The Arrogance Will Be Costly

old swing

 

“Is this it? Is this…all that’s left?”  Jakob asked. The villagers stood among the remnants, stricken with fear, dumbfounded.

They gathered in the center of what was left the playground. The jungle gym—once only a few crossties with heavy, knotted ropes for climbing—was mostly gone; only the support beams protruded from the grass, the edges jagged and sharp, like broken toothpicks.

“And that—what is that over there?” said Josiah, his voice trembling.

“Is that…my god, is that a shoe?” someone deeper in the crowd exclaimed.

A blonde-haired woman broke from the throng to grab the shoe. “No, no, no! Not Kamyra! Not my baby…!” she screeched, clutching the shoe to her chest.  A man tore himself from the group and went to the woman, wrapping his arms around her and stroking her hair.  For a moment, there was only the sound of the wind cutting through the trees and the wails of the woman with the shoe.

Abruptly, a question cut through her grief.  “Where’s the sandbox?” The loud whisper came from Kaitlin.  She stood with her jaw set and her shoulders square, a pillar in the midst of chaos, but the shudder in her voice reverberated throughout the crowd, and the villagers pulled closer together.  “The sandbox?” she asked again, extending her hands beseechingly.

Heads turned left and right, but no one responded.

Another villager pointed to the clearing near the tree line.  “Is that…the swing?

Jakob pulled away from the others to an object that was half-rammed into the ground.  It was the old swing.  He pulled it up with a yank.  All that was left was a bit of chain attached to the fractured wooden seat.  Teeth marks had made an ugly, ragged curve in the wood, and it was splattered with fresh blood and bits of flesh.

Kaitlin whipped around to the village elder.

“Do you see now?  Do you believe now?” she shrieked, her fear turned to fury.

The elder remained motionless, unable to move or speak.

“Perhaps you will give the offering next season, Elder?” Jakob spat, his eyes ablaze in rage.  “And maybe you will not be so wise?  So callous?” He waved the broken, bloodied swingseat wildly. “Shall we appease them, next season, Elder?” he repeated, his voice rising.  “Or will you  imagine still that they do not exist?”

The elder threw himself on the ground and at the feet of his wayward flock, he screamed for forgiveness.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

Light for the Damned

Light for the damned

 

“Will you be good?”

She nodded, whimpering.

He squinted his eyes, unconvinced.

He leaned closer.  “Will…you…be…good?”  He spat each word, his rank breathe filling her tiny space with dread.

“Yes, yes, a million times, yes!”  She trembled, sending tremors through the chains.

He straightened himself and nodded.  He turned the key in the lock, releasing the cuffs. “Alright then.  Go.”

She scrambled up the stairs, and then pushed up the cellar door.  As she curled her fingers around the edges of the opening, light touched them, and she sucked in her breath.  She boosted herself up through the door and rushed to the window.  Her shoulder scraped the teeth of the rake, drawing blood, but she didn’t notice.  Instead, she hurried to the window frame, and pushed her face against the glass. The brightness on the other side made her eyes water and burn, but she soaked it in.

She basked in it.

She pressed her palms onto the pane.  Oh, the light, she thought, the wonderful light

“It’s time.”

What?!” His voice cut through her reverie like a jagged, serrated knife.

He walked to her with a slow but deliberate steps.  “There’s blood on my window.”

“What?  No, I didn’t, I was good—“  she protested, but then she saw it.  Blood had dripped down from her shoulder and stained the glass.  Her eyes widened in horror.  “No, please, no!  I was good!  I was being  goo—“

His lips curled upward, revealing yellow, jagged teeth.  He moved in, bringing his face inches from hers.  “You know I don’t like mess, little girl,” he snarled.

Her skin puckered in goose-flesh at his dark declaration, and tears welled in her eyes. “But I just got here!” she shrieked.  “I just got some light!  Please—“

“It’s time.”

“Oh, god, please! Not yet, not again—“

He yanked her by the hair and the chains, and dragged her screaming back into the darkness.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

Coven

girl with red hair

 

“Go and get the girl.”

At the sight of her, the women shouted their cries and catcalls.

“She makes men fall to their feet!” cried one.

“She sings the songs of the wicked!” shrieked another.

“She does the black magic!” still another persisted.

“It’s true because she has the red hair of the devil’s wife!”  This from someone on the girl’s left.

“Yes, the devil’s wife!”  This echoed from someone on the girl’s right.

“His filthy bride—a red-haired demon she is!”

They dragged her to the chair and then flocked around.  The flames from the torches lurched and pitched, their crackling lights lengthening the shadows of the gathered into grotesque shapes. The oldest among them, Prudence, separated herself from the group.  “We are all in agreement then?”

The women nodded, and then kneeled.

“Our red-haired sister, we are at your service.”

Behind the drape of her long red hair, the girl looked up and smiled.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

No Price Too High

old box 2

She slammed the lid shut and then twisted the lock.

“What you gon’ do now?” he asked her.

“Save it for my grandbaby.”  She caressed the lid, but her eyes were hard, her smile grim. “He gon’ ask me one day, what dat freedom cost.  He gonna ask, and when he do, I’ll show him.”

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.

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Dead Man’s Alley

                “Okay,” he began.  “Here’s the street.  Dead Man’s Alley.”

                She hugged herself, rubbing her hands up and down arms.  “Oh, yea, it’s creepy, alright.”

                He nodded and extended an arm, pointing.  “The gallows were over there, but the victims walked this street last before their executions.”  He looked up, gesturing to the darkened windows above.  “People shouted down at them, cursing, throwing food…or worse.”

                She shuddered, but her eyes shone.  “Jeez.  I couldn’t imagine.”  Her fingers grazed the old stone walls of the buildings.  “But is it really haunted?”

                He shrugged.  “Who knows?  But at night, they say you can still hear the victims screaming as they take their final walk.”  He leaned closer to her, flashing a wicked grin.  “I’ve heard them, anyway.”

                She arched an eyebrow, and her breath quickened.  “Oh  yea?  How so?”

                She wasn’t prepared when he slammed her against the wall and squeezed his hands around her throat.  “Because frequently, I’m the cause.”

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

The Evil Among Them

       

The news was tragic:  the girl had killed herself.

They talked about it in the hallways, between classes.

“All because of those rumors,” some said.

“But if they weren’t true, then why?” others countered.

Amidst the gossip and speculation, he giggled.  In his pocket, he stroked her locket.

    They’ll never know.  It’ll be our secret.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.

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A Faerie Tale

“Are you sure?”

She nodded.  “This is where I belong.”

“So let it be.”  He sprinkled the golden dust into the air; it fell on her softly, shimmering upon her skin.  Her ears lengthened to a fine point; delicate wings sprouted behind her back.  Her eyes sparkled with delight.

“Welcome.  Now you’re one of us.”

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.

 

 

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