Conjured darkness III

PART IPART II


The small wooden cross Mary had on her wall had slipped, tumbling free from the crooked nail which was driven into her dark small cottage. She noticed it now in the candlelight, her attention brought to that empty space on the wall by a reason she could not place. She went across and picked it up, holding it in her hands, remembering her mother who had fashioned it from the wood that surrounded them there in the village. Her mother, so capable. Cooking creating, tilling, mending. She did it all, for it were her and her children only. Mary, now half her mother’s age when she died, looked at the small cross, her thoughts snatching a prayer somewhere in her mind.

It was then she heard it.

Going to her small window, she looked up into the sky at first, the screeching wails sounding like birds fighting. In the night it was odd, maybe owls she thought. It came again, this time lower and more awful, drifting over the trees which lay all around. A candle flickered to life in her neighbour’s house, the village being awoken by a noise that seem to come from another world. Mary saw it then, a dark stain in the sky looming over Pollux Hall. It was like a smudge in the sky, a dark oil seeming to leak and spread from the tip of the tower, the only part visible from where she was in the village. She clutched the cross tighter, the evils of the world now loose in the land it seemed.

A thump on the door startled her, and she called out in alarm.

“Who is there?”

No answer returned, but the sturdy wooden door suddenly swung forth revealing Jacob, out of breath and eyes wide, hovering on the threshold.

“Mary, it is time.” He heaved as he tried to catch his breath. He had run from the church, the wolves following him. His eyes were darting all around, but he did not enter her house.

“Jacob, come inside. There is death in the air tonight.” Mary said, coming towards him. Jacob ducked inside and slammed the door, the sound of a wolf howling nearby followed him inside.

“Wolves?!” Mary asked, surprised. Jacob nodded.

“Did you hear the sound before?” He asked her, his eyes fixing on the cross then back to her eyes.

“Yes, and look, Pollux Hall.” She said, drawing him over to the window where the darkness swirled above the tower.

“It is time Mary, it is tonight. I’ve seen them all, I watched them gather. They go to free Agatha from the hall.” He said, almost gleefully.

“All of them?” Mary asked, a gasp in her words.

“All of them, tonight is the night. We must hurry though. They must be there already and who knows what is happening with those men in the mix up there.” He added. She stood for a moment, as if unsure of what to do next. The darkness spluttering over her candle and her mind taken to many places all at once. She then put the cross on the side and went across to the small cupboard in the corner.

“It is ready, though?” Jacob asked her.

“Yes, it is ready.” Mary replied and took out a black sack from the cupboard.

“We must be quick; the wolves are thirsty for more than just our blood.” He said. She nodded, taking a cloak from a peg.

“I know what will help.” And she took down from above her door some sprigs of flowers and herbs, intertwined with twigs and string. She handed them to him, and he smiled.

“I hope so.” He said, and they both left quickly, their path hastened as they made their way towards the hall through the village. The wolves, watching, but kept at bay.

He rubbed his eyes, the glass that had showered down had covered them all. He felt a sharp pain, a piece of glass caught at the corner of his eye, his vision on one side flooded with a crimson lens.

The room suddenly froze, the temperature dropping like snowfall. A sound and wind flurried inside, scratching at their minds and souls.

Agatha stood, her bonds now gone, and her stare fixed upon those men before her.

A blackness began to pour inside through the broken windows, a thick oozing smog as dark as charcoal flooded all around them. Some of the men tried for the door, but it would not yield, and in the trapped panic thye left-out yells of fear and weakness.

Jonathan watched through the only eye that could now see, his mouth mumbling prayers and sacred words which he hoped would protect him and the others there. God was not listening it seemed as a demon like figure began to mass there in the tower, the smoke filling into a being that sucked the light from the room. Outside they heard yells and calls, the others being attacked and laid upon by the other witches who had travelled there that night. Their identities still hidden, even in those dying moments of breath to those guards.

Inside the tower a voice began to utter the foulest words to those righteous men. It seemed to creep out of the walls and all over their skin, echoing in the chambers of their mind. It spoke to them of a reckoning, of a day which had come to pass when all would see for what truth was abound in the land.

Margellwood hunched over Agatha, a towering figure now behind her, seeming to fill the space they shared. Jonathan slumped against the wall, the others in their panic and fear huddled on the other side, clutching tightly to their crosses. The voice rang out still, the rain now pouring in from the window and splattering the wooden floor with rainy tears.

“And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words.” Jonathan said, an anger rising in him.

Margellwood stopped suddenly, flicking her head towards him.

“He speaks now does he, he acts now against his own demise.” She coughed, the words sticky and heavy.

“You have no power here, and you will not banish us into the dark. You mistake your actions here for power.” He bravely retorted. Margellwood laughed, her cackle fading to a hiss.

“You are not important, and you will not succeed. I can wither your heart Jonathan Prose, splinter your bones and send you mad with voices. But now, you will watch as what you hope for the most to disappear, and for you to lose.” The Witch said, placing her hand upon Agatha.

“You are the mistaken and forsaken one.” He said, and he pulled out his book and began to recite lines from it. The air swirled and hummed, a greyness suddenly buckling the light in the room. With a snarl Margellwood vomited out a sludge, hissing words bubbling and exploding out of it. It oozed and rose up off the floor, floating towards the men and coating the walls. The words seemed to battle one another, caught in a fight to overrun and devour.

Agatha turned, she looked up to the creature that Margellwood had risen into. She found her eyes and searched there, for only a moment. She turned and looked at the room, seeking something that seemed to be missing.

“Come, we must go.” She suddenly said to the witch, and she clapped three times and the room burst into flames, the darkness slithering out of the high window above like steam leaving a dead body in the cold.

Jacob and Mary could see the tower now, fire licking out of the high windows, illuminating the dead night’s sky. They ran on further up the hill, the trees clustering around them like lost souls coming together. They stopped suddenly seeing the dark shapes appear from the air in front of them.

They hadn’t been seen, and they ducked down low, a thicket at the side of the path covering them. They heard the voices now; it was Agatha and Margellwood. Mary took Jacob’s hand, not out of fear, but to steady his heart.

“You came.” Agatha said, her voice sweet and low, almost a whisper.

“They are done taking. Tonight, it all ends.” Margellwood said, running her hand through the woman’s hair gently.

Around them, coming out of the trees and with pops of black smoke the other witches appeared. Hooting and wailing, clicking their fingers in rhythmic unison.

“Tonight, we shall dominate and lay a waste to this rotten land!” Margellwood called, seeing the others appearing around them.

Mary and Jacob felt a kick behind them, and they both fell forward out of the thicket and back onto the road. They both stumbled to their feet, and the witches encircled them, leeringly.

Agatha came towards them, her eyes wide with an unusual light dancing in them. Off into the tree the howl of wolves was heard, and as the tower behind them burnt, the screams of men rattled through the sky.

“Over. It is over.” Agatha said. The other witches began to chant, a horrible, gurgled incantation that they rumbled and shouted. Some of them leaping into the air, the space now alive with movement and sound.

Jacob clutched Mary’s hand and they stood forth defiantly.

“You are not lost to us cousin.” Mary said, her free hand outstretched.

“Death shall take you master Jacob, Mary death will spirit you off tonight.” Margellwood hissed, coming up behind Agatha. “To see your sister, down in the ground.”

“Keep your vile mouth shut you witch.” Jacob roared.

The all laughed around him, bar Agatha. She looked at the small sack that Mary had at her waist. Her eyes flashing there in a moment of realisation.

“It won’t work, it would be folly to try.” Agatha said suddenly, stepping backwards in alarm.

Mary caught her stare and realised she had understood. She snatched at the sack, and Jacob reached quickly into his pocket.

“Tricks and toys is it?” Margellwood snarled, mockingly.

Agatha turned and ran, back up the path towards the hall. Margellwood turned, watching her, a confusion now spreading across her face like a setting sun.

“What’s thou….”  But in that moment an engulfing light had sprung from the black sack and the words that followed from Jacob seized all of those present in a captured state. The skin on the witches became taught, and they rigidly creaked and cracked as if water were being squeezed from dead wood. Their faces contorted, spasms of anger and horror flashed across them until they all collapsed to the floor. All except Margellwood who seemed to be trying to resist the most. Jacob pressed on., reading aloud from a small book he held in his hand. The light and the sound now coming from the sack danced and glided around them, bathing them in an ethereal glow. The sound, at trumpeting call of another world, seemed to kiss upon the skin.

Margellwood snarled, her eyes leaking a blackness now. Oily tears staining her face. She fell to her knees finally and dove her hands into the earth and seemed to be pleading, begging for something. In a final move she had bitten off part of her tongue which flopped from her mouth now as the rest of her body crumpled to the ground. The witches all now lay about the road and by the trees, still but not dead, a change overtaking them as their souls silently came back. Mary looked at Jacob and smiled, they had succeeded.

Agatha ran, her heart pulsing now in her chest. She could hear the blood in her head, the river of red rushing around her mind. She ran up to the hall, the tower now completely engulfed in the flames which reached up towards heaven. She could see shapes moving in the courtyard below, dark images seeming to smoulder in the cold air. She ran onwards, past the hall and down through the garden to the stream which flowed at the back. She stopped by the banks, looking all around, hoping not to find what she was looking for.

It was there though, across the stream. It’s hunched shape dark and threatening. She fell to her knees and closed her eyes. Little spots of white floating in the space before her as she heard the flames, the voices of the men and the sound of a trumpet away from where she rested. She bit her lip, to feel something, to see where she was still and if it were really true. Opening her eyes she felt a warm feeling across her cheek, like sunshine catching her skin. The creature beyond stood, a rotting smell seeming to float across the water towards her from it.

“I take it back.” She threw the line out to the figure. Her words quiet and having much less weight than she’d hoped.

The figure looked at her, saying nothing.

“I can do that, I can choose!” She said again, desperately.

The figure took a step towards her, a groan emitting from it’s very centre. Agatha clutched her chest, frightened now and loosing hope. She closed her eyes again, despite the figure moving towards her, a ghostly groaning heaving out of it. Her hand still on her chest, she sighed. Light tears coming to her eyes.

“I am sorry.” She said, meaning those words more then any she had meant in her life. Repeating them unknowingly, waiting for the fade.

The village was bright as the sun speckled the thatched roofs withs it’s afternoon rays. A light rain had just fallen, and the sunshine shimmered off like beautiful diamonds. Though the market town nearby was the great hub of activity for selling wares, the village now bustled with the same energy with many people passing through and stopping to gather by the church and small the circled area in the centre of the village. Colourful ribbons were hung about, and the place had a May festival feel to it with laughter easily heard above the chatter from those who lingered. The church’s doors were wide open, and music flowed out of the huge wooden box, luring people towards it with the promise of food, entertainment and joy.

Mary and Jacob stood by the door, bundling little sprigs of heather together and handing them out to those who wanted them. Inside the church, the pews had gone, leaving the space open, where people came and went. In the far corner Agatha sat on a stool next to an old man, the sleaves on his arm rolled up. She was shaking something in a small vile, watching the amber liquid separate from the water within. He grimaced as he looked at the bench next to them, all manner of instruments and potions set forth. She caught his stare, and patted his hand reassuringly, he smiled back at her as she popped the lid from the vile and got to work.

Outside in the cemetery, fresh graves had been dug and recently occupied. Those who had not survived the events had been buried with rites and a service not before seen in the village. With their passing though, came a peace it seemed. One of the graves, not far from that of Jacob’s sister which sported fresh heather and flowers, was large and it too bore fresh flowers. Milada Margellwood, now at peace. A swirling triquetra symbol proudly, and almost defiantly, pride of place on her grave marker. Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

END


 

Conjured darkness II

PART I


Drample hill was a notorious place. A hill in every sense of the word, it loomed over the area with its clump of yew trees atop, once noted for its pagan importance, hiding Pollux Hall from the eyes of God. Pollux Hall was not always the place that many feared now. It was once the manor house of Lady Amber Chester, known for her charity and generosity, she was seen as a beacon of light in a very dull and darkening world. Her descendants however had tainted the name, and so too the hall, splashing it treachery and treason with their deeds that flowed as far as Rome.

The village, which had once benefitted greatly from the hall, now regarded it as a fearsome entity, and to be summoned or taken there was a great undoing. What went on in those darkened rooms in the manor, or the tower at the back of the hall, was only speculative. But those godly men from the abbey and church were known to flow in and out of that place now, doing god’s unseen work.

Agatha sat in the centre of the tower room, tucked away as much as a tower could be, at the back of the property. Ivy slithered up the outer wall, and the roof of the great hall blocked most views of the tower, which was an old Norman remain from the grandiose bailey which once stood on that spot. She was cold, and she was tired. She was shackled only at her hands, her feet bruised and battered and singed by a variety of fire poking devices that had left welts and the smell of burnt flesh to pepper the air. Flight, by human means, was deemed impossible, but still they locked the door.

She sat there, tears long since dried on her face, the result of the mental anguish more than physical pain of what they had done to her. Witch, whore, devil. The names they had hung upon her head, all at one time truthful, but never the whole of who she was. She listened to the silence ensnare her there in that tower room, a small smile appearing on her face now, for she knew they were watching.

The men chattered and bustled animatedly to each other, wine flowing and words pouring in great measure. A Few had remained in the tower to guard the doors, themselves smoking pipes as their eyes squinted through gaps to watch the witch. In the hall the others congratulated themselves on their success.

“Where there’s one, they’ll be others. Soon we shall cleanse this whole area of the filth and heresy.” An older man said, spilling his tankard as he flayed his arms around him. The fire burned well in the fireplace, and they had clustered in towards it as the temperature outside had dropped.

“That bitch, she spat at us when we mentioned the name of the lord.” Another said, touching a cross that hung around his neck, though he did this without realising.

“She is doomed, and not long of this world. We have given her the chance to recant and make amends before the fires take her.”

“Or you take her, eh, Reverend!” And with this a roar of laughter came from all aside the reverend and a figure who sat away from the fire.

Jonathan sat with his head forward, a small book clutched in one of his hands. The pages marked with a yellow ribbon; the passages spoke of redemption. He shook his head to what he was hearing, and he closed his eyes in remembering what he had seen that day. He was party to it all yes, but he was doing this for the greater good. These witches that pullulated the land, defiant against the lord, our saviour. These men in his company, he knew their shortcomings, but he could not do this alone. That woman up there now, she was guilty of the worst crime, lying with the devil and defying the righteous. A darkness hung over the village, the crops would not grow bountifully this year, and the livestock were sick. Ailments and disease were rife, and it could only be this witch and her ways. He knew this to be true.

She was one of many, but he knew sitting there, that she was an important one of the so-called coven. To have her, to save her, then he would really drive a nail through the corruption of it all.

One of the men threw his glass into the fire, the flames soaring for a moment with the added fuel, and then with a whistle that seemed to come down the chimney, the flames burst into a purple hue and were suddenly extinguished.

“Look what you’ve gone and done now Pilchard!” One of them shouted, though a silence seemed to swirl about them all now.

“It wasn’t my bloody fault, who ever heard of wine killing a fire!” Pilchard replied. They all stood quietly now, the candles in the room dimming and the wind outside picking up. A branch scrapped across one of the small lead lined windows, like long nails itching to get inside.

“Quiet you fools!” Jonathan said, springing to his feet now, his head cocked towards the roof as if trying to listen for lighted steps. They all joined him, casting their heads upwards as all the candles in the room suddenly went out.

“Quickly, to the tower.” And they dashed towards the door, the reverend however had fallen to his knees in hasty prayer, his head lowered and his eyes shut.

Jacob had been quick, it was in his nature to be aware of his surroundings, and he knew the quickest way out of the barn and off into the woods. He knew they were in pursuit however, the familiar had done its chore and alerted one of the witches who had told all they had been discovered. Despite local lore, it was rare for a witch to actually fly. Sightings of them had been known up in Lancaster, black streaks across the moonlit sky. Keep your doors secure, and a sprig of heather by the threshold; sheep’s piss by the back. Few witches could even fly, and those that did tended to do it merely to unsettle the village folk. Such displays drew unwanted attention though, and as fun as it was to frighten them, was not encouraged. Most witches transported themselves, flashes of dark shadows popping into places where they longed to be. Collectively, their powers were increased, and it was because of this now that a number of witches took flight after Jacob, whistling into the woods like the screeching of wild animals.

He ran of course, the air lost from lungs as quickly as he could replenish. He knew the path that took him around the church, past the grave where his sister now resided and brought him out by the stream. He ran for his life, the witches flying through the trees above him, their green eyes tracking him as he shot outwards and hopped the wall of the church. A sacred place for many, a sad place for him; though it offered him security now.

He watched them as they gathered at the wall, the bodies and shapes that slunk like the shadows. Those who flew dared not cross into the churchyard, and the nestled now in the trees, stuck up in the branches like huge black birds.

“She is lost you know.” A voice creaked out of the woods, yet tickled his ear as if from behind him. Jacob stood by the door of the church, painted only last week a vivid vermillion, glowing almost now in the night.

“Begone witch, you have no power here.” Jacob shouted; his little voice propelled by anger though weighted by exhaustion.

From the other side of the churchyard the voice came again.

“Trickery is our game, but you fooled them to get her here didn’t you? Burying her bones in alongside those other simple god-fearing folk. But you know she walks in that limbo now, unwanted by God and ignored by the devil. Letting the air into those wrist, clumsy girl.” The others cackled.

“Shut your vile tongue” Jacob said, his hands now fists.

“I would love to stay and torment you child, as it delights us no end to see the pains of this world scratching across your face. But our fight is with others tonight. Be sure that your time is done though, I know your face.” The witch heaved these words out of her as if throwing up a pungent muck.

“You are the damned. And I know all of you as you shake and slither before me. Your days are numbered, and it is YOU who should be afraid.” Jacob said, to which screeching laughter echoed high into the woods before him.

“We shall see.” The main witch said, and she took off into the night above the trees, the others following suit. Jacob was left alone, or so he thought, until he noticed the sets of glowing eyes that stood along the wall to the church, the eyes of wolves which stood watching him, ready to pounce.

“Check the room, is she there?” Jonathan said as he reached the tower door, the others grouping up behind him.

The man before him seemed surprised, but he turned and quickly opened the door and the spilled into the room. Agatha sat there, her arms still shackled and her head still low. A Candle spluttered off in the corner, dying in the pooled waxed but not extinguished.

“Fix those candles, get some light in here.” He commanded as he approached her. “Your friends are making mischief I believe.” Agatha lifted her head then, but her face was not her own. Johnathan jumped back in surprise.

“We all make mischief when no-one is watching.” The face said, returning suddenly to Agatha. The men crossed themselves, muttering words they thought were holy.

“Filthy witch.” One of the men said, coming across to her and slapping her hard across the face. Jonathan watched, his hand now bringing the book out from his cloak.

“Confess and be done with them, they will not harm a woman of god. Recant, and give thyself once more to the lord, he will protect you.” Jonathan said, pulling open the book to recite a prayer.

“Woman now, am I? Girl was what you had fun with. God is a woman, you know nothing of it all” She spat at then.

“BLASHPHEMY!” The reverend said, entering the room and hearing her words.

Jonathan stepped forth and smashed the bible across her face, the leather smacking the flesh like a heavy hand.

“Do not insult my god!” He hissed at her.

“You think you most righteous, don’t you? You are better than these men, but you are lost Jonathan Philipse. The lies from that book lead you further down the path of ruin.”

He was up close to her now, he could smell the musk from her hair, and the subtle hints of elderflower from her skin.

“And your way is better I suppose, sucking the teat of Satan and that whore Margellwood?” He whispered. At this she smiled to him, cocking her head slightly.

“If that is what you think it is, then you are even further from the truth than I thought.” She spoke. He seized her suddenly by the throat, beginning to lift her up from the chair. A Great wind rushed into the room, extinguishing the candles finally, the windows higher up suddenly exploded into a rain of glass, showering down on those below.


Conjured darkness I

The night loomed like a blanket of opportunity, the dying sun snuffed out hours ago to make way for the moon and mischief. They had all been called, they had all answered in their own ways. Creatures carrying messages, slithering in the dark spaces so the people of the village would not see. The answers quick and decisive. It had been long enough; they had waited too long. Now was the time.

They came like puffs of brown smoke, the dirt and the earth puffing out in a cough. Misshapen things with rough hands and suspicious eyes. Dark features with tongues that clicked, the idling hands of late, eager to begin. Twenty of them in this seemingly small space, yet they seemed to suck the world in further in their placement around the barn. The horses were outside, braying and huffing to the activity which now disturbed their night-time.

Witches gathered.

They had come with one intent, one thing only brought them together. Their coven strong, but usually displaced. This power concentrated for too long brought about strange energies which alerted many to their location. They had been hunted of course, many of them escaping the iron wrath of the witchfinder general which pummelled the land. It had taken a lot of their power to evade him, and they were cautious to gather in such a mass, their own limitations to the power they craved ever evident; for Lucifer gave only what he wanted and never too much to be disadvantaged. His kisses were tinged with a poison which held the knowing and forgetting of all. Which is what many sought. To forget.

The candle hissed and three loud knocks on the ground quietened them all. They were gathered in a circle, as was customary, the croaks and silent screams of their souls hushed as the caller of the event moved into the centre.

“We know why we are here. And we know what we must do.” She breathed, a coldness hanging down now from the rafters where two little eyes watched.

“About time!” A voice came from the group, flicked out from a forked tongue.

“Time is no consequence. But it is indeed the hour in which they must fall. He has said to me not to be afraid.” She said, to which the group reacted loudly.

“Afraid!”

“Fear?”

“Cowardly.”

A disgruntled ripple came from these words. The two eyes in the rafters watched on, belonging to a little boy no older than eleven.

“You are fools to not be afraid. We have given the souls of our being, but there are dangers which lie in an empty vessel. Do not let it flood you now, do not waver from the road into the woods. They will pick you out, they will trap you with their words of heaven. He has warned me that some of you are weak in this regard. Be afraid of this and be guarded.” She said, her eye scanning the barn as if knowing the weaker links. This seemed to settle them though, some nodding in agreement.

As he watched, Jacob ran his finger around and around the red string on his wrist. His eyes alive, but his hand fidgeting in fright. He had known they would come here, being close enough to the village but hidden by the clump of woods which curled around the north side where the church was. He tried not to breathe as he watched those below, swaying and naying like the horses which usually stood in the same spot. He had come, because he had known. Watching one of the witches for some time, her best efforts on protection falling to his superior senses and cleaner soul. He’d trapped her familiar, a horrible grey cat with one eye which prowled the village, extracting what he needed and releasing it, none the wiser, to carry on its deceitful deeds.

Now he was here, and despite his good intent; he was but afraid.

“We must bind ourselves first, it has been too long since we have all been present.” One of the witches offered, her crippled hand reaching out into the space in front of her. The witch in the centre nodded.

“So be it, come.” And she knelt down on the spot, and reached her hands out, the others quickly following suit. As the words tumbled out of her mouth, the candles around them seemed to grow low, a horrible sense of death and despair creeping inside the barn, swirling around like the breath of a corpse. A vine, thorned and rotten, sprung forth from the outstretched arms in the centre, quickly ensnaring the witch directly in front. It coiled around her arms and leapt to the one next to her, doing the same and proceeding quickly around the circle. The words came in their awfulness and the binding of the witches seemed complete as it plunged into the ground, making the spot where it entered dark like soot, and evaporating from around their wrists.

“This commitment to the coven binds us all, so tread warily. Our deeds are pure in their deceit, but do not stray from the black blood which now binds us. If one falls, we all shall. But as we rise and grow more powerful, so too will all of you. It is done.” The centre witch said, concluding the spell and standing once more. She clicked her neck awkwardly, the sound of broken twigs cracking around the barn, and she began to stretch upwards, growing slightly larger than she had been previously. The bones in her hand cracked and she pulled at her fingers, breaking them and stretching them forth abnormally. The sound was horrible to Jacob, it reminded him of his grandmother cracking nuts by the fire. That awful woman.

“They come and go with their sheep like minds. They breed and die, bringing others to our land. They swill the poetry from the trough of that church, washing it down into the land. It tries to bleed into our bones. The othering that we chose, the distancing of self is always besieged by their self-concluded righteousness. Sisters we have seen hang and burn. Stripped naked for them, poked and violated. Our ways are dark and dangerous, but they are our own. Yes, he has his plan, but it is all written, even in their own books.” The voice seemed more human this time to Jacob, despite the abnormal appearance of the witch now in the middle of the group. He noted their names of course, all but her; she still alluded him. She was someone he did not know…. yet.

“Agatha. You know whom I speak of.” A large exhale seemed to come from them all. The reason they knew they were there.

“Agatha. They took her, as you know. They did not burn or hang her. The fools who think that destroys us inside. They took her, and she was strong, she told them nothing of us. They tried of course to trick, to tease the information out of her. Beauty in their eyes is betwixting. Agatha’s bones do not lie in some place, scorched and dismissed. They took from me….” Here her voice cracked. “…us, a sister who they keep to themselves. In the house beyond the rise of Drample hill.” At the name, many of those present spat on the floor.

“She will return to us; we will bring her back. We have the means.” Said a witch who stood close to one of the candles, the silhouetted figure seemed to dance in the candle flame. They all hissed with agreement.

“Yes, she will. And yes, we do. But we must go beyond retrieving our sister this time. We must come out of the shadows, into their awful light of delusion. We must teach them this time that we will not be plucked, fucked or destroyed. This time, this land will all be ours to come and go freely. This is the time for our great aftermath.” She said, her hands rising upwards much like the preacher would in the church not far from where the barn stood.

They all cheered in their own witchy ways, some thumping the floor with their feet bringing up dust and disorder. The noise startled one of the magpies which had sat quietly on a beam next to his master, the familiar took flight suddenly up into the rafters, coming to rest on a beam just by Jacob. It’s eyes finding the boy, it’s call yet to cry out.

Idle hands

Spider vines that creep.
Under my skin, beneath the bone.
Touching you there, where I know you’d feel something.
Underneath where the devil plays.
And the intent whispers like a tongue on the breeze.
My witch’s familiar licks the blood from these fingers.
Sticky and sickly sweet.
Hunting you down.
Seeking revenge and reason for you turning my head.
And throbbing my blood.
With your idle care.
Now at the whim, of my idle hands.