when looking both ways. Look up as well, to be extra safe.
If you’re able to carry a tune, try singing. Sometimes your voice will seem clearer, other times it will be murkier. A particularly strong wind can blow your words away. Don’t panic when you can’t hear yourself anymore. Your melody is now being carried all the way down the road. If the gale keeps blowing your words away it means the witching hour has deemed your voice fair enough to share. Be honored. On the contrary, if deep howling keeps interrupting you, stop immediately. You are disturbing something that ought not to be disturbed. The beings of the witching hour love all true music. Being rejected by it is an insult. However, it’s likely a very well earned one.
Right now you might be thinking to yourself that you want to go. You want to experience the hour between 11:59:59 and 12:00. After all, why be a tourist across seas when there’s something far more fantastical that happens every night in your hometown. You could even buy a little disposable camera to document the hour. I can’t blame you. The witching hour is a uniquely beautiful moment.
However, you don’t choose to experience the 25th hour. You wind up there. You find yourself cast there after being wound into a gust of wind, or after being spellbound by the bright reflections in a teardrop. You arrive there after becoming lost in the rhythm of your breath. The witching hour steals you after hearing you scream in hopeless abandon. She spirits you away after watching you dance in the rain at nightfall, or come stumbling home late at night, throat raw from heartbreak.
Once you’re stolen she cares nothing for your safety. She collects alluring specimens, binds them within her grasp and sets them loose among her children. The witching hour is beautiful like a glacier or a cold desert night. Within her, dangers lurk and she will only set you free once the hour is over. If you ever find yourself caught in her grip, always remember the danger will only last a single hour.