A Dark Story- Part 5
(Originally from October 2007)
This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.
**Mature content warning**
The rooms above were as silent as they’d been last night but, in place of black shadows, sunlight streamed through the windows and dust motes danced in the golden rays. Keena moved towards the opened drapes and reached out for the warmth of the sunlight – and then she screamed.
The hands stretched before her were withered as an old woman’s. The skin was dry and sagged around the knuckles of her fingers. She reached for her face and traced the once familiar contours, only to discover the same affliction.
Her heart hammered and she moved through the rooms with a purpose and through the door into a sunlit morning. Her feet crunched over frost crusted grass as she moved towards the rain barrel and its shimmering contents. She reached it and bent over the edge to peer at the reflective surface, her chest heavy with her labored breathing and fear.
Tears slipped down her now withered cheeks as she beheld the countenance reflected back at her. Young eyes stared back, surrounded by the skin of old age. Her long hair, once copper red, now hung lank and gray around her face. Meanwhile, her clothes were as fresh as they’d been yesterday.. or had it been years ago?
She had no sense of time, no sense of reality, as she stumbled backwards from the barrel. A scream lodged in her throat and her hands feebly tried to hide her visage from the morning’s brightness. She didn’t understand how it could be possible – so many years could not have passed in a single night.
When she’d pulled herself together she began the journey towards the village. She needed to find out if the years had really passed her by, and if so what had become of her aunt and what might be done to remedy this. Surely it was some mistake?
Her pace was slow and she was forced to stop often to rest. Her feeble limbs shook with the exertion of the long trek. By the time she reached the edge of the small town, her stomach growled and the sun was high in the sky.
No one paid her any mind as she moved through the dirty streets, heading towards her own hovel. She found it in smoldering ruins. A small crowd of boys ringed the rubble, poking through the ashes with long sticks.
“What has happened?” she demanded from the nearest of them, forgetting for a moment that she was no longer herself.
The child looked at her thoughtfully and then answered, “They burned it last night. She what lived here were a witch.”
Her heavy lids blinked slowly, the space of a heartbeat seemed to drag into an eternity before his words made sense to her. “A witch?” Her voice was barely more than a dry breath.
“Aye,” the boy nodded enthusiastically. “She took a babe last night, from her sister no less, fresh from the womb and strangled it for her ghastly ceremony. Her husband found her bleeding in the middle of the floor and no sign of her sister to be seen. But she’s dead now, o’course,” he added.
She steadied herself on the remnants of a ruined bush. “Dead?”
“Aye.” He nodded once again. “Her aunt killed her, didn’t she? She came into to town this very morning after having hidden away for night two years. They told everyone how they’d caught her out in the woods doing her unholy rituals and how they used a stake of silver to pierce her heart-”
The boy kept talking, cheerfully relating what was undoubtedly considered delightfully woeful news, but she quit listening. Her aunt had returned to the village this morning? They said….
“They?” she asked quickly, interrupting him.
“Aye, her husband o’course. He ain’t been seen neither for a long time, but there they are at the inn.”
Without waiting for him to finish his sentence, she turned on her heel and strode towards the inn. Fury and fear mingled in her breast until she was dizzy with it all.
A crowd had gathered outside the Inn and she made her way through it, No one paid any mind to what they thought an old bent crone. Inside, the large room was dark. Fires crackled on the hearths of two large fireplaces and people stood or sat in various bunches on rough hewn benches while the barmaid moved from table to bar, hauling heavy ceramic mugs. despite the bustle, the only thing she noticed was the young couple standing against the back wall. The woman’s long coppery hair hung to her waist, a mark of her lineage that shimmered in the firelight, and her laughter was a silvery tinkle. On her arm was a tall man, his long dark hair a contrast to his pale tunic, his eyes resting on his beautiful bride.
To be continued….
(I originally was going to end it today but then I changed my mind on the plot as you can see…)